Congratulations to Regina Rose, who penned our second place winner in our "Dressing with Jane Austen" creative writing contest.
Regina Rose has been a writer, editor and academic librarian for years and years. Although she has mostly concentrated on non-fiction, she has recently started writing fiction and is currently working on a Young Adult novel and a continuation of “Pride and Prejudice” focusing on the children of William and Charlotte Collins. Her all-time favorite Austen work is “Persuasion” due to its marvelous heroine Anne Elliot.
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“Excerpts from Lucy Collins’ letter at Pemberley to her Mother at Hunsford Parish, December 4, 18-“
...[S]o Matthews has been pressed into service as my maid during my stay at
Pemberley. She is Cousin Jane’s and it must be hard for her serving two young ladies
as she must be nearly 40! Still, it is such a luxury to have help with one’s morning
toilette. Whenever I have asked Sally at Hunsford to simply do my laces, she sighs so
loudly that I invariably dismiss her before she’s done half. I know Lady Catherine would
never sanction a ladies’ maid at the parsonage, but didn’t you have one at Lucas Lodge
before you married Father?
...Imagine, I had to break the ice on the pitcher this morning! Even with the
ample fires here, cold weather manages to find the Pemberley washstands. As
Matthews assists Jane before me, I try to make sure that I am mostly attired when she
arrives. The first morning, I was completely dressed and ready to go down to breakfast
when Matthews appeared in my chamber. “Goodness, Miss,” says she, “Aren’t you a
one! Miss Darcy will be disappointed that I didn’t even need to brush you hair.” I felt so
guilty at the idea of Jane being dismayed with my rebuffing her kindness, that I resolved
to leave at least a few things requiring Matthews’ assistance every morning. Actually,
the task at which she is most adept is styling my hair. You would hardly recognize me
after she has brushed and curled my auburn mane into a fine coiffure. That first morning
she did, Jane, Mr. and Mrs. Darcy and even Cousin William all remarked on how well I
looked when I came down (due entirely to Matthews’ assistance with my hair, to be
sure!)....This morning, Jane came into my chamber while Matthews was still with me
and said, “Lucy, have you more thoughts about our shoes for the Ball tomorrow?” We
had been talking of little else for the past few days now. Jane is graciously lending me
her green gown for the Ball as my sprigged muslin has long sleeves which simply won’t
do. (Those Hostler sisters would taunt me mercilessly.) But our shoes were still a
source of consternation. Once again, Matthews came to our rescue and explained how
we could easily make some delightful roses out of the lace and ribbon we had recently
acquired in Lambton.... After breakfasting, we forewent our morning walk to fashion the
roses, and Mrs. Darcy herself pronounced them “cunningly done!” Matthews also said
that she would do something “quite special” with my hair for the Ball, so I am in raptures
thinking of it.
...Please give Father my love and tell him I have not had a chance to locate the
Sermon on Modesty in Apparel that he recommended in your last letter, or rather that
Lady Catherine recommended that he recommend. The next rainy morning, I shall
search Pemberley’s library to see if they have the volume in question. I remain your
affectionate daughter, etc., Lucy