Gentle Julia (Chapter One, page 1 of 18)


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Superciliousness is not safe after all, because a person who forms the habit of wearing it may some day find his lower lip grown permanently projected beyond the upper, so that he can't get it back, and must go through life looking like the King of Spain. This was once foretold as a probable culmination of Florence Atwater's still plastic profile, if Florence didn't change her way of thinking; and upon Florence's remarking dreamily that the King of Spain was an awf'ly han'some man, her mother retorted: "But not for a girl!" She meant, of course, that a girl who looked too much like the King of Spain would not be handsome, but her daughter decided to misunderstand her.

"Why, mamma, he's my Very Ideal! I'd marry him to-morrow!"

Mrs. Atwater paused in her darning, and let the stocking collapse flaccidly into the work-basket in her lap. "Not at barely thirteen, would you?" she said. "It seems to me you're just a shade too young to be marrying a man who's already got a wife and several children. Where did you pick up that 'I'd-marry-him-to-morrow,' Florence?"

"Oh, I hear that everywhere!" returned the damsel, lightly. "Everybody says things like that. I heard Aunt Julia say it. I heard Kitty Silver say it."

"About the King of Spain?" Mrs. Atwater inquired.

"I don't know who they were saying it about," said Florence, "but they were saying it. I don't mean they were saying it together; I heard one say it one time and the other say it some other time. I think Kitty Silver was saying it about some coloured man. She proba'ly wouldn't want to marry any white man; at least I don't expect she would. She's been married to a couple of coloured men, anyhow; and she was married twice to one of 'em, and the other one died in between. Anyhow, that's what she told me. She weighed over two hunderd pounds the first time she was married, and she weighed over two hunderd-and-seventy the last time she was married to the first one over again, but she says she don't know how much she weighed when she was married to the one in between. She says she never got weighed all the time she was married to that one. Did Kitty Silver ever tell you that, mamma?"

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