Must he return with not even one golden pebble? for he had gathered them all—not one was in sight, no more were to be found.
His golden dream of travel was over, and, worse, the freshness and buoyancy of youth had departed. His limbs, alas! were stiff and sore. He had a mountain of gold, not one atom of which he could use for himself or others. And now he must return to his father’s house empty-handed, and void of truths or incidents to relate to his brothers.
But some kind angel led him home, where his blessings were yet in store, awaiting his return. One evening when the shadows crept over the earth, he walked up the well-known path. The brothers had long before ceased to watch for his coming; and great was their surprise to see him again among them, although not the brother of that happy, sunny day of long ago. He told them sadly of the result of his long toil, while they related to him the good results of their few golden pebbles, which they brought home, and with which their father had purchased land, which was now yielding them rich returns, aside from the health and pleasure which they derived from its culture, the labor of which they performed with their own hands. “Health, wealth, and happiness combined,” he murmured sadly, as he felt keenly that his youth and opportunities had departed.
Are there not too many who seek for gold alone, forgetting the joys which it purchases, and forgetting that its possession alone has no value? Rightly acquired and used it alleviates and mediates, but gathered and amassed for itself only it is but a mountain of shining ore, valueless and unsatisfying to its possessor.
“Fool that I have been thus to waste my time and strength!” said the long-absent son that night as his father bade him welcome.
“If wisdom is purchased by the experience, it matters not how great the price,” answered his parent.
“But I have lost my youth and my strength,” responded the son.
“Which loss will be compensated by more thought and greater ability to labor mentally,” said his parent consolingly.
In after years the youth who had wasted his bodily strength became a worker in words of cheer and hope to others, and hence he had not wholly lived in vain. He learned to love the angel Truth so well that she came to his side each day, and gave him sweet counsel and many lessons for mankind.
But he had purchased the light at a cost which few can afford to give.
A large party of travelers on their way to a distant country were obliged to pass through a dense forest to reach it. Their leader went forward, and, seeing the darkness of the dense woods, was convinced of the impossibility of his people going through it, without the aid of a light to guide them. He sat beside the mossy stones at the entrance, trying to devise some means by which to light up the darkness.