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Much Ado About Nothing; Or, The Reason Why Mrs. Todd Didn’t Speak To Mrs. Jones
by [?]

“DID you see that?” said Mrs. Jones to her friend Mrs. Lion, with whom she was walking.

“See what?”

“Why, that Mrs. Todd didn’t speak to me.”

“No. I thought she spoke to you as well as to me.”

“Indeed, then, and she didn’t.”

“Are you sure?”

“Sure? Can’t I believe my own eyes? She nodded and spoke to you, but she didn’t as much as look at me.”

“What in the world can be the reason, Mrs. Jones?”

“Dear knows!”

“You certainly must be mistaken. Mrs. Todd would not refuse to speak to one of her old friends in the street.”

“Humph! I don’t know; she’s rather queer, sometimes. She’s taken a miff at something, I suppose, and means to cut my acquaintance. But let her. I shall not distress myself about it; she isn’t all the world.”

“Have you done any thing likely to offend her?” asked Mrs. Lyon.

“Me?” returned her companion. “No, not that I am aware of; but certain people are always on the lookout for something or other wrong, and Mrs. Todd is just one of that kind.”

“I never thought so, Mrs. Jones.”

“She is, then. I know her very well.”

“I’m sorry,” said Mrs. Lyon, evincing a good deal of concern. “Hadn’t you better go to her in a plain, straight-forward way, and ask the reason of her conduct? This would make all clear in a moment.”

“Go to her, Mrs. Lyon,” exclaimed Mrs. Jones, with ill-concealed indignation. “No, indeed, that I will not. Do you think I would demean myself so much?”

“I am not sure that by so doing you would demean yourself, as you say. There is, clearly, some mistake, and such a course would correct all false impressions. But it was only a suggestion, thrown out for your consideration.”

“Oh, no, Mrs. Lyon,” replied Mrs. Jones, with warmth. “You never find me cringing to people, and begging to know why they are pleased to cut my acquaintance. I feel quite as good as anybody, and consider myself of just as much consequence as the proudest and best. Mrs. Todd needn’t think I care for her acquaintance; I never valued it a pin.”

Notwithstanding Mrs. Jones’s perfect indifference toward Mrs. Todd, she continued to talk about her, pretty much after this fashion, growing more excited all the while, during the next half hour, at the close of which time the ladies parted company.

When Mrs. Jones met her husband at the dinner-table, she related what had happened during the morning. Mr. Jones was disposed to treat the matter lightly, but his wife soon satisfied him that the thing was no joke.

“What can be Mrs. Todd’s reason for such conduct?” he asked, with a serious air. “I can’t tell, for my life.”

“She must have heard some false report about you.”

“It’s as likely as not; but what can it be?”

“Something serious, to cause her to take so decided a stand as she seems to have done.”

Mr. Jones looked grave, and spoke in a grave tone of voice. This made matters worse. Mrs. Jones’s first idea was that Mrs. Todd had heard something that she might have said about her, and that wounded pride had caused her to do as she had done; but her husband’s remark suggested other thoughts. It was possible that reports were in circulation calculated to injure her social standing, and that Mrs. Todd’s conduct toward her was not the result of any private pique.

“It is certainly strange and unaccountable,” she said, in reply to her husband’s last remark, speaking in a thoughtful tone.

“Would it not be the fairest and best way for you to go and ask for an explanation?”

“No, I can’t do that,” replied Mrs. Jones, quickly. “I am willing to bear undeserved contempt and unjust censure, but I will never humble myself to any one.”

For the rest of the day, Mrs. Jones’s thoughts all flowed in one channel. A hundred reasons for Mrs. Todd’s strange conduct were imagined, but none seemed long satisfactory. At last, she remembered having spoken pretty freely about the lady to a certain individual who was not remarkable for his discretion.