Friday, September 28, 2012

A Mixed Up Mashup: The Ladies at Longbourn

Amanda Root 1995
It was with trepidation that Anne followed her sister Mary down the remarkably ordered road, packed with structures one would undoubtedly describe as noble homes, had they not been stacked one on top of the next. Yet when she spotted the great house at Uppercross, remarkable as it appeared sitting upon a street corner surrounded by neighbors on all sides, the world suddenly seemed not so unbearable. It was her first taste of true comfort since reality had been cast into confusion that morning, when she watched a house materialize upon her sister's veranda,  Mary must have felt something similar, for both quickened their steps, hurrying to the door. Upon crossing the threshold, they found themselves in such a scene of chaos that the one just left no longer seemed so bizarre.

Morag Hood 1971
Children ran everywhere, several unknown persons crowded the hall, and all seemed to be talking at once, creating a grand cacophony. Instantly spotting Charles through the mayhem, Mary threw herself into his arms and burst into tears.

"Charles!" she cried through her sobs. "Do you know what has happened? Has the whole world gone mad? Thank goodness Anne was with me, for I never could have calmed the boys myself. Jemima is overwrought and completely useless!"

"Mary!" he said soothingly, leading both ladies into an adjoining parlor. "I cannot think that Anne, nor you, would have left the boys alone with her if that were true."

"What can you know of it? Men do always manage to avoid everything most disagreeable!"  

Simon Russell Beale 1995
"You would not envy me if you knew what I have been up to," he mumbled disconsolately. "That strange woman brought all these people here, insisting my mother take them in for some indefinite period of time. I was not here, and so do not know quite how it was, but she assures me that there was no rejecting them. The Harvilles seem very good sorts, but I know not what to make of this Benwick fellow. Even worse, she insisted Lousia be sent to bed for a head injury she never has sustained. How either agreed to such a thing, I haven't a clue."

Judy Cornwell 1995
"She was not to be denied!" explained a remarkably placid Mrs. Musgrove, just then entering the room. "Had you met Mrs. Adams, you would have complied with her wishes too, Charles. How else could she convince Captain and Mrs. Harville to relocate their entire family from Lyme? Just imagine! Two of poor Richard's commanding officers! I could not possibly refuse them."

"I already explained to you, mama, that they did not come from Lyme, but just up the road. The entire world has been turned on its head, you know, and Harville has a perfectly good house not two miles from here. The only trouble seems to be that he took the place on account of its proximity to the ocean, and now it sits upon a river instead! Quite remarkable!"

"It certainly is," concurred Anne, glad to be getting to the matter uppermost in her mind. "I am no scientist, but must there not be some reasonable explanation for the strange phenomenon we are experiencing?"

"Someone might have one, but it is not me," declared Charles with fervor. "If I were to consider the matter, I think this Mrs. Adams must be at the very root of the problem."

"Oh no, Charles!" his mother cried. "She had the sweetest baby girl! Besides, only think how very kind of her it was to warn us that Louisa might fall if she went to Lyme. We had no plans for such an excursion, but nevertheless, it is quite a relief to me that we shall never have to suffer such a harrowing incident as Mrs. Adams described. It was really quite dreadful!"

"But that is precisely my point, mama! How could she come by such information, and why would she insist that you take in all these unknown house guests!"

"She said it was essential to my daughter's happiness. I do not know to which she referred, but I am not one to do anything that might curtail the pleasures of my children! She further told me that Mary and Anne would soon arrive, and that I was to send them to a house down the road - Longbourn is the name - just as soon as I was able. There is much to do, but I am sure I can manage with just Henrietta. You had best be on your way at once, for they must be expecting you!'

Be it due to the relief of action or just plain curiosity, the sisters readily complied with this dictate. Of course, Mary did make some protest, particularly when she discovered that Charles was to remain behind, but even this was relatively mild. Soon they were again making their way down the strange road, and it was not long before they stood in front of the ivy covered edifice that Mrs. Adams had described to Mrs. Musgrove.

"This is very strange, Anne. Can we really just appear upon the doorstep of persons totally unconnected to us?"

"Nothing can be stranger than this morning, Mary. Such exceptional circumstances surely override common civilities. Besides, we have Mrs. Adams recommendation." Even as she said the words, Anne wondered if the residents of the house would have any idea who Mrs. Adams was, but she kept her thought to herself and knocked upon the door. 

Alison Steadman 1995
The ladies were ushered into a small sitting room overcrowded by ladies, young and old. A Mrs. Bennet greeted them in a flustered and overly intimate manner, instantly arousing Mary's disdain. She put forward three of her daughters, all rather unpromising, explaining as she did so that the two eldest were away from home, "And how they shall ever return to us I am sure I do not know, for we do not even know where we are. It has been a most trying morning, most overwhelming to my nerves! This is Mrs. Dashwood and her youngest daughter, Miss Margaret. The two eldest, she tells me, are in London, just like my poor Jane. Who can say, my dear Mrs. Dashwood, if we shall ever see our dear girls again! And this is Mrs. Weston, who has no children, but nevertheless worries about a Miss Woodhouse. Do you have children, Mrs. Musgrove?"

"I have two sons."

"Sons! Are they married?"

Mary's hauteur increased. "They are four and two!"

"Oh! Mere boys then," said Mrs. Bennet despondently. "Be grateful! You cannot know the worries Mrs. Dashwood and I bear."

"I assure you, ma'am, that the events of this day have left me quite as distraught as anyone. I am terribly prone to the headache, and it is a wonder I have not yet succumbed."

As Mary and Mrs. Bennet began an animated debate regarding who suffered more, Anne found a seat between Mrs. Dashwood, who looked to be struggling not to laugh, and Mrs. Weston.

Janet McTeer 2008
"Do not mind our hostess," said Mrs. Dashwood in an undertone. "I have now been here for some hours and feel quite the expert on her excitability. I was on the verge of departing when Mrs. Weston arrived, but as she too had spoken with Mrs. Adams and been directed here by her, I decided to remain. We are very fortunate in Mrs. Bennet's hospitality."

"You are not concerned for your daughters?" asked Anne.

"Not at all. Mrs. Adams assures me they should be along shortly."

"Who is Mrs. Adams? I did not see her myself but was the recipient of a message, yet I cannot but think she must be somehow involved in whatever it is that has happened to us all."

Samantha Bond 1995
"It is most peculiar," agreed Mrs. Weston, "but having spoken with the lady and seen her with that dear little girl, I am assured there can be no harm in her. Her knowledge of us all is uncanny, and I know not how she came by it, but she is going to help us. I feel certain of it."

"Mrs. Weston is right. We just have to stay here and wait for whatever it is that will happen next."

All three ladies glanced towards Mrs. Bennet, who was now insisting Mrs. Musgrove could not possibly know a headache as bad as her own, and Anne realized that she ought to intervene before Mary became too incensed. Before she could ask their hostess where Longbourn, under normal circumstances, was located, a diversion was provided by one of the Miss Bennets, who exclaimed from her perch by the window:

Polly Maberly 1995
"Look, mamma! Is that not Mr. Bingley coming towards the house?"

"Mr. Bingley!" Mrs. Bennet cried, bustling towards the window.

"There is another gentleman with him - it looks like that tall, proud man."

"Good gracious! Mr. Darcy! What is the world coming to? And Jane stuck in town! How will we ever get her back before he leaves again?"

All the ladies, whether they knew who the gentlemen referred to were or not, eagerly awaited their knock.

Monday, September 24, 2012

Dear Mr. Darcy by Amanda Grange

We have discussed epistolary novels before, as I find them quite charming. I never have done a proper post on Lady Susan, a sad oversight, but I have reviewed Letters from Pemberley and More Letters from Pemberley by Jane Dawkins, as well as My Dear Charlotte by Hazel Holt. When I first learned that Amanda Grange had rewritten Pride and Prejudice in letters, the form in which most suspect it was originally composed, I immediately determined to read it, but if I had not won a copy on Austenesque Reviews, it probably would have been sometime before I found the time, my opportunities to read being so curtailed these days. I have to be very selective about which books I most want to read, unlike those carefree times when I was able to consume several novels a week, and I tend to favor those by my favorite authors. Ms. Grange, alas is not a favorite with me. I read most of her Diaries when I first discovered JAFF, they being some of the few volumes I could find on bookstore shelves, and I enjoyed them well enough. It was Mr. Darcy, Vampyre that turned me away from Ms. Grange, and while I've felt some desire to check out Mr. Wickham's Diary, it has not been strong enough for me to overcome the lingering distaste. Dear Mr. Darcy, on the other hand, was tempting enough that it would have been read, sooner or later. I am pleased "sooner" won the day.

This story begins well before Jane Austen's at the time when Fitzwilliam Darcy's father is dying. The extended timeline reflects Ms. Grange's desire to expand upon the original story, and she creates a convincing tapestry of characters to act as correspondents, enriching the familiar tale with their perspectives. There is a Darcy cousin, Phillip, who is even more stringently against shade pollution than Lady Catherine; an entire Bingley family of vulgar tradesmen, shining new light on Caroline's behavior; and a Mr. Parker, Mr. Wickham's companion in debauchery. Perhaps my favorite is the Sotherton family, the owners of Netherfield who are forced to retrench to Bath due to the father's gambling habits. The three daughters of the family act as correspondents to the Bennet girls: Lucy and Mary try to rationalize the guilty pleasure of Gothic novels with imposed morality, Eleanor sympathizes with all of Kitty and Lydia's pursuits, while Susan is the sole friend in whom Elizabeth completely confides. Susan also corresponds with Charlotte Lucas, and the triangle of female friendship thereby created is excellently portrayed. For example, Charlotte writes to Susan:
I have told Elizabeth that she should use her influence with Jane and advise her sister to show more interest in him, but Elizabeth is romantic and thinks that Jane needs more time to truly understand Mr. Bingley's character. I cannot agree with her.
Then Elizabeth writes to Susan:
Jane's evening was even more satisfactory than mine, as Mr. Bingley continued to pay her attention of the most particular kind.
I truly believe he is falling in love with her, and he is so agreeable that I think he might even be worthy of her.
And Susan responds to Elizabeth:
I think Charlotte is right, Lizzy: if Jane likes him, she should encourage him. Jane has always been of a calm and equable temper and, not knowing her as we do, he might mistake gentleness for indifference. 
Is this not precisely how female relationships work? I had almost the same conversation with my mother and sister just last week, only the topic in our case was how to adapt to living with a man. My mother took the part of Charlotte, my sister was Lizzy, and I had the pleasure of being Susan.

I was less thrilled with some of Ms. Grange's other creations. Phillip Darcy held me fascinated, but when I most wanted to hear from him, right after Darcy and Elizabeth become engaged, Ms. Grange had already confined him to silence. The Bingleys also bothered me. I had always assumed they have to be a generation or two removed from their trading roots, but Ms. Grange makes their father the fortune maker, harnessing them with a mother who makes Mrs. Bennet look refined and a brother still running the business. While I found this portrayal amusing, it cannot be believable, for the Bingleys would have been unable to mix with London society in the degree they do if their ties to trade were so immediate, Mr. Bingley's fortune not being large enough to buy the Ton's acceptance. I also had to suspend my sense of reality in order to accept Ms. Grange's development of Mrs. Younge, known to Wickham and Mr. Parker as Belle, whom she makes her out to be a courtesan. Unfortunately, the unconvincing explanation offered for how such a person could end up in Mr. Darcy's employ doesn't quite cut it. At least not for me.

Minor qualms aside, I think Ms. Grange deserves a great deal of credit for the complexity of this undertaking. The resultant story is pleasurable, authentic in tone, and respectful to Austen's original tale. It is, without doubt, my favorite book I have read by Ms. Grange. In fact, it is good enough to make me want to read another, even with my limited reading time. I think I'll go put Mr. Wickham's Diary in my shopping cart right now.   

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Happy Extravaganza! First Impressions Giveaway

In honor of the Austenesque Extravaganza and my collaborators on yesterday's Roguish Rout, I'm pleased to be able to offer a copy of First Impressions: A Tale of Pride and Prejudice to a randomly selected person leaving their email in the Comments section of this post. Anyone who has done so as well as commenting on yesterday's post, or those of Monica Fairview and Diana Birchall, will receive an additional entry. This giveaway is international and will be open until 23:59 EST September 30th. If you are interested in Second Glances (which I have great hopes of publishing before the end of the year) but have not read First Impressions, here is your opportunity to catch up. Happy Extravaganza!

Monday, September 17, 2012

Austenesque Extravaganza: Ruminations on Rogues

What a pleasure participate in the 2nd Austenesque Extravaganza! Last year I revealed some of my more crazy imaginings (read it here), and regular followers will know I have been unable to relinquish the whimsy, reviving it in the Mixed Up Mashup madness in which I have lately indulged. This year I have had the honor of collaborating with two Austenesque writers that I have long admired: Diana Birchall (read my review of Mrs. Elton in America) and Monica Fairview (read my review of The Darcy Cousins). To work with such accomplished ladies is a special treat, and I am sure to be riding the wave of my excitement for several weeks to come.

As a topic for this "Traveling Tuesday" we easily agreed on the rewards and punishments dolled out to Austen's rogues.  Diana led the conversation, and it is her thoughts that I will provide you with today. I carried the torch next, and poor Monica has my typically long-winded and rambling reply posted on her blog. She wraps up the discussion on Diana's blog. Concluding each post you will find four questions, to which we have each responded (the answers belong to the person whose blog you are visiting, not the guest). Please share with us your answers. It will be particularly interesting to see if your replies change as you consider each author's thoughts. You will find my responses immediately following Diana's musings. 

In the name of context, I will begin by providing the initial questions which sparked our conversation: 
How does Jane Austen define a villain? For example, is Lydia a villain? Can people like Mr. Collins and even Mrs. Bennet be seen as villains? Where do we draw the line?

Does Jane Austen pass moral judgements on her characters? What is the worse "sin" a character can commit? Stupidity? Snobbery? Defying social norms?

Is Jane Austen sexist in the sense that she tends to punish her female villains more than her male villains?
Diana's thoughts:
Ooo, good questions.

How does Jane Austen define a villain?  Hmm...Well, I think the main quality her villains have in common is that they are, in no particular order, self serving, self centered, and selfish, regardless of the impact on other people's lives.

Most people will agree that some of the worst villains in Austen include General Tilney, Wickham, Willoughby, Mrs. Norris, Lucy Steele, and Lady Catherine, all of whom epitomize the view that the world revolves exclusively around their own interests, and whose actions harm others.

Others may have odious personalities (Mr.Collins, Mrs. Elton), have unintentionally adverse effects on the lives of others (both Mr. and Mrs. Bennet), or such poor judgment that they cause harm to others and themselves, sometimes through the follies of youth (Lydia, Marianne, Tom Bertram).  Such people can be a menace, but they are not examples of what Jane Austen herself describes when writing about Lucy:

"The whole of Lucy's behaviour in the affair, and the prosperity which crowned it, therefore, may be held forth as a most encouraging instance of what an earnest, an unceasing attention to self-interest, however its progress may be apparently obstructed, will do in securing every advantage of fortune, with no other sacrifice than that of time and conscience."

If Jane Austen tends to punish her female misbehavers more severely than the male ones, I don't think it is sexist of her, but simply a realistic reflection of the imbalances of her day.  She even addresses the question in Mansfield Park, when she says:

"That punishment, the public punishment of disgrace, should in a just measure attend his share of the offence is, we know, not one of the barriers which society gives to virtue. In this world the penalty is less equal than could be wished; but without presuming to look forward to a juster appointment hereafter, we may fairly consider a man of sense, like Henry Crawford, to be providing for himself no small portion of vexation and regret..."

That is surely a full-throated feminist statement if ever there was one!

So, who do you think are the worst villains, and why?
The conversation continues at Monica's Blog:

Follow up question:
1. Who do you think was punished most severely?
Sir Thomas Bertram. Misguided he might have been, but he is the father in Austen who tried the hardest to do right by his children, and few of her characters ever feel their own failings so acutely.
2. Who do you think gets let off most easily?
Hands down, Lucy Steele. I refer you to the quotation Diana cited above.
3. Do you think the women get a worse punishment than the men?
Yes, but as I argue on Monica's blog, the discrimination lies entirely with society, which Austen realistically depicts.
4. If you got to rewrite the ending of any of the novels, who would you choose to punish and why?
Edmund Bertram for being inexcusably oblivious. He does not deserve Fanny.
So what do you think? There may be benefits to leaving a response. Check back here tomorrow to find out!

Friday, September 7, 2012

Profile: Fitzwilliam Darcy

... his friend Mr. Darcy soon drew the attention of the room by his fine, tall person, handsome features, noble mien; and the report which was in general circulation within five minutes after his entrance, of his having ten thousand a year. The gentlemen pronounced him to be a fine figure of a man, the ladies declared he was much handsomer than Mr. Bingley, and he was looked at with great admiration for about half the evening, till his manners gave a disgust which turned the tide of his popularity; for he was discovered to be proud, to be above his company, and above being pleased; and not all his large estate in Derbyshire could then save him from having a most forbidding, disagreeable countenance, and being unworthy to be compared with his friend.

Name: Fitzwilliam Darcy

Age: Eight and twenty

Hobbies: Reading, letter writing, buying lavish gifts for his sister, and meddling in the love life of his friends.

Most charming quality: Just one? I am afraid I cannot judge this character impartially. All my instinct tells me to simply explain that this is Fitzwilliam Darcy under discussion, and the name is a charm in and of itself, but instead I will quote another lady's response, when at a loss for an answer, and claim the "beautiful grounds at Pemberley" as the source of his appeal.

Most detrimental tendency: I refuse to choose either pride or prejudice, as that way lies a trap, and so instead exploit his own self-assessment:
"I have been a selfish being all my life, in practice, though not in principle. As a child I was taught what was right, but I was not taught to correct my temper. I was given good principles, but left to follow them in pride and conceit. Unfortunately an only son (for many years an only child), I was spoilt by my parents, who, though good themselves (my father, particularly, all that was benevolent and amiable), allowed, encouraged, almost taught me to be selfish and overbearing; to care for none beyond my own family circle; to think meanly of all the rest of the world; to wish at least to think meanly of their sense and worth compared with my own."
Greatest strength: The unfathomable depths of his devotion.

Truest friend: Colonel Fitzwilliam

Worst enemy: George Wickham

Prospects: Excellent. He is the owner of Pemberley and all the honors intended therein, including 10,000 pounds a year.

Favorite quotations:

"Do not you feel a great inclination, Miss Bennet, to seize such an opportunity of dancing a reel?"

"I cannot fix on the hour, or the spot, or the look, or the words, which laid the foundation. It is too long ago. I was in the middle before I knew that I had begun."

"Mr. Collins appears very fortunate in his choice of a wife."

"Yes," replied Darcy, who could contain himself no longer, "but that was only when I first knew her, for it is many months since I have considered her as one of the handsomest women of my acquaintance."

"In vain have I struggled. It will not do. My feelings will not be repressed. You must allow me to tell you how ardently I admire and love you."

"What think you of books?" said he, smiling. 

Musings: This has by far been the hardest character profile to write. I cannot see clearly through the fog of love, and if there is a fictional character that I have ever truly loved, it is Mr. Darcy. Part of the problem is his similarity to my husband. John has no grand fortune or impressive height, but he does think rather too highly of himself, even if his arrogance is often justified, and he would endure anything to secure the happiness of those he loves. Maybe that's the most awesome thing about Mr. Darcy: he may be a bastard at times, but he's totally dependable. What more could a girl really want? Oh yeah - Pemberley! Just ask Miss Bingley.

I had such a hard time narrowing myself to a few, favorite quotations from Mr. Darcy. Pretty much every word that comes out of his mouth is fabulous. I particularly enjoy it when he's acting smug and obnoxious. Part of Darcy's charm is the jerkiness, and I think that's why my thoughts about him are so hard to articulate. Women notoriously fall for "bad boys". I do not pretend to know why when there experts who have dedicated their lives to such questions, but it's certainly true that if Darcy was perfectly pleasant from beginning to end, he would not be so devastatingly attractive. If you need proof of this assertion, I suggest you read my first novel, or any of the many other Pride and Prejudice variations out there that imagine a more flawless Darcy. He's still handsome, rich, and dependable, but the edge is gone. He is no longer quite so swoon-worthy as he was in Austen's hands.

Oh dear! I had best never let my husband read this, for I think he would undoubtedly use it as a counter for any criticism I level at his temper for the rest of our lives. do you see how Mr. Darcy has led me to write the supporting argument for arrogance and self-satisfaction in men? I simply cannot be trusted on this subject. I call upon those with cooler heads to critique Fitzwilliam Darcy, for "I do not get on at all."



Wednesday, September 5, 2012

A Mixed Up Mashup: Tea with George

One can imagine the chagrin of an established and steady housekeeper, such as Mrs. Hodges, upon being asked to supply tea to an impromptu party of eight strangers, but this was not the time to give vent to her emotions. Whatever chaos might have ensued downstairs, in the drawing room all was as commonplace as possible, considering the circumstances.

Once all his guests were made known to Mr. Knightley, he was quick to turn their attention to Mr. Tilney. All complied readily enough, their interest united in unraveling their nonsensical circumstances. Mr. Tilney surveyed his expectant audience for a moment, wondering where to begin a tale as strange as his.

"I am the Rector of a good-sized parish, well-established and orderly. Perhaps had I been more accustomed to disarray, today's proceedings would seem less exceptional, but it is my sad fate to have been born incurably tidy." He had hoped humor would ease his listeners, and when it failed knew not whether to blame their lack of sensibility, or the quality of the joke. "I must confess myself as perplexed and bewildered as you all. Please understand that I possess nothing like a solution to our dilemma, only increased insight into what has happened." He paused again, feeling he was again proceeding wrong. The suspicion was confirmed by the blank stares of his listeners.

"Do go on, Mr. Tilney," Catherine whispered encouragingly.

He smiled at her gratefully and continued. "Earlier this morning, as I was leaving my home for a journey," he gazed at Catherine significantly, "I met a very unusual lady, Mrs. Adams, who was walking with a baby. Everything about her - her dress, her speech, her knowledge of myself and all of you, I suspect - was exceptional. She greeted me by name and introduced herself. I was a bit taken aback by her forwardness until I noticed how my surroundings were altering. Houses appeared where there had been none before, and I found myself listening as Mrs. Adams recommended several families, who were apparently the homes' inhabitants, to my attention. She then pointed out a lane that had never before existed, explaining that it was the road to Fullerton, which I would find not a mile's distance away, when I believed it a day's ride off! With that she proceeded on her way, and I, to my astonishment, was presenting myself to Mr. and Mrs. Morland not a quarter of an hour later!"

"I do not see how this is relevant to the invasion of my grounds by a multitude of encroaching homes!" Lady Catherine grumbled.

"Do you believe this woman responsible?" Mr. Knightley inquired.

"I think she must be implicated in some manner. I was too shocked to question her properly when we met."

"I understand the sensation," Mr. Knightley confessed, thinking of his perplexity when he looked up from the breakfast table to see Hartfield just outside the window. "We must find this Mrs. Adams."

"She may not be the only strange person amongst us," said Mr. Darcy, appraising Sir Walter coolly. "We should do a thorough search of the neighborhood. Perhaps there is a pattern to who has been affected. Regardless, any odd persons will be revealed, as well as the extent of the phenomenon."

"Very good, Darcy!" said Bingley agreeably. "Just let me know how I may be of assistance, and we are sure to soon get to the bottom of all this."

"We are five men. The ladies should remain here, as we each proceed in different directions for one mile, inquiring at each home along the way, and then we will return to share our findings," Mr. Knightley suggested. "If anyone meets Mrs. Adams, try to bring her along. That seems all we should attempt so late in the morning. No matter how unusual the circumstances, the dinner hour must be considered."

"We are expected at my cousin's, Lady Dalrymple, this evening,  and it will not do to be late. I must return to Camden Place at once," Sir Walter said with dignity.

"In case you failed to have noticed, sir," said Mr. Tilney, "nothing in our preset landscape bears the slightest resemblance to that surrounding Bath."

"My house must be at hand! Miss Elliot and I only left it not two hours ago."

"We will do our best to locate it, Sir Walter, during our survey," Mr. Knightley assured him.

"Very good! Bingley, do keep your eye out for Camden Place," Darcy said in a low voice. "Even if we hadn't more important matters to consider, one could hardly miss is!"

"Will you be joining us, Sir Walter?" Mr. Tilney asked.

He looked to Elizabeth despairingly, but as she had no better advice to give, he declared his intention of heading eastward, as that was the general direction from which they had previously come.

"Let us be on our way!" Mr. Knightley declared, anxious to be doing something.

"Wait!" Emma cried. "We do not know if things are still changing! What if you are unable to return?"

Mr. Knightley met her eye with a smile. "I do not think that is the case. It is quite an orderly job, as you can see out that window. Perfectly complete in its way. I've been watching closely, and there has been no change, perceptible to me, for over an hour. Yet Miss Woodhouse is quite correct to urge caution, gentlemen. I think we should do a quick survey of the grounds before heading off."

Determining that the world appeared to no longer be shifting about, Mr. Knighltey headed west, as that was the direction in which Hartfield lay, and he wanted to be the man to confront Mr. Woodhouse. Mr. Darcy and Mr. Bingley, the latter of whom spotted Longbourn at a distance, both turned their steps southward. The remaining street of houses lay to the east, and Mr. Tilney found himself the companion of Sir Walter as they approached the first estate, alarmingly close to Mr. Knightley's stables, though you would not know it were it not for the stench.

There was some dispute as to how they should approach.

"This is most irregular, Mr. Tilney. One doesn't just walk up to a house of this sort! I hope it belongs no one of any importance."

"The greatest importance they could be, Sir Walter," Mr. Tilney replied with admirable patience, "would be if they might shed light on why and where we have all been thrown together." He stared out across the expanse of lawn, "Do keep looking for Mrs. Adams."

"You must announce us, Tilney!"

"Very well!" he took one last glance across the lawn before ringing the doorbell. A haughty servant answered, only begrudgingly presenting their cards to his mistress. The gentlemen were invited into a handsome drawing room and introduced to Mr. and Mrs. John Dashwood.

Do pity Mr. Tilney, to find himself the lone sensible person in such company! The others were quickly sizing up their respective worths. The Dashwoods saw much to admire in Sir Walter and nothing to despise in his companion, while the baronet, perceiving that here were two to give him his due, quickly took command of the proceedings.

"You will forgive us calling in such a manner, for surely you have noticed the strange happenings that have been occuring!" he explained. "We have begun to organize a response to our predicament, and so come to learn in what company we find ourselves. There is some question," he added secretively, "of mischief afoot. It is imperative we determine each resident of the neighborhood's character."

Fanny Dashwood looked alarmed, and Mr. Tilney struggled to keep his eyes from rolling. "How shocking," she exclaimed, "to not know who one's neighbors are! John and I had been admiring the house next door and wondering how best to approach, but what if they are not genteel?"

Sir Walter's eye followed where Mrs. Dashwood's finger pointed out a great window, spying with shock his very own residence.

"Why it's Kellynch Hall, and very handsomely situated, I must say! This relieves me of concern for Camden Place, for if it is not found on hand, my tenant, Admiral Croft, will just have to make way for us. I must call upon him immediately."

"I shall accompany you, Sir Walter" declared Mr. Dashwood. "For you will be able to make the introductions properly."

"Indeed," he condescended, not sure that he was happy to confer the favor just claimed, but ready to assume his new acquaintance might be neighborly enough to take in the displaced Crofts, should he and Elizabeth require their eviction. Mr. Tilney, in the name of expediency, left his companions to their joint task, happy for the excuse to proceed further along alone.