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


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

The Gentlemen of the Cloth

In which Mr. Tilney has a secret.

A gentleman stood in the church, looking around with an anxious air. His dress was subdued; a black coat and trousers, gray great coat, sturdy boots, and a wide-brimmed hat pulled low over his eyes. His wife had told him that he looked quite smart when he left her for his important mission.

He heard footsteps behind him, and turned to see who had joined him; and then he knew that his own raiment, however glorious it had seemed in his own dressing-room, was merely ordinary.

A long, long great coat made of black leather swirled around shining top boots, separating in front to reveal close-fitting black suede breeches. A black shirt and waistcoat, a loosely-tied black muslin cravat, and a wide-brimmed black hat completed his ensemble. He had a crossbow tucked under his arm. The first gentleman took some comfort from the fact that his own hat was not that much different from the leather-coated gentleman’s.

“Hello, Edward,” said the second gentleman in a friendly tone. “Always good to see you.” He held out his hand.

“Hello, Henry,” said Mr. Ferrars, shaking his hand. “Very, er, nice coat.”

“It wears well,” he said.

“I’m sure it does.”

Mr. Tilney took a bottle from his pocket and handed it to Mr. Ferrars. “Holy water. Have you enough stakes?”

Edward checked his pockets. “Yes, I have a dozen.”


“Yes.” He held up a carved wooden cross.

“You’re sorted, then.” Henry’s glance strayed to the church door. “Bertram’s late. Typical.”

“My dear Henry, I do wish you would endeavor to get along with Mr. Bertram,” said Edward. “He is one of the League, and as much a hero as any of us.”

“Oh, I know, Ned. But he’s such a… such a… wanker.”

“That’s not a very nice thing to say about a fellow priest.”

“But truthful. You must admit it is truthful.”

Mr. Ferrars was silent, and Henry nodded and smiled.

The church door creaked open, and a gentleman in a dark suit and dog collar came in. He looked at Henry and said, “Leather, Tilney? A bit much, don’t you think?”

“Good to see you, as always, Bertram,” said Henry. “The leather wears well.”

“Oh, no doubt,” said Edmund with a sneer.

“And it provides extra protection against vampyre teeth and fingernails. You might want to look into it.”

Edward looked alarmed, and rubbed the woolen sleeve of his own great coat.

Henry noticed his movement, and smiled at him. “Sturdy wool is quite as good, Ned, have no fear.”

“And we know you know fabrics,” said Edmund, still sneering.

“Now, gentlemen,” said Edward, “we have a particular and very important mission to complete tonight. Let us pledge to put aside our personal differences until then.”

“I have no objection,” said Henry.

“Nor do I,” said Edmund, looking rebellious.

Henry handed him a bottle of holy water. “Have you a cross?”

“I daresay I’m more likely to have one than you are,” said Edmund.

Edward sighed, but Henry ignored his jibe. “Stakes?”

“Yes, I believe I have two or three.”

“You should have at least a dozen,” said Henry. “Here, I’ve a stash under the altar.” He pulled out some stakes and a bag that Edmund could sling across his body to hold them.

Edmund looked sulky, but took the stakes.

“That’s better,” said Edward, relieved.

“Ned has reminded me of my duty,” said Henry, “a duty that we all share: to protect Miss Jane Austen from the forces that seek to destroy the world she has created. Gentlemen, let us put aside our differences and remember our duty as we complete our mission. Remember Miss Austen.”

“Miss Austen,” said Mr. Ferrars.

“Miss Austen,” said Mr. Bertram.

The door of the church opened, and Henry and Edward turned, weapons at the ready.

Yet another clerical gentleman came in. “Many apologies, gentlemen,” he said. “I did not mean to be late, but my esteemed patroness required my services. However, I am here now, and ready to help, if you would just be so kind as to show me how I am to go on. I am very afraid that my training has not been concerned with these supernatural matters. We have no call for such at Rosings, but then Rosings is such a superior sort of place.” He stopped, one sensed more to take a breath than because he was finished.

Henry looked at Edward and whispered, “I thought we agreed to not tell Collins about this operation.”

“I didn’t tell him,” said Edward.

They both turned and looked reproachfully at Edmund.

“Mr. Collins is a duly ordained priest,” said Edmund, his chin lifted high. “He is ever ready to perform those rites and ceremonies which are instituted by the Church of England. It would be neither proper nor right to leave him out of our endeavor.”

“This is just like you, Bertram,” said Henry. “Very well, then, you can keep an eye on him. If a vampyre bites you while you’re tending to Collins, don’t worry: I’ll stake you myself.”

“I do not know why our leader put you in charge of this mission,” said Edmund. “Your disposition is not serious, and this is a serious mission.”

“Our leader knows that I have some experience in this sort of activity,” said Henry.

“Only because the authoress of this metafiction has a mystifying and stubborn tendre for you.”

“Well, just because you don’t have fangirls, Bertram–”

Edmund flushed. “I do so have fangirls!”

“I mean besides your wife.”



“Gentlemen,” said Edward, raising his hands. “Mr. Bertram, why don’t you see that Mr. Collins is properly kitted out?”

Edmund walked away, still grumbling.

“My apologies,” said Henry to Edward. “He brings out the worst in me.”

“No apology necessary. As you said—wanker.”

Once Mr. Collins was fitted out with holy water, cross, and stakes, the sun was sinking, and they prepared to move out into the churchyard.

Mr. Tilney led the way, leather great coat flaring around his booted feet as he walked. The other gentlemen of the cloth fell in behind him (Mr. Collins clinging rather closely to Edmund). Henry stopped in the middle of the cemetery, and the gentlemen readied their weapons.

A sudden wind stirred up a whirlwind of leaves, and when it subsided, a vampyre stood before Henry.

“You,” said the vampyre with deep loathing.

“I,” said Henry, tracing a finger along the trigger of his crossbow.

“You know your fight is useless,” said the vampyre, grinning to display his sharp fangs. “The recent enthusiasm for vampyres has not abated. Books, films, television, romance, mystery, police procedurals—we’re everywhere. We can’t be stopped by heroes from Jane Austen novels, for Nosferatu’s sake. Everyone knows men in Jane Austen’s novels are underwritten as characters. Andrew Davies said so.”

“Movies,” said Henry. “Movies don’t count. The person, be it gentleman or vampire, who has not pleasure in a good novel, must be intolerably stupid–” He fired an arrow from the crossbow, and the vampyre exploded into dust. “–or completely dusted.”

Mr. Collins applauded and cried, “Huzzah!”

“Hush!” cried Henry, holding up his hand. The gentlemen then realized they were surrounded by dozens of vampyres. Mr. Collins gave a little screech.

“Fear not, gentlemen,” said Henry. “I have not yet employed our secret weapon.”

“Secret weapon?” asked Edward, who sounded concerned, though not exactly afraid.

Henry raised his fingers to his mouth and gave a sharp whistle. A figure all in black dropped from the sky, landing in front of them. He moved in a blur, whistling noises filling the night as he whirled around them, tossing slim wooden stakes with deadly force. Vampyres howled and exploded into dust around them.

The figure in black turned to face them. His face was masked.

“Gentlemen,” said Henry, “May I present the reverend Charles Hayter? Well done, Hayter. We can handle it from here.”

The figure in black disappeared as instantly and as silently as it had arrived. Henry fired his crossbow, reloaded with one motion and fired it again, and again, and again. The other three gentlemen snapped out of their astonishment and, cheered by these early successes, went to work with a will. Soon the vampyre squadron was thoroughly dispatched; even Mr. Collins acquitted himself respectably, and carried himself as though he had planned and carried out the entire operation.

Henry regarded him with tolerant amusement and let him chatter on about Lady Catherine and Rosings Park. He said quietly to Edward, “I am to return to headquarters to make a report. Will you accompany me? I think a report from your perspective would be valuable to leadership.”

“You flatter me,” said Edward. “I will accompany you.”

Edmund, who had been ignoring Mr. Collins while straining to overhear their conversation, said, “I will come along as well, Tilney. I do not trust you to give an unbiased report.”

“Now, Mr. Bertram, I must protest,” said Edward. “There is no reason to believe Mr. Tilney would not give a full report; and I hope you are not impugning my honor, sir.”

“Nothing of the kind, Mr. Ferrars; but I still insist on accompanying you both.”

“You cannot leave me here alone,” said Collins in a frightened squeak.

“Well, we’ll be a proper parade,” said Henry. “Very well, gentlemen: we set out immediately.”

“Can we not stop even for a small bite and sup?” asked Mr. Collins pathetically.

Henry did not answer him, but strode out of the churchyard, hat pulled down low over his brow, the tails of his great coat flaring behind him. Edward followed him.

Collins looked at Edmund pleadingly, but Edmund said, “We should go, Mr. Collins,” and followed. Mr. Collins took one last quaking look around the churchyard, and scurried out behind him.

Tune in next week for the next episode: The Gentleman in Charge; same Janeite time, same Janeite station.


Edward Ferrars
The Rev. Edward Ferrars

Edmund Bertram
The Rev. Edmund Bertram

Mr Collins
The Rev. William Collins

Jet Li as Charles Hayter
With Special Guest Star Jet Li as the Rev. Charles Hayter*
*Because frankly the only way to make Charles Hayter remotely interesting is to make him a ninja. Also, every story is better with a ninja.

Van Helsing as Henry Tilney
Featuring Very Special Guest Star Van Helsing as the Rev. Henry Tilney (click on the photo for full greatcoated gloriousness)

With Van Helsing’s Leather Great Coat as Mr. Tilney’s Great Coat

31 thoughts on “The League of Austen’s Extraordinary Gentlemen: Part the Fourth

  1. Allison T.

    Leather greatcoats are very cool, indeed. And I loved the Rev. Ninja Hayter! Had completely forgotten about him. But what about Mr Elton? Does he not have a share in the conversation? Perhaps his cara sposa would not let him participate.


    • Mags

      Because considering recent casting choices, it would have been creepy and weird, even for this exceedingly odd and very meta fic. Also, poor Henry had enough potential d-baggery to contend with already, don’t you think?


      • Maria L

        I know we are a greedy lot, but I have to admit, I was secretly hoping that Elton would show up with a couple of Vampyre-Sniffing donkeys 😉

        But the coat and ninja do go a long way to satisfy, as does HT calling Edmund Bertram a wanker!


      • S

        Some sort of injury to Mr. Elton. Not having a leather fetish, the leather coat doesn’t do it for me – I just keep thinking of how heavy it must be, and restrictive of movement. I do like a good ninja, however.


  2. “Only because the authoress of this metafiction has a mystifying and stubborn tendre for you.”

    That was my favorite line and I had to laugh out loud! This is my favorite part thus far! Can’t wait to read more 🙂

    This should be made into a book!! It’s brilliant!


  3. “Everyone knows men in Jane Austen’s novels are underwritten as characters. Andrew Davies said so.”


    A black leather greatcoat. You really know how it dress a hero.


    • Mandy N

      Agree, Van Helsing and his leather greatcoat is now my fave Henry…fab. choice being a priest. Ninja Hayter is pretty cool. Oh, is Wishbone a member of Miss Austen’s League ?- ok, I’m greedy !


  4. LOVE IT!
    I almost exploded when the ninja Charles Hayter came on the scene! I’m loving your league of Austen’s extraordinary gentlemen posts.

    As for Mr Elton, I wouldn’t be surprised if he had been bitten by a vampyre already…


    • Mags

      There is no indication that Edmund gave up Thornton Lacey when he took the Mansfield living after Dr. Grant popped off; also it’s fairly obvious that Sir Thomas always meant Edmund to have both livings. Thornton Lacey was being “held” for him before his ordination, and Mansfield would have been held after Mr. Norris’ death had not Sir Thomas had to sell it off to pay Tom’s debts.

      And yes, of course Henry was trying to get Edmund’s goat. 😉


      • Aha! That’s what you meant by pluralist. It’s bothered me for years (okay, not really). I was thinking theological pluralist – “Religious pluralism, a term used to describe the acceptance of all religious paths as equally valid, promoting coexistence” (thank you, Wikipedia) – and I couldn’t imagine Edmund as endorsing this view. 😉


      • Mags

        No, I can’t imagine Edmund endorsing that view, either! 🙂

        Pluralism, in the sense of one clergyman having responsibility for more than one church, was (I believe) outlawed in the later 19th century. Obviously one of the parishes is not going to get proper attention, unless they were very close together, and the clergyman could physically hold services in both churches on a Sunday. If not, one parish would be allowed to wallow in its own ignorance and evil for a full week. This was obviously not desirable. 😉 And really, since landowners had to pay a tithe to support the church, it wasn’t fair, either. But so many livings were so poorly paid that many clergyman had to hold two or more livings just to make ends meet.

        It should probably be pointed out that Jane Austen’s father held two livings–Steventon and Deane. They were close together, and he seemed like a conscientious fellow, so perhaps he held services at both parishes. But in the late 18th century, it was not considered that big of a deal, I think.

        I feel sorry for the guy who “held” Thornton Lacey for Edmund, who was tossed out on the streets once His Lordship was old enough to be ordained. And if Tom hadn’t been a slacker, somebody else would have been tossed out of the Mansfield living as well.


  5. Andrea

    I was I admit slightly disappointed in this one. You already have Mr.Collins to pick on, why pick on Edmund too? Yeah he doesn’t have the flair that Henry Tilney does but few do.(I do love Henry Tilney.) Except for that I thought it was still pretty fun and Charles Hayter as a ninja was brilliant.


    • Mags

      I’m sorry that you are disappointed, Andrea. I know that Edmund has fangirls, but I’ve never been shy about stating my opinion around here; my not-so-affectionate nickname for him is The Lord High Mayor of Wankerville. When he rationalizes Mary’s behavior and comments to Fanny I want to strangle him with his own dog-collar; and he never does anything to make me like him again like Darcy or Wentworth (who make me equally angry early in their stories). Edmund brings out the worst in me, so I am sympathetic to Henry. 😉 I do not think Edmund (or Fanny) would completely approve of Henry’s well-known goofy streak, either. It would be weird for me to all of a sudden be approving of Edmund in my silly metafic, and also I’m not too proud to admit that I’m going for a cheap laugh.


  6. Mandy N

    What Good Ideas the Editrix has been Admitting ! ‘the gentleman or vampire who has not pleasure in a good novel must be intolerably stupid’. lolol !
    I’ve decided Van Helsing is my perfect Henry Tilney.
    Golly, I’ve been bitten by paranormal fever *fans self ! * 😉


  7. Kathleen Glancy

    I’m sorry to introduce a discordant note, but anyone so nice in his language as Henry Tilney would never say “If you get bit”, which for all I know may be perfectly correct American English but is BAD GRAMMAR in English English. He’d say “If you are bitten”. But that small cavil apart I loved it. I assume Charles Hayter went for ninja training after his humiliation over young Walter Musgrove’s resolute refusal to mind him, with the intention of learning how to scare the (expletive deleted) out of the little brat next time they met, though obviously it was also useful for vampire hunting. Is nobody going after the mummies? And I await the appearance of Mr Darcy, who after being turned into a vampire (twice) and a werewolf (once) has perhaps more reason to be aggrieved than most Austen gentleman


    • Mags

      You’re right. These things do not get the most robust editing. 🙂 I’ve rewritten that line.

      And yeah, Mr. D. is both flattered and annoyed about his treatment at the hands of the fangirls–and not just because of the monsters.


  8. Emily Michelle

    “Well, just because you don’t have fangirls, Bertram–”

    Edmund flushed. “I do so have fangirls!”

    “I mean besides your wife.”

    This completely made my day. And I totally support Henry-love and Edmund-bashing, so I’m on your side for this one. And dear sweet Edward, trying to keep the peace.


  9. We can always count on the Rev. Henry Tilney to defend Miss Austen from the half-witted and poorly-written of the world!
    And I share the Editrix’ opinion on Edmund. I wanted to scream at him all throughout Mansfield Park. Just like him to invite Mr Collins on an important vampyre-slaying mission. (Wanker!)

    I can’t wait for Mr Darcy to attack the evil forces! To Miss Austen! 😀


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