Quick Index Board Index Home FAQ Site Map
|Lies, Lies, Lies Week 6 (Very Long)
Written by Tarn
(3/7/2011 10:19 a.m.)
in consequence of the missive, Poetry contest for Week 6, penned by Laraine
Chapter 37: Though Mr Weston has his doubts, Mrs Churchill's very extraordinary constitution does not seem to have withstood the journey well at all. I am inclined to believe Frank Churchill when "he could not doubt, when he looked back, that she was in a weaker state of health than she had been half a year ago.", at least, it seems more believable than his polite claim that he "wished to stay longer at Hartfield" as he hurrys off, not to be seen again until the evening of the ball.
Chapter 38: Mrs Elton's "What a pleasure it is to send one's carriage for a friend.! - I understand you were so kind as to offer, but it was quite unnecessary. You may be very sure I shall always take care of them." would be more believable if she had remembered to call on the Bates, as the Westons had done on their way to the ball. Miss Bates is not someone I expected to catch lying, but her polite half-truth to Frank Churchill "No rain at all. Nothing to signify." is belied by her concern for Jane "My dear Jane, are you sure you did not wet you feet?" There might be only a drop or two of rain at the moment, but it is really quite damp and cold to be waiting around for carriages.("though May a fire in the evening was still very pleasant")
Chapter 39: Frank Churchill "could not allow himself the pleasure of stopping at Hartfield, as he was to be at home by the middle of the day." Fair enough, but why then, when he knows he has to stop in at the Bates on an errand before he goes, does he decide "to walk forward, and leave his horses to meet him by another road, a mile or two beyond Highbury.", as if he had all day. And if he did have all day, wouldn't it have been more logical to walk out himself on the road that went a mile or two beyond Highbury, and meet his horses on the Richmond road? (I am presuming the Richmond road joins up with the one his horses were on, and that it is the only road from Highbury that leads to Richmond - but if it doesn't, the story gets even stranger.)
Chapter 40: Harriet's description of Mrs Elton as "very charming, I daresay, and all that, but I think her very ill tempered and disagreeable" is contradictory, although not intended to deceive - there seems to be a battle going on between her sense of propriety and her feelings, her understanding of what is owed to the wife of the vicar losing ground to her honest emotions as Harriet recalls "her look the other night!"
Chapter 41: While I feel for Mr Knightley, when Franks "Disingenuousness and double-dealing seemed to meet him at every turn", the only lie I can actually catch Frank in is the "I must have dreamt it" about Mr Perry's carriage - and I would count as 'uttered' any word whose letters could be made up from the letters he selected, and regard them as being 'addressed' to whomever he particularly invited to solve them. But 'blunder' and 'Dixon' (and 'pardon', according to Austen family tradition) are not intended to deceive Jane Fairfax.
Chapter 42: I find Jane Fairfax's behaviour suspicious, and am not convinced by Emma's explanations of it. Although a half hour in that heat is enough to tire Mrs Elton out, almost as soon as they have found seats in the shade and just after Mrs Weston "came out, in her solicitude after her son-in-law, to inquire if he were come", Jane gets up and "with a decision of action unusual to her, proposed a removal.'Should not they walk? - Would not Mr Knightley show them the gardens - all the gardens? - She wished to see the whole extent.'" If she had wanted to shake off Mrs Elton, she might merely have spoken to anybody else about anything else, and there is no indication in the text that Mrs Elton left Jane's side or changed her subject. Instead, the narrator deserts Jane Fairfax, referring to the rest of the party collectively. "They insensibly followed one another" more conscious of the "delicious shade of a broad short avenue of limes, which stretch[ed] beyond the garden at an equal distance from the river" than the resolution that led them thither, or what Jane hopes to see from vantage point they have secured. Thanks to Emma's earlier ruminations, we know at least one object that cannot be seen from the strawberry patch - "a stream, of which the Abbey, with all the old neglect of prospect, had scarcely a sight". And when we arrive at the "low stone wall with high pillars". The narrator is kind enough to tell us the view: "a bank of considerable abruptness and grandeur, well clothed with wood;- and at the bottom of this bank, favourably placed and sheltered, rose the Abbey-Mill Farm, with meadows in front, and the river making a close and handsome curve around it."
One of the reasons for the "old neglect of prospect" at Donwell might have been a gravity-fed water system. A low wall running along the highest contour of the abbey grounds, and a couple of tall pillars might be what remains when all others traces of the aqueduct that used to be there are swept away by floods and time. In that case, if one was to stand so the two pillars and the wall were aligned, one might catch a glimpse of the glen on the opposite side of the river (of which the abrupt bank formed a part) which housed the spring that used to feed the Abbey. And if one was considering what kind of timber could be most profitably planted in a steep, damp glen, I think coppice Elms would be a good choice. They might not fetch the price of oak, or be as popular as ash for turning, but Elm was useful for making timber water pipes, as it does not rot, and (unlike horses) it does not mind getting it's feet damp either. As long as there was a way to access the timber, Elm would be a good choice. And of course, I think it would be easy to access that glen by road - the Richmond Road appears to run right by one side of it, and it might just be possible to catch a glimpse of it from the highest point of the Abbey gardens.
We know from earlier adventures that the Richmond road "About half a mile beyond Highbury, making a sudden turn, and deeply shaded by elms on each side, it became for a considerable stretch very retired;(39) and in that stretch, a fit girl could have ran "up a steep bank, cleared a slight [enclosure boundary?] hedge at the top, and made the best of her way by a short cut back to Highbury"(39). We also know from Harriet via Robert Martin that there is a route (that is not Donwell Lane that leads to the Abbey,nor the Donwell road that leads to Donwell) that would take one from the Abbey-Mill farm to Highbury "round by Randalls"(4) This road does not go past Hartfield (else Emma would not have missed the Westons when she took it from Abbey Mill farm to Randalls in ch23) as the Richmond road does. (And if you tell me the Richmond road does not pass directly by Hartfield, you must explain to me how Frank Churchill was able to lug Harriet undetected past Mrs Goddards school, Mr Perry's, past the Scylla and Charybdis of Mrs Coles and Miss Bates as well, to get her to Hartfield, and why getting her to Hartfield was so essential, when his time was so scarce and her own home was nearer? And it will do your case no good to merely cite Peggy Gay's map of Highbury, or Dierdre Le Faye's description of Highbury in "Jane Austen: the World of her Novels", because neither of these offer a rational answer to the question, or if they do you will have to explain to me how, because I can't see it for myself.)
Of course, before you can accept my schema, I need to explain why Jane Fairfax would want to be surveilling the Richmond road or the Randalls way. After lunch she manages to get her friends heading out to "the old Abbey fish-ponds; perhaps get as far as the clover". Emma observes her return to the Abbey while looking out on "the entrance and the ground plot of the house" while Jane Fairfax was "coming quickly in from the garden." - the same gardens that "stretch down to the meadows washed by a stream" that one would assume was the place where all ancient water-works, the stew ponds, the old mill, the irrigated pastures, were to be found. I think Jane's plan then, was to find a way to meet with Frank undetected before he was come to the Abbey, to have a few well-chosen words with him, perhaps lay down an ultimatum, and then leave for home before he arrived at the Abbey, with nobody to know of their rencountre but themselves. If I am guessing rightly, she will follow Miss Bickerton's path in reverse, detouring off the path to Langham where it cut through the home meadows(12), over the bridge by the mill stream and up the bank through Mr Knightley's coppice wood, onto the Richmond road. If Jane intended simply to avoid Frank Churchill at this point, she had plenty of time to escape and no need to wait for him to show up before she ran away. I am not sure if she knew Frank Churchill was coming to the party at Donwell when she accepted her invitation (if the invitations were given in the order they are described, they were extended first to the Eltons, then the Bates, then the Woodhouses and Harriet, then the Westons, and then, Frank Churchill.) but even if she had known then the lurking horror that was to upbraid her, I think this is something she would have had to say something about sometime. Of course, nobody is to know of the private intelligence between herself and Frank Churchill, and other people must be given other explanations. Once she delivered her message, I think she planned to take the Langham path again - as a shortcut to Highbury that could keep her away from roads which might be traveled by supplicants on horseback offering dubious compromises for her resolutions.
Whatever the real case may be, Jane is clearly lying when she explains her mission to Emma as: "My aunt is not aware how late it is, nor how long we have been absent - but I am sure we shall be wanted, and I am determined to go directly". This psychic solicitude for her grandmother's needs fails her when Emma kindly suggests "Let me order the carriage. It can be around in five minutes." - staying another five minutes in Donwell is a greater evil to Jane than keeping her grandmother wanting another five minutes in Highbury. Her reasons for opposing the 'safety' of a carriage are specious, as Emma points out "that can be no reason for you being exposed to danger now.", but Jane's great agitation, and her candid(?) confession, "we all know at times what it is to be wearied in spirits. Mine, I confess are exhausted." and her offer of conspiracy "let me have my own way, and only say I am gone when it is necessary." are an irresistible mixture that Emma swallows whole, assuming the horror Jane wants to escape from is her aunt, without wondering what aspect of her Aunt's behaviour brought Jane to such sudden crisis. If Jane was attempting to escape Mrs Elton's offer or her aunt's company, her refreshingly brisk walks around the grounds seem to have left both of them behind already, without creating any "general distress and disturbance on Miss Fairfax's disappearance." that might provoke Mrs Elton and Miss Bates to ensure that such a thing does not happen another time.
Frank makes no secret of the fact that he has met with Jane on his way to Donwell - or that he is "out of humour, neither prosperous or indulged, "thwarted in every thing material. I do not consider myself at all a fortunate person.". He regrets that he came, he will return to Richmond, he will leave England, he will travel to Swisserland to expose himself.
Chapter 43: Mrs Elton does not seem very credible when she tells of "an acrostic once sent to me upon my own name, which I was not at all pleased with."
References: Advertisement for Montgomery's poems: British Library 19th Century newspapers, The Morning Post Tuesday, August 23, 1814 pg; Issue 13600. Gale Document Number: R3213112511.
Groupread is maintained by Myretta with WebBBS 3.21.