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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 – Advanced)
Topic: Search Engine (10/06/11)

TITLE: Jane Austen and Google
By Margaret McKinney


Jane Austen and Google

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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Member Comments
Member Date
Noel Mitaxa 10/20/11
A good fun read that subtly captures the mood, without becoming Austentatious. Good dialogue, though "Mama" may be a more American term than "mother" or "mamah."
Great atmosphere and verbal visuals.
Theresa Santy 10/20/11
Made me smile. I do love Jane. Very creative and unique take on the subject.
Helen Curtis10/20/11
This is certainly creative, and you capture the personality of Austin's characters well. I did find the various "if only" musings a bit ... forced? But it was a great way of presenting the theme, and had me chuckling. Well done.
C D Swanson 10/21/11
Nice job utilizing a literary giant such as Austen to bring forth the subject matter at hand.

I enjoyed this. God Bless~
Shann Hall-LochmannVanBennekom 10/21/11
I thought this was quite creative and very on-topic. You took me back in years andit was a pleasant journey.
Leola Ogle 10/21/11
Ah...I wanted to grab a copy of "Jane Austen and Google" and settle down for a nice read like Mrs. Bennett. But alas, your delightful story was short and to the point and a very clever take on the topic at hand. Well done!!! God bless!
Marilyn Schnepp 10/21/11
From what I gather in reading this family's search for knowledge, information and help...the answers do not come from the Wife and Mother of the household... but from the Writer of this saga, who gives a Modern Day answer in his or her "TITLE". Unique way to spell out this week's subject matter.

(I'm hep to "Google"...but unfamiliar with Jane Whatshername.) Nice job.
Linda Goergen10/22/11
I can only echo the other's praise...very clever and entertaining and ingenious the way you so lightly touch on the topic, yet done so powerfully! Great job!
Patricia Protzman10/22/11
On topic, creative, and enjoyable reading.
Edmond Ng 10/25/11
I enjoy this historical look into the old days before information can be gathered so easily. The need to have a service available to search and consolidate all desired information at one's fingertips is the prelude to the invention of the search engine, and your story conveyed this point so colorfully. Excellent piece!
Noel Mitaxa 11/03/11
Congratulations on your placing. Well done.
Wilma Schlegel11/04/11
This was absolutely delightful!