Persuasion 200: Anne wonders if Wentworth will seek her out again.
All the news of Wentworth's exploits has got Anne thinking...
Anne lay the newspaper aside and maneuvered in the window bench until the sunbeam caressed her face. Such exploits, such bravery. Though there was not a soul with whom she could share it, had anyone asked, she would happily declare her pride in ‘her’ Captain Wentworth. The Asp and the Laconia—he had acquitted himself well indeed, far and away beyond anyone’s expectations. Her secret luxury, reveling in his success—how pleasing to have the morning room to herself and indulge—
“Anne. Anne!” Elizabeth barged in. “Why ever are you hiding here Anne? I have been looking for you everywhere.”
There was only one reason Elizabeth—or anyone else—ever looked for her. “What do you need me to do?”
“Now why would you say something like that? Truly Anne, you are so defensive and disagreeable, acting as though you are so put upon.” She strutted along the windows and snatched the newspaper away from Anne as she passed. “Father asked for this. He said there was news of the Darlymples in the society pages.”
“I had not noticed.”
Was that—yes it was, another new gown. How many was that this month? Two, three? Anne and Mary had recently reworked older frocks into something fresh when Father said it was not a good time to make purchases. Of course, Elizabeth would not be satisfied with anything less than the newest, finest of anything.
“Since you ask though.”
Anne cringed. Elizabeth’s you-should-forget-your-plans-and-serve-me-voice never boded well for her.
“Do nip into town and visit Boyd’s for me. I am out of marzipan.” Elizabeth folded the newspaper and tucked it under her arm.
“If you are so fond of it—”
“You cannot be serious. How would it look for me to go?”
“How does a walk into town compromise—”
“I told Miss Hartfield that I was too ill to join her for tea today. She is such a dull hanger-on. Now I cannot—” Elizabeth’s lip pulled back into a well-cultivated Elliot sneer.
Anne lifted her open hand. That expression left her little choice but to put aside her plans and address Elizabeth’s needs; otherwise a well-cultivated Elliot fit would follow. “I understand. I shall go now.”
“Good, and be sure they are wrapped correctly. Oh, and I want a large box.”
“Yes, Elizabeth.” No, she would exercise self-control and not roll her eyes—at least until she left the house.
“And should you see Miss Hartfield—”
“I will offer her your regrets.”
“And do be a dear and pick up a fresh bottle of Gowland’s lotion for me as well.”
Anne forced a place-holding smile to her lips. She would replace it with a genuine expression when out of Elizabeth’s view. “Anything else?”
“No, no, that will do. You best get on, then. Really, Anne, you dawdle so.” Elizabeth flittered out.
Anne pressed her back against the wall and allowed her head to thump the paneling. What joy was hers. At least the walk would afford her time alone with her thoughts which as exactly what she desired. Best not allow Elizabeth to know lest she deny her that as well.
Anne changed into her half-boots, donned her spencer and bonnet an slipped out before anyone could add more to her errands.
How very different things might have been had she been married now. She certainly would not be rushing out for marzipan. It would probably be a luxury she could ill afford. But life without a little marzipan was nothing to a life without Frederick.
Would she ever see him again? Surely she would. Life could not be so cruel as to deny her that.
What would he say to him? There was little news. Nothing ever happened at Kellynch or with her family. Surely he would have enough stories to fill enough conversation for both of them.
She smelled Boyd’s before she could saw the shop. She could recognize the fragrance anywhere, sweet, spicy, and comforting. The little confectionary boasted the best marzipan in the county, according to Elizabeth, although the clear cakes were more to her taste.
People, happy people, young and old, filled the cozy shop. Small tables crammed the front of the shop, surrounded by blissful customers enjoying Boyd’s wares and a few handsome young men vying for the attention of Boyd’s lovely daughters who worked in the shop.
Everyone always smiled here and the conversation seemed merry—a little haven away from the dull and dingy parts of life.
“Miss Elliot.” The confectioner’s youngest daughter, Miss Christina Boyd greeted her at the door. One of the perks of being an Elliot of Kellynch Hall, someone always noticed when you arrived—not that it was always a good thing, but it was consistent. “May I help you with something today?”
Anne closed her eyes and drew a savored breath. “It all smells so delightful.”
Miss Christina blushed and smiled, sweet as her father’s wares. It was difficult to imagine a cross word ever coming from her mouth. “Father will be glad to hear you said so. Would the elder Miss Elliot be requiring marzipan today?”
“Why yes, how did you know?” Of course, she knew, a wise shopkeeper always kept track of his best customers, but Miss Boyd deserved the compliment.
“It has been a week since her last box. A large one today?”
“Right away.” Miss Boyd curtsied and disappeared in the crowd.
Anne wandered to the front windows, near the table where two young women tittered over newspaper accounts of naval victories. Oh, to be able to partake in such a conversation. Best remove herself from the temptation. She dragged herself to a display of barley sugar twists.
Fredrick had enjoyed those. Did he think of her as often as she did him? He had been so very angry when he left. Could he ever forgive her? Would he renew his attentions to her when he returned?
“Forgive me for startling you, Miss. I just thought you might enjoy something while you waited.” Miss Boyd handed her a rose patterned saucer with round almond clear cake in the center.
“Thank you.” Anne took the plate. Father would dismiss such thoughtfulness as the due of a baronet. But it was still kind and pleasing, especially when sweet Miss Boyd recalled her favorite confection when no one else could.
She bit into the clear cake, the sugary crust crumbling on her tongue. The jelly slowly melted into almondy-rosey sweetness that reminded her of Wentworth. He remembered these were her favorites, too.
If he did seek her out on his return, there would be no question as to her answer this time. There were not enough words for ‘yes’ in English to convey her sentiments properly. If only he would seek her out once more. In that, men had such a material advantage. They could be active in the world, seek out what they desired. Pursuing and fighting for it was their right, even their duty. Women were made for more quiet things, quiet unsatisfying things.
Things like bringing marzipan to Elizabeth.
Miss Christina brought the properly wrapped box and Anne left to seek a bottle of Gowland’s and return home for more quiet, unsatisfying pursuits.
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