Choice by T. S. Arthur
An Extract From
Married Life, Its Shadows and Sunshine
"TWO offers at once! You are truly a favoured maiden, Rose," said
Annette Lewis to her young friend Rose Lilton, in a gay tone. "It is
husband or no husband with most of us; but you have a choice between
"And happy shall I be if I have the wisdom to choose rightly," was
the reply of Rose.
"If it were my case, I don't think that I should have much
difficulty in making a choice."
"Don't you? Suppose, then, you give me the benefit of your
"Oh, no, not for the world!" replied Annette, laughing. "I'm afraid
you might be jealous of me afterwards."
"Never fear. I am not of a jealous disposition."
"No, I won't commit myself in regard to your lovers. But, if they
were mine, I would soon let it be known where my preference lay."
"Then you won't assist me in coming to a decision? Surely I am
entitled to this act of friendship."
"If you put it upon that ground, Rose, I do not see how I can
"I do put it upon that ground, Annette. And now I ask you, as a
friend, to give me your opinion of the two young men, James Hambleton
and Marcus Gray, who have seen such wonderful attractions in my humble
self as to become suitors for my hand at the same time."
"Decidedly, then, Rose, I should prefer Marcus Gray."
"There is about him, certainly, Annette, much to attract a maiden's
eye and to captivate her heart but it has occurred to me that the
most glittering surface does not always indicate the purest gold
beneath. I remember once to have seen a massive chain, wrought from
pure ounces, placed beside another that was far inferior in quality,
but with a surface of ten times richer hue. Had I not been told the
difference, I would have chosen the latter as in every way more
valuable; but when it was explained that one bore the hue of genuine
gold, while the other had been coloured by a process known to
jewellers, I was struck with the lesson it taught."
"What lesson, Rose?"
"That the richest substance has not always the most glittering
exterior. That real worth, satisfied with the consciousness of
interior soundness of principle, assumes few imposing exterior
aspects and forms."
"And that rule you apply to these two young men?"
"By that rule I wish to be guided, in some degree, in my choice,
Annette. I wish to keep my mind so balanced, that it may not be
swayed from a sound discrimination by any thing of imposing
"But is not the exterior—that which meets the eye—all that we can
judge from? Is not the exterior a true expression of what is within?"
"Not by any means, Annette. I grant that it should be, but it is
not. Look at the fact I have just named respecting the gold chains."
"But they were inanimate substances. They were not faces, where
thoughts, feelings, and principles find expression."
"Do you suppose, Annette, that bad gold would ever have been
coloured so as to look even more beautiful than that which is
genuine, if there had not been men who assumed exterior graces and
virtues that were not in their minds? No. The very fact you adduce
strengthens my position. The time was, in the earlier and purer
ages—the golden ages of the world's existence—when the countenance
was the true index to the mind. Then it was a well-tuned instrument,
and the mind within a skilful player; to whose touch every muscle,
and chord, and minute fibre gave answering melody. That time has
passed. Men now school their faces to deception; it is an art which
nearly all practise—I and you too often. We study to hide our real
feelings; to appear, in a certain sense, what we are not. Look at
some men whom we meet every day, with faces whose calmness, I should
rather say rigidity, gives no evidence that a single emotion ever
crosses the waveless ocean of their minds. But it is not so; the mind
within is active with thought and feelings; but the instrument formed
for it to play upon has lost its tune, or bears only relaxed or broken
"You have a strange, visionary way of talking sometimes, Rose,"
replied Annette, as her friend ceased speaking. "All that may do for
your transcendentalists, or whatever you call them; but it won't do
when you come down to the practical matter-of-fact business of life."
"To me, it seems eminently a practical principle, Annette. We must
act, in all important matters in life, with a just discrimination;
and how can we truly discriminate, if we are not versed in those
principles upon which, and only upon which, right discriminations can
"I must confess, Rose," replied her young friend, "that I do not
see much bearing that all this has upon the matter under discussion;
or, at least, I cannot see the truth of its application. Gold never
assumes a leaden exterior."
"We need not be very eminent philosophers to tell one from the
"No, of course not."
"Very well. Here is Marcus Gray, with a genuine golden exterior,
and James Hambleton with a leaden one."
"I do not grant the position, Annette. It is true that Mr.
Hambleton is not so brilliant and showy; but I have found in him one
quality that I have not yet discovered in the other."
"What is that?"
"Depth of feeling, and high moral principle."
"You certainly do not pretend to affirm that Mr. Gray has neither
feeling nor principle?"
"Of course I do not. I only say that I have never yet perceived any
very strong indications of their existence."
"I am in earnest, Annette. I doubt not that he possesses both, and,
I trust, in a high degree. But he seems to be so constantly acting a
brilliant and effective part, that nature, unadorned and simple, has
no chance to speak out. It is not so with Mr. Hambleton. Every word
he utters shows that he is speaking what he really feels; and often,
though not so highly polished in speech as Mr. Gray, have I heard him
utter sentiments of genuine truth and humanity, in a tone that made my
heart bound with pleasure at recognising the simple eloquence of
nature. His character, Annette, I find it no way difficult to read;
that of Marcus Gray puzzles my closest scrutiny."
"I certainly cannot sympathize with you in your singular notions,
Rose," her friend replied. "I have never discovered either of the
peculiarities in these young men that you seem to make of so much
importance. As for Mr. Gray, he is a man of whom any woman might feel
proud; for he combines intelligence with courteous manners and a fine
person: while this Hambleton is, to me, insufferably stupid. And no
one, I am sure, can call his address and manners any thing like
polished. Indeed, I should pronounce him downright boorish and
awkward. Who would want a man for a husband of whom she would be
ashamed? Not I, certainly."
"I will readily grant you, Annette," said Rose, as her friend
ceased speaking, "that Mr. Hambleton's exterior attractions are not to
be compared with those of Mr. Gray; but, as I said before, in a matter
like this, where it is the quality of the mind, and not the external
appearance of the man alone, that is to give happiness, it behooves a
maiden to look beneath the surface, as I am trying to do now."
"But I could not love a man like Mr. Hambleton, unless, indeed,
there were no possibility of getting any one else. In that case, I
would make a choice of evils between single blessedness and such a
husband. But to have two such offers as these, Rose, and hesitate to
make a choice, strikes me as singular indeed!"
"I do not hesitate, Annette," was the quiet reply.
"Have you, then, indeed decided, Rose?"
"I have—and this conversation has caused me to decide; for, as it
has progressed, my mind has been enabled to see truly the real
difference in the characters of my suitors."
"You have, then, decided in favor of Mr. Gray?"
"Indeed I have not, Annette. Though I admire his fine talents and
his polished exterior, yet I have never been able to perceive in him
those qualities upon which my heart can rest in confidence. He may
possess these in even a higher degree than Mr. Hambleton, but I am
afraid to run so great a risk. In the latter, I know there are moral
qualities that I can love, and that I can repose upon."
"But he is so dull, Rose."
"I really do not think so, Annette. There is not so much flash
about him, if I may use the word, as about Mr. Gray. But as to his
being dull, I must beg to differ with you. To me, his conversation is
"It never is so to me. And, besides all that, his tastes and mine
are as widely different as the poles. Why, Rose, if you become his
wife, you will sink into obscurity at once. He never can make any
impression on society. It is not in him."
"Rather make no impression on society at all, than a false or
disgraceful one, say I," was the firm reply of Rose.
"You cannot, certainly, mean to say," returned her friend, "that
the impression made upon society by Mr. Gray is either a false or
"I should be sorry to make that assertion, for I do not believe
such to be the case," Rose replied. "What I mean is, that I can read
Mr. Hambleton's true character, and I know it to be based upon fixed
and high-toned principles. These can never make the woman who truly
loves him unhappy. They give place to no moral contingencies, by
which hopes are so often wrecked, and hearts broken. Now, in regard
to Mr. Gray, there is nothing in his character, so far as I can, read
it, upon which to predicate safe calculations of this kind. He is
intelligent, and highly interesting as a companion. His personal
appearance and his address are attractive. But all below the exterior
is hidden. The moral qualities of the man never show themselves. I
feel that to give my heart to such a one would be risking too much. Of
course, I must decline his offer."
"Indeed, indeed, Rose, I think you are very foolish!"
"Time will show, Annette."
"Yes, time will show," was the prophetic response. And time did
show that Rose made a right choice, when she accepted the offer of
James Hambleton, and gave him, with her hand, a warm, true heart.