Gentlemen Prefer Spinsters(3)

By: Samantha Holt

Merry glanced at her friend’s blank faces and shook her head. “What news?”

“Miss Lucy Gable...oh poor Lucy...was discovered.” Bella hissed the last word.

“Discovered how?” Sophia asked.

“With a man.” Bella finally slumped down on the chaise next to Sophia. “Completely and utterly ruined. Her family sent her away to Ireland. We shall never see her again.”

Merry winced and swung a look at Arabella. Her cheeks had already paled and Merry noticed the cup shook slightly in her hand. If anyone understood ruination, it was Arabella. A few years ago, she had been promised marriage by an eligible man, but he had run off to America after taking her innocence. Fortunately for Arabella, few people knew what had happened, so she never had to hide in Ireland, but Merry knew Arabella still nursed heartbreak over it, and Merry suspected she had always secretly hoped the man would return for her one day.

“Poor Lucy,” murmured Arabella.

Silence fell over the room as they contemplated their friend’s fate. Merry had known Lucy since they were little girls. She had come from a respectable family and Lucy was sweet and funny. Had she remained untouched, she would have likely married well. Merry curled her fists. How dare one man ruin it all for her? It was so unfair. She peered at each of her friends and she had no doubt they were thinking similarly.

“What is it with these men?” The words tumbled from Merry’s mouth.

Their heads snapped up, mouths dropping open at her sudden declaration.

“You know what I mean.” Merry stood. “Your late husband was an absolute beast,” she said to Sophia who shrugged and nodded. “You were treated abominably, Arabella.” She turned to Bella. “And we all know your brothers and father are vile to you. Not one of us has had a good experience with men.”

“I cannot deny that,” Sophia agreed.

Merry huffed. “I would quite happily never set eyes on another man and I swear I shall never marry. Never, ever.”

“Hear, hear.” Bella lifted her cup and giggled.

“I say we make a vow,” Merry declared.

Arabella lifted a brow. “A vow?”

“Yes, a vow. We swear to remain spinsters for all our lives. Instead of worrying about men, we shall occupy ourselves with our hobbies, our friends, and our families.” She paused and glanced at Bella. “That is, if we wish,” she added. Bella’s five brothers tormented her to no end and were notoriously awful people. No doubt she would not wish to devote any more time to them than she had to. Sophia had married young to escape them, but her marriage had been no better.

“I have no desire to marry again anyway. One arranged match is enough for me, and I can look after myself now that I am independently wealthy.” Sophia stood. “I’m willing to take that vow.” She looked at Arabella. “And you know I can look after you too. You need never marry.”

“I shall inherit a small sum one day,” Merry confirmed. “I have no need of a husband if I live frugally.” They all looked to Bella.

She swung her gaze between them then stood. “Well, I am not so sure how I shall look after myself, but I’ll figure it out.”

“It’s a deal then.” Merry put out her hand. “We will remain spinsters, no matter what life puts in our way. Should any of us ever be tempted by men, we vow to protect each other.”

Everyone nodded and thrust out their hands. Bella paused and drew back her hand. “We should make a blood oath.”

Arabella scowled. “A blood oath? I am certainly not slicing open my hand.”

“Very well, we shall spit on our hands then. Seal the deal like men.” Bella spat on her hand and thrust it out.

With a shrug, Sophia did the same. Merry rolled her eyes and followed suit, eyeing Arabella. “Well?”

“Oh, very well then.” Arabella spat on her hand and thrust it into the middle. They placed their hands one on top of the other. Arabella made a sound of disgust.

Merry wrinkled her nose and tried to ignore the rather wet sensation. “We do solemnly vow to remain spinsters, and to protect one another from anything or anyone who might cause us physical or emotional harm. We shall ignore the opposite sex and devote our time to our own passions and sisterhood.” She looked around at her friends. “Will that do?”