'How pleasant it is to spend an evening in this way! I declare that after all there is no enjoyment like reading! How much sooner one tires of any thing than of a book! — When I have a house of my own, I shall be miserable if I have not an excellent library.' No one made any reply. She then yawned again, threw aside her book, and cast her eyes round the room in quest of some amusement. — from Pride and Prejudice, by Jane Austen (1775-1817)
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June 4, 2013

The gentle art of undomesticity



      'No choice!' Mrs. Morris' scornful laugh ran out. 'You want to think of yourself a bit more, Miss Lathbury, if you don't mind me saying so. You've done too much for Father Malory and so has Miss Winifred and in the end you both get left, if you'll excuse me putting it so plainly.'
      'Yes, I suppose you're right,' I said, smiling, for really she was right. It was not the excellent women who got married but people like Allegra Gray, who was no good at sewing, and Helena Napier, who left all the washing up.  'I can't change now. I'm afraid it's too late.' I felt it would not sound very convincing if I said I hadn't really wanted to marry Julian Malory. I was obviously regarded in the parish as the chief of the rejected ones and I must fill the position with as much dignity as I could.
      'You're not bad-looking,' said Mrs. Malory quickly and then looked shocked, as if she had gone too far. She bent down, unhooked the bag from the Hoover and shook out a great mound of dust on to a newspaper. 'Things happen, even at the last minute,' she said mysteriously. 'Not that you'd want to marry a man who'd been divorced. Too much of this old divorce, there is,' she muttered, going out into the kitchen with the bundle of dust. I heard her say there was a drop of milk in the jug that would do for my tea.
      She left me feeling a little shaken, almost as if I really had failed in some kind of duty and must take immediate action to make up for it. I must go to Julian and not do things for him and then he might reject Allegra and marry me. As for Rocky, in his cottage surrounded by nettles, perhaps it did not matter how much I did for him since he could never be regarded as a possible husband.

from Excellent Women, by Barbara Pym

 

1 comment:

Cosy Books said...

'chief of the neglected ones'...oh, that is too funny.

It's a wonder ladies had time to do anything at all apart from preparing tea, baking cakes, and making a suitable match!

Thank you for visiting!

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