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The Nine (or More) Lives of a Well-Dressed Austen Man

June 19, 2021 04:00PM
The sartorial elements of Jane Austen's gentlemen spin the story of Puss in Boots. Each title is lifted directly from a description of or relating to the character.

To fathers and any who serve in that role, giving to others of their abilities and love.

Elegantly Attired (Love and Friendship)


The Cat said, "Do not afflict yourself, my good master; you have only to get a pair of boots made for me, and you shall see that you have not so bad a portion as you imagine."

Neither gentleman nor servant cared how unprepossessing the house before them looked after wandering for so long, although the crone answering the door might have frightened away less desperate men. "Have you business with the family?" she asked suspiciously, punctuated by a hiss from the cat at her heels.

Say this for Mr. Lindsay, he knew how to cut a figure when called upon. Despite mud past his boots and the strain of several days' hard travel, he answered as if standing before the finest town address: "I am the Honourable Edward Lindsay of Bedfordshire, come to pay my addresses to your lord. Kindly show Talbot where he may place my things."

With the same dignity Talbot carefully inferred that they had been separated from the majority of their luggage. No need to invite conjectures as to how diminished their circumstances actually were.

Tormenting Creature (Lady Susan)


He went to the palace and said: "I have brought a rabbit which the Marquis of Carabas" (the title which Puss was pleased to give his master) "commanded me to present to your Majesty."

It began with conversation. Lady Susan was curious about the grounds, and Reginald De Courcy happy to engage his sister's clever guest. Perhaps, had there been hares about in December, he would have been otherwise employed.

When Reginald first received word delaying their usual meeting, he was barley aware of receiving the note, responding in kind, or imitating this strategy on other occasions. After they quarrelled over Frederica, Reginald was halfway through an angry epistle before realizing he could allow no one—even his man—to know of it.

He had never, in his entire life, had cause to conceal his name or letters. And how easily he was led to even more subterfuge: slipping papers up a sleeve, prevaricating when his family inquired after his travels, and most dangerously of all: lying to himself as to the reason for his constant unease when parted from the authoress of his passion.

Gentlemanlike Air (The Watsons)


While they drew the poor man out of the river, the Cat told the King how rogues made off with his master's clothes. The King immediately gave one of his best suits to the Marquis of Carabas.

Seeing Miss Osborne dancing with another, Mr. Howard searched for his nephew at once. His sister was quick to reassure him. "Miss Emma Watson was kind enough to stand his partner."

Between gratitude and the glow of candlelight in his glasses, Howard might have found anyone lovely. But a later introduction reinforced the notion, and he was pleased to enjoy a dance of his own with the lady.

His former pupil joined them, quizzing glass aloft and studying Miss Emma like a strange bird. "You must excuse my friend," Howard spoke sotto voce as they turned about, "he is not always comfortable in crowds."

She smiled and generously allowed Lord Osborne a share in their conversation. And though Howard was pleased to see the man exert himself, he could not help feeling how different they must look to her: one the noble inheritor of a gentleman's fortune, himself only the appearance of it.

Invariable Praise (Emma)


The King's daughter took a secret inclination to him, and the Marquis of Carabas had no sooner cast two or three respectful and somewhat tender glances, but she fell in love to distraction.

"Come, let us see you married as well as I," Mrs. Suckling said to her sister. "What think you of the men last night?"

"Oh! there can be no doubt, I must see Mr. Elton again."

"He is but a clergyman."

"One would not think so by how he carries himself: I hope you saw the way he wore his hat as he departed. I must think well of so stylish a man, supported by a good living."

"True; and he certainly appreciated your looks better than my conversation."

"I am indebted to you, my dear sister, for wetting his interest, though besides his other charms, he seems absolutely desperate for companionship."

"We must see about inviting him to dinner."

As in the case of the previous Miss Hawkins, the affair was settled between them almost before the man could discover his own desire for matrimony.

Becomingly Important (Northanger Abbey)


The Cat marched on before. The King, who passed by a moment after, was told all the land belonged to the Marquis of Carabas, and was astonished at the vast estates.

The road to Northanger Abbey was so familiar that Henry Tilney usually passed it unnoticed. His companion was not so cavalier. He might have suspected anyone else of calculating its—and his—worth, but Miss Catherine Morland's innocent enthusiasm forbade cynicism. "How grand it all is! No wonder your father is eager to return home."

He was provoked to smile despite his misgivings over the person proceeding them. "What a kind interpretation of his manners. And how unkind of the weather, to turn ill when you have been so complimentary."

"Only some wind, and I have my muff," she answered in distraction, still turning about to see everything. "And your greatcoat is so handsome, I do not suppose either of us in danger of cold."

She bore as little trace of cunning while praising his person as the grounds, words which echoed in his ear long after they parted to dress for dinner.

Horribly Ugly (Lesley Castle)


Monsieur Puss came at last to the Ogre's castle, which all the lands belonged to. "I have been told you may change yourself into all sorts of creatures; but I take this to be impossible."

Lesley Castle had been in the family for generations, Sir George Lesley forgot how many. "And there is some property," he explained to their new stepmother's brother, "to the south, where my son has been living, before his present, er...."

"Change of circumstances?" Mr. Fitzgerald politely finished, with a quick glance at Matilda, before turning the conversation away from embarrassing scandal.

Though her sister Margaret was happy for any anecdotes to enliven the letters to her friend Charlotte, she could not help sighing over the sad transformation made of their home by the wedding rings so injudiciously donned by brother and father alike. Or how the latter gave Lady Lesley her predecessor's jewels, worn with the same grotesque fashion as the rouge painting her cheeks.

Matilda might forgive these imprudences if offered such a band herself. But given dear Stepmama's studied dislike, Margaret judged the barriers almost insurmountable.

Constitutional Safeguard (Sense and Sensibility)


"Impossible?" cried the Ogre, and changed into a mouse.

Puss no sooner perceived this, but he fell upon him, and ate him up.

London's duelling grounds were unknown to the gentlemen who arrived that morning: the more stylish fellow never considered anyone would call him to attend, while the older soldier had until now felt no cause so dire.

When it came time, Willoughby was still finagling his newly purchased pistol when Brandon took his shot.

"How could you miss?" was his second's astonished challenge while the colonel cleaned his own well-used gun.

"I aimed as I intended."

"And were you not afraid he would take advantage and fire upon you?"

Brandon nearly spoke his mind, that a man should not fear a rat. Instead he pocketed his handkerchief, betraying no other sign of disturbance from his brush with death, and adjusted his flannel waistcoat with intentional composure. "I am inured to further harm by painful experience. May others be less cruelly instructed by my forbearance."

Glowing Entreaty (Persuasion)


Puss, who heard the noise of his Majesty's coach running over the drawbridge, ran out and said to the King: "Your Majesty is welcome to this castle of my lord Marquis of Carabas."

The siren's call of Anne's heartfelt conversation with Harville prompted Frederick Wentworth to pen her as penitent and earnest a proposal as time permitted.

But how the devil was he to deliver said letter?

He could not leave it to chance, his sister, or even his former lieutenant, nor flaunt his feelings before them all by giving it into her hands. While Captain Wentworth might navigate between Scylla and Charybdis at sea, he was out of his depth in a parlour's perilous shoals.

When inspiration hit he practically pushed Harville out of the room. "I have forgot something," he stupidly exclaimed on the front step, and dashed back inside to behold the woman who had once again boarded the fortress of his heart.

He could only speak with his eyes, pushing the envelope to her as he grabbed his gloves, then run out again to await his fate with impatient pacing.

Good Humour (Pride & Prejudice)


His Majesty was charmed, as was his daughter who was violently in love; and seeing the vast estate, said: "It will be owing to yourself only, my lord Marquis, if you are not my son-in-law."

Never a firm student of languages, Charles Bingley did not understand the French deja-vu till he arrived at the Bennet home in his blue coat and saw movement in the upstairs windows. Was it possible to turn back time?

He was sure his manners, nay, his very presence must offend. He wanted every moment to declare himself, and was concentrating so hard on not doing so like a heartless wastrel, that he was sure the entire endeavour was doomed. Could the noblest heart in the world o'erlook his stupidity?

When at last Jane answered, "Yes," he almost knocked her sister over running to her father's study.

"I am a little disappointed," Mr. Bennet said, momentarily causing Bingley's heart to cease beating. "Here I had decided you meant to drag the thing out for at least another week. You may relieve my distress by keeping the engagement as short as possible."

Neat Equipage (Sanditon)


The Marquis accepted the honour which his Majesty conferred upon him. Puss became a great lord, and never ran after mice any more, but only for his diversion.

On their father's death, the Parker brothers each received a different legacy.

The eldest took house, income, and the mantle of Sanditon's guardian. All awards were used to benefit the place and (to do Tom justice) the people he loved, like his long-suffering wife. Arthur as youngest received the least albeit more than most men dreamed of, including two sisters able to indulge their and (to be fair) his morbid whims by this independence.

Unencumbered by employment, want, or much responsibility, Sidney became the carefree gentleman. He acquired horses where his brethren did tenants or physicians. Leg shackles, or even a flirtation, were farthest from his mind when visiting home.

Nonetheless, he needed a change after meeting the family's guest. "Perhaps a different neck tie, think this knot's too tight."

Time would tell whether even his smart valet's genius would find the correct one during that long summer spent in Miss Charlotte Heywood's company.

The Nine (or More) Lives of a Well-Dressed Austen Man

MichelleRWJune 19, 2021 04:00PM

Re: The Nine (or More) Lives of a Well-Dressed Austen Man

Shannon KJune 19, 2021 08:00PM

Re: The Nine (or More) Lives of a Well-Dressed Austen Man

MichelleRWJune 19, 2021 09:29PM


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