Frank felt his eyes brimful of tears, and looked beseechingly at Mrs. Grey, as if to ask her powerful mediation. She read his thoughts, and said:—
“Beating will do but little good, unless he can be first convinced of its necessity, which does not often happen.”
“There’s no one here can take that trouble, ma’am,” said the maid, peevishly; “I do assure you, Master George teazes us all, beyond endurance. I’m sure I wish the time were come for him to be sent back to school—for there is no peace within the house whilst he is in it.”
“Dear me,” thought Frank, “how very sorry I should he if Grandma’s servants said the same of me;—but they are all so very kind, instead—and seem so glad to see me, and so pleased at all my treats. I think this maid is rather cross, and feel afraid she often scolds poor George.”
“I fear that waiting longer will be useless, then,” said Mrs. Grey; “but I wish that you would bring the little truant up to me, when he returns, for I should like to have some conversation with him.”
“He will not like to show his face to you, ma’am, I should think,” said Mary; “he will be mad enough when he comes back, let him be where he may—and it just serves him right,” she added, as if rejoicing in his disappointment. “I declare I cannot say that I am sorry, for he has led me such a life about this ‘Crystal Palace,’ that, what with the illness of my missus, and the noise of the children, added to my usual work, I’m driven almost wild. I wonder who would ever have the plague of them—not I, if I could help it!”
“Then suffer me to say, that you act a most dishonest part in taking such a situation,” said Mrs. Grey, with dignity.
Mary bridled up, and “hoped she always did her duty—and was sure that her character could bear the strictest scrutiny—and that she had had the care of twenty times more property in many of her former places.”
“I bring no charge against you as a thief,” said Mrs. Grey; “you quite misunderstand my meaning. You may be very careful of the tea and sugar—you may never waste your master’s money—you may keep the children clean, and neatly mend their clothes—you may even make them say their prayers each night and morning—but if they do not see you love them—if you take no pleasure in their sports—feel no delight in their society—no joy when they are good—no pain when they are naughty—you will never gain a proper influence, and should not enter into a situation that you cannot fitly occupy. This is the dishonesty I spoke of, and not purloining goods or money.”
“I did not rightly understand you ma’am,” said Mary, still looking hot and angry.
“But now you do. I think you feel the force of what I said?”
“Perhaps so, ma’am,” said Mary, with reluctance.
“When, formerly, I had to hire a nurse,” said Mrs. Grey, “my first inquiries were—
“Are you very, very fond of children? Do you love them tenderly and constantly? Have you patience with their provoking little ways? Are you calm and gentle, when you must rebuke or punish them? And do you strive to make them good, as well as merry?