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An Austen Jewel Box

June 12, 2021 05:30PM
The tale of "Toads and Diamonds" explored through gemstone symbolism, and the varied mentor relationships of all hues crafted by Jane Austen.

Sandy Amber (Sanditon)


As people naturally love their own likeness, this mother doted on her elder daughter and had a great aversion for the younger. She made her eat in the kitchen and work continually.

Lady Denham did not care that her niece and nephew might think her an incontinent relic. Truly, she had not cared much for her second husband's family; she viewed these heirs as a responsibility, and toiled for their welfare in spite rather than because of any fellow feeling.

"I am certainly glad to have Miss Clara with me now," she told Mrs. Parker as they sat together in the open sun upon the Terrace, pointedly ignoring references to kin by marriage while commending this flesh and blood relation. "We understand each other very well. But I think we are too occupied this afternoon to accept your invitation; you do not want tea, do you Clara?"

Whatever other thoughts that lady might entertain, she wisely answered, "No, Lady Denham."

Sapphire Amity (Northanger Abbey)


One day a poor woman begged of her a drink. She took some of the clearest water from the fountain, and gave it to her, holding up the pitcher all the while, that she might drink the easier.

The pump room was quite busy that day, and unlike her first days in Bath Catherine Morland was surrounded by friends: here was James, and Isabella, and all the other Thorpes, notwithstanding faithful Mrs. Allen.

"Oh! it is Miss Tilney, I must go speak to her," she said upon spying this newer acquaintance, and went at once to greet that lady and her companion.

She was not aware of how her unpolished enthusiasm might be apprehended, or that it was any special kindness to assist Mrs. Hughes to a glass. Her only desire was to please: and that, to a heart so thirsty, she could not help doing.

Emblazed Garnet (Lady Susan)


Her mother scolded her for staying so long at the fountain. "I beg your pardon, mamma," said the poor girl, and there came out of her mouth two roses, two pearls, and two large diamonds.

Initially the Vernons left their newest guest entirely to her mother. "By all reports Frederica sounds a perverse girl," was his wife's remark. When Mr. Vernon gently complimented his niece's conduct on the journey to Churchill, she softened enough to add, "It would not be her fault, given her upbringing,"

Later they were only at odds in degree of their praise for the girl. "Frederica appears to possess a loving spirit and good understanding," he commented during a private conversation, to which she answered warmly:

"Despite her neglect! How I repent believing Lady Susan about anything: she is belied by every gem of sense her daughter utters."

"Her only flaw might be an occasional melancholy," was his tactful reply.

"Understandable, given her only maternal attention is scorn."

Emerald Gain (Emma)


"Look at what comes out of your sister's mouth. Would you not be glad to have the same gift? You have only to go and when a poor woman asks to let her drink, to give it to her very civilly."

Escape. Jane Fairfax wished only to escape. But escape would not yet come, for Mrs. Elton must offer her evergreen advice for the thousandth unwelcome time.

"Now Jane, as you have no real family, I feel I must do something for you."

Perhaps the Bates were not fashionable enough for a Mrs. Elton or Miss Woodhouse. But at least her aunt did not pretend to care about people.

"And so, Jane, you must accept this position. It is not as if you will find a better. Whatever can you be waiting for? You would not like to exist on charity, I am sure."

No. Living on love was proving too costly to bear. So, against her inclination, she said yes.

Oxeye Topaz (Persuasion)


She no sooner reached the fountain than a magnificently dressed lady came and asked to drink. "Am I come to serve you, pray? However, you may drink out of it, if you have a fancy."

Mrs. Sophia Croft was pleased to have her brother safely back under her roof. Perhaps now Frederick might relax enough to admit-—if only to himself— what was wrong.

"Why, it is the Elliots," Mrs. Croft observed while touring the pump room one morning. It was in fact only Miss Elliot and her companion, more's the pity. But Frederick's gaze was arrested by a third, grandly attired woman.

"Is that not Lady Russell?" she asked. "I understand she is a friend of the family, and yet they barely acknowledged her. Should she not deserve more of their consideration?"

It was unlike Frederick to mince words, but his face was set like stone in a manner so serious it forbade mentioning. She nearly missed it when he at last spoke:

"Tis not for me to say."

Onyx Troll (Mansfield Park)


"Well, daughter?"
"Well, mother?" answered the unhappy girl, throwing out of her mouth a viper and a toad.

The establishment of Mrs. Norris and her niece was not a place the local vicar visited more than necessity required. As neither lady required wedding, christening, or burying, no need had been found outside the call paid on their first arriving, and the time his horse went lame by their gate.

"Well, Maria, here is the vicar come to pay his addresses to you," were the glittering words Mrs. Norris chose to put into the poor man's mouth as he settled in the shadowy parlour.

"I should think company good enough reason to light a candle, that I might see the inferiority of my suitor," was the other's snide rejoinder.

Fortunately their economy did not extend to the clock, allowing the man of God to count the seconds till he might be released from this pit of snakes.

Pied Opal (Pride & Prejudice)


"It is her sister who has caused all this, but she shall pay for it," and immediately she ran to beat her. The poor child fled away, and went to hide herself in the forest nearby.

The trip to Hertfordshire passed with Lady Catherine de Bourgh both talking to and ignoring her daughter, per usual. Upon their arrival Anne's invisibility faded enough for a direct command to wait in the carriage.

"I will not be long; the girl will be made to repent her affront."

If consulted, Anne would have agreed that marriage between Fitzwilliam and Miss Bennet was undesirable, her own prospects only one facet to consider. But she was unconvinced even her formidable mother could prevent it.

"She is simply not handsome enough for mere coquetry," Anne explained to Mrs. Jenkinson as they watched Lady Catherine lead rather than follow Miss Bennet into a humble garden. The prism of her character must have excited admiration; certainly it was difficult to conceive she might be overlooked for the space of one conversation, let alone a lifetime's worth.

Pearl Oaths (The Watsons)


The King's son fell in love with her, and considering that such a gift was worth more than any marriage portion, conducted her to the palace of the King, his father, and there married her.

It was not Lord Osborne's way to admire every pretty face, though as he explained on the ride home, one would have to be blind to ignore Miss Emma Watson's.

His mother agreed. "Very striking, even unadorned."

"And undiscriminating." His sister shared a sly look with her friend.

"She's very kind," Mrs. Blake beamed while stroking her dozing son's curls.

None of these beads accurately described the lady, and Osborne had been trying all evening to recall a quote that did. "Help me Howard, it's Italian, or like: 'wrapped in white foam—' and something— 'carried on a shell,' or was Venus born in the air?"

His former tutor smiled. "'Wafted to shore,' so the poet claims. 'With happy, more than mortal features.' Though Miss Emma might enjoy a less romantic conveyance to Osborne Castle, if you are considering an invitation."

An Austen Jewel Box

MichelleRWJune 12, 2021 05:30PM

Re: An Austen Jewel Box

Lucy J.June 18, 2021 04:10AM

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MichelleRWJune 19, 2021 04:18PM

Re: An Austen Jewel Box

Shannon KJune 15, 2021 03:39AM

Re: An Austen Jewel Box

MichelleRWJune 19, 2021 04:14PM


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