Study Guide

Persuasion Chapter 12

By Jane Austen

Chapter 12

  • Anne and Henrietta wake up early and go for a walk on the beach; Henrietta is in that relationship stage where she can’t talk about anything but her boyfriend.
  • Louisa and Captain Wentworth join them, and then they head to town to do some shopping.
  • On their way they run into a strange man who totally checks Anne out; his doing so causes Captain Wentworth to realize that Anne is looking more like her old (younger) self.
  • Back at the hotel Anne runs into the stranger again, and notes both that he has "exceedingly good manners" (12.7) and that he is in mourning.
  • At breakfast they notice the man’s carriage leaving, and Captain Wentworth asks the waiter who the stranger was. Turns out his name is Mr. Elliot.
  • Mary immediately assumes that the man is their cousin, Mr. William Elliot, who is currently in mourning for his wife.
  • Mary bemoans not getting a chance to introduce herself, while Anne tries gently to convince her that, because of the family feud, Sir Walter would prefer mutual shunning.
  • To herself, Anne feels pleased that the future occupant of Kellynch appears to have manners and good sense (unlike the current bunch).
  • The Harvilles and Captain Benwick join the Musgrove entourage for their last walk around Lyme.
  • Captain Benwick again locks onto Anne to continue their emo-poetry discussion of the preceding evening.
  • The group reshuffles, and Anne finds herself with Captain Harville, who discusses Benwick’s sad history and Wentworth’s exemplary friendship.
  • They drop the Harvilles off at their house and continue their walk on the Cobb, a kind of pier on two levels (it’ll be easier to visualize what happens next if you check out a picture of the Cobb steps.
  • Apparently, simply walking down the precarious steps is too boring for Louisa, who insists on jumping off them into Wentworth’s arms.
  • Wentworth thinks this isn’t the greatest idea, but indulges her; the first jump goes according to plan, but when Louisa insists on doing it yet again she’s a bit too quick for Wentworth and falls to the ground, knocking herself out.
  • Wentworth is shocked into silence; Mary starts screaming; Henrietta faints; only Anne remains capable of making decisions, and sends Benwick off for a doctor.
  • Under Anne’s guidance, they bring the still unconscious Louisa to the Harvilles’ lodging.
  • The doctor arrives, and assures them that Louisa’s bump on the head is not fatal, and that she’ll probably be fine.
  • Deeply relieved, Louisa’s family and friends try to decide what to do next, since she has to stay in bed for a while.
  • First order of business: deciding who will go to Uppercross to break the news to Louisa’s parents.
  • Charles wants to stay with his sister, so Wentworth agrees to take Henrietta and Mary home, leaving Anne to take care of the head trauma victim, since, as Wentworth says, there is no one "so capable as Anne" (12.60)
  • Anne overhears that last bit from outside the door and is set all a-flutter once more.
  • Wentworth appeals directly to Anne to be Louisa’s nursemaid, and Anne unhesitatingly agrees.
  • All is well until Mary Mary Quite Contrary gets wind of this plan, and insists that she should stay and Anne should go.
  • The others are powerless before the might of her whine, so it is Anne (after getting an attentive farewell from Captain Benwick) who sets off for Uppercross with Wentworth and Henrietta.
  • Wentworth mostly ignores Anne on the journey, through his few words to her suggest that he feels a little guilty for not having prevented the tragedy.
  • Anne refrains from saying "I told you so," but secretly hopes that Wentworth is rethinking his preference for resolute characters.
  • As they arrive at Uppercross, Wentworth asks Anne’s opinion of his plan: that he go in first to break the news.
  • Anne agrees with this proposition, and feels pleased that he values her judgment enough to ask her what she thought.
  • The announcement made, Anne and Henrietta remain at Uppercross while Wentworth heads back to Lyme.