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Aug 26 2014

Persuasion 200: Anne readies Kellynch for the Crofts

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There are a thousand things to be done to prepare to leave Kellynch and all of them seem to fall upon Anne.



Anne trudged up the steps, a heavy ledger tucked under her arm. Portraits, she was cataloging portraits today. Just one more in an unending stream of tasks Elizabeth saw fit to assign her. Count the silver, record the books, and oversee the packing of mother’s china and crystal. Oh, yes, the condition of all the draperies must be noted, and the particularly fine pieces of furniture not suitable for their tenants, those must be readied for storage.

How was it Elizabeth was so good at devising tasks for her, but so very poor at participating in any of them? Had she done anything outside of her own chambers? Her gowns! Oh her gowns! They must all be tended and readied for travel. How dare Anne suggest that she need not take every one of them? Indeed, what effrontery to even consider it? Why, what might that, that woman, Mrs. Croft, do with access to Elizabeth’s fine garments?

Anne pinched her forehead. Mrs. Croft was an unconventional woman who spent much time at sea with her husband. What would she care of Elizabeth’s finery? Not everyone was obsessed with what Elizabeth Elliot wore.

Or how she looked…how many looking glasses had to be packed? What a ridiculous article to transport—how many were necessary? At least she had convinced Father to leave the largest one behind—after all the house in Bath could have no fitting place for it and it would draw attention to the smallness of the room if placed in anything smaller than the Kellynch gallery. Or so she had convinced him, thankfully. He obviously had no concept of the cost of transporting such a monstrosity.

“Oh, Anne!” Father stopped abruptly, blinking rapidly. “What are you wearing?”

What was she wearing? Of all the absurd questions! “A morning dress, father. I must go through all the guestroom and record the portraits there. It is very dusty work.”

“You look a fright, you now, an absolute fright.” His lip curled in a vague sneer.

“No one but the servants shall see me, sir.”

“Still, one must maintain an appropriate presentation to the staff. The family image must be upheld, here as well as in Bath. I will not have the servants thinking ill of us in Bath.”

“Have you forgotten, sir, I am not to attend you at Bath, Mrs. Clay is going in my stead. I am for Uppercross.” A touch of relief battled with a hint of bitterness. While Bath was certainly not the place she would choose to visit, for Mrs. Clay to attend them—it was galling. She had no delusions about being fine or desirable company, but for the unpolished, designing daughter of their agent to be preferred company? No amount of mental machinations could alleviate that sting.

 

Read the rest at Austen Variations…

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