A Brief Profile of the Character and Person of Prof. Henrietta Hoppingood
Professor Hoppingood was not generally considered to be marriageable. She was not unattractive, far from it, and yet those who knew her tended to not think of her as attractive. She possessed an unpossessing kind of plain beauty that, for but a very little effort, might have crossed into true beauty. But at first glance it became obvious that she had not expended, nor intended to expend such effort. A woman capable of great powers of concentration, she had simply chosen to concentrate elsewhere. However, this was not the reason why she was not considered to be unmarriageable.
True, she had advanced somewhat in age, and while the golden dawn of youth had certainly passed its zenith, she seemed to maintain an indeterminable age of pleasant and confident maturity. Her eyes betrayed only the faintest promise of creases when she smiled, and her light brown hair still displayed enough streaks of girlish blonde to camouflage the encroachment of but one or two silvery scouts of grey. But her age was certainly not the barrier to marriageability that kept Henrietta Hoppingood in her perpetual bachelorhood.
To be fair, she was not in the market for a lifelong match, nor had she ever been that she could recall, and as such, it was this blindness to the prospect that formed the seemingly impermeable barrier between her and any potential suitor. She was perfectly content in the cocoon of academia, her solitary faculty apartment more than adequate for a mind more suited to exploring the world of ideas than the domain of domesticity.
So it must be clarified that if Professor Hoppingood was not generally considered to be marriageable, it was no slight to her but, rather, an observation that when the good professor was considered at all, the topic of marriage was almost untenable in the same instance of consideration.
Even those among her family held Miss Hoppingood to be almost etherally beyond the influence of matrimony, as indeed were all the Hoppingood sisters. Left motherless in their early years and entrusted entirely to the care of their father, the sisters were reared without any notion of their potential roles as wives and mothers, but found themselves to be content in their pursuit of arts, ideas, and, if it may be said, somewhat eccentric individualism.
Salubrity Hoppingood, the oldest of the three sisters, spent the majority of her days serving as the willing and able housekeeper for their father. As the eldest of the three, Miss Salubrity maintained the clearest memory of their mother and the closest personal affinity for the responsibilities and likeness of domestic femininity. When not practicing the arts of the hearth, the remainder of her schedule was filled with the careful penning of beautifully worded and imminently practical advice in a periodical journal for ladies.
The middle Hoppingood sister, Felicity, had chosen to pursue arts of a different nature having demonstrated a rather precocious talent for drawing and painting at an early age. As an art instructor at the eminent College of St Elgin in Wadpole-on-the-River, she was much admired for her skills of capturing the world on a canvas of pastels and charcoal, but equal amounts of speculation surrounded her growing propensity for bohemian expression so common among the gatherings of the leisured intellectuals. Her slight stature and honeyed curls betrayed the fairy imp only slightly veiled behind the enlightened sensibility of modern womanhood.
Professor Henrietta Hoppingood, as the final of the trio, had opted neither for the security of her father’s home nor the borderless novelty of the art salon, but had found her zest for discovery among the dusty tomes of the library and the malleable minds of her pupils. Named for her father, Henry, she saw her role in the world as both a seeker and an inventor of knowledge, but unlike most intellectuals, she was uniquely capable of defining knowledge broadly to include not only the established disciplines of the university, but the ephemera of human existence as well. Thus it was that she augmented her academic expertise as a professor in the Department of Modern and Classical Languages, Literatures and Cultures with a particularly unique specialization in the study of Esoterica, an interdisciplinary field that defied traditional categorization.