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The Mopworths
by [?]

I must say that both Eliza and myself felt a good deal of contempt for the Mopworths. We had known them for three years, and that gave us a claim; Peter Mopworth was a connection of Eliza’s by marriage, and that also gave us a claim; further, our social position gave us a claim. Nevertheless, the Mopworths were to have their annual party on the following Wednesday, and they had not invited us.

“Upon my soul,” I exclaimed, “I never in my life heard of anything so absolutely paltry.”

“I can’t think why it is,” said Eliza.

“Oh, we’re not good enough for them. We all know who his father was, and we all know what he is–a petty provincial shopkeeper! A gentleman holding important employment in one of the principal mercantile firms in the city isn’t good enough for him. If I’m permitted to clean his boots I’m sure I ought to be thankful. Oh, yes! Of course! No doubt!”

“You do get so sarcastic,” observed Eliza.

“That’s nothing–nothing to what I should be if I let myself go. But I don’t choose to let myself go. I don’t think he’s worth it, and I don’t think she’s worth it either. It’s a pity, perhaps, that they don’t know that they’re making themselves ridiculous, but it can’t be helped. Personally, I sha’n’t give the thing another thought.”

“That’s the best thing to do,” said Eliza.

“Of course it is. Why trouble one’s head about people of that class? And, I say, Eliza, if you meet that Mopworth woman in the street, there’s no occasion for you to recognize her.”

“That would look as if we were terribly cut up because we hadn’t been asked to their party.”

“Possibly. Whereas, I don’t even consider it worth talking about.”

We discussed the Mopworths and their party for another hour and a half, and then went to bed.

* * * * *

“Lying awake last night,” I said at breakfast next morning, “I couldn’t help thinking over the different things we have done for those serpents.”

“What serpents?”

“Those contemptible Mopworths. I wonder if they have any feelings of shame? If they have, they must blush when they think of the way they have treated us.”

“I can’t think why they’ve left us out. Perhaps it’s a mistake.”

“Not a bit of it. I’ve been expecting this for some time. Of course he has made money. I don’t say–I would rather not say–how he has made it. But it seems to have turned his head. However, after this I shall probably never mention him again.”

Eliza began to talk about the weather. I told her that Mopworth had done things which, personally, I should have been very sorry to do, and that I should be reluctant to adopt his loud style of dress.

“But, of course,” I added, “no gentleman ever does dress like that.”

Eliza said that if I intended to catch my train I had better start.

I started.

* * * * *

On my return I said to Eliza that, though the whole subject was distasteful to me, there was one point to which I had given a few moments’ consideration. Reluctant though I was to sully my lips with the name of Mopworth, I felt it a duty to myself to say that even if the Mopworths had asked us to their annual party I should have refused point-blank.

“Really?” said Eliza. This annoyed me slightly. She ought to have seen, without being told, that it was impossible for people like us to continue to know people like them.

“I am accustomed,” I replied, “to say just exactly what I mean. As far as I can remember, I have lately more than once asked you to drop the Mopworths. If I have not actually done it, it has been in my mind to do so. They are connected to us by marriage, and I am not unduly proud, but still I feel that we must draw the line somewhere. I do not care to have Mopworth bragging about the place that he is on intimate terms with us.”

“Well,” said Eliza, “there aren’t such a lot of people who ever ask us to anything. Miss Sakers is friendly, of course, especially when there are subscriptions on for the bazaar or the new organ, but she doesn’t carry it to that point.”

“Quite so,” I said, “and I’m by no means certain about Miss Sakers. She may be all right. I hope she is. But I candidly confess that I by no means like her manner.”

At this moment the girl brought in a note, delivered by hand, from Mrs. Mopworth. It said that she had sent an invitation to Eliza but had had no reply. She felt so certain that the invitation must have been delayed in the post (which was not surprising, considering the season), that she had ventured to write again, though it might be against etiquette. She hoped that we should both be able to come, and said that on the previous occasion I had been the life and soul of the party.

“Well,” I said, “Eliza, what would you like to do?”

“Oh, I’m going!” she replied.

“Then if you insist, I shall go with you. I’ve never had a word to say against Mrs. Mopworth. It is true that he is not in every particular what–well, what I should care to be myself. Possibly he has not had my advantages. I do not want to judge him too harshly. My dress clothes are put away with my summer suit in the second drawer in the box-room. Just put them to the fire to get the creases out. And, Eliza, write a friendly note to Mrs. Mopworth, implying that we had never heard of the party. I saw from the first that the omission was a mistake.”

Eliza went away smiling. Women are so variable.