In case you missed it, the Wentworth Wedding from Tuesday may be found HERE.
The wedding breakfast was held at Camden Place, Sir Walter Elliot’s lodgings in Bath. The cost was more dear than really necessary, but Sir Walter had to keep up appearances. A sit-down meal was more fashionable, no matter what Anne preferred. In a nod to economy, the event was smaller than Mary’s several years ago, and was certainly more modest than what would done for Elizabeth.
It mattered little, for if truth be told, there was little affection in his heart for Anne. Oh, she was a good sort of girl, if a bit headstrong. Her constant demands for economy vexed him exceedingly. Some people called Anne sharp, but he thought her cheap. The girl simply did not understand that a baronet had to maintain a façade of refinement, and that cost money. Anne also owned strange opinions about who were worthy acquaintances. Mrs. Smith indeed! he grumped.
Yet, all that was as nothing. He could still love Anne, if only she was not so plain!
Vanity was the beginning and the end of Sir Walter Elliot’s character. Vanity of person and of situation. Infected by this condition to an incredible degree, he projected his self-love onto the world. He divided the people of the world into two groups: attractive and unattractive. They were also broken down further: above him in station and below. In his mind, one spent the majority of one’s time with those who were wealthy and beautiful. One also cultivated the ugly and rich, but at a distance. The balance of humanity was ignored, unless the good-looking poor paid him proper deference (which explained his tolerance of the unfaithful Mrs. Clay).
Anne simply failed to measure up to his high standards of beauty. He would do his duty by her, of course, but he was disappointed all the same.
That someone worthy would take Anne off his hands was a great relief. He might not love her, but that did not mean he would let just anyone marry the plain daughter of a baronet! When Captain Wentworth had aspired to Anne in the Year Six (an event he barely remembered), the officer had been nobody. Now a renowned hero with twenty-five thousand pounds in the funds, the weather-beaten Wentworth was commendable enough to marry his daughter.
Sir Walter hoped that the newlyweds were too old to breed; or if they did, that the children might take after their grandfather.
Seated next to Sir Walter was Lady Russell. Her earlier prejudice against Wentworth had prevented her from giving him the justice he deserved when he had returned from the wars rich, famous, and as high in his profession as merit could take him. He was no Thomas Cochrane, to be sure, but few frigate captains were more dashing or more successful.
It had only been after Mr. Elliot had exposed himself as a cad (again) that Lady Russell had taken an honest appraisal of Frederick Wentworth. She was forced to acknowledge that he was a decent, honest, hard-working, and devoted gentleman. Lady Russell could not regret her advice to Anne so many years ago, for the simple reason that she still believed she had been right at the time.
Things were different now. Wentworth was here, he was rich, and Anne had never stopped loving him, so everything ended happily.
But deep in Lady Russell’s mind, the phrase “eight and a half years” remained. Almost nine years of happiness Anne may have enjoyed with Captain Wentworth had she not been persuaded otherwise by her loving godmother. Nine fewer years Lady Russell would have with Anne’s eventual children. It was an unsettling thought.
Down the table were Mrs. Mary Elliot Musgrove and her husband, Charles. Mary bore some affection for Anne and she dearly liked a wedding, so she was in high spirits. She enjoyed the idea that Anne would marry better than Louisa and Henrietta. As long as Captain Wentworth was never knighted, she, the future Mistress of Uppercross, would feel no jealousy.
Charles Musgrove was pleased for the pair. Wentworth had become a good friend, and he loved Anne as much as any of his sisters. That two such excellent people were married was a capital thing! Now, if this infernal breakfast would end soon, they might return to Uppercross tonight. He was anxious to hunt with his new double-barrel shotgun in the morning.
No one at the breakfast could be happier for the newlyweds than Wentworth’s family: Admiral and Sophia Croft, and Rev. Edward Wentworth and his wife. All four had fretted that Frederick would never settle down. They had been willing to accept Louisa Musgrove, silly as she was. But for Frederick to have turned to Anne Elliot was a miracle. The Crofts loved Anne as a sister already, and Edward Wentworth knew of his brother’s long-suffering attachment to the lady (it was to him that Frederick would always confess everything).
Louisa Musgrove had thought herself destined for Frederick Wentworth, but after her accident in Lyme she preferred the quiet devotion of James Benwick to the intimidating Wentworth. She felt no jealousy, and she, Henrietta, and all of their family wished their good friend Anne all the happiness in the world.
The girls hoped their double ceremony in a few weeks, when they would become Mrs. Louisa Benwick and Mrs. Henrietta Hayter, would be at least as lovely as Anne’s wedding. Truthfully, they both preferred her to their sister-in-law Mary, and had always wished that Anne had taken pity on their poor brother and accepted him.
And as for the Dowager Viscountess Dalrymple and her daughter, the Honorable Miss Carteret, they were only thinking of the next course to their meal.
Captain Harville rose to his feet and rapped the side of his glass. “Here, here. Please, everyone, refill your glasses.”
The Navy had ways of doing things, and Harville would see that all customs were observed.
“First, of course, to our bride and groom—Captain and Mrs. Wentworth.”
“Captain and Mrs. Wentworth,” repeated the crowd.
“Next, a toast to our honored hosts, Sir Walter Elliot and Miss Elliot.” Sir Walter condescended to bow slightly at the expected compliment.
“To the Royal Navy.” Again the glasses were sipped.
“Finally—please refill your glasses. Ladies and gentlemen, the King.”
As one, all the officers leapt to their feet and cried, “THE KING.” As the other gentlemen rose belatedly out of their chairs, the officers drained their glasses.
“Is breakfast over?” asked Lady Dalrymple.
The breakfast continues HERE in Part Two. You can leave comments here today, though, if you wish.
Want to refresh your memory with Jane’s Austen’s original work? Read Persuasion on Austen variations HERE.