Gentle reader, I must put pen to paper, though I am so surprised and yes, even scandalised by the words I’ve just read. You all know of my affinity for the works of Miss Jane Austen, how I’ve dreamt of one day perhaps visiting her home at Chawton, walking round the gardens and discussing literature and life and the ways in which they intersect so delightfully in her novels.
Well, after what I’ve just learned about that lady, I’m afraid propiety would prevent me from keeping company with her.
You see, gentle reader, I have it on very good authority- The Lost Memoirs of Jane Austen, in fact -that Miss Austen was engaged in a relationship with a man!! And not just any man, but a very rich man who was betrothed to another!!
Of course, my dear Jane was unaware at the time, for Mr. Ashford (that blackguard of a man!) did not see fit to inform her that he had been promised (practically from birth!) to Miss Isabella Churchill. Naturally, she was simply devastated, for by the time she gained knowledge of this horrible news, she had, I’m afraid, already lost her heart to him. Her consternation is evident in these words:
What man of honour would call on a woman day after day, affecting a deep interest in her, and cultivating an atmosphere in which she would come to feel affection for him, when he was already promised to another? Clearly, he is adept at presenting one face to the world, while all the time shielding his true nature from view. He is nothing but a blackguard and a villain. I was only a dalliance, an amusement to occupy his time while he was in town.”
My poor, dear Jane! Such perfidy! And she, the most honest, true, and straightforward of women!
But then – and here is where my own heart simply fails to comprehend – he returns to Jane after Miss Churchill forsakes him for another, and she allows herself to fall in with him once again, maintaining an entirely secret relationship, and one which, dare I even say, manifested itself in outward physical affection!
I feel I must set down in black and white those words almost too incredible to be true:
He quickly bridged the gap between up, took my gloved hand in his, and, bringing it to his lips, he kissed it, his eyes never leaving my face. “At last, I am free to speak the words that I have so longed to say. I love you, Jane, my dearest Jane. It is you alone that I wish to marry. Will you have me, Jane? Will you be my wife?”
My heart was so filled with happiness, I though I must be dreaming. “Yes,” I said, breathless. “I will.”
He gave me a look of pure joy, then…he took me in his arms and kissed me again and again and again!
Sadly, as one might expect in such a case, there would be no happy ending for my dear Miss Austen. I find I cannot bear to describe the details of all that ensued after those fateful kisses. Perhaps, gentle reader, you should obtain a copy of The Lost Memoirs of Jane Austen and read about it yourself.
As for myself, I think it best to confine myself for the time being to reading Miss Austen’s novels. Perhaps Sense and Sensibility would be a appropriate. I believe there is a copy on my shelf waiting for me as we speak.