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Additional resources for Penguin Readers Level 3 The locked room
The general introduction of a system of this kind, although it might shorten the lives of timid or forgetful men, would obviously confer an unspeakable boon upon the majority of the match-maker's present victims. They would not only know exactly how far to go with safety, but also how at once to recede. To offer, for instance, two pieces of muffin firmly and decidedly with the right hand would probably make up for offering one flower with the left, at least if there were no guardian or chaperon on the spot to take instant advantage of the first overture.
Actions of this sort are as common at one time as at another. Old fools and young fools maintain a pretty steady average. Their silly exploits are the issue, not of the tendencies of the age, but of their own individual and particular lack of wits. They do not affect the general direction of social feeling, nor have we any right to argue up from their preposterous connexions to the influences and conditions of the society of which they are only the abnormal and irregular growths. What people mean, when they talk of an increase in the number of men who marry beneath them, is that men otherwise sensible and respectable and sober-minded perpetrate the irregularity in something like cold blood, and with a measure of deliberation.
The hero of the female tale is often a poor, frivolous, easily led person. When he can escape from his wife's eye, he speculates heavily on Stock Exchange, goes in under the influence of evil advisers for any sort of polite swindling, and forgets, or is ill-tempered towards, the inestimable treasure he has at home. On such occasions the heroine of the feminine novel shines out in all her majesty. She is kind and patient to her husband's faults, except that when he is more than usually idiotic her eyes flash, and her nostrils dilate with a sort of grand scorn, while her knowledge of life and business is displayed at critical moments to save him from ruin.