Louisa Musgrove is at the Harvilles little house in Lyme in an “interesting state.” During her slow recovery various members of her family come to town, but eventually they must go home…
During the first week of Miss Louisa’s illness, Captain Benwick did his best to stay out of the way. The patient’s family was bustling in and out of the house, coming and going constantly and never settling down. Mrs. Charles Musgrove, who had insisted on staying in the place of her more pleasant sister, Miss Anne, could not bear to be in the sick room for more than 5 minutes, as it was “too distressing” for her to see her sister-in-law incapacitated. Miss Louisa had barely returned to a fragile consciousness before Mrs. Charles was whining about how bored she was.
Mr. Charles held out until his sister had recovered enough so that his worst fears were allayed, then, with a sigh, he began taking her out to the shops during the afternoons. The elder Musgroves had arrived soon after the accident to “help” care for their daughter and to take some of the burden of the nursing and childcare off Mrs. Harville, but their loud voices and penetrating whispers in the room made Miss Louisa wince out of her uneasy sleep and become agitated.
During this entire time Benwick saw that Mrs. Harville, in her calm and practical way, efficiently made sure that Miss Louisa had food and drink, clean clothes and bed linens and somehow managed to encourage her more irritating guests to leave the nursing to her. When the Christmas holiday approached, Miss Louisa had improved enough for her parents to move back home to meet their younger children when they returned from school.
The day the Harvilles waved the Musgroves off, Benwick saw a relieved look pass between his friends. Mrs. Harville, he suddenly realized, had dark circles under her eyes and her face was pale and colorlesss. She had given care to her guest to the detriment of her own health. He pitied her from the bottom of his heart.
On an impulse, Benwick said, “I will read to Miss Louisa this afternoon if you two would like to get some fresh air or take a rest.”
Mrs. Harville smiled weakly. “But we cannot let you take on the burden, and, besides, it would be scandalous to leave Miss Louisa alone with a young man.”
Benwick shrugged. “I’m sure we could manage…surely one of the maids could chaperone us.” After a little more arguing he managed to convince both the Harvilles that he could manage, especially since the Musgroves had taken the young Harvilles to Uppercross and the nursemaid had nothing to do now.
Soon after noon he found himself in the sickroom, peering nervously at Miss Louisa. He had barely spoken to her while the Uppercross party was visiting, before her injury; she had been too involved with flirting with Captain Wentworth. Miss Anne Elliot had been much more interesting and so kind to sit with him and share her sympathy.
The Miss Louisa he saw now was lying quietly on her bed, her cheeks pale and her eyelids drooping with exhaustion. He cleared his throat. “Miss Louisa, I hope you won’t mind having a new companion this afternoon. I-I thought that you might like to hear this new book I picked up at the bookstore.” He smiled shyly at her, waiting for a response.
Louisa smiled slightly and whispered, “Thank you Captain Benwick. I would like that.” He sat next to the bed and opened the cover. Two weeks went by and the captain spent several hours over the course of each day reading to Louisa. At first she would doze on and off and he would stop reading, embarrassed that his reading was so boring, but at the end of the first week she stopped him as he was leaving the room. “Captain Benwick. Thank you for reading to me. I know it cannot be very interesting for a young man such as yourself to be confined in a sick room, but your voice is so restful, I but hope that you will not be too bored in your kindness to me.” Then she smiled. Not a weak, sickly smile, either. For the first time he noticed that she had some roses in her cheeks and her hair curled enchantingly around her face.
He could feel himself flushing. “N-not at all Miss Louisa. It has been my pleasure.” He tentatively reached for her right hand and bowed over it. “What would you like to hear next? We will finish the last pages of Waverly in the next hour of reading.”
“What would you suggest, Captain Benwick?” She smiled again, this time a little unsure.
“W-would you like some poetry? I am a great poetry lover.” He stopped, trying to read her expression and see if this idea found favor with her.
Her smile grew. “I would love to hear your favorite poems, Captain Benwick.” She reached out and touched his hand.
Anne’s Handmade Soap – Vote #3
So far, you’ve chosen to name special Persuasion soap for the heroine of the book, Anne Elliot, and you’ve chosen the shea butter with olive oil and aloe for the base ingredients. Today, we’re voting on the shape. Your options are:
Note: All photos are from the Shirley’s Handicrafts page on Etsy and should be considered examples only. The final product may vary according to ingredients, etc.
You can enter to win the soap by using Rafflecopter, which you’ll find included on most days this month with the “Jane in January” logo. Click here to go to one of the dates, log in, and then click that you commented. The drawing for two winners will be at the end of the month. The poll is open until midnight tonight. The soap giveaway is courtesy of Evie Cotton, owner Shirley’s Handicrafts.
Want to refresh your memory with Jane’s Austen’s original work? Read Persuasion on Austen variations HERE.