Mrs. Jellyby devotes her time to all sorts of charities, but her eldest daughter, Caroline, is not one of them. Caroline, called "Caddy," works as secretary to her mother, taking dictation for her all day, including writings connected to her mother's efforts to educate African natives. Caddy, however, receives no education herself. She says: "I'm pen and ink to ma." In the book, she's described this way:
"But what principally struck us was a jaded, and unhealthy-looking, though by no means plain girl, at the writing-table, who sat biting the feather of her pen, and staring at us. I suppose nobody ever was in such a state of ink. And, from her tumbled hair to her pretty feet, which were disfigured with frayed and broken satin slippers trodden down at heel, she really seemed to have no article of dress upon her, from a pin upwards, that was in its proper condition or right place."