Death of Jane Austen
or...
The Jane Austen Conspiracy Theory

Orator enters.

ORATOR: There comes a time in every person's life, when they ... die.  Just when or where Jane Austen died, however, is up for speculation.  You see, there are many conspiracies about Jane Austen's death.

Cassandra and Jane enter, running on to the stage.  Cassandra is pointing a knife at Jane.

CASSANDRA: It was your turn to clean the kitchen, Jane.  Did you clean it?  No.  You were busy working on your novels.  Your trashy novels, that no one reads!

JANE: But Cassandra, sis, I'm making excellent progress on The Watsons.  Oh my gosh!  The title!  I just had a revelation.  It should be Adept and Adaptability.

CASSANDRA: I don't care.

Cassandra stabs Jane, until she dies.  Jane puts up a minimal fight.

ORATOR: One theory is that Cassandra, her sister, stabbed Jane Austen, being impatient of Jane's inability to cope with domestic life.  There is another Cassandra story where Jane confesses to her one day.

JANE: You know, I can say this now that Tom Fowle's been dead for awhile.

CASSANDRA: Who?

JANE: Your fiancÚ.  

CASSANDRA: Well, I was upset at the time. But it's better to be single.  

JANE: Ah, yes, well, I always fancied him.

CASSANDRA: You WHAT!?

JANE: Don't act so upset. Just a moment ago you couldn't remember who he was.

CASSANDRA: I can't believe you!  I thought you had always been a faithful sister.  

JANE: I was!  I am!  Did you think I would let my feelings interfere with your relationship with him? No.

CASSANDRA: You evil, wicked, sister!

JANE: What are you going to do about it?

Cassandra stabs Jane, until she dies.  Jane puts up a minimal fight.

ORATOR: There is, of course, the classic Addison's disease rumor, which is to be proved untrue for several reasons.

Jane rises from ground.

JANE: "Life no longer holds any pleasure for me.  Give me death!"

Jane falls to the floor again.

ORATOR: During Jane Austen's lifetime, her work did not generate much interest.  She wasn't a personality; people didn't know who she was.  Her death didn't cause a sensation.  Later, when she became famous, people were interested in how she died.  People have quite 
a morbid fascination, you know.

JANE: But there are letters to prove I had Addison's disease!

ORATOR: Ah, Addison's disease is quite rare in the first place.  You were never properly diagnosed, Jane.  What you wrote in your letters seemed to imply that you had Addison's disease, but you also wrote about all these other symptoms that did not seem to fit that particular disease.  

ORATOR: So you're saying I didn't die from Addison's disease?

NARRATOR: There is no way.  Those letters were the only evidence of you expressing your sickness and they were obviously forged by someone with very little medical knowledge and given to great dramatics.

ORATOR: Oh dear. That sounds like me.

Three gunshots are heard from various directions.  Jane Austen falls down, dead.

ORATOR: The most popular conspiracy is the grassy knoll theory.  However, it is the most unreliable, being that Lee Harvey Oswald was not even alive.  One very reliable, but highly unpopular theory, is that Jane died of old age.

JANE: Where are my glasses?

Jane falls to the floor.  Cassandra checks pulse.

CASSANDRA: I think she's dead, mum.  

JANE: Wait a sec, how could I have died of old age?

ORATOR: You were tired of being single.  And at forty years old, too!  You met a nice, rich, young man named Bromwell Wellington.  The only problem was your family's disapproval of him.  You see, he was eighteen years younger than you, so you had to run away.  Your family was so ashamed of you that they made up a rumor that you were sick, and died in Winchester.

JANE: Were you really upset, Cassandra?

CASSANDRA: Oh yes, it caused quite a scandal.

JANE: Oh my.  But it seems like it cannot be so!

ORATOR: Oh yes, there are records that Bromwell and Jane Wellington spent a happy life together in Winchester, and had two children.

CASSANDRA: I assume they would have had more if Jane was still of childbearing age.

ORATOR: Oh yes.  Then Jane Wellington died sixteen years later, at the age of fifty-six.  Fifty-six was old at the time.

JANE: Oh.

ORATOR: Bromwell lived ten years after her, and died at forty-eight, absolutely heart-brokened.

CASSANDRA: So you think this Mrs. Wellington was indeed Jane Austen?

ORATOR: I am positive.  Oh, but there is another theory.  Oh wait, I've already discussed that dreadful theory most people believe about Addison's disease.

JANE: I don't believe that one, anymore.

ORATOR: Thank you for coming to this presentation of Jane Austen's works.  We are sorry to 
leave you on this depressing note.  Please clear the auditorium, as soon as possible.

CASSANDRA: Wait!  We forgot Pride and Prejudice. 

ORATOR: But we do Pride and Prejudice EVERY night.

CASSANDRA: We have to! 

ORATOR: I hate being Mr. Darcy.  Why can't I be Mr. Wickham?

JANE: Get into your Mr. Darcy costume RIGHT now and get back out here!

ORATOR: And what if I refuse?

CASSANDRA: I can't believe what you're saying. Don't you know the crowd loves Mr. Darcy?

JANE: Well, that's OK, you're fired. Colin Firth just happens to be backstage, and he plays a better Mr. Darcy anyway. I'm sure he would be delighted to reprise this role for us tonight.

Jane, Orator, and Cassandra exit.