Very Funny, Elizabeth is the companion book for Elizabeth Cole; it is considered an extension of the Felicity series. It was included with the Elizabeth doll when she was available; with the collection's archival, it can be purchased separately.
- 1 Characters
- 2 Chapter by Chapter Summary
- 3 Items associated with Very Funny, Elizabeth
- Elizabeth Cole
- Annabelle Cole
- Felicity Merriman
- Edward Merriman
- Benjamin Davidson
- Miss Manderly
- Mr. and Mrs. Cole
Only in Very Funny, Elizabeth
Chapter by Chapter Summary
Chapter One: The Merriest Girls in Virginia
On a cold, clear December day, Elizabeth hurries along the main street of Williamsburg. She wears a sky-blue cloak that makes her look like a bluebird. Elizabeth is walking faster than her sister, Annabelle, who has taken a slower, ladylike pace as usual. Elizabeth makes it to Mr. Merriman's store before her sister, and she nearly crashes into Felicity when she walks in, sending both girls into a fit of giggles. Mr. Merriman smiles and says, "You two are the merriest girls in Virginia." After he politely asks Elizabeth how she's doing and she tells him she's well, he turns back to his work and the two girls whisper about the prank they intend to play on Annabelle.
The girls are different in many ways, including their temperaments and their families' political views, but both girls also have a lot in common and love to laugh. Elizabeth peeks back outside the door to see Annabelle shuddering at a slush puddle on the ground as she carefully steps around it. Annabelle scolds her when she reaches the door, saying that it's unladylike to walk so fast. Elizabeth agrees and pretends to dab at her eyes, saying that walking so fast in the cold made her eyes runny while Annabelle still has bright, clear eyes. Rather than spotting her sister's mischief, Annabelle smiles because she's proud of how she looks. Elizabeth pretends to think aloud about a comment she heard from Ben the other day- supposedly the first things he notices are bright, clear eyes and good teeth. Annabelle is suddenly very interested and makes a beeline for Ben as she walks in the store. Mr. Merriman politely stops her and asks if he can help, but she politely says Ben can assist.
Annabelle startles Ben, who is balanced on a ladder and almost falls off when she loudly calls his name. She asks for help buying ribbon and flirts with him by batting her eyes. Annabelle drops hints about needing new ribbon for upcoming Christmas balls or a wedding. However, Ben is clueless and asks if she's sick with a toothache or if she has something stuck in her eye. She tries to be more direct and says she heard he likes good eyes and teeth. Ben looks confused and clarifies that's what he's looking for if he's looking at a horse. The younger girls giggle, and Annabelle whips around to face them, furious, and stomps out of the store. Ben is still confused but returns to his work on the ladder.
Elizabeth imitates her sister by batting her eyelashes and smiling widely, adding in a "neigh" horse sound, and the girls giggle. They recall when Elizabeth had been too scared to stand up to her sister just a year prior in Felicity Learns a Lesson. Elizabeth insists she only learned to do so with Felicity's help, and even though her sister still scolds her as much as ever, Elizabeth doesn't pay much attention to it- she'd rather laugh than be afraid. Felicity asks if Annabelle is annoyed and angry after this prank, and Elizabeth confirms that she is. However, Elizabeth also clarifies that she only teases her sister because she loves her and she wants to help her see how ridiculous she acts. She knows that Annabelle is smart, funny, and sensible under all of her airs, and she wants to tease her sister into acting like her true self. Felicity says that Annabelle surely won't thank her sister today and Elizabeth had better hurry after her. She agrees and says she will see Felicity at lessons the following day. After exchanging curtsies, Elizabeth rushes out and hurries to keep up with her sister.
Annabelle is upset that Elizabeth made her look silly in front of Ben, and she worries that Ben thinks she's a fool. While Elizabeth privately believes Ben has always held this opinion of her sister, she tries to assure Annabelle that he's just Ben. Annabelle insists that Ben comes from a very good family and is an eligible beau; she also fully believes she can make him change his mind about joining the Patriots after his apprenticeship. She's also worried that he won't come courting now that she's been made to look so foolish. Elizabeth is shocked because she's always chalked her sister's flirting up to her general silliness. She asks if Annabelle is truly thinking of being engaged or married at just sixteen years old. Annabelle stops her brisk walk and turns to face her sister, and she explains that sixteen is the time many other girls begin looking for husbands. If Annabelle wants to get a good husband before they are all taken, she will need to start looking now. Her whole future depends on making a good match.
Elizabeth says she's glad she's just ten and doesn't have to worry about men or marriage yet. She loves her house, her family, and her life in Williamsburg, and she doesn't want them to ever change. Annabelle grumbles that her own life will also never change if Elizabeth and Felicity have anything to say in it, and she insists she won't tolerate any more teasing or pranks. Annabelle marches home to inform their mother about what happened that day, but Elizabeth isn't at all worried by this threat. Her sister tattles on Elizabeth constantly and their parents barely pay attention to these stories anymore. However, both girls are surprised when they enter the parlor and see their parents talking. Mr. Cole solemnly invites them to sit down, and Elizabeth quietly picks up her stitchery and sits to the side so she can hear what will happen.
Mr. Cole clears his throat and takes a moment to speak, which is very unusual for him. When he talks again, he explains that he has received a letter from Miss Priscilla Lacey, whose father, Lord Hugh Lacey, was a friend of Mr. Cole's in England. Annabelle begins to interrupt, but Mr. Cole holds up a hand so he can continue. Hugh Lacey died several years prior and Miss Priscilla maintained the estate for Lord Harry, who was much younger. Lord Harry has now reached an age to marry, and Miss Priscilla has reached out to propose that he marry Annabelle.
Elizabeth is so surprised that she accidentally pricks her finger, but her sister jumps up and immediately agrees to marry, even though she misnames Lord Harry while doing so. Annabelle trips over her words in her excitement, but her mother cautions her to pause and think before agreeing to a match. A marriage is the most important decision a woman makes. Elizabeth adds that England is very far from their family, and they don't even know Lord Harry- perhaps Annabelle won't even like him. Annabelle dismisses this concern and insists Harry is a lord, and she will be a lady, which is all she needs to know. Mrs. Cole again cautions her daughter not to be hasty in this decision. Marrying a lord will also come with a lot of responsibilities such as managing his country home, a London home, and many servants. Marriage will be the end of Annabelle's youthful freedom, and becoming a lady will not only entail large gowns and balls. Mrs. Cole's warnings, however, only make her daughter more delighted about the prestige of a marriage to Lord Harry. She insists she wants to marry Lord Harry as soon as possible.
Mr. and Mrs. Cole look at each other and nod, and Mr. Cole agrees to write back to Miss Priscilla. The Laceys are visiting family in New York, and Mr. Cole plans to invite them to Williamsburg, where they will work out the details of the marriage contract and wedding. They will announce the engagement during the Christmas season and plan for a February wedding before the couple sails back to England in the spring. Annabelle immediately gushes over a Valentine's Day marriage. Mr. Cole leaves the room, and Annabelle continues to gush to her mother about her romantic match. She asks if Mrs. Cole is happy. Mrs. Cole pats her daughter's hand and says she's happy Annabelle is happy, and she knows Annabelle will be safe back in England. She adds, "But I worry-" only to have Annabelle interrupt her and insist her mother spends too much time worrying. Rather than worrying, she'd rather spend time preparing for their guests and the upcoming wedding. Annabelle adds that all the other girls in town will be envious, and she wants an engagement party no one will ever forget where she is the "center of attention." While Annabelle babbles, Elizabeth smiles at her stitchery and contemplates how the upcoming events will have plenty of opportunity for mischief for her and Felicity.
Chapter Two: Tarts for Tea
At a lesson with Miss Manderly, Elizabeth and Felicity quietly tap each other's toes under the table. They have invented this system to quietly communicate during lessons so they don't disrespect Miss Manderly and make her think they aren't paying attention. They also use this system to get around nosy Annabelle, who always listens to their private discussions and notices if they glance at each other. The girls have rules about teasing Annabelle: no lies, nothing unkind or mean-spirited, nothing that hurt (like a pinch or an insult), and only for a good reason. Their goal this day is to tease Annabelle so she doesn't sound so snobby, as she's been talking incessantly about her impending marriage. Even as their group settles down to drink tea, Annabelle has turned away to pull out a linen sample to show Miss Manderly. While she's turned away, Felicity puts a pile of tarts on Annabelle's plate and hides one in her napkin. Elizabeth moves the teacup and saucer so they are right by Annabelle's elbow, and she fills the cup to the brim. When Annabelle turns back to the table, she knocks over the tea and tarts, and the final tart falls out of her napkin when she picks it up to help clean up the mess. The younger girls quietly drink their own tea and use their cups to hide their smiles.
Miss Manderly has a twinkle in her eye herself, but she gently tells Annabelle it is not good manners to take so many tarts. Annabelle protests that it was the younger girls and she is just about to scold them when instead, she puts her nose in the air and insists that a future lady should be well mannered. However, when Miss Manderly leaves to request more tarts, Annabelle turns to the younger girls and insists they're just jealous. Elizabeth protests and says they find it suspicious that Miss Priscilla has to come all the way across the pond to find a match for her brother, and there must be a reason why no one in England will marry him. Felicity adds that they wouldn't marry someone they didn't know, especially because he might turn out to be dull. Elizabeth then makes rhyming jokes about how Lord Harry might be scary or hairy. Annabelle ignores their silliness and insists Lord Harry must be a perfect gentleman- he's a lord and an nobleman, after all.
Elizabeth counters this, pointing out that having a title doesn't mean you actually act nobly. Titles also hold great importance in England, but they don't in the colonies, where people are judged based on their actions and people think for themselves. Annabelle dismisses this as logic picked up from Felicity and the Patriots, but Elizabeth says she likes that people have to prove their worth in the colonies and respect is not dependent on someone's name. Annabelle hopes that Elizabeth won't say such things in the company of their English guests, and she calls her sister a "little Patriot." She also dismisses the girls as too young to understand this situation, and she says the "uncivilized brats" will see how much respect Annabelle gets in her new position as a lady.
Miss Manderly walks back in the doorway, and she reprimands Annabelle for referring to the girls in that way. Annabelle tries to protest, but Miss Manderly puts her hand on Annabelle's to prevent her from talking. It is clear that she overheard much of the conversation. She also turns to the younger girls and insists that Lord Lacey is a desirable husband as a nobleman. All young ladies should respect that good fortune. Miss Manderly also talks seriously to Annabelle and tries to impress upon her that marriage is a choice, and it's not the only possible path to a woman's happiness.. Especially in the colonies, a woman can make an independent life as Miss Manderly has. Marrying a nobleman will come with many restrictions, strict etiquette, and responsibilities. Annabelle first seems to listen to her seriously, but she returns back to her old mannerisms when Miss Manderly says that if these responsibilities are handled well, Annabelle will be entitled to respect and admiration like all ladies in the highest ranks of society. She looks pleased about winning such a prize. The younger girls remain silent, but they kick each other's feet under the table to signal their shared annoyance.
On the day that the Laceys are expected, Elizabeth teases her sister by asking "is that the Laceys?" every time a carriage goes past. Each time, Annabelle rushes to pull out her pin curl rags and be downstairs for their guests. After this happens five times, Annabelle insists that her sister will not be able to trick her again. A few minutes later, Elizabeth comments on a new carriage's arrival, but Annabelle refuses to move. Mrs. Cole quickly comes in their room and tells the girls to be downstairs and ready.
Chapter Three: Miss Priss
Chapter Four: Hot-Heads
Looking Back: Courtship and Marriage in 1775
Discusses courtship and marriage during colonial times. Topics include:
- Marital expectations young girls and women faced during colonial times, such as looking for a spouse to either maintain or improve family social standings, rather than love.
- How courtship was carried out between prospective families.
- Considerations women faced during courtship, such as moving in with their future husbands, maintaining their own households, and in marriages among English nobility, setting, and following strict protocol.
- The inability for women to divorce in Virginia and England.
- Consequences a woman might face for backing out of a marriage proposal without agreement from the potential groom.
- Consequences unmarried men and women could face in public society.
- How unmarried women were viewed by colonial society.
- Choices and privileges unmarried women and widows had that married women could not, such as owning businesses and property, earning wages, and signing contracts.