“I have heard the good news,” he said, as he reached a hand feebly towards Tom, “and it has made my heart glad.”
“I owe it all to you,” replied the cripple, in a voice that trembled with feeling. “God will reward you.”
And he caught the shadowy hand, touched it with his lips, and wet it with grateful tears, as once before. Even as he held that thin, white hand the low-moving pulse took an lower beat—lower and lower—until the long-suffering heart grew still, and the freed spirit went up to its reward.
“My benefactor!” sobbed the cripple, as he stood by the wasted form shrouded in grave-clothes, and looked upon it for the last time ere the coffin-lid closed over it. “What would I have been except for you?”
Are your opportunities for doing good few, and limited in range, to all appearances, reader? Have you often said, like the bedridden man, “What can I do?” Are you poor, weak, ignorant, obscure, or even sick as he was, and shut out from contact with the busy outside world? No matter. If you have a willing heart, good work will come to your hands. Is there no poor, unhappy neglected one to whom you can speak words of encouragement, or lift out of the vale of ignorance? Think! Cast around you. You may, by a single sentence, spoken in the right time and in the right spirit, awaken thoughts in some dull mind that may grow into giant powers in after times, wielded for the world’s good. While you may never be able to act directly on society to any great purpose, in consequence of mental or physical disabilities, you may, by instruction and guidance, prepare some other mind for useful work, which, but for your agency, might have wasted its powers in ignorance or crime. All around us are human souls that may be influenced. The nurse, who ministers to you in sickness, may be hurt or helped by you; the children, who look into your face and read it daily, who listen to your speech, and remember what you say, will grow better or worse, according to the spirit of your life, as it flows into them; the neglected son of a neighbor may find in you the wise counsellor who holds him back from vice. Indeed, you cannot pass a single day, whether your sphere be large or small, your place exalted or lowly, without abundant opportunities for doing good. Only the willing heart is required. As for the harvest, that is nodding, ripe for the sickle, in every man’s field. What of that time when the Lord of the Harvest comes, and you bind up your sheaves and lay them at his feet?
“O, mamma! See that wicked-looking cat on the fence! She’ll have one of those dear little rabbits in a minute!”
Mattie’s sweet face grew pale with fear, and she trembled all over.
“It’s only a picture, my dear,” said Mattie’s mother. “The cat can’t get down, and so the rabbits are safe.”