Which Was Most
the Lady by T.
"DID you ever see such a queer looking figure?" exclaimed a young
lady, speaking loud enough to be heard by the object of her remark.
She was riding slowly along in an open carriage, a short distance
from the city, accompanied by a relative. The young man, her
companion, looked across the, road at a woman, whose attire was
certainly not in any way very near approach to the fashion of the
day. She had on a faded calico dress, short in the waist; stout
leather shoes; the remains of what had once been a red merino long
shawl, and a dingy old Leghorn bonnet of the style of eighteen
hundred and twenty.
As the young man turned to look at the woman, the latter raised her
eyes and fixed them steadily upon the young lady who had so rudely
directed towards her the attention of her companion. Her face, was
not old nor faded, as the dress she wore. It was youthful, but plain
almost to homeliness; and the smallness of her eyes, which were close
together and placed at the Mongolian angle, gave to her countenance a
"How do you do, aunty?" said the young man gently drawing on the
rein of his horse so as still further to diminish his speed.
The face of the young girl—for she was quite young—reddened, and
she slackened her steps so as to fall behind the rude, unfeeling
couple, who sought to make themselves merry at her expense.
"She is gypsy!" said the young lady, laughing.
"Gran'mother! How are catnip and hoarhound, snakeroot and tansy,
selling to-day? What's the state of the herb market?" joined the
young man with increasing rudeness.
"That bonnet's from the ark—ha! ha!"
"And was worn by the wife of Shem, Ham or Japheth. Ha! now I've got
it! This is the great, great, great granddaughter of Noah. What a
discovery! Where's Barnum? Here's a chance for another fortune!"
The poor girl made no answer to this cruel and cowardly assault,
but turned her face away, and stood still, in order to let the
carriage pass on.
"You look like a gentleman and a lady," said a man whom was riding
by, and happened to overhear some of their last remarks; "and no
doubt regard yourselves as such. But your conduct is anything but
gentlemanly and lady-like; and if I had the pleasure of knowing your
friends, I would advise them to keep you in until you had sense and
decency enough not to disgrace yourselves and them!"
A fiery spot burned instantly on the young man's face, and fierce
anger shot from his eyes. But the one who had spoken so sharply fixed
upon him a look of withering contempt, and riding close up to the
carriage, handed him his card, remarking coldly, as he did so,—
"I shall be pleased to meet you again, sir. May I ask your card in
The young man thrust his hand indignantly into his pocket, and
fumbled there for some moments, but without finding a card.
"No matter," said he, trying to speak fiercely; "you will hear from
me in good time."
"And you from me on the spot, if I should happen to catch you at
such mean and cowardly work as you were just now engaged in," said
the stranger, no seeking to veil his contempt.
"The vulgar brute! O, he's horrid!" ejaculated the young lady as
her rather crestfallen companion laid the whip upon his horse and
dashed ahead. "How he frightened me!"
"Some greasy butcher or two-fisted blacksmith," said the elegant
young man with contempt. "But," he added boastfully, "I'll teach him
Out into the beautiful country, with feeling a little less buoyant
than when they started, rode our gay young couple. As the excitement
of passion died away both feel a little uncomfortable in mind, for
certain unpleasant convictions intruded themselves, and certain
precepts in the code of polite usage grew rather distinct in their
memories. They had been thoughtless, to say the least of it.
"But the girl looked so queer!" said the young lady. "I couldn't
help laughing to save my life. Where on earth did she come from?"
Not very keen was their enjoyment of the afternoon's ride, although
the day was particularly fine, and their way was amid some bits of
charming scenery. After going out into the country some five or six
miles, the horse's head was turned, and they took their way homeward.
Wishing to avoid the Monotony of a drive along the same road the young
man struck across the country in order to reach another avenue leading
into the city, but missed his way and bewildered in a maze of winding
country roads. While descending a steep hill, in a very secluded
place, a wheel came off, and both were thrown from the carriage. The
young man received only a slight bruise, but the girl was more
seriously injured. Her head had struck against a stone with so strong
a concussion as to render her insensible.
Eagerly glancing around for aid, the young man saw, at no great
distance from the road, a poor looking log tenement, from the mud
chimney of which curled a thin column of smoke, giving signs of
inhabitants. To call aloud was his first impulse, and he raised his
voice with the cry of "Help!"
Scarcely had the sound died away, ere he saw the door of the cabin
flung open, and a woman and boy looked eagerly around.
"Help!" he cried again, and the sound of his voice directed their
eyes towards him. Even in his distress, alarm, and bewilderment, the
young man recognized instantly in the woman the person they had so
wantonly insulted only an hour or two before. As soon as she saw
them, she ran forward hastily, and seeing the white face of the
insensible girl, exclaimed, with pity and concern,—
"O, sir! is she badly hurt?"
There was heart in that voice of peculiar sweetness.
"Poor lady!" she said, tenderly, as she untied the bonnet strings
with gentle care, and placed her hand upon the clammy temples.
"Shall I help you to take her over to the house?" she added,
drawing an arm beneath the form of the insensible girl.
"Thank you!" There was a tone of respect in the young man's voice.
"But I can carry her myself;" and he raised the insensible form in
his arms, and, following the young stranger, bore it into her humble
dwelling. As he laid her upon a bed, he asked, eagerly,—
"Is there a doctor near?"
"Yes, sir," replied the girl. "If you will come to the door, I will
show you the doctor's house; and I think he must be at home, for I
saw him go by only a quarter of an hour since. John will take care of
your horse while you are away, and I will do my best for the poor
The doctor's house, about a quarter of a mile distant, was pointed
out, and the young man hurried off at a rapid speed. He was gone only
a few minutes when his insensible companion revived, and, starting up,
looked wildly around her.
"Where am I? Where is George?" she asked, eagerly.
"He has gone for the doctor; but will be back very soon," said the
young woman, in a kind, soothing voice.
"For the doctor! Who's injured?" She had clasped her hands across
her forehead, and now, on removing them, saw on one a wet stain of
blood. With a frightened cry she fell backs upon the pillow from
which she had risen.
"I don't think you are much hurt," was said, in a tone of
encouragement, as with a damp cloth the gentle stranger wiped very
tenderly her forehead. "The cut is not deep. Have you pain anywhere?"
"No," was faintly answered.
"You can move your arms; so they are uninjured. And now,
won't you just step on to the floor, and see if you can bear your
weight? Let me raise you up, There, put your foot down—now the
other—now take a step—now another. There are no bones broken! How
glad I am!"
How earnest, how gentle, how pleased she was. There was no acting
in her manner. Every tone, expression, and gesture showed that heart
was in everything.
"O, I am glad!" she repeated. "It might have been so much worse."
The first glance into the young girl's face was one of
identification; and even amid the terror that oppressed her heart,
the unwilling visitor felt a sense of painful mortification. There
was no mistaking that peculiar countenance. But how different she
seemed! Her voice was singularly sweet, her manner gentle and full of
kindness, and in her movements and attitude a certain ease that marked
her as one not to be classed, even by the over-refined young lady who
was so suddenly brought within her power, among the common herd.
All that assiduous care and kind attention could do for the unhappy
girl, until the doctor's arrival, was done. After getting back to the
bed from which she bad been induced to rise, in order to see if all
her limbs were sound, she grew sick and faint, and remained so until
the physician came. He gave it as his opinion that she had received
some internal injuries, and that it would not be safe to attempt her
The young couple looked at each other with dismay pictured in their
"I wish it were in my power to make you more comfortable," said the
kind-hearted girl, in whose humble abode they were. "What we have is
at your service in welcome, and all that it is in my power to do
shall be done for you cheerfully. If father was only at home—but
that can't be helped."
The young man dazed upon her in wonder and shame—wonder at the
charm that now appeared in her singularly marked countenance, and
shame for the disgraceful and cowardly cruelty with which he had a
little while before so wantonly assailed her.
The doctor was positive about the matter, and so there was no
alternative. After seeing his unhappy relative in as comfortable a
condition as possible, the young man, with the doctor's aid, repaired
his crippled vehicle by the restoration of a linchpin, and started for
the city to bear intelligence of the sad accident, and bring out the
mother of the injured girl.
Alone with the person towards whom she had only a short time before
acted in such shameless violation of womanly kindness and lady-like
propriety, our "nice young lady" did not feel more comfortable in
mind than body. Every look—every word—every tone—every act of the
kind-hearted girl—was a rebuke. The delicacy of her attentions, and
the absence of everything like a desire to refund her of the recent
unpleasant incident, marked her as possessing, even if her face and
attire were plain, and her position humble, all the elements of a
Although the doctor, when he left, did not speak very
encouragingly, the vigorous system of the young girl began to react
and she grew better quite rapidly so that when her parents arrived
with the family physician, she was so much improved that it was at
once decided to take her to the city.
For an hour before her parents came she lay feigning to be in
sleep, yet observing every movement and word of her gentle attendant.
It was an hour of shame, self-reproaches, and repentance. She was not
really bad at heart; but false estimates of things, trifling
associations, and a thoughtless disregard of others, had made her far
less a lady in act than she imagined herself to be in quality. Her
parents, when they arrived, overwhelmed the young girl with
thankfulness; and the father, at parting, tried to induce her to
accept a sum of money. But the offers seemed to disturb her.
"O, no, sir!" she said, drawing back, while a glow came into her
pale face, and made it almost beautiful; "I have only done a simple
"But you are poor," he urged, glancing around. "Take this, and let
it make you more comfortable."
"We are contented with what God has given to us," she replied,
cheerfully. "For what he gives is always the best portion. No, sir; I
cannot receive money for doing only a common duty."
"Your reward is great," said the father, touched with the noble
answer, "may God bless you, my good girl! And if you will not receive
my money, accept my grateful thanks."
As the daughter parted from the strange young girl, she bent down
and kissed her hand; then looking up into her face, with tearful
eyes, she whispered for her ears alone,—
"I am punished, and you are vindicated. O, let your heart forgive
"It was God whom you offended," was whispered back. "Get his
forgiveness, and all will be right. You have mine, and also the
prayer of my heart that you may be good and wise, for only such are
The humbled girl grasped her hand tightly, and murmured, "I shall
never forget you—never!"
Nor did she. If the direct offer of her father was declined,
indirect benefits reached, through her means, the lonely log cottage,
where everything in time put on a new and pleasant aspect, wind the
surroundings of the gentle spirit that presides there were more in
agreement with her true internal quality. To the thoughtless young
couple the incidents of that day were a life-lesson that never passed
entirely from their remembrance. They obtained a glance below the
surface of things that surprised them, learning that, even in the
humblest, there may be hearts in the right places—warm with pure
feelings, and inspired by the noblest sentiments of humanity; and
that highly as they esteem themselves on account of their position,
there was one, at least, standing below them so far as external
advantages were concerned, who was their superior in all the higher
qualities that go to make up the real lady and gentleman.