BOOK IV. CONTAINING THE TIME OF A YEAR.
7. Chapter vii. Being the shortest chapter in this book.
Being the shortest chapter in this book.
Her mother first perceived the alteration in the shape of Molly; and
in order to hide it from her neighbours, she foolishly clothed her in
that sack which Sophia had sent her; though, indeed, that young lady
had little apprehension that the poor woman would have been weak
enough to let any of her daughters wear it in that form.
Molly was charmed with the first opportunity she ever had of showing
her beauty to advantage; for though she could very well bear to
contemplate herself in the glass, even when dressed in rags; and
though she had in that dress conquered the heart of Jones, and perhaps
of some others; yet she thought the addition of finery would much
improve her charms, and extend her conquests.
Molly, therefore, having dressed herself out in this sack, with a new
laced cap, and some other ornaments which Tom had given her, repairs
to church with her fan in her hand the very next Sunday. The great are
deceived if they imagine they have appropriated ambition and vanity to
themselves. These noble qualities flourish as notably in a country
church and churchyard as in the drawing-room, or in the closet.
Schemes have indeed been laid in the vestry which would hardly
disgrace the conclave. Here is a ministry, and here is an opposition.
Here are plots and circumventions, parties and factions, equal to
those which are to be found in courts.
Nor are the women here less practised in the highest feminine arts
than their fair superiors in quality and fortune. Here are prudes and
coquettes. Here are dressing and ogling, falsehood, envy, malice,
scandal; in short, everything which is common to the most splendid
assembly, or politest circle. Let those of high life, therefore, no
longer despise the ignorance of their inferiors; nor the vulgar any
longer rail at the vices of their betters.
Molly had seated herself some time before she was known by her
neighbours. And then a whisper ran through the whole congregation,
"Who is she?" but when she was discovered, such sneering, gigling,
tittering, and laughing ensued among the women, that Mr Allworthy was
obliged to exert his authority to preserve any decency among them.