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Reaching Out for Ross (Elizabeth: A Love for Ross Poldark Pt7)

The last blog looking at Elizabeth's love for Ross was 'The Real Love Triangle, The Powerful Rival' and was against a backdrop of her being a year into her marriage with Francis and feeling happy with thoughts that 'life is good'. In contrast at that point her thoughts of Ross were of feeling sorry for him. Graham did not make any such love for Ross so very apparent or absolutely without question. However, connected to her preoccupation with Geoffrey Charles, Francis was now feeling rejected by her. Graham narrated in conclusion that Francis was wrong to be jealous of Ross and that Geoffrey Charles was his more powerful rival. This is the seventh blog looking at Elizabeth's love or lack of love for Ross Poldark. Having previously told Ross to forget about her and essentially move on, she moved to a time when she now began to reach out for Ross. The question arising is whether this indicates that she was in love with Ross all along and only just then had finally decided to submit to this. 

Too Late to come to Ross 

Elizabeth reaches out to Ross when she visits him at Nampara a day after he happened to sleep with Demelza. There she had a realisation of something between them. Leaving abruptly she thinks "I can't come here again, she thought. After all this time, and now it's too late." It's this thought that arouses suspicion that Elizabeth intended to reconnect with Ross romantically but saw his involvement with Demelza as a barrier meaning it was 'too late' for this idea after all. The key to working out if this was her submitting to her love of him is to be surer of her purpose with this visit, why then and what exactly she was too late for.

A  visit that was an uncommon Occurrence

Elizabeth's visit to Nampara is nearly FOUR YEARS after her marriage to Francis. The real reason behind it is never stated. Guesses can be made and it does appear to be suspicious to begin with. Certainly this visit was unexpected and not a common occurrence. She told Ross she was just passing and they (at Trenwith) had not seen him in a month or so. Ross's response saying "Don't make excuses for your coming. Only for not having come before." reveals that though they saw each other she was not a regular visitor to him and quite possibly had not visited Nampara much at all over the four years. The awkwardness to this visit is evident. As Ross opened with small talk of what he had been doing we are told that "She was ill-at ease." Also that "They chatted for some minutes with a sort of anxious agreeableness." So there was no naturalness akin to what was passed off by her as a chance visit while passing by. The likelihood that over the years she had passed by at other times but did not stop suggests that her decision to randomly do so now was probably not casual but with a specific mission in mind.

A mission to investigate a rumour? 

It's a strange timing and coincidence that Ross and Demelza had just so happened to sleep together the night before Elizabeth's visit. She was probably aware of the rumours about them. Just the day before Demelza's father had asked if she was living in sin with Ross. Graham stated that 'She knew of course that her father,..., meant exactly the same as those women at Grambler and Sawle who sometimes would turn and stare after her with greedy curious eyes.' If Demelza's father in Illugan along with women in Grambler and Sawle knew of the rumours, it is likely Elizabeth did too. Could it be that upon hearing them Elizabeth sprung into action as if this made her want to reclaim Ross for herself, and then finding the rumours to be true considered that she was 'too late'? This idea is not a convincing one because flashing way back nearly three years before to her christening reception for Geoffrey Charles, Graham included a scene of Ross overhearing Mrs Teague gossiping of these rumours with Polly Choake. Then there was also the scene of Ross holding a business meeting at Nampara a month before Elizabeth's visit. There Demelza attracted curious glances because of the rumours surrounding her presence there. Yet Graham stated that 'The talk was old talk now, but scandal died hard when it's cause was not removed.' The point here is that the rumours were indeed very old and dating back to early in Elizabeth's marriage. If this was an issue for Elizabeth why had she not sought to reclaim Ross until years later? The answer is that at that time the rumours most likely did not bother her terribly and while happily married she had no strong urge to reclaim Ross for herself.

Save my marriage

As Elizabeth's visit progressed there did seem to be a slow reveal of a purpose to it since she sought a favour from him. She was likely to have given some thought to that beforehand. This may indeed explain her sudden and unexpected need of him. An appeal to save her marriage was indeed a delicate matter of the heart but after some small talk she did indeed ask Ross to see more of Francis, to work together with him and to influence him. As she proceeded to complain that over time Francis's gambling had become excessive it became apparent that now nearly four years into her marriage they were having problems. She said to Ross "I have no right to burden you with my troubles." So it is clear that Elizabeth had reached a point in her married life that she herself defined as 'troubles'. She continued to express difficulty relating to and counselling her husband. The clues that Graham had left earlier warning about Geoffrey Charles coming between them had indeed transpired. They are also further supported by Ross and Elizabeth's initial small talk where she mentioned that she had refused Francis's request to escort him to London because she thought Geoffrey Charles was too young. Incidentally, in book twelve (Twisted Sword) Demelza had agreed to travel with Ross to France with Isabella-Rose and their last born Henry who at three years of age was then the same age as Geoffrey Charles making this trip. This snippet from Elizabeth was was just one example that Geoffrey Charles was indeed a distraction for an over protective Elizabeth and an excuse or reason to reject time spent with her husband as per his requests. Also when she talked to Ross of Geoffrey Charles's progress Ross too noticed a '..muffled possessive inflexion' that he had not heard from her before. It is no coincidence that four months after this visit Verity on her own visit to Nampara would confirm that for Francis and Elizabeth they "......have not got on well since Geoffrey Charles was born."  

Forget me , Now Forget Me Not 

Elizabeth's appeal to Ross about Francis should remind and confirm with the reader that there was a time when she and Francis were happy. Though she now complained to Ross about Francis's excessive gambling it was not always an issue for them. In a later scene at Trenwith for Christmas she told of the Warleggan gambling nights being something she and Francis had enjoyed together. "We used to have great fun until the stakes became too high. I have only been twice since Geoffrey was born. Now I am not invited." This as set out in the blog 'The Real Love Triangle, The Powerful Rival' was when her life with Francis was good, happy and despite her casual 'what if' speculations about Ross, a preference or longing for Ross was not revealed. But also as set out in the blog 'Wedding day blues for two?' back to her earlier wedding day interactions she had been very blunt with Ross that she herself had made the decision to be with Francis and not her mother (Her Own Mind or her Parent's?). The blog 'Just a boy and girl attachment' documents how six months into her marriage she told Ross that a boy and girl attachment is indeed all they had ever had. In no uncertain terms she said 'I don't love you.' and that 'I love Francis and married him. If you could forget me it would be better.' Now, more than three years later there at Nampara with Ross, Elizabeth was far from wanting him to forget her. Instead she was putting herself very much before him for some kind of romantic connection. The reason for that appears to be because she was no longer happy in her married life.

A feminine intuition-something between them

On the face of it seeking help to save her marriage does not seem a sinister reason for Elizabeth's visit. That is until Demelza interrupted their meeting. It was clearly another awkward moment. Demelza '.....returned Ross's gaze and glanced with wide eyes at Elizabeth. Then she muttered an apology and turned to withdraw.' It is then after Ross introduced Demelza that Elizabeth thinks 'Oh, God, so there is something between them.' This thought says quite a bit as the 'Oh God' suggests that it was a realisation that was shocking to her and most likely not at all good news for her. The second part 'So there is something between them.' suggests that she had been aware of this possibility and her experience there at Nampara together with her feminine intuition only confirmed it.

Demelza- The stumbling block to a reconciliation

Although investigating rumours of Ross and Demelza together did not seem to be the trigger for Elizabeth's visit, confirmation was a key issue as it would be an impediment to her core intentions. It did seem as if Elizabeth's radar for this was switched on from the start of her visit. As she sat down with Ross and before they even started their small chat 'He saw her glance once or twice round the room as if she sensed some alien presence, or as if she was surprised at the comfortable though shabby nature of the furnishings.' As readers had been informed three years earlier and within months of her arrival at Nampara Demelza was indeed putting her feminine touches on it and we were told that 'During all the months of that summer the house of Nampara was seldom without flowers. This was Demelza's doing.' 

Elizabeth's glances caused her to notice such changes and on seeing Demelza and flickering her eyes round the room once more, Elizabeth thought 'This is her doing, she thought: those curtains. I thought Prudie wouldn't have the idea to hang them so; and the velvet draping on the settle, Ross would never have thought of that.' The revelation of something between Ross and Demelza is key to her thought that it was then 'too late' for her to come there again and after this although she still invited Ross to visit Trenwith she specified this as being in order for him to see Uncle Charles. Whilst saying "Goodbye" to him Graham narrated that this was while knowing that '....the reconciliation had come just too late to count for what it might.' Again this is another clear indication of Elizabeth's motives. She had indeed been seeking some sort of reconciliation with Ross which the revelation of him being involved with Demelza presented a stumbling block to.

A Romantic Reconciliation

If Ross being involved with Demelza was a significant stumbling block to a reconciliation with Ross it is unlikely this was just about friendship for Elizabeth. In any case it was not as if she and Ross were not on speaking terms. Elizabeth had referenced seeing him months ago. He had been invited to Trenwith for Geoffrey Charles's christening. There she had been so kind to him. So much so that Francis in his paranoia thought she had made a fuss of him. On that day Graham told us that Elizabeth felt 'Her quarrel with Ross had long since healed.' (*) Equally for this visit now at Nampara Ross had welcomed Elizabeth in and Graham made a point of expressing that Ross was genuinely concerned about her distress over Francis, wanted to ease this and that 'His resentment of her marriage had quite gone.' Therefore there was certainly good will between them and nothing to suggest that they were in need of a further reconciliation on a friendship basis. Also if it was this she was seeking then not being able to come to Nampara instead of see him elsewhere would not prevent such a reconciliation with a woman who in any event was a married one. By process of elimination if the reconciliation Elizabeth was seeking was not on a friendship level it's fair to think it was on a romantic one. This makes sense because if Demelza was now involved with Ross this is what would make her a stumbling block and make Elizabeth 'too late'. Naturally it would not be viable for him to also have a romantic connection with Elizabeth as a second woman.

A conservative but sordid affair?

Seeking to be a romantic interest to Ross is one thing but the idea Elizabeth wanted a full blown affair is questionable for a number or reasons. Firstly, it would be particularly sordid to do so as a married women and with the cousin of her husband. Secondly, it would not be particularly sensible or smart to then have asked Ross to spend time with Francis, working together with him and seeking to influence him positively whilst at the same time having an affair with Ross. Not only would this increase the risk, it would increase the sense of betrayal and would rope Ross into being even more complicit in this as well as even more disingenuous and immoral in befriending his cousin again but on the other hand sleeping with his wife. Thirdly, as stated in book two (Demelza) Graham described Elizabeth as a rather 'over reserved woman'. (*) She was definitely quite a conservative character and often thought of as a typical woman of her time that followed convention and was hardly a rulebreaker with a rebel's spirit.. This makes it more unlikely that she would have engaged in an illicit affair with her husband's cousin. 

Replace my marriage!

Elizabeth said to Ross of Francis that 'I cannot influence him... he seems to take my advice as an interference." She was now seeking Ross's assistance due to major communication problems with her husband and feeling not listened to by him. Also Francis was now not inviting her to join him on nights out. Four years in to marriage she was no longer his cherished wife and centre of his world. Yet when raising this with Ross she said "I should not have spoken of it. But when you mentioned Francis. And our old friendship...You were always one to understand." With this, therein lies another clue as to one thing Elizabeth was looking for. Understanding! However if it is to be believed that she also wanted some emotional engagement (thus why Demelza was a stumbling block), then it is unlikely that she was looking for understanding alone, but also a bit of what she missed from Francis. To be cherished by another man. Indeed it is most likely she was looking for something more than the support of a good friend but something a little less than a sexual affair. Something more like an emotional affair rather than a sexual one.

An Emotional Affair was her Due

As a woman who particularly thrived on the admiration of others Elizabeth not having this from her husband would have felt a great void in her life. An emotional affair where she could rely on Ross for comfort, solace, understanding and loving attention would be just what matched her need without compromising her conservative character too much. Although Elizabeth fled the scene thinking she is 'too late', it is not long after the dust settles that as will be explored in a blog ('Elizabeth and her Red Dress Seduction') she seeks to 'rebuild her ascendancy over Ross' following his marriage to Demelza. All of this indicates that Elizabeth's operandi modus was not necessarily to crave for a physical sexual affair but instead for emotional investment in her where she was made to feel admired, loved and appreciated. Just as she thought herself in book three (Jeremy Poldark) she believed that  'admiration.... was her due'. Similarly this would give her a sense of self worth, revalidation and would fill the void that Francis had left though their distance from each other.

A question of timing her love

Was Elizabeth's desire for an emotional affair confirmation of her love for Ross? So far in this series Elizabeth's behaviour towards Ross from the start of the story has not demonstrated a strong passionate, unfailing and more importantly unquestionable and steadfast love. At this point what stands out is that in the early days of her love with Francis, Elizabeth was settled in her good and happy life with him and did not demonstrate love for Ross in words or actions. Neither did she long for him when her circumstances were good. At times she was firm with Ross and threatened not to speak to him at all if he could not supress his hurt for her betrayal. She had asked him to forget her. In book two (Demelza) where she was five years into her marriage with Francis she still thought back to her promise to marry Ross as a 'Childish promise' (*). This is ongoing confirmation consistent with her actions that neither at the point of marriage to Francis when Ross returned from war, or then five years later did she really change her position in thinking and wanting to have married Ross instead. This thought alone documents that even five years later Elizabeth did not think she should have married Ross instead of Francis and singlehandedly discredits the theory that Elizabeth later had regrets about her decision or irrespective of what she might have said or implied to Ross later, that she had come to realised that he was the one she really loved after all.  

Here, nearly four years later, Elizabeth visiting Ross at Nampara did not coincidentally coincide with her feeling that her marriage was now a 'trouble' to her and her husband's interest in her opinions and sometimes in his desire for her had since waned. Therefore one cannot help but to find the timing circumspect and not particularly evidence she was in love with Ross all along. If it was a love that motivated Elizabeth to reach out to Ross for attention and a romantic connection beyond friendship, then why now? It is reasonable to question this. Her change of position did not seem triggered by a real and true love held for him all along, but instead on a change in her personal circumstances and a desire to meet a new need of hers arising from that change. This is the need for an emotional crutch to lean on in Ross. Not solely as a friend by as a new source of love and admiration since her life with Francis having previously good and happy, was no longer. Ross could provide the romantic admiration that she was no longer receiving from her husband. Believing he was still in love with her and single, Ross was an easy target. 

An unloving deal

Elizabeth's pursuit of this romantic reconciliation and emotional affair with Ross might in fact serve as a further indicator that she did not really and truly love him. Three years before at Trenwith Ross had been quite emotional in his distress and told Elizabeth "My friendship with Francis is deep and of long standing. But friendships have a frailty when a woman comes between. So sometimes have marriage vows, however well meant. I love you, Elizabeth, and that is dangerous." (*) That certainly is a loud reminder that emotions and friendships could be ruined in this messy love triangle and at that point and in light of Ross's distress and his claims of love and heartbreak over her, it seemed Elizabeth did the right thing in expressing that whilst she had hoped they could be friends, that this did not seem possible. Following his comment of dangerous love for her she advised him that "If you could forget me that would be better." By seeking an emotional entanglement with him now at her visit to Nampara and only due to a change in her circumstances Elizabeth was ignoring Ross's previous warning which made sense. She was prepared to do so only because it now suited her to take the risk it involved. She was essentially inviting him into a scenario where his deep and longstanding friendship with Francis could be compromised by the danger and risk associated with what this romantic reconciliation she was seeking involved. And to what gain? The gain would be all hers. The former affection, love and regard from a now disappointed and disinterested husband would be replaced and received instead by the man she rejected for her husband. For Ross it would ultimately be a painful reigniting of feelings of love that he had finally managed to settle over the last four years or so and which meant as stated above that 'His resentment over her marriage had quite gone'. All for a woman who by right of marriage could never legitimately be available to him anyway. Her mission was therefore a purely selfish venture by Elizabeth for her comfort and consolation but also quite reckless and pointless for Ross since he would gain little. Of course, if it is true that to love someone means to seek first and foremost the very best for them, then such behaviour by Elizabeth does not meet this idea of what love is and should not at all be considered a real love.

One might say that upon Elizabeth realising that Ross was indeed involved with his kitchen maid, that at least she then did what was in his interests and left him alone to it. However the next major development for Ross is his marriage to Demelza. This will be explored in the next blog 'Not Happy You're Happy' where the idea that Elizabeth truly loved Ross is a matter which is subject to continued examination through her reaction to his life changing developments in going from a lonely man to a happily married one.
(*) First edition of Book One -Ross Poldark

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