But the elder daughter, who should by rights have been as happy as a princess in a fairy tale, was discontented.
Miss Lee (as strangers properly referred to her) could not help feeling that life was distinctly unfair.
The family could not help feeling that, if she would only brush her hair and wear shoes rather than walking barefoot in the grass like a savage, dear Mary might be somewhat easier to live with.
Miss Lee's sister--her younger sister--Miss Claudine was engaged to a rich and charming young nabob, just returned to England from India. And if some of the aunts gossiped that Mr. Fitzhugh Flynn was nothing but a jumped-up bog Irishman, well, the presents of pearls and jewels and cashmere shawls that Mr. Flynn brought back from India stopped their talk soon enough.
Miss Lee did not want Mr. Flynn for herself, not at all. She thought his conversation insipid, and she suspected him of never having read Lord Byron. Moreover, in her heart, she truly wished her sister nothing but happiness. Still, Miss Lee could not help feeling that Claudine deserved to be slapped, just once, for her intolerable smugness. And for her well-behaved hair.
Miss Lee considered it particularly unfair that her youngest brother Philip (affectionately nicknamed Sparrow) was never scolded for his unruly hair.
"'Tisn't my fault that I'm Mamma's favourite," Sparrow said, then ran away very quickly before his sister could slap him.
Miss Lee thought rebellious thoughts about running away to be a spy, like her black-sheep cousin James. On the other hand, James was rumoured to be in prison, somewhere in Portugal, and that, Miss Lee reflected, could hardly be pleasant.
Miss Lee thought other rebellious thoughts about adopting radical politics and becoming a glamorous and notorious figure on the Continent, like her great-uncle Edward. On the other hand, Great-Uncle Edward had been guillotined in France during the Terror, and that, Miss Lee reflected, must have been quite unpleasant indeed.
All in all, Miss Lee decided, she was wholly at her wits' end. She took longer and longer walks in the grass without her shoes, and her hair became wilder by the month.
The aunts pressed copies of Miss Austen's novel Sense and Sensibility upon her. Miss Lee announced at dinner that she found Elinor excessively dull and correct, which was not the lesson that the aunts had intended her to learn.
"If this were only 1860," Miss Lee said to herself, "I might move to London, and change my name to Fanny Cornforth, and become a famous artist's model."
But, alas, Miss Lee's hair would not become fashionable for another forty years.
to be continued . . . or possibly not . . .
Yes, you guessed it: this non-story with its non-punchline was a very thin pretext for posting a lot of virtually identical pretty pictures of Mally Lee. Her outfit is by Val Zeitler; both Mally's and Claudine's lovely new necklaces are by our very own the_impassive, d.b.a. Resin Ragdoll; Flynn's Regency-dandy suit is by just*shining; Claudine's Regency dress is by someone on eBay whose name I should remember but can't. Am I missing any clothing credits? Oh, that's right: Cousin James's ruffled shirt, inherited from Great-Uncle Edward by roundabout ways, is by A-Life Garden.