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Losing One’s Temper
by [?]

I WAS sitting in my room one morning, feeling all “out of sorts” about something or other, when an orphan child, whom I had taken to raise, came in with a broken tumbler in her hand, and said, while her young face was pale, and her little lip quivered,–

“See, Mrs. Graham! I went to take this tumbler from the dresser to get Anna a drink of water, and I let it fall.”

I was in a fretful humour before the child came in, and her appearance, with the broken tumbler in her hand, did not tend to help me to a better state of mind. She was suffering a good deal of pain in consequence of the accident, and needed a kind word to quiet the disturbed beatings of her heart. But she had come to me in an unfortunate moment.

“You are a careless little girl!” said I, severely, taking the fragments of glass from her trembling hands. “A very careless little girl, and I am displeased with you!”

I said no more; but my countenance expressed even stronger rebuke than my words. The child lingered near me for, a few moments, and then shrunk away from the room. I was sorry, in a moment, that I had permitted myself to speak unkindly to the little girl; for there was no need of my doing so; and, moreover, she had taken my words, as I could see, deeply to heart. I had made her unhappy without a cause. The breaking of the tumbler was an accident likely to happen to any one and the child evidently felt bad enough about what had occurred, without having my displeasure added thereto.

If I was unhappy before Jane entered my room I was still more unhappy after she retired. I blamed myself, and pitied the child; but this did not in the least mend the matter.

In about half an hour, Jane came up very quietly with Willy, my dear little, curly-haired, angel-face boy, in her arms. He had fallen asleep, and she had, with her utmost strength, carried him up-stairs. She did not lift her eyes to mine as she entered, but went, with her burden, to the low bed that was in the room, where she laid him tenderly, and then sat down with her face turned partly away from me, and with a fan kept off the flies and cooled his moist skin.

Enough of Jane’s countenance was visible to enable me to perceive that its expression was sad. And it was an unkind word from my lips that had brought this cloud over her young face!

“So much for permitting myself to fall into a fretful mood,” said I, mentally. “In future I must be more watchful over my state of mind. I have no right to make others suffer from my own unhappy temper.”

Jane continued to sit by Willy and fan him; and every now and then I could hear a very low sigh come up, as if involuntarily, from her bosom. Faint as the sound was, it smote upon my ear, and added to my uncomfortable frame of mind.

A friend called, and I went down into the parlour, and sat conversing there for an hour. But all the while there was a weight upon my feelings. I tried, but in vain, to be cheerful. I was too distinctly aware of the fact, that an individual–and that a motherless little girl–was unhappy through my unkindness; and the consciousness was like a heavy hand upon my bosom.

“This is all a weakness,” I said to myself, after my friend had left, making an effort to throw off the uncomfortable feeling. But it was of no avail. Even if the new train of thought, awakened by conversation with my friend, had lifted me above the state of mind in which I was when she came, the sight of Jane’s sober face, as she passed me on the stairs, would have depressed my feelings again.