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Old Maids’ Children
by [?]

“IF that were my child, I’d soon break him of such airs and capers. Only manage him right, and he’ll be as good a boy as can be found anywhere.”

“Very few people appear to have any right government over their children.”

“Very few. Here is my sister; a sensible woman enough, and one would think the very person to raise, in order and obedience, a family of eight children. But she doesn’t manage them rightly; and, what is remarkable, is exceedingly sensitive, and won’t take kindly the slightest hint from me on the subject. If I say to her, ‘If that were my child, Sarah, I would do so and so,’ she will be almost sure to retort something about old maids’ children.”

“Yes, that’s the way. No matter how defective the family government of any one may be, she will not allow others to suggest improvements.”

“It would not be so with me. If I had a family of children, I should not only see their faults, but gladly receive hints from all sides as to their correction.”

“It’s the easiest thing in the world to govern children, if you go the right way about it.”

“I know. There is nothing easier. And yet my sister will say, sometimes, that she is perfectly at a loss what to do. But no wonder. Like hundreds of others, she has let her children get completely ahead of her. If they don’t break her heart in the end, I shall be glad.”

The immediate cause of this conversation between Miss Martha Spencer and a maiden lady who had been twenty-five for some ten or fifteen years–Miss Spencer could not be accused of extensive juvenility–was the refractory conduct of Mrs. Fleetwood’s oldest child, a boy between six and seven years of age, by which a pleasant conversation had been interrupted, and the mother obliged to leave the room for a short period.

“I think, with you,” said Miss Jones, the visitor, “that Mrs. Fleetwood errs very greatly in the management of her children.”

“Management! She has no management at all,” interrupted Miss Spencer.

“In not managing her children, then, if you will.”

“So I have told her, over and over again, but to no good purpose. She never receives it kindly. Why, if I had a child, I would never suffer it to cry after it was six months old. It is the easiest thing in the world to prevent it. And yet, one of Sarah’s children does little else but fret and cry all the time. She insists upon it that it can’t feel well. And suppose this to be the case?–crying does it no good, but, in reality, a great deal of harm. If it is sick, it has made itself so by crying.”

“Very likely. I’ve known many such instances,” remarked Miss Jones.

Mrs. Fleetwood, returning at the moment, checked this train of conversation. She did not allude to the circumstance that caused her to leave the room, but endeavoured to withdraw attention from it by some pleasant remarks calculated to interest the visitor and give the thoughts of all a new direction.

“I hope you punished Earnest, as he deserved to be,” said her sister, as soon as Miss Jones had retired. “I never saw such a child!”

“He certainly behaved badly,” returned Mrs. Fleetwood, speaking in an absent manner.

“He behaved outrageously! If I had a child, and he were to act as Earnest did this morning, I’d teach him a lesson that he would not forget in a year.”

“No doubt your children will be under very good government, Martha,” said Mrs. Fleetwood, a little sarcastically.

“If they are not under better government than yours, I’ll send them all to the House of Refuge,” retorted Miss Martha.

The colour on Mrs. Fleetwood’s cheeks grew warmer at this remark, but she thought it best not to reply in a manner likely to provoke a further insulting retort, and merely said–