mistressmaryquitecontrary: (older - steady)
Mary only very occasionally remembers that two years have passed since Mr. Tam offered her the opportunity to study medicine on a world that would not concern itself with her gender.

She's simply been far too busy to remember the passage of time -- as apprentice-assistant to the only fully-trained doctor on the small Rim planet of Aberdeen, her life is a constant round of delivering medicines, sewing up injuries, inoculating babies, and generally performing any tasks that Dr. Hamm doesn't have time for.

(The locals call him Doc. Mary never does.)

Dr. Hamm is competent but constantly harassed; Mary learns procedures by shoving time out the rounds of her duties to watch him do them, and then announcing it to him when she feels that she's learned enough to try them herself. She does not particularly like most of her patients, and they dislike her in turn for her haughty airs and her snappish temper and the fact that she clearly comes from money, though they might have forgiven a pleasanter person that. Still, when you live on Aberdeen, it's any port in a storm -- and most of them will grudgingly admit that, by now, her stitches generally look neat.

When she has time to think about it, she misses her home, and her friends, and her garden that Dickon and Colin have solemnly sworn to care for, misses them all so much that she can hardly breathe. She has gone back to Yorkshire diligently when her uncle might expect her for school vacations, and each time it's near impossible to leave. But leave she does, and goes back to Aberdeen, and once she's there, there's just so much to learn and so little time that it's only once in a very great while that she sits in her bed crying of homesickness.

She has learned Chinese, and how to cook her own (very hasty) meals, and how to apply the same principles to stitching a scratch and stitching a sock. Without quite noticing, she has turned sixteen.
mistressmaryquitecontrary: (Default)
Round One

"I assume," Mary says, in her most scathing tone, "that there is a good explanation for this." But she's known, from the minute she hears the lock click in the door, that a good explanation is unlikely. Not impossible, though; luring her into a room with no patient in it might, after all, be a silly prank. Jans has not proved himself to be a particularly un-silly person.

And he is not winning any prizes today, because what he does, the very first thing after locking her in a room, is come forward and take her hands. Mary snatches them away and folds her arms protectively in front of her, but does not take a step backward, refusing to cede her ground, which leaves her in the uncomfortable position of being nearly nose-to-nose with him.

"I hope you'll think so," says Jans, earnestly. "I know this may seem sudden, us knowing each other only those few weeks -"

Mary stares at him out of cold blue eyes, keeping her face at its most utterly blank - which is to say, haughty and old-womanish, this being her default expression. Jans falters a little in his speech, but presses on.

"- but I had to get you alone and I didn't want us to be disturbed. See, Miss Lennox -- Mary -- I can call you Mary, can't I?"

"No," says Mary.

"-- Mary," breathes Jans, ignoring her, "the plain truth is, I've fallen in love with you and I can't live a moment further without you. Won't you be my wife?"

There is a moment's pause, while Mary's blank face looks blanker than ever. Taking this as a hopeful sign, Jans reaches out, his hands to her arms, and bends his head towards her.

Crunch! goes Mary's head, into his nose, and she wrenches him aside, burning with rage as she strides for the door. What a fool he is, and what a fool she! To distract her away from her shift, and make her look an idiot -- she has no doubt that some of those stupid children put him up to this. "I am on duty!" she snaps, as she reaches out her hand for the lock --

-- and then Jans' hand grabs her arm and she's thrown away, back into the room. There's blood on the floor from Jans' nose; he hasn't bothered grabbing at it, too busy slipping out the door before she can get back at it. "I know this comes as a surprise!" he shouts, through an intercom, "but once you see I'm serious you'll come around!"

"You shall let me out this instant!" Mary shouts back, but her voice sounds hollow to her own ears.

Her first impulses had been right. This isn't a prank of any kind, after all.

Round Four

". . . . and a more unromantical person I've never met," sulks Jans, guarding the door.

"Well, you can see," says Jones, kindly, across - she can only think of it as the negotiating table, though it's just the one cot they've provided her with - "we tried to do this the pleasant way."

"I can see," snaps Mary, "that you must think I've exactly two brain cells to rub together, which makes for a very believable proposal, I must say. Marriage! I do not intend to marry, I have no wish to marry, and I am not nearly so foolish as to believe that anyone should wish to marry me for any personal qualities I may possess."

"You got that right!"

"Jans!" Jones sighs, the sigh of a reasonable but put-upon man faced with an unwontedly stressful situation. "Well, it sounds like you and Jans here want the same thing. Neither of you wants to be stuck with each other any longer than necessary -- but the fact is we've invested too much in this operation not to see some profit off it, and it'd be a lot simpler and less painful for all of you if you'd just go through with it. I can marry you right here and now, and once Jan's got that claim to your assets, we can easily drop you off on Whittier to get a nice friendly divorce, and you can forget you ever was married at all. Hardly any trouble to anyone! And think how it'll sharpen your professional edge, not to have that nice money cushion."

"I would rather," says Mary, enunciating her syllables very precisely, "die and be eaten by pigs than do anything you ask me."

Jones is very sincere, as he says, "Miss Lennox, I promise you, we will not let you die. You may, I regret to inform you, suffer some unfortunate physical distress if you keep on rejecting our kind proposal. We're running a little low on funds, and we may not have enough left over to feed you proper. We're running a little low on patience, too, and -- well, you can imagine what'll happen when that runs out. All we really need from you is your hands for signing things." He's looming over the cot now, in what is not exactly a subtle attempt at intimidation. Mary could laugh, if she wasn't so angry.

"I am very reliably informed," she tells him, "that I have no imagination whatever," and launches herself across the table in an attempt to stab him in the eye with a hairpin.

Unfortunately, it's her last one -- all the others having been confiscated after various other unsuccessful attempts -- and the shortest one too, so it doesn't do much good, and gets her a wrenched elbow and a black eye as a reward. But it makes her feel better, all the same.

Round Eight

"I keep telling you, you are wasting your time," Mary says, through gritted teeth, for what feels like the hundredth time. She is very hungry, which is not helping her temper; nor are her swelling eyes. "I have no fortune on this planet, or any other in the 'verse!" And it's not a lie, either; whatever fortune she has inherited from her long-dead parents (and she honestly hasn't inquired into the amount of it) is far away, on another dimension. "Even if I were to marry one of you -- you sons of asses, it would give you no claim to anything at all!"

"But isn't that just what you would say, Miss Lennox?" answers Jones, and sighs gently. She loathes that sigh more than anything. "If you're going to keep being stubborn, though, we are going to have to start pursuing some other options. You've got friends in high places, Miss Lennox -- oh, it's not so secret, you know, we've got our ways -- and though we usually like to involve as few people as possible, we're not averse to pinching them up the nose, if it'll make this trip worthwhile. I should warn you it's a less pleasant process for you, though. A heart-breaking picture generally makes them fold right up."

Mary's spine snaps up straight at that, her eyes widening in dismay for the first time in this discussion, and Jones smirks a little across the table to see it.

A ransom letter sent to Mr. Tam! No, no -- unacceptable. She refuses to a.) worry her friends and (perhaps more pressingly), b.) allow this hideously embarrassing situation to be known to anyone else.

She'll simply have to stall for time until she figures out a suitable escape plan, that's all.

"Well," she says, after a long, long pause, "perhaps I could be induced to -- to consider your earlier plan. But I could not possibly be induced to marry without --" She taps her fingers together, and then announces, "Without council from an Anglican priest!"

There. Let them try and fake that.

She refuses to say any more for the rest of the meeting, and eventually Jones gets up and leaves, looking halfway between pleased and irritated. More threats will probably come next, but she judges they won't involve Mr. Tam if there's a hope of convincing her; the risks are too high. And meanwhile, she must, she must come up with a plan!
mistressmaryquitecontrary: (older - direct)
In the end, it's not anything she reads in a book or in the newspaper - or even anything her tutor tells her - that causes the thing that's been nagging at the back of Mary's mind for the past few months to finally come into focus.

It's not even the fact that the King of England is at the moment very near death. That particular tidbit of news has not yet reached the back-country of Yorkshire, and besides, sad to say, Mary is not particularly invested in the health and long life of her monarch in any case. (Edward VII has just always seemed awfully frivolous.)

Rather, it's just an overheard boast from the cook's boy to the youngest under-scullery maid: "They might dare go at France, but they wouldn't dare go at us!"

Mary doesn't have to hear the beginning of the conversation to know who he's talking about. Everybody knows the King and his nephew Wilhelm of Germany don't get on; everyone jokes about the greedy Germans. Nobody really thinks anything of it.

The cook's boy has gone on to making fun of French food. Mary's not listening. She stops on the stairs, and takes some time to think about it.
mistressmaryquitecontrary: (Default)
[PLACEHOLDER: SO STUFF HAS BEEN HAPPENING ON PYLEA OKAY???? HERE IS WHERE IT CAN GO!]
mistressmaryquitecontrary: (exploringmary)
Tomorrow Mary turns thirteen.

The cook is going to make a cake and she is to be let off lessons. Other than that she's not really sure what to make of this; despite the cold weather, she's sitting outside by her tree (now bare) in her garden, trying to decide.
mistressmaryquitecontrary: (Default)
Mary Lennox should really learn to keep her voice down, thinks Susan Merriweather, as she wends her way to the office of the headmistress.

Then again, there's a large number of things that Miss Lennox needs to learn. Such as, for example, how to not hog the time of the most sought-after professor in the school. Also, the inappropriateness of leaving poisoned kidneys in the woods where anything might get at them.

The consequences of not having learned these things could, in combination, be severe.

At any rate, the headmistress certainly thinks so.

****

Strangely, when the furious headmistress informs Mary of her expulsion, Mary does not seem all that terribly upset. Indignant, of course - the suitcase wasn't even hers! - but also, underneath it, faintly smug.

She had not foreseen this way to escape from boarding school, but now that it has been offered her on a silver platter, she's certainly not going to look a gift horse in the mouth.

****

Two days after Mary Lennox leaves in disgrace for Yorkshire, Mr. Gideon Wolfe hands in his resignation, explaining that he has been offered a high-paying position in a private home as a tutor. As a reference, Mr. Fortinbras had been nearly overflowing with praise when interviewed by Mr. Wolfe's prospective employer, no doubt out of a selfless desire to see his colleague go on to greater things.

The headmistress tells him how sorry she is to see him go and her hopes that he will do the school proud, barely masking a strange feeling of relief. Somehow, the longer he remained at the school, the more oddly uncomfortable Mr. Wolfe had made her. Perhaps it was simply the effort of restraining her dog when he was in the vicinity.

The students, of course - particularly one Miss Susan Merriweather - are not nearly so sanguine about this new turn of events, but there is very little that they can do.
mistressmaryquitecontrary: (Default)
Professor Wolfe has kindly offered to tutor Mary Lennox in mathematics. And they do, in fact, spend most of the time allotted to the tutoring sessions talking about math. It is a subject in which Mary earnestly wishes to excel, and her scores have improved tremendously.

Just not quite all of the time.

"There is something queer about the dog," Mary says, scowling. "It is the sort of thing that would happen in Milliways - not here. It is not our sort of Magic."
mistressmaryquitecontrary: (Default)
Somewhere in the woods of Yorkshire, there is an abandoned suitcase, dropped there when by a small girl upon her discovery that she’d been given the wrong luggage.

The suitcase is, by this point, sodden and dripping and gives the general impression of having something squashed and disgusting inside.

It is distinctly odorous, and definitely unpleasant – and oddly sparkly . . . .




The headmistress of Mary’s school in Yorkshire owns a small dog.

Generally, this dog stays in her private apartments. Occasionally it is allowed to come out with her when she greets guests and yap at them from behind her feet, or spend a few hours making a nuisance of itself in the schoolroom, where the girls alternate between snapping at it in an unladylike fashion and hopefully attempting to feed it their homework.

Today, some weeks after Mary’s arrival at school – and the arrival of a certain other personage, as well – the dog has taken advantage of a carelessly opened door, and made a bid for freedom. It does this every so often; it doesn’t really dislike its lot in life, and it probably has vague plans to return eventually, but there are fascinating scents to explore, and possibly even people’s legs to bite.


There’s a new scent in the forest today. The little dog, nose twitching, starts to bark in greater and greater excitement as it moves towards it.

Finally, it stands in front of the leaking, oozing and sparkling suitcase.

It has just bent its head to sample this fascinating substance when it catches, all of a sudden, another scent, one altogether less appealing. One that might, in fact, be called downright terrifying – at least, if you are a very small dog.

Or perhaps if you are more than that, also.

The owner of said scent circles the clearing once. Then again. It is utterly silent; no growl passes its lips, no rustle of leaves or grass betrays its movement. It pauses only once, interposed betweent the tiny dog and what it might call home. And then it's gone into the night, soundless and swift.

The scent is slower to fade by far.

The suitcase full of unicorn kidneys still glimmers in the moonshine, and still smells appealingly like dead meat, but all the same, it is no longer quite as attractive as it was The tiny dog stands there motionless and trembling for quite some time, more like a rabbit in the headlights than any sort of self-respecting descendant of predators; then, suddenly, it makes a break for home as fast as it can go. There, its mistress will pick it up and coddle and scold it for being such a naughty doodums, and completely fail to notice the faint air of sparkles that still lingers around its ears – because it did, after all, get in that one first bite . . .

However, she will notice that her pet has not quite stopped shivering.
mistressmaryquitecontrary: (hmphmary)
Mary has been packed off to school, and she is not pleased. Friday and Saturday, the first two days there, she spent in a sulk; now it is Sunday, and - well, to be honest, she's still sulking.

There are no classes on Sundays. Instead, the girls wake up early to attend church, and then return for Sunday dinner - the one time during the week when the male professors eat with the students and their female teacher-chaperones. The students, of course, sit arranged neatly at the bottom of the long table; the headmistress and the teachers arrange themselves at the top.

Today, the new staff member, Master Wolfe, sits next to the headmistress in the place of honor. Mary's heard about him, mostly because Lottie, who caught sight of him on Friday as he came to arrange his office, can't seem to shut up about him. For that very reason she's determined to take no note of him, and sits, instead, glowering at her food.

It's better on Sundays than it is on other days, but Mary is in no mood to appreciate that.
mistressmaryquitecontrary: (weedingmary)
Mary is in on her knees in the greenhouse, carefully transplanting a few English daisies from out of the middle of the patch to the outskirts, making sure they all have room to breathe.

There's dirt on her face and hands, and she looks happy, as she usually does in a garden (and rarely outside of one.)
mistressmaryquitecontrary: (Default)
It's among the younger girls, the eight- and nine-year-olds in the lowest level math class, that Mary finds herself most comfortable. She doesn't know anything about girls her own age, but thanks to Ingress, younger ones are not entirely an unknown quantity. She helps them with their problems, sometimes - with some condescension, it must be admitted, acting more out of a desire to show off what she knows than anything else, but all the same, she does help. She's stiff and not terribly friendly, but she talks to them as she talks to everyone, as if they are sensible beings who ought to be expected to be sensible. Some of the younger girls resent this, and consider her just as stupid for being among them as the older girls do. One or two of the others, though, start to rather admire her, in a shy sort of way. To these girls, after a few weeks, she tells stories of India, of the elephants and the Rajahs, and of her friend Dickon who can do Magic, though she doesn't tell this last part where any adults can hear.

(She doesn't tell them about Milliways. She's not stupid.)

As spring starts to approach, and the first crocuses begin popping up, it becomes harder for her to sit through her classes than she had ever thought it would be. The teachers have to call her back inside three or four times at the end of their ordained exercise period, and she goes with ill grace, craning her neck out the window for a last glimpse of growing things.

She thinks often of her garden. She trusts Dickon, with her life and anything, but - but -

One day, she sees a groundskeeper out the window, and boldly breaks outside in order to speak with him. She asks him several questions about the grounds. His replies are short; he looks nervous, and when she demands to know why, he raises his eyes to hers for the first time and tells her that he might lose his position for speaking to the young misses.

Mary flushes dark red and storms back inside. She does not attempt the experiment again.

(She doesn't cry at night from homesickness. She does not. She was never sentimental upon leaving India. There is no reason she should be sentimental now. She has things to learn, and to do, and days to count down until she can go home again, one by one.

When the ache of missing things comes on her in the night - an ache she's not used to; she's never felt it before, not so great, not all at once for everything - she lies very still and recites her lists of vocabulary, over and over again.

It works most of the time.)

The days pass one by one, and spring comes closer.


And then, suddenly, it's here, and she's in the carriage, going home.
mistressmaryquitecontrary: (secretmary)
The worst blow: they put her in the lowest class for maths, with the wide-eyed little girls in short skirts who sniffle in class and cry at night for their nurses. Mary can add and subtract, it’s true, but she doesn’t know the least thing about a times table, and long division is as far beyond her as organic chemistry. She’s never been taught any of this. It’s been years since anyone tried.

So she sits in the back of the class, her legs twice the length of everyone else’s, and sullenly works through long lists of sums that she knows how to do, knowing full well that at this rate she’ll never catch up to the others her age.

She sits sullenly at mealtimes, too, and picks at her food with her fork in the old Missy Sahib way. She hasn’t eaten this little in years, but she’s not running wild on the moors anymore, or working in a garden, or skipping-rope. They take exercise walking about in stiff rows. There’s nothing to put pink in her cheeks or give her any stomach at all.

Which is not to say she’s always silent. She opens her mouth to talk when they do reading and when they do history and geography; in fact, she talks a good deal more than she ought, and often more loudly, too. She can’t help herself. The girls say such stupid things, and none of them have ever been anywhere at all.

(The worst was the time that Miss Spenlow said, with great pride, that now they lived in the age of enlightenment and there should be no more wars – at least, not among civilized people. Mary nearly jumped out of her seat at that, because of course there would be more wars. She knew there would be some, and though she could not tell how she knew, she had to tell them how stupid it was not to be ready – how stupid it was not to prepare – to think that everything was always going to be all right, forever and ever.

Miss Spenlow had been starting to be almost fond of queer, opinionated Mary before then, but after this she begins to wonder if Mary really does have an oddly violent turn of mind.)

She doesn’t mind learning French so much – she’s in the lowest class there, too, but at least there are one or two other girls her own age who know as little as she does. She says the words carefully to herself at night, la fille, le garcon, l’ecoliere, and though her accent is not good she memorizes the vocabulary as quickly as anyone. Quicker, because she’s going over the words in her head when the other girls are giggling amongst themselves, at mealtimes, or in the sitting room, or in their own rooms at night.

(At night, Lottie sneaks next door, though she’s not supposed to, where she can find sympathetic talkers and sympathetic ears, and leaves Mary to herself. That suits Mary very well.)

She gets through the dancing lessons by pretending she’s holding a sword.

The story of what she has said to Lottie has spread; there are one or two girls, indignant over their behavior to her friend, who call her the Indian Savage. But no one has yet thought to call her Mistress Mary, Quite Contrary, and that is something.
mistressmaryquitecontrary: (coatmary)
The girl who leaves Misselthwaite Manor in January of nineteen-aught-seven has changed a good deal from the one who arrived there two years ago. She’s taller now, and while still gawky, less angular and stick-thin; her clothes aren’t mourning black, but plain sensible blue, and longer, as befits her more grown-up status.

However, anyone who’d seen her on that day two years ago would note that the expression she’s wearing now is nearly identical to the one she wore then.

She doesn’t want to be going; she doesn’t expect much when she gets there; and if she’s homesick, or worried, or nervous of what’s to come, there is no way on this earth she’s going to show it.

****

Tall, thin, and precisely correct in every point except for the little mottled furry dog that flings itself around her feet, the headmistress greets Miss Lennox and sends a maid to direct her to her room. The footman, she tells her, will follow with the trunks. She allows a pause for tearful goodbyes; there are, of course, none.

****

“I’m Lottie,” says Mary’s new roommate, with a friendly smile. She’s plumpish and bright-eyed, and wears her hair in two long pigtailed curls. “My father’s Lord Wiscombe.”

“I am Mary Lennox. My father was Captain Lennox,” Mary says, “in India.” She adds this last part out of a recollection that it had a good effect on Colin. She can talk about India; she knows how to do that.

Lottie, however, apparently lacks Colin’s interest in the foreign. Instead, “Anne Tatham used to have your bed,” she announces. “She fell ill with the pneumonia so she had to go home, but we’re going to write each other every day, without fail. We sincerely swore it. We’re bosom friends – like sisters. I shall miss her dreadfully.”

While Lottie talks, two footmen enter with the trunks and set them down next to the bed. Neither girl pays them the least attention.

Mary has the feeling she’s expected to say something. “My best friend is Dickon,” she volunteers.

Lottie blinks. “What a peculiar name. Who are his parents?”

“It’s a Yorkshire name,” Mary says, stiffly. “His mother’s name is Susan Sowerby.” She doesn’t know Dickon’s father’s name; she’s never asked.

“Oh,” Lottie says, after a moment to assimilate. It’s a very telling ‘oh’.

It’s best to set matters straight at the outset.

Mary looks at Lottie and says, with perfect matter-of-factness, “You ought to know that if you say a word about Dickon, I’ll bite your nose off.”

She gets some satisfaction out of seeing Lottie's eyes widen before she turns around and starts to unpack.
mistressmaryquitecontrary: (hmphmary)
Mary doesn't notice anything particularly unusual until she goes to use the chamber pot; although she's startled (as who wouldn't be?) it doesn't take her more than a few moments to figure out what's happened. She's read about the event, after all, though she had never quite imagined it happening to her, except in the vague hope that it would take a great deal of time about coming.

It seems a horrible inconvenience, and also her stomach hurts.

There's a certain temptation to rage and storm, or at least stomp into one of the abandoned rooms of the manor to sulk. But this will not fix the immediate problem. It's Martha's day off, so she can't ask her. She would die before asking Mrs. Medlock. As for the methods she's read about which girls of the future use, they're certainly not available in Yorkshire.

Instead, after a few moments of thought, she gets out a liberty bodice that has grown of late far too tight - which ought, she thinks grumpily, to have made her start preparing - and starts cutting it carefully to pieces with her knife. It's made out of thick knitted cotton; it will serve, she supposes.

Once she's got her combinations, her petticoats, her blouse and dress and coat all on, no one would know the least thing, except to mark that Miss Mary looks rather more cross than usual.

And to think she's got three to seven days of this before it stops!
mistressmaryquitecontrary: (secretgardenmary)
If Ben Weatherstaff thinks it strange to see a young blonde woman following Mary Lennox through the garden paths, he grumps and keeps it to himself, as he has many other strange things he's seen over the years (although with rather more frequency since Miss Mary came to live at Misselthwaite.)

Mary herself marches with purpose until they reach the secret door, but she opens it softly, and her steps become gentler, too, once she enters the garden.

"Here it is."
mistressmaryquitecontrary: (secretmary)
Mary Lennox sits cross-legged on a stone in her garden, survey book open on her lap. She's tapping a pencil on the ground, thoughtfully, as she reads over the answers.

She's still nowhere near the end of her List, and she's got more people to ask who aren't on it, and nobody's responses are the same.

It really is all awfully confusing.
mistressmaryquitecontrary: (Default)
What's the worst thing someone could do?
Break a promise - or say things that are not true. Lying. Especially lying to pretend to be kind when really you are going to hurt people; that is the worst.

What's the worst thing someone could do to you?
Turn me into a rock Bespell me to think things that are not true. And do things I would not do. And break my promises.

What's the worst thing that could happen to you?
Having to work for the Dark, in India. And not be able to have a garden. Or to see any of my friends. Or to learn anything that is interesting and new, but only be bored all the time.

What's the worst thing someone could say about a person?
That they lied when they did not.

What's the best thing someone could say about a person?
That they are Magic. Dickon's Magic, not like all the other kinds of Magic. But like Dickon.

Or that they are your friend.

Are men and women basically different?
. . . yes. They have different parts. If they were the same there would not be different words.

Which is better, to be a woman or to be a man?
They let boys do more things. But that only matters if you let it. I am not going to.

What can men do that women can't do?
Use the toilet standing up. Although I suppose girls could if they really tried.

What can women do that men can't do?
Grow babies in their wombs. And sing very high.

Is it possible to change genders?
It is in the future. I do not know if it is now.

How old is old enough to have sex?
You can do it once you have started bleeding. I do not know why you really would want to, though.

Is it wrong to have sex if you're unmarried?
You have to be careful about it because you could catch diseases or get pregnant and things.

Is it wrong to have sex with someone other than your spouse if you're married?
It is breaking a promise. When you get married you are promising not to have sex with anyone else, so if you do, it is breaking a promise and that is wrong.

Is it wrong to have sex with a person of the same gender?
It seems awfully silly but the book I have says that people do it in the future.

Is it wrong to have sex with a person of a different race (or a different intelligent non-human species)?
You ought not to marry natives. And it does not seem to make much sense to have sex with people of different specieses. The parts would not fit.

Is it wrong to have more than one sexual partner at the same time?
It would be awfully complicated.

Is it wrong to have sex with someone you don't love?
Lots of people marry people they do not love, and then they have to have sex. And people have sex with Companions and they do not love them.

What are the responsibilities of a mother toward a child?
I do not know. I suppose you ought not to have them if you do not want them. Unless you are married and you have to.

What are the responsibilities of a father toward a child?
If you are not going to care about them you ought at least to make sure you are not getting stupid people to look after them.

What are the responsibilities of a child toward a parent?
You have to say the rites when they are dead or they will become pisachas.

Which should be more important to you, your parent or your child?
Children are not supposed to have to take care of parents. Parents can take care of themselves. So can children, but not when they are only babies.

Which should be more important to you, your parent or your spouse?
I suppose it depends who you like more. But you have to live with the person you are married to.

Which should be more important to you, your child or your spouse?
Most people like the people they are married to better than they like their children. I expect because they could choose them. But some people do not like the people they are married to and then it is their children.

Is it wrong to have a child if you're unmarried?
I do not know why you would want to.

Is abortion wrong?
My book says it is awfully dangerous if you do it wrong.

Is contraception wrong?
It is stupid to have children if you do not want.

Is there one true religion?
I have met lots of gods, so there must be lots.

Does a deity or deities exist?
. . . yes. I have met lots.

How important is it to believe in a deity or deities?
It is stupid not to believe in things that are true.

How important is it to actively practice your religion?
I do not suppose the gods much care.

Does magic exist?
Of course.

Is practicing magic wrong?
No!

Is killing always wrong?
No. If bad people are dead they cannot hurt anyone anymore.

Is war always wrong?
You have to fight against bad people. And sometimes you have to fight against the natives for their own good.

How old is old enough to fight in a war?
Ingress is learning to fight, and she is only seven.

Is rape always wrong?
It is hurting people for no reason or because you are stupid and selfish and that is always wrong. If you really want to have sex you ought just to pay somebody.

Is torture always wrong?
It is wrong to hurt people, I suppose.

Is theft always wrong?
I know lots of people who have stolen things - like pirates - and most of them are not bad, so I do not expect it is. But you ought not to steal things people really care about, or that they really need. Stealing money from people who have lots of it is different.

Is slavery wrong?
We do not have slaves in England anymore. We got rid of them before America did because America is very new and slow.

(Note: Mary is thinking about slavery in a very stereotypical ball-and-chain way here. That being said, I really doubt that the servants in India had a whole lot of freedom, and I also really doubt that even now Mary would much care.)

Is lying wrong?
Yes.

Is swearing wrong?
No. It is only words.
mistressmaryquitecontrary: (quietlyproudmary)
It's been a fairly pleasant evening in the bar with her book, and Mary is trotting back to the greenhouse in the dark, the remnants of a milkshake moustache on her upper lip and her complete Shakespeare tucked under her arm.

She's hurrying, a little - it's cold - but only a little; the stars are reflecting off the lake, and it really is all awfully pretty.
mistressmaryquitecontrary: (protectivemary)
Mary is sneaking through the hallways of Mistlethwaite Manor.

Mary is sneaking through the hallways like she hasn't had to do in quite some time - and sharp eyes might notice that her stomach is . . . oddly puffy.

Also, squirming.


Colin's door is open, but Mary closes it behind her when she enters. One hand still on her stomach.
mistressmaryquitecontrary: (reflectionmary)
She is beautifully dressed, as always, in the height of fashion; he is impeccable in his dress uniform.

They stroll slowly, arm in arm - lacy parasol tipped over her shoulder, cap jauntily set on his forehead, broad-brimmed hat protecting her white skin. (One doesn't go out without one's hat.) He is smiling, but her brow is set in a slight frown.

Mary opens her eyes, and looks at them.

They slow as they pass her, and the woman turns to the man, slight lines in her brow deepening. "Dear," she asks him, "what are we doing here?"

"I think," Mary says, "that you are ghosts."

They don't listen, of course; don't even look her way, though the woman makes a slight gesture in her direction, as if to say hush, or the adults are talking, or where is your Ayah?

"Lilias sent that letter," the man says, and starts rummaging around in his pockets. "I've got it somewhere around here - something we ought to see, or take care of -"

"I can't think what she meant," the woman says, her voice full of puzzlement. She glances around - takes in Mary, the bar, the fireplace, and then shrugs, elegantly, white-gloved hands spread in a helpless gesture.

"Don't fret yourself about it," the man says, soothingly, and pats her arm. "If it was anything pressing, I'm sure we should have heard."

"Lilias has such strange ideas sometimes," the woman says, with a sigh. "Likely there's a rosebush around here somewhere that she thinks is pretty, or some other nonsense." She shrugs again; adjusts her parasol, and turns to smile up at her companion. "We should be going; we'll be late for our Engagement, otherwise."

Mary watches her parents as they take delicate, proper steps away from her, headed back the way they came. Absently, she envisions their Engagement - angels in white dresses, all of them the very height of fashion, playing the pianoforte to polite applause while dead souls stroll around and gossip about who is flirting with whom . . .

Just before they reach the door, her mother turns and bestows an absent smile on her.

"Be good for your uncle," she says - and before Mary can explain, patiently, that her uncle will not know whether she has been good or not, they're both gone.


Mary doesn't regard the spot where they were for another moment; doesn't sit up and think. She just closes her eyes again, and lays her head down, perfectly peaceful.

She'll remember the dream in the morning. But it won't much matter to her, one way or the other.

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January 2012

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