Jane Austen Stole My Boyfriend

Jane Austen Stole My Boyfriend by Cora Harrison

Book: Jane Austen Stole My Boyfriend by Cora Harrison Read Free Book Online
Authors: Cora Harrison
smiling down at her, his little sister. I find myself feeling slightly irritated. After all, she is not that young!
    And then I look at the admiral who is still glaring at me critically. He glances up at the balcony where the orchestra are beginning to tune their instruments.
    ‘My dear,’ he says to Elinor, ‘I think if you look at your card you will see that the next dance has been given to Sir Walter.’ He looks at the governess and abruptly
tells her to escort her charge. Then he says, ‘Perhaps, Miss Cooper, you will do me the honour of dancing this with an old man. Thomas, the Honourable Clotilde Wallop is here. You should ask
her to dance. It was very kind of the Earl to put you up when you were in Hampshire. Come with me – I must greet her also. Excuse us for a moment, Miss Cooper.’
    Thomas gives me an apologetic look and I try to smile cheerfully.
    And now Thomas is bowing before Clotilde, the eldest sister of Newton Wallop. She is beautifully dressed in a flowing gown of gold silk embroidered with gold thread. As the daughter of the Earl
of Portsmouth she will have a huge dowry. When the admiral makes his way back to me the look of satisfaction on his face is sickening.
    ‘And your family comes from Bristol?’ he says to me when we reach the bottom of the line and have the opportunity to talk to each other.
    I nod silently.
    ‘And your father, is he a . . . merchant?’ He pauses before the word ‘merchant’. I’m not sure whether he is pleased at the idea – after all, most merchants in
Bristol are rich – or whether he thinks I am under-bred, but I tell him briefly that my father is dead, but that he used to be a clergyman. This makes him look as though some bad smell has
reached his nose. I see Jane laughing with Newton and I envy them their easy companionship. They are sharpening their wits on each other and whispering in each other’s ears.
    ‘Good, good,’ says the admiral, but the tone of his voice says, Bad, bad. ‘And where did you meet my nephew?’
    ‘At Basingstoke Assembly Rooms; my cousin Frank Austen introduced us,’ I say. I feel my face flush guiltily. What would he say if he knew that we had met at midnight on the streets
of Portsmouth?
    Thomas and Newton’s sister seem to be getting on very well. Of course he knows her – they were probably great friends when he stayed at their house not long ago. He is laughing at
something Clotilde says, throwing his head back, the candlelight shining on his black hair. I gaze at it, wishing I was in his arms. Then I realize that the admiral has asked a question, so I
apologize.
    ‘I just asked whether you are enjoying Bath.’ He sounds annoyed and I drag my eyes away from Thomas and tell him that I love Bath. I try to be enthusiastic about the Assembly Rooms,
but he just nods in a bored way and then I fall silent. He asks me whether I have had a season in London and I am so taken aback that I blurt out the fact that my family could never afford
something like that for me. He raises his eyebrows and greets an old acquaintance over my shoulder, but says no more to me, and I can’t think of anything else to say.
    When the dance finishes, I curtsy to him and he allows me to make my own way over to where my two aunts are sitting with Phylly perched on the bench below them. He doesn’t think that I am
worth paying any more attention to. I am acutely miserable and feel that I should have tried harder to impress him.
    ‘Who is that?’ Aunt Leigh-Perrot is staring at the admiral.
    ‘Admiral Williams, Aunt,’ I say. ‘Where’s Eliza?’
    ‘Dancing with a Frenchman,’ says Mrs Austen. ‘Is that the uncle of Captain Thomas, then?’
    I nod; she looks interested, but I think I have made rather a mess of it. Harry and Jane come up at that moment. Harry very nicely asks Phylly to dance and she bounces up from the seat and looks
triumphantly at Jane.
    And then Newton comes to claim Jane once again and I am still waiting,

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