Tag Archives: Colonel Brandon

Sense and Sensibility Character Review: Colonel Brandon

*Warning: This post contains spoilers in regards to the narrative and characters from the novel Sense and Sensibility by Jane Austen. Read at your own risk if you have not read the book or seen any of the adaptations.

There is something to be said about a well written, human character. They leap off the page and speak to us as if they were right in front us, as flesh and blood human beings, instead of fictional creations.

In this series of weekly blog posts, I will examine character using the characters from Sense and Sensibility to explore how writers can create fully dimensional, human characters that audiences and readers can relate to.

We all deal with grief and heartbreak in different ways. Some of us grieve and then move on with our lives. Others go about our business and try to not let the past get in the way of our present.  When the reader/audience meets Colonel Brandon in Sense and Sensibility, he introduced as the good friend of the cousin who is renting a small cottage on his property to the newly widowed Mrs. Dashwood and her daughters. He is all manners and amiability, holding his metaphorical cards to the chest.  Marianne Dashwood, Mrs. Dashwood’s 17-year-old daughter sees nothing but an old man who is boring and has resigned from life.

But Colonel Brandon is a different man from the readers initially meet. The younger son of wealthy landowner, in his youth, he was in love with Eliza, his father’s ward. She was equally in love with him and ready to run away with him, but they were discovered and stopped. Sent away by his father, Colonel Brandon learns that Eliza, who is an heiress was forced to marry his older brother. It was not a love match, to say the least.

A few years later, Colonel Brandon discovers that Eliza is now divorced from his older brother and is dying in a poorhouse. Forced to earn her bread by selling her body, Eliza has a young daughter. Though he cannot save Eliza, Colonel Brandon takes in Eliza’s daughter, raising her as his ward.

Though it is not immediately obvious to the reader (nor to Marianne, who only realizes who her heart belongs to at the end of the book), Colonel Brandon, though appearing to be outwardly boring, is very much the ideal life partner. He is loving, loyal, generous, considerate and the knight in shining armor that Marianne thinks she has in John Willoughby (who will be discussed in two weeks).

To sum it up: In creating Colonel Brandon, Jane Austen created a character who surprised the audience/reader. When a writer can surprise the audience and totally change the way the character or the narrative is looked at, then they have done their job. It is just a question of how to weave the surprise into the existing narrative and character arc.

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RIP Alan Rickman

*Warning: the post contains minor spoilers about the narrative and characters in Sense and Sensibility. Read at your own risk if you have not read the book or have watched any of the adaptations. 

Two years ago today, the world lost of one this era’s greatest actors: Alan Rickman.

My favorite Alan Rickman performance will always be Colonel Brandon in 1995 film adaptation of Sense and Sensibility. Playing opposite Kate Winslet as Marianne Dashwood, his character (as it was faithfully adapted from the novel of the same name by Jane Austen), was a man who held the proverbial cards to his chest. When the audience meets Colonel Brandon in the film, he introduced as the good friend of the cousin who is renting a small cottage on his property to the newly widowed Mrs. Dashwood and her daughters. A bachelor in his mid 30’s,  he is amiable and a gentleman, but his character and his past are a mystery at that juncture in the narrative.

Over the course of the story, Colonel Brandon is revealed to be a man whose past is filled with grief and heartbreak. Rickman played the part with nuance and sensitivity, elevating the character to a new level, reminding Janeites why Colonel Brandon is one of the favorite leading men within the Jane Austen universe. Rickman himself became a fan favorite, gaining new fans and a new level of respect from the Janeite fan base.

RIP Sir. While your physical remains are gone, your spirit and your body of work will live on forever.

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Sense and Sensibility Character Review: Marianne Dashwood

*Warning: This post contains spoilers in regards to the narrative and characters from the novel Sense and Sensibility by Jane Austen. Read at your own risk if you have not read the book or seen any of the adaptations.

There is something to be said about a well written, human character. They leap off the page and speak to us as if they were right in front us, as flesh and blood human beings, instead of fictional creations.

In this series of weekly blog posts, I will examine character using the characters from Sense and Sensibility to explore how writers can create fully dimensional, human characters that audiences and readers can relate to.

When we are young, some of us are so certain in our beliefs that it takes an act of G-d to show us otherwise. In Sense and Sensibility, Marianne Dashwood is only sixteen when the book starts. She has just lost her father and is soon to lose her home to her older half-brother and his wife. She is romantic, dreamy-eyed and so certain of everything she is thinking and feeling. That will soon change.

Forced to relocate to a new and smaller home with her mother and sisters, Marianne meets two different men: the, young, dashing and romantic Mr. Willoughby and the seemingly old, austere and silent Colonel Brandon. Marianne’s meet cute with Mr. Willoughby is straight out of a fairy tale: after twisting her ankle on the wet grass, Mr. Willoughby carries Marianne home. It looks like Marianne may have found her own version of Prince Charming, but Mr. Willoughby is not all he seems to be.

Colonel Brandon, on the other hand, is not young, dashing or romantic. He is 35 (which always seems old when your sixteen), according Marianne probably wears flannel waist coats and does not match the romantic fantasies that have colored her view of the world. When Mr. Willoughby break’s Marianne’s heart by abruptly disappearing without an explanation, this sets on her a path to realize that maybe the beliefs she once held near and dear were not always correct.

To sum it up: Sometimes, regardless of our age, we have to learn things the hard way. There is no other way to learn. But, on the other hand, when we are young and forced to learn the hard way, it’s calling growing up. And growing up is never easy. As writers, when we are creating characters in the mold of Marianne Dashwood, I believe that we have to have to end in mind. When we are sending this character on this journey, what will be the end result? Will they be wiser, smarter, more flexible, bitter, angry, etc.?  The journey is taxing on both the writer and the character. But, if done right, the reader will remember the learning experience and perhaps come to learn a bit more about life along the way.

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Twenty One Years

It has been a very long time since I published my last fanfiction. Reviews are welcomed and appreciated.  Thank you to my friend (who shall remain nameless on the blog, but she knows who she is), who beta read the story.

*The only characters that are not mine are Marianne and Christopher Brandon. The rest I have created.

*In honor of the late Alan Rickman. Twenty one years ago, he stole our hearts as Colonel Brandon, and never gave them back to us.

Twenty One Years

Mrs. Marianne Brandon sat in her drawing room, trying not to imagine the worst. She tried to concentrate on the book, but her mind kept going back to her husband.

Two days ago, her husband, Colonel Christopher Brandon, was inspecting a tenant’s roof after a storm when he suddenly collapsed. After he was brought back to Barton Park, he lay in state between life and death.

An hour ago, Mr. Jenkins arrived to re-examine Christopher. Having examined Christopher just after he arrived at Barton Park unconscious, Mr. Jenkins returned as promised to check on the patient.

“Colonel Brandon is awake, Madam,” Andrews, the butler announced at the door away.

“Thank you, Andrews. Has Mr. Jenkins completed his examination?” Marianne asked.

“I believe he has”.

“Thank you, Andrews.” Retuning the book to the shelf, Marianne tried appear collected as she walked upstairs.

“Madam, may I have a word with you?” Dr. Jenkins asked, walked out of the bedroom.

“Of course”.

“Madam, I wish I could tell you that Colonel Brandon will recover. I can only advise you to make him comfortable and pray for an easy passing.” the doctor said solemnly.

“Thank you, Mr. Jenkins. Andrews will show you out.” The doctor disappeared down the stairs.

“Mama, is Papa dying?” Before Marianne could turn her attention to her husband, their daughter Mary, ran to her mother’s arms. At the age of 10, Mary was the youngest of her four children and a miniature of her father.

“Why don’t you go downstairs and play something for your father? Leave the door open so he can hear.” Marianne encouraged.

“Yes, Mama.”

“What did Mr. Jenkins say? Will I live forever?” Christopher asked as she entered their bedroom and sat down beside her husband. The music from the pianoforte flowed throughout the home, reaching the bedroom.

The look in Marianne’s eyes spoke volumes.

“I am sorry, my love, that I am not immortal. For you, I would become immortal.” Tangling her fingers through his, Christopher’s eyes never left Marianne’s.

Silently, Marianne climbed into their bed, letting her husband’s warmth comfort her.

“I love you.” Marianne said quietly.

“Till the day I die, my dearest Marianne.”

A week later, Colonel Christopher Brandon closed his eyes for the final time. For the last twenty-one years, Marianne Brandon had lived with the love of her life and the father of her children.

Now Christopher was gone, and it was up to her keep his legacy and their love going.

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RIP Alan Rickman

Today, the world lost Alan Rickman, one of the finest actors of  his generation.

Over the years, he played a variety of roles.

I would like to talk about three of my favorite Alan Rickman roles.

The first, is the most obvious. Professor Snape in the Harry Potter film series.

With his dark hair, dark cloak and slightly fear inspiring persona, Professor Snape appeared to be the standard villain.

But he was much more than that. His loyalty and love for Harry’s mother (and to Harry, by virtue of being her son) was so strong, that he tried to forget the angst that Harry’s father forced onto  him during their younger days and protect Harry.

The second role I am going to talk about is Alexander Dane in Galaxy Quest.

Alexander Dane is a classically trained actor who has been type cast because of one science fiction role in one television program. His career, like most of his fellow actors, stuck in that one character. Rickman’s droll and disbelief is absolutely perfect.

The third and final role is my absolute favorite Alan Rickman role. If you know me, this is an obvious one. Colonel Brandon in the 1995 Sense and Sensibility.

To a woman of my age, a guy like Colonel Brandon is a catch. Steady, amiable, treats those around with respect, has a large income, but does not flaunt it, etc. But to a teenage girl like Marianne Dashwood (Kate Winslet), he is not the first choice of husband.

Sometimes we need a little prodding from fate to see what has been in front of us all along.

While his onscreen reunion with Winslet in last year’s A Little Chaos was not the greatest film, it was wonderful to see them on-screen together after 20 years.

RIP, sir. You will be missed by many.

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Sense And Sensibility 1995 Vs Sense And Sensibility 2008

Sense and Sensibility was Jane Austen’s first published novel. Writing under the pseudonym of “a lady”, Sense and Sensibility is the story of two sisters, Elinor and Marianne Dashwood. When their father passes away, their elder brother inherits the family estate, Norland Park. Knowing that Norland Park is no longer their home, Elinor and Marianne, with their mother and younger sister Margaret are forced to find a new home and make a new life elsewhere.

As I did with the other novels, I’m going to compare and contrast the most recent adaptations.

1995

Cast: Elinor (Emma Thompson), Marianne (Kate Winslet), Colonel Brandon (Alan Rickman), Edward Ferrars (Hugh Grant) and John Willoughby (Greg Wise) .

  • Pro’s: Directed by Ang Lee, with a screenplay by Emma Thompson, the 1995 movie retains Austen’s voice as a writer.  It is a charming movie, for both the general movie fan and the ardent Janeite. Greg Wise looks awful good in breeches.
  • Cons: Let’s face it, as good as an actress and a screenwriter Emma Thompson is, she was far from 19 when this movie was made.  Elinor is still a teenager, regardless of the actress stepping into her shoes.

2008

Cast: Elinor (Hattie Morahan), Marianne (Charity Wakefield), Colonel Brandon (David Morrisey), Edward Ferrars (Dan Stevens)  and John Willoughby (Dominic Cooper).

  • Pro’s: With a screenplay written by Andrew Davies and the younger characters played by a whose who of  young British actors, this adaptation has a lot going for it. Davies fleshes out secondary story lines that that makes the primary story line vibrant and alive.  I also like is that the cast is age appropriate.
  • Con’s: None.

And the winner is….. I can’t decide.

 

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In Defense Of Fanny Price and Edward Ferrars

It is a truth universally acknowledged certain characters with the universe that is the fiction of Jane Austen are more popular than others. Elizabeth Bennet and Fitzwilliam Darcy will always be the alpha female and alpha male of the Jane Austen Universe. That means with every world that contains the alpha male and alpha female, there inevitably be those characters who are least liked and always a subject for vigorous debate.

Two of these characters are Fanny Price, of Mansfield Park and Edward Ferrars, Of Sense And Sensibility.  Both, I believe are under appreciated. If I may, I would like to explain why each of these characters deserve more respect than they get.

Fanny Price

The first paragraph of Mansfield Park introduces the reader to the Miss Wards. The eldest, Miss Maria Ward, married Sir Thomas Betram and upon marriage, became a baronet’s wife. The second Miss Ward, married Rev. Mr. Morris, a friend of her brother-in-law. The youngest Miss Ward, Miss Frances broke from her family and married a Lieutenant from the Marines.  This man was everything her brother in law was not; he was without education, wealth or connections. From this union, our heroine, Fanny Price is born. At the age of ten, she is taken from her family to Mansfield Park, where her wealthy Aunt and Uncle live.

Fanny grows up with her Bertram cousins. She is not a servant, but she is also not a daughter of the house.  The treatment she receives, especially from her Aunt Norris is more akin to an unpaid servant than a member of the family. The novels begins to take off when Mr. Norris dies and the living associated with the parish within the park goes to Dr. Grant, until Edmund came come of age and take orders.  Arriving with Dr. Grant is his wife and her younger siblings, Henry and Mary Crawford.

The complaints about Fanny are that she is weak, physically and emotionally, in addition to always being right.  Some might say she is priggish.

But I argue that despite these drawbacks, she has qualities that I believe are overlooked: a backbone and a sense of self that guides her even when she is told that she is wrong.

“You are mistaken, Sir,”—cried Fanny, forced by the anxiety of the moment even to tell her uncle that he was wrong—”You are quite mistaken. How could Mr. Crawford say such a thing? I gave him no encouragement yesterday—On the contrary, I told him—I cannot recollect my exact words—but I am sure I told him that I would not listen to him, that it was very unpleasant to me in every respect, and that I begged him never to talk to me in that manner again.—I am sure I said as much as that and more; and I should have said still more,—if I had been quite certain of his meaning any thing seriously, but I did not like to be—I could not bear to be—imputing more than might be intended. I thought it might all pass for nothing with him.”

She could say no more; her breath was almost gone.

“Am I to understand,” said Sir Thomas, after a few moments silence, “that you mean to refuse Mr. Crawford?”

“Yes, Sir.”

“Refuse him?”

“Yes, Sir.”

“Refuse Mr. Crawford! Upon what plea? For what reason?”

“I—I cannot like him, Sir, well enough to marry him.”

“This is very strange!” said Sir Thomas, in a voice of calm displeasure. “There is something in this which my comprehension does not reach. Here is a young man wishing to pay his addresses to you, with every thing to recommend him; not merely situation in life, fortune, and character, but with more than common agreeableness, with address and conversation pleasing to every body. And he is not an acquaintance of to-day, you have now known him some time. His sister, moreover, is your intimate friend, and he has been doing that for your brother, which I should suppose would have been almost sufficient recommendation to you, had there been no other. It is very uncertain when my interest might have got William on. He has done it already.”

“Yes,” said Fanny, in a faint voice, and looking down with fresh shame; and she did feel almost ashamed of herself, after such a picture as her uncle had drawn, for not liking Mr. Crawford.

“You must have been aware,” continued Sir Thomas, presently, “you must have been some time aware of a particularity in Mr. Crawford’s manners to you. This cannot have taken you by surprise. You must have observed his attentions; and though you always received them very properly, (I have no accusation to make on that head,) I never perceived them to be unpleasant to you. I am half inclined to think, Fanny, that you do not quite know your own feelings.”

“Oh! yes, Sir, indeed I do. His attentions were always—what I did not like.”

Fanny is aware that Henry Crawford flirted with Mariah and Julia, knowing full that Mariah is engaged. She is also aware that becoming Mrs. Crawford would elevate herself and her family out of poverty.

The intuition is finally respected when Mariah, now married, runs off with Mr. Crawford, threatening to ruin the entire family.

Fanny is not perfect, but she respects and follows her own intuition.

I’m going to end my argument with the following:

We have all a better guide in ourselves, if we attend to it, than any other person can be“.

On a similar note, Mansfield Park is the subject of this year’s JASNA AGM in Montreal, Canada. I suspect there will be many heated discussions that weekend.

Edward Ferrars

Sense and Sensibility begins with the death of Henry Dashwood. The law of the land was primogeniture, meaning the eldest son inherited everything, except for what was specifically left for the younger children. Henry Dashwood married twice, producing four children. His son and heir, John was born to his late first wife and his daughter’s, Elinor, Marianne and Margaret were born to his second wife. John and his wife take over Norland Park and force his step mother and step sisters to vacate their home.

But not before the younger Mrs. Dashwood invites her brother, Edward Ferrars to visit. Edward and Elinor have an immediate connection, but it is broken when Elinor, with her mother and sisters leave Norland Park for their new home in Barton Park.  Edward wears a ring with lock of hair, which he says belongs to his sister. A third of a way into to the novel, we are introduced to the Steele sisters. Miss Lucy Steele, tells Elinor in confidence that she knows of her in laws because she has been secretly engaged to Edward Ferrars, her uncle’s former student for several years. At the end of novel (spoiler alert for those who have not read it), Edward losses his fortune to his brother when his mother finds out about the secret engagement. Lucy does become Mrs. Ferrars, but she becomes Mrs. Robert Ferrars.

Edward Ferrars is not Fitzwilliam Darcy, Captain Wentworth or even his future brother in law, Colonel Brandon.  But he is loyal. He is loyal to Lucy Steele, who is basically a gold digger.  Unlike some of the other Austen leading men, he doesn’t need much a live on. His professional goal is to join the clergy. He doesn’t need a large estate or a house in town. He want’s a parish to run and a home. My favorite thing about Edward is that even though he is engaged to Lucy through most of the story, he is faithful to Elinor.

In short, Edward and Fanny may not be perfect, but they deserve our respect.

*Italics notes original text

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Quiet

*-Of course none of these characters are mine, I am just temporarily borrowing them.

Quiet

Barton Cottage was quiet, too quiet.

Mary Dashwood remembered the day she moved into Barton Cottage with her daughters. When her husband died, she knew their time at NorlandPark was coming to an end. Fanny, John’s wife was too polite to articulate her feelings, but she was not happy having to share her new home with her husband’s stepmother and step sisters.

The letter from her cousin, Sir John Middleton was a great relief for them all. Of course, Barton Cottage was far from the size and luxury of Norland Park, but the truth was, Mary had learned to appreciate the intimacy that the small cottage allowed.

They had moved in six years ago, it seemed as only a moment had passed.

Marianne and Elinor were both married and had blessed their mother with four grandchildren.

Margaret had also recently departed Barton Cottage.

Marianne’s husband, Colonel Brandon had been offered a position with the admiralty and had relocated his family to London. The excitement of London and the society it offered had drawn Margaret in and with an invitation in hand to spend the season with Marianne and Christopher, Mary watched her youngest child depart for London.

“Mama, it’s time” Elinor’s voice broke through.

“Of course” Mary agreed as Elinor’s husband, Edward Ferrars took the last of her belongings. With her children gone, there was no need to reside at Barton Cottage with just the servants. Mary had been offered a room at the parsonage with Elinor and her family.

“I will be in your way” Mary had protested when the idea had been suggested.

 “Mama, I promise you, you will not be in the way, Edward and I would love for you to stay and the children would love your company”.

 “No, you have your own lives, I do not want to interfere, I will gladly come when asked, but I am happy to stay where I am”.

 “Mary, I assure, you will not be interfering in anyway. We have discussed the idea with Marianne and Christopher and they are of the same mind, especially with Christopher being called to London”.

 “At least let me consider the idea” Mary asked.

 Two weeks later, Barton Cottage was empty. Mary had agreed that her time at Barton Cottage had come to end. It was indeed quiet.

The End

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Jealous

*- These characters belong to Miss Austen. I am simply a humble admirer.

*-Based on the relationship between David Morrisey and Charity Wakefield in the 2008 Sense and Sensibility.

Jealous

It was a beautiful day as Marianne stepped into the garden to cut the flowers. The roses had begun to bloom into a pretty shade of blush.

As she finished her task, she could feel a set of male arms wrapping themselves around her.

Christopher had traveled to town for Navy business; he had left early yesterday morning and was expected to return in time for dinner tonight. He had proposed a holiday to Brighton next month, Marianne had promised to consider the idea while he was away.

“Darling you’re back early”

“Mhmm” came the response as he buried his face into her blonde curls.

“I think you are right, a holiday to Brighton would be a good thing. The children are eager for the sea, as am I. Perhaps mama could join us, she had been altered since Margaret married…”.

“Why don’t we leave your mother and the children at home, we can holiday just you and I?” Marianne knew then that the man behind her was not her husband.

“Willoughy!” Marianne exclaimed as Christopher raced toward her with two burly stable boys behind him. The stable boys held Willoughby back as Christopher fought to contain his anger.

“You, sir, will stay away from my wife and remove yourself from my land; otherwise I will set the law on you”.

“Are you hurt?” Christopher inquired, searching his wife for any injuries.

“No, I am uninjured”.

“Marianne, please, I love you, I’ve always loved you” Willoughby begged as he was dragged away.

Before he was forced back to where his horse was tethered, Marianne walked up to Willoughby, looking him straight in the eye.

“I am not the girl you once knew. You have made your choices and I have made mine. I suggest, sir that you forget about me and return to your wife. Good day, Mr. Willoughby”.

Though Willoughby had been forced out hours before, Christopher could not get the image of his wife and Mr. Willoughby out of his mind.

Mr. Willoughby and Marianne were of a similar age and temperament. Christopher was her second choice, she might still love him, a jealous voice inside of him reminded him.

“Darling, you were quiet during dinner. You mustn’t be jealous of Mr. Willoughby” Marianne sometimes thought back to those days, how blind she had been.

“He is handsome and charming….”.

Marianne put down her hair brush and settled herself comfortably on her husbands lap.

“Handsome and charming he may be, but Mr. Willoughby is also inconstant, thinking of his own desires before any one else’s. While you, my darling husband, are also handsome and charming, you are also constant, giving and one of the best man I know. You have made me a happy woman these past ten years and I wouldn’t have it any other way” She kissed him lightly on the lips, wishing to eradicate his anxieties for good.

They made love slowly that night, relishing their time together and forgetting the past.

The next morning, their children descended into the bedroom, eager to start a new day. Mr. Willoughby was no more.

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Regret

*- I do not own any of these characters. Please review

 Regret

 She was not hard to locate. She was smiling and laughing, her fiancé never far from her.

 John Willoughby was not a man to believe in regrets, the past was what it was, what is done cannot be undone.

 But he did have one regret, Marianne Dashwood. He did love her and if he could have gone back, he would be honest with her. Perhaps he might be the one standing next to her; it would be his engagement ring on her hand. But she was to marry Christopher Brandon within a month.

 Handing the glass to the waiter, Marianne kissed her fiancé on the cheek.

 “Do you want some company?” Chris asked.

 “No, I just need a moment by myself, it’s just a little warm in here, I will be back in a few minutes”.

 She was surprised to find outside the one person she thought she would never see again.

 “What are you doing here?”.

 “I uh… you look beautiful” was the only words that John could utter.

 “Where is your wife?” Marianne asked, John could feel the sting of her words. John had married Jessie because she was everything he was told he should have in a wife. And yet, she was everything he didn’t want in a wife.  She was cold, only wanting him for his name and money. Now he was stuck, his aunt threatening to cut him off if he left Jessie.

 “She went away with her girlfriends for the weekend”.

 “I don’t think you should be here, John…” she was stopped by her fiancé leaving the party to join her, who upon seeing John possessively placed his hand on Marianne’s shoulder.

 “Is he bothering you?” Chris asked.

 “No darling, he wasn’t bothering me, he was just leaving, weren’t you, John?” Marianne asked.

 “I do have to go. Congratulations to you both”.

 As he drove away, Chris asked “Do you still love him? If you do, I will let you go, free and clear”.

 “I thought I loved him once, but I don’t anymore. Please don’t think of him, I don’t. I only want to marry you”.

 She kissed him gently, as his arms wrapped around her, but they were interrupted by Elinor.

 “Is something going on out here? We were beginning to think you two had run off to Vegas”.

 “We’re fine” Chris replied as he followed his future wife and sister in law inside, not knowing that John was still close by watching them.

 John Willoughby was not a man who believed in regrets, but he was not a man who believed in love until he watched the one he loved, marry another. He was the cause of that.

 It was his one regret.

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