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my ears, causing the flush on my cheeks to become still deeper.
A murmur of voices followed. Then I heard the closing of the vestibule door, and Mary returning to the back parlor where we were sitting.
“ Who was it, Mary?" I enquired, as the girl entered.
“ Mrs.-Mrs.—Now what was it? Sure, and I've forgotten their names intirely.”
But, lack of memory did not long keep me in ignorance as to who were my visitors, for, as ill luck would have it, they had bethought themselves of some message they wished to leave, and, re-opening the vestibule door, left a-jar by Mary, followed her along the passage to the room they saw her enter. As they pushed open the door of the parlor, Mary heard them, and, turning quickly, exclaimed, in consternation
A moment she stood, confronting, in no very graceful attitude, a couple of ladies, and then escaped to the kitchen.
Here was a scene of embarrassment. Not among all my acquaintances were there, perhaps, two persons, whom I would have least desired to witness in me such a fault as the one of which I had been guilty. For a little while, I knew not what to say. I sat, overcome with mortification. At length, I arose, and said with an effort,
“ Walk in, ladies! How are you this morning? I'm pleased to see you. Take chairs. My niece, Mrs. Williams, and Mrs. Glenn. I hope you will excuse us. We were
Oh, no apologies, Mrs. Smith,” returned one of the ladies, with a quiet smile, and an air of self-possession. “Pardon this intrusion. We understood the servant that you were not at home.”
Engaged, she meant," said I, a deeper crimson suffusing my face. 6 The fact is, we are working for dear life, to get the children ready for a party to night, and wished to be excused from seeing any one."
“Certainly--all right,” returned Mrs. Williams, “I merely came in to say to your domestic (I had forgotten it at the door) that my sister expected to leave for her home in New York in a day or two, and would call here with me, to-morrow afternoon."
“I shall be very happy to see her,” said I, “ very happy. Do come in and sit down for a little while. If I had only known it was you."
Now that last sentence, spoken in embarrassment and mental confusion, was only making matters worse. It placed me in a false and despicable light before my visitors; for in it was the savor of hypocrisy, which is foreign to my nature.
No, thank you,” replied my visitors. “Good morning !"
And they retired, leaving me so overcome with shame, mortification, confusion, and distress, that I burst into tears.
66 To think that I should have done such a thing!” was my first remark, so soon as I had a little recovered my self-possession; and I looked up, half timidly, into the face of my niece. I shall not soon forget the expression of surprise
and pain that was in her fair young countenance. I had uttered a falsehood in her presence, and thus done violence to the good opinion she had formed of me. The beautiful ideal of her aunt, which had filled her mind, was blurred over; and her heart was sad in consequence.
“Dear Aggy!” said I, throwing my work upon the floor, and bending earnestly towards her.— “ Don't think too meanly of me for this little circumstance. I never was guilty of that thing before-never! And well have I been punished for my thoughtless folly I spoke from impulse, and not reflection, when I told Mary to say that I was not at home, and repented of what I had done almost as soon as the words passed my lips.”
Agnes looked at me for some moments, until her eyes filled with tears. Then she said in a low, sweet, earnest voice:
“Mother always says, if she cannot see any one who calls, that she is engaged.”
“ And so do I, dear,” I returned. “This is my first offence against truth, and you may be sure that it will be the last."
And it was my last.
When next I met Mrs. Williams and Mrs. Glenn, there was, in both of them, a reserve not seen before. I felt this change keenly. I had wronged myself in their good opinion; and could not venture upon an explanation of my conduct; for that, I felt, might only make matters worse.
How often, since, has my cheek burned, as a vivid recollection came up before my mind of what occurred on that morning! I can never forget it.
In a previous chapter, I gave the reader one of the Experiences of my sister's husband, Mr. John Jones. I now give another.
There was a time in my married life, (thus Mr. Jones writes in one of his “Confessions,") when I was less annoyed if my bosom or wristband happened to be minus a button, than I am at present. But continual dropping will wear away a stone, and the ever recurring buttonless collar or wristband will wear out a man's patience, be he naturally as enduring as the Man of Uz.
I don't mean by this, that Mrs. Jones is a neglectful woman. Oh, no! don't let that be imagined for a moment. Mrs. Jones is a woman
a who has an eye for shirt buttons, and when that is said, a volume is told in a few words.
But I don't care how careful a wife is, nor how good an eye she may have for shirt buttons, there will come a time, when, from some cause or other, she will momentarily abate her vigilance, and that will be the very time when Betty's washing-board, or Nancy's sad-iron, has been at work upon the buttons.
For a year or two after our marriage, I used to express impatience, whenever, in putting on
a clean shirt, I found a button gone. Mrs. Jones bore this for a while without exhibiting much feeling. But it fretted her more than she permitted any one to see. At length, the constant recurrence of the evil-I didn't know as much then as I do now—annoyed me so that I passed from ejaculatory expressions of impatience into more decided and emphatic disapprobation, and to
“Psha !” and “there it is again !" and the like were added:
“ I declare, Mrs. Jones, this is too bad!" or
“ I've given up hoping for a shirt with a full complement of buttons" or
“ If you can't sew the buttons on my shirt, Mrs. Jones, I will hire some one to do it.'
This last expression of displeasure I never ventured upon but once. I have always felt ashamed of it since, whenever a recollection of my unreasonableness and impatience in the early times of the shirt button trouble has crossed my mind. My wife took it so much to heart, and so earnestly avowed her constant solicitude in regard to the shirt buttons, that I resolved from that time, to bear the evil like a man, and instead of grumbling or complaining, make known the fact of a deficiency whenever it occurred, as a good joke. And so for a year or so it used to be when the buttons were missing : “Buttons again, Mrs. Jones ;" or
D'ye see that ?" or “ Here's the old story”.
Always said laughingly, and varied as to the mood or fertility of fancy. But on so grave a subject as shirt buttons, Mrs. Jones had no heart