Jenny, not inquiring of herself how she felt, was yet conscious that life was stranger and more exciting than ever she had dreamed. She believed that she walked on air, and yet she was conscious of pitfalls. She heard her voice speak, but was not sure what it said. She felt neglected when Mr. Paige went away, and wished him away when he came. She felt … after the manner of a young female whose friends are trying to persuade her that she is in love, this seventeen-year-old Jenny straight from the rigid rule of the schoolroom of the 'fifties did not in the least know how she felt.
It was the Romantic Age; an age drenched in simple sentiment, and scattered with nosegays, little silk aprons, sentimental verses, blushes, and perfumed memories. An age when young ladies sang to vamping accompaniments, "Hast sorrow thy young days shaded?" and men were not ashamed to brush away a tear. The Captain invariably did when Jenny sang that, and Oliver's mellow tenor following with "She is far from the land where her young hero sleeps," was certain to breach floodgates in other directions.
A courteous, simple age, too soon to be succeeded by the antimacassars and antiseptic gentility of the 'seventies, and no more artificial than every age in its turn. For that would poor humanity do if it dared fling off its motley, be that motley fans and drooping curls or cocktails and cigarettes?