And things like that are happening in America to-day. I read a story the other day of a young student who was overtaken by a rainstorm, and borrowed an umbrella of a lawyer. He returned it a few days later with a note of thanks. Not long afterward he received a letter from the lawyer offering him a position in his office on account of his good handwriting. The student took the position, kept on with his studies in college, and after he graduated from college went right along in that office till he became a man of influence. He didn’t know what it meant when he wrote that note. He was on deck.
The lesson that I want to draw is this: That you must be on the lookout and do well the things that come to you each day, for who knows but you may be on deck that very day, and be called to play some important part? For only those are called who are on deck; that is, ready to play. The boy or girl who does not do his work well day by day may miss his chance of being called to take some larger place in life when the times comes. Take this motto from the Old Testament: “Whatsoever thy hand findeth to do, do it with thy might.”
In some parts of Canada, where the country is still thinly settled by people, wild animals are quite numerous. In one of these communities there once lived a boy who was in the village late one night. He had been at the village-store, and had heard the men talking about a wildcat that had been seen in that neighbourhood a short time before.
The boy was not a coward, but when he started for his home, three miles away, in the country, he was nervous. Nothing happened, however, until he was climbing over a set of bars at the end of a lane leading through a piece of woods near his home. Then he heard the bushes moving and twigs crackling under the feet of some animal the other side of the lane-fence. He thought of the wildcat. He jumped to the ground, picked up a heavy stick he had seen under a tree on his way through that day and listened. Nearer and nearer came the rustling of the bushes, and every little while he could hear an animal sniff the air. Finally it came to the fence, clambered up opposite him. The boy raised his club and waited, and when the animal jumped down beside him, its eyes shining in the darkness, he struck with all his might. Off the beast went into the darkness. All was silence again, and the boy stood listening and trembling. Then from the top of a nearby hill he heard a dog howl with pain. He found, next morning, that it was only a neighbour’s dog that had frightened him so.
That boy is not the only one who has seen things mistakenly, just because he was afraid. If you are dreading something, you will think that everything that happens brings the thing you dread. Usually nothing happens at all. The trouble was only in the person’s mind, just as that wildcat was in the boy’s mind, and so every noise he could not explain was a wildcat.