The Sterley’s of Oakland a Parody of Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen

It was one of those fine spring days when the buds of plants are awakening from there deep winter slumber. The church as Notheringay was surrounded by vehicles of all shapes and sizes. For today George Parker esquire of the county of Surry is to be wed to his long time sweetheart Lydia Sterley spinster of this parish


James Thomas who has his living of this parish a somber man of middle years is addressing the couple before him. Do you George William Parker take this woman to be your lawfully wedded wife? To have and to hold to cherish in good times and in ill times? inquired the parson. I do replied the groom do you Lydia Ann Sterley take this man to be your lawfully husband to have and to hold. To cherish and love in good time and in ill times? he then enquired of the young bride before him. Lydia dressed in a white dress with a gay abandon of lace work hesitated a moment before answering then loudly declared, I do

By the power vested in me by the Church of England and the Crown I declare you husband and wife you may kiss the bride said the minister. Thus said George turned and kissed his bride to loud applause from the gathered congregation.

Momentarily the register will be signed I would ask that those of you who wish to give your congratulations to this delightful couple wait at the door said the minister.

Oh Emily what a wonderful wedding do you not think that Lydia made a beautiful bride asked Lady Ann of her new sister-in-law. I do believe they are a handsome couple seldom have we at Notheringay seen such a fine display of affection between a bride and a groom replied Emily Parker her heart swelling with pride on seeing her eldest son well married.

The happy couple stepped out of the church to be greeted by applause and some very well meaning words by there assembled relatives. Peter Parker who had stood as the best man looked splendid in his uniform. Thoughts of war were far from his mind as there was talk of peace in the air every one was exceedingly glad of this. For Napoleon on Elba was a bear caged at last…

Directly the company adjourned to Oakland Park for the wedding feast, For Sir Thomas and Mr Parker had spared no expense to make this a nuptial feast which would be well remembered for many a year.

The music was playing the first set as the newly weds took to the floor once more to be greeted by loud applause for it was a happy occasion where in all the assembled company now joined a dancing and feasting until late in the night.

The happy couple took there leave of the party at nine oclock in the evening when it was still quite light. Heading for there wedding holiday for the house Morton Grange was not quite in readiness for occupation and thus Sir Thomas on the insistence of his dear wife had sent the happy couple of to the mid Lothians in Scotland to spend a few weeks with a dear friend of many years standing.

William I think we have done our duty well in this regard said Sir Thomas, I believe that directly the happy couple leaves for there wedding holiday. We should retire to my study and express our appreciation for this happy event by sampling a few bottles of whiskey which I have recently recived from Scotland

Mid Lothians
23rd of April 1814
Dearest Mamma,
Scotland is a wonderful place, we visited the home of Sir Walter what a splendid house it is, I highly recommend it. Our first night in Scotland we spent at an inn run by a most interesting man by the Name of Samuel Ferreira I believe a descendent of one of the Spanish who was wreaked here in the reign of Queen Elizabeth. Mr Ferreira was very knowledgeable of the war of 1745 and took some time to explain to George the actions. A bit boring for me but George found it of interest.

Mamma I do not want to alarm you but I must tell you that I have been a little indisposed of late with a very bad case of nerves in the morning so much so that I am unable to breakfast only taking a little black tea.  I do not know if it is the air, which disagrees, or the rich food, which our gracious host puts before us, I have been quite unable to keep any thing down in the morning other then the formally mentioned tea. I hope I have not caught some thing for that would quite ruin our planed excursion to Edinburgh, which we have been planning for later this week.

I must tell you my dear Mamma the Scots are such somber people seldom have I seen people who smile as rarely as our northern neighbors do. On our first evening here, we had for dinner that most strange dish that is beloved of the Scots Haggis I cannot say I care for it. It really is not to my tastes while George embraces all things Scots he has even gone so far as to buy a kilt and looks quite magnificent when dressed. We find a great many Englishmen go about in search of Scotland enquiring if these or that place be the spot on which a Scot of ancient memory once had his dwelling or if this were the place where Burns the poet of the Scots may have chanced to spend an afternoon whiling away an afternoon composing verse.
I have done every thing exactly as you instructed me George was very gentle and knows just how to treat a lady. I believe that I will never have occasion to doubt in my dear George who is simply the best husband a woman could ever have found.

Your loving daughter
Lydia Parker

Oakland Park
30th April 1814

Dearest Lydia,
I am glad to have word of you at last; I am glad that Scotland agrees with you. I would beg to inform you my dear that the symptoms you describe are to your father and me of the best news for the foretell of an addition to the family. I give you our congratulations on the news of your forthcoming childbirth.

Pray Lydia dear take some sugar water in the morning this will help with the morning sickness. Be not afraid dear child for when you return to Morton I will come, see you well settled, and help with the arrival of the dear child. Please convey my sincere felicitations to George.

Life here at Oaklands continues we have had another visit from that unpleasant Mr Holder who it seems has heard there are great opportunities for persons of all classes to make there fortunes in Africa. Well I wish him well although I would be loathed to loose the services of his good wife for, as you know she is simply the best baker in the county.

Papa is overjoyed with the news of your current condition and has all manner of plans to set up a trust for the child.
Dearest Lydia pray do not let George overtax you with walks and trips for a woman in your condition should be abed as much as is possible. Indeed, it is not good for the child to be moved around to much by to much walking about of its mother therefore I beg you to rest as much as possible. As for Haggis, I quite agree for there are certain things Scots that should be reserved for the Scots and the devil alone.

Your dear papa has left this morning to oversee certain work at Morton in preparing the house for your homecoming. Your Mamma Parker sends her deepest and sincere love and best wishes for I have just this morning shared the news of your communication with her to her great delight.

The grange is a nice house with the renovations that Lord John made to them will make it one of the most modern houses in the county, my dear you should count yourself very fortunate that papa was able to make such a good purchase of the house. I foresee that that house will one day hold many happy hours for you and George and pray god that there will be many children to fill its many rooms

I trust that we will hear from you err long and that your homecoming will not be overlong in arriving for your sisters are most anxious to be once more in your company.
I should mention that Arabella and Tom are becoming quite good friends and are always in each others company. I fancy that before to long we might have occasion to have another wedding here at Oakland.

Your Loving mother
Ann Sterley

Dear Mamma I am exceeding glad that you have come to Morton, said Lydia Pray take some tea before we explore the house, she continued. Dear Lydia it is excessively warm I would gladly forego the tea for a glass of chilled Mulberry wine, said Lady Ann

Morton is a grand home Mamma I am happy that Papawas able to secure it for us, said Lydia Your father communicated to me that the house cost ten thousand pounds I hope that you will be so kind as to make your expressions of thanks well known to him, replied Lady Ann

Oh Mamma I will make every endeavor to do exactly that next time I see him said Lydia Pray how are the rest of the family, she enquired. Life continues at Oakland it is the lambing season and Papa is busy most of the day with the farmland, replied Lady Ann

An adjournment to a half an hour later when Lady Ann Lydia and George are upstairs in the rooms This is the room where we would like to make a nursery for the children said Lydia. It is a passing fancy chamber tell me was this not formally a larger chamber? asked Lady Ann who had previously visited the house when in the ownership of Lord John.

It was madam I believe it was the chamber where poor unfortunate Lord John expired said George, Oh no this will not do imagine if the ghost of Lord John was to make an appearance and scare the poor child witless said Lady Ann Oh Mamma how can you say such a thing, indeed I have always though of you as a most sensible person not taken to flights of fancy said Lydia.

Lydia I will not be gainsaid in this fashion I am reminded of certain events that occurred at Moorcroft Hall when I was a child said Lady Ann Old Moorcroft Hall I have not thought of Moorcroft in many a year said Lydia who was considering the last visit that the family had made there some five years earlier for the funeral of her maternal Grand Mamma.

Mamma pray how can any thing that occurred at Moorcroft have any bearing on Morton? she asked

When I was nine or ten there was an unhappy occasion when a visitor accidentally shot himself in one of the gun rooms ever since then there has been a clod chill in that room no servant would be found near that room after five oclock PM if it could be helped replied Lady Ann.

It took a bishop and a bevy of parsons to lay the ghost of the unfortunate guest who it seemed would lift up the skirt of any female who chanced to be in that part of the house after five oclock said Lady Ann I remember that your grand Mamma was one evening unfortunate enough to be in that part of the house when the very incident of which I have just spoken happened to her. She if memory serves correctly came away vowing never to enter that part of the house again if father did not that instant get some one to lay the ghost of the lusty ghost, said Lady Ann

Really Mamma I doubt that the shade of Lord John would have any evil intent to us after all he and papa were the best of friends, said Lydia.
You are mistaken in your assumption that the shade of Lord John would not wish to do evil for he was a man grievously wronged and this I fear will make him the most dangerous of all ghosts at Morton, said Lady Ann

What do you suggest we do madam? asked George who  had stood a little apart from his mother-in-law whilst she had related the events just told with a amused smile which as she told the story  the expression upon his countenance had changed from amusement to more serious consideration. For George Parker had no wish that his first-born should in any way be harmed by persons of this world or the next. George I would consider it most fortunate if you would consent to have the childs room moved further away from this corner of the house if you so wish I am sure that the reverend Thomas would consent hold a service to lay the shade of Lord John and any other errant spirit that might chance to be with in the grange, said Lady Ann

I believe we can be accommodating of that, said George for he had considered that he might if needs prevail be obliged to sleep in the chamber himself to set at rest the fears of his mother in law, for he was quite fond of her. For indeed he held her in the greatest respect as the mother of the woman he loved the most in the entire world.

Thus it was that the following afternoon that most reverend of gentlemen James Thomas of the parish of Notheringay found his way to Morton to conduct the service for the spirit of the late Lord Jon Morton. He had as a matter of course taken advantage of  reading up on the matter at hand thus as to be able to better conduct himself should he be confronted by the angry ghost Lord John. It was not that he was fearful but a certain caution prevailed upon his spirit to treat with care in areas where Angels fear to tread.

After dinning with the family the most reverend gentleman and George entered the chamber a fire had been lit, the chamber been made comfortably warm for the night. At the door Lydia bid George, a good night and success at laying the ghost then retired to bed. Leaving the town gentleman to there own devices George had upon him a pack of playing cards which he begun to play patents with, while the minter indulge himself in reading from Foxes book of Martyrs for it had long been the most esteemed gentlemans pursuit to read from such books on the lives of the saints as to bring himself and indeed his flock to a better understanding of the works of perfection that were amply displayed in the lives of the saints.

As the night grew on the fire began to burn low the men pulled there coats closer for even tho it was an exceptionally warm evening the chamber possessed an air of doom and indeed a chill which was uncommon for that time of year.

At eleven oclock when the candles were at there lowest there came a soft sigh from one corner of the room a breeze which upon its breath contained all the putrid air of hell in its most diabolical form. George who had almost slipped into a slumber was awakened by the reverend gentleman tugging at his sleeve.

The two men watched in fascination as from the corner a mist began to appear at first unclear but thickening as the minutes drew on until from the mists the spectral form of Lord John appeared.

Rising the reverend gentleman his bible in hand commanded the specter to stand fast in the name of the Lord. To whom do I have the honor of addressing enquired the minister Alas you have me at a disadvantage said the specter for in life I was Lord John but now I am but a lost soul who died unshriven. The specter said as he struggled to break free from the bond under which the words of the minister had placed him Pray poor soul what can be done to loosen you from your condition and send you to your rest? enquired the Minster.

I fear that I am lost for all eternity and there is but small hope for peace for me, replied the spirit. What then can we do to prevent you from coming again into this the home that you once knew? asked reverend Thomas.

The sprinkling of holy water and the anointing of the doorposts of every room in the house will lay the spirits that they cannot come again, said the unfortunate ghost of the grange.

Will it bring some measure of peace for you? asked George, I fear not for I am doomed to places in Hades the pain of which you will not imagine but it will solve the problem of the grange I have no doubt said the Spirit

Is there naught that we can do for you sir sprit? asked the minister who had a feeling of great sadness at the plight of the unfortunate specters condition. There is but one thing that will stop my visits and that is to pray that I have peace over my grave as for the grange cast out all evil in the name of Jesus anoint the posts and all evil will flee said the specter.

Pray for me no more for there is naught that will redeem me from my eternal damnation said the sprit as he began to fade.

Directly the reverend minister took up a vial of olive oil and cast it into the fading mist into which the specter was dissolving.  Hurriedly he began to sprinkle holy water and anoint the doors posts of the room with oil in the name of the Father Son and Holy Ghost and amen and amen. There after he proceeded with George lighting the way with a dark lantern to every room and chamber in the grange anointing like wise as before described the posts. When they had finished the sun was rising it was five oclock in the morning before there work was done.

Returning to the dinning room George poured for them a glass of pour and considered what had passed in the night. For a moment he considered telling all to Lydia and Lady Ann but he dismissed this as he knew that it would add substance to there fear thus swearing the reverend gentleman to secrecy he concluded that should they be asked they would say that nothing of significance passed and they had slept well in the chamber.

Now dear reader I must, i must away to the land of nod and a few happy hours in the arms of Morpheus spend.
For on the morrow a new day we a sail of labour bend and with humanity blend. 

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