“I cannot agree with you. Justice, I hold, to be paramount in all things. We should never wrong a child.”
The third appearance of Charley again broke in upon the conversation.
“Give me another piece of cake, mother.”
“What! Didn’t I tell you that there was no more for you? No! you cannot have another morsel.”
“I want some more cake,” whined the child.
“Not a crumb more, sir.”
The whine rose into a cry.
“Go up stairs, sir.”
Charley did not move.
“Go this instant.”
“Give me some cake.”
The cry swelled into a loud bawl.
Mrs. Stanley became excessively annoyed. “I never saw such persevering children in my life,” said she, impatiently. “They don’t regard what I say any more than if I had not spoken. Charles! Go out of the parlour this moment!”
The tone in which this was uttered the child understood. He left the parlour slowly, but continued to cry at the top of his voice. The parlour bell was rung, and Ellen the nurse appeared.
“Do, Ellen, give that boy another piece of cake! There is no other way to keep him quiet.”
In about three minutes after this direction had been given, all was still again. Mrs. Stanley now changed the topic of conversation. Her manner was not quite so cheerful as before. The conduct of Charley had worried and mortified her.
The last piece of cake had not been really wanted. Charley asked for it because a spirit of opposition had been aroused, but he had no appetite to eat it. It was crumbled about the floor and wasted. His mother had peace for the next hour. After that she went into the kitchen to give directions, and make some preparations for tea. Charley was by her side.
“Ellen, take this child out,” said she.
Ellen took hold of Charley’s arm.
“No!–no!–Go ‘way, Ellen!” he screamed.
“There!–there!–never mind. Let him stay,” said the mother.
A jar of preserved fruit was brought forth.
“Give me some?” asked Charley.
“No, not now. You will get some at the table.”
“I want some now. Give me some now.”
A spoonful of the preserves was put into a saucer, and given to the child.
“Give me some more,” said he, holding up his saucer in about half a minute.
“No. Wait until tea is ready.”
“Give me some sweetmeats. I want more, mother!”
“I tell you, no.”
A loud bawl followed.
“I declare this child will worry me to death!” exclaimed the mother, her mind all in confusion, lading out a large spoonful of the fruit, and putting it into his saucer.
When this was eaten, still more was demanded, and peremptorily refused. Crying was resorted to, but without effect, though it was loud and deafening. Finding this unsuccessful, the spoiled urchin determined to help himself. As soon as his mother’s back was turned, he clambered up to the table and seized the jar containing the preserves. In pulling it over far enough to get his spoon into it, the balance of the jar was destroyed, and over it went, rolling off upon the floor, and breaking with a loud crash. At the moment this occurred, Mrs. Stanley entered the room. Her patience, that had been severely tried, was now completely overthrown. She was angry enough to punish her child, and feel a delight in doing so. Seizing him by one arm, she lifted him from the floor, as if he had been but a feather, and hurried with him up to her chamber. There she whipped him unmercifully, and then put him to bed. He continued to cry after she had done so, when she commanded him to stop in a voice that he dared not disobey. An hour afterward, when much cooled down, she passed through the chamber. She looked down upon her little boy with a feeling of repentance for her anger and the severity of her punishment. This feeling was in no way mitigated on hearing the child sob in his sleep. The mother felt very unhappy.
So much for Mrs. Stanley–so much for her tenderness of feeling–so much for her warm-blooded system. Its effects need not be exposed further. Its folly need not be set in any plainer light.