I will tell you a true story about a robber. A gentleman was once travelling through a very unfrequented road, alone in a chaise, in the latter part of the day. There was no house nor a sign of a human being there. It was a very lonely road. Presently at a sudden turn in the road, directly towards his horse’s head, a man came out of the woods. The gentleman was convinced by his appearance that he came for no good purpose. He immediately stopped his horse, and asked the stranger to get in and ride. The man hesitated a moment, and then stepped into the chaise. The gentleman commenced talking with him about the loneliness of the road, and observed that it would be an admirable place for a robbery if any one was so disposed. He proceeded to speak of robbery and criminals, and how he thought they should be sought out and instructed, and if possible reformed; and that we ought to try to convert and reform them; and then he began to tell him what course he should take with a man who should attempt to rob him. He told him that he should give him all his money first, and then begin to talk kindly to him, and show the evil consequences of his course of life. He then said:
“Yes, I would die on the spot rather than to injure a hair of his head.”
They soon came to another road, when the man, who had silently listened to all the gentleman had said, desired to get out, saying that his home lay in that direction. The gentleman stopped his horse, and the man got out, took his adviser by the hand, saying:
“I thank you, sir, for this ride and for all you have said to me; I shall never forget any part of it. When I met you, it was my intention to rob you. I could easily have done so, but your kind act and your kind words put better thoughts into my heart. I think I never shall be guilty of the crime you have saved me from committing this afternoon. I thank God for having met you; you have made me a better man.”
One day, says a Persian poet, I saw a bunch of roses, and in the midst of them grew a tuft of grass.
“How,” I cried to the grass, “does a poor plant like you dare to be found in the company of roses?”
And I ran to tear away the tuft, when the grass replied:
“Spare me! It is true, I am not a rose; but you will perceive from my perfume that I have been among the roses.”
This is a very pretty fable for young people. It makes us recollect one of the proverbs of Solomon: “He that walketh with wise men shall be wise; but a companion of fools shall be destroyed.” Young people like to have companions, and it is proper that they should have them. If we had no one to associate with, we should be unhappy. We need friends that we may confide in, and that we may tell them what we feel and what we think. But we must take care as to the choice of friends; for just as the grass in the fable imbibed the scent of the roses, so we become like those with whom we associate.