At two and twenty, Miss Mary Bennet
knew she was considered nearly a
spinster. Her youngest sister had married at the age of fifteen – what a story
that escapade would make –her eldest sister married on the cusp of two and
twenty alongside her other sister who at the time was not even one and twenty.
Even Kitty had been swept off her feet at the ripe old age of nineteen. For
three long years, she’d watched from the sidelines as her sisters fell in love,
married, and moved away.
She knew she was not traditionally
ladylike, as her other siblings. In her speech, she was too forthright and
would rather spend an evening playing the pianoforte to an evening in the
company of friends, or heaven forfend, attend a ball.
She had a pleasing figure, all her
own teeth, and if she had a lick of vanity, it was her thick, beautifully
curly, mahogany locks of hair. On more than one occasion, the matronly ladies
she sat with at many assemblies kindly informed her she had kind eyes.
Kind eyes? Basset hounds had kind
Papa finally settled on her a
substantial dowry. With all her siblings out from under the eaves of Longbourn,
he had the resources to add to the family coffers and she now had a nice tidy
sum of four thousand pounds for any man willing to make an offer. And there was
the rub. Someone had to make an offer.
If anyone were to catalog all her attributes,
they’d wonder how she’d gone so long without one single proposal. Without one
single kiss. Well, there’d been one when she was just turned fourteen, but she
didn’t count the sloppy slobber as a kiss. Nigel, the cobbler’s son had pressed
his fleshy lips against hers and then tried to push his tongue into her mouth,
which she’d promptly bit.
He’d never spoken to her again,
and frankly, she hadn’t cared. If kissing involved groping hands and tongues
shoved into one’s mouth, she didn’t wish to be kissed again. However, all her
sisters seemed to like their husbands
kissing them, so maybe Nigel had got it all wrong. She’d never know. Mama did
not extend any effort to push her into the path of eligible young men, and that
all by itself spoke volumes. Even Mama thought her chances were nil.