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The Mother and Boy
by [?]

“TOM, let that alone!” exclaimed a mother, petulantly, to a boy seven years old, who was playing with a tassel that hung from one of the window-blinds, to the imminent danger of its destruction.

The boy did not seem to hear, but kept on fingering the tassel.

“Let that be, I tell you! Must I speak a hundred times? Why don’t you mind at once?”

The child slowly relinquished his hold of the tassel, and commenced running his hand up and down the venitian blind.

“There! there! Do for gracious sake let them blinds alone. Go ‘way from the window this moment, and try and keep your hands off of things. I declare! you are the most trying child I ever saw.”

Tom left the window and threw himself at full length into the cradle, where he commenced rocking himself with a force and rapidity that made every thing crack again.

“Get out of that cradle! What do you mean? The child really seems possessed!” And the mother caught him by the arm and jerked him from the cradle.

Tom said nothing, but, with the most imperturbable air in the world, walked twice around the room, and then pushing a chair up before the dressing-bureau, took therefrom a bottle of hair lustral, and, pouring the palm of his little hand full of the liquid, commenced rubbing it upon his head. Twice had this operation been performed, and Tom was pulling open a drawer to get the hair-brush, when the odour of the oily compound reached the nostrils of the lad’s mother, who was sitting with her back toward him. Turning quickly, she saw what was going on.

“You!” fell angrily from her lips, as she dropped the baby in the cradle. “Isn’t it too much!” she continued, as she swept across the room to where Tom was standing before the bureau-dressing-glass.

“There, sir!” and the child’s ear rang with the box he received. “There, sir!” and the box was repeated. “Haven’t I told you a hundred times not to touch that hair-oil? Just see what a spot of grease you’ve made on the carpet! Look at your hands!”

Tom looked at his hands, and, seeing them full of oil, clapped them quickly down upon his jacket, and tried to rub them clean.

“There! stop! mercy! Now see your new jacket that you put on this morning. Grease from top to bottom! Isn’t it too bad! I am in despair!” And the mother let her hands fall by her side, and her body drop into a chair.

“It’s no use to try,” she continued; “I’ll give up. Just see that jacket! it’s totally ruined; and that carpet, too. Was there ever such a trying boy! Go down-stairs this instant, and tell Jane to come up here.”

Tom had reason to know that his mother was not in a mood to be trifled with, so he went off briskly and called Jane, who was directed to get some fuller’s earth and put upon the carpet where oil had been spilled.

Not at all liking the atmosphere of his mother’s room, Tom, being once in the kitchen, felt no inclination to return. His first work there, after delivering his message to Jane, was to commence turning the coffee-mill.

“Tommy,” said the cook, mildly, yet firmly, “you know I’ve told you that it was wrong to touch the coffee-mill. See here, on the floor, where you have scattered the coffee about, and now I must get a broom and sweep it up. If you do so, I can’t let you come down here.”

The boy stood and looked at the cook seriously, while she got the broom and swept up the dirt he had made.

“It’s all clean again now,” said the cook, pleasantly. “And you won’t do so any more, will you?”

“No, I won’t touch the coffee-mill.” And, as Tom said this, he sidled up to the knife-box that stood upon the dresser, and made a dive into it with his hand.