Tom listened with some shame and some sorrow; but escaping as quickly as possible, could soon with cheerful selfishness reflect, firstly, that he had not been half so much in debt as some of his friends; secondly, that his father had made a most tiresome piece of work of it; and, thirdly, that the future incumbent, whoever he might be, would, in all probability, die very soon.
In the forthcoming short story anthology, Dangerous To Know: Jane Austen's Rakes & Gentlemen Rogues, my assigned rake is Tom Bertram, and I have included the confrontation excerpted above in my story. I was stretching my imagination to talk like a man, speaking in the first person, at a drinking party! These are the type of scenes that happen offstage in an Austen novel.
The title of my story is taken from something Mary Crawford says to her sister, Mrs. Grant, "you must have the address of a Frenchwoman," that is, you must have the charm, finesse, and persuasive abilities of a Frenchwoman. In Austen's time, "address" didn't mean "mailing address." They used the word, "direction."
Tom Bertram in "The Address of a Frenchwoman," is imagined differently than Tom Bertram as he appears in my novel, A Contrary Wind.
Sir Thomas goes to his study and finds it all disarranged: The removal of the bookcase from before the billiard-room door struck him especially, but he had scarcely more than time to feel astonished at all this, before there were sounds from the billiard-room to astonish him still farther. Some one was talking there in a very loud accent; he did not know the voice--more than talking--almost hallooing. He stepped to the door, rejoicing at that moment in having the means of immediate communication, and, opening it, found himself on the stage of a theatre, and opposed to a ranting young man, who appeared likely to knock him down backwards. At the very moment of Yates perceiving Sir Thomas, and giving perhaps the very best start he had ever given in the whole course of his rehearsals,
Tom Bertram entered at the other end of the room; and never had he found greater difficulty in keeping his countenance. His father's looks of solemnity and amazement on this his first appearance on any stage, and the gradual metamorphosis of the impassioned Baron Wildenheim into the well-bred and easy Mr. Yates, making his bow and apology to Sir Thomas Bertram, was such an exhibition, such a piece of true acting, as he would not have lost upon any account. It would be the last--in all probability--the last scene on that stage; but he was sure there could not be a finer. The house would close with the greatest eclat.
In fact, because of Austen's brilliant restraint here, we momentarily become Colonel Brandon. John Dashwood is speaking to us.