JA quotes and intro

"I should infinitely prefer a book." -- Chapter 39, Pride and Prejudice
"...I wish my collection were larger for your benefit and my own credit..." -- Chapter 8, Pride and Prejudice
"I shall be glad to have the library to myself as soon as may be." -- Chapter 20, Pride and Prejudice

Thanks for dropping by! Titles are below and to the right, under the following headings:
The Trouble of Practising | Longer fiction
The Result of Previous Study | Challenge entries and stories based on others' prompts (or simply others' prompting)
Impulse of the Moment | Short stories written on a whim
Drabbles | Snapshots, usually 100 words but occasionally more, and usually based on a prompt
The Alcove | Writings other than Jane Austen fanfictionNewest Post: All Six Senses (and All F
Note: Some stories include direct quotes from Austen's works, and there is the occasional nod to one or other of the adaptations.

Most Recent Posts:
A Great Coxcomb, Parts 1 - 5 (May-July 2017)
A Little Alteration: Mrs. Forster's Friend (October 2016)

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Mansfield Park Drabbles

Evening Promenade (Or, What Could Be More Natural?) (Bare Feet)

“Oh! I…”

“Fanny!”

“Edmund. I had not expected to encounter anyone here at this hour.”

“I cannot sleep. I have been walking the halls for some time.” He tried, and failed, to avert his eyes.

Her hair hung loose about her shoulders. Her lips quavered, parted, closed again.

His nose twitched. “Flowers?”

“Rosewater,” she whispered, blushing.

Only then did he notice her tresses were glistening. And though the evening was warm, she had fastened her nightgown practically up to her chin. He inhaled, still observing her. “Roses.” She nodded. “Their fragrance suits you.” He was almost dizzy with the scent.

Fanny lifted her familiar, pretty face, revealing an unfamiliar sparkle in her soft, light eyes. “I had just gone to fetch a book.” She hugged the volume to her bosom. “Goodnight, Edmund,” she murmured and scurried on bare feet to the East Room.

“Goodnight,” he murmured back, his eyes tracing the outline of her graceful, womanly figure, which not even her garment’s many buttons could conceal.

He heard the door click shut. Recalling himself, he began the solitary stroll to his bedchamber.

For the first time, he felt something other than anger at Crawford for the latter’s stupidity in giving her up.



A Hopeful Undertaking (Surprise)

“I do not doubt you,” Edmund assured his betrothed as they walked arm in arm along the secluded path. “Indeed, I do not. It is only...” He stopped and began again. “Your love is so new, Fanny—it must be. Your loving is so new. To my feelings, yours seem tenuous, though my mind acknowledges that as unfair. I am sure it is nothing more than the insecurity of an anxious lover. You are the most faithful, steadfast woman of my acquaintance, and if you have pledged your heart to me, that should be enough. It is enough.” He released a sigh. “I suppose I am simply eager to make you as happy as you have made me. In time, I hope I will succeed.” Fanny’s love for him was as selfless as Mary’s had been selfish. While Edmund knew he had no right to complain now that he was in possession of the former, all the same he longed for something in between: a happy mutuality, a union that would be to the advantage of both. He hoped he had not offended her with his frankness, but they had lived for so long almost as brother and sister. He would hate for her to be less than satisfied with their marriage, or to find that she was unable to feel for him the passion he hoped to inspire as her husband.

“You are mistaken, Edmund.”

There was strength in her tone instead of her customary diffidence. He looked sharply at her as she continued.

“I have only ever loved one man, but I have loved him for such a long time that I cannot consider my feelings at all tenuous.”

“My dear Fanny, I speak not of your longstanding familial affections, but of a more tender, a more delicate emotion…”

“You mean that mixture of longing and restlessness and…bliss that makes one’s heart skip and one’s stomach flutter. And that makes one endeavour to do everything for the good of the other, regardless of one’s own pain.” Her last few words came out in a ragged whisper.

She sounded as if she knew. “Do you…do you claim to have such feelings for me already?” How had he not seen it?

“Of course.”

“Whenever did they begin?”

“When I was but fifteen.”

Edmund stopped walking. “Fifteen!”

“Until that time, I did not realise how my familial affections, as you call them, had changed. But I was certain by then that I loved you.”

“You loved me. Loved me, all that time?” His eyes widened as shock gave way to mortification. “Even as I tried to persuade you to accept another man’s suit?”

“Yes.”

“And poured out my own sorrows into your lap, selfishly importuning you day after day, hour after hour?”

“Yes.”

“All those times I walked to the parsonage to see her, left your side to be with her.

She nodded in silence.

Lovers’ Vows.” He closed his eyes in shame.

“Yes.”

“The business with the necklace.” So many memories flooded his senses.

He caught her smiling as she fingered the chain in question. His chain.

“For months—years!—you have loved me.” He stared at her, willing himself to divine the truth in her countenance, willing away his blindness.

“Yes, Edmund, I have.”

He swallowed. “I have been a fool.”

She lowered her head a little. Though she made no sound, he saw her mouth form the answer—Yes, Edmund, you have.

In that moment, he understood a fraction of her suffering and was so overcome he could have wept for her. He moved closer and caressed her cheek. “I knew you were too good for me, Fanny.” His voice broke. “You are too good.” He allowed her to say no more than his name before he silenced all protestation and agreement alike from her lips by fervently pressing his own against them.



Rich Repayment (The Unlikely Stud)

“I never imagined you would be so…”

“Wild?”

“Yes!”

“Did I distress you?”

“Quite the contrary.”

“Good.” He knew she had not anticipated such passion, assuming second choice meant second best, but even at the height of his foolishness, he had bared his heart only to her. From the other he had held back part of himself, constantly aware of attempts to change him, sway him. This woman in his bed—his wife—loved him as he was and deserved all he could give.

“This…wild man…is who you really are?”

With you. Only you, and no other. “Yes.”

“Good.”



Misbehaving

“I am certain we can get this just perfect, Maria…Miss Bertram.”

“I have no complaints, Mr. Crawford. Your performance is perfection itself.”

“You are too kind.”

“Yet, a little practice would not go amiss.”

“Exactly.”

Henry smoothly said his lines, barely listening as Maria recited her own. He was waiting for that moment when he could turn an almost-embrace into something more.

“Mr. Rushworth,” he heard his sister announce just as the moment arrived. Mary caught his eye with that exasperated look she usually wore whenever she discovered him misbehaving. He grinned and thanked her with a wink.



Jealousy and Judgement I: Heated Words at Mansfield Park

“Perhaps Father will withdraw his consent to the marriage.”

“Whatever for?”

“What if he has found out about Mr. Crawford? Besides, anyone can see you do not care three straws for Mr. Rushworth.”

“You are jealous because I have had two wealthy admirers, and you only had Mr. Yates.”

“Engaged to one man while flirting with the other? No, I am not jealous of you. I pity you.”

“How dare you speak so to me, you envious shrew!”

“I do not envy you!”

“Liar!” With that, the eldest Miss Bertram stormed out of the room to answer Sir Thomas’s summons.



Jealousy and Judgement II: Heated Words at Wimpole Street

“You should not admit his attentions, Maria.”

“I do not know what you mean.”

He means to cause trouble.”

“Jealous, Julia? Still in love with him, are you? He never did care for you.”

“I know, but do you realise he never cared for you either?”

“I will not listen to any more of your silly talk.”

“You had better listen, else you will ruin your good name and that of our entire family!”

“Always thinking of yourself, are you not, dearest sister?”

“You are hopeless!” Julia resolved at that moment to remove from Wimpole Street as soon as possible.



A Conversation between Brother and Sister (Inspiration)

“‘He will not act!’ How has a brother of mine become so priggish? You would not think we had been brought up together.”

“I really believed he would relent.”

“I shall not ask him again, Maria. I will not be reduced to begging.”

“You ought not to have to beg. I thought he only needed a little inspiration in the form of our charming neighbour, but I was wrong.”

“Now, she is so obliging! Why cannot Edmund follow Miss Crawford’s lead?”

“My comfort is that when he sees Mr. Maddox making love to Amelia, he will be full of regret.”



A Conversation between Brother and Sister II: The Maddoxes Return Home after a Call at Sotherton (The undeserving of the opposite sex)

“Crawford alone is to blame for this.”

“The dowager said they were equally at fault.”

“The dowager is biased!”

“And you are not? Why are you defending a woman who has given her husband ample cause to divorce her? You must accept it, Charles. Happily married or disgraced—either way, she is lost to you forever.”

“I cannot accept that Miss—that Mrs. Rushworth is capable of wilful deceit! Not the Maria I know.”

“You are not the first man to have fallen for one of the undeserving of my sex, and I fear you will not be the last.”



A Reputed Rake

The shop girls heard their last two customers squeal in delight upon encountering a certain gentleman outside.

Sally peered through the curtains at the source of excitement. “What an unlikely specimen!” She had heard the rumours. “What do they see in him?”

Charlotte joined her at the window. “His face is too thin.”

“His features are not at all handsome.”

“His teeth are tolerable, but his complexion wants brilliancy.”

“His eyes…”

Those eyes suddenly turned towards the glass, their seductive gaze silencing every disparaging thought as both Sally and Charlotte began to reconsider their first impressions of Mr. Henry Crawford.



From the First (There's Something about Mary)

Look at her. So different from my sisters, yet she fits in effortlessly, talking as if she has known them for years. Such a pretty girl—remarkably so—her lively eyes looking everywhere, curiosity and delight in every gaze. There is just something about her. I can hardly… Hmm. I should not stare. But perhaps she is not put off by excessive admiration. She must be rather used to it, pretty as she is.

She will like Tom best. They always do.

But I hope she does not, and I hope any interest he feels is as fleeting as ever.



A Labour of Love

Crawford had yet to encounter a woman able to withstand the onslaught of his considerable charm. He had not known until yesterday how necessary to his comfort it was that no such woman should exist.

The coldness in Fanny's voice had confounded him. A glance had deepened the wound: her eyes had appeared even colder. Had she given the merest hint of approbation, he would be easy.

But that was about to change. A fortnight was all he had to devote to the task, but two weeks were not too few to make Fanny Price fall in love with him.



The Price of Impatience (Impatience)

Edmund had not returned.

Unable to stem her tears, Fanny took drastic measures: she ran through the iron gate.

Red-eyed and miserable, she remained hidden amongst the trees—through her cousin’s indecorous moaning; as Edmund and Mary followed the path the others had taken; when Rushworth, Julia, Mrs. Rushworth, and finally Mrs. Norris were drawn towards the ensuing commotion.

Had Fanny stayed behind, Edmund might have joined her, leaving his sister’s behaviour undetected. An engagement dissolved, a courtship soured, the whole party dismissed from Sotherton—who knew what might have been averted had she waited just a little longer?



A Whole New World

Julia had retired early, and James was somewhere in the house, enduring his mother’s querulous muttering, Maria supposed. Maria took a moment to enjoy the solitude.

Stepping out onto the terrace overlooking Wimpole Street, she pulled her stylish wrap more tightly about her shoulders. Her house was a superior one—her mother-in-law had seen to that—but her neighbours’ residences were quite impressive. Everywhere she looked, she noted marks of elegance and sophistication, ambition and importance.

This was no Mansfield Park. This was a whole new world, and Maria Bertram Rushworth was determined to be at the centre of it.

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