Monday, April 2, 2012

Sense and Sensibility Janeicillin: Part Six (Conclusion)

Read Part One, Part Two, Part Three, Part Four, and Part Five.

Marianne first became aware of her affliction on her next visit to Delaford. Business had taken Colonel Brandon to London.

"He may return at anytime," Eleanor assured her, "and Edward and I will do our best to make sure you are well entertained."

"I have no doubt of having a very pleasant stay, Eleanor. The Colonel's absence shall not be a detriment, I assure you, unless we mourn the loss of invitations to the manor house. His chef is very fine."

"I was not concerned about your palate, my dear. Only you have become quite good friend with Colonel Brandon, have you not? I thought his presence was one of the attractions for you here."

"You underestimate yourself, dear Eleanor! There is no one whose company I find more felicitous than yours," but even as she said the words, Marianne could not help but feel that they were not quite true.

Her visit to the parsonage at an end and still no Colonel Brandon to be found, Marianne was happy to accept her sister's invitation to return no more than a month hence. The Master of Delaford being at home when she arrived, an invitation to dinner was quickly given and accepted, but this would be the only night in which Marianne would have the opportunity to converse with the Colonel, for unexpected business took him away again the very next day. When Marianne learned that he was unlikely to return before she was due to leave, her disappointment was acute enough to attract Eleanor's attention.

"It is not like you to mope, Marianne."

"I am not moping, Eleanor," she replied, determinedly turning the page of her book. "I am reading."

"Yes. I've noticed what progress you have made. Come now, and tell me what it is that troubles you. Since when were you one to guard your feelings?"

Marianne blushed, "Since I learned how badly they can be hurt," choking on the words. Eleanor put aside her work and went to her sister, sincerely repentant.

"I did not think, my dear Marianne, of how those words would sound to you. I am so very sorry!"

"Oh, I know you did not! I cannot say why I am in such dreadful humor," she took herself in line. "I certainly have no reason to be out of sorts, especially not with you."

"With whom would you prefer to be?" Eleanor questioned cautiously.

She chortled, "I have a few choice words to say to dear Colonel Brandon, should he ever make himself available to hear them."

"What ever has he done to invoke your ire? You seemed to be on fine terms last evening."

She ignored the question, beginning to pace up and down the room. "Do you think he could be intentionally avoiding me?"

"Where in heaven's name did you get such a notion?"

Marianne stopped to gaze out the window in the direction of Delaford House. "He always has business that takes him away just when I arrive."

"Shear coincidence!"

"Can you be certain?" she asked quietly.

"Only reasonably. Why are you being so suspicious, Marianne? Did I not know better, I would think you had deeper feelings for him than friendship."

Turning to face her sister, revealing eyes full of tears, she replied, "I am not certain, but I begin to suspect that I do."

Eleanor beamed at her sister. "Oh, my dear Marianne! Nothing could make me happier!"

Marianne gasped. "Do not say that, Eleanor! There is absolutely no reason to suppose that anything resembling happiness would result from such a catastrophe!"

"A catastrophe? How can you say so? Colonel Brandon is a wonderful man who has long loved you. If you could return his affections, it would be a marvelous thing for you both."

"You do not know his feelings," Marianne said accusingly.

"I am tolerably certain of them," was Eleanor's smug reply.

"But it is impossible! Do you not see that? After the entanglement with Willoughby, to say nothing of his assistance during my illness, how can I, the lady who scorned the notion of second attachments, propose to transfer my affections to the man once dismissed as infirm? Who would believe me? I do not accept it myself."

“My dear sister, there is no need to convince anyone of your sincerity, as all who have observed you these past months already know of your feelings. Do not glare at me so! Just because some of us know not to speak of such things doesn’t mean that our thoughts do not resemble Mrs. Jennings and Sir John’s on certain points. Mama, for one. She will be delighted.”

“Eleanor!” Marianne gasped. “Mama does not think of the Colonel in such a way! She has no notion of my falling in love with anyone.”

“I assure you it has been her most ardent wish this past year."

Marianne sat down, stunned. "I know not what to say! I cannot believe she never said anything!"

"My mother would not manipulate a daughter's feelings so! She could not speak on such an issue."

"I suppose not," she replied quietly. A long silence ensued, broken only when Marianne declared her intention of taking a long walk. Eleanor did not offer to accompany her. It was not necessary. 

When Marianne departed for Barton Cottage, Eleanor again invited her to return soon, but Marianne would not commit to a precise date. Not wishing to impose her presence where it was not wanted, she reasoned the Colonel could come to her at any time should he wish to seek her company. He was not expected at the Park, and Marianne told herself that it was silly to look out for his arrival, but, nevertheless, each passing day found her watching the road between the Barton and the cottage expectantly. When one day, about two weeks after her return home, a figure that in height and stature could be Colonel Brandon was seen approaching. 

Margaret looked out the window from Marianne's side. "Why it's the Colonel!" she declared gaily.

"You do not know that. He is too far away to tell," scolded her sister.

"Of course it is he, Marianne. Whom else should it be?"

Marianne could not answer that question, and so returned her gaze the gentleman, who certainly did appear more and more to indeed be Colonel Brandon.

"I shall go out to greet him," declared Margaret, rushing off to fetch her cape.

Marianne watched as her sister ran out to welcome the visitor, who bent down as he warmly greeted her. She wondered if he was just paying a courtesy call on the family, or if his presence was on her account. The tumult of emotions overwhelming her as he entered the cottage and was announced kept her mind from being able to focus clearly. All was feeling, and the wait for him to enter interminable.

Finally the pleasantries were over, but Marianne was unsure if she had acquitted herself well or not. She sat down, hoping her greeting had been cordial. Unable to attend to the inquiries her mother made, she tried to focus on her work, but her mind would not cooperate. She could not say how much time had passed before the Colonel suggested the ladies join him in a walk, as the day was particularly fine. Mrs. Dashwood demurred, pleading household duties, but encouraged her daughters to go. Before long they were on the downs, and as Margaret raced ahead of her elders, Colonel Brandon and Marianne were left to converse by themselves.

"I am sorry I had to depart from Delaford so unexpectedly when you were last visiting the Ferrars."

"Think nothing of it."

"Luck has certainly run against me. Every time you are in the neighborhood, I seem to be called away."

"Please, Colonel, do not trouble yourself over it."

"I would hate for you to suppose I planned to be away while you were in residence."

"Why should I conceive of such an absurd notion?" she defensively retorted.

"Your sister, Mrs. Ferrars, indicated that you felt slighted after my sudden departure," he admitted.

"Did she?" Marianne asked, incensed. "She had certainly no business, or reason, to make such conjectures. I assure you, Colonel Brandon, that while the pleasure of your company is a benefit to my time at Delaford, it is not essential."

"I would not suppose it was," he replied cautiously, "but I would also hate for you to think that I do not relish the time I spend with you, which has become essential to me."

She looked at him cautiously, and his nervous smile told her all she needed to know. His heart was hers still, and she now had a mind to appreciate it. A blush overspread her cheeks as she smiled back, taking a step as she did so, and in the heat of the moment, not looking at the ground beneath her feet, she slipped on a stone, twisted her ankle, and found herself falling into the safety of the Colonel's arms.

"Marianne!" Margaret cried, rushing over to her sister.

"Are you alright?" the Colonel inquired. "It is the same ankle you injured before, is it not?"

"Yes," said Marianne, tears springing to her eyes. "How foolish of me!"

"Nonsense,' was his determined reply. "The joint is weakened from the previous injury, and might very well give you trouble for years to come. We must get you home so you can rest it," and placing his free arm behind her legs, he swept her into his embrace and walked towards the cottage, Margaret running ahead. 

"Mama! Come quick! Marianne has injured her ankle again!" she cried as she entered the cottage.

Mrs. Dashwood arrived just in time to see Colonel Brandon carrying Marianne over the threshold. She could only be vividly reminded of the time another gentleman carried her daughter in precisely the same way and took solace in her knowledge that now it was the right gentleman performing that service. She sent Margaret off to gather supplies, saw Marianne seated on the sofa, and excused herself to see to Margaret.

"I cannot believe my clumsiness," lamented Marianne. "Thank you, sir, for your much needed assistance."

"While I cannot agree that you are clumsy, I do wish you had better timing. I was most interested in pursuing our conversation."

She looked away and said quietly, "As was I."

"Forgive me if I am opportunistic, but I cannot allow this moment to slip by. I do not know when you might again hurt your ankle."

"Pardon me?" Marianne blinked in perplexity.

"Forgive me, Miss Dashwood, my dear Marianne, but I have noticed your heart is susceptible when you sustain such injuries. Would you not allow me to always be the one to assist you when in need?"

"I know not whether to laugh or be offended! Are you asking..." her voice trailed off, afraid of her presumption.

"Yes, Marianne. Will you be my wife?"

Tears completely unrelated to her injury spilled down her face as she enthusiastically responded, "Yes, Colonel Brandon. There is nothing I desire more."

When Mrs. Dashwood returned, the new couple was so obsorbed in their own happiness that they did not even hear the door open. Thinking that Marianne had more important matters to attend to than her ankle, she quietly closed the door and tiptoed away.

A wedding announcement will always be received in a vast variety of ways. Most who read it will not think of it at all, only glean that no one in whom they are interested is mentioned and move on, but those few who are intimate with the particulars will each have their own response, suited to their personality and reflective of their values. Mrs. Ferrars, for example, whose son-in-law had been promoting the notion of Colonel Brandon marrying one or another of his sisters since she first made his acquaintance, and who could find it in her heart to begrudge the Dashwood ladies any good fortune, enjoyed listening to Lucy Ferrars badmouth the bride. Indeed, it was this lady's intimate knowledge of so much to Marianne's disfavor that greatly bridged the divide between mother and daughter-in-law, gradually wiping away the sins of the past and rendering Lucy a valued companion. Interesting that she nevertheless wrote a fawning missive to the future Mrs. Brandon, reminding her of the good times they had shared at Barton Park, and offering her warmest congratulations.

John Dashwood, on the other hand, received all the pleasure one could possibly expect from a wedding announcement. Not only was he pleased to see his sister contract so suitable a marriage, but he also had the additional satisfaction derived from believing that he had done much to promote the match. Surely this was precisely the kind of assistance his father had asked him to provide to his sisters. He would be happy to look about, in a few more years, for someone appropriate for Margaret. 

More sincere were the sentiments of Sir John and Mrs. Jennings, who used the occasion to toast the happy couple through a great deal of brandy, predicting competing heights of felicity for the marriage all the while. Lady Middleton thought it would be appropriate to host an engagement party, the perfect occasion to utilize her new plate, only just arrived.

But to Eleanor and Mrs. Dashwood, seeing Marianne happily engaged to a thoroughly good man, who would care not only care for her during his own life, but would also see to securing her future and that of their children, was nothing less than their dearest dream come true. This union brought peace and stability to their lives, two sensations that had been absent for far too long. Words are inadequate to express their delight.

Marianne Dashwood was born to an extraordinary fate. She was born to discover the falsehood of her own opinions, and to counteract, by her conduct, her most favorite maxims. She was born to overcome an affection formed so late in life as at seventeen, and with no sentiment superior to strong esteem and loving friendship, voluntarily to give her hand to another! - and that other, a man who had suffered no less than herself under the event of a former attachment, whom, two years before, she had considered too old to be married, - and who still sought the constitutional safeguard of a flannel waistcoat!

But so it was. Instead of falling a sacrifice to an irresistible passion, as once she had fondly flattered herself with expecting, she found herself at nineteen, submitting to new attachments, entering on new duties, planning a wedding, enjoying a courtship, and acclimating herself to the notion of being patroness of a village. The transition came easily to her, and on the day that saw her leave the name Dashwood behind, as she walked down the aisle aglow with happiness, no one watching could doubt that she would flourish in her new role. As Edward recited the marriage ceremony, she felt as if all that had tarnished her life thus far was falling away, revealing a pristine future ahead. Bumps and blemishes might leave their mark, but for them she was ready. She had her husband to help her and a most cherished sister, who would always be nearby. Would the day come when she might wish Eleanor not living almost within sight? Certainly. But among the merits and the happiness of Elinor and Marianne, let it not be ranked as the least considerable, that they nevertheless lived without disagreement between themselves, or producing coolness between their husbands.  

The End


  1. Naww! Bu-bu- Janeicillin is over?! Pls tell me you're planning on writing Janeicillin for other novels? (Or maybe you already have?)

    I loved that! You capture the characters so well - especially John Dashwood's thoughts - I couldn't help smiling at his self-righteous line of thinking - so typical of him. (And oh nos! Poor Margaret - so unaware of the fate to befall her. Haha, poor John Dashwood. He's so blind.)

    And the scene with Lucy Ferrars and Mrs. Ferrars - ugh, had me bristling all over. I don't know which one I dislike more. They WOULD bond over trash-talking others, wouldn't they?

    Great post!!

    1. My dear Lady Disdain, there is much more Janeicillin to be had, although I do think this post marks it's end. I have written a Janeicillin for every one of Austen's novels except Mansfield Park, which I began, but it thoroughly stumped me. You can read most of my Janeicillin, rather awkwardly cataloged, at the page tab under the banner, but it might be better to just use the search option for the blog (see the side bar) and look up Janeicillin plus which ever novel you are interested in finding. I intend to start editing the stories for publication, and the book will hopefully be available early next year. So glad you enjoyed it!