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Miss Dora Baggins' Book of Manners  by Dreamflower



It is, of course, Impossible to go through Life without sometimes Making Mistakes, nor will one do so without at Some Point, either Offending Someone or Being Offended.  Misunderstandings and Circumstances may Lead to Difficulties without any Ill-intent on one's own part.  Indeed, it is not unknown that one may Offend Someone withough ever being Aware of having done so!
In Addition, there are Times when Upsets may lead one to wonder: What to do?
How does one Avoid giving Insult to others?  Of course, Gentle Reader, following the Rules of Proper Behaviour can lessen the Possiblity that one may do so!  If one is Following the Precepts of Hospitality, Predictability and Kindness, this will at least lead to Fewer Occasions of Being Offensive!
However, this does not mean that it will Never Happen.  There are times when Circumstances may cause Perfectly Innocent Remarks to be Misinterpreted as Insult.  If one is speaking to Another, who has Unknown to One, recently Suffered an Unfortunate Event or Bereavement of some sort, even the Commonplaces of Ordinary Conversation may scour a Broken Heart. The only Solution here is to offer Sincere Sympathy as soon as one becomes aware of Having Offended.  Time will sooner or later Heal, and the Kindness of one's True Intent will be remembered with Gratitude. 
Then, Sadly, there are Those who are Overly Sensitive and who have too High a Regard for themselves, who will Take Insult at the Least Provocation.  It is also an Unfortunate Fact that the latter sort of Person will also Give Offense regularly to Others, and then Become Incensed when that Offense is Taken!
In the case of the Latter, when such Persons cannot be Politely Avoided ( for this may sometimes be the case when there are Family Connexions), it is best to Maintain One's Dignity.  One can Acknowledge the so-called Offense with an Apology that is Merely Polite.  One's Tone of Voice and the Look one gives may convey to the So-called Offended Party that One is No Fool.
One should not Feel Obliged to Take Insult, either, simply because it is Offered, even Blatantly!  It is a Sad Fact of Life that there are those who find in Rude Behavior a Weapon for Getting Their Way.  These Persons are Quite Aware that other people are disturbed by their Callous Behaviour, and for the sake of Peace and Quiet, will Give In.  Refusing to Acknowledge this Rudeness for what it is, and Keeping a Calm Demeanor while Standing Firm can rob these Rude Persons of a Victory.
Of course, there are also Occasions when Accidents may Result in one's Needing to Apologise.  It should go Without Saying, that such Commonplace Occurences as Treading on Toes or Bumping Elbows call for a quiet "Excuse me please!" or "I beg your pardon!"; to which the Polite Response is "It is of no matter!" or more informally "That is all right."
But other Accidents call for more than a mere Apology.  While the Apology is still Necessary, if one has Injured a Person or Broken a Possession, Amends must be Made!   
If one has Broken or Lost an item belonging to Another, it is inherent upon one to Repair, Replace or Requite the owner of said Object.  If it is an item of Sentimental Value, and the Damage is minor, Repairing it is the best Option.  However, with some things that is Not Practical, or the Damage is too Great.  If the Item is Lost, then Repair is not an Option.  If one can be Assured of getting an Item of Equal or Greater Value, and more or less Identical to that which was Broken or Lost, then Replacing it with another is a good choice.  However, often the only Amends that can be made is to offer Money in the Value of what is Gone.  While this may cause one Hardship, it is the only Honest Thing To Do!  If one has not the Funds to Do So, then one may offer one's Service instead.
If one is the Unfortunate Owner of said item, one should be Gracious in Accepting the Apologies, as well as the Offender's offer to Make Amends.  It will not Undo the Deed to Hold Grudges, while Dismissing a true Loss by saying: 'It does not matter!' leaves the Repentent Person feeling Guilt with no means of Assuaging the Offense.
If one has, through Careless and Thoughtless Actions, caused actual Physical Injury, one must Immediately offer Help!  This may be anything from Offering a Drink of Water or a Cup of Tea, to calling (and paying for) the Healer!
Again, the Injured Party should accept all such offers, and not Hold Grudges.
There are, of course, the Sorts of Mistakes in which one has merely Offended Society, rather than a Person.  It may be that in some ways these Indiscretions are more Difficult to Atone for, as there is no One Person to Whom One may Apologise!
The problem is that those who are Well-Mannered will Affect Not to Notice!  However, Hobbit Nature being what it is, they most Certainly Have Done So.  Those of a truly Kind Disposition will Overlook any such stumble, realising they could have made Similar Gaffes in the Past and May Well Do So in the Future!  Others may one acknowledge the Situation by Exchanging Looks, and those who are Less Charitable in Nature may find it to be a Later Subject of Gossip and Mockery! 
Here is a Truth: One who Mocks the Ill-Manners of Another is displaying even Poorer Manners!
However, if one has Offended in some way and then Realised later one's Error, it is As Well to Acknowledge it, Apologise, and Put it Behind One!  For example, perhaps one discovers that a Letter to which one was Expected to Reply, had been Mislaid and is not Found until Long After a Polite Reply should have been made.  This is Not So Uncommon as one could wish; however, the Worst Thing one can do is to Simply Ignore the Lapse!  It may be that the Person who wrote the Letter has long forgotten about the lack of Reply (or it May Not) but it will Prey on One's Mind any time one encounters that Correspondent!  Better to Say Something than to Pretend it Never Happened!
A good Rule of Thumb: One should Always Acknowledge and make amends for one's Own Errors, but be Forgiving and Forgetting of the Honest Errors of Others! 

What if the Offender is one's child? 
This will of course, Depend upon the Age of the Child in Question.  The Very Young, those who are Infants or who have Scarcely Entered Faunthood, may only Offend by Accident.  They do not Know Yet the Rules of Sociable Behaviour, and can scarecly be Expected to Understand what they have done to Offend.  In such Event, the Parent should Offer Apologies, and Remove the Offender.  A wise Parent may Use the Opportunity to Explain to a faunt, so that he or she might Learn from the Experience.  Babes who have yet to Master Language will not Benefit, and should never be Scolded or Punished, as they have no Idea what they have Done.
Children and Teens should have their Misdeeds Explained, and should be Expected to Follow a Parental Apology with one of their own!  Older Teens and Tweens should make their Own Apologies, and be Expected to Take Part in any Amends that Must be Made!  For example, a Tween who found it a Lark to Raid the Neighbour's Garden, might be Put to Weeding or other  Useful Work on behalf of Said Neighbor!
What if one forgets an Engagement?
It is for that Very Reason that one should Always Keep an Appointment Book!  And yet this can happen Even to the Most Punctilious of us!  A Note of Apology, and a Call Upon the Person is best, as well as an Explanation.  While a Reason is not an Excuse, it is perhaps Better that one thinks one is Forgotten Merely due to the Stress of Excessive Busy-ness, rather than to think one is so Forgettable that one simply Slips Another's Mind!
What if one finds the larder low when Guests come to Call?
One might find it Truly Dire if one has not even a Cup of Tea and a bit of Bread and Butter to offer a Guest!  Yet if such is the Case, Inviting the Guest to Accompany One to the Nearest Inn or Eating House is Acceptable!  However, if one cannot Afford to do that, then perhaps it is Better to Not Answer the Door. 
Is it ever Acceptable to Administer a Cut to someone?
"Cutting" another Person, by Refusing to Acknowledge him or her in a Social Setting is not Something to Do Lightly!  And yet there are Those whose Behaviour is so Far Beyond the Pale that they should be Shunned.  This is NEVER to be done Lightly or for Petty Reasons!  It should be reserved for those whose Behaviour has proven them to be Utterly Reprobate!
There are different Degrees of Cutting a Person.  If the Offense is a Personal one, and one finds that the Offender is also a Guest of another who is a Mutual Acquaintance, the Cut Direct is Rude to one's Host, who may not be Aware of the Circumstances, or who may have the Good Intentions of Effecting a Reconciliation.  In such an Event, a curt nod and a very Coldly Voiced "How do you do?" uttered in a Tone that makes it Clear one does not Actually Care about the Answer is the Best One can do.
In a more Public Setting, such as walking down the street, one may give the Cut Direct.  This is done by first Catching the Person's Eye, glaring Coldly, and then Deliberately Turning One's Attention Elsewhere.  Should the Person Approach, one may be Justified in Turning One's Back!  
And there may come the Occasion that Certain Persons may be Completely Shunned.  While it is not something that occurs Often (and I myself can Recall No Such Circumstance in My Own Lifetime!) it is not Completely Unheard Of that a Hobbit might Commit a Crime So Heinous as to Call for him to be Marked and Banished!  Thereafter, the Banished One does not Exist, and Until he leaves the Shire, none should acknowledge him in Any Way (save the Shirriffs who must Escort him to the Bounds), nor Ever Again Speak His Name!
Life is Not Perfect, nor is any Hobbit!  By Keeping this in Mind, one may find that one can have Charity for the Foibles of Others, while Striving Ceaselessly to Eliminate one's Own! 

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