As she entered the house, she began to tell how she came by the apples, but stopped in dismay, for she saw her mother’s look of disapproval. Very tenderly Mrs. Worthington took her little daughter aside and, sitting down by her, said: “My dear, you don’t understand what you’ve done: those apples are as truly stolen as if you had picked them from the tree. You must take them to Mrs. S. and explain that you didn’t know you were stealing them. Taking little things and trying to ease the conscience by saying, ‘It doesn’t amount to anything,’ causes the conscience to fall asleep and to cease its activity. Thus the evil habit of taking what doesn’t belong to us becomes a part of our nature, and step by step we fall into greater sin.
“I once heard of a young man who was about to be hanged upon the gallows. Just before the fatal moment he received permission to speak to any of his friends, if he desired. Calling for his aunt, who had reared him, he moved forward as if to speak to her, but instead he bit off her ear. Amid the exclamations of horror that followed, the young man said: ’You think what I have done is cruel. Let me tell you that, had my aunt done her duty by me, I should not be here today. Had she taken the pains to inquire where I obtained the lead pencils, knives, handkerchiefs, and other small articles which I brought home from time to time; had she not accepted the flimsy excuse that I had found them; had she warned me of my danger, and not praised me for “finding” the things I had stolen,—I might have escaped this awful end.’
“So, Bessie, you can see the danger of allowing anything like this—though it does appear a trifle—to pass by unnoticed. You may go and return the apples to Mrs. S., who is now in the orchard.”
The lesson was severe and lasting; and as Bessie returned the apples to their rightful owner, it settled deep into her heart.
Parents, beware. Through neglect, the habit of lying begins. An untruth is passed over carelessly and the child allowed to cover up its sins without realizing their sinfulness. Likewise, many other evil habits that have wrecked lives and brought sorrow and disgrace into homes may be traced to the same carelessness on the part of parents and friends.
A WISE DECISION.
The lake in front of the Worthington home, though nearly five miles in length, had too small a harbor to permit the entrance of the large Chicago boats. It was therefore necessary, each evening in summer, for small steamboats to gather up the fruit from the farms along the lake and to carry it to the nearest port for large steamers. It was interesting to see the piles of berry crates loaded upon the steamer from the docks extending out into the lake. At such times a crowd of young people frequently arranged to go for a pleasant ride on Lake Michigan, and a few times Bessie had gone.