Mairim was always the virgin. Her ‘no sex’ policy was cataclysmically Catholic, and the only thing remotely Catholic about her views, its genesis being a mystery to me. There was nothing wrong was her life of seclusion, aside possibly from the fact that her estate deserved more attention than that of a Lady and her servants, the few of them there were, but there was a part of me that was concerned for Mairim’s lack of desire. She had always been a temperate squib, but to put herself out of display when everything around her was the best of a display (surely if one has the money, one should proclaim it so?)...it was close to madness.
Our lives had been that way since birth. I, the elder, willed myself to flirt into the company of others, be they necessary to my advancement of not. I liked to talk; Mairim liked to play dumb. When we were teenagers, we had the most of differences. Mairim became slowly introverted to an extreme where she would spend hours staring into her thoughts, fingers interlocking with their air. On the other hand, I began to shine. First, there was the captaincy of the Lacrosse team, next the chance at being Head Girl. Naturally, I declined. It wouldn’t be appropriate to be seen to have achieved the post through relations; though he cared not for the title he would soon inherit, I doubted that the school would be proud to display the fact that the Head Students were shagging.
I remember once upon a time, when Mairim had spouted long sentences of what she thought was elegant English. As soon as she entered that school, however... It was as if the one trigger of change in her life had sent a silence to consume her. From that moment on, she could be found in the library, her head deep in some Philosophy book.
Of course, it went on to prove the right move for her. Her studies of the sky and of the frantic desires of the human minds were possibly what she was known for, far more than the title she had inherited when she had turned eighteen. Despite my follies, I had already joined union with someone who I knew would do better for me, money-wise, than I would for him. Not a former Head Boy, nor a politician, he simply lived as proud Lord, rather like I supposed I would soon be, even without marrying him. I had considered a life of leisure already definite. And so the conditional clause of my mother’s will was my downfall: the remaining estate of Lady DeStanlia to go to her daughters equally after their eighteenth birthday; should one marry into lineage before the time of death, the estate shall go to the bachelorette; should both marry: the estate shall be split in a way befitting, that those less well-off should gain the most.
My mother was always picky with her rules; it was always my opinion (duly rejected by Geoffrey, my beloved) that my mother had altered the will on learning of my engagement; her joy being placed with that of silent Mairim, and her success in education.
Mairim also liked to travel. It was patronage and ‘missionarianism’ that mother’s brother, newly Marquised, said began the trail of Mairim’s illnesses. It was overwork and being out in those dastardly poor countries. It was the change in weather, the excuses for meals. Never did he remark the obvious: it was fate, her penitence for taking the birth-right that was mine. As a matter of course, I never wanted my sister to fall so ill that she was on her deathbed by the time she turned thirty-eight...but there was some pleasure inside me that rejoiced in the fact of her demise. It would have meant, I had always assumed, that I would have gained the final piece of my inheritance.
Well, imagine my shock, when I was presented with merely words and those material flashes of a title! ‘Short-changed’ might not cut into the deep fury that resided over me those weeks after Mairim’s funeral. Yet, there was something more, another piece that lingered over my mind, followed up with headache after headache.
I didn’t think that my sister told me everything. I would have, however, thought that she would consider me a confidante in any important motion of her life. Mairim was always meant to be the virgin. So how could she have a child, mysteriously concealed from us all when she had been a part of society’s eyes for so very long? And what gave either of them the right to take away the estate which so naturally belonged to me?