A lady and a gentleman traveling by carriage over a rough country road in Sussex meet with an accident near a gentleman’s house. The gentleman steps out of the carriage unhurt until he sprains his foot. Mr. Heywood a local gentleman farmer offers assistance. He was very much surprised at anyone attempting the steep road in a carriage. The injured gentleman asks for a surgeon, but Mr. Heywood informs him there are none in the area. The gentleman contradicts him handing him an advertisement naming a doctor in Willingden. Mr. Heywood informs him that there are two Willingden’s in his country another being seven miles off. The gentleman proposes that they right his carriage and they will be on their way home. Mr. Heywood invites him to his home for assistance to his ankle before they depart. Mr. Parker states that they are from Sanditon, a bathing place, “the most favoured by nature, and promising to be the most chosen by man.” Mr. Heywood is not in favor of such fashionable resorts who are not good for the Country and raise the price of provisions. Mr. Parker assures him his is a common misconception. It may be so at larger resorts like Brighton or Worthing or Eastbourne, but not Sanditon. Mr. Heywood thinks that the coast is too full of them already. The gentleman assures him that “Never was there a place more palpably designed by nature for the resort of the invalid — the very spot which thousands seemed in need of!” Mrs. Heywood, her daughters and servants join them and offer assistance into their home. It is discovered that Mr. Heywood’s carriage is need of repair before they can continue.
The Parkers stayed a fortnight. The Heywood’s were charming and attentive hosts. Mr. Parker reveals his story and designs for Sanditon. He is deemed an enthusiastic on the subject and can talk of little else. Until a few years ago it had been a small unpretentious fishing village. With his partner he hoped to make it into a fashionable seaside resort. He was 35, happily married with 4 children of easy but not large fortune who inherited “property which two or three generations had been holding and accumulating before him.” He had 2 brothers and 2 sisters all single and independent by collateral inheritance. He was seeking a medical man for Sanditon and was convinced it would promote the rise and prosperity of the place. His own 2 sisters are invalids. Mr. Parker was amiable, but with more imagination than judgment. Mrs. Parker was sweet-tempered but could not check her husband’s enthusiasm. Sanditon was his second wife, his hobbyhorse. He wanted them all to visit for no one is healthy unless they spend at least six week by the sea. He could not convince Mr. and Mrs. Heywood to visit. They never leave home, but agree that their daughter Charlotte age 22 may return with them to Sanditon.
As the party travels to Sanditon, Mr. Parker describes to Charlotte some of the history of the residents. The great lady of Sanditon was Lady Denham. She was his colleague in speculation and does not always agree with him on their development plans. He attributes this to her lack of education. She was old, rich and shrewd. She had buried two husbands. Mr. Hollis she had married for his money and Lord Denham for his title. She had no children of her own, but Clara Brereton, a poor young cousin was her companion. Her 3 sets of relations vied for her fortune. The Hollis’ were not favored for good reason. Her husband had not liked them and gave his fortune to his wife instead. Sir Edward Denham of nearby Denham Park was the nephew to her late husband and her most likely heir. With the recent addition of Clara Brereton, she had a fair chance of inheriting the fortune.
They pass Mr. Parkers former home, “the house of my forefathers” now occupied by a tenant. Mr. Parker believes that ancestors always built in a hole with no wind or view even though they were not far from the seaside. He has built Trafalgar House, a grander home on the hill but wishes he had named it the more trendy Waterloo. Mrs. Parker looks at the house with regret and fondness missing its gardens and shade trees. His brother Sidney thinks it should be turned into a hospital. He says anything he likes. “There is someone in most families privileged by superior abilities or spirits to say anything. In ours, it is Sidney, who is a very clever young man and with great powers of pleasing.” They pass the church and the neat village of old Sanditon with its fishermen’s cottages all tidied up with curtains as “Lodgings to let,” two females in elegant white with books and harp music coming from a home. “Such sights and sounds were highly blissful to Mr. Parker.” He had no hand in the improvements, but it was “valuable proof of the increasing fashion of the place altogether.” After seeing blue shoes in the shoemaker’s window he is certain that civilization has indeed entered the town. The begin ascending the hill and pass Sanditon House the last building of the former days of the parish and climb to the modern area. There are fewer people and carriages about but he attributes it to people taking the air on the Terrace, the Mall of the place where “the best milliner’s shop and the library a little detached from it, the hotel and billiard room” could be found. “Here began the descent to the beach and to the bathing machines. And this was therefore the favourite spot for beauty and fashion.” Trafalgar House was on the most elevated spot on the cliff, was light and elegant with a small lawn.
Favorite words: portentous, remonstrances, effluvia, insalubrious, sanguine, coadjutor, perturbation, pecuniary.
© 2010 Laurel Ann Nattress, austenprose.com.