Let's pretend that Jane Austen had the idea for Twilight first... > Balls, dinner parties, and many interesting exchanges between Miss Isabella Swan and Mr. Edward Cullen.
Thank you for giving this a try! I am a huge Jane Austen fan and I love writing Twilight fan fiction, so I decided to see what would happen if I combined to two. If you have any suggestions, ideas, comments, etc. please share them with me. I've gotten a lot of great and inspiring feedback on the other sites where I've already posted this story. The ideas I've gotten from readers have often made their way into the story, so please don't hesitate to share yours! I'm finding that adapting Twilight the Jane Austen's time is a great challenge. There are some things that I've had to change to make allowences for the difference, but for the most part, I'm trying to stick to Twilights plot as tightly as possible. I do not own Twilight, Stephenie Meyer does. I do not actually believe I am Jane Austen, nor do I wish to infringe on her works with my quotes and references. All of the chapter quotes belong to Jane Austen. All of the characters belong to Stephenie Meyer. No copyright infrigment intended.
3. First Impressions
Rating 5/5 Word Count 3195 Review this Chapter
“He was at the same time haughty, reserved, and fastidious, and his manners, though well-bred, were not inviting.” - PRIDE & PREJUDICE by Jane Austen
At first Isabella thought that the room must be very crowded. She wondered that Mrs. Stanley would invite so many people as to make the gathering uncomfortable.
In crossing the room, however, she realized that it was not crowded in whole, but that the majority of it's inhabitants were pressed close around her, eager to be among the first to catch a glimpse of the newest addition to their small society, as her father led her forward to greet their hosts.
Mr. Stanley was a slight man, but Isabella observed something kind in his eyes and voice as he made the introduction. Her father bowed graciously, and turned to his daughter, "Allow me the honor of presenting to you my daughter, Miss Isabella Swan."
Isabella dropped her gaze, and a curtsy, simultaneously and Mrs. Stanley grasped her hands in the instant that her father finished speaking.
"We are so pleased that you are here Miss Swan. My daughters have spoke of almost nothing else since we first heard of your coming home to your dear Father."
Mrs. Stanley, a small, stout woman of middle age, had the air of someone accustomed to getting her way. She had a sweet face that was framed in dark curls streaked with silver. Her eyes were bright, though perhaps set a little too close together, and seemed never to cease in movement. Nothing passed Mrs. Stanley unnoticed, and Isabella had the uneasy notion of being critically observed.
Isabella's blush deepened when she noticed the continued attention she was receiving from the entire room, and the way nearby conversations were hushed in anticipation of her response. "Thank you Mrs. Stanley." She felt her father squeeze her arm in encouragement, "I'm pleased to be here, thank you so much for the kind invitation."
"Are you not the sweetest creature!" Mrs. Stanley beamed and took Isabella's arm companionably. "I will introduce you to my daughters at once, for they would love nothing better than to make your acquaintance."
Mrs. Stanley led Isabella away from her father who was still in conversation with Mr. Stanley near the door. He gave her an encouraging nod before his face was lost in a sea of curls and feathers. Mrs. Stanley paused several times on the short journey across the room to introduce Miss Swan and inquire among her curious acquaintances whether or not anyone knew where her eldest daughter could be found.
At last a woman Mrs. Stanley introduced to Isabella as a Mrs. Cope, informed them that the eldest Miss Stanley was last observed standing next to the mantle in conversation with Mr. Michael Newton. As these reports were being made, a maid approached Mrs. Stanley who excused herself as she was needed that moment in the kitchen.
"I will leave you in the capable hands of Mrs. Cope, Miss Swan. You can want no one better when endeavoring to be introduced into our humble society. I regret that I am needed this moment, but I will rejoin you as soon as I can."
Mrs. Cope was a large woman of about fifty years of age who possessed an abundance of unruly red hair that seemed already to be trying to escape the binds which forced it to reside atop her head. Her dress, a vivid purple, seemed also to be struggling in it's attempts to keep the large woman clad, and was appallingly tight and looked as though any one of it's seams could burst at any given moment.
Mrs. Cope giggled heartily at Mrs. Stanley's assurances to Isabella that no better chaperone could be wanted and took Isabella's arm in the same moment that Mrs. Stanley released it. "I confess I am somewhat of a busy body." She giggled again, making her red curls shake as though they were laughing themselves, of their own accord and Isabella smiled. "I am a widow, you see," she continued, "and what else can one such as I be expected to contribute to a party of this nature, but to find agreeable company for all of our young people? Come Miss Swan, I shall introduce you to my nephew; give him the pleasure of being the first young man to make your acquaintance. He will be flattered, I have no doubt."
With this speech, Isabella felt herself being pulled purposefully across the room again, this time towards a young man, alone, observing a framed landscape that adorned the east wall.
"Mr. Yorkie!" His aunt called out as they approached, causing several heads to turn and drawing many curious glances in their direction. Isabella decided in that moment that she didn't much care for Mrs. Cope, and doubted very much that any nephew of hers would be an agreeable acquaintance.
The young man turned, and with a smile, revealed that unbecomingly small teeth were a family trait that the young man shared with his large aunt. Isabella politely returned the smile as they were introduced.
"You must thank me, nephew," Mrs. Cope informed him after the appropriate exchanges had been made, "for I believe you are the first young man to make Miss Swan's acquaintance, she has not yet had the opportunity of meeting any of our other young people. Do you not count yourself fortunate?”
"Indeed, Aunt." Mr. Yorkie eagerly turned to Isabella with these words, "You come from the east, I believe, Miss Swan?"
"Yes." Isabella replied, fearing to appear rude by stepping back when Mr. Yorkie came closer.
"The climate in that part of the country is quite warm, I believe. Much drier than we have here, would you not agree?" Without giving her time to form a reply, he continued, "Though from the fairness of your complexion, Miss Swan, had I not known from whence you came, I would have assumed that you were from somewhere nearby, London perhaps, or possible Surrey, though it is also east, though not so far east as Kent, Surrey shares our tendency for damp weather. Indeed, had I not known any better, I would have thought you were visiting from Surrey. You are quite fair."
"Yes indeed," Mrs. Cope agreed, "You have very fine skin, Miss Swan. You must have taken great care to keep out of the sun, you need not take such troubles while you are in this part of the country, fortunately, for we seldom have the inconvenient hindrance of sunlight."
Isabella, who was distinctly aware of the scarcity of sunlight in this dreary place, and was already lamenting it's loss, did not find these sentiments comforting and, unsure how she should reply, was saved from answering by the return of Mrs. Stanley and a young lady who looked to be about fifteen years of age.
"There you are, Miss Swan." Mrs. Stanley approached the small group and brought the young lady with her. "Please let me introduce you to my youngest daughter, Miss Mary Stanley; my eldest daughter still eludes me, but the younger Miss Stanley was no less eager to make your acquaintance."
The young lady bobbed gracefully, and smiled timidly.
Mr. Yorkie bowed, and spoke before Isabella, which she thought was ill-mannered, though no one else seemed to take notice. "Miss Mary Stanley," he addressed the young lady, "I was just admiring your work when I had the pleasant interruption of making Miss Swan‘s acquaintance. Your paintings grow more accomplished with each passing day, I daresay."
The young lady blushed and allowed herself to be led toward the landscape that Mr. Yorkie had been observing previously, in the grasps of Mrs. Cope's stout arm and Mr. Yorkie's equally stout enthusiasm.
Mrs. Stanley sighed and confided quietly to Isabella, "I must apologize for leaving you at the mercy of Mrs. Cope, Miss Swan, I'm afraid she is rather… well, I suppose if you are here long, you shall see for yourself. Come now, I am determined that you should meet my eldest daughter. Ah what luck! She is approaching us now!"
A smiling young lady, with curls to match her mother’s, though very small, like her father, and wearing a becoming gown of yellow, descended on them.
"Oh, Mother!" She hurried forward and grasp Isabella intimately by one hand, "Is this the lovely Miss Swan?"
"Indeed," her mother smiled, "Miss Swan, I have the great pleasure of acquainting you with my eldest daughter, this is Miss Jessica Stanley."
The two girls curtsied to one another and Miss Stanley took Isabella's other arm so that she was led along between them. "I am so happy that you have come, Miss Swan!" The girl's bright eyes, which also matched her mother's, flashed over Isabella's person excitedly, "And you are wearing the most lovely dress, Miss Swan! Mother, I should like to have a gown made in it's exact image, is it not becoming?"
"Indeed, it is most becoming. Miss Weber said the same thing to her mother as Miss Swan was coming in."
"Angela is here then?" Miss Stanley was kind enough to ignore Isabella's blush at the attentions she was receiving over her simple gown, and looked past her as she addressed her mother, "Pray, where is she? She was nearly as anxious for Miss Swan's coming as I! Have you not met Miss Weber, Miss Swan? She is my particular friend, and she is so anxious to meet you."
"No, I have not had that pleasure." Isabella admitted.
"We must remedy that immediately!" Miss Stanley abruptly turned around so that Isabella's arm fell from Mrs. Stanley's. "Excuse us Mother, we must find her at once, I can not delay her pleasure in meeting our guest a moment longer."
Mrs. Stanley did not seem to mind the abrupt dismissal she received from her daughter, and replied good humouredly, "Very well, I must see to the roast in any case, dinner will be served very shortly I hope." She then disappeared.
"This way, Miss Swan." Miss Stanley led her to a small gathering of people her own age, and Isabella felt a tremor of apprehension at having to meet so many at once.
Miss Angela Weber turned out to be a tall girl in a pale pink gown who possessed an abundance of honey colored hair that was done up in a fashion that Isabella had never seen before, but found quite lovely. She seemed quiet by nature, and Isabella liked her at once. People of a quiet nature were always most attractive to Isabella by way of company, as she shared their preference for tranquil observation. Though rarely speaking to one another, she found that amid couplings of quiet people there was a sort of comfortable companionship born from a shared, if not acknowledged, appreciation for peace and contemplation.
Miss Weber’s kind shyness was thrown into sharp contrast with the young lady standing next to her, whom Miss Stanley introduced as a Miss Mallory. An unpleasant sort of girl with a pinched nose and a protruding chin that never ceased to move up and down with the constant stream of silly speech coming from it’s owner. There were two other young ladies, whose names Isabella forgot in the instant that they were introduced, due to a distraction in that moment that drew her attention.
Up to this point, Isabella had taken little notice of her surroundings, her attention instead being engaged in the process of being constantly led about the room and introduced to so many eager strangers. Now, however, as Miss Mallory chattered in the background, she was given the opportunity to look around and, for the first time that evening, observe her surroundings. Miss Mallory’s constant inconsequential babble had little to do with anyone but herself, and did not require either response or encouragement from the other girls present, so Isabella soon found her mind drifting away from the trivial conversation to take in the gathering.
The room was very large and elegantly arranged. It was now a little less crowded, as many of the men had retired into another part of the house to await dinner’s service. However, there were still a few young men left amongst the women, employed in entertaining one or another of the young ladies present.
Apart from them, stood a small group of young people, and Isabella found herself watching them. At first, she thought that her attention had been drawn to their group because there were three young men amongst them, and their brown and grey coats stood out against the various colors of the gowns in the room. On closer observation, however, Isabella realized that it was the gentlemen and young ladies themselves that had caught her eye.
There were five in number, standing a little apart from the other gatherings, not in close conversation with one another nor did they even seem to acknowledge each other’s presence.
They were none of them similar in looks; of the gentlemen, one was tall with light hair, one very large and muscular, and the third slight, in comparison to his large companion, but solid and angular, with bronze colored hair that seemed to be in slight disarray. They had two young ladies with them, one was petite, with dark hair, and the other, in contrast, tall and regal, with hair that, even pulled up, obviously rivaled Miss Weber’s in volume.
For all of these differences, however, there were even more similarities between them that Isabella found both perplexing and without obvious explanation. They were all very fair skinned, even the two that she would have thought to have a dark complexion due to the shades of their hair. The pale complexions were not sickly pale like that of someone unaccustomed to being out of doors, though the shadows beneath each of their eyes would suggest otherwise; it was the flawless lack of color that could easily be found in any of the marble busts in her late Uncle’s house. Looking only at their faces and unmoving lips, she could have easily seen them as missing pieces of his collection; this notion unsettled her, and she forced her eyes downward to take observation and perhaps find clues for their appearances in their attire. They were dressed elegantly, but not finely. They moved gracefully but without airs. It was none of these things, however, that made Isabella gasp and rendered her incapable of looking away. It was the beauty of each individual that could not be denied or ignored, and the beauty of the group together that was overwhelming.
“Miss Swan, you look unwell. Are you quite alright?” One of the name-less young ladies’ voices interrupted her thoughts and drew her attention back to her companions.
Isabella quickly regained her composure as best she could and replied, “I am quite well, thank you.”
“She is distracted,” said Miss Mallory, catching Isabella’s glance as it left them again, returning to the source of her previous interest. Miss Mallory looked about the room and continued playfully, “by a young man perhaps? Miss Swan, has one of our young men caught your fancy already?”
Miss Mallory smiled slyly and nodded toward a young man standing next to the mantel, slightly to the left of the marble-esque group. He was smiling widely at them, his gaze resting chiefly on Isabella with an undisguised and curious look. “Is it Mr. Newton perhaps?” She continued, “It seems that he is equally anxious to make your acquaintance, Miss Swan. Miss Stanley, shall we not take it upon ourselves to see that they are introduced? I am sure Mr. Newton would be grateful for the gesture.”
Miss Stanley blushed noticeably. Despite this, she kept her composure and answered, “I believe Miss Swan’s eyes were fixed in another direction.” She replied calmly, but with noticeable effort. “Perhaps she was watching the door; I cannot imagine why we have not yet sat down for dinner!”
In a moment of bravery, Isabella decided to asked about the pale young people. “Might I inquire as to the identity of the group standing near the door?”
The girls let out a collective sigh as they turned to find the source of her curiosity. Miss Stanley shook her head. “Is that what caught your attention? It does not surprise me. Those are three of the Cullen siblings, standing with Miss Hale and Mr. Whitlock. The elder Mr. Cullen, their half-brother, and his wife are not attending tonight. Miss Hale is Mrs. Cullen’s cousin and the tall gentleman beside her is Mr. Whitlock, a friend of Mr. Emmett Cullen.”
“Which is the one with the reddish brown hair?” Isabella inquired further. Something in the young man’s presence both unsettled and intrigued her.
“That is Mr. Edward Cullen, the youngest.” Miss Stanley informed her.
In that moment the young man’s gaze fixed on them, as though he had heard his name being said, however he was much to far away for that to be true. Still, there was something questioning in his brief look. Isabella tried to look away quickly, so as not to appear rude in her stare, but too late; his eyes flickered from her neighbor to herself before she had a chance to advert her gaze.
“Is he not the handsomest man in the room?” Miss Stanley inquired of Isabella, while the other girls were encouraged by Miss Mallory to return their attention to her description of the white gown she was having made for the Spring Ball. Isabella nodded in assent to Miss Stanley‘s observation. “It is a shame that none of us young ladies are delightful enough in his view to attract notice,” she continued, a little darkly. “It is a useless endeavor to attempt to obtain his regard, Miss Swan, let me caution you; he and his family are much above our notice, though I am sure we are flattered by their presence here this evening.”
Isabella smiled at this, and detected some bitterness in her friend’s words. She made the assumption that Miss Stanley must have at some point in the past, been slighted by Mr. Edward Cullen, and wondered if this was enough in her estimation to view his entire family with disdain, or the tone of dislike Isabella detected in her voice was born from another source altogether. Could simple jealousy prompt such a reaction? She did not know enough of Miss Stanley’s character to draw a firm conclusion, but thought perhaps it was likely.
“I know nothing of that family,” Isabella remarked carefully, hoping to draw more details from her companion. She looked again at the subjects of their discussion, and met Mr. Edward Cullen’s inquisitive gaze once more. He frowned slightly before looking away and murmuring something to the large dark haired young man beside him.
Miss Jessica Stanley accepted the invitation obligingly and in the next few moments Miss Swan was acquainted with all of the known particulars of the family and their short history in the county. Nothing in the report she received provided an explanation for their oddly beautiful appearances and detached behavior. These disconcerting questions were second to only one larger question which occupied her mind in that moment.
She was left to ask herself on the way to their long awaited dinner, why she so desperately wanted to know.