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Love and Friendship, a novel by Jane Austen

LETTER the 15th LAURA in continuation

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_ When we arrived at the town where we were to Breakfast, I was
determined to speak with Philander and Gustavus, and to that
purpose as soon as I left the Carriage, I went to the Basket and
tenderly enquired after their Health, expressing my fears of the
uneasiness of their situation. At first they seemed rather
confused at my appearance dreading no doubt that I might call them
to account for the money which our Grandfather had left me and
which they had unjustly deprived me of, but finding that I
mentioned nothing of the Matter, they desired me to step into the
Basket as we might there converse with greater ease. Accordingly I
entered and whilst the rest of the party were devouring green tea
and buttered toast, we feasted ourselves in a more refined and
sentimental Manner by a confidential Conversation. I informed them
of every thing which had befallen me during the course of my life,
and at my request they related to me every incident of theirs.

"We are the sons as you already know, of the two youngest
Daughters which Lord St Clair had by Laurina an italian opera
girl. Our mothers could neither of them exactly ascertain who were
our Father, though it is generally beleived that Philander, is the
son of one Philip Jones a Bricklayer and that my Father was one
Gregory Staves a Staymaker of Edinburgh. This is however of little
consequence for as our Mothers were certainly never married to
either of them it reflects no Dishonour on our Blood, which is of
a most ancient and unpolluted kind. Bertha (the Mother of
Philander) and Agatha (my own Mother) always lived together. They
were neither of them very rich; their united fortunes had
originally amounted to nine thousand Pounds, but as they had
always lived on the principal of it, when we were fifteen it was
diminished to nine Hundred. This nine Hundred they always kept in
a Drawer in one of the Tables which stood in our common sitting
Parlour, for the convenience of having it always at Hand. Whether
it was from this circumstance, of its being easily taken, or from
a wish of being independant, or from an excess of sensibility (for
which we were always remarkable) I cannot now determine, but
certain it is that when we had reached our 15th year, we took the
nine Hundred Pounds and ran away. Having obtained this prize we
were determined to manage it with eoconomy and not to spend it
either with folly or Extravagance. To this purpose we therefore
divided it into nine parcels, one of which we devoted to Victuals,
the 2d to Drink, the 3d to Housekeeping, the 4th to Carriages, the
5th to Horses, the 6th to Servants, the 7th to Amusements, the 8th
to Cloathes and the 9th to Silver Buckles. Having thus arranged
our Expences for two months (for we expected to make the nine
Hundred Pounds last as long) we hastened to London and had the
good luck to spend it in 7 weeks and a Day which was 6 Days sooner
than we had intended. As soon as we had thus happily disencumbered
ourselves from the weight of so much money, we began to think of
returning to our Mothers, but accidentally hearing that they were
both starved to Death, we gave over the design and determined to
engage ourselves to some strolling Company of Players, as we had
always a turn for the Stage. Accordingly we offered our services
to one and were accepted; our Company was indeed rather small, as
it consisted only of the Manager his wife and ourselves, but there
were fewer to pay and the only inconvenience attending it was the
Scarcity of Plays which for want of People to fill the Characters,
we could perform. We did not mind trifles however--. One of our
most admired Performances was MACBETH, in which we were truly
great. The Manager always played BANQUO himself, his Wife my LADY
MACBETH. I did the THREE WITCHES and Philander acted ALL THE REST.
To say the truth this tragedy was not only the Best, but the only
Play that we ever performed; and after having acted it all over
England, and Wales, we came to Scotland to exhibit it over the
remainder of Great Britain. We happened to be quartered in that
very Town, where you came and met your Grandfather--. We were in
the Inn-yard when his Carriage entered and perceiving by the arms
to whom it belonged, and knowing that Lord St Clair was our
Grandfather, we agreed to endeavour to get something from him by
discovering the Relationship--. You know how well it succeeded--.
Having obtained the two Hundred Pounds, we instantly left the
Town, leaving our Manager and his Wife to act MACBETH by
themselves, and took the road to Sterling, where we spent our
little fortune with great ECLAT. We are now returning to Edinburgh
in order to get some preferment in the Acting way; and such my
Dear Cousin is our History."

I thanked the amiable Youth for his entertaining narration, and
after expressing my wishes for their Welfare and Happiness, left
them in their little Habitation and returned to my other Freinds
who impatiently expected me.

My adventures are now drawing to a close my dearest Marianne;
at least for the present.

When we arrived at Edinburgh Sir Edward told me that as the
Widow of his son, he desired I would accept from his Hands of four
Hundred a year. I graciously promised that I would, but could not
help observing that the unsimpathetic Baronet offered it more on
account of my being the Widow of Edward than in being the refined
and amiable Laura.

I took up my Residence in a Romantic Village in the Highlands
of Scotland where I have ever since continued, and where I can
uninterrupted by unmeaning Visits, indulge in a melancholy
solitude, my unceasing Lamentations for the Death of my Father, my
Mother, my Husband and my Freind.

Augusta has been for several years united to Graham the Man of
all others most suited to her; she became acquainted with him
during her stay in Scotland.

Sir Edward in hopes of gaining an Heir to his Title and Estate,
at the same time married Lady Dorothea--. His wishes have been

Philander and Gustavus, after having raised their reputation by
their Performances in the Theatrical Line at Edinburgh, removed to
Covent Garden, where they still exhibit under the assumed names of

Philippa has long paid the Debt of Nature, Her Husband however
still continues to drive the Stage-Coach from Edinburgh to


Adeiu my Dearest Marianne.



June 13th 1790.

[Jane Austen's short novel: Love and Friendship] _

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