While I was browsing around the New York Times, I stumbled upon “The Janeiac Quiz.” Since I’ve always enjoyed Jane Austen‘s books, I took the quiz — and failed miserably. I’m sharing it because many of you enjoy those classics. Emma is probably my favorite of Austen’s works and it is also the source of today’s Three Things. I’ll take them from the first sentence of the book.
“Emma Woodhouse, handsome, clever, and rich, with a comfortable home and happy disposition, seemed to unite some of the best blessings of existence; and had lived nearly twenty-one years in the world with very little to distress or vex her.”
As always, you can do catch-up reading where the complete serial lives on the Three Things Serial page. And now, three Emma things.
Comfortable Home, Happy Disposition, Vex
I told myself not to feel vexed with Mona for acting silly with Flavio. Then I told myself again. When I told myself the same thing for the third time Frankie chuckled. There was no telling what kind of expressions had gone across my face. He raised his eyebrows and made a mock-hopeful puckered face. I grinned at him and said, “Sorry fella, the bank’s closed.”
“Dr. Banting said to make ourselves at home. Why don’t we look around? I don’t know about you, but I doubt I’ll ever be inside a yacht like this again,” he said with a smile.
He was right. And I needed to get back to business. Where was that microscope? We left, Mona and Flavio still giggling. The next cabin we came to was open, but Frankie knocked on the doorframe just in case and called out cheerily. The fireman really did have a happy disposition. I squeezed past, under his arm. Frankie actually was a very nice height.
Then I spotted it sitting on a table in the corner, all brass and shiny – the microscope. It was hard not to look at the beautiful estate in the painting that hung above the device. The place looked like a Venetian palace, and the yacht moored there looked like the one we were on!
Frankie gave a low whistle. “That looks like a… comfortable home.”
“You’ve really got a gift for understatement,” I agreed. The house in the picture was huge and in a beautiful setting. “That place is the berries all right.”
I took the ornate but bent key out of my purse and carefully placed it under the microscope. However, I couldn’t make out any words – and I was afraid to move any of the settings. I could only guess how expensive the thing was; scientific things were always pricy. The engraving looked like it might be just a pretty design, but with the damage it was hard to tell. I held my breath and barely moved one knob on the microscope. A word came into focus, but it was hard to make it out amid all the swirls of the engraved pattern. “Ring… Ringing? No. Ring-ling. Does Ringling make any sense?”
“Ringling?” Frankie repeated in an incredulous tone. “As in circus? That Ringling?”
“Applesauce!” I exclaimed in an awed whisper. “Do you think this key is for the Ca’d’Zan mansion in Sarasota?”
Our speculation was interrupted by the sound of a scuffle. A man’s voice boomed. “You’ve got what you wanted, now be off with you! If you ever think to pull a stunt like that again, it will be your last!”
We hesitantly peeped out the door in time to see two men leaving right after those ominous
words were shouted. There was a man in the doorway of a cabin, shaking his fist at the departing backs of the men. Then someone shrouded in an old quilt pushed past the man. I heard a muffled sob.
The man lowered his head and said, “Don’t worry. They aren’t going to hurt anyone else. We’ll see to that.”The quilt covered shape turned toward him. The tattered covering fell back to reveal an older woman, who was still elegant despite her somewhat disheveled appearance.It was the white-haired woman.