Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 - Advanced)
Topic: Search Engine (10/06/11)
TITLE: Jane Austen and Google
By Margaret McKinney
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Sun shines through the parlor windows. Mrs. Bennett sighs in contentment and opens her novel for some mid-morning idle time. Her daughters are spread throughout the house in various pursuits, while her husband is helping their hired hand with the pig’s litter.
Her solitude is first disturbed by her eldest, Jane, the most beautiful of her daughters. Jane is usually very accomplished in the sewing room, but she enters now wearing the most atrocious gown Mrs. Bennett has ever seen. The sleeves are, indeed, sewn on backwards.
Mrs. Bennett looks at the dress in dismay. “Oh, Jane. What on earth did you do?”
Jane’s face reddens. “Mama, I tried to fit the sleeves in the new puckered style, but I had no instruction! Now the sleeves are amiss and the dress is ruined! If only there was a ready reference to teach me how to execute the stitch correctly!”
Jane leaves the room in a fit of tears. Mrs. Bennett has just re-opened her book when Mary begins to play a Mozart concerto on the pianoforte. It is plodding at best and the lady attempts to concentrate above the din. At length Mary pauses. “Mama, how many pieces did Mozart compose for the pianoforte?”
“How should I know, Mary?”
The young girl sighs, running her fingers lovingly over the sheet music. “I wish I could see a catalogue of all of Mozart’s music, Mama, right at this very moment.”
Mrs. Bennett cannot answer for Mary’s wishes, for she would much prefer to read her book. But before she could attend to the page for one moment, Lizzy Bennett enters the room holding a slim volume to her breast. Lizzy sits near her mother and simply stares ahead, sighing every few moments. Mrs. Bennett is finally distracted enough to lift her eyes to her daughter. “Well, Lizzy, what is it?”
Lizzy welcomes the introduction to conversation. She excitedly gestures with the book in her hand. “Mama, I came across these lines of poetry: ‘A fretful temper will divide; the closest knot that may be tied.’ Do you not wonder what Cowper means with these lines?”
Mrs. Bennett presses her hands to her temples. “Lizzy, I have no idea.”
Lizzy slaps the book against her lap. “It would be so delightful if somebody would dissect Cowper’s poetry and disseminate the information for all to access at will. Mama, do you not think that would be delightful?”
To Mrs. Bennett, the restoration of her peaceful morning would be the most delightful thing imaginable. She applies herself to this end straightaway, attempting to ignore the various moaning and rumbling emanating from her daughters. Finally, she is able to lose her mind in her novel for a full five minutes. Indeed, the story is progressing rapidly, and to her great delight, when the front door bangs open and Mr. Bennett trods through the entryway, completely covered in mud.
“Mr. Bennett!” Mrs. Bennett exclaims, rising to her feet and staring aghast at her mate. “What has happened to you? Do you know that you are covered in mud?”
“I am aware of it,” her spouse answers drily. “Although I appreciate the reminder.”
“Well, what of it, Mr. Bennett?”
Mr. Bennett makes to rake his hand through his hair, but thinks better of it. “The sow was birthing her litter. Not three or four piglets, like Hendricks said it would be, but an enormous litter of eight. Eight, Mrs. Bennett! Can you imagine the little rascals squiggling all in the mud? And indeed, all over my new waistcoat?”
“I cannot imagine, Mr. Bennett. Such a mess!”
“Had I known all that was involved in birthing a sow, I would have adequately prepared myself for the experience. Blast the lack of information around here!”
For Mrs. Bennett, this was the limit. No less than four members of the Bennett family had interrupted her with their lamentations, and their irritation was encroaching upon her peace! The entire morning was nearly gone now, and Mrs. Bennett had only managed a handful of pages. She shuffles back to her couch and takes up her book with a sigh.
Perhaps, one day in the future, there would be a manner of accessing ready information of all kinds, right at one’s fingertips, at any time of day. It would most certainly be the best of inventions. Mrs. Bennett should like to have such a service available to her very much indeed.
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