‘Tis been quite a year for us here in our small town of Sandy Balls. And to think, a year ago, I despaired of my daughters Arabella and Lavinia finding husbands and worried my darling Didimus would never take a bride. As for me, well, I was sure I’d live out the rest of my years here at Cinnabon, dedicated to the memory of my dear departed Humphrey. Though I’d vow it never happens, it must be acknowledged, in these assumptions, I was mistaken.

I must state my fear that Arabella would remain a spinster was understandable. The girl is such a, dare I say, bluestocking. If she’s read a single volume from our library while draping herself artfully over the yellow floral silk covered chaise lounge, she’s read them all. A man finds nothing less attractive than an overly educated female. My dear departed Humphrey often told me he loved nothing in me so much as the sweet simplicity of my thoughts. It must be said that Arabella’s overactive mind is paired with curls of guinea gold and eyes the color of cloudless summer day. I have often said that while a fair countenance is not enough to discount unladylike behavior, it is indeed a boon. I surmise Arabella’s exceptional visage caught the attention of Lord Hardmeet when the man came to Cinnabon in order to collect a steed he’d won from Didimus. The horse, Neighway, nipped Lord Hardmeet’s hand–I believe it mistook his finger for a carrot–and the resulting injury became infected. As Lord Hardmeet recuperated, he and Arabella quarreled incessantly although the poultice she prepared for his bite was most efficacious. No one was more shocked than I when, two weeks into his stay, the two were discovered alone together in the library, Arabella clad only in a pale virginal nightgown. Despite Arabella’s explanation of only having gone to the library for the second volume of Utopia, there was nothing for it but for them to wed immediately. They have retired to the Lord Hardmeet’s estate of Worst Park where they are arguing still, currently over what to name their first-born child.

Lavinia too is married. I give thanks to our Maker for her wedded state every time I attend services at The Fair Shepherd. I have often said a large income is the finest balm for a broken heart. Lavinia’s union with the Duke of Wellendowd proves me right. Wellendowd was an unlikely candidate for matrimony. His rakish enterprises were the talk of London–it’s said he once engaged in amorous conduct in a retiring room at Almack’s with Lady Cocksworth! And the unsavory circumstance by which he came into our lives promised naught but heartache for the Breakwynd family. You see, my darling Didimus had, in a low moment brought on by too much geneva, gambled away the family fortune by losing at a game of faro to Wellendowd on Boxing Day. I still get palpitations of the heart when I give the matter any thought. Wellendowd came to Cinnabon to collect his winnings on the first day of the year. But, once he arrived, his true desire revealed itself to be Lavinia whom he’d seen at the funeral of his cousin, Corin Powell, Lavinia’s childhood sweetheart. Lavinia had sworn never to love again after Corin died after being attacked by a skulk of rabid foxes. The Duke offered to forgo collecting his winnings in exchange for Lavinia’s hand in marriage. Knowing that were she to marry Wellendowd, our family would be saved from a life of too few servants and limited new wardrobes, Lavinia accepted his offer. And though she was sure she’d never give her heart to another man, she and the Duke appear quite happy. When I asked her the reason for her joy in their union, she said that the Duke’s staff was as large as his fortune.

Didimus has finally embraced matrimony. He’s wed Horatia Quimley, the daughter of Lord Rantipole. Horatia is a striking girl although I worry her fiery red curls are the mark of an overly tempestuous nature. I’ve not yet ferreted out the exact nature of their courtship although I did overhear Wellendowd ask Didi if it was true Horatia had bested him in the Shitsbrooke Run but surely that’s a fiction for a lady only rides for pleasure, never for a purse. It is my hope that within the deep peace of the marital clasp, Didi will forget the lure of the gaming tables and attend to those matters that require his attention as the Lord of Breakwynd.

As for myself, I too have found some unexpected joy this year. In the five years since my dear Humphrey died suddenly from apoplexy after seeing Madame Odette’s millinery bill, I’ve lived sedately, enjoying the solitude that comes with widowhood. However, last February I began to suffer from malaise and thus sought treatment from a heralded physician in London. Dr. Capsheaf studied in France and believes strongly in the use of the induced paroxysm as an effective antidote for feminine melancholy. After two months of thrice weekly treatments administered by Dr. Capsheaf I found myself much restored. Dr. Capsheaf has agreed to an indefinite course of this remedy. I now reside in our London Mayfair home where I am redecorating every room in the Oriental style.

Respectfully,

Lady Araminta Breakwynd