While Admiral Croft was taking this walk with Anne, and expressing his wish o_etting Captain Wentworth to Bath, Captain Wentworth was already on his wa_hither. Before Mrs Croft had written, he was arrived, and the very next tim_nne walked out, she saw him.
Mr Elliot was attending his two cousins and Mrs Clay. They were in Milso_treet. It began to rain, not much, but enough to make shelter desirable fo_omen, and quite enough to make it very desirable for Miss Elliot to have th_dvantage of being conveyed home in Lady Dalrymple's carriage, which was see_aiting at a little distance; she, Anne, and Mrs Clay, therefore, turned int_olland's, while Mr Elliot stepped to Lady Dalrymple, to request he_ssistance. He soon joined them again, successful, of course; Lady Dalrympl_ould be most happy to take them home, and would call for them in a fe_inutes.
Her ladyship's carriage was a barouche, and did not hold more than four wit_ny comfort. Miss Carteret was with her mother; consequently it was no_easonable to expect accommodation for all the three Camden Place ladies.
There could be no doubt as to Miss Elliot. Whoever suffered inconvenience, sh_ust suffer none, but it occupied a little time to settle the point o_ivility between the other two. The rain was a mere trifle, and Anne was mos_incere in preferring a walk with Mr Elliot. But the rain was also a mer_rifle to Mrs Clay; she would hardly allow it even to drop at all, and he_oots were so thick! much thicker than Miss Anne's; and, in short, he_ivility rendered her quite as anxious to be left to walk with Mr Elliot a_nne could be, and it was discussed between them with a generosity so polit_nd so determined, that the others were obliged to settle it for them; Mis_lliot maintaining that Mrs Clay had a little cold already, and Mr Ellio_eciding on appeal, that his cousin Anne's boots were rather the thickest.
It was fixed accordingly, that Mrs Clay should be of the party in th_arriage; and they had just reached this point, when Anne, as she sat near th_indow, descried, most decidedly and distinctly, Captain Wentworth walkin_own the street.
Her start was perceptible only to herself; but she instantly felt that she wa_he greatest simpleton in the world, the most unaccountable and absurd! For _ew minutes she saw nothing before her; it was all confusion. She was lost,
and when she had scolded back her senses, she found the others still waitin_or the carriage, and Mr Elliot (always obliging) just setting off for Unio_treet on a commission of Mrs Clay's.
She now felt a great inclination to go to the outer door; she wanted to see i_t rained. Why was she to suspect herself of another motive? Captain Wentwort_ust be out of sight. She left her seat, she would go; one half of her shoul_ot be always so much wiser than the other half, or always suspecting th_ther of being worse than it was. She would see if it rained. She was sen_ack, however, in a moment by the entrance of Captain Wentworth himself, amon_ party of gentlemen and ladies, evidently his acquaintance, and whom he mus_ave joined a little below Milsom Street. He was more obviously struck an_onfused by the sight of her than she had ever observed before; he looke_uite red. For the first time, since their renewed acquaintance, she felt tha_he was betraying the least sensibility of the two. She had the advantage o_im in the preparation of the last few moments. All the overpowering,
blinding, bewildering, first effects of strong surprise were over with her.
Still, however, she had enough to feel! It was agitation, pain, pleasure, _omething between delight and misery.
He spoke to her, and then turned away. The character of his manner wa_mbarrassment. She could not have called it either cold or friendly, o_nything so certainly as embarrassed.
After a short interval, however, he came towards her, and spoke again. Mutua_nquiries on common subjects passed: neither of them, probably, much the wise_or what they heard, and Anne continuing fully sensible of his being less a_ase than formerly. They had by dint of being so very much together, got t_peak to each other with a considerable portion of apparent indifference an_almness; but he could not do it now. Time had changed him, or Louisa ha_hanged him. There was consciousness of some sort or other. He looked ver_ell, not as if he had been suffering in health or spirits, and he talked o_ppercross, of the Musgroves, nay, even of Louisa, and had even a momentar_ook of his own arch significance as he named her; but yet it was Captai_entworth not comfortable, not easy, not able to feign that he was.
It did not surprise, but it grieved Anne to observe that Elizabeth would no_now him. She saw that he saw Elizabeth, that Elizabeth saw him, that ther_as complete internal recognition on each side; she was convinced that he wa_eady to be acknowledged as an acquaintance, expecting it, and she had th_ain of seeing her sister turn away with unalterable coldness.
Lady Dalrymple's carriage, for which Miss Elliot was growing very impatient,
now drew up; the servant came in to announce it. It was beginning to rai_gain, and altogether there was a delay, and a bustle, and a talking, whic_ust make all the little crowd in the shop understand that Lady Dalrymple wa_alling to convey Miss Elliot. At last Miss Elliot and her friend, unattende_ut by the servant, (for there was no cousin returned), were walking off; an_aptain Wentworth, watching them, turned again to Anne, and by manner, rathe_han words, was offering his services to her.
"I am much obliged to you," was her answer, "but I am not going with them. Th_arriage would not accommodate so many. I walk: I prefer walking."
"But it rains."
"Oh! very little, Nothing that I regard."
After a moment's pause he said: "Though I came only yesterday, I have equippe_yself properly for Bath already, you see," (pointing to a new umbrella); "_ish you would make use of it, if you are determined to walk; though I thin_t would be more prudent to let me get you a chair."
She was very much obliged to him, but declined it all, repeating he_onviction, that the rain would come to nothing at present, and adding, "I a_nly waiting for Mr Elliot. He will be here in a moment, I am sure."
She had hardly spoken the words when Mr Elliot walked in. Captain Wentwort_ecollected him perfectly. There was no difference between him and the man wh_ad stood on the steps at Lyme, admiring Anne as she passed, except in the ai_nd look and manner of the privileged relation and friend. He came in wit_agerness, appeared to see and think only of her, apologised for his stay, wa_rieved to have kept her waiting, and anxious to get her away without furthe_oss of time and before the rain increased; and in another moment they walke_ff together, her arm under his, a gentle and embarrassed glance, and a "Goo_orning to you!" being all that she had time for, as she passed away.
As soon as they were out of sight, the ladies of Captain Wentworth's part_egan talking of them.
"Mr Elliot does not dislike his cousin, I fancy?"
"Oh! no, that is clear enough. One can guess what will happen there. He i_lways with them; half lives in the family, I believe. What a very good-
"Yes, and Miss Atkinson, who dined with him once at the Wallises, says he i_he most agreeable man she ever was in company with."
"She is pretty, I think; Anne Elliot; very pretty, when one comes to look a_er. It is not the fashion to say so, but I confess I admire her more than he_ister."
"Oh! so do I."
"And so do I. No comparison. But the men are all wild after Miss Elliot. Ann_s too delicate for them."
Anne would have been particularly obliged to her cousin, if he would hav_alked by her side all the way to Camden Place, without saying a word. She ha_ever found it so difficult to listen to him, though nothing could exceed hi_olicitude and care, and though his subjects were principally such as wer_ont to be always interesting: praise, warm, just, and discriminating, of Lad_ussell, and insinuations highly rational against Mrs Clay. But just now sh_ould think only of Captain Wentworth. She could not understand his presen_eelings, whether he were really suffering much from disappointment or not;
and till that point were settled, she could not be quite herself.
She hoped to be wise and reasonable in time; but alas! alas! she must confes_o herself that she was not wise yet.
Another circumstance very essential for her to know, was how long he meant t_e in Bath; he had not mentioned it, or she could not recollect it. He migh_e only passing through. But it was more probable that he should be come t_tay. In that case, so liable as every body was to meet every body in Bath,
Lady Russell would in all likelihood see him somewhere. Would she recollec_im? How would it all be?
She had already been obliged to tell Lady Russell that Louisa Musgrove was t_arry Captain Benwick. It had cost her something to encounter Lady Russell'_urprise; and now, if she were by any chance to be thrown into company wit_aptain Wentworth, her imperfect knowledge of the matter might add anothe_hade of prejudice against him.
The following morning Anne was out with her friend, and for the first hour, i_n incessant and fearful sort of watch for him in vain; but at last, i_eturning down Pulteney Street, she distinguished him on the right han_avement at such a distance as to have him in view the greater part of th_treet. There were many other men about him, many groups walking the same way,
but there was no mistaking him. She looked instinctively at Lady Russell; bu_ot from any mad idea of her recognising him so soon as she did herself. No,
it was not to be supposed that Lady Russell would perceive him till they wer_early opposite. She looked at her however, from time to time, anxiously; an_hen the moment approached which must point him out, though not daring to loo_gain (for her own countenance she knew was unfit to be seen), she was ye_erfectly conscious of Lady Russell's eyes being turned exactly in th_irection for him— of her being, in short, intently observing him. She coul_horoughly comprehend the sort of fascination he must possess over Lad_ussell's mind, the difficulty it must be for her to withdraw her eyes, th_stonishment she must be feeling that eight or nine years should have passe_ver him, and in foreign climes and in active service too, without robbing hi_f one personal grace!
At last, Lady Russell drew back her head. "Now, how would she speak of him?"
"You will wonder," said she, "what has been fixing my eye so long; but I wa_ooking after some window-curtains, which Lady Alicia and Mrs Frankland wer_elling me of last night. They described the drawing-room window-curtains o_ne of the houses on this side of the way, and this part of the street, a_eing the handsomest and best hung of any in Bath, but could not recollect th_xact number, and I have been trying to find out which it could be; but _onfess I can see no curtains hereabouts that answer their description."
Anne sighed and blushed and smiled, in pity and disdain, either at her frien_r herself. The part which provoked her most, was that in all this waste o_oresight and caution, she should have lost the right moment for seein_hether he saw them.
A day or two passed without producing anything. The theatre or the rooms,
where he was most likely to be, were not fashionable enough for the Elliots,
whose evening amusements were solely in the elegant stupidity of privat_arties, in which they were getting more and more engaged; and Anne, wearie_f such a state of stagnation, sick of knowing nothing, and fancying hersel_tronger because her strength was not tried, was quite impatient for th_oncert evening. It was a concert for the benefit of a person patronised b_ady Dalrymple. Of course they must attend. It was really expected to be _ood one, and Captain Wentworth was very fond of music. If she could only hav_ few minutes conversation with him again, she fancied she should b_atisfied; and as to the power of addressing him, she felt all over courage i_he opportunity occurred. Elizabeth had turned from him, Lady Russel_verlooked him; her nerves were strengthened by these circumstances; she fel_hat she owed him attention.
She had once partly promised Mrs Smith to spend the evening with her; but in _hort hurried call she excused herself and put it off, with the more decide_romise of a longer visit on the morrow. Mrs Smith gave a most good-humoure_cquiescence.
"By all means," said she; "only tell me all about it, when you do come. Who i_our party?"
Anne named them all. Mrs Smith made no reply; but when she was leaving he_aid, and with an expression half serious, half arch, "Well, I heartily wis_our concert may answer; and do not fail me to-morrow if you can come; for _egin to have a foreboding that I may not have many more visits from you."
Anne was startled and confused; but after standing in a moment's suspense, wa_bliged, and not sorry to be obliged, to hurry away.