Tag Archives: Free Stories

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?”
Continue reading

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A Plan of His Own Making, part 13

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-17 for adult situations and mild sensuality. You are welcome to read this story here, HERE  if you prefer reading in a full page format. If you are new to Plan, the easiest way to catch up is to click on A Plan of His Own Making in either Categories or Tags. This will bring up all the postings 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

Chapter 8

Anne took a seat at Elizabeth’s dressing and the maid began to comb out her hair. There had been no opportunity for Elizabeth to speak until now, and she did not fail to take it. “When we return to Kellynch, you should reprimand your maid, Anne. She packed you nothing but mended rags. The one on your back was the least offensive gown I could find.”

The maid just then pulled her hair and Anne yelped involuntarily. To Elizabeth, she said, “What does the condition of my under garments signify? They are clean and presentable enough for just myself.” Anne and her sister never saw eye-to-eye on what she was coming to consider trivial matters.

Very little of Anne’s interior life had altered after her broken engagement and Frederick’s departure. For quite some time she had fully expected another young man to come along and enliven her heart and mind, sparking within her the same feelings of excitement, anticipation, and adventure that Frederick Wentworth had. However, this had not happened. In fact, this spring, she had noticed small things about herself shifting. This was particularly true after, unbeknownst to her family or friends, she turned down a respectable proposal offered by a young man from Uppercross.

Charles Musgrove was a kind and generous young fellow. He was not handsome or remarkable in any way, but he was of solid character, good family, and was genuinely kind to her. This was proven many times when he would forgo playing cards—which he adored—at parties to instead walk about the room and converse with her.

Soon came the evening he had stammered through the proposal while they admired a grouping of Elizabeth’s houseplants. His words were complimentary in every way and his sentiments genuine. Charles was heir to Uppercross; a property second in prominence only to Kellynch and the future he offered her was blissfully secure.

But she did not love Charles Musgrove.

After she had, as gently as possible, refused him, she excused herself to take some time to walk and to think about what she had done. Her refusal could be, at first, be put down to sheer astonishment. Even after a time of quiet reflection, she realised she felt neither regret, nor the desire to repeat such a self-conscious occasion with any other man.

Over the years of Frederick’s absence, a coldness had grown up inside Anne, and she had begun to take an odd sort of pride in her little denials of pleasure. It had started with turning down her favourite foods when offered at mealtimes.  She too was becoming stinting about her personal needs. As long as her behaviour went unnoticed, she felt safe, but having these little oddities discovered by her sister was unsettling.

She was startled to notice Elizabeth now stood over her. “How you could present yourself to our noble cousin when you are so disdainful of your appearance is beyond me. Honestly, Anne, you are becoming a frump, and now I see it is from the skin out.” She stalked off an took a chair by the fire. “I was frankly embarrassed when the maid opened your cases to unpack them.”

Her sister was right of course, but hearing it out loud left Anne surprisingly untouched. What did touch her was the invasion of her privacy. She turned to Elizabeth. “Why did you take it upon yourself to unpack my cases? You brought two trunks of your own. You could not possibly have need of anything of mine.”

Elizabeth hesitated. She went to the window and looked over the street below. “Father’s explanations made it necessary for me to claim all the cases as my own. It would have looked ridiculous if I had not unpacked all of them.” She looked out the window and worried a tassel dangling from the curtain.

The maid finished and was dismissed. Anne rose and put on her robe. “I suppose it has been a great burden to bear since Father told the viscountess that I did not make the journey at all. And it will be more difficult now that the reprobate child has dared to come across the channel on my own.”

“What else was he to say when you went off with that pirate? How were we to present ourselves to Lady Dalrymple? ‘You see, Cousin, Anne chose to leave us for the company of a masked bandit of the sea.'”

“I did not leave you and father, and I did not go off of my own accord. What would have been wrong with telling her the truth?”

“What precisely is the truth, sister? We were told that when you were taken from us you allowed yourself to be locked in a room with that horrible man with the disgusting black kerchief. When we were released, we were told you were seen rowing off with him and his colleague. I hope he was at least handsome.” She took Anne’s place at the dressing table and clacked a rapid tattoo on the back of the brush with the matching comb. Within seconds she tossed the comb down and Anne wondered that her sister did not break in two as her posture was so erect.

Frederick Wentworth was indeed handsome, but Anne knew it was not a wise thing to admit. Instead she said, “I did not go willingly. I fell overboard and nearly drowned. I could not be returned to the ship. If it were not for Frederick risking his own life to pull me from the water, I would have died.” Just speaking of it made her feel the frigid water closing over her head, the wet clothes, the fetid smell of the hide, and all the rest.

Elizabeth’s brow shot up. “Frederick!” She stood and Anne was surprised she did not shatter. “That man was Captain Wentworth?” Her natural grace never faltered as she rose and approached Anne. “No wonder you went with him. You have been mooning over that wretched sailor for two years now.” Anne stepped back. Elizabeth was so close, Anne could smell her sweet, floral perfume. She was almost certain she could feel the heat of her rage as well.

Elizabeth turned away suddenly. “I can only pray that no one at home will find out about you and a proven libertine cavorting in the wilds of Ireland together.”

Anne could not endure her taunts. “No such thing happened! He took care of me. I was injured and he cared for my wounds. He was a perfect gentleman the entire time.” She could feel her fingernails biting into the flesh of her hands. “We stayed in a cottage with a family who gave us aide and shelter in exchange for Frederick’s helping with painting and plastering.” The lie about the family slipped out so easily, Anne wondered at her own integrity.

Elizabeth turned on her. “Plastering and painting! Is that the story he said to tell? And why would he bother as he has obviously tired of you and left you off here, damaged. You might as well have run off and married him two years ago, Anne. The gossip would have died down by now, and there would not be any danger of scandal to your sisters’ reputations.” She left the room, slamming the door behind her.

*

Maria pressed herself close to Frederick. “This makes a difference, now don’t it?”

The passion was evident in her eyes. Wentworth could only hope he looked the same. “What sort of game are you playing at? I thought you were Tomas’s wife.” He raised a brow and stared.

Maria widened her eyes and put her hand to her mouth. She shook her head and chuckled. “I suppose it did look like that.”

“You slept in the loft with him.”

“Don’t think that because I keep an old man warm through a few cold nights I have allowed him the privilege of planting a seed in my belly.”

This aspect of Maria was too bewildering to pursue. “I am sorry I have offended you.” He decided a compliment was in order. “You are generous to be so good to him.”

Maria smiled. “Tomas thought it best that I not be too appealing to the fellas. They are new to the trade and undisciplined. He thought it would keep their minds on their studies.” She glanced behind, out the window to see about the others, and then turned back. “His idea was to dirty my face and cover my hair with a filthy cap. I am too vain for such a thing. I thought this,” she moved his hands over the lump, “more fitting.” She brought his hands down her sides but he pulled them away.

She felt his rejection and her eyes shifted from a shiny welcome to a wintry caution. He watched as she reached under her skirt. She reached about and gave a hard pull. The move was grace itself when she straightened and slithered this way and that. Again, she tugged at the skirt and it shifted. She stepped over a bundle at her feet and returned to the table to take a seat. There was none of awkward heaviness from the past few days. She ignored him and instead of resuming their conversation, picked through the scattered serving plates for bits of meat.

The sight of her movements and the danger of the situation warred in Wentworth’s mind. He knew he must keep her engaged, keep her as an ally if the plan to learn their patterns was to come off. A large gob of beef was hiding beneath a half-eaten chunk of bread on a plate next to him. He speared it with a fork and placed it before her. “How do you come to be with this lot? Your accent says you weren’t born to this.”

Maria tried to take his hand with the fork from him, but he was quicker. “And your accent says—” She paused to take a bit, watching him, studying him. After a drink of wine, she said, “You don’t belong here either.”

“I told Tomas, I wasn’t getting anywhere with the King and so struck off on me own.”

Again Maria’s clear laugh filled the cottage. “It truly pains you to speak improperly, doesn’t it?”

Frederick smiled and did not allow his eyes to waiver from hers. If he looked away, she would perceive him weak. There was no circumstance under which he could escape alive if she thought for a moment he feared her and the others. At fourteen, when he first went to sea, he had learnt to read men by playing cards during boring stretches of sea duty. It did not take him long to notice that down to a man, each had small gestures, unconscious signals that when read properly, could give him the advantage. Unfortunately for Frederick, he had been studying Tomas and Cavan’s ways and not Maria’s.

Her ability to read him was on the mark and disconcerting to say the least.

Maria finished the meat. A drop of fat glistened on her lip. Instead of licking it away, she precisely spread it onto her lips. “The sea wind dries them so.” She stretched in the languid way a cat ready to nap would do, even to the purr in her throat.

This was another show of offering herself to him. He must play the game but manage not lose himself to her in the process.

 

A Plan of His Own Making, part 12

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-17 for adult situations and mild sensuality. You are welcome to read this story here, HERE  if you prefer reading in a full page format. If you are new to Plan, the easiest way to catch up is to click on A Plan of His Own Making in either Categories or Tags. This will bring up all the postings 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

As Elizabeth led her through Lady Dalrymple’s house, Anne wondered how her father reacted to it. Everything was just slightly out of sorts and haphazard. The colours of the curtains were too bright, elements of architecture were too large for their context, and what bits of furniture she could see were left over from a by-gone period and more than looking their age. She knew her father’s exacting standards would be violated by the absence of a dignified order.

*

“You may leave me and see to my clothes.” Anne dismissed the maid sent to help her. At first, she hurried through the bath, but slowed as the hot water eased away the tension and fear. She was finally warm through, and clean after days of only feeble attempts at cleanliness. The idea that she would sleep in a decent bed tonight and wake to her customary life was at first luxurious. As she soaked, all that became insignificant. Now, when she compared the comforts and the company of her family to Frederick, she would far rather have his company in any dirty cottage, with even old Tomas in residence rather than be where she was.

She rested her cheek against the edge of the copper tub and wondered just where Frederick was at precisely that moment. Surely, he is back to the cottage by now. If that were the case, he would be on foot by now, making his way over the cold and rocky shore south to the meeting place. If he was anything like her, the approach of evening would bring with it hunger. He had every confidence that Harville would be waiting still at the designated inn. One way or another, she prayed that he would be fed, warm, and sheltered soon.

She reluctantly finished the bath and prepared for bed. She had no expectation that she would be required downstairs for the rest of the evening. Her nightclothes were fetched and she was dressed. As the clean cotton flannel warmed against her skin, she felt a pang of guilt that she was safe, and that Frederick was, perhaps, still on the edge of existence.

*

When Frederick drove the cart into the yard, there had been several other men listening to Tomas. Tomas had smiled and indicated he should go into the house. He went to the door and it opened immediately. There stood Maria. The afternoon light played through her red hair, highlighting its gold and chestnut hues. She was just as lovely as ever, and, since his talk with Anne, he trusted her even less than he had before.

She brought him in and sat him at the table. Food was laid before him and as he ate, Maria told him more than he could have ever hoped to learn on his own.

“Tomas is growing too old to do much anymore, so I thought he could teach some other, younger men to do heavy work. That old gourd on his shoulders has more knowledge of these waters and the shoreline than any other I know. And he knows by sight most of the cutters and their captains.” At this, she paused and stared at him.

There was no mistaking the lust in her eyes. His desire stirred and intensified. Taking Maria to his bed was a wretched idea. Wentworth had every intention of living through this mission and there was no telling what Tomas might do to any man caught meddling with the woman who carried his child. He pictured Anne walking away from the cart in the dirty alleyway behind her aunt’s house. It was not for any faithfulness to Anne that he must put aside any ideas about this willing woman, but for his own preservation.

It was clear that having relations with a stranger for the fun of it was not disgusting to Maria. If Tomas knew, and ignored such behaviour, might the child be someone else’s? The questions her antics raised were legion. Regardless, he must somehow remain clear-headed while keeping her at arm’s length; and still encourage her confidence.

“Was Tomas ever in service?” It was a ridiculous question. The hostility to the Crown in this part of Ireland was thick as porridge, but as a diversion the question held promise.

Maria threw back her head and laughed. It was a curious mixture of a throaty heartiness and a delicate clarity. Again, Frederick’s desire for her stirred.

He rose and dipped some water from a crock at the far end of the table and rebuked himself. It was bad enough he couldn’t control his own body, but to desire a woman expectant by another man was lower than he’d ever sunk before. “I just wondered how he came to know so much.”

Maria joined him and stood close enough for him to feel the warmth of her body. “Good God, no. Tomas in service is a joke of such proportions … “ Her voice faded.

He turned and she was again staring at him. “We were speaking of Tomas … ”

“Tomas was once a very handsome man I am told. Much like you, I suspect.” She smiled and took a drink from his tankard. “Don’t worry, there has been a great deal of hard living between then and now. I doubt you will look so battered in your old age.” The tip of her tongue touched her lower lip to catch a drop of water pooled there.

He cleared his throat, took another drink, and said, “There is no telling what the future brings, and I have now chosen a much harder road than before.” It was a truth told without thinking. Again he thought of Anne. She wasn’t in the alleyway, but a summer garden from years ago. One soft kiss …

The whole endeavour was in jeopardy because of his unbridled passions. He moved back to sit.

Maria cut him off. “You needn’t be ashamed of being a man, you know. It is perfectly natural.” She tilted her head and shaded line of her jaw and her exposed neck made him begin to sweat. Her soft hands took his and put them on her swollen belly.

Frederick was suddenly free of any sort of desire. The surprise of Maria’s child being a bundle of clothes worked a sort of magic on him.

 

 

 

 

A Plan of His Own Making, part 11

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.

Chapter 7

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. Continue reading

A Plan of His Own Making, part 10

You are welcome to read this story here, HERE or at Beyond Austen, depending on which format you like.

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-17 for adult situations and mild sensuality

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

When Anne awoke, the fire was blazing away though Frederick was nowhere to be seen.

Anne rose and washed. Once again, Frederick had saved her from her own foolishness. His retreat was a blessing for Anne knew she was weak and that weakness would have consumed her. The thought of his touch set her on fire once again. Only Maria’s call to the table rescued her from her thoughts.

Cavan and the girls were absent for breakfast, and other than Tomas’s observation of how being rid of two hungry mouths would be a relief, the morning was amiable. As they were leaving, Maria saw to Anne’s comfort with a bonnet and pelisse and a small packet of food. “Just a bit of a reminder of your time here at the cottage.” She did not look at Anne, but only Frederick.

They were well away from the cottage and Frederick had still said nothing. She reckoned that their intense interlude was over and he was back to thinking of his smuggling. It saddened her, but she changed her mind Continue reading

A Plan of His Own Making, part 9

You are welcome to read this story here, HERE or at Beyond Austen, depending on which format you like.

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-17 for adult situations and mild sensuality

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

*

Wentworth was trowelling on the last of the plaster, covering the wattle wall where it met the ceiling. From the corner of his eye, Wentworth saw Maria step into the doorway of the room. She studied him for a moment and then summoned them both to dinner. On hearing the call, Tomas grunted it was about bleedin’ time, dropped his paintbrush mid-stroke, and walked away from the mess of plaster, whitewash, buckets, and rags. Wentworth quickly put some order to clutter, taking care to cover the buckets with rags so as not to waste perfectly good whitewash and plaster. He wiped his hands as best he could, and just before joining the others, he prayed Anne did not notice his desperate need for soap and water.

In a neat twist of irony, it was left to Wentworth to say grace over the Christmas meal. Tomas made it clear he felt not the slightest need to thank any man or god for a scrap of food before them. “Would you, Captain? I think we must prove to Miss Anne we are not savages,” Maria said. Before the prayer was finished, Cavan entered the house and took a seat next to the woman. With this new arrangement, the table was more unbalanced than before. Maria, Tomas, and now Cavan were the seated on the one side. On the other, Anne and Frederick were bookended by the two little girls. For young children, the girls took up a great deal of space on the bench; so much so that he and Anne were shoulder-to-shoulder. There was so little room that their plates not only touched, but rested one on the other. Continue reading

A Plan of His Own Making, part 8

You are welcome to read this story here, HERE or at Beyond Austen, depending on which format you like.

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-17 for adult situations and mild sensuality

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

Chapter 5

There had been little else spoken between them the previous night. They had wished one another a good night, to which Anne silently added a wish for his pleasant dreams. She remained awake for some time after. As she listened to him moving about, sighing, and feeding the fire, she scolded herself and felt selfish that she was happy he hadn’t fallen quickly asleep. Perhaps it indicated he was thinking of her, just as she was thinking of him.

In the morning, Anne heard no sounds and congratulated herself on waking before the rest of the household. When she opened her eyes, she found the day was much further along than she thought.

Frederick was gone from his post at the hearth, and Maria silently moved about clearing up after breakfast. Even more surprising was finding herself being closely observed by the two young girls.

Neither had been introduced to her by name the day before, and neither in the course of helping her to undress, or in getting into the bed had they offered one. In fact, Anne could not recall ever hearing either girl speak. However, Continue reading