Becoming Jane (2007) Script

(CLOCK TICKING)

JANE: "Boundaries of...

"propriety...

"vigorously assaulted...

"...propriety were..."

(EXCLAIMS)

(PLAYING PIANO SOFTLY)


"The boundaries of propriety were vigorously assaulted.

"The boundaries of propriety were vigorously assaulted, as was only right, "but not quite breached, as was also right.

"Nevertheless,

"she was not pleased."

(PIANO PLAYING LOUDLY)

-What is it? -Jane.

Oh.

Jane!

Oh, dear me.

That girl needs a husband.

And who's good enough? Nobody.

I blame you for that.

Being too much the model of perfection.

(LAUGHS SARCASTICALLY)

I've shared your bed for 32 years and perfection is something I have not encountered.

Yet.

No. Stop it. Mr Austen, it's Sunday! Stop, no, it's...

(CHUCKLES)

The utmost of a woman's character is expressed in the duties of daughter, sister and, eventually, wife and mother.

It is secured by soft attraction, virtuous love and quiet in the early morning.

lf a woman happens to have a particular superiority, for example, a profound mind, it is best kept a profound secret.

Humour is liked more, but wit? No. lt is the most treacherous talent of them all.

Now, George, old fellow, you know you have to stay.

-Jenny! -George, George.

MRS AUSTEN: Hurry along, Jane! We'll be late!

JANE: When Her Ladyship calls, we must obey.


MRS AUSTEN: Come along, Jane.

Lady Gresham, may I introduce my niece Comtesse De Feuillide and Mr Fowle, Cassandra's fiancé.

-Comtesse? Then you presume to be French? -By marriage.

Monsieur le Comte is notheee to pay his respects?

A prior engagement, ma'am, Monsieur Ie Comtewas obliged to pay his eespectsto Madame Ie GuiIIotine.

Oh!

I see your nephew is with us again.

Mr Wisley.

Wisley is indispensable to my happiness.

Well, do sit down.

Mr Fowle and Cassandra are only recently engaged.

When shall you marry?

-Not for some time, Your Ladyship. -Why not?

I'm also engaged to go to the West Indies with Lord Craven's expedition against the French, as chaplain.

-What has Craven offered you? -I've hopes of a parish on my return.

How much is it worth?

Enough to marry on, in a modest way.

Mr Wisley, did you know the Basingstoke assemblies resume?

Very soon, I believe.

-Jane does enjoy a ball. -Wisley can't abide them.

But, sir, a ball is an indispensable blessing to the juvenile part ofthe neighbourhood.

Everything agreeable in the way oftalking and sitting down together all managed with the utmost decorum.

An amiable man could not object.

Then I find I'm converted.

JANE: Displayed like a brood mare.

-Mr Wisley is a highly eligible young gentleman. -Oh, Mother!

-You know our situation, Jane. -Oh!

And he is Lady Gresham's favourite nephew and heir.

One day, he shall inherit this.

Excellent prospects!

-His small fortune will not buy me. -What will buy you, cousin?

MAN: More wary in the world, Mr Lefroy.

(LAUGHING)

You can pay me for that later.

-Huzzah! Huzzah! -MAN: Come on, Mr Lefroy.

Come on, man, hit him!

Lefroy!

-WOMAN: Glass ofwine with you, sir? -Madam.

(GROANING)

-Displaying to advantage, I see, Lefroy. -Like the sword, Austen.

How long before you have to get back to the sticks?

A day.

So soon?

Doghouse, debts, but one must cut some sort of a figure even in the militia.

Especially when condemned to a parsonage, my friend.

Yes.

Still, who is this sour-faced little virgin?

Your pardon, ma'am.

Mr Tom Lefroy, may I present Mr John Warren?

Joining me in Hampshire, my father is preparing us both for holy orders.

I understand you've visited Hampshire, Mr Lefroy.

Last year.

-Long visit, was it? -Very long, Mr Warren. Almost three hours.

Mr Austen, you're devilishly handsome. A kiss, a kiss.

Oops!

So, Tom, where should we go? Vauxhall Gardens?

Been there.

Lefroy, there's a Tahitian Love Fest on at White's.

Seen it.

-Crockford's? -Crockford's? Done that.

Or did it do me?

Wh-wh-what is a Tahitian Love Fest?

Warren!

HENRY: I humbly beg your pardon, sir.

Theft of one pig is a crime, heinous to be sure, but two pigs...

Two pigs is a violent assault on the very sanctity of private property itself.

(WHISPERING) Excuse me.

You and your kind are a canker on the body social.

And cankers are cut out.

Transportation for life. Next.

(GAVEL BANGS)

-Why are you here in London, sir? -To learn the law.

-Which has no other end but what? -The preservation ofthe rights of property.

-Against? -The mob.

Therefore, order is kept because we have...

-A standing army? -Good manners, sir, and prudence.

-Do you know that word? Prudence? -Yes.

Consider myself.

I was born rich, certainly, but I remain rich by virtue of exceptional conduct.

I have shown restraint.

Your mother, my sister, became poor because she did not...

She married my father because she loved him.

Yes, and that's why you have so many brothers and sisters back there in...

-Limerick. -Mmm.

Ifyou hope, I say hope...

Ifyou aspire to inherit my property,

you must prove yourself more worthy.

But what do we find? We find dissipation wild enough to glut the imaginings of a Hottentot braggadocio.

Wild companions, gambling, running around St James's like a neck-or-nothing young blood ofthe fancy.

-What kind of lawyerwill that make? -Typical.

Humour?

Well, you're going to need that because I'm teaching you a lesson.

I'm sending you to stay with your other relations, the Lefroys.

-Uncle, they live in the country. -Deep in the country.

(LANGLOIS CHUCKLING)

-Jane? -Mmm?

Can you?

Thank you.

I think you two quite the prettiest sisters in England.

Mr Fowle will be enchanted.

San Domingo is half a world away.

He'll forget me.

Impossible. Look at the memory you're giving him tonight.

(CHUCKLES)

Cassie.

His heart will stop at the very sight ofyou or he doesn't deserve to live.

And, yes, I'm aware ofthe contradiction embodied in that sentence.

(CARRIAGE APPROACHING)

Is it?

-Jane! -Henry!

You look wonderful.

Well, hello, John. It's very good to see you.

-Nice to see you. -Oh, John!

George!

(EXCLAIMING)

MRS AUSTEN: Leave your brother alone.

Jane! Jane? Have you heard? My father's nephew is staying with us.

From London.

-He is a... -A brilliant young lawyer.

-Lucy, please. -With a reputation.

For lateness?

(CLINKING)

MRS AUSTEN: Hat off, George. Hat off, Father's ready.

-Thank you, John. -Please.

REVEREND AUSTEN: The family is always moving in great ways and small.

Firstly, the small. Henry is back from Oxford with his degree, -thank goodness. -Well done.

And our friend John, my new student. Then the great.

Cassandra, who is forsaking us for her brother Edward and his family at the coast whilst Robert voyages to the West Indies with Lord Craven's expedition.

And then, together, they can embark on that most great and most serious journey of life.

Miss Austen, I understand you will be favouring us with a reading?

-Do, Jane. -WOMAN: Do.

MAN: Oh, please, Miss Jane. WOMAN: Oh, yes, Jane, do.

Please, Jane.

"Advice from a young lady on the engagement of her beloved sister Cassandra

"to a Fowle."

(ALL LAUGHING)

"His addresses were offered in a manner violent enough to be flattering.

"The boundaries of propriety were vigorously assaulted, as was only right, "but not quite breached, as was also right.

"Nevertheless, she was..."

And may I introduce my young nephew Mr Thomas Lefroy?

WOMAN: Oh.

REVEREND AUSTEN: And he's more than welcome. Join us, sir, join us.

Green velvet coat. Vastly fashionable.

You'll find this vastly amusing.

"His addresses were...

"The boundaries of propriety were vigorously assaulted, "as was only right, but not quite breached, as was also right.

"Nevertheless, she was not pleased.

"Her taste was refined, her sentiments noble, her person lovely, her figure elegant."

(LAUGHING)

Good God, there's writing on both sides ofthose pages.

Shh. Damn it, man.

"'It was only yesterday I repelled Lord Graham and his six million, "'which would have lasted me almost a twelvemonth, "'with economies...'

"'...a treasure

"'greater than all the jewels in India, an adoring heart."'

God!

"'And pray, madam, what am I to expect in return?'

"'Expect? Well, you may expect to have me pleased from time to time."'

Is this who I am?

"And a sweet, gentle, pleading, innocent, "delicate, sympathetic, loyal, untutored, adoring female heart."

The end.

(ALL LAUGH)

-Bravo, Jane. -WOMAN: Well done, Jane.

(ALL APPLAUDING)

MAN: Bravo.

Well done.

WOMAN: She speaks so well.

Well, excessively charming, I thought.

Well, accomplished enough, perhaps, but a metropolitan mind may be less susceptible to extended, juvenile self-regard.

REVEREND AUSTEN: Well, thank you. We're both very proud.

# In airy dreams

(EXCLAIMS)

# ...absent Iove to see

# Dear you, oh, to think

# On thee #


MR LEFROY: Careful there, old fellow.

TOM: Fine piece, Mr Lefroy.

Handled a gun before, have you, Tom?

-TOM: Mmm. -Tom!

(LUCY SCREAMS)

MR LEFROY: Jesus!

-Tom. -Uncle?

Why not try a walk?

There's some very fine country round about. Very fine.

A walk.


Miss!

Miss! Miss!

Miss! Miss, I...

Miss?

Miss?

-Miss... -Austen.

Mr Lefroy.

Yes, I know, but I am alone.

-Except for me. -Exactly.

Oh, come!

What rules of conduct apply in this rural situation?

We have been introduced, have we not?

What value is there in an introduction when you cannot even remember my name?

Indeed, can barely stay awake in my presence.

Madam.

These scruples must seem very provincial to a gentleman with such elevated airs, but I do not devise these rules. I am merely obliged to obey them.

I have been told there is much to see upon a walk but all I've detected so far is a general tendency to green above and brown below.

Yes, well, others have detected more. It is celebrated.

-There's even a book about Selborne Wood. -Oh.

A novel, perhaps?

Novels?

Being poor, insipid things, read by mere women, even, God forbid, written by mere women?

I see, we're talking ofyour reading.

As ifthe writing ofwomen did not display the greatest powers of mind, knowledge of human nature, the liveliest effusions ofwit and humour and the best-chosen language imaginable?

-Was I deficient in rapture? -In consciousness.

It was...

It was accomplished.

It was ironic.

-And you're sure I've not offended you? -Not at all.

My lords, ladies and gentlemen, the Grand Vizier's Flight.

-May I have the honour? -How kind, cousin.

-Miss Austen. -Mr Wisley.

May I have the pleasure ofthis next dance?

(CHATTERING)

LUCY: Oh, no, we're so late. MRS LEFROY: Take care.

Oh, thank you, Tom.

LUCY: Hurry. MRS LEFROY: Lucy.

(EXCLAIMS)

WISLEY: Oh!

I am mortified.

I practised, but it won't stick.

HENRY: What a lovely pair they make.

Ah, Sister.

ELIZA: What do you make of Mr Lefroy? JANE: We're honoured by his presence.

You think?

He does, with his preening, prancing, Irish-cum-Bond-Street airs.

Jane.

Well, I call it very high indeed, refusing to dance when there are so few gentleman.

-Henry, are all your friends so disagreeable? -Jane.

Where exactly in Ireland does he come from, anyway?

Limerick, Miss Austen.

I would regard it as a mark of extreme favour ifyou would stoop to honour me with this next dance.

(COUNTRY DANCE MUSIC PLAYING)

Being the first to dance with me, madam, I feel it only fair to inform you that you carry the standard for Hampshire hospitality.

Ah, then your country reputation depends on my report.

This, by the way, is called a country dance, after the French, contredanse.

Not because it is exhibited at an uncouth rural assembly with glutinous pies,

execrable Madeira and truly anarchic dancing.

You judge the company severely, madam.

-I was describing what you'd be thinking. -Allow me to think for myself.

Gives me leave to do the same, sir, and come to a different conclusion.

-Will you give so much to a woman? -It must depend on the woman and what she thinks of me.

But you are above being pleased.

And I think that you, miss, what was it?

-Austen. Mr...? -Lefroy.

I think that you, Miss Austen, consider yourself a cut above the company.

Me?

You, ma'am, secretly.

(ALL APPLAUDING)

How many times did you stand up with that gentleman, Jane?

-LUCY: Was it twice? -Twice would have been partial.

-Thrice would have been absolutely... -LUCY: Flagrant.

Careful, Jane, Lucy is right. Mr Lefroy does have a reputation.

Presumably as the most disagreeable...

"...insoIent, arrogant, impudent, "insufferabIe, impertinent of men."

Too many adjectives.

What is she trying to say?

On your toes, gentlemen. No singles.

(GRUNTS)

(ALL CHEERING)

Bowler's end, bowler's end.

MAN 1 : Again! MAN 2: Run for more.

I never feel more French than when I watch cricket.

-Out. -Not out.

-No? -No.

MRS AUSTEN: Is he out?

I begin to suspect you're flirting with my brother, cousin.

Flirting is a woman's trade. One must keep in practice.

(EXCLAIMS)

You're gone.

MAN: Well played, Tom.

We're depending on you.

MRS AUSTEN: Oh, it's Mr Warren's...turn.

MAN: Best of luck!

John Warren!

MAN: Good luck, Mr Warren.

John neverwas very good, though.

MAN: Easy!

MAN: Run, Warren, run!

MAN 1 : Quickly, hurry! MAN 2: Run!

Jolly good show!

Watch.

-UMPIRE: You're out. -Yah!

-UMPIRE: You're gone, Mr Warren. -Oh, dear.

Prodigious, Tom, prodigious.

(LAUGHING)

Thank you, Warren. On yourway.

MAN: Same again, Tom.

-MRS AUSTEN: Well done, Mr Warren. -Bad ball. It's a terrible wicket.

I hope you're not too disappointed, Miss Austen.

Four more to win, Wisley.

MAN 1 : Who's next? MAN 2: Come on!

-LUCY: She can't... -Jane!

What on earth are you going to do?

WOMAN 1 : Irrepressible. WOMAN 2: ...she can.

(CROWD APPLAUDING)

MAN 1 : Move in!

MAN 2: Go easy, Tom.

MAN 3: Be gentle, Lefroy!

(GRUNTS)

(ALL EXCLAIM)

Run, Jane, run!

-Move! -Run!

Only four more to win.

MAN: Bowler's end! Move yourself, you lout!

MAN: One more! WOMAN: Quickly!

Go, go, go!

UMPIRE: Not out.

Bad luck, Lefroy.

See?

WOMAN: She was so good.

-You've played this game before? -No choice, you see. She was raised by brothers.

Time for a swim, I think.

MRS AUSTEN: Well played, Henry.

I dedicate our victory to La Comtesse de Feuillide.

-Now, there's a decent bit of river over the hill. -Oh, yes?

(EXCLAIMING)

Careful!

Come on, let's go!

Wait!

-Not this time, Lefroy. -Huh?

You think not?

(WHOOPING)

(DOG BARKS)

Down, boy.

-Father, have you seen Tom? -No, Lucy, I've not.

Besotted. Natural enough at 15.

Love and sense are enemies at any age.

-Mrs Lefroy, may I explore your library? -Of course.

Lucy would marry him tomorrow, and what a terrible husband he would make.

I suppose you mean his reputation. Experience can recommend a man.

(MAN CHUCKLING)

-Miss Austen. -Oh, Mr Lefroy.

-And reading. -Yes.

I've been looking through your book ofthe wood. MeWhite's NaturaI History.

Oh.

-Well, how do you like it? -I cannot get on. It is too disturbing.

-Disturbing? -Mmm.

Take this observation.

(CLEARS THROAT)

"Swifts on a fine morning in May, flying this way, that way, "sailing around at a great height perfectly happily. Then...

"Then one leaps onto the back of another, grasps tightly, "and forgetting to fly, they both sink down and down in a great, dying fall, "fathom after fathom, until the female utters..."

Yes?

"...the female utters a loud, piercing cry

"of ecstasy."

Is this conduct commonplace in the natural history of Hampshire?

(STUTTERS)

Your ignorance is understandable since you lack... What shall we call it?

The history?

Propriety commands me to ignorance.

Condemns you to it and yourwriting to the status offemale accomplishment.

Ifyou wish to practise the art offiction, to be the equal of a masculine author, experience is vital.

I see.

And what qualifies you to offer this advice?

I know more of the world.

(LAUGHS SARCASTICALLY)

A great deal more, I gather.

Enough to know that your horizons must be...widened

by an extraordinary young man.

By a very dangerous young man, one who has, no doubt, infected the hearts of many a young...

-Young woman with the soft corruption... -Read this and you will understand.

"When the phiIosopher heard that the fortress of virtue had aIready been subdued, "he began to give a Iarge scope to his desires.

"His appetite was not of that squeamish kind which cannot feed on a dainty

-"because another..." -TOM: "Another has tasted it."

-He's not tasting this dainty. -What, dear?

JANE: "...nor had her face much appearance of beauty.

"But her cIothes being torn from aII the upper part of her body..."

TOM: "...her breasts, which were well formed and extremeIy white, "attracted the eyes of her deIiverer, and for a few moments they stood siIent..."

JANE: "...and gazing at each other."

(CHURCH BELL TOLLING)

I have read your book.

-I have read your book and disapprove. -Of course you do.

-But ofwhat? The scenes? Characters? The prose? -No, all good.

-The morality? -Flawed.

(LAUGHING) Well, of course, it is. But why?

Vice leads to difficulty, virtue to reward. Bad characters come to bad ends.

Exactly. But in life, bad characters often thrive. Take yourself.

(TOM LAUGHING)

And a novel must show how the world truly is, how characters genuinely think, how events actually occur.

A novel should somehow reveal the true source of our actions.

What of my hero's feelings?

Well, it seems to me, sir, that your hero's very vigorous feelings caused him and everyone connected with him a great deal oftrouble.

Ah, well, ifthe book has troubled you...

-Oh, but an orphan must know trouble. -What sort of trouble?

All sorts of trouble.

Laverton Fair. Vastly entertaining. Monstrous good idea, Jane.

Yes, Miss Austen, not exactly your usual society, I'd say.

Show a little imagination, Mr Lefroy.


Trouble here enough.

And freedom, the freedom of men.

Do not you envy it?

But I have the intense pleasure of observing it so closely.

Ah.

Now, there's a fool, to go to it with a professional.

(GRUNTING)

-You know about this, of course. -Of course.

Yes, a vastly fashionable pastime in London.

Beating a man to a pulp. What are you doing?

Mr Lefroy, stop!

TOM: Make way!

(GRUNTING)

-Stop! -Let us see how you fare against me, sir.

Coming through.

Five shillings on the gent. Who will take it? You, sir? That's the ticket.

Have that.

Thank you.

Go on, hit him!

Come on, Lefroy, hit him, man!

Tom, you must stop.

Come on, Lefroy!

Up, sir.

Tom!

(EXCLAIMS)

Lucy.

(EXCLAIMING)

-That's twice he's done that to me. -You spend money like water.

I'm afraid it's damn low waterwith me.

-I'm afraid I'm short, sir. -Take it.

How embarrassing.

Yeh!

Mr Lefroy? Mr Lefroy? Mr Lefroy?

Was I deficient in propriety?

Why did you do that?

Couldn't waste all those expensive boxing lessons.

Forgive me if I suspect in you a sense of justice.

(CHUCKLING)

I am a lawyer. Justice plays no part in the law.

Is that what you believe?

I believe it. I must.

I beg your leave.

-Her heart is stirred. -It's a summer squall.

Mr Lefroy will soon be gone. And Mr Wisley will still be waiting, I hope.

-The man's a booby. -Oh, he will grow out ofthat.

And she could fix him with very little trouble.

You could persuade her.

To sacrifice her happiness?

Jane should have not the man who offers the best price, but the man she wants.

Oh, Mr Austen.

Must we have this conversation day in and day out?

We'll end up in the gutter ifwe carry on like this.

MRS AUSTEN: Jenny! Mr Austen!

Where are you?

(DOORBELL DINGS)

So kind ofyou to return the call.

-Will you take a dish oftea, ma'am? -Green tea?

-Brown, Your Ladyship. -Then no.

Where is your youngest daughter?

She's visiting the poor, ma'am.

Jane? Jane!

At last. Lady Gresham and Mr Wisley have come to call. Where have you been?

Ma'am. Sir.

Well, perhaps... Perhaps the young people would like to take a walk?

I see there's a pretty little wilderness at the side of the house.

Excuse me.

Jane?

-What is she doing? -Writing.

Can anything be done about it?

Miss Austen, you may know that I have known you for some considerable time during my visits to Steventon.

The garden is so affecting in this season.

Indeed.

-The impression you have given me has always... -The flowers particularly.

What I'm trying to say is that I...

I have a respectable property of 2,000 a year in addition to even greater expectations as Lady Gresham's heir, -to which it may be indelicate to refer. -Oh, indelicate, yes.

It's yours. Ifwe marry, all of it, yours.

Mr Wisley...

Your offer is most sincere, I can see, and gentlemanlike, and it honours me, truly.

But for all you are, and all you offer, I...

Yes.

(CLEARS THROAT)

Sometimes affection is a shy flower that takes time to blossom.

Lying to tradesmen, mending, scratching, scraping.

Endlessly, endlessly making do!

I understand that our circumstances are difficult, ma'am.

-There is no money for you. -Surely something could be done.

What we can put by must go to your brothers. You will have nothing, unless you marry.

Well, then, I will have nothing. For I will not marry without affection, like my mother!

And now I have to dig my own damn potatoes!

Would you rather be a poor old maid? Ridiculous, despised, the butt of jokes?

The legitimate sport of any village lout with a stone and an impudent tongue?

Affection is desirable.

Money is absolutely indispensable.

I could live by my...

Yourwhat?

-I could live by my... -Pen?

Let's knock that notion on the head once and for all.

What's this?

Trouble amongst my women?

Come, take hands and there's an end.

-Where are you going? Miss! -To feed the pigs, ma'am.

He could give you a splendid home.

-A comfortable life. -Father.

Consider.

This is likely to be your best offer.

Wisley?

It is true, so far he has not impressed...

-A booby. -He should grow out ofthat.

Nothing destroys spirit like poverty.

I saw Queen Marie Antoinette wear something the same at a ball once.

Am I making a show? I am, I know.

What trouble we take to make them like us when we like them.

Henry?

-Eliza, my brother is much younger than you. -And poorer.

He knows that I care for him sincerely.

I know that he is handsome...

And the handsome young men must have something to live on as well as the plain.

You encourage him to take you for money?

-Men do. -That does not make it honourable.

Well, I'm a sensible woman.

I thank God I am not, by your description.

Ifyou were, you might have ascertained that your Irish friend has no money, not a penny and could not be expected to marry without it.

Consider that at the ball tonight.

In any event, he'll be gone tomorrow back to Bond Street where he can do no more harm.


Good evening, Miss Austen.

Yes, yes.


(SLOW MUSIC PLAYING)


Miss Jane Austen.

Pleasure.

WOMAN: We're very honoured to be here at your aunt's ball.

TOM: You dance with passion.

No sensible woman would demonstrate passion ifthe purpose were to attract a husband.

-As opposed to a lover? -Hmm.

Rest easy, Mr Lefroy.

-I have no expectation on either account. -I did not mean to offend or hurt...

Oh, no, no, of course not. Excuse me, I'm just overwarm.

Pardon me.

-Ah, Miss Austen. -Excuse me.


HENRY: This is unbearable. My father is pressing for an early ordination, while my own inclination is to the scarlet of a captaincy in His Majesty's regulars.

But I do not have the money to purchase one.

I do.

-Well, that, of course is impossible. -Oh, Henry, do not disguise yourself, not to me.

The scarlet will suit you very well.

Miss Austen? There you are.

Miss Austen, I cannot believe I am obliged to have this conversation.

Your Ladyship?

Mr Wisley's mother, my own dear sister, died young.

I have no children of my own.

I hope you never come to understand the pain ofthat condition.

Let us simply say my nephew's wishes are close to my heart, however extraordinary they may be.

Well, your health seems robust.

You have the usual accomplishments.

Your person is agreeable.

But when a young woman such as yourself receives the addresses from a gentleman such as my nephew, it is her duty to accept at once.

But what do we find?

-Independent thought? -Exactly.

My nephew, Miss Austen, condescends far indeed in offering to the daughter of an obscure and impecunious clergyman.

Impecunious? Your Ladyship is mistaken.

I am never mistaken.

Your father is in grave financial difficulties.

But all is not lost.

He has a daughter upon whom fortune has smiled.

Mr Wisley is a good opportunity for Jane.

She should accept him at once.

Do not you think?

-Lucy, let us take some refreshments. -What? Mother.


I have learned of Mr Wisley's marriage proposal.

My congratulations.

Is there an alternative for a well-educated young woman of small fortune?

How can you have him?

Even with his thousands and his houses, how can you, of all people, dispose ofyourselfwithout affection?

How can I dispose of myselfwith it?

You are leaving tomorrow.


-Did I do that well? -Very, very well.

I wanted, just once, to do it well.

(MEN CHATTERING)

I have no money, no property, I am entirely dependent upon that bizarre old lunatic, my uncle.

I cannot yet offer marriage. But you must know what I feel.

Jane, I'm yours.

Gah, I'm yours. I'm yours, heart and soul.

Much good that is.

Let me decide that.

(MEN LAUGHING)

What will we do?

What we must.

JANE: "My dearest Cassandra, my heart has wings.

"Doubts and deIiberations are ended.

"Soon I shaII escape the attentions of that great Iady and her scintiIIating nephew.

"EIiza, Henry and I wiII join you at the coast, "but we are obIiged to break our journey in London.

"Tom has cIeverIy secured an invitation to stay with his uncIe, the judge.

"Let us hope we can convince him of my eIigibiIity.

"PIease destroy this disgracefuI Ietter

"the moment you have recovered from your astonishment.

"Yours affectionateIy, and in haste, Jane."

Tom! Our guests have arrived.

Decorum.

Countess.

Sir.

-Welcome... -Madame Ie Comtesse.

Madame le Comtesse. Seldom, too seldom, my house receives the presence of nobility.

And, of course, its friends. Please.

Your stay is short. There's not a moment to lose.

My nephew has devised a plan of metropolitan amusement.

Pleasure is, as you would say, Madame, his forte.

ELIZA: Ah, is it?

Which battle was it, Tom?

ViIIers-en-Cauchies.

Very good. Thousands slain. Served those Frenchies out.

Oh. Saving your presence, ma'am.

Be not afraid of abusing the Jacobins on my account, Judge.

-They guillotined my husband. -Oh, savages. Beasts.

-And his property? -Confiscated.

A disaster.

Of course, by then, much of my wealth was portable, so...

(CHUCKLING)

Yes, portable property is happiness in a pocketbook.

(LAUGHING)

Do I detect you in irony?

It is my considered opinion that irony is insult with a smiling face.

HENRY: (LAUGHING) Indeed.

No.

No?

No, irony is the bringing together of contradictory truths to make out of the contradiction a new truth with a laugh or a smile, and I confess that a truth must come with one or the other, or I account it as false and a denial ofthe very nature of humanity itself.

(CHUCKLES)

My cousin is a writer.

-Ofwhat? -Jane?

Novels.

A young woman offamily?

Yes, uncle, and tomorrow we go and visit another, Mrs Radcliffe.

She keeps herselfto herself, almost a recluse, but I know her husband through the law.

-Who? -The authoress, Mrs Radcliffe.

-As writing is her profession. -Herwhat?

£500, uncle, for the last novel, The Mysteries of UdoIpho.

-And £800, I believe, for her next. -The ItaIian.

Above £1 ,000?

The times, the times.

You live so quietly.

And yet your novels are filled with romance, danger, terror.

Everything my life is not.

Apparently.

Ofwhat do you wish to write?

Of the heart.

Do you know it?

Not all of it.

In time, you will.

But even ifthat fails, that's what the imagination is for.

Your imagination has brought you independence.

At a cost to myself and to my husband.

Poor William.

To have a wife who has a mind is considered not quite proper.

To have a wife with a literary reputation nothing short of scandalous.

But it must be possible?

-To live as both wife and author? -Oh.

I think so.

Though never easy.


(SNORING)

Could I really have this?

What, precisely?

(LAUGHS) You.

Me, how?

-This life with you. -Yes.

HENRY: Lefroy.

-Hush. The judge. -The man's like a rampant dog.

(SIGHS)

He will be generous. I'm sure of it.

-You'll speak with him? -Tomorrow, I promise.

I really must say good night.

-Good night. -Good night.

-Miss Austen? -Yes?

Good night.

You know, I think my mother is right. A husband, and the sooner, the better.


(BELL TOLLING)

Five girls of little fortune.

JANE: "...sensibIy and as warmIy as a man vioIentIy in Iove can be supposed to do.

"Mr Wickham was the happy man towards whom aImost every femaIe eye was turned.

"...partiaI, prejudiced, absurd.

"Watch for the first appearance of PemberIey Woods.

"The happiness which this repIy produced...

"It wiII not do. My feeIings wiII not be repressed."


(CLOCK CHIMING)

-Good morning, sir. -Good morning?

-Has the world turned topsy? -Sir?

I trust the countess is enjoying her visit?

-(STAMMERING) I gather she is, sir. I... -Fine woman, very fine woman.

TOM: Indeed.

-I'd hoped to discuss a certain matter. -Your allowance is beyond negotiation.

Now that you have had the opportunity to become acquainted with Miss Austen yourself, I am sure you will find, as I do, that she is a remarkable young woman.

(EXCLAIMS)

-This is an outrage! -Ifyou will allow me to speak, sir.

There is no need. This letter makes it absolutely clear.

Letter?

Now I know what you were at down in Hampshire.

-It is from Steventon. -Is it true that you have practiced upon me with this chit?

I wished you to know the young lady.

I wished to introduce her to your affections discreetly.

Aye! Blind me with the rich widow and then insinuate that penniless little husband-hunter!

-Moderation, sir, I beg you! -That ironical little authoress.

I wished you to know her for yourself.

I was certain her merit would speak for her.

-Consider, sir, my happiness is in your hands. -Happiness?

Damn it, nephew, I had rather you were a whore-mongering blackguard with a chance of reform than a love-sick whelp sunk in a bad marriage.

My uncle has refused to give his consent.

-The letter has done its work. -Who sent it?

Lady Gresham?

Or her nephew.

They think that they can do what they like with us, but I will not accept this.

We have no choice.

Of course we do.

I...

I depend entirely upon...

Upon your uncle.

Mmm.

And I depend on you.

So what will you do?

What I must.

I have a duty to my family, Jane. I must think of them as well as...

Tom...

Is that... Is that all you have to say to me?

Goodbye, Mr Lefroy.


The sentence ofthis court is that you be taken to the place whence you came and thence to a place of execution, and that you be there hanged by the neck until you are dead.

May the Lord have mercy on your soul.

Next.

He has behaved so ill to you, Jane.

Perhaps soon we can return home to Steventon.

Is there any news of Robert?

He has arrived in San Domingo at last.

Good.

Good.


Glass ofwine with you, sir?

Yes.

Yes, a toast from one member ofthe profession to another.


I'm sorry to have been so disobliging in the past.

Mr Wisley?

So, the infamous Mrs Radcliffe.

Was she really as gothic as her novels?

Not in externals, but her inner landscape is quite picturesque, I suspect.

True of us all.


(WHISPERING) There's a message for Reverend Austen.

-(WHISPERING) Message for Reverend Austen. -Thank you.


ELIZA: Uncle?

What is it?

(SOBBING)


(GASPING)


It seemed he died very soon after landing in San Domingo.

My God, he was hardly there.

What was the disease?

Yellow fever. Lord Craven, he wrote.

He said that if he had known he was engaged to be married, he would never have taken him.

Jane, there's something else.

Mr Lefroy, Tom.

What?

I would keep this from you if I could.

He's here visiting Mrs Lefroy and I...

He is engaged.

So soon?


A letter?

No.

It's something I began in London.

It is the tale of a young woman.

Two young women.

Better than their circumstances.

So many are.

And two young gentlemen who receive much better than their deserts as so very many do.

Mmm.

How does the story begin?

-Badly. -And then?

It gets worse.

With, I hope, some humour.

How does it end?

They both make triumphant, happy endings.

Brilliant marriages?

Incandescent marriages to very rich men.

You asked me a question.

I am ready to give you an answer. But there is one matter to be settled.

I cannot make you out, Mr Wisley.

At times, you are the most gentlemanlike man I know and yet you would...

"Yet". What a sad word.

And yet, you write yourself most tellingly to great effect.

-I'm speaking, of course, ofyour letter. -What letter?

Was your aunt the correspondent on your behalf?

What matter?

One way or another, passion makes fools of us all.

I hope, in time, passion may regain your better opinion.

The emotion is absurd.

When you consider the sex to whom it is often directed, indistinguishable from folly.

I thank you for the honour ofyour proposal. I accept. Good day.


George, George.

Mr Wisley is... He's an honourable man.

You'll always have a place with me.

(GRUNTS)

Miss Austen.

Mr Lefroy.

Sir.

I believe I must congratulate you, Mr Lefroy.

And you've come to visit an old friend at such a time. How considerate.

I have come to offer an explanation, belatedly, for my conduct. I cannot think how to describe it.

Tell me about your lady, Mr Lefroy.

From where does she come?

She's from County Wexford.

Your own country. Excellent.

What was it that won her? Your manner, smiles and pleasing address?

No, no, not at all.

No, had I really experienced that emotion, I should, at present, detest the very sight of him.

And you are mistaken.

I'm even impartial towards the gloriously endowed Miss Wexford...

I cannot do this.

And so you would marry Wisley?

(WHISPERS) Please?

If there is a shred of truth or justice inside ofyou, -you cannot marry him. -Oh no, Mr Lefroy.

Justice, by your own admission, you know little of, truth even less.

Jane, I have tried. I have tried and I cannot live this lie.

Can you?

Jane, can you?

What value will there be in life ifwe are not together?

Run away with me.

An elopement?

That is exactly what I propose.

We'll post to London, by Friday be in Scotland, and man and wife.

-Leave everything? -Everything.

It is the only way we can be together.


You'll lose everything.

Family, place. Forwhat?

A lifetime of drudgery on a pittance?

A child every year and no means to lighten the load?

-How will you write, Jane? -I do not know.

But happiness is within my grasp and I cannot help myself.

There is no sense in this.

Ifyou could have your Robert back, even like this, would you do it?

(EXCLAIMS)

-Please conceal my departure as long as possible. -Wait.

Here.

Take these. Now go, quickly.


Come. Ifwe hurry, we can still make the morning coach.

You are sure?

Be careful.

-Is it coming? -Not yet.

Take my hand. All right?

Hurry. I can hear it approaching.

Here it is.

Whoa.

Two to London. We'll settle the first rest.

-Yes? -Right you are, sir.


Hampshire, your home county.

It was.

(LAUGHING)

(RUMBLING)

Stuck. Everybody out, ladies and gentlemen, please.

-We need to lighten the load. -No, let me, let me.

COACHMAN: I shall require you gentlemen to give me a hand, put your shoulders into it.

Now, sir, ifyou can push on the coach itself. Excuse me, sir. Young gentleman?

-Yes, yes. -You on the other side, sir, thank you.

-Young gentleman, please come along. -All right.

COACHMAN: Mind helping us? Thank you.

Right, all together now then, sirs, please?

(MEN GRUNTING)

One, two, and a three and push!

Come on.

MRS LEFROY: "Dear Tom.

"How timeIy was the arrivaI of the money you sent."

COACHMAN: One, two and three!

"It was so very much appreciated by your father and I.

"You're so kind to share your uncIe's aIIowance.

"Indeed, I do not dare think how we wouId survive without it."

(GRUNTS)

Well done. Thank you, sirs.

All right, ladies and gentlemen, back on the coach as soon as you can, thank you.

We are ready.

-Worried? -No.

-Is it the loss ofyour reputation? -No.

The loss ofyours.

-I do not... -Please, sir, come along, the coach is departing.

Come.


COACHMAN: Changing horses. Twenty minutes only.

House of office at the back of the inn. All down, quick as you like.


How many brothers and sisters do you have in Limerick, Tom?

Enough. Why?

What are the names ofyour brothers and sisters?

They...

On whom do they depend?

(SIGHS)

Your reputation is destroyed.

Your profligacy is a beautiful sham.

-I can earn money. -It will not be enough.

I will rise.

With a High Court Judge as your enemy? And a penniless wife?

God knows how many mouths depending on you?

My sweet, sweet friend, you will sink, and we will all sink with you.

-I will... -COACHMAN: Hampshire Flyer.

Hampshire Flyer's leaving in five minutes.

No! No, Jane.

I will never give you up.

-Tom... -Don't speak or think.

Just love me. Do you love me?

Yes.

But if our love destroys your family, it will destroy itself.

-No. -Yes.

In a long, slow degradation of guilt and regret and blame.

That is nonsense.

Truth.

Made from contradiction.

But it must come with a smile.

Or else I shall count it as false and we shall have had no love at all.

Please.

Goodbye.

Typical bloody runaway. "Will I, won't I?"


Miss. Miss.

All right, offyou go.


(CLOCK TICKING)

Hello?

-Where is everyone? -Looking for you, Miss. Looking everywhere.

-Thank you, Jenny. -Mr Warren.

Your family tried to keep the matter from the servants, but...

Where is that blackguard Lefroy? My God, if Henry finds him, he'll kill him.

He won't find him.

If he does, he won't kill him.

There's no need.

What happened?

Nothing happened.

I see. I see.

Jane,

I may have less personal charm than Lefroy.

Superficial charm to some eyes. To others, it is mere affectation, but I...

-I have no hopes. -Hopes?

You cannot begin to imagine.

Thank you for the great honour ofyour offer, but are there no otherwomen in Hampshire?


It was you who wrote the judge.

You must consider how much I have always loved you.


(PLAYING SLOW SONG ON PIANO)


Well?

You came back to us.


Leave it.

Mr Austen, I must inform you that I shall not attend service today.

-Not in the presence ofthis young woman. -Indeed...

-If I must speak plainly... -Aunt.

I believe your youngest daughter has been on a journey.

-Her Ladyship considers travel a crime? -Unsanctioned travel.

Furthermore, be aware that my nephew has withdrawn his addresses to someone without family, fortune, importance and fatally tainted by suspicion.

-Oh, she has family, madam. -REVEREND AUSTEN: Indeed she has.

Importance may depend upon other matters than Your Ladyship can conceive.

As to fortune, a young woman might depend upon herself.

An interesting notion, Miss Austen.

(EXCLAIMING)

Oblige me a walk along the river to enlarge upon the topic.

Wisley?

I am sorry if my conduct has disappointed you, Mr Wisley.

It seems you cannot bring yourself to marry without affection.

Or even with it.

I respect you for that and share your opinion. Neither can I.

I'd always hoped to win your love in time, but I am vain enough to want to be loved for myself rather than my money.

Do we part as friends?

We do.

-So, you will live... -By my pen. Yes.

Will all your stories have happy endings?

My characters will have, after a little bit oftrouble, all that they desire.

The good do not always come to good ends.

It is a truth universally acknowledged.

JANE: "...that a singIe man in possession of a good fortune

"must be in want of a wife."

(ALL CHEERING)

"However IittIe known the feeIings or views of such a man may be

"on his first entering a neighbourhood, "this truth is so weII fixed in the minds of the surrounding famiIies, "that he is considered as the rightfuI property of some one or other of their daughters.

"'My dear Mr Bennet,' said his Iady to him, one day, "'Have you heard that NetherfieId Park is Iet at Iast?'

"Mr Bennet repIied that he had not.

"'But it is,' returned she..."

(WOMAN SINGING OPERA)


Is it Miss Austen? The Miss Austen?

No, Madam. That courtesy, according to the customs of precedence, belongs to my elder sister.

Miss Jane Austen, the authoeess of Pride and Prejudice?

My sisterwishes to remain anonymous, but your kind regard is much appreciated.

-Thank you. -Thank you.


Please, come through.

I shall never forgive Henry for this.

Yes, you will. We always forgive him for everything.

Jane, an old friend.

Late as ever.

Madame le Comtesse, Miss Austen.

Mr Lefroy.

Please allow me to introduce to you your most avid of admirers, my daughter, Miss Lefroy.

Miss Austen, what a pleasure to meet you.

Will you read for us this evening?

Ah, well, you see, my sister never reads.

Otherwise, how else is she supposed to remain anonymous?

-But... -Jane.

I will make an exception if my new friend wishes it.

Come, sit by me.

She is lovely, Tom.

"She began now to comprehend

"that he was exactly the man who, in disposition and talents, "would most suit her.

"His understanding and temper, though unlike her own, "would have answered all herwishes.

"It was an union that must have been to the advantage of both.

"By her ease and liveliness, "his mind might have been softened, his manners improved, "and from his judgment, information and knowledge ofthe world, "she must have received benefit of greater importance.

"But no such happy marriage could now teach the admiring multitude

"what connubial felicity really was."