The pity of it is that I am so ignorant about some things. If I had been allowed to read novels, I might (judging by what papa said against them in one of his sermons) have felt sure of my own attractions; I might even have understood what Philip really thought of me. However, my mind was quite unexpectedly set at ease on the subject of my figure. The manner in which it happened was so amusing--at least, so amusing to me--that I cannot resist mentioning it.
My sister and I are forbidden to read newspapers, as well as novels. But the teachers at the girls' Scripture class are too old to be treated in this way. When the morning lessons were over, one of them was reading the newspaperto the other, in the empty school-room; I being in the passage outside, putting on my cloak.
It was a report of "an application made to the magistrates by the lady of his worship the mayor." Hearing this, I stopped to listen. The lady of his worship (what a funny way of describing a man's wife!) is reported to be a little too fond of notoriety, and to like hearing the sound of her own voice on public occasions. But this is only my writing; I had better get back to the report. "In her address to the magistrates, the mayoress stated that she had seen a disgusting photograph in the shop window of a stationer, lately established in the town. She desired to bring this person within reach of the law, and to have all his copies of the shameless photograph destroyed. The usher of the court was thereupon sent to purchase the photograph." On second thoughts, I prefer going back to my own writing; it is so uninteresting to copy other peoples' writing. Two of the magistrates were doing justice. They looked at the photograph--and what did it represent? The famous statue called the Venus de Medici! One of the magistrates took this discovery indignantly. He was shocked at the gross ignorance which would call the classic ideal of beauty and grace a disgusting work. The other one made polite allowances. He thought the lady was much to be pitied; she was evidently the innocent victim of a neglected education. Mrs. Mayor left the court in a rage, telling the justices she knew where to get law. "I shall expose Venus," she said, "to the lord chancellor."
When the Scripture class had broken up for the day, duty ought to have taken me home. Curiosity led me astray--I mean, led me to the stationer's window.