Several times she had fancied she had dropped the orange in some of the rough movements of the games, and had gone more than once quietly into a corner of the room to feel in her pocket if it was still there. Yes, it was quite safe enough. “How could I be so wicked and so greedy?” thought Flora; “mama always gives me as much fruit as is best for me, and yet I have made myself a thief, and after all have not eaten the orange, or been able to put it back, and it has spoiled all my pleasure.” She sat still, miserable and unhappy for a little longer, and then her resolution was made—she would tell her mama before she lay down to sleep that night. With a slow step and a beating heart she went toward the window where her mother was sitting. “Well, Flora,” said Mrs. Marshall kindly, “you seem tired and out of spirits to-night; have you come to wish me good-night?”
[Illustration: "Here it is, Mama."]
“O mama!” sobbed Flora, “I have come to tell you how wicked I have been, and how very sorry and miserable I am;” and hiding her face in the folds of her mama’s dress, she told the story.
“Here it is, mama,” she said, drawing the orange from her pocket, “and I think I shall never see an orange again without remembering this bad afternoon.”
Very gravely, but gently, her mother spoke to her about her sin, and the consequences it had brought upon her. “I shall not punish you, Flora,” she said; “your own conscience has been a sufficient punishment. I have watched your pale, troubled face all the afternoon, and should have wondered what was wrong with you had I not seen you take the orange as I passed the door, which was slightly open. Knowing what you had done, I was not surprised that you seemed unhappy.”
“But can you forgive me mama, and believe that I will never do such a thing again?”
“I will forgive you, Flora, because you have told me of your fault; but remember there is One above whose forgiveness you must seek as well as mine, whose eye is always upon you, and who is grieved when you do wrong. Go now, and before you sleep to-night ask God to pardon you, and cleanse you from this and every other sin for the sake of his Son, our Saviour Jesus Christ.”
With a sorrowful, repentant heart Flora went to her room, and kneeling there asked God to forgive all her sins, and to help her for the future to resist temptation; but it was a long time before she forgot the stolen orange and how miserable she had been that afternoon.
[Illustration: “He used to chase them and threaten to cut off their ears.”]
Everything small and helpless was once afraid of a certain ragged, barefooted little boy who had recently come to live in the country. His home was the old Perkins’ house, in which no one had lived for years; at least no one but wild-wood folks, like birds and squirrels. They didn’t stay long after the arrival of Pete and his family, because Pete threw stones even at the bluebirds.