I can remember an unpleasant incident of another kind which took place in my earliest childhood. It is the first that I recollect and it may have happened in my third year, if not in my second. I can tell about it without offending against the sacred memory of my parents; for whoever sees in it anything out of the ordinary is not acquainted with the lower classes. My father when following his trade generally had his meals provided by the persons for whom he worked. Then we at home, like all other families, ate our usual midday meal. Occasionally, however, he had to furnish his own food, in return for extra wages. Then dinner was deferred, and in order to ward off hunger a simple bread and butter sandwich was partaken of at twelve o’clock. It was an economical arrangement for the little household which could not afford two large meals. On one such day my mother baked some pancakes, certainly more to please us children than to satisfy any desire of her own. We ate them with the utmost relish and promised not to say anything about them to our father in the evening. When he arrived we had already gone to bed and were sound asleep. I do not know whether he may have been accustomed to find us still up and the contrary event made him suspect that the rule of the household had been broken. Suffice it to say he awoke me, petted me, took me in his arms and asked me what I had eaten. “Pancakes,” I answered, sleepily. He then proceeded to reproach my mother with it. She had nothing to say, and placed his food before him, throwing me a glance, however, which foretold evil to come. When we were alone again the next day, she, to use her own expression, gave me with a rod a forcible lesson in silence. At other times, on the contrary, she inculcated in me the strictest love of truth. One would be inclined to think that these contradictions might have had disastrous consequences. It was not the case and never will be the case, for life entails many other similar ones, and human nature can adapt itself even to them. Certain it is that I acquired one piece of information which it is better for a child to acquire late or not at all, namely, that at times the father wishes one thing, and the mother another.
I do not remember that I really went hungry in my earliest childhood, as I did later, but I do recollect that my mother sometimes had to content herself with looking on while we children ate, and did so gladly, because otherwise we could not have had our fill.
The principal charm of childhood consists in the fact that every creature down to the household pets is friendly and kindly disposed toward children; for out of this arises a feeling of security which disappears with the first step out into the hostile world and never returns. This is especially the case among the lower classes. The child cannot play before the door without being presented with a flower by the