*-As usual, these characters are not mine, they belong with respect and affection belong to Miss Austen.
*- The section in italics is the original text from Sense and Sensibility.
It was another sleepless night for Mr. John Dashwood, son to the late Mr. Henry Dashwood and the newest master of Norland Park.
It had been nearly a fortnight since Mrs. Dashwood and her daughters had departed Norland for a small cottage on the property of a distant cousin in Devonshire.
His father’s dying wish was that John offer financial compensation to his stepmother and stepsisters. But it was Fanny, who convinced him otherwise and John was in agreement.
“He did not stipulate for any particular sum, my dear Fanny; he only requested me, in general terms, to assist them, and make their situation more comfortable than it was in his power to do. Perhaps it would have been as well if he had left it wholly to myself. He could hardly suppose I should neglect them. But as he required the promise, I could not do less than give it; at least I thought so at the time. The promise, therefore, was given, and must be performed. Something must be done for them whenever they leave Norland and settle in a new home.”
“Well, then, LET something be done for them; but THAT something need not be three thousand pounds. Consider,” she added, “that when the money is once parted with, it never can return. Your sisters will marry, and it will be gone for ever. If, indeed, it could be restored to our poor little boy—”
“Why, to be sure,” said her husband, very gravely, “that would make great difference. The time may come when Harry will regret that so large a sum was parted with. If he should have a numerous family, for instance, it would be a very convenient addition.”
“To be sure it would.”
“Perhaps, then, it would be better for all parties, if the sum were diminished one half.—Five hundred pounds would be a prodigious increase to their fortunes!”
“Oh! beyond anything great! What brother on earth would do half so much for his sisters, even if REALLY his sisters! And as it is—only half blood!—But you have such a generous spirit!”
With a clean conscious that he had provided for his stepmother and stepsisters as his father wished, John began his life as master of Norland Park.
Then the sleepless nights and the dreams came.
It was the same dream every night. His father calling his name, but when awoke, the night was silent.
“Perhaps my dear, Mr. Jones might help” Fanny offered. Mr. Jones was the physician who Mrs. Ferrars would recommend to anyone who would listen.
“No, I don’t think he is necessary”. But the nightmares and the sleepless nights continued.
“John!” he woke up with a start, his father’s voice.
“Why did you defy me?” his father’s voice boomed as a cold breeze came from nowhere.
“Father, I…I don’t understand”.
“Your stepmother and the girls, I asked you to take care of them and you have not. Why did you defy me?”.
“It was Fanny’s idea, she…”.
“Do not blame your wife, boy; you are master of Norland Park, not your wife. I am still your father and you will do as I have bid you to do”.
With that declaration, the other worldly voice and the cold breeze disappeared.
John finally woke up to find Fanny sleeping beside him and the light of the moon in the distance.
In the morning John hied a messenger as quickly to Derbyshire as quickly as he could.
“My dear, where have you sent him?” Fanny asked, noticing the man hurrying out of her husband’s study and towards the stables.
“To Derbyshire, with a note for £3000”.
“My darling, we agreed, that they do not need that money”.
“I have made up my mind, Fanny; we will not speak of this subject any further”.
In Derbyshire, Mrs. Dashwood’s maid announced the visitor.
“A letter for you ma’am, from Norland Park”.
After reading the letter, she collapsed into tears.
“Mama?” Margaret asked.
“We are saved, my dears. Your brother has come through”.
For the rest of his days, John Dashwood never dreamed of his father returning from the other world.