Repining and Repentance” contains the lesson that one should value helping mother over playing; many pieces in the Youth’s Companion reminded readers that life was uncertain.
[Nursery] “Repining and Repentance” (from Youth’s Companion, February 12, 1846; pp. 162-163)

“O dear, I wish I could go about a little, like other girls,” said Emily Putnam, as in no very pleasant humor, she took some sewing work into her hands. “Mother is always wanting me to help her.”

A few of Emily’s school-mates had set out a few minutes before, on an excursion, in search of berries, and she felt much disappointed at not being allowed to accompany them. Instead of feeling thankful that she could assist a little the kind mother, who had always been doing so much for her, she repined, because she required her help upon a piece of needle-work, which it was necessary to complete before the next morning.

Mrs. Putnam’s health was very feeble. The fearful hectic had already made its appearance upon her cheek, and her strength was fast failing. Emily, however, did not know this. She had been so long accustomed to see her mother appear ill and weak, that she did not think so seriously about it, as she would otherwise have done. She did not anticipate losing the kind parent, whose love had always made so much of her happiness. If she had, she would not have objected to lighten her labor by making a slight sacrifice.

p. 153

Emily proceeded very slowly with her needle-work. She was dissatisfied and sullen, and unwilling to make an effort to go on rapidly and well. After she had been employed about an hour, her mother took it to examine, and found that much of what she had done must be taken out. This circumstance helped to increase Emily’s discontent and trouble. She spoke impatiently and disrepectfully to her mother, and resumed her work more unwillingly than she had taken it at first. Mrs. Putnam was grieved, and said in a tone of mild reproach, “You may not always have your mother with you, Emily, and if she should be taken away, you will feel sorry that you did not try to help her with less reluctance.” These words reached the heart of the before sullen girl. Tears started to her eyes, and she began to see her fault in its proper light. Her mother had been called from the room, just as she had spoken, and when after a few minutes she returned, she found her daughter truly penitent.

The remainder of the afternoon, the repentant girl worked willingly and industriously, and before it was time to light the lamps for the evening, the task was completed.

It was an afternoon in the middle of summer, that the circumstances just related took place. And ere the autumn winds had given place to winter, the remains of Emily’s mother were consigned to the lowly tomb.

Years have since passed away; but the scenes of that afternoon are indellibly impressed upon the memory of the bereaved daughter.—Christian Watchman.

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