Mrs. Dudley had never heard of this child before, but Mr. Dudley said he had known him as a very bad boy. She asked Mary how she happened to know any thing about him. Mary told her that he attended Sunday-school, and that, a few Sundays before, one of the children could not find his cap. A thorough search was made for it, but it could not be found. The superintendent thought some one must have taken it. He suspected Jimmy, because his reputation was so bad, and followed him on his way home. Jimmy had it on his head, and his own cap was hidden under his sack!
The superintendent of the school talked with Jimmy, who said he would never steal again; but, alas! he soon forgot his good resolution. Although he carried a dinner for himself in his tin pail, he took whatever he liked from the baskets of his companions.
Mrs. Dudley has seen this boy several times since she heard him crying on the lawn. She says it always makes her feel sad to meet him, for she cannot avoid thinking,—“that is the boy who steals.” She has learned that he has no father or mother, but lives with his grandparents. I fear he “will bring down their gray hairs with sorrow to the grave.” He has allowed himself to steal small things, and as he grows older he will probably take articles of more value. He may become a housebreaker or a murderer.
It is dangerous to indulge in the least sin. It hardens the heart, and stifles the whisper of that still, small voice, which so often tells children, when they are tempted to do wrong, “That is not right; you should not do that.”
In some Catechism the question is asked, “What is my duty to my neighbour?” and a part of the answer is, “To keep my hands from picking and stealing.” I suppose “picking” must mean, secretly taking little pieces of cake, or sugar, or any thing of the kind, of small value. I presume Jimmy was in the habit of “picking,” at his grandmother’s before he ventured to steal at school.
I could tell you several very sad stories of people who have stolen when they were children, and who have grown more and more wicked, as they have advanced in years, till they became a curse to society and themselves. “The way of transgressors is hard.” These people have no true enjoyment. There is always a fearful looking forward to the future.
It is not pleasant to me to write about bad children, and I should not do it if it were not to warn the dear children I so much love against the formation of wrong and sinful habits.
How much better it would be for Jimmy if he had learned to “touch not, taste not, handle not,” that which does not belong to him!