For it is in Lyme-Regis that Anne comes into her own.
What a glorious prospect, away from the sameness of Kellynch and Uppercross! As this section of the story unfolds, it’s payback time for Captain Wentworth.
Remember those scenes around the dinner table at Uppercross, where he chatted up the Musgrove girls while Anne looked on? Now it’s his turn to squirm in his chair. He must watch Anne deep in conversation with Captain Benwick. Or strolling apart with him whenever the group walks about. Not by Anne’s design, but because James Benwick seeks her out. Think Wentworth doesn’t notice? Captain Harville does, and he praises the good she’s done.
Poor Frederick Wentworth! Where he has been distant and polite, James Benwick is unreserved and personal. He shares Anne’s interest in books and poetry, and he converses knowledgeably. And Frederick, knowing Benwick as he does, becomes more than a little worried. Because Benwick sees Anne’s worth.
Who’s sorry now?
And if catching a fellow officer’s interest were not enough, Anne is noticed by a fellow of the gentlemanly class. We learn his identity later, but William Elliot’s admiration is not lost on Captain Wentworth. And when he later appears at Anne’s side in Molland’s, it spells trouble for Wentworth’s hopes.
- Charles Musgrove, who has loved her;
- James Benwick, who confides in her;
- Captain Harville, who praises her;
- William Elliot, who admires her “exceedingly”;
- and Frederick Wentworth, who realizes something of what he has lost.
Even before Louisa’s fall, the tide has begun to turn for our Anne.