In Persuasion, Anne visits Bath with her family. One of the most popular sites was Molland’s, a confectionery store, where she would have enjoyed a cup of hot tea and a sweet. Sweets included dried fruits, gingerbread, cakes, sugared almonds, and jellied fruits.
Anne was sent back, however, in a moment by the entrance of Captain Wentworth himself, among a party of gentlemen and ladies…whom he must have joined a little below Milsom Street. He was more obviously struck and confused by the sight of her than she had ever observed before… He spoke to her, and then turned away… After a short interval, however, he came towards her, and spoke again. Mutual enquiries on common subjects passed. – Persuasion – Chapter 19
After every pleasantry had been addressed, and Anne’s situation with regard to a lack of space in Lady Dalrymple’s carriage explained, Anne and the Captain stood together in an awkward silence, both eagerly searching for something new to say.
“Marzipan!” Captain Wentworth finally exclaimed.
“Marzipan?” Anne asked confused.
“In your bag,” he said, pointing to the small bag she was holding. “I understand Molland’s is famous for its marzipan.”
“Yes, it is, and rightly so, but this is not marzipan,” she said, holding out her purchase, “but Dunhill licorice for our butler, Mr. Allgood. He has quite the sweet tooth.”
“How kind of you to think of a servant.”
“Why should I not think of him when Mr. Allgood has looked after the Elliot family for so long and so well? He rises to every challenge, no matter the difficulty.”
“I imagine some Elliots present more of a challenge than others,” he answered, looking over his shoulder at Elizabeth Elliot.
The captain then inquired about a bag that rested against the leg of a chair.
“Oh that!” Anne said, smiling. “It is a guidebook of Bath from the circulating library. Although I have visited Bath on many occasions, I have yet to view its most famous sights. Every time I come, it rains and rains and rains.”
In unison, both turned to look out the window of the confectioner’s shop for confirmation of Bath’s persistent condition. A light drizzle was now turning to rain.
“Do you see what I mean?” Anne said, laughing.
“Though I came only yesterday, I have equipped myself properly for Bath already, you see,” Captain Wentworth said, pointing to a new umbrella. “I wish you would make use of it. If you are determined to walk, though, I think it would be more prudent to let me get you a chair.”
“I have no need of a chair. As for the umbrella, I insist that you use it. It must be properly christened by its owner.”
“Very well. I shall.” After mentioning the guidebook, the captain asked Anne what sight she would visit when the sun finally did come out.
“I think the Circus. While perusing the guidebook in the library, I noted that it had quite a lot to say about John Wood the Elder’s creation. Over the years, I have heard bits and pieces about it.” Anne hesitated. “I would have liked to have visited, but my family’s interests lie elsewhere.”
“Cards, I believe?” Wentworth said with disapproval. He only played cards in the worst weather. He was a man who needed to be on the move whether on land or at sea. Sitting at a table, listening to idle conversation, was a chore for him.
“Why are you laughing?” he asked, smiling.
“Because I remember how much you dislike playing cards. I recall one rainy day at Kellynch when you remained outside in the rain playing lawn bowls rather than come inside and sit at a card table.”
“I, too, have a recollection of that day,” he said with sadness in his voice. Then he pointed a finger at her. “You, Miss Anne, are no card player, either.”
“To that charge, I plead guilty.”
“I see that the rain is easing. If you will not allow me to lend you my umbrella or summon a chair, then I think it best that you leave now.”
Looking out the window at the easing rain, Anne reluctantly agreed.
“When do you plan to go to the Circus?”
“I shall be off on the first sunny day.”
“Be sure to bring an umbrella. Even though your day may start out in brilliant sunshine, the weather can turn on you,” he said, looking into her eyes. “You may find dark clouds bearing down on you quite unexpectedly, and they tend to linger.”
Anne nodded in understanding. “I am familiar with dark clouds, but even on a rainy day, there are occasional bursts of sunshine. It is that rare sighting that sustains me.”
Part 2, Anne Meets Captain Wentworth at the Circus, will be published on September 19.
Your comments are always appreciated.