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Austen Novel Read Along is the board for our ongoing discussion of a Jane Austen novel. Beginning with Lady Susan, new portions of the original text are posted every Wednesday. This is a Discussion board with comments welcome and encouraged! No registration is required to join the discussion.
Jane Austen’s Reading Salon is the board where we freely showcase our writing: short stories, excerpts, deleted scenes, poetry, and other assorted samples, both Austenesque and beyond Austen’s world. This is a “read-only” board. Read to your heart’s content and check back periodically for new posts.A A A
December 27, 2014
Some think there’s an implied kiss in chapter 28 between Frank Churchill and Jane Fairfax. What do you think? What went on between Jane and Frank while they were alone with the slumbering Mrs. Bates?
Let’s shake things up today with just one juicy topic. I want you to tell us in the comments what you think went on between Frank and Jane while they were unsupervised. What did they talk about? What did they do? To make this more fun, don’t read anyone else’s comments until you’ve written your own. Let your imagination run wild with dialogue and actions, or just give us a short summary–it’s your choice.
You might find some evidence for your comments in the following quote from chapter 28:
The appearance of the little sitting-room as they entered, was tranquillity itself; Mrs. Bates, deprived of her usual employment, slumbering on one side of the fire, Frank Churchill, at a table near her, most deedily occupied about her spectacles, and Jane Fairfax, standing with her back to them, intent on her pianoforte.
Busy as he was, however, the young man was yet able to shew a most happy countenance on seeing Emma again.
“This is a pleasure,” said he, in rather a low voice, “coming at least ten minutes earlier than I had calculated. You find me trying to be useful; tell me if you think I shall succeed.”
“What!” said Mrs. Weston, “have not you finished it yet? you would not earn a very good livelihood as a working silversmith at this rate.”
“I have not been working uninterruptedly,” he replied, “I have been assisting Miss Fairfax in trying to make her instrument stand steadily, it was not quite firm; an unevenness in the floor, I believe. You see we have been wedging one leg with paper. This was very kind of you to be persuaded to come. I was almost afraid you would be hurrying home.”
He contrived that she should be seated by him; and was sufficiently employed in looking out the best baked apple for her, and trying to make her help or advise him in his work, till Jane Fairfax was quite ready to sit down to the pianoforte again. That she was not immediately ready, Emma did suspect to arise from the state of her nerves; she had not yet possessed the instrument long enough to touch it without emotion; she must reason herself into the power of performance; and Emma could not but pity such feelings, whatever their origin, and could not but resolve never to expose them to her neighbour again.
At last Jane began, and though the first bars were feebly given, the powers of the instrument were gradually done full justice to. Mrs. Weston had been delighted before, and was delighted again; Emma joined her in all her praise; and the pianoforte, with every proper discrimination, was pronounced to be altogether of the highest promise.
“Whoever Colonel Campbell might employ,” said Frank Churchill, with a smile at Emma, “the person has not chosen ill. I heard a good deal of Colonel Campbell’s taste at Weymouth; and the softness of the upper notes I am sure is exactly what he and all that party would particularly prize. I dare say, Miss Fairfax, that he either gave his friend very minute directions, or wrote to Broadwood himself. Do not you think so?”
Jane did not look round. She was not obliged to hear. Mrs. Weston had been speaking to her at the same moment.
“It is not fair,” said Emma, in a whisper; “mine was a random guess. Do not distress her.”
He shook his head with a smile, and looked as if he had very little doubt and very little mercy. Soon afterwards he began again,
“How much your friends in Ireland must be enjoying your pleasure on this occasion, Miss Fairfax. I dare say they often think of you, and wonder which will be the day, the precise day of the instrument’s coming to hand. Do you imagine Colonel Campbell knows the business to be going forward just at this time?–Do you imagine it to be the consequence of an immediate commission from him, or that he may have sent only a general direction, an order indefinite as to time, to depend upon contingencies and conveniences?”
He paused. She could not but hear; she could not avoid answering,
“Till I have a letter from Colonel Campbell,” said she, in a voice of forced calmness, “I can imagine nothing with any confidence. It must be all conjecture.”
“Conjecture–aye, sometimes one conjectures right, and sometimes one conjectures wrong. I wish I could conjecture how soon I shall make this rivet quite firm. What nonsense one talks, Miss Woodhouse, when hard at work, if one talks at all;–your real workmen, I suppose, hold their tongues; but we gentlemen labourers if we get hold of a word–Miss Fairfax said something about conjecturing. There, it is done. I have the pleasure, madam, (to Mrs. Bates,) of restoring your spectacles, healed for the present.”
He was very warmly thanked both by mother and daughter; to escape a little from the latter, he went to the pianoforte, and begged Miss Fairfax, who was still sitting at it, to play something more.
“If you are very kind,” said he, “it will be one of the waltzes we danced last night;–let me live them over again. You did not enjoy them as I did; you appeared tired the whole time. I believe you were glad we danced no longer; but I would have given worlds–all the worlds one ever has to give–for another half-hour.”
“What felicity it is to hear a tune again which has made one happy!–If I mistake not that was danced at Weymouth.”
She looked up at him for a moment, coloured deeply, and played something else. He took some music from a chair near the pianoforte, and turning to Emma, said,
“Here is something quite new to me. Do you know it?–Cramer.–And here are a new set of Irish melodies. That, from such a quarter, one might expect. This was all sent with the instrument. Very thoughtful of Colonel Campbell, was not it?–He knew Miss Fairfax could have no music here. I honour that part of the attention particularly; it shews it to have been so thoroughly from the heart. Nothing hastily done; nothing incomplete. True affection only could have prompted it.”
Emma wished he would be less pointed, yet could not help being amused; and when on glancing her eye towards Jane Fairfax she caught the remains of a smile, when she saw that with all the deep blush of consciousness, there had been a smile of secret delight, she had less scruple in the amusement, and much less compunction with respect to her.–This amiable, upright, perfect Jane Fairfax was apparently cherishing very reprehensible feelings.
He brought all the music to her, and they looked it over together.–Emma took the opportunity of whispering,
“You speak too plain. She must understand you.”
“I hope she does. I would have her understand me. I am not in the least ashamed of my meaning.”
“But really, I am half ashamed, and wish I had never taken up the idea.”
“I am very glad you did, and that you communicated it to me. I have now a key to all her odd looks and ways. Leave shame to her. If she does wrong, she ought to feel it.”
“She is not entirely without it, I think.”
“I do not see much sign of it. She is playing Robin Adair at this moment–his favourite.”
December 27, 2014
Remember, don’t read anyone else’s comments until you write your own!
This is how I imagine things going down. Mrs. Weston and Miss Bates run off. Mrs. Bates is asleep. Frank looks at Jane. “Well, that was easier than I thought.”
Jane giggles. “Yes, it was. Thank you so much for the pianoforte. I love it, but, Frank, it was really too much. I’m afraid people are going to suspect that you gave it to me.”
Frank, eyeing Mrs. Bates, and chuckling. “I think we’re safe. Do you know what our dear Miss Woodhouse thinks?”
“That it came from Mr. Dixon.”
“She thinks your friend Mrs. Dixon is quite unlucky in marrying a man who’s loves her best friend.”
Jane frowns. “How could she think such a thing? It’s degrading.”
Frank laughs. “Let her be deceived.” He looks at the pianoforte. “I believe your piano sits unevenly.” He holds his hand out to her. “Would you assist me in putting it right?” Smooch, Smooch, Smooch, etc.
December 27, 2014
I don’t think they were making out. They were definitely talking and Jane is discomposed, but this is the morning after the party at the Coles, and Frank went out of his way while there to single out Emma. I think (and these are the thoughts of someone who has read this numerous times, so they take into account the end and provide spoilers) that Frank was defending his strategy of pretending to pursue Emma. Jane cannot be comfortable with the deception in the first place, and she must be even less so now that Frank has potentially engaged another woman’s feelings in the matter, adding an additional and heavy layer to their subterfuge. She has been scolding him, I believe, and he defending himself. He doubles down on his deception when Emma arrives. Further, I think he has probably told Jane about Emma’s conjectures regarding Mr. Dixon. She must be horrible embarrassed, and he goes out of his way to tease her further. Bad boy. He deserves a scolding that never truly comes.
While I’m in spoiler mode, what if the Churchill’s did find out about Frank’s engagement? Would he stay true to his commitment, or would potential disinheritance work upon him the same way it did upon Willoughby? I agree with Mr. Knightley that he lives a charmed existence. He is never really tried, not held accountable for his transgressions.
August 14, 2015
OOOH, fun! I love doing this sort of thing (which I suppose is obvious seeing as I write JAFF LOL) I did not look at any other responses before writing this (though I was sorely tempted) Anyway….here is my first imagining of what might have happened…
An Interlude between Acts
Frank waited until the door had latched and the prattling of Miss Bates could only be heard softly through the window. Then, after a “your spectacles will soon be fixed” spoken at a loud volume without so much as a snort from the elderly sleeping lady, he pushed away from the table and crossed the room to the window where Jane stood watching Mrs. Weston and Miss Bates cross the road. “I had wished to dance with you last evening,” he whispered close enough to her ear to make the little tendril of hair that looped down past her ear dance on his breath. “But they suspect nothing. In fact, Miss Woodhouse is quite convinced that the pianoforte is a gift from Colonel Campbell.”
“I do not like it, Frank. This shifting and covering — it has it pleasures to be sure, but it makes me uneasy. It has my nerves in such as state that I can barely force myself to eat until nearly famished and faint. I am always certain that any instant, one small slip will reveal all, and we shall be separated forever. ”
He pulled her back from the window. “That will never be. These people,” he waved his hand in a circle as if to encompass the whole of the area, “are so easily led. A pleasant word, an easy smile, and the approval of the illustrious Miss Woodhouse is all it takes to be thought the best of men. They do dote on her, do they not?”
“Must you dote on her as you do? I find that also to be quite intolerable.”
“Jealous?” he teased, rubbing a thumb across the back of her hand.
“Indeed, I am. The way you make love to her and in my presence! It is very trying to remain so calm, you know. I have a mind to fling myself at Mr. Knightley. He is very accommodating, and I might be able to prey on his generous, caring nature.”
Laughing, he pulled her into his embrace. “Mr. Knightley would be the first to suspect something if you did, and I dare say Miss Woodhouse would be beside herself with displeasure. I do believe she is jealous of you.”
Ah, he loved the way her eyes grew wide at a surprise. He only wished he could have been here when the pianoforte had been delivered. “Yes, you. You are well-liked, fair, and quite accomplished. It is rather trying for me to say things that border on or are complete disparagements of you when speaking with her, for you know how I love you, my beautiful Jane.” There was the smile and blush he had been longing to provoke since his arrival. That was not all he had been desiring and since the room was practically empty — he cast a look in the direction of Miss Bates’ mother, who had not stir at all. Satisfied that all would remain none-the-wiser, he lifted Jane’s chin. “This,” he said, placing a soft kiss on her upturned lips, “is for you alone. Miss Woodhouse might require my attentions for now, but you, my dear, will always have my heart.” This declaration was followed by a second kiss and a third and finally, after a few more moments of revelling in the freedom to be together, Frank returned to his work repairing the spectacles, while Jane took a moment to compose herself before the noise that was Miss Bates and her friends entered the parlour.
December 27, 2014
Ok. I came back and read Leenie and Rebecca’s responses and am feeling quite the curmudgeon. I love the scene you paint, Leenie. Beautifully done! I’m notoriously prudish in my Austen imaginings, so maybe that has something to do with my reluctance to admit a kiss might have taken place here. I like the way you guys envision it, but when I go back to the text, I just can’t make it work. A lot of this has to do with tracing this moment in the book as when the troubles begin to emerge between Frank and Jane, leading to their rupture until a convenient death. More spoilers: what if Mrs. Churchill didn’t up and die. I return to my Willoughby question – are he and Frank so different? Is Frank not, perhaps, a great deal worse for his deceptions? I find I a feel less merciful towards him this read than I have been in the past.
This was brilliant Rebecca. I hope you don’t mind Leenie, but I’m going to link your scene on Facebook. We should do this again.
August 14, 2015
I must say I did not think about the possibility of a kiss or anything in particular happening during that intrelude in the text until Rebecca mentioned it…and then, well, it was too much fun not to consider it. I mean, why was Jane standing with her back to the room looking at the piano? Is it important that her back was to the others? Was she hiding something by standing so? Seemed plausible, and I would not put such a thing past good old player Frank. 🙂 I had a small moment of liking him in this portion of the text — it did follow a “you awful man” thought when he began teasing but then as I listened to him say he hoped she would understand his meaning, I began to realize (or maybe it is wish) that it was a covered declaration of love — made more plausible by Jane’s blush and smile and Emma’s observations, which often prove to be the opposite of what is. Now, although I have been through this book once, I cannot say I have given it much thought or really remember most of it (I didn’t enjoy it that first time through) so my ideas and conjectures are pretty close to first time responses 🙂
You mentioned Willoughby, Alexa, and I thought also of Edward, who was secretly engaged and his mother found out and cut him off but he did not break the engagement (he was too honorable). They are such opposites — which I think Austen uses often to illustrate the good in heros by contrasting them against the not so good. Often we compare Willoughby to Brandon, but why not compare him to Edward? So is Frank more of a Willoughby or an Edward? Well, how does he compare to Knightley, since Knightley is our hero? Knightley, though bossy, cares for the needs of others (ie the apples) and Frank seems to only care for himself. As much as I would like to hope he really does love Jane more than he loves money and ease, I have my doubts. And while we are on the comparsion route………what of Jane? Is she a Lucy Steele in a more pleasant package?
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