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Almost Persuaded Chapters 33 and 34

February 11, 2015 06:20PM
AN: Thanks to all who commented and helped with this little story. I am leaving the future open so that you can imagine it as you wish.

Chapter 33

The chapel at South Park was filled with flowers the morning of August 9. The sun shone, but the day was not overly warm. Anne chose to have her Uncle Michael escort her down the aisle, rather than her father. For her, this was a strong statement about the hurt his lack of support had caused her. Mary and Sophie Croft were her attendants. Sir Walter sat in the chapel with a scowl on his face at being relegated to onlooker.

Frederick had Admiral Croft as a best man, and Lieutenant Harville as his groomsman. The local minister and Mr. Wentworth officiated together. Lady Rachel quietly wiped tears from her eyes as she watched this favorite granddaughter take a step into her future, a future her father would have denied her. She was grateful to have had Anne live with her these past two years, grateful for Mary’s growing maturity and future company, and happy at the occasion.

As all stood with the bridal fanfare, Sir Walter turned to see this unremarkable daughter walk down the aisle on the arm of her uncle. Upon seeing her, he was shocked to see, not Anne, but his Elizabeth as she had looked when she became Lady Elliot. It was she first time he had ever realized that Anne so resembled her mother. It brought back the memory of their nuptials and the happiness she had brought into his life. After a moment of reflection, the scowl returned. He was still unhappy that Anne would ally herself to someone so far beneath them. With Mary living at South Park, Elizabeth was all that was left to him. She would ensure the type of marriage required of an Elliot. Elizabeth tried to enjoy the ceremony, but she was also unhappy. She should be the one marrying, not Anne. Anne was nothing. Why was she the one marrying and not Elizabeth? Or course, Elizabeth would never accept someone like Frederick Wentworth, but still…

Mr. Wentworth read Paul’s letter to the Corinthians defining charity or love and its place within the marriage. Mr. Wilson, the local parson, read the wedding ceremony and gave the couple a sermon on the duties of married couples to love and support one another. It was a simple ceremony. However, Anne and Frederick had eyes only for one another and heard not a word of the sermon. Many of the married couples in attendance were seen to nod their heads in agreement with many of his points. Finally, they recited their vows to one another. Anne in a steady voice, and Frederick in a louder voice, affirmed their love for one another. Finally, they were pronounced man and wife and introduced as such to the assembled congregation.

The couple and Mr. Wilson quickly repaired to the registry to sign and complete the official paperwork. Then Anne and Frederick must receive the congratulations of all present. The women all kissed Anne on the cheek as they offered their best wishes and told her of how lovely she looked. The men shook hands with Frederick and told him he was a lucky devil. Elizabeth was the sole exception in the women. She merely offered Anne her hand and said, “I hope you are happy.” She then turned away to look down her nose at the group.

Sir Walter was one of the last to come up to Anne. After clearing his throat, he said, “You look very much like your mother today. It was like seeing her as a young woman again. You must have done something new, you are in such good looks today.” No word of congratulation was offered.

“Thank you, Father. Perhaps happiness has improved my complexion this day.” He nodded and moved to join Elizabeth at one side.

To Elizabeth, he said, “I am surprised by how much like your mother Anne looks today. I would never have credited it.”

“Yes, she is looking well today. However, I cannot say much for most of her friends.”

“Yes, they are a rather ruddy and frightful looking group. At least we will not have to be seen with them after today.”

Once everyone had offered their best wishes, all gathered into the waiting carriages and returned to South Park for the lovely breakfast Lady Matilda and Lady Rachel had planned.

The wedding breakfast was sumptuous. The guests enjoyed the food and one another’s company. Elizabeth continued to keep an eye out for any likely companion but failed to find one that suited her. With her estimation of their looks, she never even tried to strike up an conversation with anyone at all. She and Sir Walter sat by Lady Russell and confined conversation to her. Once they had finished eating, they were more than ready to depart. She and her father actually left even before the bridal couple. Lady Russell stayed for a while longer before she left for Bath. Her carriage had followed had arrived the previous day so she would not need to return to Kellynch with the Elliots.

After the breakfast, the Crofts and Edward Wentworth headed to Yorkshire to help him settle in his new home. At the request of the Stevensons, the Crofts would return to South Park before returning to sea. They all felt as if Sophie were now one of the family, and they could not do without her unless she and Cordelia were to go to sea with him this time. The Musgroves stayed an additional day as did Anne’s friends and the Harvilles. Then, all returned home.

After the breakfast and some visiting with all of their friends, Anne and Frederick said farewells and entered their carriage. They had decided not to go far. They were headed to a quiet cottage at Frampton on Severn so as to spend a couple of quiet weeks together near the water.
The extended Stevensons stayed at South Park for a couple of days enjoying the family time together. Delivery dates were drawing near for the cousins who had not attended the wedding. Lady Susan wanted to get back for Cora’s delivery, and Margaret wanted to get to town for Arabella’s and Agatha’s. Finally, South Park was quiet again.

Chapter 34

Anne and Frederick enjoyed an idyllic time becoming more intimately acquainted with one another. They spent a great deal of time alone together although each noon they would exit the cottage for a stroll along the river and the beach. After some initial shyness, they found a shared passion together and enjoyed their intimacies greatly. By the end of their honeymoon, they were more in love than ever.

Each day, they would take delight in one another. Late in the morning, they would take a long walk along the river or the beach and enjoy the beautiful scenery and weather. Dinners were quiet with simple food. The servants were unobtrusive and careful of the newlywed’s privacy. Each evening, Nell would help Anne to change into a simple nightdress. She was privately pleased to see how, after the nervousness of the first night, she could see that Anne now anticipated her time with the Captain and was not quite so shy.

After everyone left South Park, Lady Matilda went to town to attend the births of her new grandson James, Junior, and granddaughter Rachel. She knew Lady Rachel would be touched by this tribute of Agatha’s for her beloved grandmother. Both families were doing well after the confinements. The babies were beautiful and healthy, which was what mattered most. However, she cut her visit short as word reached her that Lady Rachel had fallen seriously ill.

Lady Rachel took to her bed with a severe cough shortly after Lady Matilda left for town. She had great trouble catching her breath. Nothing they could do offered any relief. As Lady Rachel weakened and her illness lingered, Lady Matilda moved her up to the main house so she and Mary could better assist in her care. Mary had superintended that care in Lady Matilda’s absence and feared that she was not doing enough to help her. She was reassured when Lady Matilda finally returned and saw what she had managed.

“You have done quite well, Mary. You did everything that was proper, from having the apothecary in, to moving down to the dower house to be there to assist. You have given her nourishing soups, when she could eat, and eased her as much as possible.”

“But it isn’t enough. She isn’t getting any better. I feel so helpless.”

“That is what we all feel when we see someone we love suffer.”

As Lady Matilda assessed the condition of her mother-in-law, she was appalled at how frail Lady Rachel had become. She wanted to immediately notify the entire family. Lady Rachel refused to allow Lady Matilda to inform Anne of the illness, not wanting Anne and Frederick to return early from their trip. “I am sorry Michael felt he needed to bring you back. You should be enjoying your new grandchildren.”

“They are both going to be following me here. I will see them again shortly.”

Between fits of coughing, she rasped, “Do not send for Anne and Frederick. Let the children enjoy their first days together in peace. Should I be taken, they can return to pay their respects. If I am still here when they return, time enough then to be together until the end.”

Lady Matilda replied, “Mother, I wish you wouldn’t talk like that. We would like for you to recover, not pass on. Could you not stay for a while longer?”

Lady Rachel smiled and said, “I would like to, but I have a feeling my time is near. It has been a good life. But I miss James and do look forward to seeing him again.”

Mary sniffed, “I am just getting to know you better. I wish you would reconsider.”

Lady Rachel patted her hand and said, “Child, it isn’t really up to me. However, you will still have everyone else here, including Anne. I might have feared how you would turn out a few years ago, but the young lady I see before me know is very pleasing. I know you will be able to create a happy life for yourself now. And Matilda and Michael will help you with your reason next winter. You shall see. All will be well.”

Lady Matilda then shooed them all out of the room and helped Lady Rachel prepare for bed. She joined the rest in the parlor and said, “I do hope Frederick and Anne return soon. Michael, we should notify the rest of the family so that any who want to say good-bye can do so.”

Sir Michael agreed and said, “If you think it has come to that, I will attend to it right now.” He headed to his study and wrote messages to the rest of the family members and sent them off express. Because of the unpleasantness with the Elliot’s, he did not bother to send to them. He would notify them after the fact so they could attend the service if they desired.

Within days, the extended family arrived. None had expected to be at South Park under such circumstances. Those who had just delivered babies had all made the journey although they showed the newborns only once to Lady Rachel and kept them far enough away to keep away from the bad air. Otherwise, Lady Rachel had companions with her attending to her needs as each family member shared their love and concern.

After their two week wedding trip, Anne and Frederick finally returned from Frampton on Severn. They found Lady Rachel failing fast. She had really been hanging on until their return. After changing from traveling clothes and cleaning up, they went to Lady Rachel’s room. Although talking was a struggle, there was something she needed to say to Anne.

Taking Anne’s hand, she said, “My dear. You cannot know what joy I have felt these past two years with you. I know I leave you in good hands. Matilda will care for Mary. Besides the training, I have one last gift to give you. While Michael will always welcome you here, I have a small home just outside of Portsmouth that was part of my wedding portion. I have left that to you in my will. I would like you to have a place to come home to, one that is near where the Captain is stationed when he is not at sea but is under orders. Since he often sails from Portsmouth, I thought it would be ideal for the two of you. It should be large enough for you to be comfortable for many years.” She then had a severe fit of coughing.

Anne replied, “Oh grandmother, do not talk like that. You are not going anywhere. But we do appreciate the legacy you are leaving us and not just the house. I would ask how your family came to have a house in Portsmouth, but do not want to tire you, so I will ask Uncle for the information.”

“He cannot tell you. I had an uncle who left me that house. He had been in the navy. He thought I might have a use for it one day. I love you Anne.” Then another spasm of coughing racked her body.

Lady Matilda came in and shooed them from the room. She had a bowl of broth that would soothe the coughing with her. “Here, let me help her a bit. You two go get settled back in. We will talk at supper.”

When everyone was seated around the table, Lady Matilda began, “Mother is not doing very well today. We had the doctor visit her this morning. He thinks the end is near. She has said she does not want us to regret her passing. She has lived a full life and is getting tired and ready to go. However, she has also said how very happy she has been to have Anne, Sophie, and Mary so much a part of her life these past years as she has had the rest of us for so much longer. It has meant everything to her.” After a short pause, she continued, “Michael, Mother told Anne of her bequest in Portsmouth. Since you helped Hugh take care of the dowry, you will both be required to help again. I think Mother was just waiting for Anne to return before letting herself go.”

Sir Michael replied, “I know I speak for Hugh when I say that we will see to everything. Have no fear about that. And Mary, Mother’s passing will change nothing for you except the loss of her company. Matilda will continue your training and next winter, we will take you to town as we did the others. You will have a home with us for as long as you choose.” Hugh and Matilda both nodded their heads in agreement.

There was a suspicious amount of sniffing around the table. Then the conversation moved on to more cheerful matters as Frederick and Anne shared the beautiful sights they had seen near their cottage in Frampton on Severn. The combination of river and sea had been quite picturesque.

After supper, Mary entertained everyone on the piano playing pieces that were rather contemplative. After a pleasant time, they headed for Lady Rachel’s room to wish her a good night. Each of the women had spent at least part of the afternoon or evening at her bedside. For the night, Lady Rachel refused all companions. She guessed it would be her last and she did not want a witness to remember her as gasping at the end. While not happy with her decision, they all understood. Since she had so much trouble breathing, they all knew it would not be long now.

In their room, Anne and Frederick discussed the legacy they were to receive. The faith that Lady Rachel had always shown in their future was so reassuring. “If Sophie and Cordelia don’t joint the Admiral at sea, perhaps they can stay in the house. Since I plan to join you, at least until we have children, we will not need it for ourselves just yet.”

Frederick smiled. “That would be nice, wouldn’t it? Until this last year, she has always joined him at sea. Some of that is that she cannot do without him. I suspect some is also because she would have only Edward to stay with, and she was not keen on assisting in parish work. I am not sure how a baby will change her expectations.”

“Then I shall make her the offer. How long before you must report to Portsmouth?”

“I am officially on leave until the beginning of October. So we can spend the rest of this month here, and then head to Portsmouth. We must find out details like if the house is occupied; where it is located; its size. Then we can make some decisions. It will be nice to have a base here we can always return to. Alternatively, we can continue to rent it out until we return permanently.”

In the morning, they found that the inevitable had happened. Amid the sadness was the realization that she had lived a full and happy life. Frederick sent off an express to notify Sophie so the Crofts could return for the funeral. Messages were also sent off to the Elliots.

A few days later, they held a quiet funeral. Mourners were plentiful as Lady Rachel was much loved. The Crofts arrived for the funeral, and Anne issued her invitation to Sophie for future habitation if it fit with the Crofts’ plans. Sophie agreed that, if she could not travel with the Admiral for his next posting, she and Cordelia would love the house in Portsmouth. Cordelia was small enough that this might be the last tour Sophie could join for many years.

Hugh and Sir Michael made all the arrangements and read the will to the assembled family. There were numerous bequests, including one held in trust for Mary until her marriage. A small amount was settled on Elizabeth so that she should not be ignored. Once the reading was complete, Sir Walter and Elizabeth returned to Kellynch. The Stanleys returned to Derby. The others remained a few days longer before returning to their various homes. Sir Michael, Lady Matilda, Mary, Anne and Frederick remained at South Park for a few days longer.

The Wentworths went to see the house in Portsmouth. It had been leased for many years, but had been vacated by the last tenants back in June. They decided to lease it out again, at least until either Sophie or Anne should need to remain behind. Both would be going on the next tour of duty with their men. Sir Michael would oversee the house for them while they traveled the seas.

As they prepared for Frederick’s next assignment, both Anne and Frederick were grateful for the support of her extended family. They could not imagine how different life would have been if Anne had allowed herself to be persuaded to break it off with Frederick. Thankfully, they had not had to face such a dreadful decision. They now looked forward to his new assignment with happiness and anticipation. Anne was excited to become a true navy wife. 

-Finis-
SubjectAuthorPosted

Almost Persuaded Chapters 33 and 34

ShannaGFebruary 11, 2015 06:20PM

Re: Almost Persuaded Chapters 33 and 34

Gloria L.February 13, 2015 12:35AM

Re: Almost Persuaded Chapters 33 and 34

LisetteFebruary 12, 2015 05:18PM

Re: Almost Persuaded Chapters 33 and 34

ShannaGFebruary 12, 2015 06:34PM

Re: Almost Persuaded Chapters 33 and 34

PatriciaNFebruary 15, 2015 02:31AM

Four!?!?

LisetteFebruary 12, 2015 10:15PM

Beautiful! (nfm)

TashaFebruary 12, 2015 07:26AM

Re: Almost Persuaded Chapters 33 and 34

Jim D.February 12, 2015 12:56AM

Re: Almost Persuaded Chapters 33 and 34

terrycgFebruary 11, 2015 07:30PM

Re: Almost Persuaded Chapters 33 and 34

nastasiatFebruary 11, 2015 07:10PM

Re: Almost Persuaded Chapters 33 and 34

PatriciaNFebruary 11, 2015 06:40PM



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