Shirley HTML version
Mademoiselle Moore had that morning a somewhat absent minded pupil.
Caroline forgot, again and again, the explanations which were given to her.
However, she still bore with unclouded mood the chidings her inattention brought
upon her. Sitting in the sunshine near the window, she seemed to receive with its
warmth a kind influence, which made her both happy and good. Thus disposed,
she looked her best, and her best was a pleasing vision.
To her had not been denied the gift of beauty. It was not absolutely necessary to
know her in order to like her; she was fair enough to please, even at the first
view. Her shape suited her age: it was girlish, light, and pliant; every curve was
neat, every limb proportionate; her face was expressive and gentle; her eyes
were handsome, and gifted at times with a winning beam that stole into the heart,
with a language that spoke softly to the affections. Her mouth was very pretty;
she had a delicate skin, and a fine flow of brown hair, which she knew how to
arrange with taste; curls became her, and she possessed them in picturesque
profusion. Her style of dress announced taste in the wearer - very unobtrusive in
fashion, far from costly in material, but suitable in colour to the fair complexion
with which it contrasted, and in make to the slight form which it draped. Her
present winter garb was of merino - the same soft shade of brown as her hair;
the little collar round her neck lay over a pink ribbon, and was fastened with a
pink knot She wore no other decoration.
So much for Caroline Helstone's appearance. As to her character or intellect, if
she had any, they must speak for themselves in due time.
Her connections are soon explained. She was the child of parents separated
soon after her birth, in consequence of disagreement of disposition. Her mother
was the half-sister of Mr. Moore's father; thus, though there was no mixture of
blood, she was, in a distant sense, the cousin of Robert, Louis, and Hortense.
Her father was the brother of Mr. Helstone - a man of the character friends desire
not to recall, after death has once settled all earthly accounts. He had rendered
his wife unhappy. The reports which were known to be true concerning him had
given an air of probability to those which were falsely circulated respecting his
better principled brother. Caroline had never known her mother, as she was
taken from her in infancy, and had not since seen her; her father died
comparatively young, and her uncle, the rector, had for some years been her
sole guardian. He was not, as we are aware, much adapted, either by nature or
habits, to have the charge of a young girl He had taken little trouble about her
education; probably he would have taken none if she, finding herself neglected,
had not grown anxious on her own account, and asked, every now and then, for
a little attention, and for the means of acquiring such amount of knowledge as
could not be dispensed with. Still, she had a depressing feeling that she was
inferior, that her attainments were fewer than were usually possessed by girls of
her age and station; and very glad was she to avail herself of the kind offer made
by her cousin Hortense, soon after the arrival of the latter at Hollow's Mill, to
teach her French and fine needlework. Mlle. Moore, for her part, delighted in the