The Two Proposals

So this is a little oneshot I wrote about Mary, and hopefully she's not too OOC. Anyway, I hope you enjoy reading this story :)

DISCLAIMER: The wonderful Jane Austen owns all to do with Pride and Prejudice.

Mary Bennet simply did not understand how she, the one often thought of as 'the plain Bennet sister' had received not one, but two marriage proposals. It seemed like a blessing and a curse mixed together. She had been seriously thinking about becoming a governess. At least then, her intelligence would be put to good use and she would not have to put a strain on her father in later years. Mary knew he worried about her. Now at least she would not be a burden on her father's finances. He could only manage to give a small dowry, but neither of the men seeking her hand in marriage cared. The first man, James Fairbanks, was only a few years older than Mary. James worked as an accounting clerk. The second was an older gentleman, Lord Edmund Hetherington. Edmund had inherited the family estate after his father had passed away. The men were as different as day and night.

James had a mop of reddish brown curls, warm brown eyes and a thin face with a pointed chin. It was rare not to see him smiling. He was tall and had a lean build.

Edmund had short locks of dark hair, streaked with grey in places. His eyes were a frosty blue and his face was somewhat defined by his angular jaw. Edmund was quite solemn. He towered over Mary, and had a well-built form from his hours of riding and hunting.

Mary had met James while visiting her Aunt, Mrs Gardiner, in London. They had seen each other quite a few times while Mary was out walking with Mrs Gardiner. The first time he had seen Mary, he had simply inclined his head politely and smiled shyly before going on his way. This had gone on for some time, until one day he had come up to her in a bookshop. James had timidly introduced himself to her and recommended a few books that he thought Mary might enjoy reading. He had a mild stutter, which Mary found to be quite endearing. A tentative discussion about books had started between them and had soon evolved into other subjects. They had found that they had quite a lot of shared interests. It had been a joyful experience for Mary, but she had not expected that James would come to call upon her at the Gardiners . From then he became a fond favourite of Aunt Gardiner, who heartily approved of his burgeoning friendship with Mary. James was pleasant. He had a playful side, which Mary liked while he appreciated Mary's quiet solemnity. Where others might see her as overly pious, he did not. When he looked at her, Mary felt like something joyful stir inside of her. She found she could relax more around him, and her smiles became more frequent. After she had left London, she had sent him a letter but he had not responded. Mary had waited for months, but still had received no reply. So when a letter had suddenly come out of the blue Mary had been very surprised. In the letter, James had expressed his love for her, and told her he was coming to visit Longbourne so he could ask for her hand in marriage. Mary should have been elated, but instead she was downhearted. During those months, she had met Edmund and he had proposed to her too...

Edmund had taken quite a different approach to James. His confidence could be taken as arrogance, but Mary did not believe him to be so. She had first met Edmund at a ball held at Pemberley Hall. Mary, who was not fond of balls and thought dancing was a frivolous pursuit, had seated herself firmly in a corner of the ballroom and had expected to stay there all throughout the evening. Unless she was called upon to perform on the piano. Her mother had bullied her into wearing a gown Mary thought most unsuitable. It was similar in fashion to the gowns her younger sisters liked to wear. It made her feel uncomfortable. Her mood was quite dark, by the time Edmund strode over to make her acquaintance. Mary was obliged to introduce herself and had fervently hoped that would be the end of their conversation. He had lingered on and had requested a dance. Mary was caught between resentment, mortification and excitement. Yes, excitement. Despite clearly making known her objections to balls and dancing in general, a part of her had always wondered what it would be like to dance. She had just grown used to not being asked to dance, and that had soured her perceptions of dancing. Now here

Edmund was asking her to dance. A part of her wanted to say yes, but she declined. Mary was not quite sure how she felt about Edmund's character and she was afraid of making a wrong step and embarrassing herself. Edmund had not been deterred by her refusal and had asked again. By Mary's third refusal she had thought he would have given up, but he did not. Then her mother came over and Mary knew she could refuse no longer. Her mother insisted she dance with Edmund and Mary was pleased that she had danced well enough. Edmund had guided her through a small misstep and she had actually enjoyed herself. After the dance had ended, Edmund had escorted her back to her seat, and from then he stayed by her side. They talked, or rather Edmund spoke at great length about himself and his life while Mary listened attentively. To others it might have seemed like boasting, but it seemed to Mary that he was a man with many accomplishments, and she did not mind listening. His life seemed so exciting in comparison to her own. He was very worldly, and had many interesting stories about his experiences. Mary had not expected to see him again, but he had come to stay at Netherfield and from there had been invited to dine at Longbourne by Mary's mother. During his stay at Netherfield he had come to Longbourne frequently, or Mary had been coaxed to visit Netherfield by her mother. Edmund was not fond of reading, he claimed he would rather be outside enjoying the fresh air. He persuaded her to go horse riding with him, and she had always liked taking brisk walks through the countryside, something he also liked to do. They had lively debates, and although their opinions clashed frequently it was quite amusing most of the time. When he gifted her with a beautiful gold brooch, and made clear his intentions towards her it had come as a shock, although she should have been expecting it. Her mother was thrilled and insisted she accept him. Mary was not sure how to feel. Edmund's proposal had seemed more like a business proposition then one made purely out of being in love. They were not in love, but Mary did feel close to him and she did care about him. Yet James still was there in her heart. When Edmund had been called away on urgent business, Mary had a chance to think his proposal over. And then she had gotten James letter.

And so here she was. Edmund was due back any day now, and he would be wanting an answer to his proposal. James would be coming to visit Longbourne too. Mary was still no closer to making her decision. She was sure she could be happy with James, although she still wondered why he had taken so long to write to her. He had made no mention of it in his letter. And a part of her doubted that he was telling the truth. With Edmund, it was clear he was being honest. Edmund and Mary would both benefit from being married. Edmund had dallied with quite a few ladies over the years, but now he was getting older and felt it was his duty to marry, and to not let his family's bloodline die out. He liked Mary, because she was so sensible for her youthful age and she had a sharp mind. She was not a classic beauty, but not unpleasing to the eye. He could be satisfied with that. Yes, Mary knew all these things because he had told her so. With Edmund Mary, and any children she might have with him would live comfortably for the rest of their lives. She would be secure, yet with James she could not be sure of any such security. Life could end up as a struggle to keep afloat of their expenses. Edmund was the safe choice, and James was the risky choice. She could be happy with Edmund too. They got along well enough, yet there was little passion. With James, Mary felt so cherished and she did not think she would feel so with Edmund. And still the burning question remained. Who should she choose?

I don't know if this made much sense but it was just what came to my mind. Thanks for reading (: