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After a Lifetime in Large Urban Areas, this West-Coast Urban Girl has moved to the Country to start a New Life in a Small Town in Vermont... Watch her bumble her way and conquer!

Thursday, December 20, 2012

First Chapter! - Pagan Persuasion: All Olympus Descends on Regency

At last! Here is the first-ever excerpt from my new hilarious Jane Austen parody, Pagan Persuasion: All Olympus Descends on Regency (Supernatural Jane Austen Series), coming very soon!

And now, enjoy a complete first chapter!

Chapter 1

ing, O bright goddess, a paean to the resentment of Poseidon, god of the salty seas, and the annoyance of Athena, clear-eyed goddess of war and wisdom. The resentment and annoyance were the result of an altogether uncivil unwillingness, on both godly sides, to hold amiable discourse over something as negligible as the patronage of one puny mortal city on the rocky shores of the Aegean. . . .
When asked to choose their divine protector, the citizens preferred Athena’s gift of an olive tree to Poseidon’s gift of a saltwater spring (seriously, what was Poseidon thinking? even seaweed salad would have made a better impression), and cast their votes[1] accordingly.
Naturally, the charming and delightful goddess Athena won. Everyone got olives and the city was named Athens. Meanwhile, Poseidon departed in a fit of pique, muttering to himself, and striking random rock formations along the shore of the Aegean—bringing forth yet more salty fountains and puddles and random items of dubious value, and at some point causing a pair of magnificent horses to spring forth and gallop away into the hills. But since no one from the city remained to witness this far more useful miracle, the creation of horses went uncredited and unappreciated. As a result, Poseidon was decidedly not amused. And he remained thus, not amused, for decades, for generations, for thousands of years, taking out his displeasure on occasional schools of fish and frequent schools of mortals of Hellenistic background swimming around in triremes, including the clever hero Odysseus and the entire Achaean invading fleet at Troy.
Athena in turn was very displeased with Poseidon’s reaction (tedious water shortages in her city, frogs and tadpoles everywhere, moss on marble, moaning sounds coming from deep wells to scare away the good matrons, soup taking forever to boil), and hence all things pertaining to salty liquids and large bodies of water. And thus the goddess made a point of doling out persuasive barbs of wisdom, sarcasm, and subtle advice against Poseidon and everything of a nautical nature, to everyone she took under[2] her aegis—literally and figuratively.
This discord went on and on (and on, and on, and on), god and goddess disparaging each other, fish scales and owl feathers flying. One would think that after about three thousand years the two deities would be divinely sick of holding a grudge, but no. . . . It only grew, taking on the force of legend, and turning into a poetic nonsense of epic proportions, which consequently bound many gods and mortals together unto the ages, via dactylic[3] hexameter.
But, gentle reader, we are getting somewhat ahead of ourselves.

he Muse sings of heroes both human and divine, in Hellas and other spots, such as Albion. One such hero was Sir Walter Elliot, of Kellynch Hall, in Somersetshire—a mortal who, for his own amusement, never worshiped any god but Apollo, and never took up any book but the Baronetage.
There he found occupation for an idle hour, and consolation in a distressed one (while kneeling at the radiant god’s flower-strewn household shrine which also incidentally housed his favourite snuffbox collection). There his delicate nasal passages were cleansed, and his faculties were roused into admiration, respect, and blissful worship, by contemplating the noble tome, and the divine altar that displayed it. There any unwelcome sensations (arising from domestic affairs or clogged sinuses) changed naturally into pity and contempt—as he turned over the almost endless creations of the last century, lit incense, took pinches of snuff, and chanted beautiful words while perusing pedigrees.
And there, if every other leaf were powerless, he could read his own history—flowing, one might say, as far back as the dawn of the immortals, when saber-toothed titans and nymphet mammoths roamed the firmament, and satyrs frolicked with trilobites—with an interest that never failed. This was the page at which the favourite volume always opened:

Elliot Of Kellynch Hall.
“Walter Elliot, direct descendant of the God Apollo, one forty-seventh part (unverifiable); baronet (confirmed); born March 1, 1760, married, July 15, 1784, Elizabeth, daughter of James Stevenson, Esq. of South Park, in the county of Gloucester, by which lady (who died 1800) he has issue Elizabeth, born June 1, 1785; Anne, born August 9, 1787; a still-born son, November 5, 1789; Mary, born November 20, 1791.”

Such was the exact paragraph as originally issued by the printer. But Sir Walter had improved it by adding, for the information of himself and his family, these words, after the date of Mary’s birth—“Married, December 16, 1810, Charles, son and heir of Charles Musgrove, somewhat possible descendant of the God Hephaestus or possibly Dionysus, or in the least, a satyr; Esq. of Uppercross, in the county of Somerset,” and by inserting most accurately the day of the month on which he had lost his wife.
Then followed the history and rise of the ancient and respectable family, in the usual terms—how it had been first blessed by the visitation of Apollo upon a noble maiden in distant Hellas, how oceans were crossed; how the issue of the divine union eventually settled in Cheshire; how someone was mentioned in Dugdale, serving the office of high sheriff (and giving forth occasional divine illumination), representing a borough in three successive parliaments (and purportedly causing dulcet musical tones of a lyre to sound at more than one such assembly), exertions of loyalty, incidental displays of Hellenic divinity, and dignity of baronet, in the first year of Charles II, with all the Marys and Elizabeths and Aphrodites they had married; forming altogether two handsome duodecimo pages, and concluding with the arms and motto:—“Principal seat outside of Olympus, Kellynch Hall, in the county of Somerset,” and Sir Walter’s handwriting again in this finale:—

“Heir presumptive, William Walter Elliot, Esq., great grandson of the second Sir Walter. Assuredly, great great great great great great great great great great . . . (repeat thirty seven more iterations) grandson of the God Apollo.”

Vanity was the beginning and the end of Sir Walter Elliot’s character; vanity of person and of situation. He had been remarkably handsome in his youth—by some accounts, quite godlike—and, at fifty-four, was still a very fine man. Few women, or even goddesses, could think more of their personal appearance than he did, nor could the valet of any new made lord be more delighted with the place he held in society or at the outskirts of Olympus.
He considered the blessing of Apollo’s beauty quite on par with the blessing of a baronetcy (indeed, he oft proclaimed divine ancestry the infinitely loftier privilege); and the Sir Walter Elliot, who united these gifts, was the constant object of his warmest respect and devotion, in genuine Narcissus fashion (although there was no actual Narcissus ancestry in the Elliot pedigree, as far as anyone could ascertain).
It is to his good looks and his rank that he must have owed a wife of very superior character to what he deserved. Lady Elliot had been an excellent woman, sensible and amiable, “surely descended in some distant spot of lineage from Hera or Aphrodite or, what the deuce, both,” her husband insisted. Her judgment and conduct—if they might be pardoned the youthful infatuation which made her Lady Elliot—had never required indulgence afterwards.
She had humoured, softened, concealed his failings, and promoted his real respectability for seventeen years—all while tending the household altar and hearth in exemplary fashion. And though not particularly happy herself, Lady Elliot had found enough in her duties, friends, and children, to attach her to life, and make it no matter of indifference to her when she was called on to quit them.
Three girls (the two eldest sixteen and fourteen) was an awful charge for a mother to bequeath to the authority and guidance of a conceited, silly father. She had, however, one very intimate[4] friend, Lady Russell—a sensible, deserving woman, who had been brought, by strong attachment to herself, to settle close by her, in the village of Kellynch. Lady Elliot mainly relied on her kindness and advice for help with instruction of her daughters.
This friend, and Sir Walter, did not marry, whatever might have been anticipated by their acquaintance. Thirteen years had passed since Lady Elliot’s death, and they were still neighbours and intimate friends, and one remained a widower, the other a widow.[5]
The fact that Lady Russell—of steady age and character, and extremely well provided for, both in material matters and in wisdom by her patron Goddess Athena—should have no thought of a second marriage, needs no apology to the public (which is more discontented when a woman does marry again, than when she does not). But Sir Walter’s continuing in singleness requires explanation.
Be it known then, that Sir Walter, like a good father, (having met with one or two private disappointments in very unreasonable applications to—what was observed in hindsight—“crassly non-divine” females), prided himself on remaining single for his dear daughters’ sake. For one daughter, his eldest, he would really have given up any thing (which he had not been very much tempted to do). Elizabeth had succeeded, at sixteen, to all of her mother’s rights and consequence, and furthermore, to the appearance of a youthful Aphrodite. Being very handsome, and very like himself in vanity, her influence had always been great, and they had gone on together most happily—one worshipping the God of (Beauty and) Light and the other the Goddess of (Beauty and) Love.
His two other children were of very inferior value. Mary had acquired a little artificial importance in her father’s eyes, by becoming “not unlike the matron Goddess Hera,” or to be precise, Mrs. Charles Musgrove. But Anne, with an elegance of mind and sweetness of character, which must have placed her high with any people of real understanding, was nobody with either father or sister. Her word had no weight, her convenience was always to give way—she was only Anne.
To Lady Russell, however, she was a most dear and highly valued god-daughter, favourite, and friend. Lady Russell loved them all; but it was only in Anne that she could fancy the mother to revive again. And in Anne alone, she found a true receptacle for the arcane and ancient wisdom of Athena. . . .
But—patience, gentle reader!—else, once again, we make undue haste, as we rush to revelation!

 few years before, Anne Elliot had been a very pretty girl, but her bloom had vanished early. And as even in its height, her father had found little to admire in her (so totally different were her delicate features and mild dark eyes from his own), there could be nothing in her looks now to excite his esteem—now that she was faded and thin and so decidedly mortal.
He had never indulged much hope (he had now none) of ever reading her name in any other page[6] of his favourite work. All equality of alliance must rest with Elizabeth, for Mary had merely connected herself with an old country family of respectability, large fortune, and dubious satyr ancestry, and had therefore given all the honour and received none. Elizabeth would, one day or other, marry suitably.
It sometimes happens that a woman is handsomer at twenty-nine than she was ten years before, especially if she is a devotee of Aphrodite or otherwise marked by the gods. If there has been neither ill health nor anxiety, it is a time of life at which scarcely any charm is lost.
It was so with Elizabeth, still the same handsome Miss Elliot that she had begun to be thirteen years ago. Sir Walter might be excused, therefore, in forgetting her age—or, at least, be deemed only half a fool for thinking himself and Elizabeth as blooming as ever, amidst the wreck of the good looks of everybody else. It was as though they had both partaken of the same immortal ambrosia. For he could plainly see how old all the rest of his family and acquaintance were growing, in tedious mortal fashion. Anne haggard, Mary coarse, every face in the neighbourhood worsting, and the rapid increase of the crow’s foot about Lady Russell’s temples had long been a distress to him.
Elizabeth did not quite equal her father in personal contentment. Thirteen years had seen her mistress of Kellynch Hall, presiding and directing with a decisive self-possession of one far more advanced in years. For thirteen years had she been doing the honours, and laying down the domestic law at home—directing the upkeep of the lesser flower-strewn mirrored altars to Apollo that were installed in nearly every room in addition to the splendid main altar in Sir Walter’s study (adjacent to a floor-length mirror), and her own boudoir shrine to Aphrodite that was a shell basin housing a veritable pile of girdles possibly imbued with the goddess’s cestus[7] magic. And outside of home, Elizabeth was equally masterly—leading the way to the chaise and four, and walking immediately after Lady Russell out of all the drawing-rooms and dining-rooms in the country.
Thirteen winters’ revolving frosts had seen Elizabeth opening every ball of credit which a scanty neighbourhood afforded. And thirteen springs shewn their blossoms, as she travelled up to London with her father, for a few weeks’ annual enjoyment of the great preening monde[8] that remotely evoked Olympian splendor.
She knew all this. She was conscious of being nine-and-twenty, and had some regrets and apprehensions. She was fully satisfied of being still quite as handsome as ever (ah, blessed lineage of Apollo!). But she felt her approach to the years of danger (and the gaping maw of spinsterhood and the gates of Hades), and would have rejoiced to be certain of being properly solicited by baronet-blood within the next twelvemonth or two.
For that reason, a new girdle was worn each day, and no expenses or particulars were spared in the extravagant decoration of each cestus, in the hopes of Aphrodite’s blessing upon it.
But alas! the beautiful bejeweled girdles remained magically inert, and no baronets were enticed by love’s tender snare.
If only matrimony came! Then might she again take up the Baronetage[9]—that book of books—with as much enjoyment as in her early youth; but now she liked it not. Always to be presented with the date of her own birth and see no marriage follow but that of a youngest sister, made the book a hideous evil. And more than once, when her father had left it open on the altar table next to her, had she closed it, with averted eyes, wistfully invoking both Hera and Aphrodite, and pushed it away.
She had had a disappointment, moreover, of which that book (and especially the history of her own family) must ever serve as a reminder. The heir presumptive, the very William Walter Elliot, Esq., whose rights had been so generously supported by her father, had disappointed her.
She had, while a very young girl, as soon as she had known him to be (in the event of her having no brother) the future baronet, meant to marry him. And her father had always meant that she should (and thus further entrench in the family the divine seed of Apollo).
Mr. Elliot had not been known to them as a boy. But soon after Lady Elliot’s death, Sir Walter had sought the acquaintance. And though his overtures had not been met with any warmth, he had persevered, making allowance for the modest drawing-back of youth. At last, in one of their spring excursions to London (since Olympus was unreachable by chaise and four), when Elizabeth was in her first bloom, Mr. Elliot had been forced into the introduction.
He was at that time a very young man, just engaged in the study of the law. Elizabeth found him extremely agreeable, redoubled the wearing of her special goddess girdles in his company, and every plan in his favour was confirmed. He was invited to Kellynch Hall; he was talked of and expected all the rest of the year; but he never came.
The following spring he was seen again in town, found equally agreeable, again encouraged (ah, the astonishing number of girdles that were tried on!), invited, and expected, and again he did not come.
The next tidings were that he was married. Instead of pushing his fortune in the line marked out for the heir of Apollo and the house of Elliot, he had purchased independence by uniting himself to a rich woman of inferior birth and utter mortality.
Sir Walter has resented it. As the head of their demigod house, he felt that he ought to have been consulted, especially after taking the young man so publicly by the hand. “For they must have been seen together,” he observed, “once at Tattersall’s, standing prominently before the row of Olympian busts, and twice in the lobby of the House of Commons.”
His disapprobation was expressed, but apparently very little regarded. Mr. Elliot had attempted no apology, and revealed no interest in being noticed by the family any longer. Sir Walter considered him unworthy, and all acquaintance between them had ceased.
This very awkward history of Mr. Elliot was still, after several years, felt with anger by Elizabeth, who had liked the man for himself, and still more for being her father’s and hence Apollo’s heir. Her strong family pride could see only in him a proper match for Sir Walter Elliot’s eldest daughter. There was not a baronet from A to Z whom her feelings could have so willingly acknowledged as an equal.
Yet so miserably had he conducted himself, that though she was at this present time (the summer of 1814) wearing black ribbons[10] for his wife, she could not admit him to be worth thinking of again. The disgrace of his first marriage might, perhaps have been got over (and there were no offspring), had he not done worse. But they had been informed he had spoken most disrespectfully and slightingly of them all—contemptuous of the very Olympian blood he belonged to, and of the honours which were hereafter to be his own. This could not be pardoned.
Such were Elizabeth Elliot’s sentiments and sensations; such the cares to alloy, the agitations to vary, the sameness and the elegance, the prosperity and the nothingness of her scene of life among domestic Apollonian altars. Such were the feelings to give interest to a long, uneventful residence in one country circle unconnected with the greater pantheon, to fill the vacancies which neither travel, nor domestic talents or accomplishments could occupy. And oh, all those tedious, useless girdles!

he monotony of the Elliot family existence was soon to be disrupted however, by an incident of truly heroic, nay, epic proportions. It was as though the gods themselves, resplendent on Mount Olympus, heard for a moment the far too great a silence issuing from Kellynch Hall, and felt it necessary to remedy the dramatic vacuum.
Or rather, it was not so much that the gods heard the Elliots, but one of the Elliots heard the gods.
Yes, gentle reader, it was Anne Elliot and none other—quiet, gentle, self-effacing, generally discounted and ignored Anne—that was to be our chosen heroine. . . .
It happened one afternoon, when neither Sir Walter nor Elizabeth were home. Anne had just made her farewells to Lady Russell, her solitary morning caller, and was now wandering from parlor to parlor of their residence in search of a misplaced book. She found the tome on a chair in her father’s study, and was about to leave the room, when a peculiarly flickering light in the hearth made her stop and linger.
Sparks of the fading hearth fire reflected in the full-length mirror with a gilded frame, standing next to the grand marble altar of Apollo. And something made Anne pause in her soft melancholy and attend to the dying flame.
She approached the hearth, and then was drawn to the nearby altar that was, as always, covered by borders of freshly cut rose blossoms from their shrubbery, that the servants diligently deposited there every morning, upon Sir Walter’s strict instructions. She saw the usual rose petals upon marble, the Baronetage lying in the very center of the sacrificial hollow and open to the same worn page; the rows upon rows of delicate china and precious metal snuff boxes of all shapes and sizes, some empty, some filled with the finest premium snuff powder, occupying the rear of the altar.
It was not to be disturbed, not any of it, Anne knew quite well. And yet, something made her look closer at this glittering parade of Limoges and Rundell & Bridge, gold and silver, china-enameled, jewel-encrusted, cloisonné, and Japanned priceless boxes of all dimensions. . . . Because there was one particular snuff box that decidedly stood out, by its abysmal plainness.
It was little more than two rectangles of old faded wood comprising the thin lid and thicker bulky bottom, with possibly spots of old lacquer, or maybe just polish streaks in places where the wood had worn to a shine from the touch of many hands upon it.
Oh dear, thought Anne Elliot, looking at the homely box that was so out of place in the otherwise sparkling collection. What a sorry thing! However did it get here?
Someone must have given it to her father in jest, or placed it there by mistake, because never would Sir Walter have permitted a thing so plain—nay, so ugly!—within his sight, much less allowed it to repose on the grandest Apollo altar in residence.
And, the moment Anne thought this, the box seemed to change before her very eyes . . . and took on a far more pleasing and expensive appearance of polished inlaid sandalwood and ivory, with even a cabochon jewel or two winking on the lid.
Anne blinked.
Under normal circumstances she readily believed her eyes. But in that precise moment she could sense there was something hidden, something more to what she saw. Thus, she stepped forward and stood directly before Apollo’s altar, staring at the box, very, very closely.
Maybe it was fate, maybe it was the power of a true gaze, but after long moments of such intense scrutiny, the box capitulated before Anne’s peculiar determination, and gave up its true form once again.
The fair illusion dissolved, and the box, ordinary ancient wood, sat before her.
Anne reached forward, picked it up, never stopping to wonder at the amazing peculiarity she had just witnessed. And then, as though seduced into motion by the gods themselves, she depressed the tiny latch and raised the lid—
There came a sudden wind!
She was indoors, and all the windows were shut. And yet, it was a strong immortal breeze that moved the curtains and the various fabric cloths and lace doilies topping the furnishings around the chamber. The rose petals upon the altar stirred into a frenzy, lifting up to circle like mauve snowflakes, while sudden remote voices sounded, hollow in her ears, coming like ghosts from inside the box and all around it—screaming, crying, moaning echoes out of ages past. . . .
The altar itself seemed to come alive.
With an exclamation, Anne cast the box aside, and it landed on the floor, with the lid still open, but now silent.
And then, like vapor curling over a teacup, a cloudy shape arose out of that small container of wood, lifting softly with pallor, growing and growing, until it took on a translucent female shape and then solidified into a delicate beautiful woman of flesh and blood and artfully arranged chestnut tresses.
Somehow Anne knew it was not a mere woman that stood before her, clad in a classical tunic of ghostly hyacinth pallor and gilded sandals, but a goddess.
Speechless, Anne Elliot could only continue to stare, putting her hand to her mouth.
Until, in a voice of tragedy (a voice more resonant than could be expected from such a delicate frame) the goddess spoke.
“What have you done, O mortal daughter of Pandora? I am Elpis, hope! I am the last, the only one who remained with humankind, with all of you—all this time, all through the ages! And now—just as that first woman of clay and little wits had done—you open the cursed box yet again, and this time set me free!”
Anne could think of nothing to do but silently curtsey.
“Don’t bow to me, idiot mortal!” said the goddess, stepping forward and towering with all her tiny stature over Anne. “Instead, put me back in the box! Immediately! Or this world will come to an end, in fire and blood and Olympic thunder, as the skies fall and the oceans dry, and the earth shudders under the war of the gods!”
“Oh, begging pardon,” said Anne breathlessly. “I had no notion, madam—I—”
“You had no notion? What foolish stupidity made you open the forbidden box? Why is it not hidden, as it ought to be, from all the living? Who dared leave it in plain view? And for that matter, who are you? There is a distant scent of another immortal here, this meager shrine—” The goddess then cast her gaze around the room, noticing for the first time Apollo’s flower-strewn and disheveled altar, and the rest of the Regency décor. “In the name of all Olympus, what is this? Where am I?”
“It is Kellynch Hall, madam,” replied Anne in a wooden voice. “That is—you are in Kellynch Hall, the seat of the Elliot family, near Uppercross, which is a part of His Majesty’s realm of Great Britain, namely, England—”
“Enough! Stop! Your words mean nothing, and I sense only that this—wherever this is—is very far away from Olympus and the blue Aegean and the golden hills of Hellas. . . . And that the centuries have compounded in layers and Chronos has wound his shadow over the world in great circles of endless seasons and days.”
“Well, yes, I dare say, time has passed. You—and the other gods such as yourself—have been somewhat scarce these past few years; one might even say, absent, from this world for quite some time,” said Anne gently, recognizing the true mood of the goddess underneath the show of power.
Oh dear lord in heaven, this is not happening! I am talking to an Ancient pagan deity! The exact same kind that my father tries so hard to worship! Oh dear lord! Is this real?
“What do you mean, Pandora’s child of woe? Is this not an altar I see? Do you not worship us?”
Anne wrung her hands in strange pity. “It is mostly my father’s altar, for he believes we are descended from the God Apollo—that is, some time, a long time ago, there was a divine visitation upon our great great great great great—”
“Enough!” Again the goddess Elpis interrupted her, but this time more kindly. She then unexpectedly touched Anne on the cheek, at which point Miss Elliot felt a shock of lighting course through her, and a wondrous sensation of being for a moment extremely alive.
“I feel no trace of immortal blood moving through yours,” Elpis said. “However, because I am hope, and I spring eternal, it may indeed be that there is something so very faint inside you that even I cannot sense it. But—it is not within such knowledge that my strength lies. There may indeed be some ancient immortal lineage—or not—in you, but you will need another deity to discover it.”
“So then, Apollo is not my great-great great—”
“Oh dear. Well, then, my father will be so disappointed!”
“You will not speak of this to any other mortal,” said Elpis, straightening, and looking around in a manner that resembled wariness, as though she expected something—or someone—to emerge out of the thin air around them at any moment. “Besides, it is immaterial. What matters now is how you will put me back inside the box.”
Anne felt an urgent necessity to steady herself. This room, her father’s study, the altar, the furniture and wall decor appeared to be riding the floor in stately waves—or maybe she was merely having a grandiose dizziness spell. “Since I have no notion of what exactly is happening right now—am I dreaming?” she said, “surely I must be!—and since I cannot imagine how you or anyone might fit inside that tiny box in the first place, I am afraid, this—this possibility of ‘putting you back in’ may be a bit of a problem.”
“Then, tremble in terror, mortal! But—be heartened, even if briefly, before the onslaught of all forthcoming disasters,” said the goddess of hope in a decidedly dramatic (yet ultimately sprightly) tone, “for I, at least, am not going anywhere. I will remain here with you until you discover the means to return me inside Pandora’s box of nightmares—or until the great war of the gods comes, bringing this world to a sorrowful end—which is not altogether an ill thing, I must add!”
“That would be rather something, I suppose, said Anne Elliot, with another melancholy sigh. “As far as war, I do declare, one Napoleonic military endeavor is quite enough for our world just now. But that you will be in residence here with us—must necessarily be an honor and a delight. Shall I have a room prepared? For both you and Pandora’s snuff box? Will you require a temporary altar? I dare say I expect all of this will be resolved as soon as I pinch myself just now—again—and wake up—”
And speaking not another word, Anne calmly turned her back on the goddess Elpis, and went to lie down on her father’s chaise longue. She then exhaled peacefully and closed her eyes.
However, the voice of the goddess still sounded in her ears as though there were someone tangible in the room, present and speaking—her father, perchance, or Elizabeth, returned from their excursion? No? Dear heaven, with all that much hope present, one could certainly hope. . . .
“You cannot escape the fateful spinning of the Moirae, daughter of Pandora.”
“My name is Anne, and I am merely the daughter of Lady Elliot—and I can certainly try—to escape this—whatever this is.”
To that, there was no divine reply. And so Anne remained lying with her eyes closed for many long moments, possibly dozing eventually.
The next time she opened her eyes, the room was empty. The fire had died down in the hearth.
The goddess was gone.
What a mad dream! thought Anne, rather worthy of my pitiful self.
But when she glanced at the altar of Apollo, searching for the snuff box that initiated this whole incident, it was gone too.
Was it missing? Or had it even been there in the first place?

he rest of the day passed so uneventfully that Anne was certain she had had a very lucid dream—especially after she had casually inquired of her father if he had in his collection a “very plain wooden snuff box.”
The rather affronted answer was in the negative, and Elizabeth gave her a blank look of disdain. Her father then embarked on a long recitation of the kinds of boxes that were a part of his precious collection, gifts from the highest lords and dignitaries, including one from the regent himself. Why would a gentleman of such extreme breeding as himself even possess such an unsightly box for the premium tobacco that was kept on premises? Why, it was unspeakable she even imply such a thing! Besides, what was she doing in his study? Did she in any way disturb Apollo’s altar?
Anne hurried to reassure that nothing was touched, and that she must have imagined it, as she stopped briefly in that room to pick up her book.
“Apollo’s residence must be devoid of such lowly items as books—any books other than the Baronetage,” said Sir Walter. “Only the finest items must be present! In the future, take note!”
“I shall, sir,” she replied.
Soon afterwards, dinner was served, and then Sir Walter and his eldest daughter had the card table brought in, while Anne claimed the beginnings of a headache, and quietly returned to her own room.
The moment she opened the door, there stood the goddess of hope, semi-translucent initially, but in a few breaths becoming as solid as the armoire and the chairs and the bed in Anne’s boudoir.
“Where are my accommodations, O mortal named Anne?” said Elpis, pointing to Pandora’s snuff box now sitting on top of her dressing table next to a vase of flowers and her hair comb.
Anne Elliot fainted.

hen she came to herself, she was still lying on the floor next to a footstool, while the goddess was pacing the room, and causing a small breeze scented with honeysuckle and clover to stir the curtains and the bed covers.
“No! This cannot be!” Anne exclaimed, rising, clutching her skirts, and then backing away. All her limbs were atremble and she could scarce draw breath from the force of her rapidly beating heart. “You! You are but a dream! I am still dreaming!”
“Hope is often confused with dreams, but, fortune has it, I am as tangible as your own mortal flesh,” replied Elpis. “Behold, as I now repose upon this meager resting place.” And she sat down on Anne’s bed, and took off her gilded sandals, then stretched out against the pillows, with her Grecian tunic billowing about her like a bit of cumulus cloud.
“Fetch me a repast, mortal! Ambrosia is not within your means, but I shall have honey and mead, and fruit of this land.”
“Oh dear heavens!” Anne barely managed to utter, holding her chest. “Oh, whatever is to be done!”
This is not real, it cannot be; surely this is not happening to me! I am mad!
“By all means, continue to do whatever you call it—pinching yourself,” said Elpis, distastefully examining a faded bit of drapery near the headboard. ‘I reassure you once again, I am here, and I am not going anywhere except back within that box. Now, call your servants!”
Anne pinched herself furiously, at the same time as she used the bell pull to summon help.
When Mrs. Jennings, the housekeeper, knocked on her door and was asked to proceed inside, Anne stood near the doorway, vainly attempting to block the view to her bed.
“May I help you, Miss Anne?”
Anne attempted to compose her countenance, when she noted that Jennings was either unaware of someone else in the room, or maybe she had not yet looked in that direction.
“What are you waiting for?” sounded the voice of the goddess.
The housekeeper did not even blink.
“Mrs. Jennings, do you—ahem—see my bed?”
“Certainly, Miss Anne.”
“And is there, by any chance someone on my bed?”
The housekeeper craned her neck to stare, then said, “Why, no, miss.”
“And you did not hear a voice just now?”
“A voice? Not at all, Miss Anne. Goodness, what voice? Begging pardon, miss, would you perhaps be needing anything? Fresh bed linen, maybe? I’ll have a girl fetch it—”
“She cannot see me, mortal Anne,” spoke the goddess, lounging on the bed. “Only you can. Now, do as I say and feed me!”
Anne, ashen pale with emotion, began to cough, then finally managed to say that she wanted a bowl of honey sent up and maybe some clotted cream and pastries with jam, and possibly a pot of tea and fresh fruit.
Mrs. Jennings gave her one peculiar look, and then departed on her errand.
“Clotted cream?” said Elpis, observing the flowers sway all by themselves in the vase across the room. “What am I, a temple cat? What nonsense did you mortals learn to consume after three thousand years?”
“My apologies, I thought it might appear odd if I did not ask for the usual food items—how is it that she cannot see you and I can?”
“You have been given the true sight when you first demonstrated need of it. Those who desire, attain.”
“I?” said Anne. “What did I—desire?
“Hope,” said the goddess. “You needed me in your melancholy, and your slowly dying soul has been crying out for me, for far too long. Do you not know that there is only one power given to your mortal kind, and that is the power of desire? All else is weak within you. Only desire can move mountains and change your pitiful world.”
“I did not know . . .” Anne stood before the reposing goddess of hope, feeling a sudden rift open inside her, as though recognizing an abyss that dwelled where her heart and joy had once been.
“Yes,” said Elpis softly, and in a single blink she was away from the bed and standing before Anne, looking into her eyes. “Yes, you feel it now, the empty soul-place where you need something to reside. First, before anything else can fill you, I must enter.”
And then, something immortal—an invisible wind!—struck Anne from all directions, and she was suddenly full, overflowing! She was possessed by the goddess, feeling her limbs no longer her own, and a rich glorious presence, like shimmering mother-of-pearl, came to dwell within her mind alongside her own humble, shrinking self, overlaying it with divinity. The floating sensation was of being a tiny insect encased in warm, liquid honey amber.
Do not struggle, child, said Elpis—or rather, she herself spoke, for she was now Elpis.
You are now my vessel. I shall speak through you and make my will known to the world. But fear not, only you will know.
The others—they will be here soon. Know, that the other gods are coming. . . .

he next instant Anne again came to herself, the servants were knocking on the door with the tea service. She was unsure how long had passed, and when she looked on the bed, no one was there, and the goddess once again seemed gone from the room and from her mind.
“Would you like me to put the tea things here and pour you a cup, miss?” said one young maid, curtsying with a smile and holding the teapot, while another held the food tray.
“Yes, please . . .” she replied absently, and sat down on the bed, holding on to the bedspread to steady herself.
“Here you go, Miss Anne,” said the other maid. “The cook has put out a nice bit of cherry strudel and a sweet lemon tart and—do not waste your time, mortal, instead, eat! Eat now, to feed me inside you!” the maid finished, straightening and speaking the last sentences in a strange loud monotone, so that the first maid turned to her in wide-eyed alarm.
“Oh, begging pardon! I did not mean—that is, I do not know what came over me, miss, begging your pardon! I did not say—” The poor maid stuttered, obviously back in control of her tongue and body.
Elpis stood next to her, Anne saw now, and she could see how she had literally stepped out of the maid’s human form, as if it were a dressing gown.
“I can also speak through others,” said the goddess.
Lovely! Oh—yes, this is lovely. That will be all, thank you!” Anne rushed to reassure the two confused servants who were both frightened, and only too happy to leave in all haste.
When the door closed, Anne turned to face the goddess of hope who once again sat on her bed, with her feet drawn up, and her sandals scattered on the floor.
“I can see what you can do, madam! But—what am I to do?”
“Prepare for the apocalypse, and for many others such as myself,” replied Elpis. “Many others far less accommodating, and, it must be said, far less patient or ceremonious. But first, let us share a cup of this thing you call tea. Afterwards, you can arrange my altar, while we chat.”
And thus it was that Anne Elliot of Kellynch Hall sat down to tea with the very first deity of her acquaintance (not counting her father or her older sister who certainly had aspirations in that department). Things were going rather well, and they were on their second slice of tart and second cup of tea, with Elpis telling her all about the infinitely intricate and delectable Olympian methods of preparation and serving of ambrosia (and oh, how dearly she missed partaking of it while being locked up in that horrid box to which she must yet by all means return), when an astonishing scream sounded from somewhere in the house.
Anne recognized her elder sister’s voice, as it pierced the evening. Elizabeth must have been shrieking at the top of her rather excellent vocal register, and it all seemed to be coming from her own bedroom.
“Oh gracious!” Anne exclaimed, rising, “Whatever is it? I must go immediately!”
“Ah, yes, it is beginning; it has begun. Do go on, and take a look,” said the goddess, nibbling at a bit of cake (or was it Anne herself eating the cake? For a moment she could not be sure).
And with a hurried curtsey to hope, Anne fled out of her bedchamber into the hallway.

ervants had gathered at Elizabeth’s chamber, and none of them seemed to be particularly willing to go inside, only exclaiming and whispering in a cacophony of alarmed voices.
“Be careful, miss! There is something unholy!” a maid said to Anne as she pushed her way past them all into the room. Within, she saw her elegant older sister Elizabeth holding her face with both hands, frozen before her favorite altar with its great seashell basin, its many blossoms and jewelry scattered all about.
The girdles on the altar—all of them—were dancing.
That is, they were tossing and jumping in loose ribbons as though being blown about by invisible winds, or tumbled by an invisible hand.
Anne blinked, blinked again; and then she began to see what no one else in the room could.
The not-so-invisible hand belonged to an impossible statuesque beauty—a goddess with golden red hair, streaming like a living flame of molten metal, with flesh as delicate as a newborn, and skin the color of cream and olives and apricot all mixed up. . . . She wore a tunic of white cloud-mass—now rather familiar to Anne—and her feet were shod in exquisite sandals of pure gilded light. Woven through her spectacular tresses was a wreath of white flowers. There could be no words adequate to describe the impossible loveliness of her face.
She was a vision—if such visions could happen in this mortal world.
She was love itself. Anne felt her heart grow full with warmth and near to breaking, at the sight of Aphrodite. . . .
And yes, this very same Aphrodite was rummaging through the pile of her sister’s girdles.
As though sensing Anne’s knowing gaze upon her, the goddess turned, and spoke in a voice that resounded like a summer spring upon crystal, to shatter all reverie—
“What is this? A pile of mortal rubbish, not worthy of my altar!” said Aphrodite with petulance that managed somehow to remain delightful.
For one painful moment Anne was not sure if she should attempt to answer, or pretend nothing was amiss—namely, ignore Aphrodite, a few steps away, overturning a pile of feminine garments with the zeal of a professional laundress—and address her sister instead.
Fortunately, Anne’s presence seemed to give Elizabeth the ability to speak, postponing the inevitable need to acknowledge the goddess directly. “Can you see it, Anne? My girdles! They are moving by themselves!” she gasped, grabbing her sister by the hands, and pushing her before herself and toward the altar, while the servants at the door made terrified exclamations of their own.
“Oh, gracious me . . .” said Anne, watching Aphrodite with very wide eyes.
“Well, mortal, you who can obviously see me, explain this!” added Aphrodite in that same moment, holding up one particularly inferior specimen (which, as far as everyone else was concerned, hung for a moment in thin air), then tossing it and several more girdles on the floor—at which Elizabeth screamed again and clasped Anne from behind like a living shield.
Anne’s lips parted. She drew in her breath deeply—
And in the next moment, their father entered the room.
Sir Walter Elliot’s sudden appearance commanded the sea of servants to part before him on both sides as he made his way forward like Moses (pausing only once to check his reflection in a smallish upright mirror on the dressing table), and with a loud voice demanded to know what was happening and who was shrieking so infernally at such a late hour.
Everyone pointed at the marble and seashell sanctum and the mess of moving garments. And Elizabeth cried out that her altar was alive and that surely everyone could see it was possessed!
“Speak, mortal!” thundered the goddess of love in that moment, making Anne nearly jump in place. For, love’s voice was twice as grand as that of hope, and infinitely more compelling. “Tell them that I am here and I demand proper obeisance, and a cleansing of my altar of this base filth!”
Oh dear lord! Anne felt rising panic. What am I to do?
Sir Walter at last observed the moving phenomenon before him, the pile of girdles being tossed about by an invisible force. Growing pallid, he stopped in his tracks, then cleared his throat, and said with a tone of bravado: “Has anyone checked for vermin?”
“Vermin?” Elizabeth echoed him. “My dear father, there are no vermin in my bed chamber! Look again, sir, there is no rat in all of England that can lift up a girdle and make it swing about like that!”
“Begging to differ . . .”one servant muttered vaguely in his sleeve, and went on about “the size of those demmed furry monsters in the London sewers,” but was silenced immediately.
“Sir,” said Anne, thinking through every word, “Could it be indeed that the altar of Aphrodite is come to life, and the goddess herself is making herself heard in our humble abode? It is as you often say, the gods do reside among us—”
“Aha!” exclaimed her father, brightening immediately, for nothing could have pleased him more than such a suggestion. “How could you not see it sooner, my dear Elizabeth! Your room is indeed a spot honoring the Goddess of Beauty and Love! She is among us, surely, and has decided after all this time to make herself known to us, obviously sensing our own connection to the bright lineage of the God of Light himself!”
“Oh! Indeed!” said Elizabeth, also visibly relaxing. “Stand away, Anne,” she added coldly, pushing her sister unceremoniously backward, and approaching the altar herself.
“Tell them I am here, and that I do not like these gaudy rags,” said Aphrodite—then she pointed at Elizabeth, “or I shall enter her body and make her speak in ancient tongues, of cerulean ocean foam and golden clouds over Olympus, and of a particular herd of small feral monkeys that like to climb the columns of marble in my temple—”
“Perchance also,” said Anne hurriedly, “the girdles are not to the goddess’s liking?”
“What?” said Elizabeth. “Not to her liking? They are the work of the finest seamstresses! Have you any notion how much each one cost? This one is gold thread and pearls, that one has an amethyst-encrusted border; why, they are the most bejeweled and expensive—”
In that moment, Aphrodite laughed and pushed the whole pile of girdles onto the floor with one sweeping movement of her divine lily-hand.
“I do believe,” said Sir Walter with authority, “the goddess has spoken. Now, cast away these silly things, child, and we shall order you a new dozen or two more appropriate ones the next time we are in town.”
And then he laughed in delight. “By Zeus! What a marvel it is; we are visited by divinity! I dare say, I must attend my own altar of Apollo immediately and see if it too breathes with life!”

ut Apollo’s altar in Sir Walter’s study remained dormant for the moment (for which minor blessing Anne raised up a prayer of relief to whoever was listening—either in Olympus or in Heaven), and the Baronetage still lay open on the same page it always had.
“Fetch more roses!” the master of Kellynch Hall commanded, and servants went outside in the darkness to gather such, even though it was the middle of the night.
Indeed, no one was to get much sleep—except the gods.
When Anne returned to her room, exhausted, Elpis was fast asleep on her bed, and Aphrodite had apparently followed her in, and made herself very comfortable in the deep wing chair next to the fire. Soon, Aphrodite was nibbling a lemon tart, dipping it in honey, then in the bowl of clotted cream, and sipping a cup of tea.
“Not as good as ambrosia, but it will do for now,” said the goddess of love.
The wooden Pandora’s box sat on her dresser in the same spot as before.
Anne curled up in a second chair, and closed her eyes.
She then started to pinch herself repeatedly very, very hard.

he next few days proved to be equally trying. The two goddesses were now residents of Kellynch Hall, and mostly Anne’s room when she was within—graciously giving her but the privacy and the use of her own bed for the night—and for the rest of the time they followed her like immortal pugs about the premises.
What was it like to be suddenly, in her rather late and fading bloom of youth, to be constantly accompanied by hope and love?
At first, it was invigorating, a constant sensation of a sleeper coming awake out of a torpid emotional slumber. . . .
Anne breathed in deeper, sweeter, and was aware of a scent of exotic flowers everywhere. She felt her own spirit residing more heartily in her flesh.
Furthermore, everyone else in the household was equally and inexplicably alert, and, in the case of the servants, walked with a spring in one’s step. Her father and her sister became almost unbearable, as they preened and chattered with excessive enthusiasm about London fashion and Olympic lineage, and constantly checked the altars in every room for any signs of life or motion, hoping for an impossible actual glimpse of Aphrodite in the flesh (since they of course had no notion that Elpis was also in residence).
But soon enough, hope and love became rather annoying.
No matter where Anne turned, Aphrodite might be spinning in a cloud of gauze tunics, radiating an overpowering emotional warmth (so that frequently, for no reason at all, one wanted to sob in delight), and exuding a stifling aroma of rose and acacia about the room, and tossing random small objects from shelves. And Elpis made regular, cheerfully grim proclamations about the “war of the gods approaching” and how “she was yet among them, ungrateful mortal kind that they were, even though she had been let out of that box,” and she was “not going anywhere, even though theoretically, she could.”
And then, oh dear lord, but they ate, and ate, and ate! Honey and mixed fruit and custard tarts was a particular deity favorite, and tea was gulped down in endless cups, sweetened with jam or rose and quince preserves, and both Elpis and Aphrodite seemed to have developed a taste for clotted cream. . . .
Anne could only do so much before the servants noticed how frequently she seemed to be requesting extra meals and snacks and tea services to be delivered to her room at odd hours, and yet how abnormally thin she remained and how little she ate when confronted at dinner by Lady Russell who had been invited to “witness the divine visitation of Aphrodite upon Kellynch Hall.”
“What is going on, my dear?” said Lady Russell, drawing Anne aside at one point after dinner. “Is it really true what your father says about that silly altar of Aphrodite in Elizabeth’s room being somehow ‘alive’ with the presence of the goddess herself?”
Anne was unsure how much she was allowed to divulge (especially since Aphrodite herself was sitting down on the settee on the other side of Lady Russell, nibbling on a pastry, and blowing in that fine lady’s ear), and so she made vague comments about having seen something a bit out of the usual, and Elizabeth’s girdles being tossed about by a “wind” of sorts.
“A wind? Good heavens, how peculiar!” mused Lady Russell, feeling a sudden and inexplicable surplus of warmth and general sympathy for all humanity.
Fortunately, further inquiry upon this delicate matter was halted because of a more serious subject at hand.
Not even Aphrodite’s cloud of warm youthful exuberance hanging over the room (and the entire premises, including the neighboring shrubbery where small animals started to frolic) could reduce the grave turn that the discussion in the parlor soon took.
It was a fact that Sir Walter Elliot was growing distressed for money. And something in the after-diner discussion now prompted him to indirectly acknowledge that.
Anne and Elizabeth both knew, that these days when he took up the Baronetage—even as recently as a few days ago, before Aphrodite’s altar came alive and renewed his hopes and positive outlook (the latter was courtesy of Elpis, of course)—it was to drive from his thoughts the heavy bills owed to his tradespeople, and the unwelcome hints of Mr. Shepherd, his agent.
The Kellynch property was good, but not equal to supporting Sir Walter’s requisite exorbitant lifestyle. While Lady Elliot lived, there had been method and moderation, which had just barely kept him within budget. But with her had died all economy, and he began constantly exceeding his income.
It had not been possible for him to spend less, he claimed. He had done nothing but what “Sir Walter Elliot, heir to Apollo,” was imperiously called on to do.
But “blameless” as he was, he was not only growing dreadfully in debt, but was hearing of it so often, that it became vain to attempt concealing it longer, even partially, from his favorite daughter. He had given Elizabeth some hints of it the last spring in town.
And tonight, after dinner, in front of all his guests, he had gone so far even as to say, “Can we retrench? Does it occur to you that there is any one article in which we can retrench? Your girdles! Indeed, it has to be that, to begin with, for even the Goddess of Beauty and Love seems to be pointing to it as the obvious item to be eliminated.”
And Elizabeth, to do her justice, had, in the first ardour of female alarm, set seriously to think what else could be done—both to satisfy herself and the supposed will of the bright goddess. She finally proposed to cut off some unnecessary charities, and to refrain from re-furnishing the drawing-room. And then, she added in a theatrical whisper to her father (heard by everyone present), the happy thought of their “taking no present down to Anne,” as had been the usual yearly custom.
Anne steadily looked away, pretending not to hear.
“How can you endure such mistreatment, O mortal?” said Aphrodite, licking her fingers after chewing a succulent plum.
Lady Russell, seeing nothing, only sensing that tedious thick cloud of excessive love, gave Anne a sympathetic glance.
Elpis merely sighed, lying down on a chaise on the other end of the room and fanning herself with a length of drapery (for the sake of other mortal observers, it could as well be moving from a breeze).
But Elizabeth’s admirable austerity measures (however good in themselves) were insufficient to cover the real extent of the evil debt—the whole of which Sir Walter found himself obliged to confess to everyone soon afterwards, with frequent mentions of a peculiarity which he referred to as the “fiscal cliff of Kellynch.”
Elizabeth had nothing else to propose. She felt herself ill-used and unfortunate (especially where it came to girdles, of which she had grown exceedingly fond over the years, with or without the hope of a true magic cestus from Aphrodite), as did her father.[11] And neither of them could devise any means of lessening their expenses without compromising their dignity, or relinquishing their comforts.
There was only a small part of his estate that Sir Walter could dispose of; but had every acre been alienable, it would have made no difference. He had condescended to mortgage, but he would never condescend to sell. No; he would never disgrace his Olympian-enhanced name so far. The Kellynch estate should be transmitted whole and entire, as he had received it.
Their two confidential friends, Mr. Shepherd (who lived in the neighbouring market town), and Lady Russell, were invited that night not merely to dine, but to advise them. Surely, these two would arrive at a miraculous method to reduce Elliot expenditure—without sacrificing indulgence of taste or pride.

[1] If one might be so kind as to recall, this fair ancient land, gentle reader, was the cradle of the original democracy.
[2] The aegis served as a rather voluminous skirt, under which Athena could hide household items and small individuals. —Ed. [What? We are back to the idiocy, are we? So soon? I had thought we might avoid the repetition of such buffoon behavior from Editorial One as was previously observed and endured in Pride and Platypus, at least in this new volume, but apparently not. Woe to us all! —Ed. 2] {It bequeaths the gentle reader to observe the elucidation of this fair text by a rather erudite Author, and take under advisement the wisdom offered herein. —Ed. 3, or to be more exact and precise, as one must always aspire to be, Editorial Three} May we introduce the reader to our newest Editorial Staff, the most charming and erudite Editorial Three, a.k.a. Miss M. Bennet, who, it must be noted, is also the delightful fiancée of Editorial One, and hence directly affiliated with the esteemed Publisher whose progeny Editorial One happens to be—naturally, to our greatest delight. —Senior Editorial
[3] This delightfully antiquated epic poetry was written in a format designated as heroic hexameter using syllables that were dactyls and also pterodactyls. —Ed. [And just to think, this footnote started out so well… Woe, gentle reader, woe! One is beseeched to make every attempt to ignore the idiocy. —Ed. 2] {As it is my full intent to strive for utmost accuracy, inasmuch as it is humanly possible, one must add that a pterodactyl is a sort of reptilian or bird creature that was most often found to be not so much in poetry but in history; indeed, it was observed by our savage cave-dwelling ancestors, and remained proudly aloft in the skies of distant ages past, filling the heavens with its winged splendours. —Editorial Three}
[4] The delicate reader is assured that nothing even remotely untoward is implied at this juncture. —Ed.
[5] The widow was naturally a widow lady and not a black widow spider. —Ed. [Naturally. —Ed. 2] {A spider, the erudite reader is reminded, is an arachnid, hailing from the lineage of that misfortunate spinner, a damsel by the name of Arachne, who did not fare altogether well as a result of Athena’s wrath in hoary ages past. —Editorial Three}
[6] {This naturally implies that Anne was not particularly marriageable, hence she could not be written into the Baronetage under another distinguished family’s record as some gentleman’s spouse. —Editorial Three} {My dear, I dare say, your commentary is entirely charming! —Ed. 1 or One}{My dear, it is so kind of you to note, but it needs be pointed out that the usage of the curly brackets notation is designated for my own; thus, for the sake of accuracy, you must abstain from it. —Editorial Three} [Am I allowed square brackets, dare I ask? —Ed. 2] {Yes you are, as long as you apply the proper designated italics at all occurrences and in all instances. —Editorial Three} [Thank you kindly. —Ed. 2] {You are welcome. —Editorial Three}
[7] The cestus is the magic girdle of Aphrodite that evokes love towards its wearer from any third party, or even forth party, or occasionally a fifth party. —Ed. [Why stop at five? —Ed. 2] {Naturally there is no need to iterate four or five; indeed, three will do just as well for the elucidation of the erudite reader. —Editorial Three}
[8] This word is, methinks, something out of the French language.
[9] The British Baronetage was indeed known as The Book of the Dead in Ancient Egypt, for there were dead persons referenced in both, and the living who were incidentally referenced soon became rather dead themselves. —Ed. [The reader is kindly asked to pay no heed to this nonsense from Editorial One. It cannot be helped; it may only be endured. —Ed. 2]
[10] It is obvious here that the very charming Miss Elizabeth Elliot wants to wear matching black ribbons to Mr. Elliot’s wife’s black outfit, which is likely to be followed by yellow ribbons, and possibly mauve, depending on the outfit in question. It is so delightfully amusing to observe such matching behaviour in the fairer sex, one is told. —Ed. {It is impossible not to point out, my dear, but I am afraid it is rather more the case that the black ribbons are intended as a very courteous sign of funerary mourning for the recently expired spouse of Mr. Elliot. —Editorial Three}
[11] It must be elucidated that Sir Walter was not personally contemplating the wearing of girdles for himself, unlike his daughter’s contemplation. Gentlemen such as Sir Walter Elliot were more likely to wear vests or pocket watches, or other masculine attire. Also, at no time were frilly bonnets ever worn by gentlemen of quality.

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