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The Unruly Member
by [?]

“In trouble again, I find! Ah, Flora! That restless little tongue of yours is a sad transgressor. Why will you not learn to be more careful? Why do you not place a guard upon your lips, as well as upon your actions?”

“So I do, aunt, when I think myself in the company of tattlers and mischief-makers.”

“I do not think Mary Lee either a tattler or a mischief-maker,” replied the aunt gravely.

“Then why did she run off to Ellen Gray, and tell her what I had said?”

“She might have done so from far different motives than those you are inclined to attribute to her,” said Mrs. Marion, the aunt of Flora Mere. “And from my knowledge of her character, I feel very sure that her conduct in this has been governed by a strict regard to right principles.”

“But what possible end could she have had in view in repeating to Ellen my thoughtlessly spoken words? It could do her no good.”

“There she is at the door now,” Mrs. Marion replied, glancing out of the window. “We will ask the question direct, as soon as Betty has admitted her.”

The blood mounted to Flora’s cheeks as her aunt said this, and her own eyes caught a glimpse of the young lady whose conduct she had been so strongly condemning. The aunt and her niece sat silent until Mary Lee entered.

Here we will take the opportunity to mention the cause of the unpleasant state of affairs between Flora and her young friend. On the day before, while in company with Mary Lee, and one or two other of her acquaintances, she very thoughtlessly and not exactly in the right spirit, repeated some remarks she had heard about Ellen Gray that reflected upon her rather unfavourably. Mary Lee at once attempted to vindicate her friend, but Flora maintained that the allegations were certainly true, for she had them from an undoubted source. Mary asked that source, but she declined mentioning it, on the ground that she did not wish to violate the confidence reposed in her by the individual who related the facts she had repeated.

“It would, perhaps, be better not to mention any thing of this kind,” said Mary Lee, “unless the author be given, and full liberty, at the same time, to make the most free inquiries as to the truth of what is alleged.”

“And get up to your ears in hot water,” returned Flora, tossing her head.

“Even that would be better than to let any one suffer from an untrue statement.”

“Ah! But suppose it should be true?”

“Let the guilt rest upon the right head–where it ought to rest. But save the innocent from unjust allegations. That is my doctrine.”

“A very good doctrine, no doubt,” Flora returned; “if you can act it out.”

Here the subject was dropped. On the next morning, Mary Lee called in to see her young friend Ellen Gray. After conversing for a short time she said–

“I heard, yesterday, Ellen, that at Mrs. Harvey’s party, you acted towards Mr. Evelyn with much discourtesy of manner, besides actually telling an untruth.”

“I am unconscious of having done either the one or the other of these,” Ellen replied, in a quiet tone.

“I believed you innocent,” said Mary, with a brightening countenance. “But what ground is there for the idle, ill-natured gossip that has got on the wind?”

“Not much, if any. I declined dancing with Evelyn, as I had a perfect right to do.”

“Did you tell him you were engaged for the next cotillion?”

“No, certainly not, for I had no engagement then.”

“It is said that when he asked you to dance, you excused yourself on the plea that you were already engaged.”

“Who says this?”

“Flora Mere.”

“How does she know?”

“That I cannot tell. She declined giving her authority.”

“Then, of course, I must believe her the author of the fabrication.”

“No–that does not certainly follow. I do not believe Flora would be guilty of such a thing. But, like too many, she is ready to believe another capable of doing almost any thing that may happen to be alleged. And like the same class of persons, too ready to repeat what she has heard, no matter how injuriously it may affect the subject of the allegation–while a false principle of honour prevents the open declaration of the source from which the information has been derived.”