Though our baloon-clad young acquaintance is idling, His with a busy idleness; for she has been occupied ever since eight o’clock this morning in carrying about fruits, jellies, and sweetmeats, with strong raw spirits in gilded glasses, and little cups of unstrained coffee.
A very singular and amusing picture she makes, as she stands bolt upright, tray in hand before her father’s guests. -She is pretty. Yes there is no doubt of that; but she has done almost everything possible to disfigure herself.
Though certainly not seventeen, with the rich clear complexion of the Greeks, she is rouged up to the very eyes. Where she is not rouged she is whitened. Her eyebrows are painted, and she has even found means to introduce some black abomination under her eyelids to make the eyes look larger. Her hair would be almost a marvel if left to itself; but she has twisted it, and plaited it, woven gold coins into it, and tied it up with dirty handkerchiefs, and gummed and ponied it, till every tress has grown distorted and angry. Her ears are in themselves as sly and coquettish a pair of ears as need be; and they peep out beneath her tortured locks as if they would rather like to have a game at bo-peep than otherwise; but they are literally torn half.an-inch longer than they should ‘be by an enormous pair of Mosaic ear-rings bought of a pedlar.
Her hands might have been nice once, for they are still small; but they are as tough as horn, and as red as chaps can make them with sheer hard work, scrubbing and washing about the house. All Greek women I think have been mere housewives since the time of Andromache, her figure is, if possible, more generally baggy than her trousers. It bulges out in the most extraordinary bumps and fullness. A short jacket-as much too small for her as the brigand attire of Mr. Keely, of the Theatre Royal Adelphi does not make this general plumpness less remarkable; and she has a superfluity of clothes, which reminds one of the late King Christopher’s idea of full dress. Numerous, however, as are the articles of wearing apparel she has put on, they all terminate with the trousers which are looped up just below the knee.
The rest of the leg and feet are bare, and hard, and plump, and purple, and chapped almost beyond belief, even in the fine piercing cold of a Greek February.
Her mind is a mere blank. Her idea of life is, love-making, cleaning the house, serving coffee, and rouging herself on festival days. She cannot read or write, or play the piano, but she can sing and dance. She can talk too, though never before company. No diplomatist can touch her intrigue or invention. Not even Captain Absolute’s groom could tell a falsehood with more composure.
She does not know what it is to speak the truth; and to use a Greek saying, she is literally kneaded up with tricks. The Greek girl has no heart, no affections. She is a mere lump of flesh and calculation. Her marriage is quite an affair of buying and selling. It is arranged by her friends. They offer to give a house that is indispensable, and so much to whoever will take her off their hands.
By and by, somebody comes to do so; the priests are called, there is a quaint strange ceremony, and he is bound, by fine, to perform his promise. This fine is usually ten percent, on the fortune which was offered him with the lady.
– Díckinson’s Household Words.