“…the Admiral and Mrs. Croft were generally out of doors together, interesting themselves in their new possessions, their grass, and their sheep, and dawdling about in a way not endurable to a third person, or driving out in a gig, lately added to their establishment.” Persuasion, Chapter 9
Sophia Croft gazed about her at the bright blue sky, smiling as the autumn breeze sent down torrents of leaves from the trees. Some fell quickly, while others twirled and drifted slowly to the ground. Many had already turned brown, but others were various shades of yellow, orange, and even red.
Her husband tucked his hand in hers. “What shall we do this morning, Sophie? Is there some new territory we should investigate? Have we seen all the animals and explored all the lanes yet?”
She took in a deep breath. “It is a lovely day. I believe it is even warm enough for a ride in the gig.”
He looked up. “Truly?” He let out a laugh. “After what happened last time?”
She stepped aside and propped her hands on her hips. “You did drive quite recklessly, but at least we did not take a spill.”
As she said this, her brother came from the house. “I am off hunting with Charles Musgrove.” He looked at his sister. “And what are your plans this morning?”
It was the admiral who replied. “We are to take the gig out.”
His sister laughed. “You know how he drives. Pray, take care when you are shooting, for the movement you see might be us instead of a deer.”
He nodded his head. “You know I am very careful.”
Sophia shook her head. “It is not you I am worried about.” She tilted her head in her husband’s direction.
“Oh! I am not so bad a driver!” Admiral Croft said with a feigned pout.
She patted her husband on the shoulder. “Yes, you let my brother continue to think that.” She turned to Frederick. “I wish you success.”
He shrugged. “I am not certain how successful we shall be. Charles wishes to take out a young dog. He thinks he has trained him well enough, but this is his first time out.”
“Well, enjoy yourself anyway, Frederick. We shall see you later.” She smiled and nodded her head. “Run along, now.”
Frederick returned her smile. “Thank you. And please, the two of you be careful!”
Sophia watched her brother depart and then turned back to her husband with a smile. “Frederick is certainly spending a lot of time with the Musgroves.”
“Ah! He certainly has been, and why would he not? Two lovely, sweet ladies to entertain him. You must remember, dear Sophie, that he has been at sea – at war! – for quite some time. Nothing works better than a pretty lady to help a man forget all the adversities he witnessed.”
She shook her head, her brows furrowed. “They are pretty girls – and sweet.”
The admiral let out a huff. “I detect some uncertainty in your voice.”
Sophia took in a deep breath. “They are – neither of them – the type of lady I would expect him to be interested in. I cannot see either of the Musgrove ladies as someone he would wish to take as his wife.”
Admiral Croft put his arms about his wife. “Tell me, dearest Sophie. Was I the type of man you thought you would marry?”
Sophia smiled and cupped his face with her hands. “You are right. I shall not question my brother’s intentions.” She leaned in and kissed her husband. “I own that I am certainly glad I went against my better judgment in agreeing to marry you.”
“Ha! As am I!” Laughing, he said, “And Frederick? You remember when we dined at Uppercross and he had the two young ladies enthralled with his stories?” He shook his head. “They were taking obvious pleasure in his society, and he was undoubtedly flattered by their attention.”
Sophia sighed. “He was certainly enjoying himself.”
“I know not if he is in a fair way towards being in love with either, but if you ask me, the nearness of those girls has had one very positive advantage.”
“And what is that?” Sophia asked tentatively, noticing the mischievous smile on her husband’s face.
“They draw Frederick out of the house much more than I could have anticipated, even if he uses their brother as an excuse for leaving.” He pulled Sophia into a tighter embrace. “Now, he is gone, and we have the morning all to ourselves again. You are not too anxious to set out are you?”
“You certainly are a scheming one, my dear,” she said with a laugh.
“I am an Admiral in the Navy, Sophia.” As he gently guided his wife back into the house, he asked, “Ought not I always be ready to take advantage of every opportunity that presents itself?”
It was nearly an hour later that the Crofts finally returned outside to take the gig on a tour of the countryside, eager to explore new lanes at a leisurely pace.
Want to refresh your memory with Jane’s Austen’s original work? Read Persuasion on Austen variations HERE.