I received four clever entries to my fan-fiction contest. I hope you enjoy them. I’ll be putting up a poll on the sidebar so you can vote on your favorite.
Entry 1 from Sarah Grace
MR. COLLINS UNREQUITED LOVE
Mr. Collins stood in stunned amazement as Miss Elizabeth Bennet proceeded to remove herself from his presence, closing the door on his proclamations of love. He could not fathom that she would be so insensible to the advantages of a match with one whom had the favor of Lady Catherine de Bourgh.
A quizzical expression crossed his comical features. He could not return to Hunsford & face Lady Catherine’s scathing displeasure for failing to secure a suitable wife. He was willing to concede that Cousin Elizabeth might well be too strong-willed for Lady Catherine’s approval. Perhaps, he thought, one of his other cousins would be more to Lady Catherine’s liking. He began going over the Bennet sisters, trying to gauge which would be acceptable to Lady Catherine & her requiem.
Tittering laughter broke into Mr. Collins thoughts. He knew that likely it was the laughter of his cousins, Catherine & Lydia. He began to contemplate Cousin Lydia, who was more pleasing to the eye than her elder sister, Catherine. Cousin Lydia, he reflected, sadly is too fickle & not easily led. Lady Catherine would not be amused by Cousin Lydia’s inappropriate outbursts & reckless behavior.
Cousin Catherine, while nearly as fickle as Cousin Lydia, could if given into Lady Catherine’s capable hands, be molded into an amiable, demure wife, one whom, Lady Catherine would be pleased to give her condescension.
“Yes,” Mr.Collins said aloud, to no one in particular, “I shall address my attentions to Cousin Catherine.” Having resolved to a course of action, Mr. Collins began to prepare & rehearse his decrees of ardent admiration, as well as those of his future bride. For Mr. Collins was assured that Cousin Catherine would not be so insensible as Cousin Elizabeth. When he had committed to memory his speech of affection, he betook himself to find Mrs. Bennet, that he might be granted an audience with Cousin Catherine.
Mr. Collins did not need to search far. Mrs. Bennet burst forth from Mr. Bennet’s study, a look of exceeding consternation written upon her brow. A facade of apologetic sympathy rushed over her features as she spied Mr. Collins coming towards her.
“Oh, Mr. Collins, I do wish to deeply apologize for the behavior of my foolish daughter.” Mrs. Bennet barely paused for breath before opening her mouth to continue.
Mr. Collins raised his hand with an attempt at a smile, though twas more like unto a sneer. “My dear Madam, do not fret yourself. I desire an audience with your daughter, Catherine, if I may be so forthright.” The sardonic smile remained throughout his pallid plea.
“Oh, Mr. Collins, Oh! I will fetch Kitty straightway.” Mrs. Bennet said with hardly concealed glee, as she rushed about, calling in an ear-splitting cord, “Kitty! Kitty! Kitteee! Where are you child?!”
“What is it, Mama?”, came back from the vicinity of Kitty & Lydia’s bed chamber.
Mrs. Bennet’s day cap bobbed up & down as she took the steps as rapidly, as her age & less than lithe figure, would allow.
“Kitty, Mr. Collins wishes to speak with you. Your sister has been foolish & refused him. Go down, be considerate of my nerves, & accept him.”
“Do not cross me on this Kitty! Do as I say & go!” With this Mrs. Bennet half pushed, half dragged Kitty down to the parlour.
Mr. Collins looked up, the leering, sneering smile of condescension permeating his entire being. With one final push & a look of threatening, Mrs. Bennet withdrew, closing the door behind her. Being Mrs. Bennet & also wishing to ascertain that Kitty received Mr. Collins with favor, she pressed her ear to the solid oak plank door, straining to hear & not be heard.
Kitty watched her mother leave with a sense of trepidation & uncertainty. The sensation of needing to cough came so forcibly over her, that she could not suppress it.
Mr. Collins stepped closer.
“My dear Cousin Catherine, I wish to request the honor of your hand.”
Two consecutive coughs.
Mr. Collins tried to recall where he was in his speech. “I am…assured that you will be sensible to the immense advantage that of a connection, that would bring you into the presence of Lady Catherine de Bourgh.”
An expression of irritation briefly crossed Mr. Collins face, but the patronizing sneer triumphed. “My dear Cousin Catherine, your discomfiture must be the result of your awe of Lady Catherine & the magnitude of her position.”
” Do not disquiet yourself on this matter. You are just of the sort that Lady Catherine..”
” shall approve.”
Then, sounding harshly & brusquely through the door, the voice of Mrs. Bennet resounded, “Kitty! Kitty! Cease that infernal coughing. Take into account my poor nerves!”
Coughing proceeded for several seconds.
A look of complete exasperation took up residence upon Mr. Collins face. “Obviously, my attentions are not as welcome as I had perceived they would be.”
Mr. Collins marched to the door & ignoring Mrs. Bennet’s pleas to reconsider, he retired to his quarters.
Meanwhile Mrs. Bennet burst into a symphony of wailings & a fountain of tears.
Kitty ran to be consoled by Lydia, coughing all the while.
Amongst all the mayhem, Miss Charlotte Lucas entered. Thus with her entrance, so ends our tale of tragic unrequited love.
By the way, it is meant to be somewhat satirical, like Jane Austen’s style.
Entry 2 by Kirk
Intro- Strange tale begins
A strange hole in the Austenite world is opened. An unseen, horrid, and relentless enemy pores into the breach.
Chapter One- Sir Edward
Retired Lord High Admiral Sir Edward Pellew(Happy belated bday to actor Robert Lindsay, who so nobly played Adm Sir Edward Pellew in the A&E series Horatio Hornblower) was tapping his fingers impatiently.”Good heavens, Prime Minister, I thought we had strange times and impossible challenges when we were vanishing Boney! William Pitt the younger(from Amazing Grace) smiled thinly.”Yes, I wish I had lived to see it. But never mind. I’m sorry to call you Sir Edward into active service. However, you are best choice to command the overall operation to battle the Ghost Fleet and save the Austenites. As you can see Sir, the Ghost Fleet has destroyed multiple other literature groups. Whole groupings wiped off book shelves and the face of the Earth! Each time they have gained strength and added to their fleet of sfy ships. It seems they have been pointing towards this battle from the beginning. They did avoid battling Dickens and Shakespeare. Indeed, they saluted those fleets. There are bizarre rules. Who will you have commanding the fleet on the sea? Nelson? Sir Francis Drake? Sir Francis Knollys? John Baker?” Sir Edward respondes firmly “Hornblower”!
Chapter two- Hornblower-Knight(ley?) of the Sea
The groom: retired Adm. Horatio Hornblower. The bride: Jane Cassandra Elizabeth Pellew. The best man: 1st Lt. William Bush The Maid of Honor: Jane Bennet(Rosamund Pike, of course!!!!!!)
The place: Westminster Abbey. All the cast and crew from the A&E series were there. Lt. Archie Kennedy and Capt. Bracegirdle restored to life. Sailors Styles and Matthews, given massive rewards by Hornblower for their yrs of faithful service, looking like lords. Styles to Matthews “He looks just abit happier this time around! Didn’t touch his breakfast when he married the late Maria. He had two breakfasts this morning!” Everywhere Adms-Vice, Rear, and Full. Lord Major Edrington leads the Army side.
Chapter three-How do I get this story moving? Or, what’s Jane got to do with it?
The wedding is a joy for all! Hornblower, however, catches a look of concern from his new father-in-law. Hornblower has seen that look before. At his 1st wedding. Given the dangerous mission to find the missing ship the Grasshopper.Given one day’s shore leave by the benevolence of Sir Edward. No other commander would been so generous. When the two great men are alone, they share many moving moments. “Son!” “Father”(Hornblower is an orphan). Both are overcome with emotion for several minutes. Sir Edward owed several promotions, and his life and ship in one battle, to the incredible work and insight of Hornblower. Hornblower owes an equal debt to Sir Edward. Now, joined together as family! Not even Hollywood could have…. Sir Edward gathers himself for a moment, “Come on now, let’s be cheerful. I could not have given up my “Jenny” to anyone else less worthy. Indeed, not to anyone else in all of Christendom”. Hornblower could only respond “You once said you hoped I would fight for more than England, That day has come!” More moving silence. Hornblower then says “did I deduct a concern?” Sir Edward regains his composure “As I said before to you “You see things that other men do not Sir” I can’t command you, nor will I, to accept this mission.
Indeed I command you to not think about it for five days!
Cutting and consuming of pie and cakes. Scenes of general merriment.
Chapter 4-Five days later..
Five days later…..
You will have four ships….Captain Wentworth(The Persuasion), Adm. Croft (The Sense and Sensibility, (ok ok so he was in Persuasion too, can’t have two boats with that name!), Adm. Francis Austen(The Pride and Prejudice) , and Rear Adm Charles Austen (The Jane) will command them. Lt. William Price will assist you. The Austenites must contribute at key moments. The Americans, good thing you never directly battled them, have given us four USS Constitutions. The battle will take place from Cape Cod bay down to Martha’s Vineyard and Nantucket. You will go up and down three times. You must stay within three miles of shore. Finally, you can’t fire upon the Ghost Ships. “Can’t fire Sir?” “Yes, the firing will do not good. indeed, the cannon balls get pulled into the bleak,black clouds above Ghost Fleet and come back out to hit the firing ship”.
Chapter 5 Blessing
Blessing of the Austenite fleet by Rev. Henry Tilney, Rev. Edmund Bertram, and Rev. Edward Ferrars. Edward’s blessing is worthy of Henry V at Agincourt. He practised his blessing many times with Marianne Dashwood (picture Kate Winslet…hehehe important for later in the story). Elinor Dashwood beams with delight. Margaret Dashwood consults her atlas.
Chapter 6 Becalmed off Sandwich-
As the fleet is becalmed, two riders are sent on a mission.
Col Brandon rides up the Olde Kings highway(known as 6A today). Thru Barnstable, Brewster, Dennis, and Orleans he did ride like Paul Revere. “The Ghost Ships are sailing!”. He continues on to EASTHAM, Wellfleet(Hi Lady Anna Elena B-private joke), Truro(visiting Atlantic Spice, but avoiding the Pamet Puma), and finally P-Town(he earned his fish dinner at Napa’s)..
Mr. Darcy rides up the Mid-Cape Highway(Rt 6). Mr. Darcy perceived anti-sisterhood propaganda. “Save your children(and yourself) from Brit lit”! “stop the British invasion” “Austen unfair to W characters”. Mr. Darcy grimaced at the awful slogans. Mr. Darcy grimaced at the equally repugnant handwriting….it could only be…..”WICKHAM”! Mr. Darcy spurred his hired horse on. At Hyannis, Mr. Darcy caught up with Wickham.(who was ‘dancing in the Streets of Hyannis’-Boston) Despite Wickham’s desire to remove himself from Lit’s Hall of Shame…Darcy’s bribe and forceful removal to a packet sent Wickham bound for that hive of scum and villainy known as ____. Mr. Darcy allows himself a small grin…..”I can’t wait to read P.D. James new book…where Mr. W. gets his”.
Chapter seven- Lizzy crosses the Cod-
“We need someone to run 3+mile width of EASTHAM from 1st Encounter beach(bay side) to Nauset Lighthouse(Ocean side) to view the speed of Ghost Fleet .
It is muddy! Lizzy runs across Corilss Way(Hi Preston F Cox and Madeline Cox-My paternal grandparents), Captain Penniman house, Eastham Windmill. Stately Nauset Lighthouse is respleasent in red and white. As she runs she encounters fast walking man with a beard. He smiles when he sees her beauty and fine eyes,”clearly you are not a pickled Cape Codder”! “Thank you sir! To whom I’m I speaking”? “Henry D. Thoreau at your service, my lady.”
Chapter Eight- Falmouth the Beautiful
Small and white, clean and a bright light, Nobska lighthouse the village of Woods Hole, four miles from Falmouth, is reached by the Austenite fleet.
“We must send someone to Falmouth to charm the summer people. Need supplies and ship pilots to get thru the hazardous shoals around the Elizabeth Islands”. “I had am ready Sir” cries out Emma(picture Romola). “Who will you bring with you” says Mr. Knightley. “Why you, if you ask”. Emma’s youthful spirit and Mr. Knightley’s courtly bearing so charm Falmouth that Katherine Lee Bates(Falmouth born, Wellesley College Prof!) writes a new version of America the Beautiful called “Emma the beautiful”.
Chapter Nine- Heroine made, not born(not in Bourne, MA)
Hornblower checks his land charts. “Mr. Bush, we need someone from Sisterhood(of Austen main characters) to climb the highest point quickly. We must determine those bizarre images above the Ghost ships. Who among the sisterhood is the best climber with the best vision? ” Catherine Morland bonded up the stairs of the Pligram’s Monument, with athletic grace, in true heroine fashion. Her eyes, while not as fine as Lizzy’s fine eyes, were of highest optical power. She peered to the absolute edge of her optical power. She saw the images of ……………Moors(!!) above the Ghost Ships. The names of the ships as well. the Emily, Charlotte, AnneB , and Bramwell were the main ones! Catherine raced down the step in world record time. No else would have been able to make it back in time. She gives her full report.
Chapter X- The Mouse(?) and the Whale-The only person in the group who could communicate with the Whale is Fanny Price. She feels every eye on herself, yet is glad for the opportunity to serve the Austenite community in it’s hour of greatest need. Hornblower and Fanny rowed out to the great white whale.It’s great fluke tapped menacingly. Tap, Tap, the tiny boat rocked. Close to tipping over. “Send him good vibes, positive thoughts, and your sweet essence now”. Hornblower had read Lord Valentine’s Castle(Pontfix and Lord Valentine mind melt) …the mighty fluke slowed…meanwhile the Ghost Fleet was in position to surround… Hornblower gave the signal to Captain Wentworth. The most daring Commander headed past the ghost fleet. He had stripped the ship of necessary provisions. The Emily and AnneB gave chase…all of sudden it became clear.. Wentworth would met up with Una Spenser, lovely Redheaded former wife of Cap. Ahab(from the book Arab’s Wife: Or, The Star-Gazer by Sena Jeter Naslund) in the village of Sconset(eastern side of Nantucket). She would guide a member of the Sisterhood to the Moors of Nantucket. Using the power of the Nantucket Moors there, the destruction of Bronte fleet would ashored. Lead by the Charlotte and the Branwell, the Ghost Fleet tried destroy the little boat containing Hornblower and Fanny Price. The loss of one member of the sisterhoood would swipe out the Austenites.Those in the ships commanded by Austen brothers and Adm. Croft looked on in horror. Her courage rising to super heroine status Fanny communicated the urgent need to stop the Charlotte and Branwell to the great white whale. Moby snorted out his blowhole,
“I’ll send them flying or to Davy Jones locker”. As the Brontes(nor their fleet) didn’t obey rules of physical placement/plot rules, he could only send them flying. That he did in the style of field goal kicker. Ship after ship went out of the 3 mile engagement boundry to never return(we hope)!
Meanwhile,the AnneB and the Emily were cutting the distance to Captain Wentsworth ship. Majestic Santaky Head light getting ever tantalizingly closer. Sconset and moors just beyond. Una’s sublime red hair being tossed about in the fresh breeze. Her pushing off from shore in a row boat. “We need to lose more weight, stat’” cried the good Captain. Edward Ferras, in the guise of Dan Stevens S&S 08, chops up a desk, wooden boards, etc.(when swabbing is required, Hugh Grant steps into the role). Elinor Dashwood helps toss the weight over board.
“Anne”, I will put you into Una’s row boat”. Only Anne Elliot, her exceptional mind even more improved by extensive reading, can id the plant in the moors. It is another couple of miles to the moors to run. The transfer of Anne put The Persuasion back into danger. Capt. Wentworth pulls a nearly impossible wheel move worthy of those famous 20th Maine boys(on land). No further help is needed. However, if it was.. the marvelous(marvin hagler?) Blue Whale-Big Ben, arrives on scene grininng across his great and timely(sorry!) face. “you are bad birds(I mean authors) you Brontes”. He breachs, sending the Bronte ships skimming far out to sea. The Persuasion is rocked(and nearly rolled) too but Capt. Wentsworth makes all the right commands.
Anne and Una are too far from the sea action to check. They run….Anne turns an ankle. However, Una is strong enough to nearly carry Anne. The Bronte fleet are half way to the Azores when Anne finds the plant. The solution is created, pufff goes the Bronte fleet. The world is safe for Austenites! Marianne joyfully celebrates by climbing on the bow and sings “Near, far, wherever you are, I know that MY heart will go on!” Col. Brandon beams! Elinor is appalled. Catherine and Emma take command of the bows’ of their ships! And who should take command of the 4th bow?? Yes, of course, it is the AUTHOR(picture Anne Hathaway as the AUTHOR)!!!
The weekly Jane Austen and her characters’ ball was being held at Netherfield. Mr. Bingley and his wonderful lady always give the most graceful gatherings. The standing rule for dancing is that the first two dances may be with one’s spouse. Jane Austen, of course, not being married, and being the creator of all is exempt. She spends many dances with Tom Lefroy(“everything most profligate and shocking in the way of dancing and sitting down together”). The mysterious man of the seaside is called upon to dance as well(alas gentle reader, it is beyond my powerless pen to provide a description). Cassandra Austen sits with her Tom Fowle.
After that merit and contests determine dance partners. Henry Tilney, as guest of honor, determined a piano playing contest for his dance partner after the first two dances with his heroic and delightful spouse Catherine Morland(Catherine would give the Queens a run for their money piano playing. She has learned much). Jane Austen flashed Henry Tilney a wicked smile. They both know it would be a contest between those two less than fully proficient/hardly ever practicing Emma and Elizabeth. The Queens of Highbury and Pemberley enjoy a warm friendship at the Austen Character Balls. Emma and Elizabeth eye Henry Tilney across the room. A fine dance partner indeed.
I have been remiss not to state that Elinor Dashwood was in the room as well. She is engaged to Col Brandon for the second two dances. Much to discuss about Elinor’s sister, who is still singing (“You’re here/there’s nothing I fear/And I know that my heart will go on….”).
Col Brandon says(sorry!) “I have a sinking feeling…”
As this is my alternative universe, let other pens dwell on that difficult sister of Elizabeth, Lydia Bennet. We would be seriously displeased (and have a headache!) if she had a speaking part here.
Emma chooses the theme to BBC 09 for her musical selection. She smiles and laughs as she plays, thinking about her first dance with her spouse(“who will you dance with”…”why you, if you will ask me”).
All in the room note (oops, bad pun warning) Emma’s improved playing. The time spent with her new best female friend in Highbury, currently in Ireland visiting the Dixons and not available here, has greatly improved Emma’s playing.
Elizabeth knows she is beaten but her courage rises to the challenge. She gives a delightful account of the P&P theme 95. Her playing makes her delightful and talented sister-in-law proud(she will praise Elizabeth’s improved playing to her noble brother). No shades of Pemberley were polluted by Elizabeth’s playing! Alas, there can be only winner, and Emma carries the day. Fear not Elizabeth fans, she gets the next two dances after Emma.
By a partial, prejudiced, & ignorant “author”(lol, who can’t write very well).
Entry 3 by Miss Laurie
An Elegant Event by Miss Laurie
In the parlour of a particularly fine London townhouse a group of seven genteel and elegant ladies were seated and all sipping at afternoon tea. A low hum of chatter filled the room as the ladies discussed the health of their parents, the growth of their children, the pleasantness of the weather and the state of the roads.
Presently a handsome young woman with golden hair and hazel eyes stood amidst the group of seated ladies and drew everyone’s attention with a sweet but firm tone.
“Pardon me ladies! If I may have your attention please.” She waited for complete quiet to descend upon the room before she spoke. She fixed her eye on a particularly chatty pair, who were evidently engrossed in discussion the latest novels, until they noticed the quietness of their companions and looked a bit sheepishly at the speaker. Smiling pleasantly at the now attentive group Mrs. Emma Knightley addressed them in a clear direct voice. “Thank you. I’m very glad you were all able to come this afternoon. It has been some time since we have met so it’s lovely to hear all of your news. But we have been invited here for a purpose so let us get down to business. As some of you may be aware Mrs. Elizabeth Darcy will very soon be celebrating her birthday. In honor of this event her sister, Mrs. Bingley, proposes hosting a celebration. She has invited us here today in the hopes that we would not only be among the guests but could assist her in planning the event.”
From where she sat next to the speaker Mrs. Jane Bingley spoke up in an earnest tone. “My hope is to surprise my sister with a large party of friends and family, but it is difficult for me to plan such an event on my own. Dearest Lizzy is so very astute, especially when it comes to reading my mind.”
“Sisters are very difficult things to completely surprise,” spoke up Mrs. Marianne Brandon with a pointed smile at her own dear sister Elinor.
“What type of gathering were you considering Mrs. Bingley?” inquired elegant Mrs. Anne Wentworth.
“I have considered all types of gatherings but have struggled to even pick the time of day to hold the party.” Jane Bingley sighed slightly.
Emma Knightley spoke up: “If you had an afternoon gathering in mind an excursion to Box Hill might be of interest.”
“Or a drive to Blaize Castle!” spoke up the chatty lover of books Mrs. Catherine Tilney with an eager tone.
“I fear,” said Anne Wentworth gently, “that Blaize castle will not serve our purpose. I have been there on a few occasions and found it to hold little interest.”
Catherine, who had always held high hopes of finding Blaize Castle to be a real old Gothic fortress could not hide her visible disappointment.
“A picnic, although pleasant, will I fear be quite a cumbersome undertaking.” spoke up the ever sensible Mrs. Elinor Ferrars.
“But Elinor, only think of how delightful an outdoor luncheon under shady trees in a picturesque setting would be!” Marianne interposed.
“I do think how delightful it would be,” returned Elinor, “but I also think of the amounts of servants to serve, picnic baskets to pack, china to protect from breakage and hours in a carriage to convey such a number of people there and back again.”
“What you say is very true Mrs. Ferrars.” Emma reluctantly agreed. “And my last excursion to Box Hill, though carried off well produced little enjoyment due to the heat and only resulted in heartache and great quantities of left over picnic fare. No, we had better think of something else. And perhaps an evening gathering would be best.”
“A card party perhaps?” the hitherto silent Mrs. Fanny Bertram suggested in a meek tone.
“Card parties can be very pleasant,” Jane Bingley answered sweetly. “But I am afraid my sister has little taste for cards.”
“Truthfully nor have I.” said Anne Wentworth. “I am no card player.”
“What about a musical soiree?” Marianne Brandon’s face light up with excitement as she spoke. “Do any of you play?”
“I fear not.” sighed Catherine Tilney. “I had no patience to learn.”
Fanny echoed a soft “Nor I.”
“I am afraid neither Lizzy nor I were gifted musically.” Jane returned with a smile.
“I would play and sing better if only I took more time to practice, as my Mr. Knightley is often reminding me.” Emma chuckled at her own faults.
“I play a little and am very fond of Italian arias, but I would tremble to be examined by a master.” Anne admitted.
“I fear that idea must be let go Marianne,” said her sister, “for we are none of us as talented as you and I am sure you would not wish to entertain so many guests for an entire evening.”
“Dear me no! Yes, I suppose the musical soiree must be given up! Poor lovely music, adieu!” Marianne sighed with regret as she spoke the last few words. Sitting next to her Elinor only shook her head.
“Might we have a ball then?” inquired Catherine Tilney with more than a hint of excitement in her voice.
The thought of a ball, even one so pleasant as this caused Fanny Bertram to grow a bit pale. From across the room Anne Wentworth had quietly observed Fanny’s eyes open a bit wider at the suggestion of a ball and her own heart filling with sympathy for the younger woman’s momentary discomfort caused her to speak up.
“A ball could be very pleasant especially a ball with so many friends gathered together. I am for a ball!”
“An excellent idea Catherine!” said the other chatty book lover Marianne excitedly. “I am prodigiously fond of dancing! What say you all to a ball?”
“I say yes!” Emma fairly grinned. “I have so few opportunities to dance in Highbury and Mr. Knightley rarely dances though he is an excellent partner.”
“My dear Henry – err Mr. Tilney – is a most lively dancer and a most agreeable dancing partner!” enthused Catherine with a wide smile as she thought fondly of her first meeting in the Lower Rooms with her dear husband.
“Mr. Bingley is just such another dancer.” Jane said with a soft smile that brightened her naturally pretty face. “Lizzy is quite fond of dancing, as am I. A ball would be just the thing if it was agreeable to everyone else. Mrs. Ferrars?” she sent an inquiring look to that lady.
“Mr. Ferrars and I both enjoy a few turns about the room. But I must be excused dancing until three in the morning.” Elinor said good-naturedly.
“Oh Elinor, you would say that!” Marianne’s tone held a bit of impatience. “I will speak for Colonel Brandon and myself and say we would both like a ball best of all.”
“Captain Wentworth is also fond of dancing. And though it was once said that I rarely dance I must admit that I enjoy dancing as well.” a slight smile played on Anne’s lips. With a kind look at Fanny who had been thoughtfully engrossed in watching the proceedings Anne inquired “And is Mr. Bertram fond of dancing?”
Fanny flushed slightly when she found all eyes turned towards her. “Yes, he enjoys dancing from time to time.”
Her reply was short but Anne persisted. “And you Mrs. Bertram, are you fond of dancing?”
“I do, but…” there was a slight hesitation in Fanny’s reply. “But I cannot dance in my – condition.” she blushed deeper and averted her eyes slightly.
“Oh my dear Fanny!” Marianne burst forth. “Why didn’t you say? How wonderful!” The smiles on the other ladies’ faces showed that they were equally delighted.
Jane Bingley was out of her seat in a moment and hovering around Fanny with concern started with “Oh you dear thing! Are you comfortable? Is there anything I can get you? Some warm milk perhaps?”
“Thank you. You are most kind. I am quite comfortable. No, thank you, I am in need of nothing.” Fanny answered with a thankful heart.
“Congratulations are most certainly in order!” Emma beamed.
“Might we inquire when the little one is expected to arrive?” Anne smiled encouragingly at the expectant mother.
Fanny’s natural modesty caused her to blush again but she fairly glowed as she said “At Christmas” with a gentle sigh of contentment.
“A baby is such a blessing!” Catherine nodded emphatically. “At least that is what Mr. Tilney tells me each time a new baby is added to our batch.” Soft chuckles filled the room and a slight giggle from Elinor Ferrars to whom the impression of a Parsonage full of boisterous Tilneys was still fresh on her memory.
“We are all very delighted by your news Mrs. Bertram!” said Emma.
“Thank you all.” Fanny smiled. Turning the conversation quickly from herself she voiced a question on her mind. “And what of Mr. Darcy? Does he know your plans Mrs. Bingley?”
“Oh yes. I have briefly made him aware of my intentions and he has promised his support in conveying Lizzy to the event and concealing the surprise from her as much as possible. A ball, I believe would be agreeable to him. He cuts a fine figure and is not as averse to dancing as my family had previously thought him.” Jane explained.
“Where shall we host this birthday ball?” Emma giggled.
“Mr. Bingley will insist upon having the ball here in town and it should be quite convenient for surprising Lizzy.” Jane explained.
“How exciting!” Emma enthused and her hazel eyes sparkled with anticipation as she thought aloud. “There will be a great number of things to do! There are invitations to send, food to arrange and musicians to higher. I will assist anywhere I am needed.”
“We will all be at your disposal Mrs. Bingley.” Anne spoke sincerely. “You may employ us on any errand.” Six graceful heads nodded and smiled in agreement.
Jane smiled widely, “Thank you my friends, you are all too good!”
On the evening of her birthday Mrs. Elizabeth Darcy was escorted into the dining room by her husband followed by her sister and brother-in-law. Elizabeth could not contain a rather unladylike squeal of surprised delight on finding six of her dearest friends and their spouses concealed there.
“Oh my goodness!” she gasped, placing both gloved hands over her pretty smile. “What is this?”
“This is a surprise party!” Emma Knightley clapped her hands in excitement. Behind her Mr. Knightley smiled kindly.
“Happy Birthday!” Marianne and Catherine chimed and giggled at the unexpected unison of their wishes.
Turning to her sister Elizabeth inquired with a sparkle in her fine eyes: “Dear Jane, is this your doing?”
“I fear it is.”
“Jane you sly thing! You are the best sister!” Elizabeth embraced Jane warmly. “I understand now why you had so little time for me this week.” she smiled widely and her remark inspired a general chuckle from the gathered friends.
“I felt quite sorry about putting you off but had you entered the house you might have guessed in a moment that preparations for a party were underway.” Jane explained.
“And Mr. Darcy,” suddenly turning to her husband, “were you privy to these plans?”
“Your sister had made me aware of them and it was all I could do to keep you occupied this past week. You can be a terribly inquisitive woman my dear.” Mr. Darcy teased his wife.
“Oh my dear friends thank you so very much for coming. Thank you Jane, Mr. Bingley. Thank you all!”
The first floor rooms of Mr. Bingley’s London townhouse were ablaze with light and brimming with laughter and happy voices. In the ballroom the guests were assembled and the musicians were tuning their instruments in preparation for the dancing. From among the throng of family and friends who had joined the party for the dancing part of the evening, Mr. Fitzwilliam Darcy led his wife to the dance floor for they were to lead the way. They were soon joined in the set by the Bingleys, the Knightleys, the Brandons, the Ferrarses and the Tilneys for the first dance of the evening. Later Captain and Mrs. Wentworth would take the floor and Mr. Edmund Bertram would kindly partner a few young ladies while his precious wife stayed comfortably near the fire and what with one friend or another never lacked for a companion. As the evening wore on seven ladies could be seen at the top of the room chatting away while their spouses nearby were engrossed in a tale of the high seas as told by the gallant Captain Frederick Wentworth. The dancers in the center of the room finished a lively jig and the ladies were suddenly joined by a smiling but breathless couple – Mr. And Mrs. Henry Tilney. After a few witty remarks Mr. Tilney joined the gentlemen while his wife plopped into a chair and waved her fan vigorously to cool her flushed face. Though they had left the dance floor there were still many couples keeping up the revels.
“Well my dear friends.” Elizabeth began. “I have it on very good authority that each of you had a prominent hand in planning this delightful event. Thank you for your kindness. I should have a birthday every month if this is to be the effect it produces!” Elizabeth sparkled. “I am truly a blessed creature to have so many excellent friends!”
“God has blessed us all.” Fanny mused gently.
“Very true,” Anne agreed.
Many of the friends stayed until very late enjoying each other’s company. As each of the eight elegant ladies retired for the evening their thoughts were filled with the many blessings bestowed upon them by the Author of their life’s story.
Entry 4 by Lydia Foster
What are sisters for, but to always be by your side,
to be there when you’ve been jilted,
and to help your spirits rise.
What are sisters for, but to help you live, laugh and flirt,
with all those dashing officers,
then marry one and leave you in the dirt.
What are sisters for, but to make you tell them how you feel,
“What?! Like him?! Esteem him?!?!
No, you must tell me what you truly feel!”
What are sisters for, but to not give up on your love life,
to say,” I guarantee that he’ll be by your side in two weeks,
and the next week, you will be his wife!”
Yes, sisters make mistakes, but you always can be sure that,
sisters are always there by you
through the pain, sorrow and joy