234 Pride StreetMy dear madam, As you requested, the manuscript and its accompanying texts are enclosed. Thank you for taking the time to examine them. Yours in good faith, EA.
Foreword: Not that I will ever truly understand why, aside from the fact that as a rule people are nosy little blighters, but society has always been (andprobably always will be) extraordinarily interested in my life. ―I say, how came that young man to inherit such a fortune?‖ a gentleman mightask his lady. She may then cluck her tongue in feigned pity and reply, ―Oh, it was a very bad business, my dear…‖ A conversation would thenbegin which picks at every detail of my family‖s life and looks at us in the worst possible light. It ends with the conversers just as ignorant ofthe actual story as they had been before. The recent events which I have witnessed have resolved my mind to setting the record straight. Though the truth is less fantastical than thestories that circulate (I assure you, Robert Austen never spewed bees from his mouth a day in his life) it is still fairly unpleasant. As with anystory, however, we must start at the beginning—the time before any of this came to pass.
Most of what is known about the years Robert Austen spent at Pemberley University is seen only in letters and diaries—letters and diarieswhich ought to have been burned. Like most people with things to hide, the Austens are both very private and very sentimental, which leadsthem to hold on to the evidence of their disgrace. In these situations the evidence, though initially hidden, is inevitably found. It is almostalways discovered in stupidly unlocked boxes on dusty wardrobe shelves, too. Not everything that occurred in those years was awful. Indeed, much of it was rather pleasant, if the stories I have been told (and the itemsyou are about to see) are any indication. Do please note that not everything from this period survives due to misplacement, fire, flood, etc. Because of this the tale can be quitedisjointed at times. Nevertheless, I am optimistic you shall enjoy this foray into the private lives of the Austens and their friends. …
1 I shall never understand why some people find it helpful to keep a journal of their experiences during war, but I find it absolutelyuseless.
It is worse than ever. This morning I woke with a dream of his face still playing upon my consciousness and was taken by such apowerful burst of emotion that I vomited right on the foot of Fleet‖s bunk. Think I hit him, too. Poor ol‖ Fleet, being stuck with thebunk below mine. Can‖t be easy for any of the lads in my berthing, really, to be stuck sleeping near me what with my nightmares.Probably snore, too. I try so hard not to think of that blonde arsehead but he haunts me. I wish I could have a letter from him, but I reckon it‖s toomuch to hope for just yet. I reckon this blasted book he gave me will have to do.
I shan‖t ever forget the first time I saw him. He thinks the first time we encountered one another was that day I brought Mr. FSPback (again) for Miss Austen, but no. I used to see him round Simyton all the time, back when I was working at the old shop makingdeliveries. He‖d saunter into the village and into one of the dress shops, always with one of his sisters, or the milliners, or the bookshop, what have you… he had such an interesting air about him and I needed to meet him. I had no notion of who he was, of course,until I brought Mr. FSP back the first time and saw him painting in the garden on my way back to the cottage. That was the last timeI was annoyed about having to bring back the cat, certainly. Each time following I would try to catch a glimpse of him before I wenthome. It‖s stupid, but he interested me. I suppose I have an obsessive personality. ---
17 We‖ve not seen any sort of action yet. Mostly the gents and I spend the nights drinking our way through the ship‖s stock of rum.May as well be pirates without the hunt for treasure, us. We just hunt for blood. Vastly jolly, this lot. ---
24 I‖ve just had a letter from my father, my first since leaving Simshire. He must have sent it the day I departed. Funny old thing, thatletter. Apparently Mrs. Simself transcribed it for him. Made a good deal of sense, really, especially for him. Mrs. S swore in herenclosed note she didn‖t edit a thing but the urghs and arghs. He said he hoped I was still alive, bless him, and missed having meabout.He did seem rather reluctant to let me go…
Tristan was hurrying out the front door when his father stumbled up behind him and grunted. Tristan sighed as he turnedaround. “Father, I‖ve got to leave, well… about six minutes ago.” “Ungh… hug,” Garrett said determinedly.
“Ah, er… right,” Tristan said over his shoulder as he stalked off. Garrett watched him go, miserable.
Halfway to his horse, Tristan stopped, dropped his bag, turned round, and headed back to the door. He was soaked through to theskin already. “Blast it—come here you old fop.”
He dropped his bag in the muddy walkway and pulled his father into a tight embrace. “I‖ll be safe. Promise.”“Love Tristan,” Garrett grunted again.Tristan looked directly into his father‖s eyes for the first time in ages. “Me too, father.” …
Odd though it is I find the wretched smell of these bleeding whoresons madly comforting. I honestly cannot believe I am writingthis, but that, combined with the loneliness I felt upon reading his letter, is forcing me to admit I actually miss my father. I quite takehim for granted, the old cadger.
I ought to have said more to him, both of them really, when we parted, but to be honest, I really despise goodbyes. ---
31 I had the oddest dream. Usually I dream about that blonde arsehead, but last night I had the most peculiar conversation with awoman—spirit?—I‖ve never met. She seemed to think I was her grandson, crazy tart. Talked me ear off for the longest time, asked about my father a bit. I told herall I knew. She wasn‖t pleased. Why she cared a groat about him, though, I‖ve no idea. She did look an awful lot like Kit. ---
67 The longer I am on this blasted ship the more I regret not taking Mr. Austen‖s offer of paying my way to Pemberley. How could Itake it, though? There is such a thing as pride, as the Austens ought to know, they‖re so haughty… and look at how they treat myfather! He is a bleeding pariah in Simshire because of sins he committed before I was even born. It‖s not right for people to turn theother way if they pass him in the street, to whisper behind their hands and turn their noses up at him. Unless it‖s the smell—that Imight partially understand. But why should I let them pay for me when I need to show the world that I can make my own way? Iwon‖t allow society‖s disdain for the Surilie name last any longer. I won‖t let my father take care of that dilapidated cottage for therest of his existence, not a chance! When I get off this damn ship I am going to secure us new lodgings. Simdon, maybe.
I‖ve got duty again so I best leave it here. Blast that blonde arse for joking about the swabbing. Seems to be the only thing I everdo. ---
93 The lads have noticed the odd things about me. I‖m clean, for one, and that just shocks them all to hell. Then there was the fact that I gored myself on a bit of broken wood and healed in less than a day. The surgeon was sure I‖d bleedto death. I tried to explain to him that I‖ve always just healed really quickly, never been ill a day in my life and all that, but he wascertain I should say my final prayers and make my peace with Plumbob. I hope I never have to explain it ―cause Plumbob knows I haven‖t got the damndest clue. Maybe if I knew who my mother was, butwith my father in such a state, and the bloody Simselves being the bloody Simselves, I really doubt anyone is going to let me in on thatbit of information.
There is also the matter of my eyes. Haven‖t the slightest clue why they scare people. I may have a temper but I‖m not exactlythreatening, am I? Robert loved them, though. Arsehead. Still haven‖t had a letter from him. I‖m starting to wonder if he ever found the one I left inhis waistcoat pocket. Should have done… he loves that one more than his own mother I‖d wager. Anyway, my sister has the same eyes. Nobody‖s scared of her, last I checked! Everyone adores Kit, the long-lost Austen. I admit Ilike her though every fiber of my being screams TRAITOR when I see her. She is letting her mother give her money! Should she notdespise her mother for leaving her at someone else‖s feet all those years ago? But she loves our father when she has every reasonimaginable to not love him. I suppose I must like her for that if not for her alone. ---
94 My temper isn‖t helping the situation with the lads, but it certainly is entertaining watching them all cower at me for no reason.Well, at least I know there isn‖t a reason…
“Were –ah, ―ow‖s it go again Handley? We‖re…fish…” Handley thrust his grog in the air, unknowingly slopping it all over his cap. “Were rascals, scoundrels, villains, n‖ knaves, drunkip me earties, yo h—!”
The entire crew laughed and rolled as Handley dropped his heavy cup on his head, promptly passing out. The biggest of them, aman with blonde hair and a leer, grabbed Handley by his shirt and dragged him to a more conventional sitting position as anotherman dumped the remainder of his rum in Handley‖s face, waking him up only partially.
Again, the crew rolled with laughter, and they started up the song again.“WE‖RE DEVILS N‖ BLACK SHEEP, N‖ REALLY BAD EGGS, DRINK UP ME ―EARTIES YO—HANDLEY GERROFF ME LEG.”“Don‖ fink it goes like that, mate.”“YO HO YO—”
“Oi!” Tristan shouted; he had a quill in his hand, and his deep black fringe fell into his face so that it concealed his eyes.“What‖s this! MEN! Morty ―ere‖s got sumfink ―e wants ter say!” said the blonde, gesturing rudely.
Tristan shook his head ever so slightly, twitching the hair out of his eyes. Big Blonde One took a step back. As he did, the rest of the crew followed suit. Beneath that fringe of the blackest black sat twopiercing blue eyes. Two eyes which shone in the darkness in a surreal way nobody had ever seen before.
Tristan stood, pulling himself up to his full height. He wasn‖t a particularly tall man, but he certainly had presence. His eerilycaptivating eyes flashed. “Shut up, the lot of you, or I will make you.” An innocent enough sentence, if seriously rude, but it was saidwith such a fierce, terrifying authority, especially the final two words, that the drunken crew immediately busied themselves withtheir appointed tasks, dropping pints and goblets port and starboard. “That‖s right,” Tristan said, more calmly this time. “Oh, andJory?” he shouted to the Big Blonde One.
“Hey?” Tristan smiled to himself as he turned back to the wrinkled letter he‖d been attending to. In an eerily pleasant tone, he said, “Callme Morty again and I swear I will kill you.” Jory gulped. …
99Fleet‖s just gone and pointed out that I do snore. Brilliant. ---
HMS SimeraireRobert, I‖ve received your letter. Note, I should say—have you ever written a letter before? Blimey, it was short. I hardly have any idea asto what you‖re getting yourself up to over there in Simland. I have to admit that I was disappointed. It‖s lonely out here even though I‖m surrounded by men. They‖re all blighters, though.Useless, the lot of them! Lucky for them we ain‖t seen any action or I dare say we‖d be quite dead by now. Often I find myself dreaming of the last night we saw each other. It seems so recent and yet it was months ago!I wake up with a start every time the dream version of you says you love me. I cannot believe it still. I love you, I love you, I love you.
102I punched Jory in the jaw today. Cathartic, that. ---
105 Finally another letter! I reckon it takes a while to arrive here if anyone is to send me anything, but I really have not received manyand it feels as if I‖ve been on this ship for about ten years. Hasn‖t been one yet, even. Was hoping I‖d hear from Emma at some point… she certainly knows how to turn a phrase, that girl, and can always be reliedupon for cheering. This letter was no disappointment, and let me tell you I heartily needed it. Finally saw some action, and let me tell you: action is not pretty. We lost a good portion of the crew and are on our way into portto repair the hull. Bleeding mess right now—the galley is mostly flooded so eating hasn‖t been a common occurrence lately, either,which has of course set us all on edge.. ---
129 I had another letter this morning, at last. It was from my sister, who informs me she is quite, quite excited to announce the birthof her first child, my niece. They‖ve named her Anne though Kit says they‖ve already begun calling her Nan. Loathe though I am toadmit it, I am happy for her—and rather more excited than I ought to be. I remember Robert and I visiting my sister and her husband once. I‖d been helping with Kit‖s shop and occasionally Robert wouldcome down and see how I was getting on. One afternoon after closing up Kit invited us to dine with her and Mr. Legacina at theircottage. Robert, being the snobbish fribble he is, was hesitant to go. She‖s an excellent cook, my sister, so I persuaded His RoyalDandyness to join us and swore he wouldn‖t regret it. He didn‖t. Ended up asking Kit to give his cook the recipe for jugged hare ashers was “infinitely more delicious and not at all rotting!” Really brilliant with compliments, Robert is. ---
130 It‖s been ages since I last wrote, but I‖ve excellent news: I was shot in the shoulder! It‖s healed now but I have a fantastic scar. Thesurgeon is convinced I‖m a warlock. I told him witch trials died out a hundred years ago or so. It‖s bloody freezing here—felt it was important to point that out. The men are giving me a wide berth lately (well, apart from Fleet—excellent fellow) but at least they‖ve stopped the damn jokesand calling me Morty. A lot of them are looking forward to port and the ladies who are often found around docks in nearly everycountry. I mean whores, if that was not clear.
I haven‖t heard from Robert in so long… I wonder what he‖d say if I told him I‖d spent a night with one of those women. It wouldbe hypocritical for him to be upset, that is for certain, if his last letter is correct. There is no way he‖ll go through with it, marriage. I know him. He‖ll pass on his inheritance to John and then we can run off toSimfrance when this is all over and be together. Not bloody likely. ---
137 Emma sent me a book, bless her. Not that I‖ll have the time to read much or it—or that I even want to—but it is good to know sheis thinking of me. The last time I read a book was when Robert tried to force some poetry on me. I think I rather agree with his brother John abouthow well poetry fails to be at all interesting. Though, the book is a copy of Shakesimspeare‖s Simlet. I‖ve got a soft spot for that old cad… maybe the book was a helpfulthought after all. ---
139 Had another of those mad dreams! I fell asleep on watch and the next thing I knew there was some dead broad at my feet! Weapparently had very little to talk about as she took one look at me and ran off…right off the ship. Odd thing was, well, she wasbleeding. A good deal, too. Bit disgusting, to be honest. ---
148We lost many of the crew today. Fleet was among them.I feel wretched. ---
HMS SimeraireRobert, I am alive. This is war, you know. It got far more serious since my last letter, and I hardly have the time to scribble this one downbefore I am needed. What news has reached Simland? This latest battle at Simfalgar is rumoured to be ending things but all sorts of rumors are goingaround, namely that Simpoleon is really a woman. Plumbob, I hope this is over. I want to come home. Either way I shall be makingport in Simcalais within a fortnight, and if we are given leave I will make the journey to Simshire from there. Tristan
SimcalaisMy dear Mr. Austen, I depart for Simland within the hour. Whether this note will reach you before I arrive in Simshire I do not know, but to befrank I care not. I received your last letter just this morning, and I confess myself irritated. Of course I shall come and seeyou, you insufferable prat. Sir. Apparently, Mr. Surilie
End…for now.I hope this format worked for you, and that it made sense. Heh. I‖m not certain how long the other updates like this (there are 5 more planned) will be, but I am 90% sure this will be the shortest one. It‖s so jarring, 45 slides! I‖m used to at least 3 times that… Anyway, it was a LOT of fun getting into Tristan‖s mind and I hope you now have a somewhat better understanding of who he is.I would like to give credit to the lovely De and my fantastic husband for beta-reading this mess and for giving me the courage to continue with the project. I reeeeeeeeeeeally appreciate it. Also, thank YOU so much for reading! I don‖t know where I‖d be without all the awesome support I‖ve been lucky enough to have, so thanks! <3