Hither, or follow

Illustration by Hugh Thomson, Persuasion Ch 23HITHER

“I must go, uncertain of my fate; but I shall return hither, or follow your party, as soon as possible. A word, a look will be enough to decide whether I enter your father’s house this evening or never.” Captain Wentworth, Persuasion, Chapter 23

These compelling lines are from the famous “you pierce my soul letter” that Captain Wentworth writes to Anne Elliot toward the end of the novel. He has followed her to Bath (England) with the hope of one last and final chance to win her heart. When he presents the letter to Anne, it is his last and silent appeal for her love. 

Throughout the letter, Jane Austen’s choice of words is so precise; — so lean and tight. Barely a flourish or multiple-syllable to be found. It’s brevity mercifully allows for rapid reading. The plot has been building to this moment, and as Anne reads the missive, his words are a happy release. His reassurance that he shall return hither, or follow is her salvation; — and ours too.

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