Join date: Jun 15, 2022


She sat before the mirror and unpinned her hair and the two dark, shining plaits fell down over her shoulders and almost to her waist. As her fingers undid each twist the hair seemed to spring into a life of its own and when, taking a brush, she stroked it from the crown down to its ends it covered her like a cloak

The brush poised to the side of her face, she stared at herself in the mirror. It was a waste on her; it should have been doled out to some pretty woman and it would have made her beautiful, whereas on her head it only seemed to emphasize the plainness of her features. She leant forward and stared at her reflection. How was it that two eyes, a nose, and a mouth could transform one face into attractiveness while leaving another desolate of any appeal? She was not misshapen in any way, yet look at her. She dressed well, she had a taste for dress, she knew the right things to wear but the impression they afforded stopped at her neck. She had even resorted to the artifice of toilet powder, and in secret had applied rouge to her lips and cheeks with the result that she looked nothing better, she imagined, than a street woman.

She rose and glanced towards the bed. Were she to go to bed now she wouldn’t sleep. She couldn’t read in bed at all. This was the outcome, she supposed, of being taught to read while sitting in a straight-backed chair. Her father had enforced this rule and the teachers at the school to which her mother had sent her were of a like mind too. When she was young her idea of heaven had been to curl up on the rug before the fire and read a book, but when finally she had returned home from school she had found no pleasure in this form of relaxation.

She decided to go down to the drawing-room and play the piano for a while. This often had the power to soothe her nerves. Then she would take a bath, after which she might get to sleep without thinking.

It was as she was crossing the hall that she noticed the local paper neatly folded, together with a magazine, lying on a salver on the side table. She picked up both and went on into the drawing-room. But before laying them down she glanced at the news papers headlines: Shields Family Lost at Sea.


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