It’s my turn again to post at Austen Authors! So here we go:
In Sense and Sensibility, Lucy Steele becomes the bane of Elinor Dashwood’s existence, the burr under her saddle, the mosquito whining in her ear. It is not simply that she has a prior claim to Edward Ferrars, which is bad enough, but the irritating way she rubs it in. Elinor endures it like a saint, of course, and we admire her for it. But sometimes I wish she hadn’t taken such a high road, that there had been another, more proactive, course of action open to her for dealing with her rival.
That’s the basis for this little tale I contributed to Bad Austen, a collection of short stories done in parody of Jane Austen’s writings. I thought you might enjoy it. We pick up the action at the point where Marianne has just learned that Edward has been secretly engaged to Lucy for years:
Miss Dashwood Gets Down and Dirty
“How long has this engagement of Edward’s been known to you?” Marianne demanded.
“About four months,” Elinor rejoined.
“What! And never a hint to your closest companions?”
“No doubt you would reproach me again for my reserve, and quarrel with me over my forbearance. Would you question the existence of my heart as well because I choose to suffer my disappointment in private?”
“Indeed, I do not ask the location of your heart, for I vouchsafe that you have an organ of that description beating within your breast, and it may well be as susceptible to tender sentiments as any other person’s. My question to you, Elinor, is this. Where is your fighting spirit? You have been grossly ill-used, and the time to take decisive action is come!”
“I admire your conviction, dearest, but what recourse is there within my reach? The courts can give no satisfaction; no law has been broken. What would you have me do? Challenge Lucy Steele to a duel?”
“A tempting notion, is it not?” Marianne sprang into a fencer’s stance and addressed a phantom rival with the cut and thrust of her imaginary saber.
“Marianne! Have you completely taken leave of your senses? Surely there can be no occasion for bloodshed.”
“Perhaps not, but I have heard of another equally satisfactory avenue for settling disputes.” Marianne clasped her sister’s hand. “Come, make haste…”
(find out what happens by continuing the story here at Austen Authors)
“For four months, Marianne, I have had all this hanging on my mind, without being at liberty to speak of it to a single creature… It was told me, it was in a manner forced on me by the very person herself, whose prior engagement ruined all my prospects…” (Sense and Sensibility, chapter 37)