Captain Wentworth's Diary

Free Captain Wentworth's Diary by Amanda Grange

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Authors: Amanda Grange

Tuesday 19 August

    I set out early, at a leisurely pace, blessing my horse, who made light work of the hills along the way. I arrived to find Harville in a nervous state, for though he welcomed me warmly, his conversation was punctuated by bouts of high spirits and equally frequent bouts of reflection.

    ‘You are not regretting it?’ I asked him.

    He looked surprised, and I was reassured, for he could not cry off, even if he wanted to.

    ‘Not at all,’ he said. ‘I am looking forward to it. Only, I am conscious of the fact that, after tomorrow, my life will never be the same again. It has made me unsettled. I cannot see the future—but I dare say it will become routine soon enough. I am surprised you do not follow my example and marry, Wentworth. A bachelor’s life is a dry existence. You should find a good woman, someone you can love and esteem, someone to think about when you are away at sea, and someone to come home to when you are on shore leave.’

    ‘Not I!’ I replied, though not as heartily as I would have done a month go. ‘I am far too young for such a step, and I have too much of the world still to see. And as for shore leave, I can stay with my brother when I am home.’

    ‘Not as comfortable as staying with a wife,’ he said.

    ‘That is true, but a brother is not as hard to leave behind.’

    His family were gathered about him, looking forward to the celebration. Benwick and Jenson were there, too, and I thought how quickly the time had gone since we had all met at the naval academy.

    ‘It is about time you made an honest woman of Harriet,’ said Harville’s brother, laughing at him. ‘You have been sighing over her for long enough!’

    ‘It is a grave responsibility,’ said his cousin, shaking his head.

    ‘You speak as though Harville was going to be burdened with command of the Navy, instead of being given the duties of a husband to one pretty woman,’ said Benwick.

    ‘At least I have my friends to defend me!’ said Harville.

    But his peace was short lived. The rest of his family joined in and he was subjected to as many opinions on marriage as there were men in the room.

    At last he cried, ‘Enough!’ and begged us all to talk of something else.

    But as I retired for the night, I could not put his words from my mind. Follow my example and marry, Wentworth.

    At last, feeling restless and knowing I would be unable to sleep, I slipped out of the house. It was a beautiful night, with a balmy breeze, and I made my way by moonlight along the road. As I did so, I thought of how I had felt, a few months ago, when Harville had told me he intended to marry. I had been incredulous, thinking him a fool, for the world was full of pretty young women, and why should he want to swap the smiles of so many for the smiles of one?

    But as I stood at the crossroads, I understood.

Wednesday 20 August

    Harville was up very early, and full of nerves. He found it impossible to tie his neck-cloth and I had to do it for him. Then he could not get into his coat, and Benwick and I had to assist him. He could not settle to anything, and although we tried to talk to him about his next ship, and his certainty of capturing more prizes as soon as he went back to sea, he did not listen to more than one word in ten.

    It was far too early to go to the church, but he insisted we set out, with the result that we waited fifteen minutes at the altar. I thought he would wear his hands away with all the clasping and unclasping he did!

    At last Harriet arrived, looking radiant in a satin gown. The service began, and as I watched Harville make his vows, I found that I no longer pitied him. I envied him.

    As we emerged from the church, Harriet’s mother was crying, and Harville’s mother and sister were crying, but Harriet was beaming with joy.

    We went back to Harriet’s house for the wedding-breakfast. After we had all eaten and drunk our fill, toasted the happy couple and made our speeches,

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