The Mayor of Casterbridge
How we cite our quotes:
He showed a respect for the young girl's sex and years worthy of a better man. (19.14)
Henchard doesn't tell Elizabeth-Jane the whole story of the wife sale because (a) she's young, and (b) she's a girl. The narrator says this is a virtue in Henchard.
She started the pen in an elephantine march across the sheet. It was a splendid round, bold hand of her own conception, a style that would have stamped a woman as Minerva's own in more recent days. But other ideas reigned then: Henchard's creed was that proper young girls wrote ladies'-hand – nay, he believed that bristling characters were as innate and inseparable a part of refined womanhood as sex itself. (20.14)
Elizabeth-Jane's handwriting is very masculine – it's what was described in those days as "round-hand." She taught herself to write and did an excellent job by almost anyone's standards. But back in the day, most people thought that a proper, upper-class young lady should write in "ladies' hand," which was a fancier-looking (and harder to read) script. Check out the "Best of the Web" section for a link to what ladies' handwriting was supposed to look like.
The room disclosed was prettily furnished as a boudoir or small drawing-room, and on a sofa with two cylindrical pillows reclined a dark-haired, large-eyed, pretty woman, of unmistakably French extraction on one side or the other. She was probably somewhat older than Elizabeth, and had a sparkling light in her eye. (22.20)
Lucetta is extremely feminine, even sultry. Notice the dark hair and the large eyes, and that fact that she is "reclining" among pillows on a sofa. Lucetta is also introduced as being "unmistakably French." Check out Lucetta's "Character Analysis" section for more on her Frenchness.