Deathmatch! Are You A Good Witch Or A Bad Witch?
Lady Russell vs. Elizabeth Elliot...next, on Austen Celebrity Deathmatch!
"Good evening, ladies, gentlemen, and half-pay officers! Welcome to Austen Celebrity Deathmatch! I'm Stan, and here with me, as always, is Dan, and have we got a matchup for you tonight! In the pink corner, wearing a fluffy pink spangled dress and a turban with a plume, please welcome Lady 'Glinda' Russell!"
A group of tiny people near the front cheered in high-pitched voices: "Go get 'er, Glinda!"
"And in the black corner, wearing--well, I can't tell what she's wearing, Dan, cause she ain't there--Miss Elizabeth Elliot!"
The audience began to look up and point, and cackling laughter was heard throughout the arena.
"Look, Stan! She's riding on a broom! And the smoke from the broom is spelling out something--'Surrender, Lady Russell!'"
"Looks like we're about to get underway, Dan! LET'S GET READY TO RUUUMMMBBLLEE!"
Miss Elliot flew around the ring several times, cackling wildly. Finally she landed in the ring, produced a giant sand timepiece, and brandished it in front of her. "Do you see that, Lady Russell? That's how much longer you've got to be alive! And it isn't long, my pretty! It isn't long!"
"Oh, rubbish! You have no power here! Begone, before somebody drops a house on you!"
"Well, Stan, the trash talk is flying! Let's see if the ladies can live up to it!"
A middle-aged man wearing a blue flowered brocade suit approached the ring. "Elizabeth, my dear, your skin is positively green! Have you not been using that Gowland's lotion as I recommended?" He turned to the audience. "I recommend the constant use of Gowland's during the spring months."
"Oh, Father! I know that we must retrench, but I did not think that we are so necessitous that you would need to make a suit from your bedspread!"
The man sat down, looking bewildered. A woman with a protruding tooth clutched his arm and whispered, "Have a little mercy, Sir Walter! We were not all born to be handsome!"
A young lady wearing a blue pinafore and ruby slippers, her hair in pigtails, stepped out into the arena.
"Dan, I see that our celebrity referee has arrived, Miss Anne Elliot!"
A tall, striking man in a naval uniform stood up from his seat in the first row. "Anne, why are you dressed in that ridiculous outfit?"
"Do not worry, Frederick. It is only temporary."
The naval officer looked at Lady Russell. "You have a most extraordinary ability to influence her, ma'am, for which I find it hard to forgive you!" He sat down with a snort. Lady Russell ignored him.
"All right, Stan! The match is about to begin!"
Miss Elliot circled restlessly, her legs bent, poking at Lady Russell with her broom. "That's right. I won't hurt you right away. I'll let you think about it a little while first!"
Lady Russell did not wilt under her gaze, but stood sternly, her chin in the air. "I am not afraid of you, Elizabeth," she said. "I know that you only became evil as a result of sugar overload from all that marzipan. And I know just the cure." She waved her hands with a flourish. A puff of smoke rose from the center of the ring; when it cleared, a young naval officer stood there, holding a book and blinking.
"Where am I?" he asked. "I was sitting by the fire reading poetry when I began to feel very strange...well, I shall read aloud to you all!" He opened the book and began to read. "Like the dew on the mountain, like the foam on a river, like the bubble on a fountain, thou art gone, and forever..."
"Oh, good shot, Dan! Lady Russell conjured up James Benwick, reading poetry yet!"
"That should keep Miss Elliot in check for a while, Stan!"
"NOOOOOOO!" screamed Miss Elliot, covering her ears. "Not poetry! You are cruel, Lady Russell!"
Anne, backing away from the confrontation in horror, inadvertently kicked a bucket of water in one corner. A little water spilled on the surface of the ring. "Watch it!" cried her sister.
"I am sorry, Elizabeth," said Anne. "It was an accident."
Miss Elliot cackled evilly. "Well, my little pretty, I can cause accidents too!"
Lady Russell put Anne behind her. "Leave her be, Elizabeth! She is innocent!"
The witch pointed a long, crooked, green finger at her. "You stay out of this, Glinda, or I'll fix you as well!"
Benwick had continued to read while all this was going on. Elizabeth whirled on him. "Will you please shut up?"
He blinked at her in confusion. "But poetry is such a wonderful balm for a broken heart. You have no conception of what I have lost."
"So, you won't take warning, eh? All the worse for you! I'll take care of you now, instead of later!" The witch rubbed her chin thoughtfully. "These things must be done delicately, or you hurt the spell!" She waved her broom, and the book in Benwick's hand disappeared.
"No! No!" he cried desperately. "I cannot live without my poetry!" He dropped to his knees, hands clasped in front of him. "I do believe in spooks, I do believe in spooks, I do I do I do I do I do believe in spooks!"
"You'll believe in more than that before I'm finished with you!" She waved her hands again, and a young lady appeared in a puff of smoke.
"Oh, Captain Benwick," the young lady sighed, grabbing his arm, "you are so handsome and strong, and I just love poetry!"
Benwick looked at the ring finger of his left hand, horrorstruck. A golden band had appeared there. He looked at Miss Elliot fearfully. "You've married me to Louisa Musgrove? You are evil indeed, Miss Elliot!"
Louisa dragged him out of the ring, then ran back to stand on the edge. "Catch me, Captain Benwick!" She leapt from the edge, but unfortunately Benwick had fled screaming up the aisle, so she landed very hard on the ground and lay there insensible.
One of the Munchkins walked up to her and poked her with his foot. "She's dead," he said. "And she's not only merely dead, she's really most sincerely dead!"
The audience sighed with relief.
A low chanting was heard from the edges of the auditorium: "Oh yee oh, yo um, oh yee oh, yo um..." This was followed by the sound of marching feet, which grew louder along with the chanting as Miss Elliot's army of soldiers approached the ring. A whirring noise filled the air, and the lights grew dim, blocked by the bodies of hundreds of flying monkeys!
The monkeys descended on the ring. Lady Russell screamed and covered her head. "Not the turban! Not the turban!" she cried. "It's impossible to find the pattern for these anymore!"
"That's right, my pretties!" cried Miss Elliot. "Take her away! Fly! Fly! FLYYYYYY!"
The flying monkeys lifted Lady Russell and flew away into the night, her screams growing less as they retreated. Miss Elliot ran about the ring, brandishing her broom and taunting the Munchkins in the first rows. "I win! I win! Lady Russell and her good magic could never defeat me! Woe to those who interfere!"
Anne walked up to her. "I declare you the winner," she said. "Can I take off this stupid dress now?"
Elizabeth threw her head back and cackled evilly. "All in good time, my pretty, all in good time! Why, my little party's just beginning!" She regarded Anne thoughtfully. "You and my sister Mary are nothing but pests. Father has spent all our money, and I still have to split what is left with both of you when he kicks off." She put her hands up menacingly.
Anne, thinking fast, grabbed the bucket of water and threw it on her sister. Miss Elliot screamed as smoke rose from inside her black dress. "I'm melting! I'm melting!" she cried pitifully. "Oh, what a world! Who would have thought a good little girl like you could destroy my beautiful wickedness?" She whined and moaned some more as the dress, hat, and broom collapsed to the floor, empty.
There was absolute silence in the hall. Suddenly one of the Munchkins spoke up loudly. "Hail to Anne! The Wicked Witch is dead!" The arena erupted in deafening screams of delight.
The Munchkins clasped hands and danced around the ring, singing, "Ding dong, the witch is dead! Which old witch? The wicked witch! Ding dong, the wicked witch is dead! Ding dong the merry oh, sing it high, sing it low, let them know the wicked witch is dead!" The audience joined in happily, dancing and singing, including Miss Elliot's former soldiers, now freed from their bonds.
Suddenly they were quiet again as a large pink bubble floated into the arena. It drifted around, circled the stage, and finally landed there. It popped, and there stood...Lady Russell!
Anne flew to her and embraced her warmly. "It is good to see you again!" she cried. "I feared so for you when those flying monkeys carried you away!"
Lady Russell smiled at her kindly. "When you killed the witch, their power over me was gone," she said. "Thank you, my dear. Is there anything I can do for you in repayment?"
Anne looked longingly at the first row, where Captain Wentworth sat surrounded by adoring women. "Well, there is one thing..."
"Why, Anne, you have had the ability to recapture Captain Wentworth's heart all along."
Anne stared at her in disbelief. "I have?"
"Yes, my dear."
"And you didn't tell me? You let me suffer in silence for eight years and a half?"
The good witch looked rather uncomfortable. "It seemed the best thing for you at the time, Anne. I only tried to act as your dear mother would have." She hesitated. "Do you want me to tell you the spell or not?"
"Yes, tell me! Tell me already!" Anne stamped her foot impatiently.
Lady Russell waved her wand delicately. "Click your heels together and repeat after me: there's no man like Freddy, there's no man like Freddy, there's no man like Freddy..."
"...there's no man like Freddy, there's no man like Freddy..." chanted Anne, clicking her heels madly.
Suddenly the loudspeakers began to play that song from "An Officer and a Gentleman." Captain Wentworth stood suddenly, pushing a couple of women from his lap, and strode to the ring. "Anne," he said, holding out his hand. "I can listen no longer in silence. You pierce my soul. I am half agony, half hope--"
"Tell you what, Frederick," Anne interrupted. "Write that down and send me a letter. For now, just kiss me, darn it!"
"With pleasure, ma'am." He leaned down, ever so slowly, and planted a single chaste kiss on her lips. Anne slooooowwwwwllllyyyy slid her hand along his arm, then tucked it inside, and they walked up the aisle, eyes only for one another as the audience capered with delight all about them.
"Well, Stan, that was one of the best Austen Celebrity Deathmatches yet! * sniff * I love a happy ending!"
"Yes, Dan! The wicked witch of Bath, lately of Kellynch Hall, was defeated roundly. And I think Miss Anne knows now that she can depend on her own instincts, rather than always listening to Lady Russell."
"Yes, and as the custodians mop up the remains of Miss Elliot from the ring, for Stan and the crew, this is Dan, and don't forget to tune in next time! Good night, good Deathmatch!"