*-The only characters are I own are Captain Edward Jones and the Wentworth children, the rest I love too much to claim as mine.
In her nearly twenty five years, Anne Wentworth had two major experiences that would forever alter the course of her life. The first was the day she chose love over her family. The second was the day she had to choose to return to Somerset after Frederick’s death or remain in Lyme.
She watched impatiently as her father led Frederick into his study. She hoped that her father would see through his pride and give his blessing to their marriage. But his reaction was the same as the rest of the family.
“He is not for you, Anne; I suggest you let him go, let him find a woman more suitable”.
Instead of agreeing with her father, she surprised even herself.
“Frederick!” she called out.
“If you leave with him, I will cut you off; you are no longer part of this family”.
“You would leave your father and your family?” Frederick asked.
“Anne! You come back here this instant!” Sir Walter’s words fell on deaf ears.
That was five years ago. They since had three children, the twins, Alexander and Emily who had been born just before their parent’s first anniversary and Henry who was nearly one. While Emily was mirror image of their mother, Alexander was mirror image of their father. Anne and Frederick could not decide who Henry resembled more and came to the conclusion that he was equal parts his father and mother.
Anne watched her husband pack. His brief month of shore leave was coming to an end.
Frederick knew that look in Anne’s eyes, despite the fact that she was well schooled in what it meant to be a sailor’s wife, she hated to watch him go.
The sheets and blankets had made replaced from the night before, hardly indicating of the intimacy between Anne and Frederick.
“I promise you, I will return” he tried to sooth her fears.
“And if you don’t?” she asked.
“I have taken care of everything and if anything should occur, Sophy and the Admiral are more than willing step in”.
Sir Walter made good on his word, Anne had not heard from her family in five years, except for her younger sister, Mary who would occasionally write to her. Two years after Anne married Frederick, Mary married the son of a family friend, Charles Musgrove. Without a son to carry on the Elliot title and fortune, Sir Walter’s heir was a distant cousin, William Walter Eliot.
Replacing her family was Frederick’s family. Sophy and the Admiral had spent many evenings at their modest home in Lyme. Even Edward and his family had traveled from Shropshire to visit them.
“Papa, must you go?” the look on his wife’s face was reflected in their children’s eyes.
“You know wherever I go, I will always love you” he picked up the twins, who squealed in delight as he tickled them.
He then looked back at his wife, who held Henry in her arms. He was just beginning to walk and even talk a little; it hurt that he would not be available during those first precious moments.
They shared one last kiss before Frederick’s carriage disappeared.
The rest of the month flew by without incident.
Then there was a knock on the door. It was rainy day and with the Admiral off on business, Sophy was spending the afternoon with Anne and the children.
“There is someone to see you, madam”.
“You are Mrs. Wentworth, I presume?” the gentleman asked.
“I am at a loss sir, you know me, but I have not made your acquaintance”.
“My name is Captain Edward Jones; I have known your husband since we were in the naval academy”.
“I do apologize Captain, Frederick spoke of you fondly, would you like to come in?”.
“I thank you, madam, for the offer, but I came on business”.
His tone changed quickly and she attempted to keep the nagging fear from penetrating her consciousness.
“Three days ago, our ship was attacked by French warship. The battle was, well, the details are not suitable to be repeated in polite company”.
The Captain bit his lip, as if looking for the right words.
“There were few survivors, your husband fought as bravely as I have ever seen a man fight. But he was not among the survivors”.
He removed a parcel from within his coat and placed it into her trembling hands.
“I felt, knowing Frederick as I did, that it was proper to personally inform you rather than you hear the news in another form. I am sorry for your loss, madam” With that, he walked away.
She fell to her knees, her tears falling uncontrollably.
“Anne?” Sophy asked.
Anne looked at her sister in law, words were unnecessary.
A week later, Anne, with her children, The Admiral and Mrs. Croft and Edward watched as Frederick’s body was laid to rest.
The mourners disappeared slowly, until Anne stood alone at her husband’s newly dug grave.
Perhaps her father and Lady Russell had been right; marrying a penniless naval officer had been a mistake. But she had made her decision; she would live her life and with the consequences, whatever they may be.
“Anne, I think you and the children should stay with us, at least for a little while” the admiral had offered.
Anne nodded in agreement; it would be good for all of them.
“Mama?” her elder children asked, each taking one of her free hands.
Looking at her husband’s final resting place, she led them away.
The next few days, mourners came and went, Anne not paying attention to any particular visitors.
Then it was announced that Mary and Charles had come to pay their respects.
“Anne, I am so sorry, poor dear, you must be a mess” she was surprised by the hug from her sister.
“My husband is dead, there is nothing I can do to bring him back”.
“Is there anything we can do?” Charles asked.
“Your presence is enough”.
“Pardon me madam, he has been fussy today, I cannot calm him down” the maid handed Henry to his mother.
In a moment, his fussiness disappeared and he lay his curious brown eyes on this visitors.
“Who is this?” Mary cooed.
“This is Henry”.
“And your other children”.
Anne called the twins over, who properly introduced themselves.
“Do you know who I am?” Mary asked. They promptly nodded their heads no.
“I am your Aunt Mary; this is your Uncle Charles”.
“Anne, may I talk to you for a moment, its matter of importance” Charles asked.
Mary took Henry from Anne and led the twins away from them.
“Mary and I have been keeping your father abreast of your situation and he wishes you and the children to return to Somerset”.
“My father turned me out when I married Frederick, I don’t know if I could ever return. Besides we are happy here, I cannot uproot my children now”.
“I do understand your feelings, Anne, but you must consider…”.
“What I must do, Charles is take care of my children, please excuse me” hearing Henry’s wail, she started to walk away. The old Anne would have relented, agreeing to return to Somerset and Kellynch. But she couldn’t, not now.
“Sir Walter bade me give you this. Mary and I cannot force you to return with us, but I beg you to at least read what he has written” He placed the letter in her hand.
Later that evening, after her children had been put to bed, she sat alone, the letter from Sir Walter in her hand, until she was startled by the Admiral.
“You were quiet tonight, my dear” he commented as he sat down beside her.
“My sister and her husband came today”.
“I don’t believe I made their acquaintance, but I heard the chap’s last name is Musgrove”.
“Charles delivered a letter from my father. He wishes us to return to Somerset. There is a property called Armsbury, no more than two kilometers from Kellynch Hall. My father will provide for all of our expenses, including an annual income of 5,000 pounds a year as well as the children’s education and inheritance”.
“Sophy and I would be sad to see you go, but if that is your decision, we will abide by it”.
“I don’t know if returning is the best decision. My father, well, he is sometimes akin to a preening peacock”.
They both laughed at the image, it felt good to laugh, neither had laughed in a week.
“My elder sister, Elizabeth is very much like my father and my younger sister; she was sometimes bound to fits of folly as a child and has not altered much since then”.
“What of your mother? What was her opinion?”.
“My mother died when I was a child, her friend Lady Russell attempted to take my mother’s place, but it was never the same. It was Lady Russell who nearly persuaded me to turn down Frederick’s proposal”.
Just then a cry of “Mama!” was heard.
“I shall leave you then, good night, Anne”.
Two days later, they returned home. After nearly a week and a half, Anne felt it was time to leave.
Standing in the door way of their home, it was as if she was reliving that moment all over again.
“Shall I put him to bed, madam?” the nursemaid asked, ready to take Henry from his mother.
“No, I will put him down. Please unpack and prepare the twins for bed”.
“As you, wish madam”.
Later that night, the moon rose as Anne slept in the nursery. She could not return to their bed, it was too much to bear. After she put Henry to bed, she opened the parcel Captain Jones had given to her.
It contained her letters to Frederick as well as the miniatures of herself and the children. For the first time in weeks, she started to cry.
“Anne” it was no more than a whisper, but she heard it.
Looking in doorway, she saw an outline of someone watching her. It was Frederick, as clear as the last day she saw him.
“Frederick?” she asked.
“Follow your heart, my love, I promise, all will work out” then he was gone.
Anne woke up with a start, looking to the doorway, he was not there. It had been a dream.
As the sun rose the next morning, Anne wrote to her father, her decision has been made.
I thank you for the offer of Armsbury, as well as the living. But I must decline. My children are happy in Lyme, as am I. I do however, look forward to when you may visit Lyme or we may return to Kellynch, for I would dearly love to introduce you to my children.
Knowing her father as she did, he would probably never come to Lyme, nor would an invitation come from Kellynch Hall.
“Mother?” Alexander’s voice broke her away from her thoughts.
He stood in front of her, in his naval uniform, as tall and handsome as Frederick had been. She has to often remind herself that it was not her beloved husband, but their eldest son who stood in front of her.
As she had predicted, her father had not replied.
Six weeks after burying Frederick, she received a letter that contained his pension. With the money, she turned their small house into an inn; many of their first guests were other naval officers who came to pay their respects.
Twenty years had passed by without her noticing. Alexander was following in the footsteps of his father and uncle and joined the Navy. Henry was eager to follow Edward’s footsteps and become ordained. Then there was Emily, who had joined her mother at the inn since the day it had opened. She had recently become engaged to the youngest son of a prosperous merchant, who was eager to join his future wife at the inn.
Frederick had been right, she had followed her heart and everything had worked out. And when the time would come, she would see him again.