How Bess Managed Tom by Unknown


Tom's sister Nell was a pretty girl, and being a year older than Tom, wanted to show her authority over him.

The boy was rough and awkward, and just at that age when a boy refuses all meddling with "his rights." He would put his hands in his pockets, his chair on Nell's dress, and his feet on the window-sill.

Of course, they often quarreled: "For pity sake, Tom, do take your hands out of your pockets," Nell would say in her most vexing manner.

"What are pockets for? I'd like to know, if not to put one's hands in," and Tom would whistle and march off.

"Tom, I don't believe you've combed your hair for a week!"

"Well, what's the use? it would be all roughed up again in less than an hour."

"I do wish, Tom, you would take your great boots off the window-sill!"

"O don't bother me; I'm reading;" Tom would say: and the boots refused to stir an inch,—which of course was very bad of Tom. And so it would go on from morning till night.

But Sister Bess had a different way of managing her big brother. She seemed to understand that coaxing was better than driving. Sometimes when he sat with both hands plunged into his pockets, Bess would nestle down close beside him, with a book or a picture, and almost before he knew it, one hand would be patting her curls, while the other turned the leaves or held the pictures.

If she chanced to see his feet on the window-sill, she would say, "Just try my ottoman, Tom dear, and see how comfortable it is;" and though Tom occasionally growled in a good natured way about its being too low, the boots always came down to its level.

Whenever his hair looked very rough, she would steal behind him and brush it for him herself, in a way that Tom liked so well that it was a temptation to let it go rough, just for the pleasure of having her do it.

Yet for the next three days at least, he would take special pains to keep every hair in its place, simply to please little sister.

As they grew older, Bess, in the same quiet, loving way, helped him to grow wise and manly. If she had an interesting book, she always wanted Tom to enjoy it with her. If she was going to call on any of her young friends, Tom was always invited to go with her.

"I can't understand," said Sister Nell, "why you should always want that boy at your elbow; he's rough and awkward as a bear."

"Some bears are as gentle as kittens," declared Bess, slipping her arm through his with a loving hug, while "the bear" felt a warm glow at his heart as he walked away with Bess, and determined to be "gentle as a kitten" for her sake.