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Almost Persuaded Chapters 29 and 30

January 28, 2015 07:24PM
AN: Thank you again for your comments. I think some of the questions about Mary start to get answered. However, she may or may not marry Charles. I will leave that to your own imaginations. If she does, I think it will be quite a different relationship than in the original.

Chapter 29
By late April, planning for the wedding between Anne and the Captain began in earnest even though they still had not heard from either of the sailors since late autumn. Both Sophie and Anne were worried, but tried to act confident that all was well. As they were all seated in the main house parlor doing embroidery or crochet one afternoon, Lady Rachel said, “I think we should discuss wedding plans for Anne.”

Anne started as she heard this. Lady Matilda said, “Anne, have you thought of what you would like your wedding to be like?”

“I think I would like something intimate and personal. I do not want something very fancy such as others might require. I loved Agatha’s wedding. Something like that would be nice.”

Lady Rachel asked, “Agatha wore my gown, as did your mother and Susan. Would that suit?”

“My mother wore it too?”

Lady Matilda answered, “Yes, she did. It looked very well on her and will on you.”

Anne considered for a moment. “I think that would be wonderful.”

Lady Rachel said, “Then we will begin the alterations. We will hope that the Captain can get a leave after the beginning of August. I think we should get everything planned now, and do all that we can to ensure that we have no delays. We do not want to have to wait for the gown once we have a date.”

Anne smiled. “That would be perfect.”

Sophie added, “I think that is wonderful. What a special family tradition to use the same dress.”

Lady Rachel then asked, “Do you want to return to Kellynch? Or would you prefer to marry here or in town?”

“I have come to think of South Park as home. I would prefer to marry here, if that would be acceptable.”

“Of course it would,” answered Lady Matilda firmly.

Lady Rachel’s dress was fitted to Anne by Mrs. Crouch, the same woman who had assisted in the learning about fabrics. Anne was pleased that the dressmaker was making the alterations to the beautiful lace gown. She would not trust her new skills to such a delicate operation. After about two weeks, all were pleased with the result.

As Anne modeled the dress, Lady Rachel said, “It is like seeing Elizabeth again, you are so very like her. We are lucky that all of you are built on a small scale like me and can wear the dress.”

Lady Matilda added, “And that lets out Elizabeth as she is quite a bit larger. Mary too.”

Anne said, “Mary passed me in height when she was about thirteen. However, she really appreciates new things, so I do not think she will mind having to find a new dress rather than remake this one, even with its sentimental value.”

All knowing Mary as they did smiled at this characterization. While the dress was not new, all of the accessories would be. Therefore, a trip into the village was required to find the perfect pairings for veil and shoes.

Lady Rachel insisted that Sophie Croft select a new gown for the wedding at her expense. Sophie had thought to just wear her best dress. “My dear, it is not every day you acquire a new sister. Please let me get you a dress for the occasion.”

Sophie replied, “Well, if you put it that way. But it needs to be something I can wear on formal occasions in the future.”

Anne added, “Get something that looks nice but does not have the newest fashion in sleeves or color. That way, you can wear it for many years.”

Sophie smiled and said, “That is good advice Anne. You are already thinking as a navy wife. Very well then, I will. Lady Rachel, thank you for the suggestion and the offer. I accept.”

They continued to plan without knowing the final date or even if the Admiral would be able to be present. They knew that neither Percy nor Anthony were likely to be in England although that too could change. At present, the fighting on the continent had quieted down but the boys were still stationed away from England.

Based on their discussion about the kind of wedding, Anne and Lady Rachel decided that only family and close friends would be invited. Once Frederick returned, they would set a date as soon as possible, but no earlier than August 9, the day after Anne would achieve her majority. After much discussion, they determined that when the date was known, they would inform Sir Walter and Elizabeth so that they could attend if they wished. The rest of the family was notified of the current plans through regular correspondence. Most planned to attend, although those expecting babies would not be there if the wedding took place in early August.

During this time of uncertainty, Cordelia provided a welcome distraction. As Sophie had predicted, she changed from a wrinkled little bundle to a sweet little girl almost overnight. From week to week, it was apparent that she was thriving as she continued to grow. Sophie and Anne enjoyed spending time with her in the nursery, although Anne truly appreciated that she did not have to get up with her during the night. Daytime squalls could be loud enough before the little one was soothed. All were grateful for distance from her at night.

During one fussy morning, Anne asked, “Will you and Cordelia join the Admiral at sea as you have done in the past?”

Sophie smiled. “I hope we can. I find I miss him a great deal. We have spent almost all of our time together over the years and are accustomed to one another. It will be a challenge, but I hope the three of us can continue as we have done in the past. However, after this next tour when she is a baby, it will be more challenging. I guess we will just have to see as we go along and decide each time. While she is so small, I think we can manage it.”

“Do most navy wives join their husbands?”

“Only captain’s or admiral’s wives can, but most choose not to. The others must wait on shore. I find I worry much more when I am not with him.”

“I can see why that is. The lack of letters has become worrying.”

“I do not know if I have ever waited so long for a letter. However, I am sure all is well,” answered Sophie firmly.

Finally, at the beginning of May, both Sophie and Anne received a batch of letters from the Admiral and Frederick. The Admiral had been very successful in the capture of a prize ship after a number of close calls. He had successfully led a blockade and the ensuing fighting in the Baltic. Winter in the Baltic was challenging and very cold. Weather had been as much of a trial as the enemy. The harsh weather had created a need for constant repairs on all the ships in the fleet. Action with the enemy had caused severe damage to the flag ship, causing him to move to another for the balance of the winter.

The Mediterranean tour had been fairly quiet with only limited action. Mostly, it had consisted of patrols with few sightings of enemy ships. However, there had been one action in which Frederick had assisted in the capture of a prize ship. His share from that would be a nice addition to their investments. It was not as large as his big capture, but every addition would help their futures.

Both expected to return to England in late June or early July. The Admiral’s fleet needed a great deal of refurbishment due to the harshness of the winter. The Laconia was still in good repair, so after a brief homecoming, Frederick would likely be out again in the early autumn. It appeared that they could plan on an August 9 wedding date.

After the receipt of these letters, Sophie and Anne gave heartfelt thanks at church the following Sunday. Both had been tense for the many months that no correspondence had been received. Anne wrote Lady Russell about Frederick’s success. Knowing that Anne would be secure, no matter what the future brought, helped Lady Russell to move from acceptance to enthusiastic support for Anne’s new life.

The knowledge that the sailors would be home allowed them to finalize the wedding plans. Invitations were sent to the extended family, with acceptances arriving from those who would not be in confinement. The Musgroves and Lady Russell were invited from Somerset. A couple of Anne’s friends from school, who were already married, were invited. Frederick’s friend Lieutenant Harville and his wife were invited. All were truly excited for Anne and Frederick. The invitation also went to Kellynch. A formal note arrived from Sir Walter stating that they would be in attendance. 

Chapter 30

In June, Elizabeth had another birthday. She was very displeased that she was still unmarried and that her season in London had again not resulted in an offer of marriage or even a serious suitor. Anne sent congratulation, as was her custom, in her regular correspondence to Kellynch. Elizabeth did not bother to respond. However, from Lady Russell’s letter, Anne gathered that Elizabeth was not pleased that Anne would marry before she did. Elizabeth still did not understand why she had never received an offer of marriage in spite of her acknowledged beauty. There was no one to teach her what roadblocks she was placing to prevent such an offer. Needless to say, Kellynch did not host any kind of celebration this year. Elizabeth was too frustrated to want to celebrate the passage of time. When she was finally successful in her matrimonial quest, then she would celebrate again.

Now that Mary would be sixteen in November, she left school for the final time that June. She went first to Kellynch for a short visit, as it had been a year since she had been home. Although her father had made the effort to fetch her from school, it was the only effort he made. She found it as lonely as ever. Since she was not as close to Lady Russell as Anne was, there seemed no one to talk to on her visit unless she went to Uppercross. Elizabeth could not be bothered. Therefore, she spent most of her time with Henrietta and Louisa Musgrove at Uppercross. She would practice piano in the morning, visit with Lady Russell for a short time, then mount up her horse and ride over to Uppercross almost every day.

Although they had a number of years left in school and she was now ‘out,’ she still enjoyed their company. Mrs. Musgrove was also fun to visit and always provided a lovely tea. She also enjoyed becoming better acquainted with Charles although they did not spend too much time together. She generally saw him when she enjoyed tea with the family. He would tease his sisters and share funny stories of things that had happened on the estate that day. Mary thought he was an interesting young man. However, she was still more interested in his sisters. She would keep a regular correspondence with the Musgrove girls and perhaps could invite them to visit her in South Park at some point in the future.

While these visits were enjoyable, the time spent at Kellynch was not. Although they hosted one card party, which Mary enjoyed, nothing else social took place. She saw her father and sister only at supper unless she came home from Uppercross early to sit in the parlor with them. All they seemed to do was sit around, occasionally reading a fashion magazine. They did not talk, even with each other, as neither ever had anything interesting to say. The parlor was even more boring than supper, because at table, at least they could talk about the food. After two weeks, Mary wrote her uncle asking him to find time to collect her. She had had enough.

After three weeks, Mary left Kellynch with Sir Michael and Lady Matilda. They had a lovely ride together to South Park as Mary talked about school and her visit to Kellynch. Upon arrival, Mary moved into permanent quarters at South Park. From here on out, she would be treated as a daughter of Lady Matilda and remain with them, visiting her father when he and Elizabeth made their journey to town in the late winter. She might return to Kellynch with them for a short visit, but then she would come home to South Park. She knew she would make many new friends and find someone suitable from among them to marry. She no longer had the attitude that made people want to spend little time in her company.

“Aunt, I cannot thank you and Uncle Michael enough for inviting me to live with you. Although I am only a niece, I feel of more importance here than I do at home. Father tends to forget I am even around. I had more meals at Uppercross than Kellynch on my visit. I can understand why Anne is happier here. You are always so kind to us.”

Lady Matilda smiled at her niece. “In many homes, children are not acknowledged by the parents until they become adults. They are left to the governesses and nannies. Your father probably does not have the skills to understand how to be interested in others. I am sure he loves you, and while I do not want to be critical, I do not think he knows how to relate to people. He only relates to himself. I think he and your sister are similar in that respect and do not even realize their deficits. You probably have only learned to think of others and recognize that those two ignore you because of your exposure to those of us who act differently.”

“Do you think Elizabeth will ever marry?”

“I think it will be difficult for her. She alienates most men upon first acquaintance, which is what your father also does. It is hard to recover in a relationship when you begin by creating ill will. In actuality, she is so condescending upon introduction that many eligible men just back away immediately. They can find someone much more congenial very easily. Being pleasant and interested in people goes a long way to creating comfortable interactions. You will likely succeed if you think of others, rather than yourself, and try to put them at ease and make them comfortable.”

“Why, that is what Anne always does!”

Lady Matilda smiled again. “Yes, she is quite talented at listening.”

“Listening is a talent?”

“Oh yes. It is a very important talent. If you want a good relationship with someone, you must be able to truly listen. You must hear what is behind the words, not just the words someone says.”

Mary pondered for a moment. “That is why the family knows when to tease and when not to, isn’t it? Most of them can hear the message behind the words.”

“Yes. I am proud that you have matured enough to recognize that. If you want a marriage based on respect and esteem, listening is a very important skill for you to master.”

“Aunt Matilda, thank you for this chat. I do not think anyone has ever explained this to me. It really does make sense. I will try.”

“Our visits to tenants are a very good time to try to develop this talent.”

Mary nodded her understanding at her aunt and continued to think about the need to listen to others. She realized that Lady Russell did so, but not with the patience that Anne had. Some of the younger cousins were not as gifted as the older generation, but most did seem to possess this skill. As she thought more, she realized that Mrs. Musgrove had it, but none of the rest of the Musgroves did.

Both Lady Matilda and Lady Rachel determined to teach Mary about household management, both of a manor house, and also of a simpler home as Anne had learned to manage. Mary was amazed at how many different things there were that needed to be done. As she learned about manor management from the housekeeper at South Park, she realized that Elizabeth only did a portion of the job. She never stirred herself to do any of the things necessary for the assistance and oversight of the lives of the tenants upon which Kellynch depended. She also never tended to the minor difficulties that would eventually lead to larger problems in the house as they had discussed before. She began to wonder if that would lead to difficulties in the future.

At the start of each day, Lady Matilda and Mary met with the housekeeper to review menus and discuss any issues within the house. Mary listened closely to these discussions. She realized that Lady Matilda seemed to be a partner with the housekeeper. She never talked condescendingly. She considered every suggestion and issue very carefully and always solicited the housekeeper’s advice. When they were finished one day, Mary asked, “You rely very heavily on Mrs. Carpenter, don’t you?”

Lady Matilda replied, “Yes. We do. She keeps everything running smoothly so none of the family or visitors are ever in need of anything. You have heard of all that Anne has learned to do. Well, Mrs. Carpenter ensures that I never need to do any of those things. She oversees everyone and makes our life so comfortable.”

“You treat her as your equal.” While delivered as a statement, Lady Matilda could see the question in the comment.

“She is not my social equal, and she would be horrified to be expected to attend us in the parlor or drawing room as if she were. However, she is highly competent and intelligent. In many ways, she is my partner. Do you think we could work well together if I were to be condescending? Would she feel free to disagree with me or question me where she saw I was making a mistake?”

Mary thought for a moment. “No, I guess she would not. I think I need to watch how to speak to those of lesser rank without trying to sound superior.”

Lady Matilda replied, “If you watch your grandmother, sister, and I with the servants and tenants, I think you can learn that. Now, let us go visit that tenant Mrs. Carpenter mentioned so that we can see what we can do to provide some assistance.”

The following week, they started the discussions with Mary about fabrics and care. After the trip to the village to learn about material, all the women assisted Mary in ordering and sewing portions of a new, adult wardrobe. A couple of her schoolgirl dresses could be refashioned for working clothes which would be adequate for what she would learn to do. For the rest, she was now ‘out’ and needed to dress appropriate to her new station. They spent an afternoon going through the fashion book selecting items that would flatter her. After selecting the dresses, they also selected the material for each. Mary reveled in the attention as she preened in her new clothes.

The Stevensons held a family celebration for her once the wardrobe was complete. Neighbors were invited for dinner and a card party to which Mary was invited. For the first time, she attended as an adult and not an on-looker. She loved it. It was much nicer than the party at Kellynch had been. She enjoyed cards much more than Anne did. Anne chose to provide background music, much as she had at most card parties. After this party, Mary was always invited with the rest of the family to the neighboring events. Being ‘out’ was very rewarding for her.

At the end of this card-party, as Anne was preparing to return to the dower house, she spent a quiet moment with Mary. “I want you to know how proud of you I am. You behaved so graciously, especially listening to those hunting stories from Mr. Price. I know they get boring, but you never showed it once. Well done.”

Mary blushed at the praise and replied, “I have been learning about listening from Aunt Matilda. I had never understood how important it is. I will admit I did not care for the stories, but, he seems a very nice man. I did not want to make him uncomfortable by ignoring him.”

“If you continue on this path, I think you will find many more friends in future and a great deal of enjoyment.”

“Thank you, Anne. I plan to.”

Mary now regularly assisted Lady Matilda in her visits to tenants. She learned from her aunt the reasons for the things that Anne had done in Kellynch and how much difference this care made in the lives of the tenants. She began to gain real satisfaction from these visits. She spent much of the time listening, finally starting to learn how to address those of lesser rank in a positive manner.

Almost Persuaded Chapters 29 and 30

ShannaGJanuary 28, 2015 07:24PM

Re: Almost Persuaded Chapters 29 and 30

terrycgJanuary 29, 2015 03:00AM

Re: Almost Persuaded Chapters 29 and 30

LisetteJanuary 28, 2015 09:33PM

Re: Almost Persuaded Chapters 29 and 30

Wendy VJanuary 29, 2015 05:58AM

Re: Almost Persuaded Chapters 29 and 30

Maria VJanuary 29, 2015 10:01AM


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