Today we have something different on the blog, Part 2 of 3 inter-related "missing scenes" from Jane Austen's Sense and Sensibility. They have been written for Meredith's fabulous "touring Thursdays" part of the Austenesque Extravaganza by three Austenesque authors including myself. The other two wonderful authors are Susan Mason-Milks (Part 1) and Stephanie Barron (Part 3). We hope you enjoy our glimpse of the tangled romantic triangle of Edward Ferrars, Elinor Dashwood and Lucy Steele - as well as a guest appearance from Jane Austen!
Part 1 can be found on Susan's blog. Then read Part 2 here before going to Stephanie's blog (link below) for the final twist in the tale.
Part 2 -Flashback! Edward and Lucy Reach An Understanding, or Lucy's Cunning by Amanda Grange
If only . . .
His thoughts spiralled back to the day, long ago, when he had met Lucy Steele.
He had, at the time, been young, lonely and homesick. He had been sent to study with a private tutor in Longstaple and, even to Edward’s quiet soul, the house had been dull - until the visit of his tutor’s niece, Miss Lucy Steele . . . 'It is a credit to you that you wish to learn,’ he said chivalrously. ‘May I help?’
Lucy blushed again, an attractive rosy tint spreading over her face and neck, and moved a little on the window seat so that he might sit next to her.
‘If it ain’t too much trouble,’ she said shyly.
‘You must think me very stupid, spelling the words out like that, but I ain’t clever like you.’
What sixteen year old boy could resist such charm? To have a pretty girl begging humbly for his help and looking at him admiringly was intoxicating, and before long he was looking forward to the sessions in which he was the tutor and Lucy the pupil. Dear Lucy blushed over each mistake, and his heart warmed to her with every slip and error.
‘It all seems like such a funny way of saying things, but I like to read about love,’ she confided in him, as they studied a book of poetry. ‘Love is what matters, ain’t it? Whether people are rich or poor, it’s the fact they’re in love what counts.’
She looked at him so entrancingly that he thought one such look was worth a dowry of twenty thousand pounds.
Alas, her visit came to an end. But as the years passed, she visited often, and then she and Edward were together - until the day came when Edward left his tutor’s house for good and returned home to his domineering mother and sister, as well as his buffoon of a brother. Small wonder, then, that he treasured the visits he still made to his tutor from time to time, particularly when Lucy was there – which she was, surprisingly often.
And then came the day of the trip. It was such a simple thing. She stumbled over a rug and fell into his arms. She blushed and apologised, and made an excuse to leave him. But when she found him in the library again the following day, she started as though surprised, and made to leave the room. Then she stopped, and said with a becoming hesitancy, ‘You must wonder why I’ve been avoiding you.’
He had not been wondering any such thing, but she immediately confided in him, saying that her stumble and its unfortunate results had been seen by one of the maids and now her sister, Anne, was very angry with her.
‘She says if we was engaged it'd be different, it'd stop the gossip, but rich young men don't marry their tutor’s nieces.’ She looked up at him from beneath her lashes and said, ‘Do they, Edward?’
To which he mumbled, ‘I am sure they do.’
Her response surprised him.
‘Oh, Edward! I shouldn’t have doubted you, you’ve made me so happy,’ she said with a radiant smile. ‘Now can I tell Anne?’
‘Tell her what?’ he asked.
‘Why, silly, that we’re engaged.’ Then she faltered oh! so charmingly, her face a picture of vulnerability and said, ‘We are engaged, ain’t we? I thought that’s what you meant. Only maybe you meant that some men marry their tutor’s nieces, but not you?’
He protested against this, and before he knew it, she had given him a kiss on the cheek and said, ‘Well, that’s settled then, now we can tell our families.’
He had been alarmed and said that his mother would disinherit him. Lucy, equally alarmed, said, ‘Don’t tell her then. I ain’t going to hurt you, Edward, not for the world. Maybe your brother Robert could break it to her?’
He said he did not think it was a good idea, and Lucy accepted his advice. But now, years later, with no possibility of marriage in sight, she was restless. The truth would out in the end, and then what would happen? He would be forced to marry her, for it was the only honourable course of action, and he would find himself disinherited, as well as married to a woman in whom he had no interest; for although she had conquered some of her ignorance, and her speech was better than it had been formerly, she was no bright, intelligent Elinor.
He felt a sense of unease. He wished he knew where Lucy was and what she was doing . . .
Now go to Stephanie Barron's blog for Part 3: Lucy Steele's Sense - and Jane Austen's Sensibility.
We hope you enjoy our vignette. Our thanks go to Meredith for organising this fun event!