The League of Austen’s Extraordinary Gentlemen: Part the First


Part the FirstPart the SecondPart the ThirdPart the FourthPart the FifthPart the SixthPart the Seventh

The Gentlemen of the Royal Navy

In which the defense begins.

There was a cry from the lookout. “Deck ahoy! Enemy sighted two points off the larboard bow!”

The first lieutenant strode to the rail and raised his glass. After a moment he said to the midshipman of the watch, “Pray convey my respect to the captain, and tell him that we have a situation that requires his attention.”

The captain soon joined his first officer, who handed the captain his glass. The captain observed a moment, and then said to the lieutenant, “Our old friend.”

“Yes, sir. And that is the part of the coast where the Dashwood ladies have taken a cottage.”

“Our duty is clear, Mr. Price. He has escaped us before, but he shall not escape this time.” The captain gave his commands with rapid confidence. “Signal the fleet: enemy in sight, prepare to engage. Then beat to quarters.”

The deck jumped to life, the Marine drummer’s beat and the shrill call of the bosun’s whistle ringing over the excited voices of sailors and officers running to battle stations. Within a few minutes, excess furnishings were struck into the hold, the guns were loaded and run out, and the Marines were assembled along the rail with muskets ready to fire.

Two sloops of war came up, one on each side of the frigate; Grappler to larboard and Asp to starboard, following Laconia’s lead.

“Wentworth, Harville, and Benwick fighting together again,” Mr. Price said to the midshipman. “The enemy hasn’t got a chance.”

“Will we get prize money, do you think?” asked the midshipman, who was always thinking of prize money.

Mr. Price, who was as much in need of prize money as any man in the Royal Navy, gave him a withering look. “Some things are more important than money, Mr. Thorpe, and you would do well to remember it. Our first duty, always, is to defend Miss Jane Austen.”

Mr. Thorpe nodded, duly chastened.

Commands came thick and fast, signal flags flew up and down the mast, and the three ships turned as one to rake the enemy with a broadside.

From the sea rose a horror: lengthy tentacles writhing and twisting, its body inky-dark as the depths of the ocean, its eyes red-rimmed and glaring with the evil soul contained in its stinking carcass; then it reared back to display its mouth, a beaked horror, gaping and seemingly ready to devour them. Writhing tentacles reached inexorably for the English ships. It was a sight that would take the heart of many a brave man, but the well-disciplined Laconias stood fast.

“Fire as they bear!” roared Wentworth from the quarterdeck.

The three broadsides roared out almost as one, peppering the enemy with shot. The sea-creature cried out in agony; the water turned red as it thrashed, but the shot seemed only to anger the creature, not wound it. It gave a great, other-worldly cry, and its tentacles reached out once again to take, to crush, to destroy.

“Hot shot, I think, Mr. Price!” came the command from Captain Wentworth.

“Aye aye, Captain!” Mr. Price conveyed the command, which was passed below; a succession of sailors brought up buckets containing red-hot shot that had been fired in preparation. The guns were carefully loaded, the wadding well-wetted to keep the hot shot from exploding the bag of gunpowder behind it.

The ships turned; the Grappler led the way, drawing daringly close to the creature, driving it back with a broadside, bawling and waving its tentacles as her guns found their target. The Asp peppered it with even more shot, and then the Laconia drew within reach of the tentacles.

“FIRE!” the captain’s voice roared out, and the Laconia was lost in a haze of smoke as an inferno burst from her guns.

The creature gave a last shrieking, strangled cry; bits of torn flesh thudded onto the deck as officers and ratings alike scrambled to avoid being struck. After a moment, it was over, and the deck was covered with stinking, mangled pieces of sea-monster, and the sea was thick with it. The seagulls descended shrieking to feast, and shark fins popped up among the floating detritus.

Lieutenant Price wrinkled his nose at a steaming pile of flesh on the quarterdeck. “Smells like low tide.”

Some of the sailors began to collect the flesh in bowls and baskets.

“Do not even think about cooking that,” said the captain. “I will not have you stinking up my ship with it.”

The sailors, who had been looking forward to a little variety in their diet and were not over-particular of the source, reluctantly threw the bits of sea-creature overboard to the seagulls and the sharks.


Captain Wentworth invited his two fellow captains and several of his officers to dine with him aboard the Laconia that night to celebrate the victory. His steward brought port and cigars to finish, and they all indulged generously.

“A giant squid,” said Captain Benwick. “A GIANT SQUID! Some blockhead thought the Royal Navy could not dispatch a giant squid from Miss Austen’s novels!” He snorted into the glass that Captain Harville had just refilled.

“The enemy has grown complacent,” said Captain Wentworth, sending a thick plume of cigar smoke to the ceiling. “They magnify their own small successes beyond their worth, and forget that we, the defenders, are ever-vigilant.”

“Aye, aye, sir,” said Mr. Thorpe, loudly, raising his glass.

Harville giggled drunkenly. “Even the younker knows. There is no power on earth that can withstand the might of the British Navy!” There were cries of “Hear, hear!” as the officers raised their glasses and saluted that fine sentiment.

Captain Wentworth rose, and they grew quiet as they turned toward their leader. “Tonight, gentlemen, we celebrate our victory. Tomorrow, we return to our duty: protecting Miss Austen’s creation from those who would destroy it.” He raised his glass. “I give you Miss Austen.”

They all rose and cried as one, “To Miss Austen!”

Outside, all was quiet; but they all knew that the enemy had not yet been vanquished.

Next episode: The Gentlemen of His Majesty’s Armed Forces

Captain Wentworth
Captain Frederick Wentworth
Captain Harville
Captain Harville
Captain Benwick
Captain James Benwick
William Price
Lieutenant William Price
Midshipman William Thorpe
M’man William Thorpe*

*From NA, Chapter 4: “Mrs. Thorpe, however, had one great advantage as a talker, over Mrs. Allen, in a family of children; and when she expatiated on the talents of her sons, and the beauty of her daughters, when she related their different situations and views — that John was at Oxford, Edward at Merchant Taylors’, and William at sea –” And y’all think I just make stuff up.

29 thoughts on “The League of Austen’s Extraordinary Gentlemen: Part the First

  1. A. Marie

    Three hearty huzzahs for Miss Austen, Ms. Sullivan, and the gallants (not to mention the topgallants) of the Royal Navy!


    • Mags

      Sea Monsters in JA’s stories are silly because as we all know THERE IS NO POWER ON EARTH THAT CAN WITHSTAND THE MIGHT OF THE BRITISH NAVY! Sir Edward said so. So say we all. 😉 (Thus bringing in Fandom No. 3)


  2. Priscilla Waller

    I had just been subjecting my poor husband to a rant about people who thought that they could improve on Jane Austin when I wandered into our office and looked at the feeds. YOU have indeed made my day. Take that Austen parasites.

    I enjoy some of the “later” books. If people want to imagine what went on in Netherfield after the book ends that’s ok with me and I’ll ramble on with them. But the werewolves, sea monsters and others can stay home as far as I’m concerned.

    We live in a middle class neighborhood in a city that doesn’t really value education. The area I live in is over 25 years old and we have just gotten a small neighborhood library. The libarian loves Jane and has set up several film nights, special book displays and discussions that have been stuffed with young girls. These are kids who have TVs, IPODS, phones and computers to Twitter with and yet the still come in person to READ and discuss. That’s the power of Jane.


  3. Mandy N

    Bravo Mags ! I bet put my prize money on the League to defend Miss Austen against paralit. werewolves & vampyres anyday… cool Wincehster guys, Same & Dean, are great at fighting demons. Can they join Austen’s Extraordinary Gentlemen ? 🙂


  4. Edward Sisson

    A fine bit of work — however, the land-lubbery nature of our authoress here (the great Mags) stands a bit of correction — what we have here is a little fleet of 3 ships, each ship with its commander — Captains Wentworth, Harville, and Benwick — but a fleet is not commanded by one of the ship-captains, but must have its own Admiral — Admiral Croft. (I speak as the real-life son and grandson of US Navy warship captains, and descendant of a real-life US Naval contemporary of the Austen days, Commodore Daniel Todd Patterson, who fought the British Navy in 1814-1815 in New Orleans). And the Marine contingent must have its officer — Lieutenant of Marines Price, reconditioned from his lounging-time in Plymouth, roused to protect the reputation of the one who created him, however disreputable his presentation.

    As regards Midshipman Thorpe, well, that man is beyond reproof — better that the sea-monster take him off and suffer the indigestion of devouring him, and to resurrect poor midshipman Dick Musgrove and show him to advantage under Wentworth’s tutelage, blasting a cannot into the monster’s mouth.


    • Mags

      Admiral Croft is busy elsewhere. You may assume Wentworth is flag officer of this little fleet, but I didn’t want to get too deep in non-essential detail for the casual reader of this bit of metafic. (I actually did consider both of those points.)

      I don’t think they got close enough for the Marines to do much good with muskets in this engagement. They were probably manning the guns. No drunken Marine lieutenants on Wentworth’s ship, thank you very much. Besides, I believe he was invalided out. No malingerers, either.

      We don’t know anything about the character of M’man William Thorpe, as we have not made his acquaintance in the novels. Poor Dick Musgrove didn’t take well to training, which is why he was disposed of. Since Mr. Thorpe is still aboard, one may assume he has been whipped into shape by his captain as well as the first lieutenant.


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