It’s our anniversary, and we’re in the mood to celebrate! Throughout February, we’re commemorating the success of Austen Variations‘ first year by dropping in on some of our favorite Austen couples on their anniversaries. We started with the Darcys and the Bingleys on the 2nd. Today, we’re visiting Harriet and Robert Martin from Emma. I wonder how they’re doing after twelve months together. Does connubial bliss live on, or is the honeymoon definitely over?
Rain pelted the window even as the sun tried to rise. Warm beneath the soft quilt made by dearest Mrs. Martin to celebrate their wedding, Harriet cuddled into her husband’s shoulder. “I suppose you shall not be able to mend fences today after all.”
Robert Martin leaned against the headboard and muttered under his breath.
She stroked his arm. “Do not get all grumbly and ogreish—you would not wish to prove your sisters correct.”
“About what? That I am churlish and disagreeable when it rains?” He folded his arms over his chest.
“Indeed.” She looked up into his face. All these days now and she still loved seeing the bleary-eyed look he always wore in the mornings.
“But I am exceedingly disagreeable in foul weather.” He huffed as if to prove his point.
“I cannot agree.” She rolled to her side and propped up on an elbow. “Was it not on a day very much like today one, on which you could not mend fences, that we first met?”
“Indeed it was.” He drew her very close. “Have I told you how very thankful I am that we did?”
She kissed his cheek. “Once or twice I believe.”
“Perhaps I should again.” He rolled toward her and laid his hand on her increasing belly. “How is little Robert George Martin today?”
“How can I say when we do not know that indeed our wee one is a Robert or… a little girl? What shall her name be if—”
“Anything but Emma.” His voice turned cross as it always did when we referred to her.
“You have not yet forgiven her?”
“Forgiven, perhaps. After all, I no longer wish to do or say any one of a number of untoward things when I see her.” He rubbed his palm with his thumb.
“But is that forgiveness, or your friendship for Mr. Knightly?”
“A touch of both I suppose. I still cannot understand why he would take such a silly woman as a wife.”
Harriet plucked at the hem on the sheets. “She has improved you know.”
“She has ceased her matching making, I will grant you. But I still doubt her good sense.”
“But what use has someone of her station for good sense? She has servants, and a husband for that.”
“Now Harriet, what kind of statement is that? You very well know how much I rely upon your good judgment, especially where my younger sisters and brother are concerned. Now you are free of her, I am entirely confident in your sagacity. The new Mrs. Knightly is an entirely different matter. She is clever and silly, a disastrous combination in a woman of wealth and breeding.” He grumbled deep in his chest, the way he did when he was truly and deeply unhappy.
“Her interference was well meant.”
“But insupportable. How many months of misery did she inflict upon all of us? You cannot tell me you were happy whilst she played with your hopes and affections.”
“No.” Harriet pulled away slightly. “I do not like to think of it at all. I feel very foolish and stupid whenever I think of it.”
“I am sorry.” He reached for her, but she scooted away. “No, do not do that. Come here.” He sat up and pulled her very close against his chest. “I cannot bear the thought of you distancing yourself from me again.”
“How can you be so kind to me after—”
“Dearest wife of mine.” He laid his chin on top of her head and his arms around her belly. “Let us settle this once and for all. Yes, I am disappointed that you were influenced by Miss Woodhouse and Mrs. Goddard, but my true unhappiness in the matter is laid at their feet, not yours. And with respect to Mrs. Goddard, she has been a mother to you. It is a testament to your good heart and loving disposition that you should have listened to her and the friend she pushed you towards.”
“I should not have been so flattered by her attentions that I allowed her whims to overrule my own judgment and inclinations. I am grateful Mr. Knightly had a better sense of Miss Woodhouse’s shortcomings and kept your spirits up.”
“Him I consider the truest of friends. Without him I would have lost hope.” He kissed the top of her head. “Do you resent…that is are you unhappy that I have asked you not to call upon Mrs. Knightly?”
“No, not so much. I should want to visit with her, but it is all awkwardness and politeness that is very tiresome when I do see her. I am just thankful you still encourage our connection with Mrs. Goddard.”
“She is far easier to reconcile. Who would not pursue the best for their child?”
“You will be gratified to know, she is in full agreement with me, now. You are the best thing for me.”
He kissed her deeply, satisfaction rumbling in the back of his throat. “Do not ever forget.”
She turned her face up and rubbed her cheek on his, enjoying the scratch of his stubble. “You will be an excellent father, you know.”
“I want to do well by you Harriet, both of you.” He stroked her belly and the baby kicked under his hand.
“It seems your child thinks you will.”
“As long as neither of you stop believing that, I will be a very happy man.”
“I think then, you are in a very good way to be so.”