Rathmines, Dublin, 3pm, The Lady of Fashion

In a large redbrick house, Alice was trying to decide which of the hats was the most becoming - the picture one with lace or the one with the marabou trimming. The choice was even more important than usual, because within a few minutes she was going to Mr Lafayette's studios in Westmoreland Street to have her photograph taken. She wished to look her very best. It had been very unfair of mama not to have let her buy that scarlet and black poplin coat, but she had been adamant that it was not suitable for such a young girl. But at least she had allowed the corset, and Alice now took great pride in her waist. It was just a pity that wearing the corset made her feel so faint - or was that the fact that she had eaten so very little in the past few days, in order to make sure she was at her slimmest and most ethereal for the picture? Maybe she should take some of the pills they advertised - Garrett's Herbine for Pale People or Towles Pennyroyal and Steel Pills. She had seen them in the newspaper while she was trying to read about the Kilkenny Breach of Promise case, in which a young lady appeared to have been taken advantage of by a Gaelic Leaguer. Her father had caught her and told her she should not be bothering with newspapers at all, that the print would ruin her eyes and the articles would give her odd ideas.

Alice did not think she was prone to odd ideas; she certainly did not want the vote or anything silly like that; in fact she could think of nothing more boring than politics. Unlike her sister Ellen, with her notions of studying medicine or some such thing. Alice blamed the fact that she had won that letter competition in Granny's Corner in the Irish Times; she had been quite unbearable since then. Alice had not in fact been speaking to Ellen since the affair of the album. When Alice had seen what Ellen had filled in she had been furious. Everyone else had answered Alice's question: "Which flower am I?" with suitably complimentary phrases such as "A Rose - for your sweet nature" or "A cornflower, for your eyes". Ellen, the little wretch, had written "A Nettle, because everyone respects its Sting."

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