Spotlight Saturday – Jan Hahn

Thank you, Meredith, for your gracious invitation to participate in the Austenesque Extravaganza. I’ve enjoyed reading everyone’s posts throughout the month. Celebrating Jane Austen every day can’t help but make life brighter.
My first novel, An Arranged Marriage, has recently been published by Meryton Press. It’s a what-if story focusing on my favorite Austen characters, Darcy and Elizabeth. Their strong personalities combined with their unfortunate beginning in Pride and Prejudice set the stage for fireworks. It was not difficult to divert their paths at Rosings Park and picture the conflict a forced marriage could produce.
Just for fun, let’s pretend I have not yet selected which characters I should write about in An Arranged Marriage. Seeking inspiration, I have invited some of Austen’s heroines to tea.
Setting: (Living room of small cottage)
Anne Elliot: Do you have any idea why we have been asked to meet in this place?
Elinor Dashwood: None whatsoever. I do hope whatever it is does not take long, for I was interrupted from unpacking.
Elizabeth Elliot: You do your own unpacking? How horrid! I leave such things to Anne. She has nothing better to do.
Marianne Dashwood: I do not care for this house. It is nothing like dear, dear Norland. Why, there is no pianoforte! What are we to do for pleasure?
Emma Woodhouse: It seems we are left to devise our own amusement. I know a delightful game that Frank Churchill taught me, if only we had a box of letters, but alas, there is none. Or we could create riddles—I excel at solving riddles. Oh, I have it. Are you not all unmarried? My success at making matches is unsurpassed!
Harriet Smith: Oh, yes, Miss Woodhouse is a marvel at matches! She persuaded me to dump my true love in hopes of marrying up.
Emma Woodhouse: (sighs) We do not use the phrase, marrying up, dear, or the word dump.
Harriet Smith: Oh, forgive me!
Anne Elliot: I thank you for the offer, Miss Woodhouse, but in the past, I have suffered from those who interfere in matters of the heart.
Elizabeth Elliot: Oh, pooh! You are not still pining for that seaman, are you? He was totally unsuitable.
Anne Elliot: But I loved Frederick.
Emma Woodhouse: Why was he found unsuitable? Did he have no fortune?
Elizabeth Elliot: A seaman with a fortune? Are you daft?
Emma Woodhouse: Excuse me, Miss Elliot. I have never made matches for seamen, as I seldom leave Highbury.
Elizabeth Elliot: (gives her a derisive glance) There is no need to discuss it now. Anne’s former suitor has sailed. It has been more than eight years since Father and Lady Russell sent him packing. By now, his complexion will be as rough as walnuts. (brightening) My, I sound more like Father every day.
Anne Elliot: Sailors have more wit and warmth than any other set of men in England!
Elizabeth Elliot: Rubbish! And even if Frederick Wentworth should return, he will not look in your direction. You are so greatly altered he would hardly know you.
Elinor Dashwood: (feeling sympathy for Anne, seeks to change the subject) Why have you not married by now, Miss Elliot?
Harriet Smith: Yes, you are becoming rather long in the tooth.
Emma Woodhouse: We do not remark on a lady’s age, dear.
Harriet Smith: Oh, forgive me!
Emma Woodhouse: Cannot Sir Walter arrange a suitable match for you, Miss Elliot? If not, I would be glad to offer my services.
Elizabeth Elliot: Arrange! I have no need of an arranged marriage! We must retren—that is, we are moving to Bath, where I am assured the daughter of a baronet will meet gentlemen worthy of her notice. As Father and I travel in the most exalted circles, I will not settle for anything less than becoming a viscountess!
Harriet Smith: Why, that means you will also move to Bath, Miss Anne. Since your sister will be swimming in men, surely she will share at least one with you.
Emma Woodhouse: We do not say swimming in men, dear. It sounds vulgar.
Harriet Smith: Oh, forgive me!
Elizabeth Elliot: Anne? Why should Anne go? Who will want her in Bath? She must go to Uppercross and tend our sister Mary.
Harriet Smith: Is not Uppercross where the farmers live? I like farmers. (eyes glaze over) I know one farmer who has muscles that would twist your knickers.
Emma Woodhouse: Harriet, you forget yourself! We do not use phrases like twist your hmm, what are knickers?
Harriet Smith: Oh, forgive me!
Marianne Dashwood: Anne, is your sister Mary sick again? Oh, but when is Mary not sick?
Elinor Dashwood: Marianne! You overlook how often you fall ill.
Elizabeth Elliot: Every time you ramble around in the rain, so I hear.
Marianne Dashwood: (flounces off to gaze out the window) Oh, how I long for Willoughby!
Elinor Dashwood: It would be much more prudent if you married Colonel Brandon.
Emma Woodhouse: Shall I arrange a match between Marianne and the colonel?
Marianne Dashwood: Never! I would rather die than be forced to marry that stuffy old colt’s tooth! (flounces to the divan)
Elinor Dashwood: But the colonel is an honourable gentleman, while Willoughby is nothing more than a rake!
Marianne Dashwood: I like rakes.
Elizabeth Elliot: You sound like Lydia Bennet. (snort)
Harriet Smith: Which one is Lydia?
EmmaWoodhouse: She is not here, dear. Do not ask impertinent questions.
Harriet Smith: Oh, forgive me!
Marianne Dashwood: (takes a turn about the room, flouncing the entire time) What about you, Miss Woodhouse? When shall you arrange your own marriage with someone like Mr. Knightley?
Emma Woodhouse: Oh, how you jest! Mr. Knightley and I would kill each other! I could not tolerate being told daily how spoiled I am.
Harriet Smith: (giggles) He does know how to throw a hissy fit. Badly done, Emma, badly done! (giggles again) What about Mr. Frank Churchill? Did you not set your cap at him?
Emma Woodhouse: I have never set my cap at any man. Besides, I think Frank Churchill favors you.
Harriet Smith: (blushes)
Marianne Dashwood: You would do better to arrange a marriage between Miss Smith and Mr. Elton, for I have heard that Mr. Churchill is secretly engaged to Jane Fairfax.
Emma Woodhouse: Secretly engaged! Frank Churchill would not do such a thing. That sounds more like Edward Ferrars. Did he not commit himself to Lucy Steele and tell nary a soul?
Marianne Dashwood: What a spiteful thing to say! Elinor esteems Edward highly!
Harriet Smith: (looks puzzled) Is that her way of saying Miss Dashwood has the hots for the man?
Emma Woodhouse: (lifts eyes to ceiling)
Harriet Smith: Oh, forgive me!
Elinor Dashwood: I find this conversation entirely devoid of sensibility. As Anne asked in the beginning, why have we been called together?
(Door opens, and Elizabeth Bennet enters the room)
Lizzy Bennet: (out of breath) Pray, forgive my tardiness. I am attempting to elude a certain persistent authoress, and once I tell you of her, I feel certain you will wish to do the same.
Anne Elliot: Do tell, Miss Elizabeth.
Lizzy Bennet: Her name is Jan Hahn, and she is searching for characters to place in an arranged marriage.
Harriet Smith: Is that anything like a shotgun wedding?
Emma Woodhouse: (big sigh, shrugs shoulders) I give up!
Harriet Smith: (giggles)
Lizzy Bennet: She wants to force me to marry Mr. Darcy. Mr. Darcy, of all men! Does she not remember that I said he was the last man in the world whom I could ever be prevailed on to marry? Who knows what she will try to do to you? I fear she may be deranged. We must make haste and depart this place at once!
(Hurriedly, all leave, chattering nervously)
(A few moments later, one of the ladies returns. She seats herself, straightens her skirt, and pats her hair)
(Jan Hahn enters)
Jan Hahn: (looks around, appears shocked) Where is everyone? Are you the only one willing to enter into an arranged marriage? (her face falls) I . . . uh . . . I’m so sorry, but even I can’t dream up a man I could force to marry you, Miss Elliot! Good day.