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In Bleak House Charles Dickens introduces several young ladies with a striking verve. For example, in Chapter 4 ("Telescopic Philanthropy") we meet Caddy Jellyby:

But what principally struck us was a jaded and unhealthy-looking though by no means plain girl at the writing-table, who sat biting the feather of her pen and staring at us. I suppose nobody ever was in such a state of ink. And from her tumbled hair to her pretty feet, which were disfigured with frayed and broken satin slippers trodden down at heel, she really seemed to have no article of dress upon her, from a pin upwards, that was in its proper condition or its right place.

In Chapter 15 ("Bell Yard") Charley (Charlotte) Coavinses appears:

We were looking at one another and at these two children when there came into the room a very little girl, childish in figure but shrewd and older-looking in the face — pretty-faced too — wearing a womanly sort of bonnet much too large for her and drying her bare arms on a womanly sort of apron. Her fingers were white and wrinkled with washing, and the soap-suds were yet smoking which she wiped off her arms. But for this, she might have been a child playing at washing and imitating a poor working-woman with a quick observation of the truth.

She had come running from some place in the neighbourhood and had made all the haste she could. Consequently, though she was very light, she was out of breath and could not speak at first, as she stood panting, and wiping her arms, and looking quietly at us.

And my favorite image, in Chapter 43 ("Esther's Narrative"):

A slatternly full-blown girl who seemed to be bursting out at the rents in her gown and the cracks in her shoes like an over-ripe berry answered our knock by opening the door a very little way and stopping up the gap with her figure. As she knew Mr. Jarndyce (indeed Ada and I both thought that she evidently associated him with the receipt of her wages), she immediately relented and allowed us to pass in. The lock of the door being in a disabled condition, she then applied herself to securing it with the chain, which was not in good action either, and said would we go upstairs?

(cf. JohnJarndyce (15 Jul 2007), HaroldSkimpole (22 Jul 2007), LawrenceBoythorn (9 Aug 2007), ...)

TopicLiterature - Datetag20070903

(correlates: LawrenceBoythorn, JohnJarndyce, EstherSummerson, ...)