It was a very cold day in December. My mother was sewing, and my brothers and myself were very pleasantly engaged in our comfortable sitting-room, when my mother asked me to go to her room and get a part of her work. I very petulantly exclaimed, "Can't Charles go? I'm so cold!"
"No," said my mother, meekly, "I wish you to go."
This irritated me very much, and I said,
"I always have to do everything!" jerking open the door, and slamming it violently after me.
My mother called me back, and I stood in the door, allowing a current of cold air to blow upon her, while she lifted her blue eyes to mine, and, with a look of sadness I shall never forget, said, "Soon my little daughter will have no mother, then she will feel sorry for this behavior."
I started upstairs, muttering, "No, you won't die; you only say that to act on my feelings."
I returned, handed the parcel to my mother, and remained cross and sullen for some time; yet I loved my mother very much, but could not bear to yield my will to hers.
Several weeks passed away — I forgot the occurrence, nor had my mother alluded to it — when she was taken suddenly and dangerously ill; and very soon all hope of her recovery was gone. Then my sin rushed upon my mind, causing the deepest regret. The nature of my mother's disease caused delirium nearly all the time, and I had no opportunity to ask forgiveness. I would sit beside her bed, while tears coursed rapidly down my cheeks, and her eyes would be fixed upon me. But, ah! no glance of recognition; no beaming forth of a mother's love was there! Vacant, vacant, still vacant was that gaze, and I would rush from the room, and wish I could die!
Once, during a short interval of consciousness, she looked around the room, and asked for me. I was with my brothers, for I felt as if I must constantly watch over them, and, when sent for, hastened to her bedside. But, alas! too late! That same fixed, vacant stare had returned, nor did she ever again recognize me. At the expiration of eleven days from the commencement of her illness, death loosed the "silver cord," and "the weary wheel of life stood still." I was present at the beginning of the last struggle, which was long and very severe, but the sight of his almost motherless girl was more than my already agonized father could bear, and he sent me away. I sought my little brothers in the sitting-room, and, as they hung around me with anxious inquiries about our dying mother, I was indeed "sorry for my behavior." The agony I endured was too great for tears or utterance, and I thought, when all was over, and my father led me to look upon her form, as it lay calmly and peacefully in the embrace of death, with a heavenly smile upon those lips that had never spoken anything but words of love and kindness, that my heart would break, and I wished it might.
When I pressed my lips upon that marble brow, it seemed as if its icy coldness would congeal my very heart's blood; and I thought, "Oh! if my blessed mother could be restored to me for even a single month, that I might anticipate every wish, and by prompt obedience and love show her how inexpressibly dear she was to me, and how sorry I was for past follies!"
But all my wishes were fruitless, and it was now too late to repair the injury I had done. I was the only daughter and eldest child, the constant companion of my mother, who, during the eleven years that I had lived, had kindly watched over me, and instructed me; nor could I call to mind a single instance of unkindness or impatience. When I did wrong, she would fix her expressive blue eyes upon me without a word, while the tears would glisten in them, and I could not resist their sad reproof. The instance I have named is the only one that I remember, in which I conducted myself so badly towards my mother.
Twenty years have passed since then, and I am myself a mother, but that meek, sad look, and tone of wounded love still haunt me, and of all things I regret having done in childhood, that carries with it the deepest sting. I have often seen girls, and boys, too, act towards a kind and gentle mother as I then did; and if such children should happen to read this true, sad story, I beg them to change their course; become kind and obedient to their parents, and then they will be spared the deep sorrow which I still feel when I think of my unkindness to my departed mother.