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shrieked, the children all screamed, - Charle dropped grandmama's yarn, and, at the risk of his own hand, rescued the kitten; but seeing it: agony, with most characteristic consideration, he gently dropped it in again, and thus put the speed iest termination to its sufferings.
The children were all sobbing. Wallace stood pale and trembling. His eye turned to his father, then to his mother, then was riveted on the floor. The children saw the frown on their father's face, more dreaded by them than ever was flogging, or dark closet with all its hobgoblins.
"I guess you did not mean to, did you, Wally?" said little Haddy, whose tender heart was so touched by the utter misery depicted on her brother's face, that her pity for him overcame her sense of her own and pussy's wrongs. Wallace sighed deeply, but spoke no word of apology or Justification. The children looked at Wallace, at their father, and their mother, and still the portentous silence was unbroken. The dinnerbell rung. "Go to your own room, Wallace," said his father. You have forfeited your right to a place among us. Creatures who are the slaves of their passions, are, like beasts of prey, fit only for solitude."
How long must Wallace stay up stairs?" asked Haddy, affectionately holding back her brother who was hastening away.
"Till he feels assured," replied Mr. Barclay, fixing his eye sternly on Wallace, "that he can control his hasty temper; at least so far as not to be guilty of violence towards such a dear good
little girl as you are, and murderous cruelty to an innocent animal;-till, sir, you can give me some proof that you dread the sin and danger of yielding to your passions so much that you can govern them. The boy is hopeless," he added in a low voice to his wife, as Wallace left the room.
My dear husband! hopeless at ten years old, and with such a good, affectionate heart as his? We must have patience."
A happy combination for children is there in an uncompromising father and an all-hoping mother. The family sat down to table. The parents were silent, serious, unhappy. The children caught the infection, and scarcely a word was said above a whisper. There was a favorite dish on the table, followed by a nice pudding. They were eaten, not enjoyed. The children realized that it was not the good things they had to eat, but the kind looks, the innocent laugh, and cheerful voice, that made the pleasure of the social meal.
My dear children," said their father, as he took his hat to leave them, "C we have lost all our
comfort to-day, have not we?"
'Yes, sir, breath.
"Then learn one lesson from your poor brother. Learn to dread doing wrong. If you commit sin, you must suffer, and all that love you must suffer with you; for every sin is a violation of the laws of your Heavenly Father, and he will not suffer it to go unpunished."
If Mr. and Mrs. Barclay had affected their
yes, sir," they answered in a
concern, to overawe and impose on their children, they would not have been long deceived; for children, being themselves sincere, are clearsighted. But they knew that the sadness was real; they felt that it was in accordance with their parents' characters and general conduct. They never saw them ruffled by trifles. Many a glass had been broken, many a greasy knife dropped, many a disappointment and inconvenience incurred, without calling forth more than a gentle rebuke. These were not the things that moved them, or disturbed the domestic tranquillity; but the ill temper, selfishness, unkindness, or any moral fault of the children, was received as an affliction.
The days passed on. Wallace went to school as usual, and returned to his solitude, without speaking or being spoken to. His meals were sent to his room, and whatever the family ate, he ate. For the Barclays took care not to make rewards and punishments out of eating and drinking, and thus associate the duties and pleasures of a moral being with a mere animal gratification. "But ah!" he thought, as he walked up and down his apartment, while eating his pie or pudding, "how different it tastes from what it does at table!" and though he did not put it precisely in that form, he felt what it was that "sanctified the food." The children began to venture to say to their father, whose justice they dared not question, "How long Wally has stayed up stairs!" and Charles, each day, eagerly told how well Wallace behaved at school. His grandmother
could not resist her desire to comfort him; she would look into his room to see "if he were well," "if he were warm enough," or "if he did not want something." The little fellow's moistening eye and tremulous voice evinced his sensibility to her kindness, but he resolutely abstained from asking any mitigation of his punishment. He overheard his Aunt Betsey (Mrs. Barclay's maiden sister) say, "It is a sin, and ridiculous besides, to keep Wallace mewed up so, just for a little flash of temper. I am sure he had enough to provoke a saint.
"We do not keep him mewed up, Betsey," replied Mrs. Barclay, nor does he continue mewed up, for a single flash of temper; but because, with all his good resolutions, his passionate temper is constantly getting the better of him. There is no easy cure for such a fault. If Wallace had the seeds of a consumption, you would think it the extreme of folly not to submit to a few weeks' confinement, if it afforded a means of ridding him of them; and how much worse than a consumption is a moral disease!"
"Well," answered the sister, you must do as you like, but I am sure we never had any such fuss at home; we grew up, and there was an end on 't."
"But may be," thought Wallace, "if there had been a little more fuss when you were younger, it would have been pleasanter living with you now, Aunt Betsey."
Poor Aunt Betsey, with many virtues, had a temper that made her a nuisance wherever she
The Barclays alone got on tolerably with her. There was a disinfecting principle in the moral atmosphere of their house.
Two weeks had passed when Mr. Barclay heard Wallace's door open, and heard him say, "Can I speak with you one inute before dinner,
Certainly, my son. His father entered and closed the door.
'Father, said Wallace, with a tremulous voice but an open, cheerful face, "I feel as if I had a right now to ask you to forgive me, and take me back into the family."
Mr. Barclay felt so too, and kissing him, he said, "I have only been waiting for you, Wallace; and, from the time you have taken to consider your besetting sin, I trust you have gained strength to resist it.'
"It is not consideration only, sir, that I depend on; for you told me I must wait till I could give you proof; so I had to wait till something happened to try me. I could not possibly tell else, for I always do resolve, when I get over my passion, that I never will get angry again. Luckily for me, - for I began to be horribly tired of staying alone, Tom Allen snatched off my new cap and threw it in the gutter. I had a book in my hand, and I raised it to send at him; but I thought just in time, and I was so glad I had governed my passion; that I did not care about my cap, or Tom, or any thing else. 'But one swallow doesn't make a summer,' as Aunt Betsey says; so I waited till I should get angry again. It