In 1808, newly promoted Captain Frederick Wentworth is impatient to have a ship. He and Commander Timothy Harville figure posing as smugglers to catch the real thing in the act will grab the Admiralty’s attention. They set out on the frigid Irish Sea at Christmastime to put their plan into action. Anne Elliot’s father is pleased to find passage to Dublin so cheap at the holidays. He is not so pleased when all are taken captive by a band of smugglers. Or rather Wentworth posing as one.
A Plan of His Own Making is a Persuasion What-If in which Frederick Wentworth literally saves Anne’s life and saves her from murderous smugglers, and in return, Anne does likewise for Frederick.
PG-15 for adult situations and mild sensuality
You are welcome to read this story here, HERE if you prefer a full page format. If you’re new to Plan, the easiest way to catch up is click on “A Plan of His Own Making” in either Categories or Tags. All the postings will come up and you can navigate from there.
This story is posted free-of-charge to readers, but is understood to be a rough first draft. As it is a work-in-progress, it’s all up for grabs and is subject to change when going through the rewriting process. In other words, what you read here may not be in the final, published edition. You are free to read and link to but please do not copy any of the story. It goes without saying there will be boatloads of misspellings, grammar goofs, and the occasional glaring continuity error; these will be fixed in final editing so just read and enjoy. — SK
A PLAN OF HIS OWN MAKING
Frederick slowed the cart and then pulled to a halt. Anne had crossed the alley and was now going into the house. He willed her to look in his direction just once more. She did not.
As she reached out, the door opened. She backed away and crashed into a heavyset woman following close behind her. There was a short exchange—though Wentworth suspected it to be a tongue-lashing, he prayed for kindness. The woman took Anne by the arm, they entered together, and the door closed behind them.
The hot, moist heat of the kitchen was most welcome. The atmosphere was chaos. A harsh woman’s voice called for more pigeons. “Her ladyship has invited another for dinner to even out the table.” Anne realized her appearance would affect the entire household and not just her family members.
She and the woman halted before a tall, angular woman in black. “Look what I found, Ma’am.” The heavy woman pressed in behind Anne.
“There you are.” The woman glared at her. As she studied Anne’s clothing, her mouth set in a hard line. “You got no water or comb where you live?” The woman poked at her cheek and then lifted up the cloak. “What’s this mess? You was told to wear black if you was to work upstairs.” The woman began to pull Anne along as she called for “Mary.”
“No, Mrs Tong, this ain’t the new girl. This one claims to be one of Sir Walter Elliot’s daughters.” Honeyed derision dripped from her voice.
Mrs Tong stopped and Anne was pressed between her and the heavy one. The woman faced her and studied her more closely. “You’re an ugly, nasty liar. Sir Walter’s eldest daughter was the only one to make the trip.”
The heavyset woman shoved Anne with her shoulder and sneered when Anne looked her way. She turned back to Mrs Tong. “But I am Anne Elliot. My sister is Miss Elizabeth Elliot and my father—“
Tong grabbed her arm and turned to back to the door. “Shut your mouth, liar.” The woman pushed her out the door, into the path of the meat man. Anne stumbled against him. The door to the house slammed shut. The curtain whipped aside and the heavyset woman stuck out her tongue, then dropped the curtain.
“This house is the worst on the route.” The meat man puffed his cheeks and hefted a slab of meat in his arms. Anne opened the door for him. “Thank you, Miss.” He paused. “Count yourself lucky they didn’t take you on.” He nodded his head and went inside.
Anne stood for an instant when she thought of Frederick. She ran to the alleyway in hopes that he was not yet out of sight. She scrutinized the traffic but did not see his tall frame in any of the little carts about the way.
There was nothing to do but go to the front door.
The alleyway was suddenly empty. No tradesmen were evident. The serving girls and their chickens had disappeared. The only living things in the space were Anne and the horse pulling the meat wagon. She looked to the open gate leading to the street. A great many people passed on the other side. It seemed preferable to be out there with them than alone in the alley.
She stayed close to the stone wall as she followed the sidewalk around to the end of the block. The sidewalk felt crowded. Everyone stared as they passed by her. The rough wool pelisse brushed against her hand and reminded her how she must look to those who had been able to take some care with their appearance that morning. On market days in Uppercross, there were many people about, and they all looked at her, and even greeted her. There was an amazing difference between home and now. She knew practically all of those others by name. But here on a respectable street in Dublin, she felt abandoned and vulnerable to everyone. The only comfort she had was dark grey stone wall.
From nowhere, the harsh voice of Mrs Tong filled her mind. “You are an ugly, nasty liar. Sir Walter’s eldest daughter was the only one to make the trip.” Anne stopped and rested her head against one of the stones. She had read the letter her father received from Lady Dalrymple, stating she looked forward to meeting him and his daughters again. Their cousin was expecting both Elizabeth and Anne. But the woman had said only one had made the trip. Several explanations must be possible, but only one seemed to serve at the moment: Sir Walter had not told Lady Dalrymple of the events that took place on Baron’s Bride. He had not told her anything to do with Anne’s disappearance. Her father was not looking for her. Her heart began to pound and she felt light-headed. The only person in all of Ireland who cared about her was gone.
“May I assist you, Miss?” A man with a florid round face and untidy moustache touched the brim of a soiled bowler. He peered at her with tiny eyes.
He was a little shorter than she, and his soft voice reassured her. “Thank you, sir. I think I—”
He touched her shoulder. She resisted the urge to shrug it away. In her present predicament, she could little afford to give offence. “You look to be out of your element, my dear.” He moved closer, reaching to take her hand.
Her mother had always said that quality was obvious, and it heartened her that despite her appearance, the man saw her truly. “Thank you again, sir. I would appreciate—“
The man took her arm suddenly and they started to cross the street, away from Lady Dalrymple’s home. “Come this way, girlie. I got a room just up the street.”
His intention was obvious. He mother’s wisdom was brutally ignored. She set her feet, but the fine blue kid slippers skidded on the cobbles. “No. I will not come with you.” In her head, her voice sounded shrill and piercing. She pushed against him and tried to get back to the sidewalk. The man pulled harder and she was sliding across the street even as she struggled.
She was beginning to lose her balance when someone took hold of her. “Let her go, Munson!” Her rescuer was worked Munson’s hand from her wrist and gave him a push. He fell and slid a bit, tumbling in front of a carriage turning the corner. The man was sprawled in the street, gaping at the driver. The driver pulled his horse to a stop just short of running over the man. Munson half-rose from the cobbles and scuttled like a crab out of the way. Meantime, her knight led her out of the street.
“Gad, girl, you’re havin’ a terrible sort of day.” She pulled her bonnet out of her eyes and looked directly into the wide, anxious face of the meat man. He shouted to someone nearby. A young, ungainly man joined them. “This is my son, James. You go and chase him a good long way off. He’s always hangin’ out here, making trouble.” The boy touched his hat and left them. “Are you all right, miss?” He stepped back and looked her over in a respectful manner.
Anne jerked her hand from his and stared at him. She was suddenly hot and wished to be away from everyone. People were beginning to gather round them. “What’s she been up to?” someone asked. The meat man explained about the foul and vulgar Munson.
“Did he hurt you, Ma’am? Munson’s a devil he is.” The man’s boy joined them and assured his father than the man was well away from the area. “Head back to the cart before it’s stripped down to the bones. Where do you belong, Miss?”
Though, by all accounts, her sister and father were just inside the house, the only face Anne Elliot wished to see was Frederick’s. She cleared her throat and began to walk to the door. People were losing interest in the scuffle and were beginning to move on. “Here. I am staying here.”
The man made a clicking sound with his tongue as he followed her. “I thought they threw you out. Besides, you oughtn’t be seen in the front. They won’t like it.”
“My father is here. I must get inside.” The kid slippers were not enough to protect her foot from a large stone in her path. The pain reminded her of a better place.
“My cousin lives here.”
The man, still following, said, “Begging pardon, Miss, but you don’t look like you belong—“
“I do belong here, sir!” Anne spun around to face him.
Her good-hearted rescuer stepped back. He touched his hat. “I can see you are upset, Miss. And I believe you when you say you belong here. But, and no offence
intended, you don’t look like they will welcome you upstairs.” He touched his hat again and left her to rescue his wagon.
Anne watched him drive away. Again, she was alone. “—you don’t look like they will welcome you upstairs.” She leant against the wall again. It was true. While she had the courage at the moment to knock on the door, and even enough to say her name, she had not one thing on her person which would identify her as anything but the ugly liar from Mrs Tong’s accusation. Her father had seen to it that no one was on the lookout for her.
She remained well out of sight of the door. There was nothing to do but consider and watch. Very soon, a weathered but otherwise fine carriage pulled up before the door. A groom carefully picked his way off the top and tapped on the house door with his whip’s handle. The door opened and the groom spoke to whomever answered. Anne envied both of the parties for life was blissfully uncomplicated when one belongs.
As she wrestled her deepening melancholy, the groom broke away and ran to the carriage. He wrenched the door open and did his obeisance. A small woman with a fox skin cloak emerged from the house followed by Elizabeth. After the ladies, walking with his customary noble gait came her father.
The woman with the cloak was undoubtedly their cousin, the viscountess. An enormous hood concealed her face making it impossible for Anne to see her and form any meaningful opinion. The woman was perhaps more sickly than her known age would indicate. She was taking a great deal of time mounting the carriage and this left her sister and father to waiting.
They did not speak. Elizabeth’s faultless manners served her well as she stood with perfect posture, looking straight ahead. Her father, on the other hand, could not remain still. Elizabeth was able to ignore his fidgets until he tapped his walking stick against a bronze planter and it rang out in the chill air. Elizabeth did not look his way, but did frown.
Anne’s best opportunity was within her grasp, and to her great relief, Sir Walter glanced her way. She saw recognition in his eyes.
Everything wicked and hurtful that had happened in the past few days was nothing for now she would be taken in and be safe. She felt herself smile and her body move forward of its own volition.
Sir Walter’s look grew cold. He turned, took hold of his hat and proceeded to follow the ladies into the carriage.
“Father! Father!” Anne hastened to them.
He was leaving her! She called again. This time, he paused. His shoulders sagged as her turned to face her.
Anne continued apace. Elizabeth’s face now appeared alongside their father’s. They looked directly at her.
Elizabeth’s expression was an instant of surprise quickly settling into studied disdain. Her father’s expression of chilly contempt brought her to a halt.
Anne could have reached out her hand and touched her father. They stood mere inches apart but had never been more separated than in that instant.
Everything about him was flawless. The elegant beaver perched on his head was tilted just so. The overcoat fit perfectly through the shoulders and waist. The perfect weight wool had been expertly dyed to the season’s most fashionable colour. The length was exactly right to show her father’s well-formed calves clad in stockings of the snowiest white. The picture was finished with expertly buffed pumps on his feet complete with genuine silver buckles just large enough to be stylish. The baronet was the epitome of the perfect gentleman. It was his cold, lifeless eyes that betrayed him as being less than a perfect father.
Elizabeth and the smaller woman had joined them on the sidewalk. The baronet said to the woman: “You see, it is as I said. My younger daughter is not only stubborn, but rebellious as well. She has endangered herself to go against my express wishes and come here.” To his daughter he said, “Even if she feels no duty to her father, I do know mine. Anne, you will be pleased to meet our cousin, the Viscountess, Lady Dalrymple.” The ladies exchanged greetings with Anne acutely aware of her dire appearance.
Lady Dalrymple smiled. However, it was full of pity for Anne’s father and not for Anne’s comfort. She looked to Sir Walter. “Please, do not be troubled. The unexpected arrival of your second daughter will not disrupt the household overly much. We will mange.” She touched his arm and turned to enter the carriage.
Sir Walter looked to the carriage and then to Anne. She thought there might be a shred of love in him and that he was considering remaining. He looked to Elizabeth. “Stay with your sister; you will not be missed at the dinner.” He stepped up to enter the carriage, but turned. “We will discuss this tomorrow, Anne.” The carriage door slammed shut, the groom took his place, and the apparatus lurched away down the street.
A chill breeze blew and Anne felt suddenly cold to her soul. A footman cleared his throat, drawing their attention to the open door. Elizabeth snatched her arm. “You have wrecked everything, thank you very much!” She pulled Anne inside.