Feb 25 2017

Longbourn: Dragon Entail Chapter 4

Ok, so I’m not being very patient. I can’t wait to share these with you. So, I’ll be posting a new chapter every two weeks on Saturday until the book is published. (Don’t forget, comments really do inspire me to write faster…just saying…)

Find previous chapters HERE

The door clattered open and heavy footfalls, familiar ones, clattered in.


Of course, who else?

At least he might be pressed into service, carrying mama’s order. That was something. A very little something, but something.

“Cousin Elizabeth,” he gasped and panted, “I am glad to have finally found you. Your sisters are gone ahead, to the vintner I believe. We should hurry to catch up to them before … before …”

“I am quite certain no calamity will befall them before the chandler brings Mama’s order out.” She turned her shoulder and stepped toward the counter at the back wall of the shop.

He followed too closely.

“I did not realize you were waiting on the shopkeeper.”

What else did he think she was doing here? Playing buffy gruffy among the candlesticks?

She bit her lip. The man did not understand sarcasm, so any clever remark would be wasted upon him.

“Mr. Wickham has gone on with your sisters as well.” Mr. Collins straightened his back and dusted off the edge of his coat.

“So then they are well escorted. With four officers to guard them, I hardly think Kitty and Lydia will come to any harm.” She laughed and tried to ignore him edging slightly closer, enough for their elbows to touch.

“That was not my concern.”

She sidled away. “If you have something to say, sir, perhaps you should come out and speak more—”

“Here we are, Miss Bennet, exactly as your mother requested.” The chandler trundled out, several packages in his arms. He handed them to Mr. Collins. “I trust you will find it all to your, and her, satisfaction.”

“I am sure we will. Good day.”

“Good day to you and to your little pretty as well.” He waved fingertips at April who cheeped prettily.

Mr. Collins shuffled after her, tucking packages awkwardly under his arm as they went.

She hurried toward the vintner, but Mr. Collins managed to catch up, with enough breath left to talk.

Blast and botheration. At least he kept his peace as a group of other shoppers trundled past.

“About your sisters, Cousin Elizabeth, their behavior is positively wild.”

 “I wonder that you should speak to me about it. Are they not my parents’ responsibility?” She stared resolutely ahead. If she caught his gaze there would be no controlling  her expression.

“Indeed they are. That is true.”

“And is it not my duty as a daughter to honor my parents?”

“Yes, of course. It is to your credit that you should see it so.”

“And would it not dishonor them to take their place in correcting my sisters in their actions and attitudes, usurping as it were their authority?”

Mr. Collins’ jaw dropped and bobbed open and shut rather like a large trout on a hook.

“So you must agree, that what you suggest, whilst you might find it pleasing and expedient, is in fact completely at odds with the values and principles you must teach in your own sermons. I can in no way do what you ask without compromising the values you and I hold dear.”

His eyes bulged to complete his convincing impressing of a gaping fish.

April snorted in her ear, and Elizabeth increased her pace. Hopefully that would relieve Mr. Collins of any excess breath for speaking.

“You are a very fast walker, cousin.” He huffed beside her.

If only the vintner had been just a bit further way.

Lydia and Kitty burst out of the shop, packages carried by Denny and Carter. The merry little party laughed and carried on with voices far too loud for any definition of proper behavior.

Across the street, a party of matrons stopped and stared, whispering among themselves.

Why did Mr. Collins have to be right? He would certainly never hear that admission from her, though.

At least he could not get a word into the conversation with rapid banter flying between Lydia and the officers. Kitty managed the occasional remark, but generally she was not quick enough to keep up. Good thing Mary had not come along, she did not do well in such conversations.

The trip to the butcher’s was mercifully quick. The officers announced their intention of escorting the ladies home. Elizabeth tried to stay close to Kitty, but Mr. Collins lingered behind the group and signaled Elizabeth to walk with him.

“Just ignore him. It is easy enough to pretend you did not see,” April whispered from the depths of her hood.

“But I did see, and he knows that I saw. It is a hopeless business. He will express his displeasure to Mama and Papa if I do not comply and they will in turn express it to me. I do not have the wherewithal to experience that again, at least not right now.” Elizabeth slowed until Mr. Collins caught up with her.

“I believe you are correct, cousin. I thank you for drawing it to my attentions. I should address your parents. It does you credit to suggest it. I   acknowledge your wisdom and will do as you recommend immediately upon our return to Longbourn.”

She squeezed her eyes shut. There was no way that would turn out well. Mama would be offended, though she would pretend not to be for politeness sake. Papa would listen, then turn him out of the study and lock the door, never admitting him again—which would leave him squarely for the ladies to entertain.

Oh, what joy would be hers.

“Lady Catherine will surely be pleased to learn of your insight and your deference to your elders. Exactly the kind of behavior she most approves of in those in her domains.”

Was he describing a woman or a dragon?

Probably both.

A shudder snaked down her spine. If she married him, would she have to spend time at Rosings and face the demands of another peevish dragon? From his description of its keeper, Rosings sounded every bit as petulant as Longbourn.

She swallowed hard and forced her lips into a small smile, as befitted the compliment Mr. Collins intended to offer.

“There is though, a wee matter of concern that I would speak to you about.”  He held up thumb and forefinger.

What whim of Lady Catherine did he expect her to cater to … no, something in his eyes suggested it was nothing so simple or straightforward. She stumbled over a small stone.

He reached for her elbow to steady her, but she caught her balance and pulled away before he could touch her. April flapped her wings for balance and hissed at Collins as he passed too close to her.

He swatted at April.

Elizabeth ducked and dodged his flailing, but slipped on the gravel and bounced hard on her shoulder.

“Cousin Elizabeth!” Collins dropped to his knees beside her, reaching for her hand.

Elizabeth scrabbled back. “Pray leave me be!”

Collins jumped back hands in the air.

“Are you all right?” She searched over her shoulder for April.

April peeked out of her hood. “I am well. Please get me away from him.” She trembled against Elizabeth.

She scooped up the tiny dragon and clutched her against her chest. “I would thank you to keep a distance. You could have injured both of us.”

“Pray forgive my clumsiness, but no harm has been done. You are uninjured, are you not?”

“My shoulder will be worse for the wear, no doubt. But it is April—”

“That is precisely what I have wished to talk to you about. That creature of yours.”

“That creature, as you call her, has been my companion since I was ten years old and I would thank you to treat her with a little more respect.” She pushed to her feet and dusted sharp bits of gravel from her skirt.

Oh, the shoulder would need a hot compress tonight!

“It is not natural to be so attached to an animal. It is not right, even with one so unnaturally long lived. I can see you are fond of the little thing, but do you not think it is time to pursue more grown up concerns?”

Every muscle tensed and trembled. “I have not the pleasure of knowing what you are talking about, sir. Companion animals are quite common in society. How many have dogs or cats? How is April any different? I cannot help but imagine that even Lady Catherine might keep such a creature.”

His face shifted just slightly. “She does not permit it to ride upon her person, nor does it follow her everywhere she goes. The creature has a proper—containment—outside where such creatures belong. She does not talk to the bird as though it were a person—she hardly visits it at all.”

“What kind of bird does she keep?”

“Some sort of fancy feathered chicken I suppose. It boasts a feathered headdress many women admire and tail feathers an arm’s length long. I have never seen the likes of one before—very rare I am told.  It is a mark of her superior rank that she has it at all. The cage sits on the road to the main house and all who drive past may see the exotic livestock she possesses.”

A cockatrix? The woman had a cockatrix for a Dragon Friend? The most difficult and arrogant of the minor dragons? The cockatrix were said to be well aware of their rarity and proud of it—at one time almost driving the cockatrice race into extinction because of their reluctance to accept any but the most superior males.

She pressed her forehead. Of course. Of course, it had to be.

“But the relevant point here is that she treats it as an animal, not a person.”

No, the relevant point was that Lady Catherine was excellent at hiding the true nature of her friend and their relationship. No cockatrix would tolerate the treatment Collins implied.

Heavens, a harridan, a cockatrix and a fire drake—what kind of place must Rosings Park be?

“Cousin, are you listening to me?” He leaned far too close to her face.

“Of course I am. I was carefully considering your words.”

“Then you will do as I ask and relegate that bird to her cage.”

She jumped back. “Absolutely not. As long as fine Ladies carry about their pugs, then I shall keep April with me.”

Collins’ face screwed into tight knots as he ground his teeth. “That was not a request.”

“You have no claim over me to be making such requests.”

“I insist you hear me out. You do not understand what detriment that creature and all your talk of dragons is doing to you.”

The blood drained from her face. Oh, for something she could lean upon until the dizziness passed. “What are you talking about?”

“That story you told your young cousins at Christmas. Dragons, the Blue Order and whatever other nonsense you were filling their heads with.”

“That story was for the children and the children alone.”

“You have no business plying them with silliness and hoping they will grow into sensible beings. Already they are confused and deluded. One of the boys and the girl were calling their ridiculous little bird a tiny dragon. They even called the housekeeper’s cat a dragon. What nonsense! Are you so absorbed in yourself that you cannot see how you are harming the children? They even call your bird a dragon and claim that she can talk.” He threw a hand in the air.

Did he do that for emphasis when he preached, too? Vicars who did that were so distracting and annoying.

“And they had told you this? They have come up and shared with you this intelligence?”

“No, I do not talk to children. But they are allowed to roam the house freely enough. It is difficult not to hear their—”

“Their play, Mr. Collins. That is what it is called, play and imagination. Something that is utterly normal and even considered good and appropriate by some.”

“Perhaps by liberal philosophers, but not by me. They should be taught sense and reality, not this frivolous fancy. I am sure their father will agree with me, and I will seek him out if necessary.”


“To make you stop with all this fanciful dragon nonsense and to stop the horrible example you set with that bird. They are starting to permit their creature the same indulgences yours is allowed. Disgraceful!”

“So that is what I am to you, disgraceful? It is a wonder then that you are even speaking with me. Do you not fear that you will taint your reputation with Lady Catherine? That she might not approve of the company you are keeping in me?”

“That is not at all what I meant. Not at all. Perhaps I should have taken time to first compliment your many perfections. I am told young females appreciate such things. Then allow me to begin again. Your person, your intelligence, your manners are all very agreeable—most agreeable.” His eyes raked her up and down.

She wrapped her cloak tightly around herself.

“The only faults I can find in you are the ones I just related to you. Not faults of character or breeding; easily remedied I would say. You are all but a perfect—”

She lifted her free hand and stepped back. “I have heard entirely enough, Mr. Collins. Pray importune me no further.”

His eyes bulged and he drew a very deep breath that would no doubt fill many, many words.

She spun and ran toward Longbourn woods.


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Feb 23 2017

Don’t miss Snowbound at Hartfield, Ch 13!

Don’t miss Snowbound Ch 13 in which we get to see Listingbrook for ourselves! Find it HERE

Feb 23 2017

Snowbound at Hartfield Chapter 13

Snowbound at Hartfield

A Jane Austen Mashup Short Story. What happens when Emma meets Persuasion and Pride and PrejudiceA courtship for Elizabeth Elliot perhaps? 

Find other chapters HERE.

 Just after dawn the next morning, Fitzwilliam paced along the base of the great stairs, looking for all the world like Darcy waiting for his female Fitzwilliam cousins to be ready for an event.

What a laugh Darcy would have, seeing him now.

But he must not. No one must know their errand.

To take Miss Elliot to Listingbrook alone was tantamount to inviting her to be mistress of Listingbrook and announcing an engagement. Now was not the time for such a thing. She needed an opportunity to draw an honest, unencumbered opinion about the house, for herself—and to share it with him. If she was to accept what he had to offer, it had to be without pressure or fear of losing face.

She might insist that she could do that with a full party visiting the house. But for him, visiting by themselves was the only way he could have that from her.

A few minutes later, Miss Elliot appeared at the top of the stairs with her abigail, both in riding habits.

He probably should not smile so, but the expression was impossible to suppress.

A woman never looked better than while wearing a riding habit. The elegant cut and fit, the smart hats that went with them. The women could keep the ball gowns and opera dresses, he would gladly see his wife dressed daily in riding habits.

“Do you ride often?” he asked, meeting them at the base of the stairs.

“Not so much now we have established ourselves in Bath. But at Kellynch I rode daily.” Her cheeks colored just enough to compliment the deep blue of her riding costume.

“A morning ride is a favorite custom of mine. Shall we?” He led the way outside.

Two grooms held their horses ready near the mounting block. While the maid was a bit awkward in mounting her horse, Miss Elliot’s easy grace implied an accomplished horsewoman.

Excellent news indeed.

He pulled his horse alongside hers, and they rode in silence for a quarter- hour.

“How shall I know we have crossed the boundary into Listingbrook?” she asked.

“There is a sign post at the crossroads that marks the southern boundary of the estate. It is quite a pretty approach to the house all told, through a stand of hardwoods, with a flower garden to one side and a wilderness to the other. Behind the house are ample kitchen gardens—or at least the housekeeper assures me they are. Gardeners remain on staff, so there will be no interruption in the supply from the gardens.”

Another quarter-hour’s silence followed.

This did not bode well. Perhaps she was anxious. But still, to be unable to hold even a light conversation? Perhaps a subject less challenging.

“What did you think of the denizens of Highbury? I am convinced the Coles invited everyone of quality in the village.” He forced his voice to remain light.

“Everyone and then some.” A little wry smile crept up her lips.


“It seems you have someone in mind?”

“And you do not? It seemed you formed some rather decided opinions of the vicar’s wife.” She cocked her head at him, her eyebrow lifted as though she knew his thoughts.

A little like Liza.

“Gah!” He glanced away and smacked his lips. “I would not say she is even an acquired taste.”

“Whatever do you mean? She is ever so helpful to one and all in the parish. Or could you not detect the excessive gratitude that is directed toward her from all we met last night.”

He snickered. “Remind me not to get on your wrong side, Miss Elliot, for I fear your opinions are as pointed as my sword.”

“And yours are ever so gentle, of course. It was quite clear that you will be hoping Mrs. Knightley invites her to tea this very afternoon, as she threatened to do just before we departed last night.”

“Then I may be forced to give up the beverage entirely and keep to coffee for the rest of my life.”

“Mrs. Darcy considers that an unfortunate habit, you know.”

“She mentioned she finds my preference for morning coffee crude and unrefined, an opinion she no doubt holds of the Elton woman as well,” he said.

“Did you notice how Mrs. Churchill seemed to avoid her?”

“Rather like one avoids a mad dog I would say.”

Miss Elliot covered her mouth to hide—not very well—a smirk. “I wonder what kind of bite she suffered.”

“Are you suggesting the vicar’s wife needs a muzzle?”

She gasped and pressed a hand to her chest. “I never said such a thing. Do not put words in my mouth.”

“I might have put words in your mouth, but I did not place the thought in your head. That was entirely your own doing.”

“I would submit that a guilty conscience sees in others what he himself is guilty of.” She cocked her head just so.

That expression, in a riding habit, on a horse, in the English countryside … this might require a bit more self-control than he had anticipated. Perhaps it was good the maid had come along after all.

Had she any idea?

It was difficult to tell. For all the years she had been in the marriage mart, it did not seem that anyone had ever shown a great deal of interest—save that cad Elliot of course. Perhaps she lacked the wiles so many of her peers had, particularly the awareness that she was uncommonly attractive.


How good it was to hear him laugh. There had been so little humor at Kellynch, she had only recently discovered the pleasure to be had in it. But he seemed no stranger to the indulgence.

It was a little too easy, though. The local society was so ripe for comedy. Mrs. Elton was a more a parody than a person. Then there was Miss Bates whose sincerity and affectionate nature saved her from being utterly pathetic. Still though, she was utterly pathetic. Frank Churchill, even with the steady, moderating influence of his sweet wife, was still just shy of being a dandy—or a fop, she had not yet decided. Either way, it was clear none of the men of sense gave him much credit, though they did seem to be trying to take him under their wings. Perhaps it was their respect for his father, Mr. Weston, that caused that. Still, there seemed little enough harm in him.

Colonel Fitzwilliam pointed at the signpost. One arm extended just to the left, ‘Listingbrook’ neatly painted in white letters.

She swallowed hard. Soon, she would be called upon to make probably the most important decision of her life. Pray let it be a clear and obvious one.

He turned down the left hand road and she followed, holding her breath. He did not look at her.

Was he as nervous as she? Something in the way his horse shook its head suggested that he was.

Odd, how that made it all just a mite easier to think she was not the only one suffering so.

As promised, old hardwoods shaded the road. Their branches arched up over the road, almost intertwining above them. It felt stately, even a little protective. Certainly neat and well maintained.

Beyond, she could make out stands of old growth woods—a sign of wealth and properly maintained lands. Her father would scoff, but then he had shown his proficiency at management at Kellynch, where few such stands remained.

The promised flower garden was enclosed with a low brick wall, gravel paths wove between the beds. A few heathers, her favorite flower, still bloomed, somehow undaunted by the recent snows.

That should not bring tears to her eyes.

But it did.

Silly woman! Now was not the time for sentimentality. Practical, it was time to be practical.

The house rose up before them, as Fitzwilliam had described it. Three stories, plus attics. A stone elevation, with ample windows, and gables. There must have been an addition made to the west wing at some point. Some of the angles did not match correctly and there was something just a little different about the styling of the windows.

Father would find fault with it. At one time, she might have as well. But that was another time and another woman. Now, now it felt quaint and rather inviting. A little like a crooked smile from an old friend.

A man met them at the front to take their horses—a groom or a gardener perhaps? Still, it spoke well of the housekeeper that she had them immediately attended.

Fitzwilliam waited for her at the door, tugging his jacket and fussing with his shirt cuffs. “Shall we? Into the abyss as they say.”

It could not be that bad, could it?

He opened the door, and she followed him in.

“Mrs. Amhurst,” he nodded at a sturdy woman in a drab gown, mobcap and apron. The housekeeper no doubt.

She curtsied, one eye on Elizabeth. No doubt she suspected what was about.

And she would talk. Servants always did. They would have very little time before rumors abounded and some kind of announcement would have to be made.

There was little helping it, but still…

“We will show ourselves about and seek you later with any questions.” He dismissed the housekeeper with a curt nod, and she scurried away. “So where would you like to begin?”

Something practical, like the kitchen or the mistress’s office, or perhaps the attics. That would be the correct answer. It would be useful to see what was in storage there.

“What about the large drawing room? You might consider how it would accommodate a ball?” His eye twitched in a wink.

Was it just an idle tease that caused him to suggest that or did he suspect something more? They had never talked much about balls … or had they?

Had he inferred so much from such little conversation? Heavens! If he did—no one had ever paid that much attention to what she said, ever.

He led her past the main stairs, toward the back of the house, stopping at an ornately carved door. Excellent workmanship, unique design. A little dust nestled into the deeper crevices of the carvings. It could do with a proper cleaning and polishing. But that was easily remedied. If a widower had lived here before, then he might not have used the room often enough to notice.

Fitzwilliam swung the door open. Sunbeams poured through the doorway. Someone had opened the curtains ahead of their visit.

He ushered her in ahead of him, and she peeked in.

Large windows, flanked by heavy draperies, filled the room with light. Not new enough to be fashionable, the drapes were of good quality and well maintained. Couches, settees, chairs, a pianoforte opposite the fireplace. Landscape paintings on the walls with a curiosity cabinet and shelf of books opposite the windows. Furniture moved aside, the room would accommodate twenty couples dancing, perhaps one more or one fewer. Certainly sufficient to have a ball in this neighborhood.

That should not be so important. It would not be so to a woman like Mrs. Darcy.

She pressed her fist to her lips. How mortifying! Mrs. Elton would probably understand her feelings, especially since a parsonage would not accommodate a ball.

“You approve?” he whispered, the barest tremor in his voice.

“Very much.”

He released a deep breath and pulled his shoulders back a little straighter. Some of his tension seemed to slough away. “Come then, let me take you to the parlor on the other side of the house. It is not nearly so grand as this room, but I think it quite adequate for daily use.”

His steps were so light he might well have skipped to the parlor. He flung open a painted door. “What do you think of—”

An odd popping noise cut him off. His eyes grew wide and a little wild, He ducked into the parlor casting about from one window to the next, searching for something.

She bit her lip. Why was he behaving so strangely?

Dare she ask, or would that further agitate him?

After a few minutes, he settled a bit and straightened his coat. “Excuse my distraction, please. I think you will find this room quite cozy—”

A rifle report and another rang out.

“Get down!” He launched himself at her, knocking her to the floor and covering her body with his. “Keep your head down!”

What was he doing? Had he gone mad?

She struggled against him, but she was no match for his strength.

“Don’t move, that’s an order. Stay quiet, they will pass.” He pressed her head down until her cheek lay on the faded carpet.

Did the gunfire have him believing he was suddenly in the army once again? 

What did he think he was doing?  How dare he handle her person in such a way?

His hard, angular form weighed down upon her until she could barely breathe. Why was he doing this?

Another shot cracked in the distance, and he wrapped himself a little more firmly around her.

Heavens above! He was protecting her!

“Oh, Colonel, sir!” the housekeeper gasped from the door way. “Pray forgive me for not telling you. Mr. Markham deputized Mr. Barnes of the next estate over to hunt on this land. I clean forgot to warn you of the hunting party, sir.”

Fitzwilliam rolled to his side, off Elizabeth, and slowly pushed himself to his feet. He stomped toward the housekeeper. “Never, never forget to tell me of such a thing in the future. Do I make myself clear?”

“Very clear, sir.” The housekeeper curtsied and dashed away.

Elizabeth rose, slowly, carefully, watching him as she did.

He turned his back to her, never even offering a hand up.

With a sharp grunt, he stormed from the room, without so much as a backward glance.





Feb 21 2017

Providing for young ladies’ future in Jane Austen’s World

Courtship and Marriage5How did dowries provide for a young woman’s future?

A Woman’s Dowry

Though Pride and Prejudice’s Mr. Bennet referred to dowries as “bribes to worthless young men to marry his daughters,” dowries were more commonly considered a means by which a responsible family compensated a husband for their daughter’s lifelong upkeep. How’s that for a romantic notion? 

Dowries (or more commonly the interest earned off a dowry) were used to provide a woman’s lifetime spending money, establish her income if she became a widow, and eventually distributed to her children at the death of one or both parents.

Settlements specified a total amount of money set aside for future daughters’ dowries. The more daughters a family had, the more ways the sum would have to be divided. The division of the money was generally not specified, so it did not have to be divided evenly amongst the daughters. A father might add to the sum during his lifetime, but if not stipulated in the settlement, it was not required. So the five Bennet daughters had to divide their mother’s five thousand pound dowry among them, with nothing added by their father.

There was no guarantee that a woman’s family would have the cash on hand to pay a dowry upon a daughter’s marriage. Oftentimes, that sum was tied up in estate capital or investments. The family might have to take out a mortgage to pay the dowry, or a down payment on it, with the final portion due from the estate at the father’s death.

To replenish the loss of capital, the heir of the estate needed to marry a bride with her own fortune. Marrying a woman without sufficient capital could harm the financial position of the family estate. For Mr. Darcy, of Pride and Prejudice, his sister, Georgiana’s, considerable fortune of £30,000 would come out of the Pemberley coffers on her marriage. By choosing a bride who could not replenish that, Darcy, was putting Pemberley’s financial future at risk.

Dower and Jointure

Until into the nineteenth century, without a jointure in a premarital contract, English common law ensured the widow had a right to a life interest in one third of the freehold lands in her husband’s hands at the time of her marriage. The only way the widow could lose these rights was if her husband or herself was found guilty of treason, felony or adultery.

The jointure, the settlement on a bride by her future husband of a freehold estate secured for her widowhood, came into practice with the Statute of Uses (1535). To receive this settlement, the prospective wife had to surrender her dower (not to be confused with her dowry which was something different altogether.)

With formal repeal of dower in 1833, wives lost the absolute right to inherit. So in the absence of jointure provisions or explicit provisions in a husband’s will, the widow could be left without support at her husband’s death. Even if a man left his wife property upon his death, it might be marked with the stipulation that it would revert to his heir or another designate if she remarried.

Jointures were rarely on the same level as the dowry a woman brought to the marriage. They were usually anchored on the amount that a woman brought into a marriage. Generally it was an annuity, payable by the heir of the estate, equal to one tenth of a woman’s dowry. The annuity would be payable by the heir of a man’s estate until the woman’s death upon which time the principle would descend to her children.

The ratio of jointure to dowry was established by the expectation that the average wife would outlive her husband by about ten years. Thus, she would most likely receive back the amount she brought into the marriage over the duration of her widowhood.

The issues of jointure and inheritance created the initial problems for the widowed Mrs. Dashwood and her daughters in Sense and Sensibility. Mrs. Dashwood was the second wife of Mr. Dashwood and not the mother of his heir (his son). The estate passed into his son’s hands at the senior Mr. Dashwood’s death.

Since the current Mrs. Dashwood was not the heir’s mother, he had no obligation to provide for her or her daughters–and did not deign to do so. Instead, the widow and her daughters were forced to live on the income supplied by the jointure, £500. (This implies that she brought £5000 into the marriage as her dowry.) While the amount is sufficient to maintain them, it is not enough for luxuries like a carriage which would generally require twice that income to support. 

Want to learn more? Try Courtship and Marriage in Jane Austen’s World, available in ebook and paperback



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A Lady of Distinction   –   Regency Etiquette, the Mirror of Graces (1811). R.L. Shep Publications (1997)

A Master-Key to the Rich Ladies Treasury or The Widower and Batchelor’s Directory by a Younger Brother, published in 1742.

Day, Malcom   –   Voices from the World of Jane Austen. David & Charles (2006)

Gener, S., and John Muckersy. M. Gener, Or, A Selection of Letters on Life and Manners. 3rd ed. Edinburgh: Printed for Peter Hill …, A. Constable & and A. MacKay ;, 1812.

Jones, Hazel   –   Jane Austen & Marriage . Continuum Books (2009)

Lane, Maggie   –   Jane Austen’s World. Carlton Books (2005)

Laudermilk, Sharon & Hamlin, Teresa L.   –   The Regency Companion. Garland Publishing (1989)

Le Faye, Deirdre   –   Jane Austen: The World of Her Novels. Harry N. Abrams (2002)

Ray, Joan Klingel   –   Jane Austen for Dummies. Wiley Publishing, Inc. (2006)

Ross, Josephine   –   Jane Austen’s Guide to Good Manners. Bloomsbury USA (2006)

Selwyn, David   –   Jane Austen & Leisure. The Hambledon Press (1999)

Vickery, Amanda   –   The Gentleman’s Daughter. Yale University Press (1998)

Feb 18 2017

Translation is Treason

Translation is Treason, or so I’ve been told…

I am so excited to let you guys know that one of my books is now out in Spanish! How cool is that?

What’s even better, I got to work with and get to know Teresita in the process. She is such a delight that I wanted to give you the chance to get to know her and take a peek into the surprisingly complicated process of translating a book.

So, let’s begin at the very beginning. How did you get interested in translating books?

 I usually have lots of work, but much of it has to do with school documents. Schools, as you know, are off in the summer so I usually search for something interesting to do during that time. I stumbled, quite by accident, on Babelcube (a site that matches translators with authors) and found that Abigail Reynolds, whose writing I love, wanted to translate one of her books.

I contacted her and told her I had never translated a book but that I hated most translated books because they read… well, translated. In my humble opinion, a translated book has to read as if it has been written in the translated language, so I aimed for that. And that’s how I got into translating books. Yours (Remember the Past) is my third and I really enjoy this kind of work, even if I don’t think I will be able to quit my normal translating job to do this full time. It is also an opportunity to put wonderful stories within reach of people that do not read in English.

How does one prepare to be a translator?

In my day, in my country, one did not really prepare to be a translator. If you knew enough of two languages and had enough vocabulary or were willing to learn it, you just started and experience did the rest. Nowadays, you can go to college and study to be one. I have been translating for almost 25 years, I started because it was something I could do from home and I could get as much or as little work as I wanted and still be able to go everywhere with my children. (MG here—I did something similar when my kiddos were small!)

Just knowing how to do something doesn’t mean you’re good at it. What does it take to be a good translator?
To be a good translator you need to be willing to read, or at least to learn a little, about most anything. (MG here—wow that sounds a whole lot like writing!) Now with the internet this is a lot easier since you can find glossaries and information about everything and there are sites where translators help one another with terminology and things like that. But still, you have to keep reading and learning.

This is obvious a lot of work, so hopefully there are things you enjoy about doing it.  What do you enjoy most about translating and what makes you absolutely crazy?
I really enjoy translating almost everything. I have always craved knowledge and translating you learn about lots of things. How to behave as an employee, how to work appliances and electronics, about legal problems or decisions, about health care, about kids with learning problems, even about hair do’s and stables for horses! (MG here–No wonder we get on so famously—I’m the same. My family calls me a wealth of (often) useless information)
The thing that drives me crazy is translating strings and lists of words with no context.

There’s an old saying that ‘translation is treason’ because it is so difficult to convey the meaning from one language accurately to another. Why is it so difficult? Can’t you just translate word for word and you’re there? (going to duck and cover now…)
It really is difficult to convey the meaning from one language to the other. As a matter of fact, it is difficult to convey meaning in the same language from one country to another, even from one region of one country to the next.(MG here—or in my house from one room to the other…)

There are things that are absolutely impossible to translate! They make no sense whatsoever in another language. If we translated word for word, a lot of translations from Spanish into English and vice versa would sound, to say the very least, weird. You may understand them, but just barely, because we construct sentences very differently, for one.

I’ve always heard there were two basic approaches to translating, meaning for meaning and word for word. What do they mean? Is one way better than the other?

To translate “meaning for meaning” is better because that’s what is usually intended when we speak or we write. We seldom want to convey words, we want to convey meaning. In literature this is especially important and one has to adapt the expressions to what is usually used in the language you are translating to, even if you don’t use the words that are written. If you translate word for word you end up with really funny things.

What about humor and things like idioms? It seems like those would be particularly difficult to deal with.

 Those can be pretty tricky. What is really funny in one place can be a big insult in another. Jokes don’t usually make much sense because they rely on (sometimes quite) a bit of naughtiness or double meaning, which is almost impossible to translate. As for sayings, most have an equivalent in the other language; the problem is to find the right one. Still there are some that are untranslatable.

 I have to imagine there are some interesting mishaps that go along with translating. What are some that you’ve encountered?

In translating you don’t usually get into mishaps because you have time to proofread what you translate, you can check with dictionaries or ask around. When people use machine translations, (using Google Translate. Systran, etc.), you sometimes get hilarious results. For example, I once found a site that offered circular saws. For some reason (I imagine that to save some money) they decided to translate the site by one of this machines and ended offering “círculo vio” which would translate back into English more or less as “the circle saw” (because saw is not only a cutting blade, is also the past of the verb to see) and translation machines normally use the most common translation for the word. As you can imagine the translation was very funny. (MG here- This is why I’m convinced that if you need directions translated, you ought to go to the folks to do Lego directions. No words, all pictures that even I can follow!)

But in interpreting, where the interpreter has to find the meaning of everything while the other person is still talking, and sometimes while he/she is still talking too… well, you could find some interesting interpreting mistakes in YouTube, some funny and some embarrassing. This is especially true when the people talking use slang or local versions of the language, like people of the Southeast in the US or from certain neighborhoods in Mexico City. To all the interpreters out there, you have my respect.

What’s the most interesting experience you’ve had translating?
I think that translating books it is pretty interesting because you have the chance to get a little creative. But I really think that, aside from strings (those are used in computer programming) and lists of words with no context, I find my work interesting on the whole because I love to learn about everything.

I am so thrilled we got to work on this project together. Since a substantial chunk of my family are Spanish–speaking, it is really special to me to be able to present one of my books in Spanish. I really hope to work together again in the future. Thanks so much Teresita!


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