There are those who have no great hopes from sequels. Yet all writers, however threadbare their gifts, cling to the hope that posterity will chuse to honour them by imitation. I do not doubt that, in time, my own humble excursion will seem but a brief prelude to your great enterprise, a sliver of bacon to set before your own great pig of a book.
How shrewd of you to divine that Pride and Prejudice is unfinished. I had begun to wonder (it is 180 years since I brought Elizabeth Bennet and Mr Darcy to the brink of wedlock) whether anyone would notice. You do me a great kindness in venturing where I durst not go, beyond the childish fancies of courtship and into the bridal chamber itself.
I have not, I regret, been afforded the freedom to read more than a few pages of Pemberley, but what little I have seen has sent my spirits into a high flutter. Such sense] Such sensibility] Your charming manners make us all smile, even my poor father. You have constructed for my characters the very future I should myself have chosen had I been possessed of wit and experience equal to the task.
And now, more news] Mrs Knightley writes that you intend a sequel to Emma, a work in which she has always shewn a sharp interest. She tells me, moreover, that you are handsome, clever and rich, with a comfortable home and a happy disposition. It inclines me to wonder, and I trust you will forgive me this trespass on your good nature, whether these pleasing attentions proceed from the impulse of the moment, or are the result of previous study. I am sure I need not remind you that the pleasantness of an employment does not always evince its propriety.
Assuredly, it is a tribute to the openness of your heart that you leave off writing your own excellent books merely to complete - with little prospect of gain - the awkward unfinished business of a long-forgotten writer. But I confess to some confusion over your request that I furnish you with 'a quote for promotional purposes'. I hope you will not think me a foolish old spinster if I confess that the meaning of this is by no means plain. Indeed I trust that you will do me the service of withholding my name from the fruit of your labours. I hold no deeds to the characters in my novel; I never was more - and you, plainly, are no less - than a tenant.
I live, as you know, in a small village, and small villages have busy tongues, and though my little reputation is a poor thing, I have my pride - not to mention my prejudices - to think of. Whatever will the neighbours say?
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