“I don’t think I shall ever wear it, Mama, if that’s the effect it has upon the body. If God takes such particular care of us that he numbers our very hairs, he must be very much grieved to see any one put a corset about her waist.”
“I’m glad for your decision, my child, but you’ll soon meet greater temptations. Some mothers don’t think it worth while to warn their girls of the dangers that threaten them in regard to love and marriage; but I want to see you, Bessie, fully prepared, so that you may safely pass this dangerous period.
“Most girls at your age have some strange idea regarding love. In the schoolroom, perhaps, a girl notices some particular boy who has a winning way. At first she simply thinks he is nice; is glad to see him promoted, receive honor, etc. Gradually her mind becomes filled with queries concerning his opinion of her. She dares not own that she loves to appear well in his eyes, but it is true nevertheless. During his absence she misses him, and upon his return her heart beats with emotion. If he pays her little attentions, she dwells upon them until she becomes eager for them. Her playmates notice a change in her, for she can no longer hide her feelings. She blushes when mention is made of her preference for him. The couple seek to be together as much as possible, and are soon meeting together secretly. When reproved, they may promise not to let the thing happen again, only to repeat it in a short time. The secrecy of these meetings make them more enjoyable, and their length and frequency are unconsciously increased.
“Satan, who is never asleep upon such occasions, makes reproof his companion to push them forward. Friendly warnings are unheeded; and if force be used to prevent the meetings, the couple may think of eloping. They may not have thought of marriage until this time; but when the girl realizes what she has done, she consents to the hasty marriage. Such marriages, Bessie, seldom result happily.
“The place to stop was at the beginning. She should have gained control of her wandering affections. Young girls who lavish their love upon boys of their own age or older lose relish for other things, and their minds become dwarfed and weakened by being taxed with thoughts that are not fit for them to consider at so early an age.
“It is all right to form in your mind an ideal for your affections, if you don’t have in mind some particular person; but your common sense should be your guide. Two rowboats passing each other upon the water are all right as long as they are far enough apart; but let these boats drift or be guided too close together, and there is great danger of a collision. Your affections are to you what the rudder is to the boat, and reason is your pilot. They will guide you aright if you will let them.”
“Mama,” said Bessie, “there’s a girl in our school, only a few months older than I, that says she is to be married in a short time. The man she’s to marry is nearly twice as old as she is, too. We told her that she ought to wait until she wore long dresses before she talked about getting married. Don’t you think that is dreadful?”