Saturday, December 17, 2011

Letters to Miss Austen

These are my entries for Miss Dashwood's contest for birthday-cards and letters to Miss Jane Austen. :)

My dearest Miss Austen,
      La, but I'm fagged! I was up dancing all last night at the Officer's Ball and Wickham spilled his punch all over my gown and spoilt it. (The gown, not the punch--well, both. La, what a goose I am!) I'm afraid he isn't half as agreeable as you said he'd be when you married me off to him, though he is horridly handsome. But here I am babbling on so when I picked up my pen to write you a Happy Birthday. (Though it seems to me you might be happier if you were married as well. If you only came to visit me, Miss Austen, I could introduce you to all the officers--ahhmmmm!) I trust we can count on you to host a ball to celebrate the day? And make sure that the fabled Mr. Churchill sees to the music. [I've never met him, of course, but I hear you wrote him up as a fine rogue! How I wish I could see him.] We simply can't let Mary play--she'd be bound to play concertos when we want something we could dance to like a jig or a reel and--oh crumbs! Why, I haven't chosen my gown for the dance tomorrow--what rot it is being married to a man who can't supply you with an allowance because he spends it all on cards. I find I haven't had a new gown since September! Really, Miss Austen, I'd think you'd be wiser than to set me up with him. Ah well. Que Sera, Sera and all that sort of thing the French say. (Or was it the Italian?) No matter. My hand is so cramped from writing this card I had better stop at once with one more wish for you to have a pleasant ball--I mean, birthday.
                     Your dearest friend,
                                        Lydia Wickham. (La, how droll that sounds!)

My dear Madam,
      I would not be a gentleman if I did not wish you a very felicitous birthday--and I do, most heartily--though I can't seem to understand what the women find so pleasant in reading the mail. Especially letters of friendship--they seldom bring any money at all. I hear rumours that you are having a small evening party? I hope it does not snow, for your sake. It is my opinion that it looks very much like snow, and you know how unpleasant it is to be snow-bound in another's house for any length of time.
But as I have taken up my pen against scruples over the mail, I must beg an answer from you for a question that has plagued my mind for some time--how to convince my father-in-law that I don't wish to hear at every mealtime how unhealthy my habits are? If it is not the food he is sighing over, it's the place I take my family on holiday, and if it isn't where I take my family on holiday it is the cut of my coat. George, my brother, seems to be able to not only tolerate him, but likes him. Mr. Woodhouse is, I daresay, a good man and a generous one. But he never extends the generosity to me in the manner of which I'd savor it: In a good dose of silence.
Once more, I wish you a happy and enjoyable birthday, and I trust my sending a letter in the mail will not distress you any more than I hear they distress Miss Fairfax. Now I must beg your leave and go attend to guarding the chickens.
                        I am yours &c,
                                     John Knightley


Anonymous said...

Dear Miss Heffington,

Your letters to Miss Jane from various characters are very much on the mark with what she wrote about them. Some comments on this:

I'm unhappy to see that Mrs. Wickham hasn't matured from being married to this villain. Perhaps things will change for her and FOR HIM, when the realities of life, such as, a potentialy difficult lying-in, or an illness, or true Christian repentance touches their shallow lives.

Poor John! But, enduring patiently such a droll and fastidious father-in-law, and at last coming to appreciate him, as our George does, will help him grow as well!

Good job, Rachel!

Megan Langham said...

These are charming, Rachel! You've chosen two of Austen's most fascinating (if a bit exasperating) characters, and you got their characters spot-on here. I burst out laughing more than once. ;)

You know, you ought to try your hand at a Jane Austen continuation novel. I'm usually quite wary of those, but I think if anyone could manage one you could. At any rate, you've got her style down. ^.^

Julia said...

Oh my, these are so clever! I loved them both! They sounded exactly like Lydia and John. You should consider writing more of these.... ;)

I wrote one from Anne Elliot, but it was more gentle and not quite as amusing. ;)