My resolve to shutter my emotions stood me in good stead over the next few years. Outwardly I showed nothing, and in a surprisingly short time, I began to feel nothing inwardly as well.

At seventeen Penelope presented me to the slavering masses of the London beau monde, as a "suitable marriage prize", a "strong young woman to breed healthy heirs". I knew nothing of polite society, but somehow muddled through a dozen calls and musicales by keeping my mouth shut and maintaining a dignified air. In truth, I was too scared to speak or make any sudden movements.

An offer of marriage was presented to my guardians, and accepted, before I even became used to the social scene. His Grace, the Duke of Holcroft, a seemingly feeble old man, bought me from my uncle and Penelope I later learned, for the sum of ten thousand pounds. With his purchase he gained a brood mare (me), and an inheritance of Clydeswalk Manour (my only unentailed estate) and my annual income of four thousand pounds. I did not learn this until much later. All in all, I was a fairly cheap bride, and he never let me forget it. I married the Duke five months shy of my eighteenth birthday. I would never mistake age for infirmity and frailty again.

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