Standing in the doorway with her arms akimbo, Mrs Floyd said, ‘Of late, I have been receiving an endless deluge of complaints from the neighbours, which are extremely annoying and straining my now wafer-thin and overtaxed patience!’ Humphrey, a troublesome, self-willed, super-intelligent child of five, was warned, to little purpose.
‘It is not easy to face a barrage of angry complaints about you, and that happens not infrequently, and I want nothing of that. You hear me? Your father and I are deeply disappointed with you.’ Mrs Floyd was totally nonplussed by Humphrey’s inconsiderate and, sometimes, audacious behaviour.
‘I’ve been hearing a lot about your doings recently.’ There were far too many complaints that Mrs Floyd had gone from worried to exasperated. Complaints about Humphrey had become a familiar refrain, and he had accrued a nasty reputation. She was becoming more and more irritated with Humphrey, who stood rooted to the spot in his room, pulling on a long face and licking his tiny fingers and just looked straight through Mrs Floyd with a defiant look, openly refusing to obey. Humphrey did not have an acquiescent nature and was more prone to behave aggressively like an untamed dog.
‘That does it! Just what do you think you’re playing at? You have had no ends of problems with the neighbours, and you must not be uncivil to them too.’ Humphrey was very ill-disposed towards his neighbours and had been railed at on numerous occasions, and Mrs Floyd was weary of listening, and she must take cognizance of Humphrey’s nefarious activities.
‘Have you forgotten the lashing you received just two days before from Mrs Robinson?’ Mama asked, mildly annoyed. ‘You would have to be bordering on insanity when you gave little Melanie’s hair a sharp tug before you pushed her to and fro on the swing so hard that she nearly fell off the swing amidst her cries and pleas.