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Jane Austen Writes To a Love Rival

My dear Miss Hollis,

It was such a delight to see you at the Ashe Ball this last Saturday eve. I had heard much of your beauty and wit but none of the reports contrived to offer you enough flattery.

It was a delight to see you in the same room as Mr Thomas LeForge, a gentleman whose acquaintance I have made often. Which brings me to the purpose of this letter. I feel I must confide in you concerning a certain disturbance I felt in regards to yourself and the previously mentioned Mr LeForge. Mr LeForge is a dear, dear friend of mine and we have attended many of the same balls. We have often stared across the room and sat together. Strictly in that order, Miss Hollis. Only I could not help but observe that you were witnessed staring across the room at him. And I can only assume that your thoughts would have eventually drifted towards a seat with him.

I think it is quite understandable that any lady would be delighted to make the acquaintance of Mr LeForge due to the eloquence of his wit and the power of his lower limbs, which are lithe and flexible from grouse hunting. And certainly you would not be the first lady in the district to stare across the room at him. His visage is adequately populated. However, I cannot countenance as to why you would ever even dream of sitting with Mr LeForge for any portion of the evening.

As you were well aware, I am known for my sitting with Mr LeForge and have sat with him, at balls, on many previous occasions. I would go as far to say that I have often very forcefully sat with Mr LeForge, using my full body weight to sink aggressively into the chair. There have even been moments when our legs would lightly brush against each other during the course of our forceful and expressive sitting. Obviously on these occasions, apologies were profusely offered, all parties immediately leaving the venue and no mentions of it were ever made again for fear of the scandal that would surely erupt.

This sitting only came after an extended period of staring across the room. I would say that the staring across the room component lasted at least six months before any sitting was even considered. It now seems there is a danger of young ladies leaping into the sitting position after only a quick glance or two. It’s simply not how things are done.

That is the extent of our sitting, Miss Hollis, so I think you can understand my abject horror to see you staring at the gentleman in question, with sitting on your mind. From what I have heard, Mr LeForge would not be the first gentleman you have considered sitting with. I have it on good authority that you have previously sat with a whole host of gentlemen including Lord Barrington, Mr Grantington, Mr Hardacre, Viceroy Chapps and the Right Reverend Samuels. Twice.

I would have thought you would have been quite tired and sore after so much unbridled sitting activity. And yet you still found the energy to stare towards my dear friend Mr LeForge. Quite a testament to your reserves of energy!

You are quite new to our little community, Miss Hollis, and perhaps in your previous circle of friends such abundant staring and sitting with random gentlemen was acceptable. But that is not how we do things at the Grange. I will presume this was a mere misunderstanding and there will not be a repeat of this staring and prospective sitting in the future. Otherwise, I can assure you that you will have considerable trouble ever sitting again.

Yours, Miss Jane Austen

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