“No,” cried Edmund, “you must step away from him!”
“I am afraid I am perfectly incapable of moving,” replied his sister. “Oh, his glorious song fills my head, till I see sapphire skies over the Nile and the brilliant golden sun over the pyramids, the perfume of the temples and the falcon in flight, his dark exotic, non-British eyes -- Oh, it is perfectly intolerable, I simply cannot!”
“But you must! Make haste, Maria, before it is too late!”
But the Mummy was looking at her with his mesmerizing gaze.
Maria began to tremble. “Is it not too late for me already, Edmund? Is it not a spinster’s life for me? No one will have me now; I am tainted, relegated to paltry livelihood alone or as someone’s pitiful companion --”
“Oh, for heaven’s sake, think, Maria! Your choice is spinsterhood or mummification!”
Maria wailed. “Spinsterhood is mummification! Can you not see, brother, at least with him I will be loved, I will be forever his! A blissful eternity!”
The Mummy’s gold-braced hand rose, beckoning.
In that moment the parlor door came crashing open and Mr. Rushworth burst into the chamber, half-man half-wolf, a terrifying half-transformed state, similar to having forgotten to put one leg in his pantaloons before quitting one’s bed chamber. “Halt! Grrr!” he snarled. “Not another step, scoundrel! Arrrr! Grrr! HOWL! You will not lay hands on my wife! Wretched and deceitful she might be, but she still carries my -- Grr! Argh! -- honorable name!”
Mrs. Norris came right behind him, singlehandedly yelping like a pack of hounds. “Maria! Stop this nonsense and get down here this instant!” she managed, and then began to transform before their eyes.
Lady Bertram, clutching the imperial scepter in one hand and the whip of the pharaoh in the other, fainted.
Fanny Price took up the Eye of Horus and raised it like a pistol to point at the one who had once been a beautiful young pharaoh. “Enough! In the name of all the Gods of Egypt I demand you desist.”
Monster Mayhem, Matrimony, Ancient Curses,
True Love, and Other Dire Delights
by Jane Austen and Vera Nazarian
Read additional excerpts here...
Forthcoming October 15, 2009 from the Curiosities imprint of Norilana Books.