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When Hector Howard was born, there was great joy among all the inmates of Howard Place,-his papa ordered an ox to be roasted whole on the village green, and the villagers, who were his tenants and servants, made a huge “bonfire" on the top of the hill; the bells rang merrily, and old and young danced and sung by the light of the moon. Mr. Howard was charmed that “ Number One,” as he called the infant, was a boy, and at his christening the festivities were renewed with still more boisterous manifestations of delight. Mrs. Howard, a kind, gentle woman, of course loved her little son, and thought that when his nurse pronounced him to be a perfect beauty (having papa's hair, mamma's eyes, and grandmamma's mouth), she hardly did him justice. Hector was certainly a very pretty baby, and, moreover, good tempered and cheerful; but mammas and nurses, by over fondness, sometimes spoil their little treasures, and a “ Number One” is usually placed in a position of more than ordinary peril.
When Hector was eighteen months old, he was a very fine fellow indeed, strong, and would have been healthy, had
not his nurse indulged him by giving him sweet cakes and sugarplums whenever he cried for them. This was unfortunate both for him and his nurse, as it disordered his stomach and rendered him so fretful and impatient, that he would whine by the hour, and, if asleep, instead of looking rosy and remaining quiet, he would toss his arms about, while his lips and hands were so hot and feverish, that, when his tender parents sent for the doctor, the doctor said he must have had improper food; and Nurse, very wickedly, did not tell him all she had given the baby. When persons do what is wrong, they are frequently so cowardly as to conceal it; whereas if they were to tell all the truth, the mischief might be remedied. In this case, if the doctor had known that the greedy baby had devoured two heart-cakes, a half-ripe pear, and a roll of pink and yellow sugarplums during his airing in the park, he could have relieved his sufferings much sooner than he did; and I must say, I think Nurse deserved to lose, as she did lose, several nights' rest in consequence.
When Hector grew older, from crying for cakes and sugarplums, he went on to cry for everything he wished for; and, if it were not immediately given him, would become violent. His dear mamma was in delicate health, and could not endure noise or agitation of any kind; if she had been well, I am sure she loved “ Number One” too truly to have indulged him as his nurse did.
At five years old, having neither brother nor sister, he was still “Number One,” and, unfortunately, constantly heard the nurse saying that, “Indeed Master Hector was an only child, and must not be contradicted, for his life was of great consequence to the family;" and the servants endured his violence and rudeness, rather than hazard the displeasure of the nurse, who petted and spoiled the “Young Master” in a shameful way; and as her mistress suffered so much from ill health, she was out of the way of seeing or hearing, except what the nurse chose to tell her; and one servant, who ventured to tell Master Hector he was a very naughty boy, because he threw a tumbler of water in her face, received warning a few days after, and was not permitted to speak to her mistress.
Children, who are prevented by the care and watchfulness of their parents from contracting bad habits, can never be sufficiently grateful to God for his goodness in having given them such sensible protectors. Mr. Howard was a great deal from home; he was a magistrate and a member of Parliament; and seldom saw Hector but when dressed, not only in his best clothes, but his best manners,—generally, when brought in after dinner, in a handsome velvet tunic, his fair hair curling abundantly over his shoulders, and then he was much admired by whatever company happened to be at the Place, and as he had no brothers or sisters, or even little cousins, to divide the caresses of the ladies and gentlemen who were assembled round the table, he grew at length to think that no one else in the world had a right to receive them, or partake of the dessert so thoughtlessly heaped upon his plate.
It chanced that a lady was dining one day at Howard Place, who possessed a very beautiful dog; Mrs. Howard had heard so much of the dog's beauty, that she had requested her to bring it with her, and the lady did so. It was remarkably small, having long silken hair; and its little limbs were so slender and delicate, that it would run along the dining-table, in and out, amid the wine glasses, without upsetting anything or doing any injury whatever. This amused the company a great deal, and no one seemed more amused than Hector. He clapped his hands with delight, and kissed the long ears and tiny paws of the dog over and over again. The little animal had run once round the table in this manner, and had got as far as where Hector sat, on its second round, when it suddenly made a pause at his plate, looking wistfully at a piece of cake he was eating with an eagerness that is exceedingly ill-bred as well as unhealthy. I dare say the little dog had been as much accustomed to consider everything it saw made for its own especial use, as the little boy. At all events, putting its paw into Hector's plate, it seized, and as quickly swallowed, the largest piece of his favourite cake. I really am ashamed to tell you how a boy could have shewn such selfish violence; no one present could avoid seeing that it must have been of long growth, to have acquired such strength. In an instant the face, which before had been so joyous and lovely to look upon, became frightful from selfish disappointment and revenge, and instead of laughing at the little dog's trick, and rejoicing that he was able to return pleasure, for the pleasure the animal's dexterity and beauty had afforded him, he dealt it a violent blow, which flung it against a claret decanter, that rolled off the table into a lady's lap, but which she was kind enough to say was of little consequence. The little dog was not only stunned by the blow, but its head was severely wounded in several places by the sharp edges of the decanter, and one eye was so injured, that it could not be opened for several days. Mrs. Howard was greatly shocked at her son's conduct;