One of the ways Character and Manners were taught in the 19th century was through the use of stories. The paragraphs below come from Pencil Sketches: or outlines of character and manners © 1835 by Eliza Leslie
JOHN W. ROBERTSON
A TALE OF A CENT.
Some there be that shadows kiss.—Shakespeare.
Selina Mansel was only sixteen when she took charge of her father's house and entered on the arduous task of doing as she pleased: provided always that she duly attended to his chief injunction, never to allow herself to incur a debt, however trifling, and to purchase nothing that she could not pay for on the spot. To the observance of this rule, which he had laid down for himself in early life, Mr. Mansel attributed all his success in business, and his ability to retire at the age of fifty with a handsome competence.
Since the death of his wife, Mr. Mansel's sister had presided over his family, and had taken much interest in instructing Selina in what she justly termed the most useful part of a woman's education, Such was Miss Eleanor Mansel's devotion to her brother and his daughter, that she had hesitated for twelve years about returning an intelligible answer to the love-letters which she received quarterly from Mr. Waitstill Wonderly, a gentleman whose dwelling-place was in the far, far east. Every two years this paragon of patience came in person: his home being at a distance of several hundred miles, and his habits by no means so itinerant as those of the generality of his countrymen.
On his sixth avatar, Miss Mansel consented to reward with her hand the constancy of her inamorato; as Selina had, within the last twelvemonth, made up two pieces of linen for her father, prepared the annual quantity of pickles and preserves, and superintended two house-cleanings, all herself—thus giving proof positive that she was fully competent to succeed her aunt Eleanor as mistress of the establishment.
Selina Mansel was a very good and a very pretty girl. Though living in a large and flourishing provincial town, which we shall denominate Somerford, she had been brought up in comparative retirement, and had scarcely yet begun to go into company, as it is called. Her understanding was naturally excellent; but she was timid, sensitive, easily disconcerted, and likely to appear to considerable disadvantage in any situation that was the least embarrassing.
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