A/N: Just a one-shot that I did as an essay for English class. In this story, I've created the character of Catherine Dashwood. All other characters belong to Jane Austen.
Falling For Brandon
I knew I would need a lot of courage to get through the day. It was not because the events of the day would be particularily difficult or trying, not at all. I was told that this day would be one of the happiest of my life, as it had been for my mother, as it had been for my father, and as it would be for my dear sisters, when it came time for them to also have this day in their lives. No, it was not because of this that I would need to be brave. It was because this day would be so filled with new experiences and changes that I was likely to become overwhelmed by the excitement of it all. It was the day that would change my life forever. My wedding day. The day that I, Catherine Dashwood, was to no longer be known by that name, but instead become the wife of Colonel Christopher Brandon. That thought made me smile, as I remembered back to the first day we had met.
I had just moved to Barton, and were having dinner in the hall with Sir John and Mrs Jennings. Poor Elinor was being teased unmercifully about Edward Ferrars, though they did not know it was him, after young Margaret had failed to remain quiet, and confirmed that Elinor was in love, or so she thought. Elinor had never confirmed this, though had given me reason on more than one occasion to believe that she did indeed care deeply for Mr Ferrars. We had not seen him since leaving Norland Park for Barton Cottage, and I believed that both Elinor and Margaret would like to see him again, although in Margaret's case, that may have been mainly because he had promised to bring the great atlas from Norland on his next visit. I felt sorry for my poor sister then, and vowed to give young Margaret quite a scolding when we returned home. The thirteen-year-old seemed oblivious to Elinor's discomfort, and continued to chatter on about our eldest sister's 'mystery love' to Mrs Jennings.
Marianne, my other younger sister, had remained mainly silent throughout the exchange. I knew that Marianne also believed Elinor to love Mr Ferrars, but was, at seventeen, sensible enough to remain quiet and not reveal any more information. Marianne had very idealistic ideas where the concept of love was concerned, and often showed her naivety when speaking of the subject. Marianne dreamed of romance and excitement, of a knight in shining armour sweeping her from her feet. Elinor was far more realistic, her realism bordering on pessimism on occasion. She refused to dream of the things that Marianne dreamt of, as she said that she did not want to create a fantasy that reality could not possibly live up to. I was in the middle. Outwardly, if it came to an argument between them, I agreed with Elinor, as I believed in her assessment that men like the romantic heroes Marianne dreamed of did not exist. However, I secretly felt that if one was in love with a certain man, could that man not be one's own Prince Charming? Could love not create that image of a knight in armour? What was to say that love could not make one see a man in a light different to that he is seen in by others?
On this particular day, once dinner was finished, I was asked to play Sir John's piano forte, and Marianne was asked to sing. I sat at the piano, letting my hands glide over the familar shape of the keys, as Marianne's beautiful voice sounded throughout the drawing room. Being summer, the door was open, letting a light breeze drift through. To this day, I do not know what compelled me to look over at that door, but what I saw surprised me greatly. Standing in the doorway, looking completely captivated by the music, was a tall, unfamilar man. I supposed this to be the friend of Sir John's that he had mentioned earlier. The man was dressed in black, and had light brown hair and deep brown eyes. Eyes that on first glance I had thought to be looking at my dear sister, but after stealing a second glance I noticed that he was in fact looking at me. I was surprised, it was usually Marianne that captured people's attention, not that she had much of a tendency to notice. Marianne was often childishly unobservent, and this could lead to problems for her.
On the third glance at this interesting stranger, he seemed to have noticed me looking, and smiled, tilting his head slightly. I blushed, but gave him a small smile in return. As the song finished, Sir John jumped up to greet the man. He was introduced to us as Colonel Brandon, a dear friend of our relative. We were each introduced in turn, and as he learned of my name, Colonel Brandon smiled at me. "It is a pleasure to meet you, Miss Catherine," he murmered, inclining his head slightly.
"I think he likes you," Elinor whispered in my ear, and I could not help smiling.
That afternoon was spent out in the warm sunshine, walking by the lake and relaxing in the grass. I remember observing the Colonel from a distance, making a note of certain characteristics and mannerisms he appeared to have. When listening to someone or something, he would tilt his head slightly. When concentrating, a crease would appear in his brow, making him seem to be deep in thought. His eyes were warm and friendly, their deep brown colour was quite inviting. After some more observation, and a talk with him by the lake, I decide that the Colonel seemed a rather nice man. I was intrigued by him, and, for some reason unknown to myself, I wanted to get to know him better.
Smiling, I remembered a certain night, a short while after my first meeting with the Colonel, when Marianne had visited Elinor and I to talk. Marianne had just met a man by the name of John Willoughby, and seemed convinced that she was in love with him. Everything was 'Willoghby says' or 'Willoughby thinks' or 'Willoughby told me'. It was beginning to get quite tiresome, but myself and Elinor let her be. We let her be, until something she said caused me to speak out, and stop her.
"Willoughby had a lot to say about your Colonel, Catherine. He said that the Colonel was a pleasant man, though not one that inspires much interest. "He is boring," said Willoughby. "A pleasant man by all accounts, but not one who is much talked about, or talked to for that matter." Willoughby called him 'the one that everyone is pleased to see, but no one remembers to talk to.' " Marianne quoted, as though she was a priest quoting scripture to us, her congregation. "I quite agree with him. I don't see why you like the Colonel so, Catherine, he is quite boring."
"Enough! I will not stand to listen to your whittling on, repeating everything that your 'dear Willoughby' has said. If I wished to know his opinion, I would have asked him," I said to her. Marianne was quite taken aback by this, and quietened as I continued. "Willoughby is not a man to love. A man to laugh with, to have fun with yes, but not to love. His love would be as inconstant as the moonlight, as unreliable as a candle that flickers warily in the breeze. You think you love him, Marianne, but I fear you do not. You are excited by him, and you certainly like him a great deal, but how can you be sure that your infatuation is truly love? I fear for you Marianne, men like John Willoughby do not make good husbands. I worry that if you do love him, and you marry him, that you will be unhappy, or that he will hurt you. You wish for a knight, a man from the old fairytale books that father used to read to us. Willoughby is not that man, nor will he ever be. Let that man you long for stay within the pages of a book, and open your mind to the reality that is the world. You ask why I like the Colonel, and I shall tell you. He is reliable, a man to be trusted. His love would be as steady as the rotation of the Earth, as strong as the great mountains that stand tall against the sky. He may not be a man whom you find as exciting as your Willoughby, yet with that excitement comes a degree of fear, a wariness of the unknown. There is none of that with Colonel Brandon. I advise you to tread carefully, dear sister, as you do not know as much as you think you do about love, and about men. There is much you have yet to learn."
Marianne looked to Elinor. Seeing that there would be no sympathy from our sister, she stood and fled the room. I could hear the sound of her muffled sobs eminating from the next room.
Elinor sighed. "Do you love the Colonel?" she asked in a quiet tone.
I smiled. "I believe I might, Elinor. It is certainly a new feeling."
"Then I am happy for you. He is a good man, you were right in what you said."
"I am glad, dear sister, for I do believe myself to be falling for Brandon."
A knock on the door brought me back to the present. Elinor stood in the doorway.
"The Colonel has just arrived, we will begin shortly," she informed me, but then left, leaving me alone with my thoughts once more. I smiled again, remembering that day by the lake when I had finally confessed my feelings to the Colonel.
It was a beautiful, bright sunny day, and I was walking with the Colonel by the lake, and we were speaking of his travels with the army. He was a good storyteller, and I greatly enjoyed listening to his deep voice as he told of the wonders he had seen. It was not until we were at a distance from the cottage that we could not be easily seen that I chose to tell him what had been pressing on my thoughts for weeks.
Stopping under a willow tree, I turned to face him. "Colonel Brandon, I have something I must tell you," I informed him.
"As I do as well, Miss Catherine. I wonder if I may speak first?" he asked, a slight nervous edge to his tone.
"Of course, Colonel, what is it you wish to say?" I was curious now. The Colonel took a deep breath, and looked down at me. As I was not tall, he stood at a considerable distance higher than I.
"I went yesterday, to speak with your mother, while you and your sisters were away. I had a matter of great importance that I wished to discuss with her. I wished to ask for her permission to do something that I have been hoping to for a long time, most likely since we first met." His tone was quiet, and there was an expression in his eyes that I could not read. Listening to his words, I was shocked. Surely I had misunderstood his meaning, surely he could not be implying what I thought he was.
"To my question, she answered yes. So now I have a question for you, dear Catherine," he knelt down on one knee, taking one of my hands in his larger ones. "I love you," he told me quietly. "Will you marry me?"
I was shocked, I could not believe my own ears. They must be deceiving me. There was not the slightest chance that any of this could be true. It must be a dream, a creation of my subconscious. I could not be here, with the one man I would have wished to hear say those words actually saying them. But before I could register it happening, I was saying yes, and I suddenly became aware of everything being very real. I was living in a dream, elated beyond belief.
"What was it that you had wished to say?" asked the Colonel suddenly.
I began to laugh. "Only that I love you too, Colonel."
"Christopher now," He instructed.
Elinor came to the door again. "It is time," she told me. I went to her, and then all of a sudden everyone was everywhere, my sisters were bustleing around me and my mother was crying. She drew me into an embrace, telling me how happy she was, and how proud.
I walked in the door of the small church on Sir John's arm, as he led me up the aisle towards my soon-to-be husband. As I reached Christopher, he turned to smile at me, an expression of great happiness on his face. As he took my hand, however, I saw the flicker of concern, of uncertianty in his eyes. I knew his worries, he feared I was too young, though he did not make it known, I was certain. I looked up at him and decided that whatever challenges life would throw at me from now on, I would be ready. I could face anything if I was with Christopher, as his wife. I smiled at him reassuringly and spoke quietly.
"I am ready."