Yet even with my dashed expectations at the final ball, and my disappointment in Tom's leaving, I take heart in knowing that our initial banter had grown to include some measure of substance. Enough substance that a future together is more than just a girlish inkling or a plot in a story.

And my expectations are recognized beyond my own hopeful wishes. My brother Henry's friend, who was here to visit over Christmas, presented me with a portrait of Tom, drawn by his own hand, assuming, of course, that I would delight in it. Which I do. I hold on to that portrait, as it is the only Tom I have seen during these ten long months he has been gone. I expect him to visit our home in Steventon soon, with the proposition to share our future forthcoming. He will go far, my Tom, and I will be a good wife.

I think of him, the oldest boy, the eldest son of twelve children, with five older sisters. ...

Five older sisters ... all in want of a husband.

Female names interrupt my thoughts of Tom, listing themselves as though they are real and have but to make my acquaintance: Elizabeth, Jane, Mary, Lydia, and Catherine—no, Kitty. ... I nod, accepting their introduction, for each seems just right.

Five girls, each in want of a husband. Is this how I can dislodge my story from its hard-fought first line? I will begin with the sisters discussing their lot, chattering over the need for a gentleman who is, of course, in need of them. ...

It is as good a place as any to begin. At a beginning.

Excerpted from:  Just Jane by Nancy Moser. Copyright © 2007; ISBN 9780764203565. Published by Bethany House Publishers. Used by permission. Unauthorized duplication prohibited.