And while she walks the path which so often leads to disillusionment in her own life and in the lives of others, her plain-looking sister, reared to face the realities of existence, knowing from an early age that a glance from her eyes or a toss of her curls will not bring her either notice or service, sets about making the best of her surroundings and her opportunities. She learns early the great secret of successful living - to give to others instead of exacting from them, and to treat life generally as something to be coaxed and conquered through work rather than to be squeezed and utilised for pleasure. Who are the Happy Women ?
Not having the great incentive of constant praise and admiration, the plain girl discovers that, though she may not be ornamental, there is a good deal of satisfaction in being useful. Has she any special gifts, she will cultivate them for themselves, not as subsidiaries to her personal attractions; and if she belongs to a class where the earning of her own living is important, she will aim at becoming a really efficient and reliable worker. She has never been lured away on the threshold of womanhood by the ignis fatuus of a rich and adoring husband to shield her from undergoing the drudgery of daily work. In regard to marriage, as in regard to all other great facts of existence, the average girl knows she will have to rely on thoroughness . solidity of character and a power of gradually absorbing and retaining affection. She therefore looks upon marriage as one of the chances of life rather than certainty. She is prepared to accept it, if it comes her way, but if it does not, she has built her life on a foundation solid enough for personal content and happiness.
In a word, the plain girl has had the benefit of being reared in the great school of common-sense ; she sees things as they are, not as they appear through the mists of vanity and self-worship. And can it be denied that in the summing-up of things she comes into her own just as often as the beauty ?- much oftener, indeed, if we discount the superficial and the completely material. Who are the truly happy women of the land - the successful wives, the worshipped mothers, the carefully guarded friends, the recognised earnest helpers in every good cause? Are they not just the average women, without any great amount of good looks of which to boast ?
To-day, more perhaps than ever before, the plain-looking girl may take heart of grace, and form a big estimate of her own importance. For, whatever may be thought of the woman's movement, there is evidence on all sides that the old idea which considered good looks as woman's most desirable possession is passing away. The silly, pretty girl is no longer popular. The cult of the hour, in fact, is the attractive, plain girl, the girl who has become just as conscious as the beauty of the advantages of perfect grooming, who understands the value of good clothes and judicious beauty culture as a background to personality, but who, nevertheless, does not let anything obscure for her the fact that we live in a day when for men and women the possession of brains is the greatest asset, a day when the standard as to what constitutes an attractive woman has so widened that she who is content with the consciousness of her beauty is quite candidly and openly voted a " fool." must always be a delight to the eye, but this practical age seeks also delight for the heart and the mind. So far the selfish blindness of beauty has not awakened to this fact; hence the advent and the success of the attractive plain girl.
By Rev. E. J. Hardy, M.a.,
Author of "How to be Happy Though Married," " The Five Talents of Woman," etc., etc.
- Extravagance Repels a Suitor - Justifiable Matchmaking
Certainly a bird in the hand is worth two in the bush and girls are justified in trying in all ways, consistent with modesty and self-respect, to net husbands. Still, she is the really fine woman who cannot merely net the affections of a husband during the honeymoon, but who can cage and keep them through a long married life. Very often " we think caged birds sing when indeed they cry."
Woman in her time has been called upon to endure a great deal of definition. She has been described as "A good idea spoiled." This may be true of one who can only make nets, but it certainly is not true of a cage-maker.
Men are often as easily caught as birds, but as difficult to keep. If the wife cannot make her home the cleanest, sweetest, most cheerful place that her husband can find, the poor man is virtually homeless. " The most fascinating women are those who can most enrich the everyday moments of existence."
It would be well if women could learn, better than some of them do, what men like in women. Ignorance of this may cause them to try to catch husband birds with the wrong kind of nets, and will certainly prevent them from making cages of a kind that the captives will not wish to leave.
One of the wrong kinds of husband-catching nets is for a woman to adopt the costume and customs of men. There are girls who dress, talk, smoke, and do other things like men, hoping in this way to win their admiration, as if men wish for manliness in woman rather than womanliness.
It is the latter which attracts, because its chief characteristic is sympathy. A man likes a woman who can listen without weariness when he talks of himself.
An old Scotchman whom I asked lately what men like in women, or, in other words, the best kind of net to catch them, replied : " Silence, commonsense, and thrift." This was the answer of an old man, but a young one would probably appreciate different qualities. And silence in a woman is too much to be expected, and is only preferable to foolish, frivolous speech.