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point, and when that is assailed, we are very apt to betray our feelings.”

“Well, I say now, as I have always said—I don't like to have any thing to do with people who have these weak points. This being hurt by a word, as if words were blows, is something that does not come within the range of my sympathies."

“And yet, aunt,” said I,“ all have weak points. Even you are not entirely free from them.

66 Me!” aunt Rachel bridled.

“Yes; and if even as light a thing as a word were to fall upon them, you would suffer pain."

Pray, ma'am,” said aunt Rachel, with much dignity of manner; she was chafed by my words, light as they were; “inform me where these weaknesses, of which you are pleased to speak, lie ?"

Oh, no; you must excuse me. That would be very much out of place. But I only stated a general fact that appertains to all of us."

Aunt Rachel looked very grave. I had laid the weight of words upon a weakness of her character, and it had given her pain. That weakness was a peculiarly good opinion of herself: I had made no allegation against her; and there was none in my mind. My words simply expressed the general truth that we all have weaknesses, and included her in their application. But she imagined that I referred to some particular defect or fault, and mail-proof as she was against words, they had wounded her.

For a day or two, aunt Rachel remained more sober than was her wont. I knew the cause, but

66

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did not attempt to remove from her mind any impression my words had made. One day, about a week after, I said to her:

“ Aunt Rachel, I saw Mary Lane's mother this morning.”

“ Ah ?" The old lady looked up at me enquiringly.

“I don't wonder your words hurt the poor girl," I added.

Why? What did I say ?” quickly asked aunt Rachel.

“You said that she was a jilt.”

“But I was only in jest, and she knew it. I did not really mean any thing. I'm surprised that Mary should be so foolish.

“ You will not be surprised when you know all,” was my answer. " All?

What all? I'm sure I wasn't in earnest. I didn't mean to hurt the poor girl's feelings."

My aunt looked very much troubled.

“No one blames you, aunt Rachel,” said I. “Mary knows you didn't intend wounding her.”

“But why should she take a little word so much to heart? It must have had more truth in it than I supposed.”

“Did you know that Mary refused an offer of inarriage from Walter Green, last week ?”

“ Why, no! It can't be possible! Refused Walter Green ?”

66 Yes.”

“They've been intimate for a long time.”
“I know."
“She certainly encouraged him.”

“I think it more than probable.

"Is it possible, then, that she did really jilt the

young man ?" exclaimed aunt Rachel. “This has been said of her," I replied. “But, as far as I can learn, she was really attached to him, and suffered great pain in rejecting his offer. Wisely she regarded marriage as the most important event of her life, and refused to make so solemn a contract with one in whose principles she had not the fullest confidence.”

“But she ought not to have encouraged Walter, if she did not intend marrying him," said aunt Rachel, with some warmth.

“ She encouraged him so long as she thought well of him. A closer view revealed points of character hidden by distance. When she saw these, her feelings were already deeply involved. But, like a true woman, she turned from the proffered hand, even though, while in doing so, her heart palpitated with pain. There is nothing false about Mary Lane. She could no more trifle with a lover than she could commit a crime. Think, then, how almost impossible it would be for her to hear herself called, under existing circumstances, even in sport, a jilt, without being hurt. Words sometimes have power to hurt more than blows. Do you not see this now, aunt Rachel ?"

“Oh, yes, yes. I see it; and I saw it before,” said the old lady. “And, in future, I will be more careful of my words. It is pretty late in life to learn this lesson—but we are never too late to learn. Poor Mary! It grieves me to think that I should have hurt her so much.”

Yes, words often have in them a smarting force, and we cannot be too guarded how we use them.

“ Think twice before you speak once,” is a trite, but wise saying. We teach it to our children very carefully, but are too apt to forget that it has not lost its application to ourselves.

CHAPTER XXIV.

MAY BE SO.

“Next time you go out, you'll buy me a wagon, won't you,

mother?” said my little boy to me, one day.

I didn't want to say “no," and destroy his happy feelings; and I was not prepared to say “yes;” and so I gave the evasive reply so often used under such circumstances, “ May be so, " and which was meant rather as a negative than an affirmative. The child was satisfied; for he gave my words the meaning he wished them to have. In a little while after, I had forgotten all about it. Not so my boy. To him the “May be so” was “yes,” and he set his heart, confidently, on receiving the wagon the next time I should

This happened on the afternoon of that very day. It was towards evening when I returned. The moment I rung the bell at my own door, I heard his pattering feet and gleeful voice in the entry

“ Where's my wagon ?" said he, as I entered,

6 a shade of disappointment falling suddenly upon his excited, happy face.

“What wagon, dear?” I asked. “My wagon.

The wagon you promised to buy me.” “I didn't promise to buy a wagon, my son.”

go out.

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