WHO IS SHE?
"Tom, who was that girl you were so taken with last night?"
"Wasn't particularly taken last night with anybody."
Which practical falsehood the gentleman escaped from by a mentalreservation, saying to himself that it was not last night that he was"taken."
"I mean the girl you had so much to do with. Come, Tom!"
"I hadn't much to do with her. I had to be civil to somebody. She wasthe easiest."
"Who is she, Tom?"
"Her name is Lothrop."
"O you tedious boy! I know what her name is, for I was introduced toher, and Mrs. Wishart spoke so I could not help but understand her; butI mean something else, and you know I do. Who is she? And where doesshe come from?"
"She is a cousin of Mrs. Wishart; and she comes from the countrysomewhere."
"One can see that."
"How can you?" the brother asked rather fiercely.
"You see it as well as I do," the sister returned coolly. "Her dressshows it."
"I didn't notice anything about her dress."
"You are a man."
"Well, you women dress for the men. If you only knew a thing or two, you would dress differently."
"That will do! You would not take me anywhere, if I dressed like Miss
"I'll tell you what," said the young man, stopping short in his walk upand down the floor; – "she can afford to do without your advantages!"
"Mamma!" appealed the sister now to a third member of the party, – "doyou hear? Tom has lost his head."
The lady addressed sat busy with newspapers, at a table a littlewithdrawn from the fire; a lady in fresh middle age, and comely to lookat. The daughter, not comely, but sensible-looking, sat in the glow ofthe fireshine, doing nothing. Both were extremely well dressed, if"well" means in the fashion and in rich stuffs, and with no sparing ofmoney or care. The elder woman looked up from her studies now for amoment, with the remark, that she did not care about Tom's head, if hewould keep his heart.
"But that is just precisely what he will not do, mamma. Tom can't keepanything, his heart least of all. And this girl mamma, I tell you he isin danger. Tom, how many times have you been to see her?"
"I don't go to see her; I go to see Mrs. Wishart."
"Oh! – and you see Miss Lothrop by accident! Well, how many times, Tom?
Three – four – five."
"Don't be ridiculous!" the brother struck in. "Of course a fellow goeswhere he can amuse himself and have the best time; and Mrs. Wishartkeeps a pleasant house."
"Especially lately. Well, Tom, take care! it won't do. I warn you."
"What won't do?" – angrily.
"This girl; not for our family. Not for you, Tom. She hasn'tanything, – and she isn't anybody; and it will not do for you to marryin that way. If your fortune was ready made to your hand, or if youwere established in your profession and at the top of it, – why, perhapsyou might be justified in pleasing yourself; but as it is, don't,Tom! Be a good boy, and don't!"
"My dear, he will not," said the elder lady here. "Tom is wiser thanyou give him credit for."
"I don't give any man credit for being wise, mamma, when a pretty faceis in question. And this girl has a pretty face; she is very pretty.But she has no style; she' is as poor as a mouse; she knows nothing ofthe world; and to crown all, Tom, she's one of the religioussort. – Think of that! One of the real religious sort, you know. Thinkhow that would fit."
"What sort are you?" asked her brother.
"Not that sort, Tom, and you aren't either."
"How do you know she is?"
"Very easy," said the girl coolly. "She told me herself."
"She told you!"
"O, simply enough. I was confessing that Sunday is such a fearfullylong day to me, and I did not know what to do with it; and she lookedat me as if I were a poor heathen – which I suppose she thought me – andsaid, 'But there is always the Bible!' Fancy! – 'always the Bible.' So Iknew in a moment where to place her."
"I don't think religion hurts a woman," said the young man.
"But you do not want her to have too much of it – " the mother remarked, without looking up from her paper.
"I don't know what you mean by too much, mother. I'd as lief she found
Sunday short as long. By her own showing, Julia has the worst of it."
"Mamma! speak to him," urged the girl.
"No need, my dear, I think. Tom isn't a fool."
"Any man is, when he is in love, mamma."