Bonus Vignette: Pretty in Print

This bit of fun was written for Just the Write Escape, Chautona Havig’s blog.  Enjoy!

A bonus scene from Sir WalterTakes a Wife by Laura Hile

It was all quite incredible, really.

A flowery Valentine card, filled with his eloquent poetry, had been sent to the wrong lady. And so charmed was she by this, that he was now her bridegroom.

Well, a week from now he would be.

At the moment Sir Walter Elliot sat gazing at a blank sheet of paper on the desk. Crafting a wedding announcement, to be sent in advance of the event, to the Bath Gazette and the leading London newspapers, was more challenging than he supposed.

For anyone could write a bald-faced statement of the fact. Sir Walter, on the other hand, wished not only to increase his social presence, but also to inspire admiration. No, better yet, a sense of awe. After all, not just any gentleman could land a bride as well-endowed as his.

Thus he must word the announcement perfectly. For Miss Austen herself had once told him, “One may as well be single if the wedding is not to be in print.”

There had been a few snags. Sir Walter’s first choice of venue was oh-so-fashionable Mayfair’s parish church, St. George Hanover Square. Unfortunately, neither he nor Lady Catherine were residents of Mayfair—yet. Then too, the calendar for weddings was notoriously crowded. Sir Walter dared not delay the ceremony. His bride might change her mind.

Lady Catherine had been surprisingly stubborn about the special license, even though it could be easily obtained. “For surely you have the necessary connections, my dear,” Sir Walter had said. Not that he cared for the prestige of this license per se, but the ceremony could have been performed at her brother’s residence. Would not that look fine in print?

Married by special license in the dwelling house of the earl of —

Sir Walter sighed. The man would not be present for the wedding. Nor would any of the guests be considered prominent, aside from Lady Catherine’s nephews. Since Mr. Darcy was not fond of London society, mentioning his name would not be useful. Such a pity.

He could scarcely refer to his bride’s attire, either—for she was having nothing new made up—or the destination for their wedding trip. Indeed, the latter was still being negotiated. At present, Lady Catherine was holding out for a visit to Kew Gardens—as if this were a destination! And Sir Walter was willing to acquiesce, as long as the money saved could be spent on a full-length bridal portrait for the gallery, with a copy to be made for his own Kellynch Hall.

“For there is no point in looking as handsome as we do,” he had told her, “if it is not recorded for posterity to admire.”

The unhappy truth was this: Sir Walter Elliot, the prize of the Bath marriage mart, was to be married in an ordinary parish church with no attendants and few witnesses.

But they would be married. That was the material point.

“First comes love, then comes marriage—” Sir Walter repeated to himself. “And then, with her splendid fortune at hand, comes all the rest.”

One did what one could.

Thus Sir Walter manfully dipped his pen in the inkpot and wrote:

Lady Catherine de Bourgh, of Rosings Park Estate, and Sir Walter Elliot, of Kellynch Hall, were married on the 16th, at the parish church of Hunsford, Kent. A number of friends of the contracting parties were present, who, in conjunction with numerous acquaintances, wished the newly-wedded pair all the joys of felicity.