Persuasion (Chapter 20, page 1 of 8)

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Chapter 20

Sir Walter, his two daughters, and Mrs Clay, were the earliest of all
their party at the rooms in the evening; and as Lady Dalrymple must be
waited for, they took their station by one of the fires in the Octagon
Room. But hardly were they so settled, when the door opened again, and
Captain Wentworth walked in alone. Anne was the nearest to him, and
making yet a little advance, she instantly spoke. He was preparing
only to bow and pass on, but her gentle "How do you do?" brought him
out of the straight line to stand near her, and make enquiries in
return, in spite of the formidable father and sister in the back
ground. Their being in the back ground was a support to Anne; she knew
nothing of their looks, and felt equal to everything which she believed
right to be done.

While they were speaking, a whispering between her father and Elizabeth
caught her ear. She could not distinguish, but she must guess the
subject; and on Captain Wentworth's making a distant bow, she
comprehended that her father had judged so well as to give him that
simple acknowledgement of acquaintance, and she was just in time by a
side glance to see a slight curtsey from Elizabeth herself. This,
though late, and reluctant, and ungracious, was yet better than
nothing, and her spirits improved.

After talking, however, of the weather, and Bath, and the concert,
their conversation began to flag, and so little was said at last, that
she was expecting him to go every moment, but he did not; he seemed in
no hurry to leave her; and presently with renewed spirit, with a little
smile, a little glow, he said-"I have hardly seen you since our day at Lyme. I am afraid you must
have suffered from the shock, and the more from its not overpowering
you at the time."

She assured him that she had not.

"It was a frightful hour," said he, "a frightful day!" and he passed
his hand across his eyes, as if the remembrance were still too painful,
but in a moment, half smiling again, added, "The day has produced some
effects however; has had some consequences which must be considered as
the very reverse of frightful. When you had the presence of mind to
suggest that Benwick would be the properest person to fetch a surgeon,
you could have little idea of his being eventually one of those most
concerned in her recovery."

"Certainly I could have none. But it appears--I should hope it would
be a very happy match. There are on both sides good principles and
good temper."

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