He replied, in a voice choked with sobs,—
“Oh! I have been so wicked—so—bad—I know not what will become of me. It is well that my mother did not live to see how widely I have strayed from the path in which it was her last hope and prayer that I should walk.”
Mr. Humphrey endeavoured to comfort the poor boy, wisely thinking this to be no time to reproach him for past errors.
Mrs. Humphrey, thinking that something unusual must have taken place followed her husband to the room of Earnest.
By the tearful request of Earnest, she examined the package, which had for so long a time remained in her keeping. First there was a Bible and Hymn Book, the books were elegantly bound, and had silver clasps. Then there was an old-fashioned locket of gold, containing a picture of the father and mother of Ernest, which had been taken many years before. Between the leaves of the Bible was placed a letter addressed to Ernest, in the hand-writing of his mother. The letter had been written at different times as her strength permitted, during the last few days of her life. It read as follows:—
“My dear little Earnest,—Long before your eyes will rest upon these lines, the hand that traces them will have mouldered into dust. The contents of this package with my prayerful blessing, is all I have to leave you. As I write these lines you are playing about my room a happy, innocent child. Would that my knowledge could extend into the future, that I might know what manner of youth you will be, when this letter is placed in your hands. But I fear that I am wrong in thus wishing to know the future which a kind Providence has mercifully hidden from us. It is my anxiety for you alone that prompts the desire. I leave a request that this letter be not placed in your hands till you shall have attained the age of fourteen years. For should your life be spared to that period, you will then be capable of reflection. It is my earnest prayer, that you should grow up a good and dutiful boy, and by so doing, reward Mr. and Mrs. Humphrey for the care and instruction, which, I feel confident they will bestow upon you. But, O! my son, should it be otherwise, and you have been led astray by evil companions, I beseech you, my child, to pause and think. Listen to the voice of your mother as if speaking to you, from her grave. Again, I say, ‘pause and reflect.’ If you have evil companions, forsake them at once, and forever. But I trust that these sad forebodings are needless, and that when you read these lines, you will be all that the fond heart of a mother could desire. The Bible and Hymn Book which I leave you belonged to my father, who was a minister of the Church of Scotland. Is it too much for me to hope that you will follow in the footsteps of your deceased grandparent, and use this Bible as he did in the pulpit, as a minister of the gospel? The locket contains the likeness of your father and