Page images
[ocr errors]

sister, " I dare say that those beautiful apples will taste very good when papa gathers them."

“There now, Henry,” said Lucy; “ I told you that the next thing would be wishing for those apples. Why do you look at them ?”

Well, and if I do wish for them, is there any harm in that,” answered Henry,“ if I do not touch them?”

Lucy. “Oh! but, now you have set your heart upon them, the devil may tempt you to take one of them, as he tempted Eve to eat the forbidden fruit. You should not have looked at them, Henry.”

Henry. “Oh! I sha'n't touch the apples : don't be afraid.”

Now Henry did not mean to steal the apples, it is true ; but, when people give way to sinful desires, the devil and their own passions get so much power over them, that they cannot say, I will sin so far, and no farther. That night, whenever Henry awoke, he thought of the beautiful apples. He got up before his papa and mamma, or his sisters, and went down into the garden. There was nobody up but John, who was in the stable. Henry went and stood under the apple-tree. He looked at the apples : there was one which he could just reach as he stood on his tip-toe; he stretched out bis hand and plucked it from the tree, and ran with it, as he thought, out of sight, behind the stable; and, having eaten it in haste, he returned to the house.

When Mr. Fairchild got up, he went into the garden and looked at the apple-tree, and saw that one of the apples was missing : he looked under the tree, to see if it had fallen down, and he perceived the mark of a child's foot under the tree : he came into the house in great haste; and, looking angrily, “ Which of you young ones,” said he, « has gathered the apple from the young apple

[ocr errors]


tree? Last night there were two upon the tree, and now there is only one.”

The children made no answer.

“ If you have, any of you, taken the apple, and will tell the truth, I will forgive you,” said Mr. Fairchild.

“ I did not take it, indeed, Papa," said Lucy. " And I did not take it,” said Emily.

“ I did not; indeed I did not,” said Henry : but Henry looked very red when he spoke.

Well," said Mr. Fairchild, “I must call in John, and ask him if he can tell who took the apple. But before John is called in, I tell you once more, my dear children, that if

any you took the apple, and will confess it, even now, I will freely forgive you.”

Henry now wished to tell his papa the truth ; but he was ashamed to own his wickedness; and he hoped that it never would be found out that he was the thief.

When John came in, Mr. Fairchild said, “ John, there is one of the apples taken from the young apple-tree opposite the parlour window.”

« Sir,” said John, « I did not take it; but I think I can guess which way it went.” Then John looked very hard at Henry, and Henry trembled and shook all over. “I saw Master Henry, this morning, run behind the stable with a large apple in his hand ; and he staid there till he had eaten it, and then he came out.”

Henry," said Mr. Fairchild, “ is this true? Are you a thief? and a liar too? And Mr. Fair. child's voice was very terrible when he spoke.

Then Henry fell down upon his knees before his papa, and confessed his wickedness.

Go from my sight, bad boy," said Mr. Fairchild : “ if you had told the truth at first, I should have forgiven you; but now I will not forgive you.” Then Mr. Fairchild ordered John to take Henry, and lock him up in a little room at the top of the house, where he could not speak to any person. Poor Henry cried sadly; and Lucy and Emily cried too; but Mr. Fairchild would not excuse Henry. “ It is better,” he said, “ that he should be punished in this world, whilst he is a little boy, than grow ap to be a liar and a thief, and go to hell when he dies ; for it is written, • Every liar shall have his portion in the lake that burneth with fire and brimstone;' and in another place, · Ye shall not steal, neither deal falsely, nor lie one to another.'

So poor Henry was locked up by himself in a little room at the very top of the house.

He sat down on a small box, and cried sadly. He hoped that his matoma and papa would have sent him some breakfast; but they did not. At twelve o'clock he looked out of the window, and saw his mamma and sisters walking in the meadow, at a little distance; and he saw his papa come, and fetch them in to dinner, as he supposed; and then he hoped that he shouid have some dinner sent him ; but no dinner came. Some time after, he saw Betty go down into the meadow to milk the cow: then he knew that it was five o'clock, and that it would soon be night: then he began to cry again. “ Oh! I am afraid,” he said, “ that papa will make me stay here all night! and I shall be alone, for God will not take care of me because of my wickedness.”

Soon afterwards, Henry saw the sun go down behind the hills; and he heard the rooks, as they were going to rest in their nests at the top of some tall trees near the house. Soon afterwards it became dusk, and then quite dark, " O dear! dear!” said Henry, when he found himself sitting alone in the dark, “ What a wicked boy I have

been to-day! I stole an apple, 'and told two or three lies about it! I have made iny 'papa and mamma unhappy, and my poor sisters too! How could I do such things ? And now I must spend all this night in this dismal place; and God will not take care of me, because I ain wicked !. If the Lord Jesus Christ loved me, I should not mind being in the dark, and alone ; but he does not love me, and he will not take care of me! Oh! if I should die, and go to hell, then I should be in everlasting darkness; I should never see light again; and I should be parted for ever and ever from my dear Saviour, who died for me!" Then Henry cried very sadly indeed. After which, he knelt down, and prayed that God would forgive him, for the sake of the Lord Jesus Christ: and this he did several times, till he found himself getting more happy in his mind.

When he got up from his prayers the last time, he heard the step of some one coming up stairs : he thought it was his mamma, and his little heart was "very glad indeed. Henry was right: it was indeed his mamma come to see her poor little boy. He soon heard hér unlock the door; and in a minute he ran into her arms. « Is Henry sorry for his wickedness?” said Mrs. Fairchild, as she sat down, and took him upon her lap. my dear child, for your very great wickedness ?”

“Oh! Mamma, Mamma! indeed I am,” said Henry, sobbing and crying: "I am very sorry; pray forgive me. I have asked God to forgive me, for the Lord Jesus Christ's sake ; and I think that he has heard my prayer; for I feel happier than I did.”

6. But have you thought, Henry, of the very great wickedness which you have committed ?"

Yes, Mamma, I have been thinking of it a

“ Are you sorry,

[ocr errors]

great deal ; I know that what I did this morning was a very great sin."

“Why do you say this morning ?” said Mrs. Fairchild : “ the sin that you committed was the work of several days.”

“ How, Mamma?” said Henry; " I was not two minutes stealing the apple, and papa found it out before breakfast.”.

Still, my dear,” said Mrs. Fairchild, “ this sin was the work of many days." Henry hearkened to his mamma, and she went on speaking: you remember those little chickens which came out of the eggs in the hen's nest last Monday morning ?”

“ Yes, Mamma,” said Henry.

" Do you think," said Mrs. Fairchild, “ that they were made the moment before they came out?"

“ No, Mamma," said Henry. “Papa said that they were growing in the egg-shell a long time before they came out alive.”

Mrs. Fairchild. " In the same manner the great sin you committed this morning was growing in your evil heart some days before it came out."

How, Mamma?” said Henry. “ I do not understand.”

Mrs. F. “ All wicked things which we commit are first formed in our hearts; and sometimes our sins are very long before they come to their full.growth. The great sin you committed this morning began to be formed in your heart three days ago. Do you remember, that that very day in which your papa forbade you to touch the apples, you stood in the parlour window, and looked at them; and you admired their beautiful appearance? This was the beginning of your sin. Your

« PreviousContinue »