Had Mrs. Humphrey strictly followed the counsels of the dying mother in the early training of her child it might have spared her much after-sorrow.
Mr. Humphrey treated the child very kindly, but made it a point that he should yield to him a ready obedience in all things. But the little fellow was quick to notice that when Mr. Humphrey was not present he could usually, either by dint of coaxing or noisy rebellion, carry his point with Mrs. Humphrey.
Her husband often remonstrated with her upon the course she was pursuing in the management of the child. She used often to say—
“I cannot find it in my heart to punish the poor child when I consider that he is both fatherless and motherless, and I trust he will outgrow these childish ways.”
Poor Mrs. Humphrey! She is not the only one that has been cheated by this hope, and has thereby allowed their child to grow up with an obstinate will that has marred their happiness for life.
In after years Mrs. Humphrey many times recalled to mind a remark which a friend made to her one day in regard to little Ernest, then six years old. He came into the parlor where the two ladies were sitting, and taking from the centre table an elegantly bound book, began turning the leaves with fingers that were none of the cleanest. Mrs. Humphrey gently requested him to replace the book, which request she was obliged to repeat two or three times before he paid the slightest attention to it. And then it was only to say in a coaxing voice—
“Ernest wants this pretty book; do let me keep it.”
Mrs. Humphrey replied that the book was not suitable for little boys, and again requested him to replace it on the table. When a few minutes had passed, and he still continued to turn the leaves of the book, Mrs. Humphrey again repeated her request in a decided manner, telling him to replace the book immediately, when his childish temper burst forth in a regular tempest. He tossed the book from his hand, and threw himself on the floor in a corner of the room, where he gave vent to his anger by a succession of screams, which were anything but melodious. But his desire to retain possession of the coveted book was yet strong, and when the ladies again became engaged in conversation he quietly approached the table and, hastily taking the book therefrom, left the room, and Mrs. Humphrey, to save further trouble, appeared not to notice the act. The lady, who was an intimate friend, asked Mrs. Humphrey if she were not pursuing a wrong course in thus allowing the boy to do what she had once forbidden him?
“Oh,” said Mrs. Humphrey, “he is but a child, and will become ashamed of such conduct as he grows older.”
“I sincerely hope he may,” replied the lady, “but I very much fear you will see a day when you will regret not having been more firm in your government of this child.”