Soon after receiving the news that Captain Wentworth was free of any obligation to Louisa Musgrove, Admiral Croft suggests to Anne Elliot that they invite Captain Wentworth to Bath so he can find a bride…
Anne quietly shut the door to her room and sat on her bed. Her heart felt as if it was trying to leap out of her chest. She pressed her hand over it to keep it in place and felt her head spin as the blood rushed through her body. Frederick was here!
It was just another day with her family…a walk to the shops with her sister and Mrs. Clay, with Anne trailing behind them, unaware of their conversation as she speculated on whether Mrs. Croft would succeed in luring her brother to Bath. Her brother who was now free of any entanglements. Her brother whose heart, Anne hoped, was free as well. Free and still friends with Captain Benwick, she hoped. It would be terrible for Frederick to lose his friend over Louisa Musgrove. But why had Frederick left Lyme weeks ago, while Louisa was still convalescent? Was it too painful for him to see her ill and bedridden…or did he realize he had mistaken his heart?
She heard a rustle in her dressing room and so was prepared to mask her emotions by the time her maid entered.
“Do you wish to change, Miss?”
“Yes, if course. I must change out of my boots and my walking dress.” The maid bustled around and held up a rose-colored gown.
“This one, Miss?”
“Yes, yes, that would be fine.” Anne felt her throat constrict. The maid had chosen her favorite gown, the one that she felt suited her best, that gave her face a glow and brightened her eyes. Would Captain Wentworth come calling to see her in it?
She shook her head impatiently at the maid’s back. What a fool she was! of course Frederick would not come calling after her sister had so obviously scorned his acquaintance at Mollands! She must find a way to see him again…perhaps the Admiral would invite the Elliots to dinner in honor of Frederick’s arrival in Bath. Or, might they see him at a concert…or perhaps the theatre?
She sighed. Her father and sister did not like to rub elbows with the masses, and so would only attend those approved by Lady Dalrymple…which meant those which were very exclusive and where their cousin could show herself a patron of the arts. Otherwise, her family only went to private parties where they could stand around and enjoy how important they were, without a single rational conversation all evening. It was unbearable to think of him being in Bath, and free, and her with no way to speak to him!. Suddenly she interrupted her maid’s quiet babble.
The maid turned with an inquiring look. “Yes Miss?”
“Just bring me my dressing gown. I-I’m going to lie down. I feel a megrim coming on.”
“Oh dear, Miss! Can I get you anything? You must have something to eat, or you will feel even worse!”
“No, Simpson. I’m not hungry…I just want to lie down. I don’t get sick headaches often, but lying down is the only thing that helps when I do.”
“Yes, Miss. How about if I bring you a cup of tea and a slice of bread and butter in case you feel like you need something?”
Anne wanted to scream at her to get out and leave her to her thoughts, but knew that it wasn’t Simpson’s fault that she was so overcome. She forced herself to answer kindly, “Thank you Simpson, that would be fine. I hope this will go off before I must dress for dinner. Perhaps a cup of tea might help.”
When the maid had finished fussing over her and went to make the tea, Anne stared up at the embroidered hangings of the bed, the flowers and leaves barely visible with the blinds closed. What was she to do? She could not sit back and let her fate be decided by chance. And she could not assume that the captain would ask for her hand, after all that her family had done to push him away and show their contempt for him. Her whirling thoughts were interrupted by Simpson returning with her tea.
When she was alone again, she tried to calm herself. Perhaps she could accompany a friend to the Pump Room…but she could not think of anyone she was friendly enough with to invite them. She would certainly not invite her sister…or, heaven forbid, Mrs. Clay! Her father would not be caught dead in the Pump Room with all the decrepit elderly sufferers who haunted the place to drink their daily dose of the waters and visit with their friends.
After trying for more than an hour to solve these problems, she gave up. She must just be prepared to talk to him when she saw him…and to encourage her father to invite the admiral and his family to dinner or a card party…Yes! That might work. A soirée with cards would meet her father’s approval as it would not show up the drop in their style of living like a dinner would…and her father could show off his tenant while maintaining his superior status.
A good plan! She relaxed against her pillows and closed her eyes in relief.
Want to refresh your memory with Jane’s Austen’s original work? Read Persuasion on Austen variations HERE.