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Almost Persuaded Chapters 31 and 32

February 04, 2015 04:41PM
AN: Thanks again for your comments. I am glad you have enjoyed this effort. Next week will complete the tale. It has been fun. Jim, I'm going to borrow from your explanation of the ranks in the navy for another story I'm working on. Thanks for the info.

Chapter 31

At the beginning of July, Edward Wentworth arrived as previously planned. Sophie was pleased to see her brother again. He was amazed at how much Cordelia had grown.

“Of course, I see it in my parish, but it always amazes me how fast babies grow. She was so tiny when we christened her and now she is quite an armful.”

Sophie smiled in reply. “She won’t remain peacefully in your arms for long. She is quite active. If we put her down, she has become mobile and will scoot away very quickly considering that she scoots along on her stomach.”

Edward laughed and said, “I should like to see that.”

He handed her back to her mother who replied, “Then come spend some time with us in the nursery.”

He followed the two of them up to the nursery and spent a happy hour watching his little niece. As he and Sophie returned to the parlor in the dower house to continue their visit, he said thoughtfully, “Perhaps once I am settled in Yorkshire, it is time that I begin looking for a partner for my life. You and James are certainly happy, and it seems Frederick has found his companion.”

Sophie answered, “I find it hard to think that I may no longer accompany James on his assignments within the next couple of years. I think we might manage this next time, but in the future, I suspect Cordelia and I will be landbound when he must be at sea. I certainly missed his company this time. I do not know how you can be comfortable on your own all the time. I hope you do start looking around for someone.”

“Since I have always been curate, there hasn’t really been sufficient income. This time, I have the living, so will have slightly more resources. As I say, perhaps it is time.”

The first weeks of July were pleasant, not overly hot, so everyone spent much time out of doors. Riding and walking were common activities, and Edward and Sir Michael found they very much enjoyed fishing together, particularly when the ladies were talking wedding details.

Finally, in mid-July, both Captain Wentworth and Admiral Croft arrived at South Park. They had both returned to Portsmouth and journeyed to South Park together. Everyone was overjoyed to greet them. Their carriage arrived at the main house, and a footman was dispatched to find Sophie and Anne. By the time both men had refreshed and returned to the parlor, the women from the dower house awaited them.

As they entered the room, both stopped in amazement to see the little girl in Sophie’s arms. With a smile, Sophie said, “I would like to present Cordelia Croft. After a little excitement, she joined us at the end of February.”

James marveled over her. “So wondrous tiny. She will grow, won’t she?”

Sophie laughed, “Of course she will. She already has. She was much smaller when she was born. She has grown enough that she has started moving around under her own power. This might make my accompanying you on your next assignment a little complicated.”

Croft laughed in return and said, “Well, if that is so, we must find a comfortable place for the two of you then when I return to sea. But surely the two of you can join my next tour if it isn’t in a war zone. If we go back to the Indies, I will want you both with me.”

“We shall see.”

Frederick also admired his new niece. “Sophie, you’ve done well. She is quite the beauty.”

Edward added, “She has. Cordelia is quite the charmer”

Frederick replied, “It is wonderful to see you here. I admit, I am happily surprised to have you greet me, Edward. I did not suspect you would be here already.”

“I am in the process of moving to Yorkshire. When I was here for the christening, the Stevensons graciously invited me to visit before reporting to my new parish. I left Monkford at the beginning of the month and report to Yorkshire in August. I have enjoyed spending time with everyone here. You are joining a wonderful family.”

Admiral Croft agreed, “It is wonderful to have the entire family here to greet us.”

All settled into the parlor to catch up on greetings. Shortly, dinner was announced. Lady Rachel refused an escort, so Sir Michael escorted Lady Matilda. Frederick took Anne’s arm, the Admiral took Sophie’s, leaving Edward to escort Mary. As he had usually escorted his sister, leaving Anne and Mary together, Mary enjoyed this. It reinforced that she was now an adult.

At dinner, both sailors shared stories of the past year at sea. They made the tales as exciting as possible, and then reminded everyone that things may not have been quite so exciting when they were living through the events.

In the parlor after the meal, Anne shared the current wedding plans with Frederick. He agreed to the proposed schedule, so August 9 would be the wedding date. The banns would be read July 24, 31, and August 7. Sir Michael and Lady Matilda would invite all the guests to come at their earliest convenience and stay with them at South Park until after the festivities. Everyone was pleased that within a month, Anne would become Mrs. Wentworth.

The next morning, the ladies sent notices to all the invitees that the date was set. All were invited to come to South Park at their earliest convenience to spend time with Anne and Frederick before the wedding.

While the ladies were busy, the Admiral and Captain joined the others at the pond for a quiet morning of fishing and casual conversation. Since Frederick had never really liked having women on board, and he would now have Anne and Nell, he and James discussed the logistics of managing the crew in the presence of the women. By the time the fishing expedition was complete, Frederick felt much more comfortable with having Anne join him. Both men were curious to see how it would work out with Cordelia on board as well.

That first afternoon, Anne and Frederick spent most of the time strolling in the gardens. Anne discussed all the new skills she had learned and her satisfaction with them. With the prize ships he had captured, they would be even more comfortable now and less likely to need many of them. But still, these new skills would enable them to be comfortable wherever they found themselves in the future. And the illness and wound care would likely be called upon while on board ship. He was grateful that Anne had been willing to make so many changes in case they were necessary. He was also proud that most of that new learning would not be necessary as he would be able to support her in a comfortable fashion.

Since Anne’s majority was approaching, Sir Michael and Uncle Hugh undertook to see that Anne’s dowry would be transferred on the scheduled wedding date. Correspondence with Sir Walter had been frustrating until they began communicating only with his solicitor, Mr. Shepherd. They finally obtained agreement and got all the paperwork signed so that Anne would have what she was promised. Sir Michael notified Anne that all was well with the settlement. Since Captain Wentworth had had such success, the money was not needed, but would provide a nice supplement. The Captain designated the dowry for Anne in the settlement papers he had drawn up along with an additional sum in the prize money investment account. It took only a week to have all the paperwork for transfer and settlement complete.

Anne, Sir Michael, Hugh, and the Captain spent quite a lot of time going through the settlement, helping Anne to understand the ramifications of the terms. The Captain was quite generous, far more than her father had been, to Anne’s immense gratitude.

Within a week of sending out the invitations, friends and family began to arrive. Anne was introduced to the Harvilles, who were particularly close friends of Frederick’s. Lieutenant Harville was a tall, dark man, with a sensible, benevolent countenance. He was the perfect gentleman, unaffected, warm, and obliging. Mrs. Harville was a degree less polished than her husband, but was always open and friendly. Mrs. Harville did not travel with her husband as he was not a captain and, with two young children, it would have been too complicated. She generally lived in lodgings with the two children and Lieutenant Harville’s sister, Fanny. Fanny was currently tending the two children so her brother and his wife could attend the wedding without worrying about the children.

Anne found she enjoyed Mrs. Harville’s company, as did Sophie. She particularly enjoyed hearing stories about their experiences as navy wives. The three spent a lot of time alone together in the few days before more of the guests arrived.

Ethel and William brought little Will, their new addition, who had arrived as expected in late spring. The other expectant cousins did not attend as they were too close to their due dates. They sent best wishes instead. Now there were two babies to coo over before they were returned to the safety of the nursery each day.

Anne’s few friends arrived along with their husbands. More and more, the group of men spent most of their time fishing or riding. Once again, fish made regular appearances at the table. The women would visit the children in residence in the nursery, then spend time together reading, playing cards, or doing needlework, often in the garden. With so many visitors, South Park was very lively. 

Chapter 32

The Musgroves arrived at the beginning of August. Mary was happy to have Henrietta and Louisa to visit with. She had felt a little shy at all the older adults attending the wedding. It was nice that there were some people closer to her age, even if they were a bit younger. Charles had also come, but the younger children had been left at home. Charles and Mr. Musgrove spent the time getting to know Frederick and James as well as the Stevenson family members and other guests. They found they had much in common with all but James who was entirely nautical. Mrs. Musgrove was happy to share her gratitude for his command of Dick Musgrove with Frederick. Although he had not enjoyed having Dick aboard ship, Frederick was very diplomatic in his comments with Mrs. Musgrove.

Mrs. Musgrove exclaimed, “I am sure, it was a luck day for us when you were put captain to that ship. We will never forget what you did for Richard.”

Frederick smiled and replied, “I hope I always help my men progress.”

“He was such an excellent correspondent while he was under your care. We are very sorry he ever left you.”

“Just so.” Anne could see by a certain glance of his eye and curl of his mouth that he had probably been at some pains to get rid of him. However, he sat with Mrs. Musgrove and talked with her about her son with sympathy that showed the kindest consideration for all her motherly feelings.

While Mary, Henrietta, and Louisa spent some time alone together, they spent much more of it with the rest of the women. While the younger two were not out, they were generally treated as if they were. This highly gratified them. However, all three tended to listen more than they talked as they marveled in the variety of things the rest of the women were discussed. Given the variety of backgrounds, the topics were wide-ranging, many never even mentioned at Uppercross. Some of it was boring, but for the most part, they truly enjoyed themselves.

On August 6, Sir Walter, Elizabeth, and Lady Russell arrived at South Park. They had traveled together although only Lady Russell was happy to attend. Sir Walter only appeared because not to do so would cause him to lose face within the family. He still felt that alliance with Wentworth was degrading for the Elliot name. However, he had been overruled and had no say in the matter. For Elizabeth, it provided an excuse for a new gown and an opportunity to appraise a new set of possible suitors. She was still unhappy that her younger sister would marry before she did. Lady Russell was happy to celebrate with Anne.

The three were shown into the entry at South Park where Lady Matilda awaited them. With a smile, she greeted, “Thank you for coming. The maid will show you to your rooms to refresh. We await you in the parlor with tea and biscuits.”

Lady Russell asked, “Is Anne there too?”

“No, but she should be arriving shortly. She and her grandmother are visiting a tenant who gave birth yesterday. They will be here as soon as they are finished.”

Lady Russell smiled and nodded as they all turned to follow the maid up the steps. Elizabeth had frowned upon hearing what Anne was up to. She never understood all this interest in the tenants.

Sir Walter, Elizabeth, and Lady Russell returned to the parlor in due course. There, Lady Matilda introduced them to the Harvilles. She also introduced Lady Russell to the extended Stevenson family, whom she had not previously met, as well as some of the other visitors.

Lady Russell settled in next to Mrs. Harville while Sir Walter and Elizabeth made small talk with the cousins. “Have you known Captain Wentworth long, Mrs. Harville?”

“Oh yes, we have. My husband has served with him for a number of years. You could not find a better man. He will take excellent care of Miss Anne.” They continued in quiet conversation until Anne arrived.

When Anne finally arrived, Lady Russell said, ”Anne dear, I am so grateful I could be here to celebrate this happy occasion with you. I have learned so much from Mrs. Harville. I can now see that the Captain will provide all that is truly important to you. Please forgive my earlier opposition.”

With a large smile, Anne responded, “Gladly. You will see that Captain Wentworth is truly all that I need to be happy.”

She then turned to welcome her father and sister who made welcoming noises in response. Mary followed her into the room and also gave her regards to all three. She sat next to Mrs. Harville and Lady Russell and became involved in conversation with them. Lady Russell marveled at how poised Mary had become and what an excellent young lady she seemed to be. She said to her, “Mary, I know your mother would be proud of the young lady you have become. It warms my heart so to see it.”

Mary smiled, “Thank you. I am glad you think Mother would approve.”

After a short time, the Musgroves entered the parlor; Mr. and Mrs. Musgrove visited with the Elliots while the daughters and Charles went to sit with Mary. Elizabeth eyed the group warily. He was only a minor landowner but not unattractive. Unfortunately, he had never paid her the slightest bit of attention. She wondered if he might be looking at Mary in a new light now that she was no longer a schoolgirl. It would be insupportable if both of her sisters married before she did. She spent more of her time watching them than in attending to her own conversation.

When they had first arrived, Charles had just watched as Mary, Louisa and Henrietta had caught up on the news from the past month since Mary had left Kellynch. He was aware that she was looking very different and interested to hear why that was. Now that he was paying attention to the girls’ conversation, he heard, “It has been so interesting. Grandmother and Aunt are helping me learn to manage an estate. I now help with the tenants, am learning what the housekeeper is managing, and am having so much fun helping. I never understood how satisfying it is doing ones duty, but now it is becoming much more evident. I also get to play with baby Cordelia and she is so fun now.”

Louisa asked, “We always have babies at home and they are never fun. How can Cordelia be fun? She is only little still.”

Mary smiled and said, “You can see that she is learning so much every day. She can now scoot around, and it is so funny to see her try to get across the room to acquire something that has caught her eye. I am able to play with her every few days, so I can see how much she has grown each time.”

Henrietta shook her head. “I never see that in our little brothers and sisters. Probably because we see them every day when we are home. They do change while we are away at school though. Maybe I should spend more time getting to know them.”

At this point Charles asked, “What else do you do, Miss Mary?”

She said, “Well, I still practice piano almost every day. I quite enjoy it now. I am learning to make lace, which is a nice change from embroidery, although I’m not very good at it yet. I visit with the gardeners to understand what they are planting, and I visit tenants who need some assistance. Oh, and I will be learning about how herbs can help ailments just as Anne has. Aunt and Uncle have card parties which I find I enjoy. Next winter, they will give me a short Season in town. I am looking forward to that.”

Louisa squealed at that and said, “How wonderful. Perhaps someone will come and sweep you off your feet.”

Mary smiled and replied, “Perhaps.”

As talk turned to other things, Charles realized that he might have to reconsider Miss Mary. There was more to her than simply a friend of his sisters. There was some depth he had never noticed nor considered before.

The extended family had a relatively lively dinner, then settled to hear Anne and Mary play for them. Elizabeth felt a little uncomfortable that, after those three, Ethel also played as did Anne’s friends. It had been so long since she had touched a piano that she could no longer participate. It was a little embarrassing that she was the only young woman who did not play. Conversation was about current events, of which neither Elizabeth nor Sir Walter were conversant. They were frequently silent, having little to contribute. Lady Russell greatly enjoyed the stimulating evening. It was as if some of her thoughts were coming awake from the stimulation. She realized that stimulating conversations were now entirely absent from Kellynch.

The next day was filled with final preparations for the birthday celebration and wedding. Anne spent much of her morning in the garden talking with Frederick, the Crofts and the Harvilles. They spoke of the life of a navy family and what she might expect. Mrs. Harville and Sophie Croft had different perspectives since the one stayed behind and the other generally accompanied. Anne felt warmly embraced by the sisterhood of the navy wives.

Anne spent the afternoon with Lady Russell sharing reminiscences. They spoke first of Lady Elliot’s marriage; they spoke of Lady Russell’s marriage and the loss of her husband; then followed the long friendship between Lady Elliot and Lady Russell; and finally they spoke of the loss of Lady Elliot. Now that she was so happy, Anne found that she could discuss all of this with some detachment. She now had such access to happiness, between Frederick and his family, and the Stevensons, that the unhappiness attendant upon life at Kellynch was more like a dream than reality. She actually had pity for her father and sister because there was no depth to their lives.

On August 8, Anne turned twenty one. She awoke with a smile on her face knowing that now she and Frederick could be united. She dressed quickly and headed to the breakfast sitting on the sideboard at the main house. With the entire family in residence, all meals were now served there with no cooking taking place in the dower house for the duration.

As she nibbled at her muffin, Frederick entered the room. His entire face lit up when he saw her, and she responded in kind. Lady Russell, who was also sitting at table with Anne, smiled ruefully when she saw this and said, “Captain, I hope you will forgive my earlier opposition to your marriage. I was not opposed to you personally, although it may have seemed so. I just wanted what I thought was best for Anne. I feared that you would condemn her to a life of hard work and unhappiness. She always had faith that such would not be the case. She was even willing to acquire skills to make life happy if finances required it. She had far more faith in you than I did. I am happy to be proven wrong. I want her to be happy and can see that you will be the one to see to it.”

Frederick smiled and replied, “Thank you. That cannot have been easy for you to say. I will do all in my power to watch over her and make her happy. She means everything to me. As I was at sea most of the past two years, we have not lost too much time together by having to wait. She could not have joined me on the Asp; it was too small. My promotion to the Laconia changes things though, so that she can accompany me in the future. And she has learned so much that will make our lives easier through the years that the wait has been worth it. However, I am glad we wait no longer.”

Later in the morning, the family gathered to formally wish Anne many happy returns. This was the most festive birthday she could remember since the death of Lady Elliot. Since her father and sister rarely remembered the day, this was, in fact, the first celebration since then with them included. Anne received tokens of love and appreciation from all of the assembled family and friends. Her father and Uncle Hugh approached her together. Her father said, “My gift is the formal turning over of your dowry. Hugh has the signed paperwork. You are now in charge of your own destiny.” With that, he nodded his head to her and turned away. He was very uncomfortable in this company where he was outranked by his brother-in-law the earl. Since he did not like the man, he never knew what to say to him. He also disliked Sir Michael, but as his own baronetcy was older, he felt comfortable ignoring him. He was also intimidated by Lady Rachel. The sooner they returned to Kellynch, the better.

The remainder of the afternoon was spent ensuring that all was ready for the wedding. All of the ladies were shown the lovely gown and were enthusiastic in their praise of wearing a family heirloom. Flowers were arranged multiple times until all were satisfied at the result, both in the chapel, and in the house. After some discussion, Lady Rachel and Sophie Croft took Anne aside to give her a glimpse into the physical side of marriage that was never discussed before the day. With much blushing on her side, and more practicality on theirs, they reassured and educated her at the same time. All were grateful when that task was complete.

Almost Persuaded Chapters 31 and 32

ShannaGFebruary 04, 2015 04:41PM

Re: Almost Persuaded Chapters 31 and 32

terrycgFebruary 05, 2015 05:28AM

Re: Almost Persuaded Chapters 31 and 32

Jim D.February 04, 2015 06:01PM

Re: Almost Persuaded Chapters 31 and 32

LisetteFebruary 04, 2015 05:52PM

Re: Almost Persuaded Chapters 31 and 32

Wendy VFebruary 09, 2015 03:29AM


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