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

“That’s it,” she said, rising from her chair, and walking nervously across the floor of her chamber, backward and forward, for two or three times, while a burning glow suffused her cheek. “Isn’t it too bad that words spoken in confidence should have been repeated! I don’t wonder she is offended.”

This idea was retained for a time, and then abandoned for some other that seemed more plausible. For the next two weeks, Mrs. Jones was very unhappy. She did not meet Mrs. Todd during that period, but she saw a number of her friends, to whom either she or Mrs. Lyon had communicated the fact already stated. All declared the conduct of Mrs. Todd to be unaccountable; but several, among themselves, had shrewd suspicions of the real cause. Conversations on the subject, like the following, were held:–

“I can tell you what I think about it, Mrs. S–. You know, Mrs. Jones is pretty free with her tongue?”


“You’ve heard her talk about Mrs. Todd?”

“I don’t remember, now.”

“I have, often; she doesn’t spare her, sometimes. You know, yourself, that Mrs. Todd has queer ways of her own.”

“She is not perfect, certainly.”

“Not by a great deal; and Mrs. Jones has not hesitated to say so. There is not the least doubt in my mind, that Mrs. Todd has heard something.”

“Perhaps so; but she is very foolish to take any notice of it.”

“So I think; but you know she is touchy.”

In some instances, the conversation assumed a grave form:–

“Do you know what has struck me, in this matter of Mrs. Jones and Mrs. Todd?” says one scandal-loving personage to another, whose taste ran parallel with her own.

“No. What is it?” eagerly asks the auditor.

“I will tell you; but you mustn’t speak of it, for your life.”

“Never fear me.”

The communication was made in a deep whisper.

“Bless me!” exclaims the recipient of the secret. “It surely cannot be so!”

“There is not the least doubt of it. I had it from a source that cannot be doubted.”

“How in the world did you hear it?”

“In a way not dreamed of by Mrs. Jones.”

“No doubt, Mrs. Todd has heard the same.”

“Not the least in the world. But don’t you think her to blame in refusing to keep Mrs. Jones’s company, or even to speak to her?”

“Certainly I do. It happened a long time ago, and no doubt poor Mrs. Jones has suffered enough on account of it. Indeed, I don’t think she ought to be blamed in the matter at all; it was her misfortune, not her fault.”

“So I think. In fact, I believe she is just as worthy of respect and kindness as Mrs. Todd.”

“No doubt of it in the world; and from me she shall always receive it.”

“And from me also.”

In this way the circle spread, so that before two weeks had elapsed, there were no less than twenty different notions held about Mrs. Todd’s behaviour to Mrs. Jones. Some talked very seriously about cutting the acquaintance of Mrs. Jones also, while others took her side and threatened to give up the acquaintance of Mrs. Todd.

Thus matters stood, when a mutual friend, who wished to do honour to some visitors from a neighbouring city, sent out invitations for a party. Before these invitations were despatched, it was seriously debated whether it would do to invite both Mrs. Jones and Mrs. Todd, considering how matters stood between them. The decision was in favour of letting them take care of their own difficulties.

“If I thought Mrs. Todd would be there, I am sure I wouldn’t go,” said Mrs. Jones, on receiving her card of invitation.

“I hardly think that would be acting wisely,” replied her husband. “You are not conscious of having wronged Mrs. Todd. Why, then, should you shun her?”

“But it is so unpleasant to meet a person with whom you have been long intimate, who refuses to speak to you.”

“No doubt it is. Still we ought not to go out of our way to shun that person. Let us, while we do not attempt to interfere with the liberties of others, be free ourselves. Were I in your place, I would not move an inch to keep out of her way.”