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was elsewhere. He did his duty conscientiously, but there was a certain look of sadness about him which showed that he was not happy. His father died. The youngest son was in his apprenticeship, the elder took the place of father and patron. But after a time his mother wished to marry again. Charles then considered himself free, and yielding his place to his father-in-law, who was a capable man of business, he left home and resumed his studies. God took him by the hand, and made the way for him, till at length he gained an honourable position. Then it was we found ourselves in the same carriage.
“You have got on well for this life,” I said ; “ how is it about the life that is to come? Are you a Christian ?” He assented. I could not doubt it. There was an open, peaceful look on his face, very different from that of those who are only living for themselves. I wanted to know when and how he had received that new life from God, and especially whether it could be traced to the time when I had myself led him to the Saviour. My joy was great indeed when I found his first religious impressions dated from that period; but I was very much surprised to learn that it was not the Biblical instruction I had given him which had impressed him, but two little things which I had quite forgotten, and which God had made use of to touch his heart. They prove that nothing is small in the realm of love.
“You know," he said, “ that there are four great yearly fairs at Nony. Large cattle fairs are held at the same time, and attract a great multitude of country people. At one of these fairs, in the autumn, a man who sold chestnuts had set up his roasting stove near the infant school. Every time he uncovered his stove to shake his chestnuts, an inviting smell spread round, and attracted first the looks and then the steps of the children. I stopped before it,
, attracted, like the others, by the delicious odour, and by the pleasant warmth of the charcoal fire at which I was thawing my fingers. I was standing there, when I suddenly
a great fault.
felt a hand on my shoulder. I turned round; it was you ! • Thou shalt not covet,' you said to me gravely.
I ran away,
I expected to be severely blamed, so my surprise was great when I saw you enter the schoolroom soon after myself, holding your pocket-handkerchief in your hand, full of smoking roasted chestnuts. There were enough for all. You did not blame me at all, only when you gave me mine, you said to me with a kind smile which I still see, 'Eat these with a good conscience.' How it was that by this little incident God in His great mercy convinced me of sin, and caused this conviction to remain with me, I cannot tell. The fact remains. It was, to the best of my remembrance, the first link in that chain of loving-kindness by which He bound me to Himself.
But another circumstance made a still deeper impression upon me for good. I was subject in winter to chilblains and chapped hands. As soon as the first frost set in I suffered fearfully. I tried in vain to protect my poor hands by wrapping them in my pinafore, but when I reached school I was almost always half-frozen. The room was warmed, it is true, but it was some time before I felt the good of it, and during this interval I could not enjoy anything. You doubtless noticed how much I was suffering in common with many others. Do you recollect what you did to remedy it?"
I had a large basin filled with sand for you to rub your hands in.”
“ Just so. This delightful hot sand-bath soon restored the circulation in our aching fingers; besides, nothing is a greater pleasure to children than to play with sand, and to make fountains by letting it run through their hands. You were good enough to let us play in this way. The prospect of this warm bath gave me courage to face the east wind, and made the schoolroom, which is not generally a very inviting place to boys, quite luxurious to me. But there was one other kind act, do you remember?”
“ Allowing you to change your shoes, perhaps."
“No; it is only the children of the rich who can have that luxury! You had flat stones put in the bottom of the sand-bath for us poor children. When we had warmed our hands, we were allowed to carry one to our seat to complete the warming thoroughly. These two very simple things touched my heart, and remain as charming recollections of my earliest school days, which to many are associated with infantile suffering. I felt that you loved us, and it awoke love in return."
Such was my young friend's story. I admired the goodness of God, who, so to speak, can make an arrow out of all kinds of wood, and I also saw the confirmation of that great principle, “The power of doing good lies in love." Skill is needful; knowledge is good; love is best. Let us all then try to love.
M, E. B.