Fragment of a Novel Written by Jane Austen/Chapter 4

Fragment of a Novel Written by Jane Austen  (1925) 
by Jane Austen, edited by R. W. Chapman

CHAPTER 4.

"And whose very snug-looking Place is this?"—said Charlotte, as in a sheltered Dip within 2 miles of the Sea, they passed close by a moderate-sized house, well fenced & planted, & rich in the Garden, Orchard & Meadows which are the best embellishments of such a Dwelling. "It seems to have as many comforts about it as Willingden."—"Ah!—said Mr P.—This is my old House—the house of my Fore-*fathers—the house where I & all my Brothers & Sisters were born & bred—& where my own 3 eldest Children were born—where Mrs P. & I lived till within the last 2 years—till our new House was finished.—I am glad you are pleased with it.—It is an honest old Place—and Hillier keeps it in very good order. I have given it up you know to the Man who occupies the cheif of my Land. He gets a better House by it—& I, a rather better situation!—one other Hill brings us to Sanditon—modern Sanditon—a beautiful Spot.—Our Ancestors, you know always built in a hole.—Here were we, pent down in this little contracted Nook, without Air or Veiw, only one mile & 3 qrs from the noblest expanse of Ocean between the South foreland & the Land's end, & without the smallest advantage from it. You will not think I have made a bad exchange, when we reach Trafalgar House—which by the bye, I almost wish I had not named Trafalgar—for Waterloo is more the thing now. However, Waterloo is in reserve—& if we have encouragement enough this year for a little Crescent to be ventured on—(as I trust we shall) then, we shall be able to call it Waterloo Crescent—& the name joined to the form of the Building, which always takes, will give us the command of Lodgers—. In a good Season we shd have more applications than we could attend to."—"It was always a very comfortable House—said Mrs Parker—looking at it through the back window with something like the fondness of regret.—And such a nice Garden—such an excellent Garden." "Yes, my Love, but that we may be said to carry with us.—It supplies us, as before, with all the fruit & vegetables we want; & we have in fact all the comfort of an excellent Kitchen Garden, without the constant Eyesore of its formalities; or the yearly nuisance of its decaying vegetation.—Who can endure a Cabbage Bed in October"? "Oh! dear—yes.—We are quite as well off for Gardenstuff as ever we were—for if it is forgot to be brought at any time, we can always buy what we want at Sanditon-House.—The Gardiner there, is glad enough to supply us—. But it was a nice place for the Children to run about in. So shady in Summer!" "My dear, we shall have shade enough on the Hill & more than enough in the course of a very few years;—The Growth of my Plantations is a general astonishment. In the mean while we have the Canvas Awning, which gives us the most complete comfort within doors—& you can get a Parasol at Whitby's for little Mary at any time, or a large Bonnet at Jebb's—and as for the Boys, I must say I wd rather them run about in the Sunshine than not. I am sure we agree my dear, in wishing our Boys to be as hardy as possible."—"Yes indeed, I am sure we do—& I will get Mary a little Parasol, which will make her as proud as can be. How Grave she will walk about with it, and fancy herself quite a little Woman.—Oh! I have not the smallest doubt of our being a great deal better off where we are now. If we any of us want to bathe, we have not a qr of a mile to go.—But you know, (still looking back) one loves to look at an old friend, at a place where one has been happy.—The Hilliers did not seem to feel the Storms last Winter at all.—I remember seeing Mrs Hillier after one of those dreadful Nights, when we had been literally rocked in our bed, and she did not seem at all aware of the Wind being anything more than common." "Yes, yes—that's likely enough. We have all the Grandeur of the Storm, with less real danger, because the Wind meeting with nothing to oppose or confine it around our House, simply rages & passes on—while down in this Gutter—nothing is known of the state of the Air, below the Tops of the Trees—and the Inhabitants may be taken totally unawares, by one of those dreadful Currents which do more mischief in a Valley, when they do arise than an open Country ever experiences in the heaviest Gale.—But my dear Love—as to Gardenstuff;—you were saying that any accidental omission is supplied in a moment by Ly D.'s Gardiner—but it occurs to me that we ought to go elsewhere upon such occasions—& that old Stringer & his son have a higher claim. I encouraged him to set up—& am afraid he does not do very well—that is, there has not been time enough yet.—He will do very well beyond a doubt—but at first it is Uphill work; and therefore we must give him what Help we can—& when any Vegetables or fruit happen to be wanted—& it will not be amiss to have them often wanted, to have something or other forgotten most days;—Just to have a nominal supply you know, that poor old Andrew may not lose his daily Job—but in fact to buy the cheif of our consumption of the Stringers.—" "Very well my Love, that can be easily done—& Cook will be satisfied—which will be a great comfort, for she is always complaining of old Andrew now, & says he never brings her what she wants.—There—now the old House is quite left behind.—What is it, your Brother Sidney says about it's being a Hospital?" "Oh! my dear Mary, merely a Joke of his. He pretends to advise me to make a Hospital of it. He pretends to laugh at my Improvements. Sidney says any thing you know. He has always said what he chose of & to us, all. Most Families have such a member among them I beleive Miss Heywood.—There is a someone in most families privileged by superior abilities or spirits to say anything.—In ours, it is Sidney; who is a very clever Young Man,—and with great powers of pleasing.—He lives too much in the World to be settled; that is his only fault.—He is here & there & every where. I wish we may get him to Sanditon. I should like to have you acquainted with him.—And it would be a fine thing for the Place!—Such a young Man as Sidney, with his neat equipage & fashionable air,—You & I Mary, know what effect it might have: Many a respectable Family, many a careful Mother, many a pretty Daughter, might it secure us, to the prejudice of E. Bourne & Hastings."—They were now approaching the Church & neat village of Sanditon, which stood at the foot of the Hill they were afterwards to ascend—a Hill, whose side was covered with the Woods & enclosures of Sanditon House and whose Height ended in an open Down where the new Buildgs might soon be looked for. A branch only, of the Valley, winding more obliquely towards the Sea, gave a passage to an inconsiderable Stream, & formed at its mouth, a 3d Habitable Division, in a small cluster of Fisherman's Houses.—The Village contained little more than Cottages, but the Spirit of the day had been caught, as Mr P. observed with delight to Charlotte, & two or three of the best of them were smartened up with a white Curtain & "Lodgings to let"—, and farther on, in the little Green Court of an old Farm House, two Females in elegant white were actually to be seen with their books & camp stools—and in turning the corner of the Baker's shop, the sound of a Harp might be heard through the upper Casement.—Such sights & sounds were highly Blissful to Mr P.—Not that he had any personal concern in the success of the Village itself; for considering it as too remote from the Beach, he had done nothing there—but it was a most valuable proof of the increasing fashion of the place altogether. If the Village could attract, the Hill might be nearly full.—He anticipated an amazing Season.—At the same time last year, (late in July) there had not been a single Lodger in the Village!—nor did he remember any during the whole Summer, excepting one family of children who came from London for sea air after the hooping Cough, and whose Mother would not let them be nearer the shore for fear of their tumbling in.—"Civilization, Civilization indeed!—cried Mr P—, delighted—. Look my dear Mary—Look at William Heeley's windows.—Blue Shoes, & nankin Boots!—Who wd have expected such a sight at a Shoemaker's in old Sanditon!—This is new within the Month. There was no blue Shoe when we passed this way a month ago.—Glorious indeed!—Well, I think I have done something in my Day.—Now, for our Hill, our health-breathing Hill.—" In ascending, they passed the Lodge-Gates of Sanditon House, & saw the top of the House itself among its Groves. It was the last Building of former Days in that line of the Parish. A little higher up, the Modern began; & in crossing the Down, a Prospect House, a Bellevue Cottage, & a Denham Place were to be looked at by Charlotte with the calmness of amused Curiosity, & by Mr P. with the eager eye which hoped to see scarcely any empty houses.—More Bills at the Window than he had calculated on;—and a smaller shew of company on the Hill—Fewer Carriages, fewer Walkers. He had fancied it just the time of day for them to be all returning from their Airings to dinner—But the Sands & the Terrace always attracted some—. and the Tide must be flowing—about half-Tide now.—He longed to be on the Sands, the Cliffs, at his own House, & everywhere out of his House at once. His Spirits rose with the very sight of the Sea & he cd almost feel his Ancle getting stronger already.—Trafalgar House, on the most elevated spot on the Down was a light elegant Building, standing in a small Lawn with a very young plantation round it, about an hundred yards from the brow of a steep, but not very lofty Cliff—and the nearest to it, of every Building, excepting one short row of smart-looking Houses, called the Terrace, with a broad walk in front, aspiring to be the Mall of the Place. In this row were the best Milliner's shop & the Library—a little detached from it, the Hotel & Billiard Room—Here began the Descent to the Beach, & to the Bathing Machines—& this was therefore the favourite spot for Beauty & Fashion.—At Trafalgar House, rising at a little distance behind the Terrace, the Travellers were safely set down, & all was happiness & Joy between Papa & Mama & their Children; while Charlotte having received possession of her apartment, found amusement enough in standing at her ample, Venetian window, & looking over the miscellaneous foreground of unfinished Buildings, waving Linen, & tops of Houses, to the Sea, dancing & sparkling in Sunshine & Freshness.—