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The Dorcas Society
Answer :

If there were twelve ladies in all, there would be 132 kisses among the ladies alone, leaving twelve more to be exchanged with the curate—six to be given by him and six to be received. 
Therefore, of the twelve ladies, six would be his sisters. 
Consequently, if twelve could do the work in four and a half months, six ladies would do it in twice the time—four and a half months longer—which is the correct answer.

At first sight there might appear to be some ambiguity about the words, "Everybody kissed everybody else, except, of course, the bashful young man himself." 
Might this not be held to imply that all the ladies immodestly kissed the curate, although they were not (except the sisters) kissed by him in return? 
No; because, in that case, it would be found that there must have been twelve girls, not one of whom was a sister, which is contrary to the conditions. 
If, again, it should be held that the sisters might not, according to the wording, have kissed their brother, although he kissed them, I reply that in that case there must have been twelve girls, all of whom must have been his sisters. 
And the reference to the ladies who might have worked exclusively of the sisters shuts out the possibility of this.

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