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Is She A Lady?
by [?]

“MRS. TUDOR is a perfect lady,” said my wife, Mrs. Sunderland, to me one day, after having received a visit from the individual she named.

“She may have the manners of a lady,” I replied, “when abroad; but whether she be a lady at home or not, is more than I can tell. It is easy to put on the exterior of a lady; but to be a lady is a very different thing.”

“All that is true enough; but why do you connect such remarks with the name of Mrs. Tudor? Do you know any thing to the contrary of her being a lady?–a lady at home, as you say, for instance?”

“No, I can’t say that I do; but, somehow or other, I am a little inclined to be doubtful of the genuineness of Mrs. Tudor’s claims to being a lady. Once or twice I have thought that I perceived an air of superciliousness to persons who were considered inferior. This is a rigid but true test of any one’s claims to being either a lady or a gentleman. No true lady is less careful of the feelings of those below her than she is of those who are upon an equality.”

“But you only thought you saw this,” said Mrs. Sunderland.

“True, and my thought may be only a thought,” I returned, “and unjust to Mrs. Tudor, who may be as much of a lady at home and under all circumstances, as she appears to be when abroad.”

“What she is, I have not the least doubt,” said my wife.

I never altogether fancied this Mrs. Tudor, although Mrs. Sunderland liked her very much. Before we built our new house, Mrs. Tudor did not know us, notwithstanding the fact that our pews had adjoined for two or three years. But after that event, Mrs. Tudor found out that we had an existence, and became uncommonly gracious with my wife.

Not long after I had spoken out my mind in regard to Mrs. Tudor, that lady, in company with her husband, paid us a visit one evening, and after sitting an hour, invited us to come around and take tea with them on a certain evening in the ensuing week.

When the time came, as we had accepted the invitation, we went. We found about a dozen persons assembled, half of whom were entire strangers to us. Among these I soon perceived that there were two or three who, in the eyes of Mrs. Tudor, were a little superior to her other guests. On our entrance, we were introduced to them first, and with particular formality, our lady hostess pronouncing their names in a very distinct manner, while her articulation of ours was so low that they were scarcely, if at all, heard. During the hour that passed before tea was announced, Mrs. Tudor confined her attentions almost exclusively to these two or three individuals, who were evidently persons of more consequence than the rest of us. So apparent was all this, that most of those who were in the room, instead of joining in the conversation, sat looking at the more favoured guests.

“They must be persons of some importance,” I could not help saying to my wife in an undertone, in which her quick ear detected something of sarcasm.

“For mercy’s sake, Mr. Sunderland!” she replied, in a voice that only reached my own ears, “don’t make remarks upon any of the company.”

If she had said, “It is not gentlemanly to do so,” she could not have conveyed what she wished to utter more distinctly than she did.

I felt the force of her reproof, but could not resist the inclination I felt to reply.

“We have so good an example of what is polite and genteel, that it is not to be wondered if we profit a little.”

“Mr. Sunderland! Why, will you!” My wife seemed distressed.

I said no more on the subject, content with having let her know that I was noticing the conduct of her perfect lady. I believe, if I could have seen her thoughts, that among them I would have detected this one among the rest; that it was not exactly fair and gentlemanly in me to remind her so promptly of the error she had probably committed in her estimate of Mrs. Tudor’s character.