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THE GRACE THAT "THINKETH NO EVIL:
BT CATHARIHI U. TROWBRIDOE.
As Mrs. Mulford was sitting in her parlor, conversing familiarly with her two intimate friends, Mrs. Lee and Mrs. Allen, she said to them, "I have half a mind to show you a present which I received a few days since."
"Oh! do show it," exclaimed both the ladies at once.
Mrs. Mulford left the room, and soon returned with a beautifully embroidered mantilla. Her friends admired the work, which was very rich, and the shape, which was becoming, and different from any thing that they had seen.
A week or two after this, as Mrs. Lee was sitting in her chamber with a female friend, she said, "I have half a mind, Aunt Jane, to send Bridget in to see if Mrs. Mulford is willing to lend me her mantilla. I think it would be a pretty shape for the plain one I am going to make for myself."
"Why don't you send, my dear? Mrs. Mulford, no doubt, will be willing that you should take a pattern of the shape of it."
"I think I will send," replied Mrs. Lee, as she laid asidr her work to write a note to her friend.
The same day, Mrs. Allen also sent a note, asking the same favor of her friend Mrs. Mulford.
To each, Mrs. Mulford returned substantially the same answer, the purport of which was, that it was not in her power to oblige her friends, for a friend of hers had taken the article home with her.
"Then she has already lent it," said Aunt Jane, when Bridget returned with Mrs. Mulford's note. "Does she offer to lend it to you when it is returned?"
"She does not eay any thing of the kind in the note, but no doubt she will be perfectly willing to let me have it," replied Mrs. Lee.
"Has Mrs. Mulford ever lent you that man11113?" inquired Aunt Jane, some weeks after Mrs. Lee had sent in for it.
"No, aunt, she has not."
"You have met her several times since; has she never said any thing about it?"
"She has not, and I have not said any thing to her about it, for I thought, if it had been returned, and she was willing to lend it, she would mention it herself."
"It is very strange that she has never offered it to you. It seems she has lent it to one friendi at least, and I think you have as good a claim as any one. I think it is very disobliging in her. If I were in your place, I should feel affronted."
"Oh, no! aunt, I should be sorry to take the matter so seriously."
"I should think it was a serious matter. She professes to be a warm friend of yours, and yet refuses you so small a favor. I think it is plain she either does not care enough about you to wish to oblige you, or she does not wish you to have an article of dress the same shape as her own. In either case, it does not look much like friendship."
"Are you not going a little too far, aunt? You certainly cannot know the motives by which Mrs. Mulford has been influenced. When we have no means of knowing the motives which influence another's conduct, docs not the charity that 'thinketh no evil' require us to believe, or at least to hope, that they are influenced by right motives? Now, if I knew that Mrs. Mulford withheld the pattern requested, because she had no wish to oblige me, I should have reason to doubt the siiicerityx>f bar friendship; but I do not know it, and I can imagine other motives which may have influenced her conduct. She
THE GRACE THAT "THINKETH NO EVIL."
may not have thought of my'reqnsst since the article was returned, or she may have some sufficient reason for her conduct, of whieh I am ignorant. She has always been a kind, obliging friend, and it would be very uncharitable in me to attribute her conduct in this one instance to such motives as Inever have had reason to'think governed her actions."
Tims did the charity that " thinketh no evil" throw the mantle of oblivion over an occurrence which, viewed in a different temper of mind, might have sundered the links of a friendship of many years' standing.
When Mrs. Allen received Mrs. Mulford's note, she was surprised that it contained no offer to loan her the article at some future time. In a few days she called on her friend, but during the call, Mrs. Mulford never alluded to the subject.
"It must have been returned before now," was Mrs. Allen's reasoning, after she returned home. "It is plain that she does not intend to lend it to me, or she would have spoken of it. It is very disobliging in her to refuse me so small a favor. If she were truly my friend, she would never have done it."
Mrs. Allen suffered her mind to dwell on this view of the subject, until she quite lost eight of the distinction between the factsthemsehes and the interpretation of those farts, which was the offspring of her own hasty judgment. The motive which she had gratuitously attributed to her friend, came to be considered in her own mind as much a veritable fact ae was the act itself.
Actuated by these views and feelings, it was perfectly natural that she should assume an air of coldness and reserve, the next time she met Mrs. Mulford, and it was just as natural that her friend, chilled by an atmosphere so uncongenial to the spirit of genuine friendship, should exhibit less warmth of affection than she was wont to do. This change in Mrs. Mulford was regarded by Mrs. Allen as full confirmation of her suspicions. The breach was widened between them, and in a short time, they met no longer as warm and cherished friends, but only as formal acquaintances.
After this state of things had continued for some time, Mrs. Lee inquired of Mrs. Allen what had occurred to interrupt her friendship for Mrs. Mulford.
"I cannot tell you exactly the occasion of it myself," replied Mrs. Allen. "I was warmly attached to Mrs. Mulford, until I had reason to think that she was no longer my true friend."
"Can you tell me what first led you to doubt her friendship?"
"Do you remember the afternoon we met in Mrs. Mulford's parlor, when, she showed us that beautiful present which she had received from her aunt in New York?"
"Yes, I do remember it very well."
"I liked the shape of it, and a few days after, having purchased materials to make a plain article of that kind, I sent to request the loan of it, just long enough to take a pattern from it. Mr.-. Mulford sent me back word, that a friend of hers had taken it home. In a few days, I called upon her, supposing, if she was willing to lend it, she would introduce the subject herself, as I could not doubt it had been returned before that time, but she never gave me the offer of it, or made any allusion to the subject. I certainly could not think it any mark of friendship, to refuse me so trifling a favor.''
"I sent to Mrs. Mulford for the loan of that mantilla about the same time that you did," replied Mrs Lee, "and she sent me the same answer, yet we have been as firm friends since as before."
"Is it possible that she treated you in the same way! How could you overlook it! She must have given you some explanation of her coni duet"
"No. We have not exchanged a word upon the subject since."
"That is strange. I do not understand it." "If you could have known that Mrs. Mulford i had a good and sufficient reason for her conduct in this instance, you would have been satisfied. j would you not t"
"Certainly: but I did not and could not know this."
"But yon will admit that you did not know what her reasons were; therefore it is plain that yon could not know that they were not good and sufficient. This being the case, was it consistent with that charity that 'thinketh no evil' for you to ascribe to her such a motive as the want of true friendship for you? Is it not plain, that it is not the act of Mrs. Mulford which has made the breach between you, but the motive which you have attributed to her, as the cause of the act—a motive which, for aught you know, may have never entered her mind?"
"I might be convinced by your arguments, were it not for various events that have since occurred. The coldness with which she treated me, the next time we met, was, I think, full confirmation of my suspicions."