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Home -> Jane Austen -> Persuasion -> Chapter 14

Persuasion - Chapter 14

1. Chapter 1

2. Chapter 2

3. Chapter 3

4. Chapter 4

5. Chapter 5

6. Chapter 6

7. Chapter 7

8. Chapter 8

9. Chapter 9

10. Chapter 10

11. Chapter 11

12. Chapter 12

13. Chapter 13

14. Chapter 14

15. Chapter 15

16. Chapter 16

17. Chapter 17

18. Chapter 18

19. Chapter 19

20. Chapter 20

21. Chapter 21

22. Chapter 22

23. Chapter 23

24. Chapter 24

Chapter 14

Though Charles and Mary had remained at Lyme much longer after
Mr and Mrs Musgrove's going than Anne conceived they could have been
at all wanted, they were yet the first of the family to be at home again;
and as soon as possible after their return to Uppercross
they drove over to the Lodge. They had left Louisa beginning to sit up;
but her head, though clear, was exceedingly weak, and her nerves
susceptible to the highest extreme of tenderness; and though
she might be pronounced to be altogether doing very well,
it was still impossible to say when she might be able to bear
the removal home; and her father and mother, who must return
in time to receive their younger children for the Christmas holidays,
had hardly a hope of being allowed to bring her with them.

They had been all in lodgings together. Mrs Musgrove had
got Mrs Harville's children away as much as she could, every possible
supply from Uppercross had been furnished, to lighten the inconvenience
to the Harvilles, while the Harvilles had been wanting them
to come to dinner every day; and in short, it seemed to have been
only a struggle on each side as to which should be most disinterested
and hospitable.

Mary had had her evils; but upon the whole, as was evident
by her staying so long, she had found more to enjoy than to suffer.
Charles Hayter had been at Lyme oftener than suited her; and when
they dined with the Harvilles there had been only a maid-servant to wait,
and at first Mrs Harville had always given Mrs Musgrove precedence;
but then, she had received so very handsome an apology from her
on finding out whose daughter she was, and there had been so much
going on every day, there had been so many walks between their lodgings
and the Harvilles, and she had got books from the library,
and changed them so often, that the balance had certainly been
much in favour of Lyme. She had been taken to Charmouth too,
and she had bathed, and she had gone to church, and there were a great many
more people to look at in the church at Lyme than at Uppercross;
and all this, joined to the sense of being so very useful,
had made really an agreeable fortnight.

Anne enquired after Captain Benwick, Mary's face was clouded directly.
Charles laughed.

"Oh! Captain Benwick is very well, I believe, but he is
a very odd young man. I do not know what he would be at.
We asked him to come home with us for a day or two: Charles undertook
to give him some shooting, and he seemed quite delighted, and, for my part,
I thought it was all settled; when behold! on Tuesday night,
he made a very awkward sort of excuse; `he never shot' and he had
`been quite misunderstood,' and he had promised this and he had
promised that, and the end of it was, I found, that he did not mean to come.
I suppose he was afraid of finding it dull; but upon my word
I should have thought we were lively enough at the Cottage
for such a heart-broken man as Captain Benwick."

Charles laughed again and said, "Now Mary, you know very well
how it really was. It was all your doing," (turning to Anne.)
"He fancied that if he went with us, he should find you close by:
he fancied everybody to be living in Uppercross; and when he discovered
that Lady Russell lived three miles off, his heart failed him,
and he had not courage to come. That is the fact, upon my honour,
Mary knows it is."

But Mary did not give into it very graciously, whether from
not considering Captain Benwick entitled by birth and situation
to be in love with an Elliot, or from not wanting to believe
Anne a greater attraction to Uppercross than herself, must be
left to be guessed. Anne's good-will, however, was not to be lessened
by what she heard. She boldly acknowledged herself flattered,
and continued her enquiries.

"Oh! he talks of you," cried Charles, "in such terms--"
Mary interrupted him. "I declare, Charles, I never heard him
mention Anne twice all the time I was there. I declare, Anne,
he never talks of you at all."

"No," admitted Charles, "I do not know that he ever does, in a general
way; but however, it is a very clear thing that he admires you exceedingly.
His head is full of some books that he is reading upon your recommendation,
and he wants to talk to you about them; he has found out something or other
in one of them which he thinks--oh! I cannot pretend to remember it,
but it was something very fine--I overheard him telling Henrietta
all about it; and then `Miss Elliot' was spoken of in the highest terms!
Now Mary, I declare it was so, I heard it myself, and you were
in the other room. `Elegance, sweetness, beauty.' Oh! there was no end
of Miss Elliot's charms."

"And I am sure," cried Mary, warmly, "it was a very little to his credit,
if he did. Miss Harville only died last June. Such a heart
is very little worth having; is it, Lady Russell? I am sure
you will agree with me."

"I must see Captain Benwick before I decide," said Lady Russell, smiling.

"And that you are very likely to do very soon, I can tell you, ma'am,"
said Charles. "Though he had not nerves for coming away with us,
and setting off again afterwards to pay a formal visit here,
he will make his way over to Kellynch one day by himself,
you may depend on it. I told him the distance and the road,
and I told him of the church's being so very well worth seeing;
for as he has a taste for those sort of things, I thought that would
be a good excuse, and he listened with all his understanding and soul;
and I am sure from his manner that you will have him calling here soon.
So, I give you notice, Lady Russell."

"Any acquaintance of Anne's will always be welcome to me,"
was Lady Russell's kind answer.

"Oh! as to being Anne's acquaintance," said Mary, "I think he is rather
my acquaintance, for I have been seeing him every day this last fortnight."

"Well, as your joint acquaintance, then, I shall be very happy
to see Captain Benwick."

"You will not find anything very agreeable in him, I assure you, ma'am.
He is one of the dullest young men that ever lived. He has walked with me,
sometimes, from one end of the sands to the other, without saying a word.
He is not at all a well-bred young man. I am sure you will not like him."

"There we differ, Mary," said Anne. "I think Lady Russell would like him.
I think she would be so much pleased with his mind, that she would
very soon see no deficiency in his manner."

"So do I, Anne," said Charles. "I am sure Lady Russell would like him.
He is just Lady Russell's sort. Give him a book, and he will
read all day long."

"Yes, that he will!" exclaimed Mary, tauntingly. "He will sit poring
over his book, and not know when a person speaks to him, or when one
drop's one's scissors, or anything that happens. Do you think
Lady Russell would like that?"

Lady Russell could not help laughing. "Upon my word," said she,
"I should not have supposed that my opinion of any one could have
admitted of such difference of conjecture, steady and matter of fact
as I may call myself. I have really a curiosity to see the person
who can give occasion to such directly opposite notions.
I wish he may be induced to call here. And when he does, Mary,
you may depend upon hearing my opinion; but I am determined
not to judge him beforehand."

"You will not like him, I will answer for it."

Lady Russell began talking of something else. Mary spoke with animation
of their meeting with, or rather missing, Mr Elliot so extraordinarily.

"He is a man," said Lady Russell, "whom I have no wish to see.
His declining to be on cordial terms with the head of his family,
has left a very strong impression in his disfavour with me."

This decision checked Mary's eagerness, and stopped her short
in the midst of the Elliot countenance.

With regard to Captain Wentworth, though Anne hazarded no enquiries,
there was voluntary communication sufficient. His spirits had been
greatly recovering lately as might be expected. As Louisa improved,
he had improved, and he was now quite a different creature
from what he had been the first week. He had not seen Louisa;
and was so extremely fearful of any ill consequence to her
from an interview, that he did not press for it at all; and,
on the contrary, seemed to have a plan of going away for a week
or ten days, till her head was stronger. He had talked of going
down to Plymouth for a week, and wanted to persuade Captain Benwick
to go with him; but, as Charles maintained to the last, Captain Benwick
seemed much more disposed to ride over to Kellynch.

There can be no doubt that Lady Russell and Anne were both
occasionally thinking of Captain Benwick, from this time.
Lady Russell could not hear the door-bell without feeling that it might
be his herald; nor could Anne return from any stroll of solitary indulgence
in her father's grounds, or any visit of charity in the village,
without wondering whether she might see him or hear of him.
Captain Benwick came not, however. He was either less disposed for it
than Charles had imagined, or he was too shy; and after giving him
a week's indulgence, Lady Russell determined him to be unworthy
of the interest which he had been beginning to excite.

The Musgroves came back to receive their happy boys and girls from school,
bringing with them Mrs Harville's little children, to improve the noise
of Uppercross, and lessen that of Lyme. Henrietta remained with Louisa;
but all the rest of the family were again in their usual quarters.

Lady Russell and Anne paid their compliments to them once,
when Anne could not but feel that Uppercross was already quite alive again.
Though neither Henrietta, nor Louisa, nor Charles Hayter,
nor Captain Wentworth were there, the room presented as strong a contrast
as could be wished to the last state she had seen it in.

Immediately surrounding Mrs Musgrove were the little Harvilles,
whom she was sedulously guarding from the tyranny of the two children
from the Cottage, expressly arrived to amuse them. On one side
was a table occupied by some chattering girls, cutting up silk

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