At fifteen, appearances were mending; she began to curl her hair
and long for balls; her complexion improved, her features were
softened by plumpness and colour, her eyes gained more
animation, and her figure more consequence. Her love of
dirt gave way to an inclination for finery, and she grew
clean as she grew smart; she had now the pleasure of
sometimes hearing her father and mother remark on
her personal improvement.
‘Catherine grows quite a good-looking girl — she is almost
pretty today,’ were words which caught her ears now and
then; and how welcome were the sounds! To look almost
pretty is an acquisition of higher delight to a girl who has
been looking plain the first fifteen years of her life than a
beauty from her cradle can ever receive.
Mrs. Morland was a very good woman, and wished to
see her children everything they ought to be; but her time
was so much occupied in lying-in and teaching the little
ones, that her elder daughters were inevitably left to shift for
themselves; and it was not very wonderful that Catherine,
who had by nature nothing heroic about her, should prefer
cricket, baseball, riding on horseback, and running about
the country at the age of fourteen, to books — or at least books
of information — for, provided that nothing like useful knowledge
could be gained from them, provided they were all story and no
reflection, she had never any objection to books at all.
But from fifteen to seventeen she was in
training for a heroine; she read all such works as heroines
must read to supply their memories with those quotations
which are so serviceable and so soothing in the vicissitudes
of their eventful lives.
And that a young woman in love always looks —
“like Patience on a monument
“Smiling at Grief.’
So far her improvement was sufficient — and in many
other points she came on exceedingly well; for though she
could not write sonnets, she brought herself to read them.
To be continued
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