In the 1840s, Youth’s Companion included a section titled “Variety”: anecdotes and snippets of information that didn’t fit elsewhere; many were copied from other periodicals. “Touching Expression” wasn’t credited, but may have been a standard: “Fanny Fern” uses a version of this anecdote as the kernel for “The Partial Mother,” in series one of Fern Leaves from Fanny’s Portfolio (1853). “Fanny Fern” ’s essay was aimed at thoughtless adults. “Touching Expression” may have been intended for adults, given that at this time Youth’s Companion was a family periodical, but the theme of the pathetic and woefully put-upon child has always appealed to young readers.
[Variety] “Touching Expression” (from Youth’s Companion, July 19, 1849; p. 48)

A certain lady had two children, girls, both young and nearly of the same age. But the older one, by some whim or accident, possessed all the mother’s affections; there was none for the younger, nothing but harshness. Very lately the mother fell sick, and was confined to her bed. While lying there she heard gentle steps approaching it. “Is that you, my child?” said the sick woman. “No mamma,” naively and softly said the resigned one, “it’s only me.”

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