Elinor laughed at that, turning to share amusement with the Austen ladies. "I'm far past the age for mistletoe kisses, I fear."
Miss Jane cocked her head. "That seems a shame, for we must be older still."
"Do you not know that tradition?"
"Oh, sister," said Miss Austen, as if uncomfortable with the subject.
"Cassandra doesn't approve," Miss Jane said, smiling. "She thinks it has a touch of pagan magic about it. Local tradition says that if true lovers kiss beneath a mistletoe bough, they will instantly know their devotion."
"It sounds a little pagan to me, too, Miss Jane," Elinor said, but lightly. "And perhaps overly romantical."
"If by romantical you speak of men and women forming true matches based on love, does that not happen all the time?"
Maria spoke, with the disastrous honesty of a young child. "Did you never find your true love through the mistletoe bough, ma'am?"
"Maria!" Elinor chided, but Miss Austen replied.
"I did, my dear, but it was not to be. However, to experience true love is better than not, and one can always imagine a story with a different ending."