As I re-watched one of my favorite episodes of the British TV show "Doctor Who," which features a story surrounding Agatha Christie, I was inspired.
Wouldn't an episode featuring Jane Austen be the best thing since sliced bread?
I shared this desire with a Whovian fan club I belong to on Facebook. Then I began imagining what interactions between the Doctor, his companion and various characters in Jane Austen's life might look like.
As easy as these have proven to write, this is undoubtedly only the first of several installments of the sort. The vignettes below are not presented chronologically, by the way. "Ten," of course, denotes the Tenth Doctor, and Donna is his companion in the fourth season of the reboot.
Jane's mom: "And is this your wife?"
-both Doctor and companion deny it vigorously-
Mom, as if offering consolation: "Oh, never mind, there are still many wonderful ladies you may meet."
Doctor, as aside to companion, with Jane overhearing: "It's universally acknowledged, you know, that a single man of apparently good fortune must 'be in want of a wife.'"
Ten: Oh hello there!
Jane: Good morrow, sir.
Ten: Where're you off to?
Jane: The village apothecary, sir. Are you looking for direction?
Ten: Oh, no, just pottering about, you might say.
Jane: Ah. Well, ah, the moor about half a mile farther on is a beautiful walk.
Ten: It is, isn't it? I might even find a cave there. Far better than any town. 'What are men to rocks and mountains,' eh?
Jane: My, sir, you've expressed my feelings exactly.
Ten: I'm the Doctor, by the way, forgive me for not properly introducing myself earlier.
Jane: A pleasure to meet you, doctor...?
Ten: Just the Doctor, miss.
Jane: Well then, Doctor, I am Miss Austen, or properly Miss Jane, as my sister is slightly elder. I find it rather odd, though, that you do not seek an introduction through a friend.
Ten: Who? One of these trees here? Hello, Tree, why don't you introduce me to the young lady?
Jane, smiling: Sir, you are absurd.
Ten: It comes from reading too many novels.
Jane: I'm afraid, sir, I must beg to differ. Absurd behavior manifests itself generally without the help of fiction.
Ten: Ah, quite true. Anybody who can't take pleasure in a good novel 'must be intolerably stupid,' too. So perhaps I haven't read enough.
Jane, dimple peeking as she tries not to smile again: I'm sure the village apothecary might give you a prescription.
[at an officers' ball]
Donna: Well, Galahad, get yourself out there and dance! And you'd better not ask me because I'd tie myself in knots trying to figure these things out.
Jane: You amuse me so, Miss Noble. If you would like I could teach you the cotillion. It's really far less drudgery than you seem to think.
Ten: Ha, I'd love to see that! Donna Noble twirling around, being taught a dance by Jane Austen herself!
Jane: Miss Jane, if you please.
Ten: Well, Miss Jane, I think you might have better things to do. I see a young gentleman heading this way.
Jane: That's Mr. Lefroy, sir. Have you had the pleasure of meeting him?
Donna, staring: No, but wouldn't THAT be a pleasure!
Ten, clearing throat: We haven't, but would you do the honors?
Jane: Assuredly. Mr. Lefroy, this is Miss Noble, and a man who calls himself the Doctor. Doctor, Miss Noble, this is Mr. Lefroy, a neighbor of mine.
-all exchange how-do-you-do's-
Lefroy: What a pleasure, sir. Say, if you don't mind my asking, have you read anything decent lately? It seems many of the locals have been filling their heads with the likes of Udolpho. Few have even known the pleasure of an evening of reading from Fordyce's Sermons.
Lefroy: Yes, if it can be believed. I've often thought that reading, instead of dancing, should be made the order of the day at a party. It would be so much more edifying.
Jane: But not nearly so much like a ball, you must admit.
Lefroy: Would that be so terrible, Miss Jane?
Donna, aside to Ten: I take back what I said. I'd rather kiss a toad than him.
Ten: Something's wrong.
Donna: Of course it is. Something's always wrong around you.
Ten: No I mean, something's wrong with Jane Austen. Or at least with her love affair.
Donna: What love affair? Worried that Elizabeth and Mr. Darcy aren't going to end up together?
Ten: Don't you know that that Tom Lefroy there was supposed to be the one she fell in love with? Now tell me, did she look like she was in love to you?
Donna: How could she be, with that sapskulled dullard?
Ten: Exactly. Now the question is, why? What has happened to make him so revolting? It's almost like Mr. Collins come to life.
Donna: Who's Mr. Collins?
Ten: -pause- Have you NEVER read "Pride and Prejudice"?
Donna: Oh come on, I can't possibly remember every detail about the books they made you read in sixth form.
Ten: But it's "Pride and Prejudice"!
Donna: So what? It's still a fat old novel. And a bloody boring one at that.
Ten: -shakes head-