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The Sulky Boy
by [?]

We all know him. He might be a good-looking fellow, perhaps, if it weren’t for the scowl over his eyes and the everlasting pout about his lips. He skulks about with his hands in his pockets, and his head hung down. We all make room for him, and give him a wide berth; no one is anxious to be chosen upon the same side with him at chevy, or to get the desk next his in school. It’s a fact we are all afraid of him, though we all despise him. He makes everybody unhappy, by being miserable himself for no reason at all.

Sometimes, indeed, he can be jolly enough–when he chooses. No one could tell at such times that there was anything queer about him; but then all of a sudden he shows in his true colours (and dingy enough colours they are), and then it is all up with enjoyment till he takes himself off, which he generally does before long.

All this is very sad; and if I say a word or two about sulkiness now, it will be in the hope of inducing my readers to give no encouragement to so ugly a vice.

There are two ways of showing anger, when one is unfortunate enough to be under the necessity of being angry. You can’t always help it. Some people are never put out. However much you rile them, they are always good-humoured, always cool, always friendly. You might as well try to talk the sun behind a cloud as to get them in a rage. Happy the few who have this art! They always get the best of it, they always win the greatest respect, they always are the least likely people for any one to quarrel with.

I don’t count these among the two classes of angry people, because they are not angry. But angry people are generally either in a rage or in the sulks. Neither is pleasant to meet, yet for my own part I would sooner have to do with the fellow in the rage. There’s no deception about him; he’s angry, and he lets you know it; he’s got a grievance, and he blurts out what it is; he hits straight out from the shoulder, and you know what you’ve to expect. With such a one it is generally soon all over. Just as the April shower, sharp enough while it lasts, gives place in time to the sun, so Will Hothead generally gets all right as soon as he has let the steam off; and when he shakes hands and makes it up, you are pretty sure he thinks none the worse of you, and bears no malice.

Don’t imagine I’m trying to justify exhibitions of temper. Far from it. I say every boy who can’t control his temper has yet to learn one of the greatest lessons of life. What I want to show is that even passion, bad as it is, is not so bad as sulkiness.

For just consider what a miserable sort of boy this Tom Sulks, that we all of us know, is. Why, almost before he could speak he had learned to pout. If a toy was denied him, he neither bellowed like his little brother nor raved like his little sister, but toddled off and sulked in a corner all day long. When he grew a little older, if he was not allowed to play in the garden because it was damp, he refused to play in the nursery, he refused to come down to the dining-room, he refused to say his prayers at bedtime. When he was old enough to go to school, he would either play marbles the way he was used to (which was the wrong way), or not at all. If found fault with for not knowing his lesson, he pushed his books from him, and endured to be stood in the corner, or punished some other way, rather than learn his task. The vice only became worse and worse as time went on, and to-day Tom is an odious fellow. Look at him playing at cricket. He steps across the wickets to hit at a ball, but, instead, stops it with his foot. “How’s that, umpire?” cries the bowler. “Out, leg before,” is the answer.