« PreviousContinue »
promise. No boy is fit to be the companion of the virtuous and good who uses indecent words.
“ And remember, my young friends, that the habits you are now forming may remain with you through life.
“If you employ vulgar words now, you will use them more and more; you will be led into the
practice of degrading vice, and perhaps you will be ruined for this world and the world to come.
“God has said Thou shalt not commit adultery ;' and if you would be saved from this and all other disgraceful sins, you must keep pure your hearts and lips and lives."
THE EIGHTH COMMANDMENT.
THE Eighth Commandment is, “ Thou shalt not
steal.” “Where did you get those fine apples ?” said Julius to David, as they met on their way to school on a pleasant September morning.
“I got them,” said David, with a knowing toss of the head.
“ Please give me one.”
Julius took the apple which David held out to him. It was very large and very red. It was perfectly ripe, and of a fine flavour.
“David, I know where this apple grew," said Julius, as he began to eat it.
Very likely,” said David. "It grew in Mr. Lawton's orchard." “You are right there.”.
The tree which bore the apple was the only one of the kind in the town. The wicked boys vexed the owner so much by stealing his fruit, that he was not quite so liberal with it as he should have been. When the little folks asked him for an apple, he seldom granted their request. This was not kind to be sure, but then it did not justify their taking it without liberty.
“David, how did you get so many?” said Julius, as he saw that both his pockets were full, as well as the crown of his hat.
" I know."
“Did Mr. Lawton give them to you?”
By this time the apple which Julius had made some progress in eating with great relish, began to taste less pleasantly, for he suspected that David had stolen the fruit; and he remembered the proverb, that "the partaker is as bad as the thief.”
“Now, David;” said he, “tell me, and don't get angry, did you
“Did you what?” said David impatiently, as he observed Julius' hesitation.
“Did you steal these apples ?”
“No,” said David.
At this moment they reached the school-house. The teacher had just entered. Julius paused a moment at the door to finish his apple, that he might not violate a rule of the school, which forbade the eating fruit in the school.
At noon David made a great display of his apples to the scholars. As he would not give any of them away, several of the boys got out of humour with him, and began to make remarks that implied that he had not come honestly by them.
“I don't want any of them,” said Hugh Stone, who had begged the hardest for one in vain, “I know that he stole them."
“I did'nt steal them neither,” said David, angrily.
“I know you did, for you had'nt any money to buy them with, and Old Lawton never gave them to you, so you must have stolen them.”
“ You are a fine fellow to talk, to call Mr. Lawton, Old Lawton; I would'nt be a saucy boy for a good deal,” said David.
“And I would not be a thief for a good deal," retorted Hugh.
“I tell you I did not steal them,” said David.
“How did you get them ?" asked several of the boys who had gathered round the disputants.
“I took them,” said David.
The announcement of this false distinction in morals raised so loud a shout that David thought proper to retire sulkily towards home.
There was now a good deal of discussion among the boys as to what ought to be done with him.
“ He must be called up; we can't have such doings in our school,” said one who had very earnestly desired an apple. It was well understood that his zeal for justice was owing to his disappointment.
“ The master ought to know it," said another, but another earnestly protested against giving any such information. To this protest no reply was made, though the countenances of some showed that they did not altogether acquiesce in the doctrine that the faults of a person must be concealed from those who have a right to know them.
“ Let us have a court and try him," said one.
“Good," said Hugh, “I'll be the sheriff to take him.”
The idea of a court pleased all the boys. In a few minutes a justice was chosen, and the self-appointment of Hugh confirmed.
Hugh set out immediately in pursuit of David. He found him sitting on a stone wall about half way between the school-house and his father's house. He was eating apples, but did not seem to enjoy them. He did not look up or speak to Hugh as he approached. Hugh came up to him, and placing his hand on his shoulder a little harder than was necessary, exclaimed, “You are my prisoner.”
Hugh Stone, you had better keep your hands off from me,” said David.
“You must come with me, and be tried by the court; you will most likely be sent to prison.”
“ Let me alone."
“I tell you I'm sheriff, and I was sent to arrest you, and bring you before the court.
must go.” He took hold of his arm and pulled him from the wall.
David remained passive till his feet rested on the ground, when he dealt Hugh a blow on his breast that laid him prostrate on his back. Hugh arose from the ground in great wrath, and there was a prospect of a pitched battle, when a gentleman interfered and put an end to hostilities, and told them that he should inform their teacher of their conduct.
Neither of them seemed to care much for this. David thought he was safe because he could plead that he acted in self-defence. Hugh could plead his official character. David did not see that inquiries would be made into the merits of the case which was the basis of the proceedings in question.
When school began, David and Hugh were called up, and their statements were heard. The teacher reprimanded Hugh for proceeding to force without higher authority than he possessed. The consideration of David's case was put off till after school.
In a long conversation with David, the teacher learned the following facts. His father's hired man, in going after the cows, had occasion to pass through Mr. Lawton's orchard. He picked up a few apples that lay on the ground under the trees, and gave some to David.
David asked him if it was not stealing, since it was taking without liberty. He said it was not, for he did not go to the orchard for the purpose of getting the apples. He was passing through it for another purpose, and picked up some apples, without