Fragment of a Novel Written by Jane Austen/Chapter 11
It would not do.—Not all that the whole Parker race could say among themselves, cd produce a happier catastrophe than that the Family from Surry & the Family from Camberwell were one & the same.—The rich Westindians, & the young Ladies Seminary had all entered Sanditon in those two Hack chaises. The Mrs G. who in her friend Mrs Darling's hands, had wavered as to coming & been unequal to the Journey, was the very same Mrs G. whose plans were at the same period (under another representation) perfectly decided, & who was without fears or difficulties.—All that had the appearance of Incongruity in the reports of the two, might very fairly be placed to the account of the Vanity, the Ignorance, or the blunders of the many engaged in the cause by the vigilance & caution of Miss Diana P—. Her intimate friends must be officious like herself, & the subject had supplied Letters & Extracts & Messages enough to make everything appear what it was not. Miss D. probably felt a little awkward on being first obliged to admit her mistake. A long Journey from Hampshire taken for nothing—a Brother disappointed—an expensive House on her hands for a week, must have been some of her immediate reflections—& much worse than all the rest, must have been the sort of sensation of being less clear-sighted & infallible than she had beleived herself.—No part of it however seemed to trouble her long. There were so many to share in the shame & the blame, that probably when she had divided out their proper portions to Mrs Darling, Miss Capper, Fanny Noyce, Mrs C. Dupuis & Mrs C. D's Neighbour, there might be a mere trifle of reproach remaining for herself.—At any rate, she was seen all the following morng walking about after Lodgings with Mrs G.—as alert as ever.—Mrs G. was a very well-behaved, genteel kind of Woman, who supported herself by receiving such great girls & young Ladies, as wanted either Masters for finishing their Education, or a home for beginning their Displays.—She had several more under her care than the three who were now come to Sanditon, but the others all happened to be absent.—Of these three, & indeed of all, Miss Lambe was beyond comparison the most important & precious, as she paid in proportion to her fortune.—She was about 17, half Mulatto, chilly & tender, had a maid of her own, was to have the best room in the Lodgings, & was always of the first consequence in every plan of Mrs G.—The other Girls, two Miss Beauforts were just such young Ladies as may be met with, in at least one family out of three, throughout the Kingdom; they had tolerable complexions, shewey figures, an upright decided carriage & an assured Look;—they were very accomplished & very Ignorant, their time being divided between such pursuits as might attract admiration, & those Labours & Expedients of dexterous Ingenuity, by which they could dress in a stile much beyond what they ought to have afforded; they were some of the first in every change of fashion—& the object of all, was to captivate some Man of much better fortune than their own.—Mrs G. had preferred a small, retired place, like Sanditon, on Miss Lambe's account—and the Miss Bs—, though naturally preferring any thing to Smallness & Retirement, yet having in the course of the Spring been involved in the inevitable expence of six new Dresses each for a three days visit, were constrained to be satisfied with Sanditon also, till their circumstances were retreived. There, with the hire of a Harp for one, & the purchase of some Drawing paper for the other & all the finery they could already command, they meant to be very economical, very elegant & very secluded; with the hope on Miss Beaufort's side, of praise & celebrity from all who walked within the sound of her Instrument, & on Miss Letitia's, of curiosity & rapture in all who came near her while she sketched—and to Both, the consolation of meaning to be the most stylish Girls in the Place.—The particular introduction of Mrs G. to Miss Diana Parker, secured them immediately an acquaintance with the Trafalgar House-family, & with the Denhams;—and the Miss Beauforts were soon satisfied with "the Circle in which they moved in Sanditon" to use a proper phrase, for every body must now "move in a Circle",—to the prevalence of which rototory Motion, is perhaps to be attributed the Giddiness & false steps of many.—Lady Denham had other motives for calling on Mrs G. besides attention to the Parkers.—In Miss Lambe, here was the very young Lady, sickly & rich, whom she had been asking for; & she made the acquaintance for Sir Edward's sake, & the sake of her Milch asses. How it might answer with regard to the Baronet, remained to be proved, but as to the Animals, she soon found that all her calculations of Profit wd be vain. Mrs G. would not allow Miss L. to have the smallest symptom of a Decline, or any complaint which Asses milk cd possibly releive. "Miss L. was under the constant care of an experienced Physician;—and his Prescriptions must be their rule"—and except in favour of some Tonic Pills, which a Cousin of her own had a Property in, Mrs G. did never deviate from the strict Medecinal page.—The corner house of the Terrace was the one in which Miss D. P. had the pleasure of settling her new friends, & considering that it commanded in front the favourite Lounge of all the Visitors at Sanditon, & on one side, whatever might be going on at the Hotel, there cd not have been a more favourable spot for the seclusions of the Miss Beauforts. And accordingly, long before they had suited themselves with an Instrument, or with Drawing paper, they had, by the frequency of their appearance at the low Windows upstairs, in order to close the blinds, or open the Blinds, to arrange a flower pot on the Balcony, or look at nothing through a Telescope, attracted many an eye upwards, & made many a Gazer gaze again.—A little Novelty has a great effect in so small a place; the Miss Beauforts, who wd have been nothing at Brighton, could not move here without notice;—and even Mr Arthur Parker, though little disposed for supernumerary exertion, always quitted the Terrace, in his way to his Brothers by this corner House, for the sake of a glimpse of the Miss Bs—, though it was ½ a qr of a mile round about, & added two steps to the ascent of the Hill.