• Kay Andrews-Kuhn

The secret diary of Margaret Dashwood aged 13 ¾

The third in a series of short scribbles where I imagine lockdown through the eyes of a Jane Austen character. In the 1995 film adaptation of Sense and Sensibility (which I ADORE for so many reasons), youngest sister Margaret has a small but lively presence, often in the funniest and most charming scenes. Revisiting the book, it was very hard to find Margaret at all, she has no real personality or voice of her own, and is completely absent from most of the story.
Coincidentally, I'm the youngest of three sisters AND I'm the funny one.

The secret diary of Margaret Dashwood aged 13 ¾

Elinor has suggested that I keep a journal to write down my thoughts instead of just blurting them out in front of Mrs Jennings. Here’s my first thought: stop treating me like a baby, Elinor, you’re supposed to be the clever one, as we are endlessly reminded. I could keep a secret if somebody would just tell me what’s going on. It’s so unfair.

Last week I went for a walk with Marianne and she slipped and twisted her ankle. Marianne said not to tell Elinor we were running down the hill, and I didn’t, so you see, I can keep my mouth shut if I’m asked nicely. Anyway, a handsome stranger riding nearby picked her up in his arms as though she weighed nothing and carried her home, dripping with rain and huffing and puffing all over her like Sir John’s pointer. So now, we have to quarantine for a month because Mr Willoughby had travelled all the way to Devonshire from Somerset to stay with his aunt. Luckily, Marianne doesn’t have a cough or a fever, and looks very pretty as always. She sits in the garden with her feet up and orders me to fetch her poetry book and pick up her shawl. Willoughby has just happened to pass by every day since, bringing flowers and sitting at her feet - but at a respectful distance. He hardly spends any time with his aunt so it was a total waste of time coming to Devon, IMHO.

This morning, I saw Marianne sneakily cut off a lock of her hair and he kissed it and put it in his pocketbook. SMH. Firstly: eeuuww. Secondly, I’m pretty sure that’s against all sorts of guidelines so I told Elinor. She looked a bit worried but didn’t say why. Maybe hair kissing means another month in quarantine? Is that why they call it lock-down? I’m definitely the funny one, obvs.

Elinor is clever and practical; Marianne is passionate and intense. Who is Margaret? In the story of our life, I am written off in one sentence: juvenile, lacks promise. As soon as they are allowed to travel, Elinor and Marianne will go to London with Mrs Jennings and have all sorts of adventures. No mention of little Margaret. She will just disappear for months and resurface at the end of the story, hopefully much improved (mother’s words, not mine). No wonder I feel invisible. I'm just here to take walks with Marianne, or tell tales, or embarrass Elinor in front of others. She has no sense of humour btw, which is why I have to write this journal. Home schooling sucks, but it’s 1810, so we don’t know any better.

I will write my own story in this journal. I can be the funny one; the adventurous one; the revolutionary. One day, someone will see the real me and my pirate heart. Until then, how shall I begin?

I wonder if Thomas can build me a tree house…