Anne has been convinced by her family and Lady Russell that it would be foolish to marry Commander Wentworth. No matter how much she loves him, he is not established in his career and has only his naval pay and a little prize money to support her and any children they have. She has broken the engagement, and both she and the commander have to suffer from her decision…
He could barely control his anger as he left Kellynch after Anne broke their engagement, and only by extreme self-control did he manage to close the door of the study without slamming it. He knew his face was frozen in a stormy glare as the footman opened the hall door and bowed him out…he could see the servant’s face blanch when he looked at his expression. So be it. The overdressed lackey was fortunate that he was not left in a bloody pile in the hall, victim of Wentworth’s disgust at the entire Elliot household.
He stormed down the walk towards the stables, his back stiff and straight and, he thought, his dignity intact. Not good enough! Not good enough for the high and mighty Elliots! He was not surprised at Sir Walter’s attitude, he had known within minutes of meeting him that the baronet’s only thoughts were of his own consequence in the world and the worth of any man not a peer would never be considered superior to that of a baronet. And the daughter of a baronet must marry at her own level(at very least!), or be thought to be degrading herself!
He had overheard Sir Walter talking to one of his cronies about how quickly a sailor turns brown and leathery…disgusting to behold. At the time Frederick had laughed to himself at the baronet’s attitude that a man should be as lily-white and pretty as a girl. Anne did not seem to think him coarse and unattractive…but then she had not had the strength to overcome the snobbish views of her family and friends and marry the man she said that she loved!
By the time he had gotten this far in his peroration, he found himself galloping down the road on his brother’s old nag. Obviously, Anne had not loved him well enough to take a chance on his future or to stand up to her family…or to Lady Russell, who was no friend of his, obviously! Perhaps Anne had not realized when she accepted him exactly what his financial standing was, and was appalled to find him much less forward in the world than she expected.When she found that she might have to live in a small apartment…without servants…her eyes were opened to his imperfections!
Perhaps she had only wanted to get away from her family, no matter who asked for her hand (and who could blame her?). But then, she realized that she would be trading one servitude for another- from unloved middle sister to wife to a lowly sailor who would be looked down upon…apologized for…blushed for when he made some coarse, unrefined comment in front of her high class friends…those few who would still speak to her after such a shocking drop in her social position.
Frederick pulled up the horse halfway to Monkford, the beast blowing and wheezing from being ridden so hard. He dismounted and led the poor beast…sorry that he had been so oblivious to his mounts distress as he wallowed in his own.
Suddenly he was overcome with profound fatigue, and his shoulders slumped dejectedly…no, Anne was not like her family, only caring about money and social position (and how pretty a man’s face was!). She had not looked down on him during their oh-so-short courtship, she had seemed to adore him and would light up when he appeared in the doorway. The blow to his ego was making him do her an injustice.
But, however good her intentions had been, however much she loved him, the simple fact was that she was too weak to stand up for what she wanted. She would weakly give up the love of her life rather than go against her family or Lady Russell.
After her painful interlude with Commander Wentworth, she had collapsed into a chair in the study and hidden her face in her hands. She had managed to keep her dignity intact during the commander’s astonished, then disgusted, expression as she broke their engagement. She had hoped that he would realize that all was not lost…in a few years, when he was established and made captain, they could marry on a respectable competence.
God knew that she did not care about luxury- her entire life had been a facade of luxury hiding the most superficial of interests. No intelligent conversation, no discussions of world affairs, no interesting friends…only comparisons of peoples’ appearance to ones own. Her own family thought that she was inadequate in that department. She was not handsome enough…tall enough…elegant enough to be of value to them.
Only Elizabeth was an adequate daughter to Sir Walter…Anne and Mary were inferior goods, hardly worth mentioning, except that they were Elliots, and therefore superior to anyone in the gentry class. It would not be too much to say that the Elliots were so superior that a marriage into the peerage would not only be right, but it would be an adornment to that peerage.
By this time Anne had managed to sneak upstairs without meeting anyone on the stairs or in the hall. She quietly closed her door and stared aimlessly around her room…the room that she had looked forward to leaving as a bride…the room which had been her refuge as a child when her sister tormented her and stole her toys…the room which now resembled a prison more than a sanctuary. After a few moments, Anne walked slowly to her bed and threw herself across it, her tears gushing until her face, her hands, and her coverlet were awash, and still they came, and unstoppable flow of misery. The only man she would ever love would not wait for her…
Hours later she awoke, shivering in the darkness from the tears saturating the bedding. What time was it? Her maid had not even lighted a candle since she came upstairs…it must have been hours ago. Then she remembered…she had locked the door, wanting to hide her pain away like a wounded animal and not become a subject for gossip downstairs. She must tell her father and Lady Russell that she had turned Commander Wentworth off…broken the engagement. A sob involuntarily broke from her lips, and she pressed them together. She must regain her poise before facing her family. They would not have any sympathy for her pain and would just make her feel worse with their comments.
She rose from the bed and pulled a fresh handkerchief from her night table and gently blotted her eyes. A gentle tap at the door distracted her from her efforts, and she unlocked the door. The maid she shared with her sister was outside, her nose tilted up.
“Miss Anne? Everyone is ready to sit down to dinner. May I help you get dressed?” Her dark eyes quickly ran over Anne’s crumpled gown and snarled hair and he lip curled slightly.
Anne thought quickly. “No…no. I am not feeling well. Please bring me a tray with some soup and bread and I will try to eat something. Please apologize to my father for my tardiness…I thought I would feel better after a rest, but I’m afraid I am ill.”
She could wait until tomorrow to tell her father about the broken engagement…