So, without any ado, because I know that people scroll past all the stuff at the top to see who the winner is (I do, anyway)...
The winner of the JA Fanfiction Short Story Contest is:
Maria Elisabeth! (aka Louisa Musgrove, which was her JA pseudonym for the story)
We would like to thank the others who entered the contest. We greatly enjoyed reading the stories Mr. Crompton (featuring Mary Bennet) and And Miss Bates Lived Happily Ever After that were contributed by Josephine Brooks and Miss Molly!
And now for your reading pleasure:
In Which Another of Mrs. Bennet’s Deserving Daughters is Married
a short story by Maria Elisabeth
With a sigh, Miss Catherine Bennet threw down the book she had been reading for the improvement of her mind. It was not a novel, and all her weeks of communication with Pemberley’s famous library had not yet reconciled her to a book that was not a novel. It was a thick, dull book, and Lizzy, away with her husband on a trip to the north, was not there to enliven the dull pages with a witty comment or a laugh. Georgiana was entertaining a caller in the sitting room and Catherine felt rather guilty for not assisting her in the troublesome duty, but it was only the cheaply stylish, simpering Miss Grantley, whose vulgarity and gossip would run just as fast in front of two people as in front of one.
She looked through the window. Up the lane, through the park, she saw a figure in black move briskly to the house. Another caller. It would not be fair to make Georgiana face him alone.
“Your headache is better?” Georgiana questioned softly as Catherine curtseyed to their visitor and sat down.
“Oh? Yes!” Then Catherine hurried on to the important news, “Someone – I think a clergyman – is coming up the lane.”
“Is he coming to call?” Georgiana began to ask, but Miss Grantley interrupted. “He must be the new clergyman of Kympton. He’s sallow and ugly and awkward and horribly poor. Mamma says Mr. Darcy only gave him the living out of charity. I do not advise you to take any interest in him at all, Miss Bennet. I was telling Miss Darcy about a naval officer – an excellent prospect, upon my soul! His intimate friend is even more so – he was extremely flattering to me last time he was here. I do believe – ”
“Mr. James Morland,” announced the footman.
Mr. Morland was sorry for the intrusion, &c; he had expected Mr. Darcy to be home, but he bore his disappointment well and bowed to the ladies with a very good grace. Catherine observed that he was not nearly as sallow as Miss Grantley had suggested. A trifle untanned, perhaps, but was that his fault? He was really almost good-looking. A flash of a smile as he seated herself by her convinced Catherine that if Mr. James Morland was not exactly handsome, he was very near it.
A few minutes of conversation convinced her that he was about as non-awkward as he had been not ugly. He told her of his sister who was also named Catherine, of the rest of his many brothers and sisters, and regaled her with stories of his university adventures. By the time he got up to leave, Catherine was more than eager to echo Mr. James Morland’s wish of spending more time together, and the genuine smile he flashed her in parting was fully reciprocated on her side.
With all these favorable happenings, the reader will not be surprised to hear that soon (I purposely abstain from dates on this occasion, that everyone may be at liberty to fix their own) the gentleman had declared himself in a very pretty speech. The lady, of course, said what she ought. A lady always does.
Their wedding took place soon afterwards, witnessed by their not at all small band of friends (more or less true, since Mr. Wickham, due to pressing financial inconveniences, had been unable to come for the ceremony.)
I leave it to be settled, be whomsoever it may concern, whether the tendency of this work be altogether to advocate the necessity of going to Pemberley to find a husband, or otherwise. It is certain, however, that between Pemberley and Kympton, there was that constant communication which strong family affection would naturally dictate, and that Mr. and Mrs. James Morland were ever sensible of the warmest gratitude towards the persons who, by bringing them both into Derbyshire, had been the means of uniting them.