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The Two Husbands
by [?]

“Jane, how can you tolerate that dull, spiritless creature? I never sat by his side for five minutes, without getting sleepy.”

“He does not seem so very dull to me, Cara,” replied her companion.

“It is a true saying, that there never was a Jack without a Jill; but I could not have believed that my friend Jane Emory would have been willing to be the Jill to such a Jack.”

A slight change was perceptible in the countenance of Jane Emory, and for a moment the color deepened on her cheek. But when she spoke in reply to her friend’s remark, no indication that she felt its cutting import, was perceptible.

“I am convinced, from close observation of Walter Gray,” said Jane, “that he has in his character that which should ever protect him from jest or ridicule.”

“And what is that, my lady Jane?”

“Right thoughts and sound principles.”

“Fiddle stick!”

These should not only be respected, but honored wherever found,” said Jane, gravely.

“In a bear or a boor!” Cara responded, in a tone of irony.

“My friend Cara is ungenerous in her allusions. Surely, she will not assert that Walter Gray is a bear or a boor?”

“He is boorish enough, at any rate.”

“There I differ with you, Cara. His manner is not so showy, nor his attentions to the many little forms and observances of social life, so prompt as to please the fastidious in these matters. These defects, however, are not defects of character, but of education. He has not mingled enough in society to give him confidence.”

“They are defects, and are serious enough to make him quite offensive to me. Last evening, at Mrs. Clinton’s party, I sat beside him for half an hour, and was really disgusted with his marked disregard of the little courtesies of social life.”

“Indeed!” replied Jane, her manner becoming more serious, “and in what did these omissions consist?”

“Why, in the first place, while we were conversing,—-“

“He could converse, then?” said Jane, interrupting her friend.

“O, no, I beg pardon! While we were trying to converse–for among his other defects is an inability to talk to a lady on any subject of interest–I dropped my handkerchief, on purpose, of course, but he never offered to lift it for me; indeed, I doubt whether he saw it at all.”

“Then, Cara, how could you expect him to pick it up for you, if he did not see it?”

“But he ought to have seen it. He should have had his eyes about him; and so should every gentleman who sits by or is near a lady. I know one that never fails.”

“And pray, who is the perfect gentleman?” asked Jane smiling. “Is he one of my acquaintances?”

“Certainly he is. I mean Charles Wilton.”

“He is, I must confess, different from Walter Gray,” Jane remarked, drily.

“I hope he is!” said Cara, tossing her head, for she felt that something by no means complimentary was implied in the equivocal remark of her friend.

“But, seriously, Cara, I must, in turn, express regret that you allow yourself to feel interested in one like Charles Wilton. Trust me, my friend, he is unworthy of your regard.”

“And pray, Miss,” said Cara, warming suddenly, “what do you know of Charles Wilton, that will warrant your throwing out such insinuations against him?”

“Little beyond what I have learned by my own observation.”

“And what has that taught you? I should like very much to know.”

“It has taught me, Cara,” replied Jane, seriously, “to estimate him very lightly indeed. From what I have seen, I am convinced that he possesses neither fixed principles nor any decision of character. In the world, without these a man is like a ship upon the ocean, having neither helm nor compass.”

“You make broad and bold charges, Jane. But I am sure you are mistaken.”

“I may be. But so certain am I that I am right, that I would rather die this hour than be compelled to link my lot in life with his. Certain I am that I should make shipwreck of hope and affection.”