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Jane Austen Blog: Part I

Posted by on July 29, 2003

There was once a young lady of middling fortune who, having achieved the lofty age of three-and-twenty, and possessing all the wisdom and sense which the age of three-and-twenty generally bestows, thought she could do no better than to be married at once.

Accordingly, she went to her mother with the news that she would be soon engaged to some gentleman or other, and, without any concern for who might do the honors, both ladies were as delighted as ladies generally are on these occasions. �Oh! My dear,� said her mother, �I am excessively pleased for you. But I hope, however, that you will be nice in your choice, and not pick too hastily, for though I had only known your father a month before we were engaged, I still cannot think anything less than three months is sufficient to know the character of one�s future partner. And I sincerely hope that you will be guided by your father and myself in your choice.�

The young lady was quick to reassure her mother that she meant to be very obliging to every wish of her dear parents in that regard. �Indeed, Mama,� said she, �I think I would be very happy to settle with any gentleman who met with the approbation of yourself and my father, provided that he was tolerably handsome, and in possession of a reasonable fortune which might not prevent our traveling and keeping several town cars. To say the truth, I should never dream of contradicting the wisdom of a parent in such a matter, as long as your choice should prove identical to my own.�

The recent addition to her neighborhood of a young gentleman of leisure by the name of Mr. Wood was by no means unwelcome to the young lady at this time. The gentleman was acknowledged by the neighborhood to be extremely handsome, in addition to having nearly one hundred thousand a year, and added to these charms a pleasing address and a very genteel manner. The young lady naturally fixed on Mr. Wood as the chosen partner of her fate, and began plans at once to subdue his heart. She was not alarmed by any of those jealous or hesitant feelings which often accompany a lady�s foray into matters of the heart. She knew herself to be not unhandsome, and had many of the best habits of a young lady of fortune: she did good works through the neighborhood (by smiling politely on any homeless man who accosted her), was frequently imitating her betters in fashion, and spent more than her income would allow. In addition to these attractions, she knew herself to be one of the few true ladies then residing in the neighborhood -� for, though there were many who attired themselves as ladies, the vast majority of these were, in fact, gentlemen, and not all of them well-born.

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