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A Mother’s Influence
by [?]

“THERE come the children from school,” said Aunt Mary, looking from the window. “Just see that Clarence! he’ll have Henry in the gutter. I never saw just such another boy; why can’t he come quietly along like other children? There! now he must stop to throw stones at the pigs. That boy’ll give you the heart-ache yet, Anna.”

Mrs. Hartley made no reply, but laid aside her work quietly and left the room to see that their dinner was ready. In a few minutes the street-door was thrown open, and the children came bounding in full of life, and noisy as they could be.

“Where is your coat, Clarence?” she asked, in a pleasant tone, looking her oldest boy in the face.

“Oh, I forgot!” he replied, cheerfully; and turning quickly, he ran down stairs, and lifting his coat from where, in his thoughtlessness, he had thrown it upon the floor, hung it up in its proper place, and then sprang up the stairs.

“Isn’t dinner ready yet?” he said, with fretful impatience, his whole manner changing suddenly. “I’m hungry.”

“It will be ready in a few minutes, Clarence.”

“I want it now. I’m hungry.”

“Did you ever hear of the man,” said Mrs. Hartley, in a voice that showed no disturbance of mind, “who wanted the sun to rise an hour before its time?”

“No, mother. Tell me about it, won’t you?”

All impatience had vanished from the boy’s face.

“There was a man who had to go upon a journey; the stage-coach was to call for him at sun-rise. More than an hour before it was time for the sun to be up, the man was all ready to go, and for the whole of that hour he walked the floor impatiently, grumbling at the sun because he did not rise. ‘I’m all ready, and I want to be going,’ he said. ‘It’s time the sun was up, long ago.’ Don’t you think he was a very foolish man?”

Clarence laughed, and said he thought the man was very foolish indeed.

“Do you think he was more foolish than you were just now for grumbling because dinner wasn’t ready?”

Clarence laughed again, and said he did not know. Just then Hannah, the cook, brought in the waiter with the children’s dinner upon it. Clarence sprang for a chair, and drew it hastily and noisily to the table.

“Try and see if you can’t do that more orderly, my dear,” his mother said, in a quiet voice, looking at him, as she spoke, with a steady eye.

The boy removed his chair, and then replaced it gently.

“That is much better, my son.”

And thus she corrected his disorderly habits, quieted his impatient temper, and checked his rudeness, without showing any disturbance. This she had to do daily. At almost every meal she found it necessary to repress his rude impatience. It was line upon line, and precept upon precept. But she never tired, and rarely permitted herself to show that she was disturbed, no matter how deeply grieved she was at times over the wild and reckless spirit of her boy.

On the next day she was not very well; her head ached badly all the morning. Hearing the children in the passage when they came in from school at noon, she was, rising from the bed where she had lain down, to attend to them and give them their dinners, when Aunt Mary said–“Don’t get up, Anna, I will see to the children.”

It was rarely that Mrs. Hartley let any one do for them what she could do herself, for no one else could manage the unhappy temper of Clarence; but so violent was the pain in her head, that she let Aunt Mary go, and sank back upon the pillow from which she had arisen. A good deal of noise and confusion continued to reach her ears, from the moment the children came in. At length a loud cry and passionate words from Clarence caused her to rise up quickly and go over to the dining-room. All was confusion there, and Aunt Mary out of humour and scolding prodigiously. Clarence was standing up at the table, looking defiance at her, on account of some interference with his strong self-will. The moment the boy saw his mother, his countenance changed, and a look of confusion took the place of anger.