“After a short interval, however, he came towards her and spoke again. Mutual inquiries on common subjects passed; neither of them, probably, much the wiser for what they heard, and Anne continuing fully sensible of his being less at ease than formerly. They had, by dint of being so very much together, got to speak to each other with a considerable portion of apparent indifference and calmness; but he could not do it now. Time had changed him, or Louisa had changed him. There was consciousness of some sort or other. He looked very well, not as if he had been suffering in health or spirits, and of Uppercross, of the Musgroves, nay, even of Louisa and had even a momentary look of his own arch significance as he named her; but yet it was Captain Wentworth not comfortable, not easy, not able to feign that he was.”
I enjoy this passage a lot. In the first half of the book, Anne was perennially uncomfortable. First, hiding behind her injured nephew, occasionally pleading headaches, and desperately searching for things to keep him at a distance. They did the civil so there were no questions as to why they were cool to one another, but, on the whole, Anne was sort of an emotional wreck. Now the tables have turned.
When I watch Persuasion, I know the sort of embarrassment Wentworth is struggling with. Picture him shaving, looking in the mirror, rehearsing what he’s going to say. Casual inflections, witty retorts, and cool bon mots designed to rev up those delightfully jittery sensations of love. But, like most of us, when the time comes he chokes.
The frame above I lovingly call, “Whuuu…” And can’t we all relate? We know precisely what to say because we’ve edited the entire script in our heads a thousand times. We’ve played both parts so accurately it became more like a memory than a rehearsal. Nothing has been left to chance. Except we can’t quite overcome the hormones rushing us and knocking us to the metaphoric ground.
It’s great to know that Jane knew this and inflicted our favorite hero with the same dry mouth and shaky hands we’ve all experienced.
Yeah, a guy who’s rattled by the sight of us is kind of cute. And not a little hot.
For any of you who have been watching the counter to the right:I am posting a new story at Beyond Austen. You will have to create an account, but it is free and they don’t bother you with ads and such. I hope you’ll take a look.