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Tempted to Steal.
Vermont, a little boy of the name of
of live with a man of the name of Easy, at
a distance of about twenty miles from his native place. He had not been in his new home long before he became very lonely, and wanted to go back to his old home. Knowing, however, that his mother was anxious that he should stay, and being very desirous of pleasing her, he tried to be content. A few weeks after he went to live with Mr. Easy, he received a letter from his mother, which cheered his heart, and encouraged him to continue his efforts to be good. The letter read as follows,
“MY DEAR Son Joseph,—I suppose you have been anxious to hear from us. I have not been well, or I should have written before. Your sister Henrietta is well, and is with me at Jesse's; she will remain here till I can find a good place for her. Jesse says : 'Tell Joseph to be a good boy, and learn to do his work well; for one acre well tilled is worth a dozen poorly tilled.' I hope you will be a good boy, and try and please Mr. and Mrs. Easy. You must not forget to pray, and remember that your mother prays for you every day. I want you to go to church and to Sunday-school, and learn all you can. You must write to me when you get this, and let me know how you like your new home. Tell me all about it. If Mr. Easy will let you have some paper, you can use it; if not, you can write on the blank side of this letter, and send it without paying the
Henrietta sends her love to you, Be a good
“From your MOTHER.”
This was the first letter that he had ever received. He read it over and over again. It was from his mother, and made him feel that she was nearer to him than before he received it. Then, with tears streaming down his cheeks, he implanted kisses upon it. It seemed to him that he could almost see her and hear her voice in the words.
" Oh! how I wish I could see her !” he exclaimed. “Why can't I? Why am I here? Well, perhaps it is all for the best. She wants me to stay.”
The next Sunday he asked Mr. Easy if he would let him take his pen and ink.
“ Pen and ink!” exclaimed Mrs. Easy ; “ what, in the world, do you want with pen and ink ?”
“I want to write to my mother,” replied Joseph, with a faltering voice.
“ Your mother, eh? Just as I expected ; you “Don't, wife, don't,” interrupted Mr. Easy.
Then turning to Joseph, he said : “ Pen and ink !—why we haven't any in the house. Won't a pencil do?" Then, feeling in his pocket and finding one, he said: “Here, take this.”
Joseph took it and went to his room. He wrote as much as he could on the blank page of his mother's letter, when, all at once, he happened to think that, by sending that, he would have to send part of what she had written to him.
“Oh!" he exclaimed, “ I won't send that; I want to keep it.”
Then he began to lament his poverty, and, for a moment, cherished ugly feelings towards God, who, he felt, could better provide for him. All at once he stopped, saying to himself: “ This won't do; mother says: ‘His ways are mysterious ; it will be all for the best.' Lord, forgive me ; Thou art good; I will love thee. Oh! how I wish I had a piece of paper ! Well, some time, I'll have a great big pile of my own.”
Just then the good angel whispered: “Why not ask Mr. Easy to get you some?” He concluded to ask. The next day, while at work, he said to him: “ I wish I had a piece of paper."
“A piece of paper !--what kind of paper ?" inquired
“A piece of paper to write on,” replied Joseph.
“ I haven't a bit in the house,” responded Mr. Easy. “If you can find a couple of eggs, you may lay them by, and if it happens to rain this week, so that we can't work outdoors, you may take them to the store, and get a pencil and a sheet of paper.
You can get a big sheet, and that will last you a good while."
Ac the close of the day's work, Joseph went to the barn, and soon succeeded in finding three eggs. No sooner had he laid his hands upon them than he was, for the first time in his life, tempted to steal. Something seemed to say : “You can take the three, and then, instead of getting one sheet of paper, you can get two. Mr. Easy won't know anything about it. There can be no harm in it: you pay for all you get, and more too."
He then started to hide them in a safe place, when he seemed to hear another voice exclaiming: “What, you steal?" He stopped.
“ Steal ! No, I won't.” “But you can get two sheets of paper.”
Yes, but I won't steal. I'll only hide two, and put the other back.”
He did so, went to the house, and soon after retired. He remained awake some time, wondering what made him think of taking the three eggs instead of two, and how he came to abandon his project. After thinking the subject over a long time, he concluded that it must have been the enemy that said to him, “ You can take the three," and that it was some good angel that said : “What, you steal?"
He then thanked the Lord for sending the good angel, and prayed that he might always have help to resist the tempter. He now felt very happy, and soon after fell asleep.
The next day he went to his work, anxiously waiting for rain. He hoped it would rain before Sunday, as he wanted to write then, and put it into the office on his way church.
Occasionally, during the day, Joseph looked up to the clouds; he would scan them for a moment, and then resume his work. Mr. Easy finally noticed it, and asked what he was looking for there.
** Rain, sir,” replied Joseph.
“ Oh! yes,” said Mr. Easy, “ I had forgotten. . Well, it will rain soon enough. What makes you want to write to your mother? Do you want her to send for you?"
“No, sir,” answered Joseph. She wrote to me, and wanted me to write to her ; she wants to hear from me.”
“She wrote to you !” exclaimed Mr. Easy, in surprise. “ What did she write? Won't you read it to me?"
Joseph then took the letter from his pocket and read it to him. After hearing it, Mr. Easy looked thoughttul for a moment, and then said :
“ You have a kind mother; she has given you good advice; and you shall have some paper.
I hid two,
“ Yes, sir,” replied Joseph, “I found three last night.
and—” “ What did you do with the other?”interrupted Mr. Easy. “ I put it back into the nest,” replied Joseph.
“Put it back into the nest? what made you take it out?" responded Mr. Easy
“Oh! sir, the enemy told me to take it, so that I could get two sheets of paper, but God's good angel told me it would be stealing ; so I put it back.”
“The enemy told you—God's good angel told you? What do you mean?”
My class-leader told me, sir," replied Joseph, “that the enemy would follow me to death's door, and the Bible says: • He walketh about as a roaring lion, seeking whom he
may devour.' He tried to get me to steal that egg, that so he could destroy me; but God's good angel came to help me to resist. The angels sung to my father ; perhaps it was one of them." “ Angels sung
your father! Well, never mind. I am glad you put it back.”
The conversation now came to a close. The work was continued till the horn blew for supper. When they had reached the barn-yard, on their way back from supper, Mr. Easy stopped, and said:
Now, go and get the two eggs that you hid, and the one that you put back into the nest, and bring them out into the field.”
Joseph did as he was directed, wondering what he could want with them. When he had reached the field, Mr. Easy
Now, you may go to the store with them; get a pencil and two sheets of paper. Go cross lots, and be sure to be back by chore-time. Don't let Mrs. Easy know that you went. Be spry.”
joseph bounded off like a deer. His heart was big with joy at the prospect of having a pencil and two sheets of paper. Then he thought how good Mr. Easy looked and how kind he spoke.
Almost before he was aware of it, he had reached the store, got his pencil and paper, and was on his way back to the field where he left Mr. Easy. On reaching it, he found him still at work. Mr. Easy looked up and asked in surprise :
"Why didn't you go?"