Playing Games with Jane Austen Grand Prize Contest Winner: "Whist and Wandering Thoughts"

Updated: Nov 29, 2020

Congratulations to Margaret Chaney, winner of our Playing Games with Jane Austen essay contest. Margaret lives in sunny Southern California, and loves all things Jane Austen! As a hobby, she reenacts civilian life from the American Revolution through World War II. Her other interests include English and Scottish country dance, Western line dance, classical guitar, baking, and historical costuming. Margaret is a previous high school winner of our Dressing with Jane Austen writing contest, but her submission to Playing Games swept the top prize.


You can read her grand prize short story below.


"Whist and Wandering Thoughts"



“Hearts, Mr. Collins! Hearts!” The minister, lost in thought, quickly brought his attention back to the troublesome whist match he was playing. Mrs. Philips, who had invited him to partner with her in the game, gave Mr. Collins an exasperated look. He recollected that he was never much good at whist, and had been reticent to join in, however, wishing to provide a favourable impression, and perhaps to improve upon his skills and please Lady Catherine, he agreed to play.


So far, his talents had not proven extraordinary. The parson’s wandering thoughts again took his mind elsewhere. I find I am quite taken with cousin Elizabeth after all, he thought. Yes, she will make a proper wife. Not too headstrong, but she has a will about her and a sharp wit. I flatter myself that Lady Catherine will indeed be pleased, and think my choice an excellent one. I do so desire her approval! A shrill laugh from the youngest Bennet daughter, across the room, drew the preacher’s gaze away from the game and he glanced at Elizabeth, who sat deeply engaged in conversation. “


"Mr. Collins!” Yes, it was his turn to play a card; he selected the five of hearts. “Well done, sir! At last we have won a round!” Poor Mrs. Philips! An excellent whist player, she was accustomed to a lively game, but Mr. Collins’ lack of skill made the match quite dull. She did not wish to be rude, however, so endured as best she could. While the woman waited for her partner to make his next move, her eyes drifted over to Elizabeth, who was conversing with an officer.


Mrs. Philips had noticed the peculiar interest Mr. Collins had suddenly taken in her young niece. She pondered the knowledge, and thought, surely Mr. Collins does not intend on marrying Lizzy! Why, she should be quite miserable! She has much too high an intellect to be content with such a man. He talks of nothing but himself and his ‘noble patroness.’ Lizzy would never stand for it! Still, for his sake, I do hope he finds a wife, if only to take him away and deliver us from his endless conversations! Bringing her attention back to the present, Mrs. Philips studied the preacher’s face and wondered if he was indeed intent upon pursuing her niece. Suddenly, an energetic pianoforte tune was heard, and those at the card table turned to see several young people assembling to dance. The parson remarked that he loved a lively set dance, and Mrs. Philips saw an opportunity to bring the tedious game to a conclusion. Laughter and music floated across the room as Mr. Collins and his companions played their last cards. The whist match over, the two acquaintances exchanged brief pleasantries and parted ways, leaving each other to their own musings about the future.

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