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   Chapter 1 On Girls

Hints for Lovers By Arnold Haultain Characters: 10683

Updated: 2017-11-30 00:04

"A Pearl, A Girl."


There are of course, girls and girls; yet at heart they are pretty much alike. In age, naturally, they differ wildly. But this is a thorny subject. Suffice it to say that all men love all girls-the maid of sweet sixteen equally with the maid of untold age.

* * *

There is something exasperatingly something-or-otherish about girls. And they know it-which makes them more something-or-otherish still:-there is no other word for it.

* * *

A girl is a complicated thing. It is made up of clothes, smiles, a pompadour, things of which space and prudence forbid the enumeration here. These things by themselves do not constitute a girl which is obvious; nor is any one girl without these things which is not too obvious. Where the things end and the girl begins many men have tried to find out.

Many girls would like to be men-except on occasions. At least so they say, but perhaps this is just a part of their something-or-otherishness. Why they should want to be men, men cannot conceive. Men pale before them, grow hot and cold before them, run before them (and after them), swear by them (and at them), and a bit of a chit of a thing in short skirts and lisle-thread stockings will twist able-bodied males round her little finger.

It is an open secret that girls are fonder of men than they are of one another-which is very lucky for the men.

Girls differ; and the same girl is different at different times. When she is by herself, she is one thing. When she is with other girls she is another thing. When she is with a lot of men, she is a third sort of thing. When she is with a man. . . But this baffled even Agur the son of Jakeh.

As a rule, a man prefers a girl by herself. This is natural. And yet is said that you cannot have too much of a good thing. If this were true, a bevy of girls would be the height of happiness. Yet some men would sooner face the bulls of Bashan.

Some foolish men-probably poets-have sought for and asserted the existence of the ideal girl. This is sheer nonsense: there is no such thing. And if there were, she could not compare with the real girl, the girl of flesh and blood-which (as some one ought to have said) are excellent things in woman.

Other men, equally foolish, have regarded girls as playthings. I wish these men had tried to play with them. They would have found that they were playing with fire and brimstone. Yet the veriest spit-fire can be wondrous sweet.

Sweet? Yes. On the whole a girl is the sweetest thing known or knowable. On the 6 whole of this terrestrial sphere Nature has produced nothing more adorable than the high-spirited high-bred girl.-Of this she is quite aware-to our cost (I speak as a man). The consequence is, her price has gone up, and man has to pay high and pay all sorts of things-ices, sweets, champagne, drives, church-goings, and sometimes spot-cash.

Men are always wishing they knew all about girls. It is a precious good thing that they don't.-Not that this is in any way disparaging to the girls. The fact is

A girl is an infinite puzzle, and it is this puzzle, that, among other things, tickles the men, and rouses their curiosity.

What a man doesn't know about a girl would fill a Saratoga trunk; what her does know about her would go into her work-box.

* * *

The littlest girl is a little women. No boy knows this-and precious few grown up men. Thus

Many a grown up man plays with a girl, then finds himself in love with her. As to the girl--

Always the girl knows whether the play is leading: she probably chooses the game.

* * *

Very late in life does a man learn the truth (and significance) of that ancient proverb that Kissing goes by Favour. For

The masculine mind is the slave of Law and Justice:

Aphrodite never heard of Law or Justice: she was born at sea. That is to say,

Few are the men who at some time in their lives have not wondered at the vagaries of girlish complaisance: the foolish, the ne'er-do-well, the bully, the careless, the cruel,-it is to these often that a girls' caress is given. And,

Curiously enough, that is, curiously enough as it seems to purblind law-loving man,-should the favored one be openly convicted, that alters not one whit his statue with the girl; for,

A girl, having given her heart, never recalls it not wholly: she may regret; she never recoils. In other words,

To the man of her own free lawless choice a girl is always loyal; to subsequent and subordinate attachments she is dutiful. So,

Even the renegade, if loved by a girl, will be upheld by that girl through thick and thin-secretly, it may be, for often the girl, nevertheless devotedly, and only under compulsion will he listen to the detractor: he may desert her, or, if he sticks to her, he may beat her; no matter: he holds her heart in the hollow of his hand. But, But,

Few things mystify poor law-abiding man than this, that the central, the profoundest, the most portentous puzzle of the universe-the weal of woe of two high-aspiring, much-enduring, youthful human souls, should be the sport of what seems to him the veriest and merest chance.

* * *

The unconscious search of sweet sixteen is for (in mathematical language which will not sophisticate her) the integral of love.-Yet

In the short years between sixteen

and twenty a girl's love will undergo rapid and startling developments.

* * *

A girl with lots of brothers has more chances of matrimony than a girl with none: she knows more of men; especially of their weaknesses and idiosyncrasies. And

To know the weaknesses and idiosyncrasies of men is perhaps a wife's chief task; unless it be to put up with them.

* * *

Often enough the freckled and fringrant girl wins over the professional beauty.

* * *

Sometimes grown-up girls are just as shy as little ones-and for the same reasons because there is no one who knows how to play with them.

Girls often play with love as if it were one of the amusements of life; but a day comes when love proves itself the most sensuous thing on earth. And

A girl is quick to discover the kind of love that is required of her. As a rule

Many a girl who has been sore put to it to prove herself whole-hearted.

For of course,

Always every suitor expects whole heartedness. And this every girl instinctively knows. Indeed,

Is not a half-hearted love, or a half-hearted acceptress of love, a contradiction in terms?

* * *

A certain measure of the sophisticated or unsophistication of a youthful damsel may be found in her manner o f receiving the attentions of a stranger in a station different from her own.

Young women, themselves but rarely unsophisticated, view with a certain pitying sort of curiosity unsophisticatedness in men. And

A young man's unsophisticatedeness it is a great delight to a woman to eradicate. Yet

A girl regards with complex emotions the man who has blossomed under the genial warmth of her rays; the flattery to own powers is counterbalanced by the evidence of lack of power in him.

* * *

A girl thinks she detects flippancy in seriousness. A woman thinks she detects seriousness in flippancy.

* * *

What would be conduct decidedly risqué in a city miss, is often innocent playfulness in a country maid.

* * *

Between the ages of sixteen and eighteen, girls play with love as if it were a doll; very soon after twenty they discover it is a dynamo. This is why

An early and clandestine engagement often works more havoc than happiness. For

Either, one of the parties to the concealed compact receives or pays attention which perturb the other; or, a subsequent and acknowledged lover looks askance at the previous entanglement. Since even if

A clandestine engagement (as is usually the case) is merely a flirtation with the emoluments which accompany a promise to marry, those emoluments are not nice things for a subsequent and avowed lover, whether masculine or feminine, to think upon. Lastly,

A laxity with regard to the claims of courtship is apt to breed a laxity with regard to the claims of wedlock. In short,

Flirtations, like clandestine engagements, are an affront to love.


To the engagement-ring should be as attached as much importance as to the wedding-ring. Indeed,

A difficult and a delicate path it is that a girl has to tread through life-and often enough a dangerous. Yet with extraordinary deftness she treads it. She must win her a mate, yet has to pretend that the mate wins her. She makes believe to be captured, yet has herself to be intent on the chase. To be wooed and wedded is the law of her being, yet not for one moment dares she to exhibit too great an alacrity to obey that law; for she knows instinctively that an easy victory prognosticates a fickle victor. Is she abundantly endowed with the very attributes that make for wife-and mother-hood, a strong and swaying passion and an affection unbounded, she must hold them in leash with exemplary patience; for, alas! Are they given the rein for a single passing moment, instead of being accounted unto her for righteousness, they work her ruin. She must win her one man, and she must win him for life; but she cannot pick or choose, for she must wait to be asked.

If she make test of many admirers, she is described as a flirt; if, conscientious and demure, she await her fate, a desirable fate is by no means assured.

In truth it seems that too often a girl must dissemble-hateful as dissemblance in men. T'is a hard road indeed that a girl has to travel. To win her a fellow-farer for life, she must go out of her way to accommodate so many travelers: and this one is lured by this, and that one by that, and another by something unnoticed by the throng. But, an she dissembles one iota too much, her fellow-farers look askance, and he who eventually joins her for good upbraids her for that by which she won.

Dissemblance is indeed at once the boon and the bane of a girl: without it, she thinks to be overlooked (often enough a preposterous assumption); with it, she is looked upon too much. And always,

Always a girl has to pretend that never did she descend to dissemblance.

-Which, nevertheless, is sometimes absolutely true, for

Just now and then there happens that miracle of miracles, where their flames up in the man, and their flames up in the maid, in both at once, unaided and unlooked-for, that divine and supra-mundane spark which smolders lambent in every youthful breast: when maid and man take mutual fire at touch of hands and look of eyes,-fire lit at that vestal altar which knows no source and burns for aye.

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