“Surely there can be no harm or danger,” thought Bessie; but she remembered the oft-repeated warnings of her parents and aunt. The shells lost their beauty when she remembered hearing her father say that bears sometimes travel up and down the shores. What if a bear should some that morning? She gave a quick, searching glance among the trees, but, seeing nothing, she tried to forget about bears. She might have been able to forget about them, but she could not forget that she was disobedient. Her conscience would not let her; the more she tried to forget, the louder it talked. She was just about to take her little sister back to the house, when she heard a rustling among the branches of a tall tree directly above the path over which she must pass. The next moment she thought she heard a low growl. “O Louise,” she cried, “I do believe that is the bear papa told us about.” The tree then began to sway from side to side and they heard another growl, louder than the first. Seizing her little sister’s hand, Bessie hastened to help her out of the water. By this time both were thoroughly frightened; for while visiting one of the parks in Chicago once, they had seen a bear hug his keeper until he could not stand. Bessie remembered the incident and tried to help Louise to hurry; but when the tree shook again, this time just above her, she screamed wildly and ran a few steps alone. When she got past the danger-point her reason returned, and, looking back, she saw her sister’s great danger, as she stood just beneath the fatal tree. Rushing back, she almost carried Louise (while the growling continued), and they were soon up the hill. In the house they told of their strange experience, the substance of the story being, “The bear; The bear!”
Mr. Worthington soon joined the excited circle and secretly explained to his wife that he had been the supposed bear and that he had taken this course to teach the children a lesson. His plan was successful, for after that the children did not care to go to the lake alone.
Mrs. Worthington, however, was very sad because her children had been deceived. Unlike her husband, who was not a Christian, she believed in keeping the confidence of her children and in praying with them when they were disobedient. She decided to be more prompt and watchful in the future and to shield them from temptation as much as possible.
She improved the opportunity for some wholesome instruction. From the stories of Jonah and King Saul she brought forth some excellent lessons on disobedience. She told the children that, although they might think when tempted to disobey that nobody saw them, yet there was one whose eye was ever beholding their deeds, whether good or bad. Then she knelt in prayer with her children, praying with a full heart to that God who is everywhere present and from whom all our strength must come, that he would teach her how to guide the precious souls entrusted to her care.