The Gentlemen of the Hunt
In which the Gentlemen encounter some very unexpected creatures.
“You must do something, gentlemen,” said Mr. Perry. “The entire town expects it.” He lowered his voice. “It might be only chickens now, but there is fear that the violence will extend to people. There’s a moon tonight; no doubt they will be out and about.”
“Yes, thank you,” said Mr. Knightley. Mr. Perry, judging it best to let the sentiment work upon the gentlemen, left them.
“Let’s go after them,” said Sir John Middleton, caressing his best shotgun. “Let’s teach them a lesson, Knightley.”
“Looks like we don’t have a choice,” said Mr. Martin.
“You don’t have a part in this, Robert,” said Knightley.
Robert Martin looked at him steadily. “I may be just a yeoman farmer, but I have as much right to join in this fight as you do.”
Mr. Knightley considered him for a moment and then said, “Very well. Perhaps you can keep Middleton in check.”
Sir John clapped him on the back and handed him a shotgun.
Charles Musgrove came up, waving a gun over his head. “Look at this, gentlemen! A capital new gun I just received from Bath. Ordered it from that fellow’s in the Market Place after seeing another he was sending off.” He stopped and looked around. “What has happened?”
“We’re going after them!” cried Sir John. “Going to be a fight!”
“Well, of course we are!” said Charles. “Have to protect Miss Jane Austen and all that.”
Mr. Knightey smiled. “Mr. Charles Musgrove reminds us of our duty, gentlemen, and the reason we are here. My father-in-law is frightened enough of the idea of chicken thieves; imagine what he would say if he knew the truth. Tonight, we fight not for the chickens, nor even for elderly valetudinarians, but for Miss Austen.”
“Miss Austen,” said Robert Martin and Charles Musgrove.
“Miss Austen,” said Sir John Middleton, firing off a shotgun in his excitement. They waited while he stopped to reload.
“Probably not a good idea to waste ammunition like that,” murmured Robert, and Sir John nodded enthusiastically.
“Did you load it with the special bullets?” asked Mr. Knightley.
“Yes, of course,” said Sir John.
“Then I believe we are ready to set out,” said Mr. Knightley, hiking his own gun across his shoulder.
A full moon hung in the sky as the gentlemen set out, lighting the way across the fields.
“Do we just wait for them to come out?” whispered Charles.
“They will seek us out, I daresay,” said Mr. Knightley.
“Indeed, we have done so,” said a voice behind them.
The gentlemen whirled about, shotguns at the ready. Before them stood four handsome young men; all shirtless, and very well-made. The gentlemen stared at them in astonishment.
“You weren’t expecting us, I daresay,” said the leader.
“Not exactly,” said Mr. Knightley.
“You were expecting dirty hairy creatures,” said the leader, sleeking back his hair with a casual movement. “You were not expecting to find competition for the adoration of the fangirls.”
“I find you immeasurably smug, sir,” said Robert.
“We have reason to be.”
One of the other young men began to look uncomfortable. “Um,” he said, pawing at his leader.
“Not now,” the leader said in a low voice.
“No, really,” said the young man, writhing a bit.
“Not. Now,” said the leader between gritted teeth.
“Sorry!” cried the young man. He ran at the gentlemen and fursploded!
The shotguns fired as one, and the werewolf fell in a heap.
“You killed him!” cried the leader.
“Did you think we came here to play?” asked Mr. Knightley as the gentlemen quickly reloaded their guns.
“I think they came here to play, Mr. Knightley,” said Robert Martin, ramming a ball down the barrel of his shotgun. “Perhaps you should throw them a stick to fetch.”
“We’re not really quite that dog-like,” said the leader in a defensive tone.
“If it looks like a dog, and it smells like a dog,” said Robert Martin, wrinkling his nose as he primed the pan, “I don’t think it’s a daisy.”
“We are not dogs!”
“He’s just keeping you talking until they have time to reload,” said one of the young men.
“You’re right! Here we go, boys!” cried the leader, and they ran at the gentlemen, fursploding as they ran.
The four shotguns fired, and the werewolves fell. Two lay quite still, but one tried to struggle to his feet.
“Did you use the silver bullet?” Robert Martin asked Sir John.
Sir John pulled out a small bag. “Aren’t these silver?”
“They’re silver-painted lead,” said Robert. “Mr. Knightley, pray have a care.”
But Mr. Knightley was too fast for the werewolf. He ran up to it and placed his foot on the wolf’s neck. It whined and pawed at his gaitered leg, but he stood resolute.
“You called down the thunder,” he said. “You entered Miss Jane Austen’s novels, and the League is sworn to defend her work. Do you hear me? Run, you cur, run back to the other monsters!” He kicked at the werewolf, which whined and crawled away. “You tell them the League’s coming!” Mr. Knightley cried. “You tell them the League’s coming, and hell’s coming with us! You hear? Hell’s coming with us!”
The werewolf ran away, whimpering.
“Good line,” said Robert Martin.
“I thought so,” said Mr. Knightley.
Sir John Middleton
Special Guest Star: Doc Holliday as Robert Martin
With Very Special Guest Stars: The Shirtless Hottie Werewolves*
*No actual shirtless hottie werewolves were injured in the production of this metafic.
Note: We would like to point out that it’s kind of hard to write a Western-style shootout set in a time before six-shooters. Don’t try this at home, kids.
Tune in next week for the League’s next adventure: The Gentlemen of the Cloth. Same Janeite time, same Janeite station.