Sunday, December 7, 2014

On Ice

Louisa and Rietta came by the cottage today to see if I wanted to go for a long snowshoe hike with them. Mary had a bit of a snit at not being asked, though the girls were just being polite since Mary is constantly complaining that she can’t do long walks. In the end we all went.

It was a lovely day for snowshoeing - sunny with cool, crisp air. Before we even reached the woods we ran into Charles and Wentworth who abandoned their plans and joined us. We walked slowly toward the trail while the boys went to the cottage to get gear and caught up with us. Wentworth hiked with Louisa and Rietta of course, and I was with Mary and Charles.

Mary and Charles were bickering about something or other, which left me to listen to the conversation between Wentworth and his ladies, such as it was. Louisa and Rietta are wonderful people, I really do like them – they’re kind and generous and curious about the world and other people. But I do wonder a bit at Wentworth, that he doesn’t want more… depth in his partner. He used to be nerdy and loved nothing better than attending an evening lecture on how technology could be used to build stronger community. Louisa and Rietta are still both very young (20 and 23) and while they are fun and outgoing, they do not have any of the seriousness I would think a successful man would want. But what do I know of successful men and their wants?

Our long route took us near Hal’s family chalet and Charles said he was going to stop in to have a quick chat with Hal about a golf trip they are planning. Mary refused to go with him, pointedly saying to Wentworth that she “doesn’t associate with that family”. (Wentworth looked unimpressed at her snobbery.) Charles next looked to Rietta to go with him. Rietta hesitated and Mary applied pressure for her not to go. Louisa stepped in saying of course Rietta should go. She had a word with her sister and then Charles and Rietta headed off while the rest of us wandered around the hilltop. Mary and I went to look for a comfortable place to sit, as Mary complained she was tired. Wentworth and Louisa took another path together.

Mary and I found a pretty spot on a fallen tree tucked into a little grove, but after sitting there for a few minutes, Mary was convinced Louisa had found a better spot and went in search of her. I stayed put, tired and happy for a moment alone. I was enjoying sitting in the quiet of the woods when I heard Wentworth and Louisa on a path down below. Louisa was chastising her sister for almost allowing Mary to talk her out of visiting Hal.

Louisa: I would never let someone talk me out of something that I wanted.

Wentworth: Good for you - I can’t stand people who are easily persuaded away from what they want.

Louisa: Oh, I know! If I want something, I go for it; I won’t let anyone stop me.

Wentworth: I’m glad to hear it. I think you’ll do well if you think that way. You have to be determined to get ahead in the world, know yourself and what you need.

They walked out of earshot at this point, and when they wandered back, the conversation had changed.

Louisa: Oh Mary, she can be such a pain! With her Elliot pride and constant worry about whether someone is good enough to associate with - it’s so annoying. You know we all wish Charles had married Anne instead; we all would have liked Anne better.

Wentworth, stopping: What do you mean?

Louisa: Of course, I forgot you wouldn't know! Charles was dating Anne and proposed to her first! But she refused him and ended the relationship. Somehow he ended up with Mary not long after.

Wentworth: When did this happen?

Louisa: Oh, four or five years ago, I guess. I was away at school. We all think Lacy Russell had some hand in Anne’s refusal, that she persuaded Anne that Charles wasn’t smart enough. In any case, now we are stuck with Mary. But it’s better when Anne is here - you should see Mary when Anne isn't here; oh god.

Then they moved out of earshot for good. I was very glad to be alone at that moment. Hearing my character drawn out like that - as though Lacy dictated my life, was pretty mortifying. Is that what people think, that I’m incapable of forming an opinion on my own?

But hearing Wentworth express some curiosity about me also caused some feelings.

Charles and Rietta returned, with Hal. Rietta and Hal were holding hands and appeared to have made up. So the walk back was Rietta and Hal, Wentworth and Louisa, and Charles and Mary and I. Nothing like being the third wheel - or the third person on a trail wide enough for two. I was having a pretty miserable time of it, to be honest, having twisted my ankle slightly earlier on. Our trail back crossed the main road and we all paused there to catch our breath and see who it was that was driving up. It turned out to be Mr. and Mrs. Musgrove. They kindly offered a lift to anyone who was tired and in need of a more comfortable way home. We all refused. Wentworth spoke to Mrs. Musgrove briefly and she turned to me and insisted that I let them drive me back.

Mrs. Musgrove: Anne, you have to let us drive you. You can’t walk home on an injured ankle. We won’t let you refuse.

I tried to protest but she wouldn’t hear it, and then I felt Wentworth’s hand on my back, gently guiding me towards the car. He opened the back door for me, looking away. I took off my snowshoes and got in, thanking him and the Musgroves.

I think I understand him. He can’t forgive me for what I did, but he isn’t unfeeling. He noticed my ankle was causing me pain and he wanted to see me comfortable. Even as he falls in love with someone else, he has heart enough to want to at least make sure I am not in pain - despite how badly I hurt him.

1 comment :

  1. Uh.... you dated Charles? Like, your current brother-in-law Charles?? Are we going to get that story someday?