Category Archives: Frederick and Anne

A Little Contagion for Christmas

If you’ve read the stories in A Very Austen Christmas anthology (and if you haven’t, why NOT?) an accidental theme in three of them was illness and its ability to bring people together. Not to be outdone, I present to you a story I wrote years ago with the same theme: The Little Particulars of the Circumstance

In the course of the original Persuasion, Frederick Wentworth goes to Uppercross Cottage looking for Louisa and Henrietta.  Instead, he finds himself alone with Anne Elliot. He then rescues her from the naughty antics of little Walter. In this version, the apothecary, Mr Robinson, has come to check on the injured little Charles and in a twist of the story, declares a quarantine! When Anne and Frederick are forced to stay alone together in one room, with a sick child to care for, will they overcome their pride and anger? This story combines a little bit of “Outbreak!” with a lot of “It Happened One Night.” Happy ending included at no charge.

 

One morning, very soon after the dinner at the Musgroves, at which Anne had not been present, Captain Wentworth walked into the drawing room at the Cottage, where were herself, Mr Robinson the apothecary, and the little invalid, Charles, who was lying on the sofa.

The surprise of finding himself almost alone with Anne Elliot deprived of his manners of the usual composure: he started, and could only say, “I beg your pardon. I thought the Miss Musgroves had been here—Mrs Musgrove told me I could find them here,” before he walked to the window to recollect himself and feel how he ought to behave.

“They are upstairs with my sister—they will be down in a few moments, I dare say.”

He continued at the window; and after calmly and politely saying, “I hope the little boy is better,” was silent.

Anne turned back to Mr Robinson, the apothecary, who had come to check on the young patient.

The man glanced towards Captain Wentworth. “As I was saying before the interruption, the boy’s spine is undamaged and he is doing well enough in his recovery. I am heartened that my instructions have been carried out with such scrupulous attention.” He removed his glasses and put them in his breast pocket. “It is not always the case when I make recommendations here.”

Anne suspected her sister’s delicate health made it necessary for Mr Robinson to make rather a lot of calls to the Cottage, but she doubted Mary did more than enjoy the notice, with no intentions of following his orders. Mr Robinson once again looked over his little patient. He frowned and pulled up the boy’s shirt. “How long did you say this rash had been evident?”

She came closer. “As I said before, I saw it last evening. It is more acute this morning. I think it may be—”

Robinson grunted and sighed heavily. He put on his glasses and began to carelessly prod and turn the boy this way and that. Anne was appalled that he wholly disregarded Charles’s sharp cries. He touched a place or two, and then looked over the tops of the spectacles. “You say it is more intense?” Anne nodded. “Was this rash on him the other day?”

“No. I am not sure when it appeared, but I saw it yesterday evening, around seven.”

He opened a small notebook and flipped through a few pages. He sighed again. “There is a pocket of fever in Crewkherne. It became evident just a week or so ago. There is fear it is smallpox.”

“The place looked positively asleep when I came through.” Wentworth glanced towards the others.

Robinson turned and looked over his glasses at the Captain. “Come through Crewkherne did you? When did you arrive?”
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Happy Birthday, Anne

Happy Birthday, Anne

I’m thinking Anne should have diamonds for her birthday. Diamonds in gold. No, platinum.

FW_at_deskNo, wait, wait, wait! Gold braid. On the shoulders of a great guy. Yeah, that’s what Anne wants for her birthday!

Wentworth Wednesday

Chapter 20
“No!” he replied impressively, “there is nothing worth my staying for;” and he was gone directly.

Jealousy of Mr Elliot!  It was the only intelligible motive.  Captain Wentworth jealous of her affection!  Could she have believed it a week ago; three hours ago!  For a moment the gratification was exquisite. But, alas! there were very different thoughts to succeed.  How was such jealousy to be quieted?  How was the truth to reach him?  How, in all the peculiar disadvantages of their respective situations, would he ever learn of her real sentiments?  It was misery to think of Mr Elliot’s attentions.  Their evil was incalculable.Persuasion_486sm

“There is nothing worth my staying for.” On the one hand, this is a petulant thing to say as you storm away from the girl you’re trying to win. But, I understand it completely.

Weeks ago, in Lyme, Mr Elliot was the man who caused Frederick to notice Anne’s improving looks, even to the point of admitting there was something of the old Anne back in view.

After the kerfuffle with Louisa Musgrove is put to rest, Frederick high-tails it to Bath in hopes of making things right. I’m sure he spent those few days on the road, spinning scenarios of the coming reunion with Anne. It happens! They meet. She even steps forward, in a very public place, to acknowledge him, then, Mr Elliot!

The guy is everywhere. And then there is the latest Bath gossip that implies a mutual interest between the two. I’m sure the days between their meeting in Molland’s and the concert were full of dark thoughts.

Now comes the concert and Elliot’s excessive interest in Anne and his ease with her family. There can be no doubt that Frederick spent the interval imagining the worst.

I can identify. Dark thoughts and letting my imagination run riot is a pastime of mine. Taking every thought captive and wringing them into submission is also a part of my job description. It’s tough, particularly when you’re sure that the people you love don’t care as much about you as you do them. We all do this, right? So, we can all sympathize.

Frederick can imagine Anne is in love with him all day, but until the words are said, he’s just dreaming. What makes Frederick a fortunate man is Anne understands him perfectly. She knows he’s jealous of Elliot.

But just how does she get through that thick head?

 

3 Persuasion Changes that doom Anne and Frederick

From the opening of Persuasion:

Elliot of Kellynch-Hall
Walter Elliot, born March 1, 1760, married, July 15, 1784, Elizabeth, daughter of James Stevenson, Esq. of South Park, in the county of Gloucester; by which lady (who died 1800) he has issue Elizabeth, born June 1, 1785; Anne, born August 9, 1787; a still-born son, Nov. 5, 1789; Mary, born November 20, 1791.

Tomorrow is November 5th and I’m taking a break from Wentworth Wednesday to wonder aloud how Persuasion might have been different if the still-born son of Walter Elliot had lived.

When I first thought of this, my gut feeling was the story would change but not so much that Anne and Frederick wouldn’t get together eventually.

Boy, what a good night’s sleep can accomplish when it comes to a plot line.

My mythic Elliots at play

My mythic Elliots at play

My thinking was, with a son, Sir Walter would have been more preening and ridiculous with that “look at what I’ve done” sort of vibe. Even if Lady Elliot had managed to keep her husband’s financial flamboyance in check, her death would have assured a cascade of son-centric reckless spending, and shortened the trip down the economic wormhole for the Elliots.

Here’s what happens if, instead of fourteen years, it’s only ten years after Lady Elliot’s death that the retrenchment takes place:

 

The Crofts are still in India. This means they do not lease Kellynch Hall. Without the Crofts renting the Hall, the story fails.

Frederick is still at sea. This means Frederick will not return to Somerset and the story fails.

Mary is not yet married to Charles Musgrove. Even if the stars align and the first two events do occur, at this point there is no reason for Anne to remain in the area and not go directly to the white glare of September in Bath.

There is a bright spot. William Elliot never comes into the story. The only reason we even know of him is because he is the heir presumptive to Kellynch Hall. With a son, I’m sure Sir Walter would never deign to seek out “the great grandson of the second Sir Walter.” This being the case, instead of mooning over her cousin, Elizabeth might have married and had a semblance of a happy life.

Heroines who have older brothers are thin on the ground in Austen novels. And even when they appear they have little to do with changing the course of the story. But had Anne’s brother lived, her life would have been very sad indeed.

Well, maybe.

Maybe not.

Austen was a clever woman and she might have created some spectacular adventures to get Frederick and Anne back together. Like the younger brother falls in with Dick Musgrove and runs off to sea, meets Captain Wentworth, and …

What if the son, taking social cues from his father, disdains Wentworth’s pursuit of his sister in the summer of ‘06? Family honor must be satisfied, so the little gherkin challenges the Captain to a duel and kills him. Wait, then the story again fails so we can scratch that one.

Any other ideas? What if the brother is more like his mother and less a knucklehead like his daddy? What if, in ’06, he encourages Anne to run away with Frederick? Or at the very least not break the engagement? Or, if Anne follows through with the break-up he encourages her later to marry Charles Musgrove.

Anyway, you see how an absent character, mentioned outright only once, can make all the difference to a fan fiction writer.

R. I. P. still-born son, born Nov. 5, 1789.