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If That Were My child!
by [?]

“AH, good evening, Mr. Pelby! Good evening, Mr. Manly! I am glad to see you! Mrs. Little and I were just saying that we wished some friends would step in.”

“Well, how do you do this evening, Mrs. Little?” said Mr. Pelby, after they were all seated. “You look remarkably well. And how is your little family?”

“We are all bright and hearty,” Mrs. Little replied, smiling. “Little Tommy has just gone off to bed. If you had come in a few minutes sooner, you would have seen the dear little fellow. He’s as lively and playful as a cricket.”

“How old is he now?” asked Mr. Manly.

“He will be two years and six months old the twenty-third of next month.”

“Just the age of my Edward. How much I should like to see him!”

“I don’t think he has gone to sleep yet,” said the fond mother of an only child, rising and going off to her chamber.

“You bachelors don’t sympathize much with us fathers of families,” said Mr. Little, laughing, to Mr. Pelby.

“How should we?”

“True enough! But then you can envy us; and no doubt do.”

“It’s well enough for you to think so, Little. But, after all, I expect we are the better off.”

“Don’t flatter yourself in any such way, Mr. Pelby. I’ve been”–

“Here’s the darling!” exclaimed Mrs. Little, bounding gayly in the room at the moment, with Tommy, who was laughing and tossing his arms about in delight at being taken up from his bed, into which he had gone reluctantly.

“Come to pa, Tommy,” said Mr. Little, reaching out his hands. “Now ain’t that a fine little fellow?” he continued, looking from face to face of his two friends, and showing off Tommy to the best possible advantage that his night-gown would permit. And he was a sweet child; with rosy cheeks, bright blue eyes, and clustering golden ringlets.

“Indeed he is a lovely child,” Mr. Manly said earnestly.

“A very fine child,” Mr. Pelby remarked, mechanically.

“We’ll match him with the town!” broke in Mrs. Little, unable to keep down the upswelling, delighted affection of her heart.

By this time, Tommy’s bewildered senses were restored, and he began to look about him with lively interest. His keen eyes soon detected Mr. Pelby’s bright gold chain and swivel, and well knowing that it betokened a watch, he slid quickly down from his father’s lap, and stood beside the knee of the nice bachelor visitor.

“He’s not afraid of strangers,” said Mrs. Little, her eyes sparkling with pleasure, as they followed every movement of her child.

“Tee watch,” said Tommy.

“It’ll bite” said Mr. Pelby.

“Tee watch!” reiterated the child, grasping the chain.

With not the best grace in the world, Mr. Pelby drew out his beautiful gold lever, and submitted it to the rude grasp, as he thought, of Tommy.

“Oh, ma! ma! Tee watch! tee watch!” cried the child, almost wild with delight–at the same time advancing towards her as far as the chain would permit, and then tugging at it as hard as he could, to the no small discomfort of the visitor, who, seeing no movement of relief on the part of either parent, was forced to slip the chain over his head, and trust Tommy to carry his favourite time-keeper to his mother.

“Tommy’ll be a watch-maker, I expect. Nothing pleases him so much as a watch,” remarked the father.

Mr. Pelby did not reply. He dared not, for he felt that, were he to trust himself to speak, he should betray feelings that politeness required him to conceal.

“There!” suddenly exclaimed the mother, catching eagerly at the watch, which Tommy had dropped, and recovering it just in time to save it from injury.

“Gim me! gim me! gim me!” cried Tommy, seizing her hands, and endeavouring to get possession again of the valuable timepiece, which had escaped so narrowly.

“There, now,” said Mrs. Little, yielding to the child’s eager importunity, and permitting him again to take possession of the watch. “But you must hold it tighter.”