Nobody Will Want Her

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I am posting a Persuasion Alteration for Halloween over at BEYOND AUSTEN. And for those who dislike starting a story that may not EVER be finished, this one is all done. The only thing I’m doing is give it a quick edit before it goes up each Wednesday.

So, if you want a little mystery and angst, Nobody Will Want her is probably for you. Oh, and there is no gore or fright in this story.

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Happy Birthday, Anne Elliot!

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Anne Elliot is 231 years old today. I think it’s safe to say she’s more popular today than she was when Persuasion was published in 1818. I wish her well, and raise a glass to the girl who got a second chance!

Wentworth Wednesday

BeFunky_Stenciler_1This is the last entry to Wentworth Wednesday. It’s taken me a while to figure out what to write, because, frankly, the last chapter of Persuasion is meh. Boring even.

The last chapter does the perfunctory job of tying up loose ends. We are told Sir Walter comes to think more highly of Frederick and so does Lady Russell. We find out that William Elliot takes off for London and that Penelope Clay eventually joins him. Mary takes credit for having Anne stay with her over the autumn, and thus making the reunion possible. Mrs Smith is also credited and is rewarded when Frederick helps resolve her husband’s estate. Ho-hum.

The most exciting thing we learn is the somewhere along the way Anne acquires a landaulette. It was a sassy little conveyance for its time, but we don’t even know what color it is. And what Frederick is doing is anyone’s guess.

There is no romantic close.

I suppose it’s no one’s fault. I am the child of the movies and so I expect to go out on a high. There are no intimate, sensual words whispered by a roaring fire. No exciting moment of joy where Frederick takes her in his arms and they kiss under a tree. There is no sigh of satisfaction as the screen fades to black.

I am also a child of the 70s where the myth of Happily Ever After was exploded in favor of the Ambiguous Ending, or Happily For Now. Unfortunately, Jane Austen didn’t even give me that.

Here is the last line of Persuasion: “She gloried in being a sailor’s wife, but she must pay the tax of quick alarm for belonging to that profession which is, if possible, more distinguished in its domestic virtues than in its national importance.”

Okay, I do sigh, but not in a good way.

This is why I have decided that when I read Persuasion next, I am ending with Chapter 23.

The last scene of Chapter 23 is the evening party at Camden Place. Anne and Frederick are admiring some of Elizabeth’s house plants. All the loose ends are waving in the breeze, but we don’t care because they are secretly re-engaged and sneaking in a tete-a-tete right under everyone’s noses. Anne is still glowing from the walk on the gravel path, while Frederick is still contrite about his mistakes over the past several months. It is perfecto!

Here is now—for me anyway—the new last lines of Persuasion: “Like other great men under reverses,” he added with a smile, “I must endeavor to subdue my mind to my fortunes. I must learn to brook being happier than I deserve.”

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Anne smiles and leans into him. The voices of the party come up. The music rises. Camera fades to black.

Finis.

Now that’s a Happily Ever After I can sigh over.

Thank you for sticking with me through Wentworth Wednesdays. Let me know what you think about my having the temerity to change Austen.

Wentworth Wednesday

Chapter 22

Chapter 21 has Wentworth in spirit only so I decided to go on to Chapter 22. This is Anne and Frederick’s first meeting since his hasty retreat from the concert, and Anne’s finding out all of William Elliot’s dirty secrets. This is the end of the chapter when our couple finally begins to thaw and speak. There are of course interruptions galore. And finally, an interruption of epic proportions. I decided to write my own version, from Frederick’s point-of-view. I hope you enjoy it.

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Getting around Musgrove was awkwardly done, but I made it to the fireplace. By Anne’s side. She doesn’t look up. She has every right to be cool. I was an idiot flouncing out of the concert like a pettish schoolgirl. Well, never mind the manoeuvres, just go right at it, Captain. “You have not been long enough in Bath to enjoy the evening parties of the place.”

That sweet face looks up and smiles. I am not sunk just yet. “Oh! no.  The usual character of them has nothing for me.  I am no card-player.”

“You were not formerly, I know.  You did not use to like cards; but time makes many changes.”

“I am not yet so much changed.” Anne paused and frowned just a little. It was impossible to tell if it was genuine distress, or mere teasing.

“It is a period, indeed!  Eight years and a half is a period.” There, it is done. For the first time, one of us has dared to mention the past. Her frown blooms to her usual, tentative smile. This is hope—

“Anne, let us go now, before anyone else arrives.” Henrietta stands over her, holding out her purse. I suppose I could insinuate myself and offer them my services as escort. “May I offer—” The door opens and more visitors are announced.

The room grows instantly silent. The smiles disappear and everyone ceases to move. Or breath. I turn and see the reason.

“Sir Walter! Miss Elliot! You honour us with a visit,” Mrs Musgrove is neatly up and out of her chair to greet the esteemed guests.

I toss a glance at Harville and he’s stunned to his whiskers. He’s been in the midst of the Musgrove chaos enough to know that not many forces in nature have the ability to quiet it. Well, even a bucket of icy water can quell amorous cats. Icy describes that sister—

“Captain Wentworth, we meet again.” The old block bows as if we are good and fast mates. To Mrs Musgrove, he says, “The Captain was with us at the concert this past Tuesday night. It was a magnificent presentation, I must say.”

Adding me to their party. Cheek indeed.

“Captain Wentworth.” Miss Elliot suddenly has the time and energy to greet me. Imagine that.

Anne is unreadable. I think it embarrassment for she stares off just enough to mimic attention. I shall play nice and bent my knee to the pair of them. For her. For her alone.

All the neat and tidy nothings are being exchanged. Let them coddle one another, I shall slip out in a moment and wait for Anne and Miss Musgrove downstairs. There is plenty of the day to be salvaged.

Miss Elliot is extending an invitation to Mrs Musgrove and looking around at everyone. There will be no slipping away for me. Yes, just lay the cards on the table. Despite the elegant gloves, you wouldn’t want to get any on you if there happens to be an accidental touch.

“And one for you, Sir.” She extends a card particularly to me. Yes, make me come and fetch it. As if I should ever the Elliot threshold again. It is the longest three steps I ever walked in my life. There is no bow—my pride won’t bend that far—and my nod is too shallow to be understood as real respect. “Thank you, Miss.”

They are suddenly gone and the whole company magically returns to its previous happy self. Even in retrenchment, the Elliots must still have the finest paper and engraving. Tearing it up would give me such pleasure. Even fine linen paper gives a tug of satisfaction when you give it a good—

“Only think of Elizabeth’s including everybody!” one of the ladies whispered.  “I do not wonder Captain Wentworth is delighted!  You see he cannot put the card out of his hand.”

Anne watches. I could not do that to her. And it is not delight, Mrs Musgrove, merely my astonishment at how easily utter disdain shifts and becomes respect. No, not respect. Utility. Like a mallet when you need one.

Musgrove comes close and nudges me. “Come on, Wentworth. I have tickets to return.” The room is called to action and we all are separating. There is no salvaging this day in my favour.

I put the card in my pocket and that gives me some ideas about tomorrow.

 

Wentworth Wednesday

Chapter 10, part 2

“Yes; he had done it.  She was in the carriage, and felt that he had placed her there, that his will and his hands had done it, that she owed it to his perception of her fatigue, and his resolution to give her rest.  She was very much affected by the view of his disposition towards her, which all these things made apparent.  This little circumstance seemed the completion of all that had gone before.  She understood him.  He could not forgive her, but he could not be unfeeling.  Though condemning her for the past, and considering it with high and unjust resentment, though perfectly careless of her, and though becoming attached to another, still he could not see her suffer, without the desire of giving her relief.  It was a remainder of former sentiment; it was an impulse of pure, though unacknowledged friendship; it was a proof of his own warm and amiable heart, which she could not contemplate without emotions so compounded of pleasure and pain, that she knew not which prevailed.”

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“…pure, though unacknowledged friendship…” This is the second instance where Wentworth has stepped in and given Anne relief from an uncomfortable situation. (The first being in Chapter 9, when he rescues her from Little Walter, Oppressor of the Cottage and All Lands Beyond.)

 Anne makes a mistake here, I think. She believes that even as he is becoming “attached to another” Frederick can’t see her suffer and wants to give her relief. At their first dinner together at Uppercross, she lamented how distant they have become, and how in the past, they were so like-minded and into each other, even in company. I think she’s torn between seeing that he is not in love and presuming that it will eventually happen.

 If Frederick Wentworth is truly falling for Louisa, how can he even notice Anne at this point? The walk to Winthrop clears the romantic decks of the tiresome Charles Hayter, and assures smooth sailing for the couple.

 The party meets the Crofts out-and-about, the Crofts offer any of the ladies a ride, and all refuse. The group crosses the road and has to use a stile so they might cross the next field. In my mind I see Wentworth crossing over first to help the ladies. The text says: “…and the admiral was putting his horse into motion again, when Captain Wentworth cleared the hedge in a moment to say something to his sister.” I envision him handing over one of the girls and he can’t help noticing Anne is tired to the bone. Being the manly hero, he jumps the hedge back to the lane and sees she’s looked after.

 I know thinking of him doing an Errol Flynn is overly romantic, but Frederick does care about Anne. These small acts show he observes her and her needs. Frederick breaking away, leaving the object of his supposed growing affection, to make sure a tired Anne has a ride home is not the behavior of a dewy-eyed lover. These are the actions of a man fighting to understand himself.

Welcome to Wentworth Wednesday

Throwback Thursday is defined by Know Your Meme© as: “… an Internet theme day observed on every Thursday during which people share an old photograph of themselves via social networking sites and image-sharing communities, most notably through photo-sharing mobile app Instagram.

In my case I’ve only used it a couple of times and that was to put up embarrassingly old photos of other people. Anyway, I thought it would be good to play around with a new theme I’m — as you see above — calling, Wentworth Wednesday.

This will be a limited run meme of quoted text either about or by Frederick Wentworth from each of the 24 chapters of Jane Austen’s Persuasion. There is no limit on length of quotes, and I make no guarantees about the how harsh or kind I may be with my own comments. I really make no promises about the comments of others. The Best Boyfriend realm of the Austenverse is a tough place and that “Henry Tilney Forever” crowd can be brutal on the older guys. On top of that, each Austen hero comes preloaded with greatness and glitches aplenty on which to feast. And we fans do plenty of it.

I will also post a screen cap from the 1995 version of Persuasion starring Amanda Root and Ciaran Hinds. I hear there are other versions with other men portraying Wentworth. Here in SUSAN KAYE’S CORNER OF THE VERSE that is only a rumor and until I get confirmation, I’m sticking with the classic.

One of the pleasure of declaring your own meme is that you get to put things together the way you like best, and Jane said we all like that. Unfortunately, Jane didn’t cooperate with my meme as she didn’t even give Frederick a mention until Chapter 3. And even Chapter 3’s mention comes in the last sentence and is ambiguous at best. Ah, the life of a pioneer.

So, here we go with the first Wentworth Wednesday:

Chapter 3, Persuasion
“Mr Shepherd was completely empowered to act; and no sooner had such an end been reached, than Anne, who had been a most attentive listener to the whole, left the room, to seek the comfort of cool air for her flushed cheeks; and as she walked along a favourite grove, said, with a gentle sigh, ‘A few months more, and he, perhaps, may be walking here.'”

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It’s not a grove at Kellynch but we have a long way to go and this may keep us in hope.