‘The Austen Code’, Part Two, Chapter 5

Jane Austen

5. Miss Jane Austen

Roll original 1982 Peter Davison opening credits


NO REPRISE


SCENE #45 – INT – JANE’S BEDROOM – DAY, MORNING – NOVEMBER 1797
Light piano music plays, as Jane Austen is at the little pianoforte in her bedroom. This lasts for fifteen seconds. She eventually stops playing before letting out a sigh. She then turns to her desk; picks up a feather pen; dips it in ink and begins to write on a sheet of paper.

JANE
(writes) “No one can ever…” (Pause) “It is important to note…” (Pause) “No one can suspect the heroine…”

After writing a few false starts, Jane puts her feather pen down. She lets out another sigh before she returns to play at the pianoforte. The music is slow, melodramatic and without inspiration. Jane stops playing for a moment, as she recounts certain visions ranging from mocking laughter to a terrible flood. These visions are brought to light in a flash before her eyes.

JANE
(startled, breathes deep) “A dream, Jane. Nothing but a dream. Do compose yourself!”

As Jane convinces herself it was dream, there is a small knock at the door from outside.

JANE
“Come in.”

The door opens and her sister Cassandra enters.

CASSANDRA
(confidently) “I thought you might not be asleep.”

Cassandra shuts the door behind her.

JANE
“I didn’t mean to wake you.”

CASSANDRA
(assuredly) “It’s no matter. I’m glad you did. I’m in need of sisterly company.”

Cassandra goes to sit opposite Jane on the bed. She looks to see what Jane’s writing.

CASSANDRA
(astonished) “Oh! Having a crisis, are you?”

JANE
“It’s a new novel I’m working on. It’s about a girl who makes her first visit to Bath and finds everything wonderful and new.”

CASSANDRA
“Hmm. Just like our first visit.”

JANE
“No. Not like us. This girl is naïve and young. She does not understand the ways of the world. And through this story she gets to understand the world in a new light.”

CASSANDRA
“A fine narrative, Jane.” (Pause) “So why are you struggling to write it? I haven’t come in to spoil your concentration, have I?”

JANE
“No! Of course not!” (thinks) “It’s…lack of inspiration, I daresay. Not certain as to where the tale should begin.” (Pause) “This young girl happens to be a fanatic of the works of Mrs. Radcliffe and is reading ‘The Adventures of Udolpho’.”

CASSANDRA
(warningly; wittily) “Dangerous territory, dear sister. You know that the works of Mrs. Radcliffe are horrid.”

JANE
(reassuring) “I intend to write a different style of gothic romance. I’m determined to prove that gothic works need not be horrid. I even try to find a name for my heroine. And yet…I cannot seem to think of one.”

CASSANDRA
(thinks) “How about…Susan?”

JANE
“Susan?”

CASSANDRA
“Yes.”

JANE
“Why Susan?”

CASSANDRA
“I do not know. I happen to like the name.”

JANE
(thinks) “Very well, Cassandra. I shall take your advice and call my heroine, Susan. I shall even call this new work of mine Susan. Though whether this work shall prove to be accomplished I cannot tell you.”

CASSANDRA
“I’m sure you will be accomplished in all your works, Jane. Your novels will be the finest.”

JANE
(sadly) “Mr. Cadel doesn’t seem to think so.”

Moment of silence.

CASSANDRA
(comfortingly) “You’re still upset about your ‘First Impressions’. That it is has not been published to the reading world.”

JANE
“I am disheartened still by that event.”

CASSANDRA
(reassuringly) “Well Mr. Cadel doesn’t know what he’s missing. There will be other publishers to take your work I’m sure.” (Pause) “Don’t blame Father for failing your aspirations.”

JANE
“I do not blame my father, Cass. Indeed I commend him for trying. I know that the work of a lady will not be accepted so readily. But I am determined not to give up on my own writing. I am certain that my works will rise to the standards of Mr. Dickens, Mr. Shakespeare and Mrs. Radcliffe herself.”

Moment of silence.

CASSANDRA
“Speaking of father Jane, he and Mama have gone into the city to enjoy themselves. They told me they were going to do so the other night before we went to bed.”

JANE
“They should be enjoying themselves I’m certain.”

CASSANDRA
“Do you not like Bath, Jane?”

JANE
(gradually) “I do find Bath adequate in the provisions it has. I am pleased that we can attend the dances in the Assembly Rooms and the social circles are exemplary when we are in the Pump Room. But I miss our home in Steventon. We’ve been three weeks here and I wish to be home again.”

CASSANDRA
“At least Uncle and Aunt make us welcome here.”

JANE
“Yes. Uncle and Aunt…”

A loud knocking is made on the door from outside.

AUNT JANE
(calls from outside) “Jane? Cassandra? Are you girls awake yet?”

The two girls sigh annoyed.

CASSANDRA
(knowingly) “Speaking of Uncle and Aunt…”

JANE
(annoyed) “Not Aunt Jane!”

Aunt Jane keeps knocking at the door from outside.

AUNT JANE
“Get yourselves dressed girls and come down at once! Your uncle, Mr. Leigh Perrot is intent to have breakfast and go out to the Pump Room on this fine morning. You know it’s his time for healing.”

Aunt Jane then goes off downstairs from outside. Cassandra is about to leave Jane’s bedroom.

CASSANDRA
“See you downstairs, Jane.”

JANE
“See you downstairs, Cassandra.”

Cassandra makes for the door as she opens and closes it behind her when she leaves.


SCENE #46 – EXT – BROAD STREET, BATH – DAY, MORNING – NOVEMBER 1797
On Broad Street in Regency Bath, Mr. and Mrs. James Leigh Perrot walk with Cassandra and Jane. Horse-drawn carriages containing passengers drive on the road, whilst the Leigh Perrots and the Austen girls walk to the Pump Room on the pavement.

AUNT JANE
“I hope that Captain Wentworth and Lady Anne Musgrove will be at the place of meeting. I so look forward to good conversation with fine people. And certainly the Captain understands muslin.”

UNCLE JAMES
(drearily) “That I’m sure, my dear. You told us so often.”

AUNT JANE
“The sooner we get you healed Mr. Leigh Perrot, the sooner we may return to Scarletts. I hope that your spirits will improve after your ordinance to remain here in Bath. You have not been yourself since you had your problem with your health.”

UNCLE JAMES
“I hope that we may be able to keep the rent at the Paragon, Mrs. Leigh Perrot. The current situation with the Tories I doubt we’ll able to keep our rent at all.”

AUNT JANE
(shocked) “Mr. Leigh Perrot. I will not have you bring politics into our conversations whilst we walk. It’s inconvenient and you know I hold little regards for the Tories.”

UNCLE JAMES
“The way the Tories keep at it with the Whigs, I’m astonished Pitt is able to keep our society stable.”

AUNT JANE
“Mr. Leigh Perrot, please. To return to our conversation regarding your health, you must prioritise your speedy health. [For I long to be back in Berkshire and would prefer better company than all these so called middle-class they hold in Bath. To be sure we’re fortunate…]”

Whilst James and Jane Leigh Perrot talk, Cassandra and Jane keep a fair distance.

CASSANDRA
“That woman will go on and on. I’m amazed she can find a thing to talk about.”

JANE
“She’s so insufferable! I despise living under her roof. The sooner we get back to Steventon the better.”

While Jane and Cassandra talk to each other…

AUNT JANE
“Mr. Leigh Perrot. You must ask the Morlands to attend one of our card parties. You also must ask Lady Anne Musgrove or even Captain Wentworth, for to be sure they will attend if politely asked.”

UNCLE JAMES
“I doubt the Captain will be likely to attend one of your card parties, Mrs. Leigh Perrot. The trouble they have in France and with the revolution, the military and the navy are sure to be recalled at any moment from their leave.”

AUNT JANE
“Nonsense, Mr. Leigh Perrot. For to be sure, Captain Wentworth will…”

Whilst Aunt Jane talks to Uncle James…

JANE
(concerned) “Cassandra, dear? Are you well?”

CASSANDRA
“It’s alright Jane, I’ll be fine.”

Cassandra breathes deeply.

JANE
(concerned) “You still miss your Tom Fowle, don’t you?”

CASSANDRA
(bears it) “I have thought of nothing else but him. It has not been long since he was reported dead. I miss him dearly.”

JANE
“I’m sure you rightly do, Cassie.”

CASSANDRA
“Mother said this trip to Bath would lift my spirits. Help me to get over him.” (Pause) “But I know in my heart of hearts I will never forget him. I cannot.”

JANE
“No-one asks you to, Cassandra.” (Pause) “But to be sure you will be happy later in life.”

CASSANDRA
“No-one will compare to Mr. Fowle, Jane. You and I both know that.”

As they talk, they don’t realise that Uncle James and Aunt Jane have stopped.

UNCLE JAMES
“You two young ladies talk in quiet voices. May not one know what you say or are we not allowed to know?”

JANE
“It’s nothing serious, Uncle. Cassandra and I were just…”

AUNT JANE
(interrupts) “Mr. Leigh Perrot, I ask you to pay attention to me! I asked you about this evening for holding one of my card parties. Now will you or will you not invite Captain Wentworth!”

JANE
(protests) “Oh please no! Not another card party!”

AUNT JANE
“What was that, young Jane?”

Jane is about to protest further, before Cassandra steps in.

CASSANDRA
(interrupts) “Uncle! Jane and I would like to attend one of the balls this evening at the Assembly Rooms! May we sir?”

AUNT JANE
“Assembly Rooms? Ball? What nonsense is this, child? Why do you two wish to attend a ball when you can enjoy a quiet evening at the Paragon with one of my parties?”

UNCLE JAMES
“Mrs. Leigh Perrot, they are young. And they are in need of lively entertainment. And I think it’s only fair we should attend the Assembly Rooms this evening before their parents Mr. and Mrs. Austen return. You must make allowances, dear.”

AUNT JANE
“Mr. Leigh Perrot! I ask you to…”

UNCLE JAMES
“Please, Jenny dear.”

Moment of silence.

AUNT JANE
(seemingly irritated) “Oh very well.”

JANE
(delighted) “Yes! Thank you, Aunt! Thank you, Uncle!”

CASSANDRA
“Yes, thank you very much indeed!”

UNCLE JAMES
“Don’t even mention it, dear one.”

AUNT JANE
“Now come on! We must attend the Pump Room or there will be no acquaintance in attendance.”

UNCLE JAMES
“Mrs. Perrot, these young ladies need to be in readiness if we are to attend the ball. I’m sure we can pop into the shops at Milson Street to attend to their needs.”

AUNT JANE
“Oh very well. But we must make haste! Make haste now!”

Aunt Jane walks quickly down the road with Uncle James catching up with her. Cassandra and Jane happily lock arm in arm with each other as they walk.

JANE
“Thank goodness we got out of Aunt Jane’s tedious form of entertainment. I am contented already.”

CASSANDRA
“Well thanks to me we’re able to take control of the entertainment for ourselves.”

JANE
“Oh I quite agree. If ever I had a disposition like our uncle, I would not be surprised that it would give him the advantage to call our aunt ‘Jenny’ in order to sway her compliance to our wishes.”

CASSANDRA
“I’m sure the evening will be inspirational.”

JANE
“Inspirational?” (thinks) “Yes. That’s why I cannot find the heart I look for in my story in Bath. Because the city seems to lack a certain inspiration.”

As Jane ponders on this, a strange shadow swiftly passes by. Jane catches sight of it. She stops and at the same time Cassandra stops. Moment of silence.

CASSANDRA
(concerned) “Jane dear? Are you well?”

JANE
“Pardon?”

CASSANDRA
“You look pale!”

JANE
(puzzled) “You…you didn’t see it?”

CASSANDRA
“See what?”

Jane stares at where she thought she saw the shadow. There isn’t anything there.

JANE
“There was something…in the far corner of this street. A shadow. I seemed to see a shadow. It was quick but…”

Jane starts to feel giddy. Cassandra holds her steady.

CASSANDRA
(concerned) “Jane, my dear?”

Jane holds onto Cassandra for support. She eventually recovers.

JANE
(happily) “It’s alright. It must have been my imagination.” (Pause) “Let’s catch up with Aunt and Uncle.”

Both Jane and Cassandra walk on to catch up with their aunt and uncle. They don’t realise, a few metres distance behind them, a strange being rasps, gurgles and growls quietly and sinisterly in the shadows.


SCENE #47 – INT – TEAROOM, MILSOM STREET – DAY, MORNING – NOVEMBER 1797
Jane, Cassandra and their aunt and uncle are in a tearoom in Milsom street. It is nearly before lunch and they’ve been shopping for quite some time. The place is busy, packed with customers who chat away this and that. The Austen girls and the Leigh Perrots sit at a table in the far corner.

UNCLE JAMES
“Well, my dears? Did you purchase the items you require for this evening?”

JANE
“Oh yes, Uncle. Cassandra bought the most beautiful dress! She’ll be the shining light at the ball.”

CASSANDRA
(modestly embarrassed) “Please Jane. That is not so. For you bought a fine dress yourself.”

JANE
“Then I am in good company with you, Cass.”

The two girls giggle.

UNCLE JAMES
(cheerily) “Well I’m afraid my purchase wasn’t so well born. The only things I was able to buy were a new top hat and a new set of cufflers. Not the kind of items one buys at balls now, does one.”

Both Jane and Cassandra laugh.

CASSANDRA
“Dear uncle, you do jest so.”

UNCLE JAMES
“I know.”

AUNT JANE
(grumpily; un-amused) “I do disapprove of this coffee shop we’re in, Mr. Leigh Perrot. I mean it has its fine attributes, but not the style we are accustomed to back at home. The décor is poor. And the people that sit in this place are intolerable.”

JANE
“One of these days Aunt, I shall base you on one or two of my characters in my works of literature.”

AUNT JANE
“I marvel at your persistence in writing, young Jane. For it does you no good and your work is not likely to be a success.”

Moment of tense silence.

UNCLE JAMES
“Perhaps we should make our way to the Pump Room now, ladies. For my need to drink the water is in earnest, and I imagine we should be there before the end of the day.”

AUNT JANE
“A fine suggestion, Mr. Leigh Perrot!” (to Jane; Cassandra) “Come along, girls. We mustn’t be late before the doors close.”

CASSANDRA
“They won’t be closed till sundown, Aunt.”

They rise from their table and are about to leave. Jane then stumbles forward. She tries to hold her balance as she is seemingly dizzy for a moment.

CASSANDRA
(concerned) “Jane? Are you alright?”

JANE
“Help me, Cassandra.”

Cassandra helps Jane to support her balance and she stands upright again.

JANE
(puzzled) “Did I just stumble forwards?”

CASSANDRA
(concerned) “I daresay you did, dear. What’s the matter?”

UNCLE JAMES
“Are you ill, Jane?”

JANE
(catches breath) “I’m…I’m fine, Uncle. I just seem to be…a little out of place.”

AUNT JANE
“It’s just a turn you have, Jane dear. I have those sorts of turns. The best thing for you is walking. [I do find that walking gives a woman…]”

As Aunt Jane speaks, Jane suddenly experiences the whole room shuddering and shimmering before her eyes. Everything seems to blur, phasing in and out with images of people and places appearing before her.

JANE
(astonished) “What is this? I see different sorts of people. Different places. Before my very eyes.”

CASSANDRA
(concerned) “Jane, dear.”

The shimmering and shuddering then stops almost immediately. Jane is back to reality. She turns to see her sister, aunt and uncle who are greatly concerned for her.

CASSANDRA
“You’re not well, dear sister. Let’s take your back to the Paragon.”

JANE
(reassuringly) “I assure you I am well Cassandra. My Aunt is indeed right. I need to walk. A walk to the Pump Room will do me good.”

UNCLE JAMES
“Walk you must, Jane dear. And it will be a walk to the Pump Room, I’m sure of it.”

CASSANDRA
(comfortingly) “You can drink the water they provide there, Jane. That should settle your nerves and mind at rest.”

JANE
(pleased) “Thank you, Cass; Uncle. I think I shall drink the water.”

AUNT JANE
(bewildered) “I do not understand you, Jane. My husband is the one who is in need of recovery in health. Not you surely Jane; for you aren’t in need of the waters of Bath.”

UNCLE JAMES
“Let’s make our way to the Pump Room, shall we Mrs. Leigh Perrot; dear girls.”

Without further arguments, Mr. and Mrs. Leigh Perrot leave the tearoom with Jane and Cassandra behind them. The tearoom door open and close as they leave. Nobody realises that someone, who sits at a table in the tearoom, lets out a light amused chuckle. Salvador’s chuckle soon turns into triumphant laughter.


SCENE #48 – INT – PUMP ROOM – DAY, AFTERNOON – NOVEMBER 1797
Around noontime, the Leigh Perrots and the Austen girls arrive and enter the Pump Room. Once inside, Jane observes how many people have gathered. Hearty chuckles echo from lordly men and women. People in small groups walk about discussing matters of state and casual conversations occurs. Many take to the fountain and drink its waters.

AUNT JANE
“We’re here, Mr. Leigh Perrot. And I do hope you will keep your matters in steady consultation as we encounter Captain Wentworth and Lady Anne Musgrove.”

UNCLE JAMES
“I promise you I will, my dear Mrs. Leigh Perrot. Indeed I will.”

AUNT JANE
“You can’t have your gout affect your mind which in turn affects your manners. We are here for healing, but appearances do suit us best as l would like them to. It would be improper to be ill-fitting towards society.”

CASSANDRA
“We have not met Captain Wentworth and Lady Musgrove, Aunt.”

AUNT JANE
“Ah, that is because you have not lived in urban society as much as we have, Mr. Leigh Perrot and me. We enjoy the company of Captain Wentworth and his followers, and Lady Anne would certainly delight in our favour. Both are members earning considerable amounts of income, and to be sure one of you ladies will be in the throes of matrimony from the gentleman if he has the intelligence to propose and you likewise have the decent intelligence to accept him whichever one of you is asked.”

JANE
(whispers to Cassandra) “I can’t comprehend why our aunt can be so impertinent bringing material into marriage. She would make a poor matchmaker.”

AUNT JANE
“What do you say, Jane dear?”

CASSANDRA
(whispers to Jane) “She may well inspire you to create a character like that in one of your works, your dear aunt will.”

Both girls giggle, whilst Aunt Jane becomes prying.

AUNT JANE
(impatiently) “I must know what you girls talk about in whispers. Tell me!”

But Jane and Cassandra do not have to tell their aunt, as somebody approaches to meet them.

WENTWORTH
“Mrs. Leigh Perrot; Mr. Leigh Perrot. I am fortunate in meeting you here.”

AUNT JANE
(overjoyed) “Captain Wentworth! How delightful! We did not expect to see you! Is Lady Anne Musgrove with you?”

WENTWORTH
“She is, madam. She is taking refreshment from the fountain. Ah, here she comes now.”

They look to see Lady Anne Musgrove approaching with his ward Miss Lucy Gibbons. James Leigh Perrot is about to excuse himself.

UNCLE JAMES
(to Aunt Jane) “Perhaps I should make my moment and take the waters for healing, my dear.”

AUNT JANE
“Nonsense, Mr. Leigh Perrot. I will not hear of it. You will not excuse yourself when we are in the company of friends!” (to Lady Anne) “How delighted we are to make your acquaintance again, Lady Anne.”

LADY ANNE
(coldly) “Charmed I’m sure, madam.”

AUNT JANE
(cheerily) “Oh how kind.”

Whilst Aunt Jane talks to Lady Anne, Cassandra and Jane whisper to each other.

JANE
(whispers) “I do not comprehend what Aunt Jane sees in that miserable wretch. She wears dark clothes and unusual headgear.”

CASSANDRA
(chuckles; whispers) “She definitely steps out of the papers of Anne Radcliff’s novels.”

JANE
(giggles; whispers) “Definitely not a heroine.”

CASSANDRA
(giggles; whispers) “No. Definitely not.”

Captain Wentworth’s attention turns to the girls.

WENTWORTH
“Ah. And who are these fine creatures you have with you, Mr. and Mrs. Leigh Perrot?”

UNCLE JAMES
“These are my sister and my brother-in-law’s children, Captain. Miss Cassandra Austen and Miss Jane Austen.”

Both girls curtsey whilst Captain Wentworth bows.

WENTWORTH
“I am delighted to make your acquaintance, ladies. You do look well.”

CASSANDRA
“You’re too kind, sir.”

WENTWORTH
“And this is Lady Anne Musgrove.” (to Lady Anne) “Lady Anne, the Miss Austens.”

LADY ANNE
(coldly) “How do you do.”

Both Jane and Cassandra curtsey before her, whilst Lady Anne nods appreciatively.

AUNT JANE
(enthusiastically) “And who may we ask is this fine specimen, Lady Anne?”

They all turn to look at Miss Gibbons with Lady Anne.

LADY ANNE
“This is my ward Miss Gibbons.” (to Lucy) “Miss Gibbons; this is Mr. and Mrs. James Leigh Perrot and their nieces Jane and Cassandra Austen.”

Miss Gibbons curtsies. The Austen girls curtsey too.

LUCY
“Pleased to make your acquaintances, I’m sure. But I’m afraid I’m not really…”

LADY ANNE
(interrupts) “Do be quiet, Miss Gibbons. You do know how your voice makes you weary.”

LUCY
“Yes, Lady Anne.”

A moment of tension ensues.

UNCLE JAMES
“Do please excuse me, Captain; Lady Anne; Miss Gibbons. It’s time for me to drink the waters from the fountain.” (to Aunt Jane) “Jenny, dear?”

AUNT JANE
(sighs annoyed) “Oh very well. But hurry back, Mr. Leigh Perrot. You will have to catch up with the gossip we discuss here.”

Uncle James then leaves for the fountain. The tense company becomes silent for a moment.

AUNT JANE
“Tell us, Captain. How long do you expect to be in Bath?”

WENTWORTH
“Oh for a fair amount of [time]…”

Whilst Captain Wentworth talks, Jane and Cassandra whisper to each other.

JANE
(puzzled, whispers) “What was the commotion about? Between Lady Anne and Miss Gibbons?”

CASSANDRA
(whispers) “I wish I knew.”

MR. MORLAND
(calls) “Miss Austen?! Miss Cassandra Austen?”

Both girls turn to see a gentleman and a woman with a family of six children approach them. They are the Morlands, including Mr. and Mrs. Morland with their four daughters Catherine, Isabella, Susan and Margaret and their two young sons Charles and Frederick. Cassandra immediately goes to the Morlands to greet them.

CASSANDRA
(joyously) “Mr. and Mrs. Morland! How good to see you here!”

MR. MORLAND
(heartily) “And how good it is to see you here too, Miss Cassandra. Isn’t that so, Mrs. Morland?”

MRS. MORLAND
“Oh indeed it is, Mr. Morland! And on such a fine day!”

Jane then joins them.

CASSANDRA
“You know my sister, Jane!”

MR. MORLAND
“Of course we do! How good to see Miss Jane!”

MRS. MORLAND
“Yes! Very good to see you, dear!”

JANE
“Mr. and Mrs. Morland, I’m pleased to be in your company. I was afraid I was going to have to endure my aunt’s sort of company for the rest of the day.”

Mr. and Mrs. Morland and the Austen girls laugh.

MRS. MORLAND
“I do hope your Aunt and Uncle are well! And your Mother and Father!”

CASSANDRA
“Mother has gone with Father to tour the city. They’re both in good health. And yes our Aunt and Uncle are well too.”

JANE
“Considering what you refer to when our Aunt is well.”

The two young boys of the Morlands, Charles and Frederick, scream energetically as they run about in the Pump Room.

MR. MORLAND
(angrily, calls) “Charles! Frederick! Pipe down at once!”

But the children keep on screaming and playing about, unable to calm down.

MR. MORLAND
(calls) “Boys! Pipe down!”

CASSANDRA
“Are all your children here, Mrs. Morland?”

MRS. MORLAND
“Oh yes they are indeed, Miss Cassandra! Catherine; Isabella; Susan and Margaret are all here as well as the two boys.”

The two youngest girls Susan and Margaret step forward.

SUSAN
(cheerfully) “Miss Cassandra and Miss Jane? Will you both be at the ball later this evening?”

MARGERET
“Oh yes. It will be so grand for you both to be there.”

JANE
“We certainly hope to be there, Miss Susan; Miss Margaret. For we’ve bought the dresses.”

Both girls cheer with joy.

SUSAN
(cheers) “Oh excellent!”

MARGERET
(happily) “And you’ve bought ribbons? I shall surely wear mine. Those army boys shall certainly compliment me on my choice of ribbon, I’m sure. I know that Captain Elliot will be there. And Lieutenant Fitzwilliam.”

The eldest of the sisters, Catherine, steps forward.

CATHERINE
“Margaret! You and your sister know you shouldn’t attend so much to the militia.”

SUSAN
“Oh but Catherine, they’re such fine men. For we know they will dance with us till the evening ends if they keep asking for dances.”

CASSANDRA
“Are you and Miss Isabella attending the ball, Miss Catherine?”

CATHERINE
“Well I…”

ISABELLA
(shrewdly) “I feel balls should not be accommodating gathering places for entertainment. For they only stimulate and heighten the nerves for excitement, which I fear should not compose oneself for better life.”

JANE
“If you wish for other entertainment, you should attend one of my aunt’s card parties, Miss Isabella.” (to Susan; Margaret) “And I should take heed of your eldest sisters’ warning, Miss Susan and Miss Margaret. For military men can’t be easily trusted as I happen to observe.”

MR. MORLAND
“I’m sure my daughters will take your advice to heart, Miss Jane.”

The boys Charles and Frederick scream playfully again far-off.

MR. MORLAND
(annoyed) “Oh for heaven’s sake.” (calls angrily, to Charles; Frederick) “Charles! Frederick! How many times must I tell you…?”

Mr. Morland goes off to sort out Charles and Frederick.

JANE
“If you’ll excuse me, Cassandra. I shall attend to our Uncle and see how he is.” (to Mrs. Morland) “And if you’ll excuse me, Mrs. Morland?”

MRS. MORLAND
“Of course, Miss Jane. We shall not detain you.”

CASSANDRA
“You will drink the waters yourself, Jane?”

JANE
“Yes I will.”

CASSANDRA
“I shall join you shortly then.”

JANE
“Very well.”

Jane takes her leave of the Morlands and Cassandra. On her way, she then bumps into somebody without looking. It happens to be Nyssa. Both Jane and Nyssa are startled once they’ve bumped into each other.

JANE
“Oh do forgive me, my dear. I happen to forget myself so easily.”

NYSSA
“It’s alright. It’s my fault. I should have looked more carefully where I was going.”

JANE
“No, to be sure it was my doing. But please let us not debate whose fault it was as we shall be talking of it through the afternoon.”

NYSSA
(giggles) “That logic is true, Miss Austen!”

JANE
(surprised) “How did you know my name? For I did not mention it to you.”

NYSSA
(uneasily) “Oh. I see. Sorry I…happen to have overheard it when I was walking here in this space. I did not mean to eavesdrop.”

Before Jane enquires further, the Doctor arrives.

DOCTOR
“Ah! There you are, Nyssa! I was wondering where you were. I’ve checked the fountain and it doesn’t seem…” (realises; astounded) “Oh! Good afternoon!”

JANE
“Good afternoon, sir.”

NYSSA
(to Doctor) “Doctor, this is Miss Austen.” (to Jane) “Miss Austen this is my friend, the Doctor.”

DOCTOR
“How do you do?”

The Doctor reaches out to shake her hand to which Jane accepts. They both shake hands.

JANE
“How do you do, sir. Doctor…who?”

DOCTOR
“Ah! Uh…Smith. Dr. John Smith.”

JANE
“Very pleased to make your acquaintance, Dr. Smith.” (Pause) “You are…dressed for cricket I see.”

DOCTOR
“Yes. Sadly called off, I’m afraid.”

JANE
“I used to play the game and still do when my brothers are home from their military and naval duties. So I share your interest in the sport, Doctor.” (to Nyssa) “And you are, dear…?”

NYSSA
“I’m Nyssa, Lady of Traken.”

JANE
“Lady?!” (Pause) “Forgive me for being so inquisitive. But surely you are too young to bear such a title.”

NYSSA
“My father was a Consul. And I was born into a family that bore Consul rights to the Keepership of Traken.”

JANE
“I see.” (Pause) “Well I am glad to have made your acquaintance anyway. Are you and Dr. Smith related? Brother and sister?”

DOCTOR
“Uh no. No we’re not.”

JANE
“Engaged to be married.”

DOCTOR
“No! No certainly not, Miss Austen.”

NYSSA
“We’re just good friends, Miss Austen.”

JANE
(puzzled) “Friends? I see.”

Moment of silence.

JANE
“Please forgive me. But I was intending to see to my Uncle on how he is and whether he has taken nourishment from the fountain.” (realises) “Oh! Now I see he is back with my Aunt.” (Pause) “But no matter. For I am in need of the waters myself.” (to Nyssa) “Will you join me, Miss Nyssa? Then we shall be better acquainted.”

NYSSA
“I’d like that very much, Miss Austen.” (to Doctor) “Do you mind, Doctor?”

DOCTOR
“No, certainly not! You go with Miss Austen. I shall satisfy myself with other matters.”

JANE
“Good.” (to Nyssa) “Do take my arm, Miss Nyssa.”

Nyssa takes Jane’s arm, as they walk off to the fountain. The Doctor leaves them, heading off in another direction.

JANE
“How long have you been in Bath, Miss Nyssa?”

NYSSA
(lightly) “Oh, I’ve been in Bath for quite some time.”

JANE
“Is this not your first visit to Bath?”

NYSSA
“Oh it is. At least this is the first time I’ve visited this Bath.”

Moment of silence, as Jane becomes puzzled.

JANE
“This is my first visit. I’m here with my sister and mother and father; and we are living with my aunt and uncle at the Paragon.”

They both arrive at the fountain. Jane takes a silver cup filled with water which has been handed to her.

NYSSA
“And are you enjoying your visit here so far?”

JANE
“I am finding Bath enlightening, yes. It has its attributes. I enjoy shopping here and attending balls. Not that I’ve done much of that since I’ve had to attend my Aunt’s card parties, which are tedious if you were present at one of them.”

Jane drinks from the water in her cup. Nyssa takes a cup of water handed to her for herself .

NYSSA
“So you haven’t experienced anything out of the ordinary during your visit here?”

JANE
“Not at all. Why do you ask?”

NYSSA
“Oh. Just wondering, that’s all.”

Nyssa drinks the water from the cup, before she splutters it out. She coughs whilst Jane shows concern for her.

JANE
(concerned) “My dear, are you alright? You’re not unwell?”

NYSSA
(coughs) “No. I’m fine. I’m just…it’s the water. It’s the shock.”

JANE
“You’ve never tasted the waters of Bath? You certainly have visited this city for the first time, my dear.”

NYSSA
“I’m alright, really. Thank you for your concern, Miss Austen. I just forgot the water contains sulphur, calcium and other minerals. It’s drawn from one of the baths.”

JANE
“Well certainly, as everybody knows.”

NYSSA
“Yes. And so does Billy.”

JANE
“Billy? And who’s he, Miss Nyssa?”

NYSSA
“He’s…a friend.”

JANE
“Friend? You call a friend by his Christian name?”

NYSSA
(hesitates) “Mr. Walker. Mr. Walker told me that the waters would not be like water I’ve tasted before where I come from.” (Pause) “But do tell me, Miss Austen. You haven’t experienced anything unusual whilst you’ve been here in Bath, have you?”

JANE
(thinks) “Well now you come to mention it; I have had one or two displeasures in my experience today.” (Pause) “I thought I saw a shadow passing by on my way to Milsom Street.”

NYSSA
“Shadow?”

JANE
“Yes. It was swift and steady. Perhaps I did not see anything, but…I do remember I was chilled to the bone when I first felt it and knew that I did not like it.” (Pause) “And then I had a vision.”

NYSSA
“Vision? Did you see different sorts of people and places appear at the same time?”

JANE
“Yes. I most certainly did. There were visions of people strangely dressed. A few I recognised to be wearing robes and sandals like the ancient Romans wore. But there were others I could not recognise and would not dare to care to recognise because of their scandalous appeal.” (Pause; puzzled) “How do you know of these things I experienced, Miss Nyssa?”

NYSSA
(gradually) “Uh…I merely guessed. For I experienced something like that too and thought it was a dream.”

JANE
“Did you now?”

Just then, Cassandra joins them.

CASSANDRA
“Jane, dear?! Our Aunt has called for us to leave immediately. Uncle James has taken his healing and she wishes for us to return to the Paragon.”

JANE
“Very well, Cassandra.”

CASSANDRA
(realises Nyssa) “May I know who your new friend is, Jane?”

JANE
“You may.” (to Nyssa) “Miss Nyssa, this is my sister and closet companion Cassandra.”

NYSSA
“How do you do?”

Both Cassandra and Nyssa shake hands.

CASSANDRA
“Glad to make your acquaintance, Miss Nyssa.”

AUNT JANE
(calls from a distance) “Come on, Jane and Cassandra dear! We must return to the Paragon now!”

JANE
(sighs) “Come on. We might as well humour her for the afternoon while we can.”

CASSANDRA
“At least we shall be in good time to prepare ourselves for the evening.”

JANE
“Cassandra dear, you never spoke a truer word.” (to Nyssa) “Will you be attending the ball, Miss Nyssa dear? I shall certainly like to continue our acquaintanceship further.”

NYSSA
“I’m sure the Doctor and I will be there this evening.”

JANE
“Oh yes! Bring Dr. Smith as well.” (puzzled) “He’s not deserted you, has he?”

NYSSA
“No, no. He said he’ll be back here soon.” (realises) “Ah there he is!” (to Jane; Cassandra) “Well I won’t detain you any longer, Miss Jane; Miss Cassandra. I must let you get back to your Aunt and Uncle.”

JANE
“Oh if only we didn’t have to, for I’d wish not to attend to my Aunt.”

Both Cassandra and Jane laugh. Nyssa doesn’t laugh, uncertain about the joke.

CASSANDRA
“See you this evening, Miss Nyssa.”

NYSSA
(cheerily) “Yes. See you this evening, Miss Cassandra.”

JANE
(happily) “Bye, dear Miss Nyssa.”

NYSSA
“Yes. Bye, Miss Austen. And thank you.”

Jane and Cassandra go off to join their Aunt and Uncle who are about to leave the Pump Room. Meanwhile the Doctor turns up and meets up with Nyssa.

DOCTOR
(quietly) “Well, Nyssa?”

NYSSA
(quietly) “Miss Austen’s just met us, Doctor. You and me, she’s just met us!”

DOCTOR
(quietly) “Yes. Extraordinary, isn’t it?”

NYSSA
(quietly) “She wants me to be there at the ball in the Assembly Rooms. With you, Doctor.”

DOCTOR
(quietly) “That is encouraging.”


SCENE #49 – INT – DRAWING ROOM, 1 PARAGON – DAY, AFTERNOON – NOVEMBER 1797
Back at No. 1 Paragon, Cassandra, Jane, Aunt Jane and Uncle James are busily occupying themselves with activities in the drawing room. Cassandra is drawing a sketch; Jane is doing some needlework; Aunt Jane is reading an improving book and Uncle James is reading the newspaper. Uncle James sighs as he turns the page of his newspaper over.

UNCLE JAMES
“Good God, I wonder what goes on with Whigs when they cause trouble.”

Uncle James becomes quiet again as he reads on. Cassandra draws her sketch vigorously, which annoys her Aunt Jane.

AUNT JANE
“Must you draw so vigorously, Cassandra dear? It affects my nerves!”

UNCLE JAMES
“What are you drawing, Cassandra dear?”

CASSANDRA
“I’m attempting to draw a likeness of Jane.”

JANE
“Oh how sweet of you, Cassie.”

CASSANDRA
“But I’m afraid you won’t be pleased with the finished result, Jane. It is a poor likeness. But I will improve it.”

AUNT JANE
“Well I don’t see you ever needing to draw, Cassandra. For you will not get anywhere with impressing anyone with your artwork. At least Jane has sense. She’s using needle and thread. That is what all girls should be doing in my opinion. All this art and delicacy is so tedious and unfulfilling!”

JANE
“On the contrary, Aunt. I find the pen and drawing to be much like needlework. I am the neatest worker of the party and an artist cannot do anything slovenly.”

AUNT JANE
“Very well. Have it your own way, girls. I’ll attend to my book.”

With that, Aunt Jane continues reading her book.

CASSANDRA
“Did you find the waters to your liking, Uncle?”

UNCLE JAMES
“Very capital thank you, my dear Cassandra. I must say I find the use of the Pump Room most admirable!”

AUNT JANE
“I should hope so with the number of times we’ve been there. If it weren’t for your gout we would not come to Bath ever.”

Moment of silence.

UNCLE JAMES
“How did you find Captain Wentworth, Jane? Did he strike you as being a well-mannered man?”

JANE
“Oh yes. To be sure I find him most admiring and handsome. But I’m not sure about the company he keeps.”

AUNT JANE
“And pray, what is wrong with the company Captain Wentworth keeps? I found Lady Anne Musgrove and her ward most charming.”

CASSANDRA
“She seemed cold, Aunt. Reserved.”

JANE
“And I’m not sure what to make of her ward Miss Gibbons. She seemed to be hiding something as well.”

AUNT JANE
“Well you didn’t suspect the Morlands, did you? You readily left to meet them without politely excusing yourselves for me, Captain Wentworth and Lady Anne.”

CASSANDRA
“We wanted to greet them, Aunt. They called for us, so we couldn’t ignore them.”

AUNT JANE
“And I disapprove of the new friend you have in your company, Jane. That girl didn’t seem to belong to society. What was it that made you acquaint yourself with her?”

JANE
“Her name’s Nyssa, Aunt! Miss Nyssa, Lady of Traken.”

AUNT JANE
(disapprovingly) “Miss Nyssa, Lady of Traken indeed. She probably gained the title through retribution and has no right to keep it. I must say I find it surprising you associate yourself with such people who you have not introduced me to.”

Jane then stands up.

JANE
(agitated) “I do not see what business it is of yours to disapprove of the company I keep, Mrs. Leigh Perrot! I happen to find Miss Nyssa and her friend Dr. Smith to be of fine character. And there can be nothing for me to suspect them otherwise unless they meant it. In which case I’m not well-acquainted with the young lady and gentleman as intimately as I like.”

AUNT JANE
“Which I hope will never come to pass before you, your sister, mother and father part from this place.”

JANE
“I can assure you it will, madam. Lady Nyssa is attending the ball this evening with Dr. Smith as well as the Morlands. So I’d be happy to acquaint myself further with the young lady.” (to Cassandra) “Cassandra? Will you accompany me? I wish to make ready for the ball!”

CASSANDRA
“Yes, Jane.”

Both Cassandra and Jane leave the drawing room, opening and closing the door behind them, slamming it shut.

AUNT JANE
“You know, Mr. Leigh Perrot. I will never understand your sister’s daughters.”

UNCLE JAMES
“You need not concern yourself, dear. You’re not their mother.”

A moment of tension ensues, before Aunt Jane continues reading her book whilst Uncle James continues reading his newspaper.


SCENE #50 – INT – DRAWING ROOM, 5 ROYAL CRESCENT – DAY, AFTERNOON – NOVEMBER 1797
In the drawing room of No. 5 Royal Crescent, Lady Anne and Miss Gibbons sit together on a sofa. An uneasy tense atmosphere ensues between them.

LADY ANNE
“So Miss Gibbons? What was your opinion of Miss Austen?”

LUCY
(enthused) “Do you mean Miss Cassandra or Miss Jane Austen, my lady?”

LADY ANNE
“Miss Jane, obviously.”

LUCY
(enthused) “Well…I really like her, my lady. I wished to talk to her for hours and ask about what she wrote…”

LADY ANNE
(sharply) “Yes, yes. We will not go into that now, my dear.” (Pause) “I assume you were able to gather that Miss Austen will be attending the ball this evening at the Assembly Rooms with her family.”

LUCY
“Yes. Yes I heard.”

LADY ANNE
“We will be fortunate in meeting her there. Our business shall carry us forward as our master intends.”

LUCY
“Why must we do this, Lady Anne?! For you must know who we’re dealing with. He deceived me when I was in…”

LADY ANNE
(interrupts) “Lucy.”

LUCY
“My name’s not…”

LADY ANNE
(interrupts) “Lucy, my dear. It is important that you must understand we cannot escape this transaction. For we must keep our dignity and word with the two gentlemen we work with. They know far better than us. One in particular, who I shall endeavour to marry.”

Just then, the door opens and a maidservant enters.

LADY ANNE
“What is it, Williams?”

WILLIAMS
“Two gentlemen to see you and Miss Gibbons, my lady.”

LADY ANNE
“Show them in.”

Williams curtsies before she leaves to fetch the two gentlemen. Lady Anne and Miss Gibbons rise from the sofa, just as the two gentlemen enter. Both bow their heads, whilst Lady Anne and Miss Gibbons curtsey.

LADY ANNE
“It’s good to see you again, Mr. Thorpe-Willoughby.”

THORPE-WILLOUGHBY
“And to see you too, Lady Anne.” (Pause; to Lucy) “And you, my dear Miss Gibbons.”

LADY ANNE
“And welcome to you too, dear Mr. Salvador.”

Salvador lets out a light, evil chuckle.


© Tim Bradley, 2017

 Go back to

‘Part One, Chapter 4’ of ‘The Austen Code’

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‘Part Two, Chapter 6’ of ‘The Austen Code’

Return to ‘The Austen Code’
Return to ‘The Fifth Doctor by Tim Bradley’

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