SUFFERING FOR THE
FAULTS OF OTHERS
In silence weep.
thy convulsive sorrows inward keep. --Prior.
Edwin's head was
still aching when he awoke in the morning, but he arose,
dressed hurriedly, and hastened to the kitchen to see if his
services were needed by his mother. There was little that he
could do, but with brush and pan he gathered the dust and lint
from under the various articles of furniture. It was such a
comfort and satisfaction to Edwin to know the names of those
articles, and their uses.
After the meal was
over, he carried the scraps to the dog; but as the supply was
short, he did not help himself to a part as he did when there
was plenty, for the golden rule was too much a part of his
nature. When his morning duties were done, his mother told him
to go and take care of the baby; but when he went out into the
yard, he could find no one but Perry the dog.
For the moment
Edwin forgot what his mother had told him to do. The eyes of
his noble friend seemed beckoning him to the spot where he was
lying, and Edwin obeyed. Sitting down by Perry's side, he
buried his little face in the furry neck of the graceful
animal, and all about him seemed to say: "Good morning, my
boy. Cheer up, cheer up! Our meals you shall share and our
songs you shall hear." The fact that there was no regret
within his heart because of the lack of human friendship made
it easy for him to accept the comfort and encouragement that
was sent him through other channels by his loving, tender
The small hand was
stroking the sleek side of the huge animal, and the little
bird-song in the tree close by added much to his enjoyment,
and, sitting erect, he chirped in reply a sweet little song
that he had learned at the poorhouse from the birds. This
peaceful condition, however, was too good to last. In a very
short time he heard the voice of his mother asking him where
his cousins had gone.
"I haven't seen
them yet," he said simply.
"And didn't you
know that I meant for you to hunt them up?" she exclaimed in a
tone that was much more harsh and severe than that in which
her other words had been spoken. Then adding, "I'll teach you
to pay attention to what I say!" she picked up a board that
was lying near and began to beat him as she had done the day
before. Hoping to escape some of the blows, the child drew
closer to his mother, but the following instant he found
himself tumbling head foremost toward a stone wall and heard
the woman say, "Get away from me, you blockhead, or I'll dash
out your brains on that stone wall. You are dumber than the
dumb and not fit to live, and I wish you had never been born."
When the awful
treatment was ended, Edwin was lying in the grass in almost a
helpless condition, but he was left there piteously moaning
while his mother went to find the other children. The baby was
in the house in his crib and was still asleep, and the other
two children, who had been on the opposite side of the house
at play, were standing in full view of the scene. Without a
word of comfort for her suffering child, she told Elmer and
Jennie to go quickly to her room, as she intended to take them
to the country, and the three disappeared to prepare for the
It was some time
before Edwin could arise, but at last, bruised and bleeding,
he got upon his feet and hobbled to a place that was not quite
so conspicuous. There he was sitting when his mother came from
the house. The baby, then awake and dressed, was sitting in
its carriage, and the other children were by her side. Before
leaving the yard, she called loudly for Edwin, asking where he
was hiding, and as the child came limping toward her, she
threw him a package, saying as she did so: "Here's some dinner
for you and Perry. We'll not be back before night, but you see
to it that you stay right here in the yard. If it rains, you
can crawl in with the dog." Without any other information as
to what she intended to do or where she was going, and without
a word of sympathy, the little group passed through the gate
and were soon out of sight.
To be thus left
alone at so tender an age with no other companions than nature
and the dog, to some might seem cruel, but to Edwin life was
already too full of varied experiences for this fact to make
any material difference in his feelings. He did think,
however, that it was very kind of his mother to leave Perry
and the birds as his companions, and no better company could
he have desired.
The small package
that Edwin had received from his mother was of great interest
to the half-fed child. Knowing that it was intended for the
dog as well as for him, he called for Perry to come, and
together they went to the place beneath the little nest where
the scene of cruelty had occurred the day before.
package, he found that the dinner consisted of a small piece
of boiled pork, all fat, and a little dry bread, in all
scarcely enough for one, and yet two, one of which was a
hungry dog, were to dine upon it. After Edwin had considered
all this, feelings arose in his heart, but they were not of
ingratitude or displeasure. He was anxious to know just how to
divide the food so that each would receive his just portion.
He concluded that since Perry and he were the parties
concerned, Perry must help him to decide.
"Perry," he said,
"you are the biggest, and you eat much more than I do, but,
Perry, you get all you want very often, and I never do. Now,
this morning your plate wasn't quite as full as it is
sometimes, so I didn't take any bites. I gave it all to you,
Perry, and I was so hungry. Don't you think that it would be
all right now if we divided this dinner in halves? It would be
all right with me if it would with you."
The dog had been
an attentive listener, and as his little master waited for an
answer. Perry, who had been taught to "speak" in his dog
language, answered, "You, you," and Edwin understood it as
being his perfect consent. Still fearing that he might not
have been perfectly understood, Edwin began again, "Now,
Perry, are you really willing to have it that way, and can you
trust me to divide both the meat and the bread?" Again the
dog's "You, you" meant "Yes" to Edwin; so, taking the bread in
his fingers, he proceeded to divide it as evenly as he could.
Then he did the same with the meat, and their dinner was all
The next thing
that puzzled them was the time of day and when to eat. This
was also decided by Perry, and at last the two faithful
friends began their scanty meal. There being no dishes, table
manners, or napkins to bother with, the dinner was soon eaten,
and after a little romp (for Edwin had quite forgotten his
bruises) the two lay down together beneath the apple-tree.
Here they were soon lulled to sleep by the murmuring of the
wind among the leaves, the chirping of the birds in the
branches, and the singing of various insects in the grass; and
their dreams were sweet.
When Edwin awoke
the sun was high and its rays were streaming down directly
into his eyes. Again he wondered where he could be, but
Perry's cold nose against his cheek reminded him of what had
happened before he fell asleep, and, sitting up, he looked
around to see if he was right. Everything in the yard was just
as he had seen it before his nap, and the empty newspaper by
his side brought to his mind the humble lunch that had been
given him by his mother.
Next he gazed
around at the landscape before him. His mother's home being in
the very edge of the village, Edwin could look for a long
distance in one direction. But it was not the gardens nor the
corn-fields that attracted his attention; he was considering
the sky, which was to him as a high blue arch, and he wished
that he could know what was above it.
Presently he began
playing with Perry, throwing a stick as he had watched his
cousin do the day before. He found it great sport. Once when
near the picket fence that surrounded the garden, he noticed
some chickens near the gate scratching in the soft earth.
After watching them for a little while, he saw something
smooth and round lying where he could easily reach it, and he
found that it was a pretty white stone with pink stripes in it
To Edwin it was a valuable treasure, and by searching
carefully he soon discovered two other stones that were
equally pretty. A number of playthings belonging to his
cousins were scattered about the yard, but thinking that they
might be displeased if he touched them, he let them alone.
When he returned
to the place beneath the apple-tree, he carefully examined
each little stone in its turn, and he considered them very
pretty indeed. The one with the pink stripes was so nearly
round that it might have been mistaken for a marble; the next
was oval in shape and was of a pearly whiteness; the third,
although not quite so round as the first, was brown and was a
very handsome little stone.
While he was still
admiring his treasures, he heard voices and, looking up, saw
his mother and the children returning from their visit. A
sudden fear that Elmer might want the stones made him thrust
them out of sight, but he was not swift enough to escape the
eyes of that young lad. Elmer saw the act and, thinking that
Edwin might have discovered something valuable, said
authoritatively: "Ed, what was that that you put in your
pocket just now? Let me see it."
for he did not want to part with what seemed to him his only
earthly possessions; bui when he saw his mother's threatening
look and heard her say, "Out with whatever you've got, Ed, or
I'll see why! You needn't try to show any of your authority
around here!" he said, "I haven't anything except these little
stones that I found in the yard over there." Then taking the
stones from his pocket, he handed them to his mother for
Finding that the
stones were of no value, Mrs. Fischer returned them to her
son, and with the two younger children she passed on into the
house. Elmer, however, did not go with the rest, but sat down
on the grass near Edwin, and watched him closely as he
returned the little stones to his pocket. Edwin, although so
young and seemingly ignorant along some lines, knew what it
was to be robbed of similar treasures; and, noticing the same
evil light in his cousin's eye that he had noted many times
before at the poorhouse among the children there, young as he
was, he felt sure that, if given an opportunity, Elmer would
steal. He hoped that his cousin would forget about the stones;
so he decided not to refer to them any more and to play with
them only when he was alone.
During the evening
nothing unusual happened, and when it was time to retire for
the night, Edwin was told that the bed that he had occupied
the night before was to be his permanent sleeping-quarters.
The moon was shining bright and clear, and beneath its silver
rays the two boys crept into bed. Both were very still; in
fact, they were so very quiet that in a short time each
thought the other asleep. It was therefore a surprize to Edwin
when he felt his cousin creeping stealthily from the bed and
out upon the floor where the rays of the moon were the
As Edwin had
inherited from his mother a natural love for neatness, he had
already formed the habit of hanging his clothing upon the
bedpost, and, turning softly in the bed, he could see from
where he was lying, a sight that made him tremble with
excitement. Elmer's hand was already in the pocket containing
the treasured stones, and Edwin could not help exclaiming:
"What are you
doing there, Elmer? Don't take those stones! They are mine!"
withdrew his hand when he heard his cousin speak, for he did
not expect to be caught; but in an irritated tone a voice from
the bed opposite the boys said:
"Ed, what's the
matter with you? Can't you let that boy alone? Shut your mouth
I say and let him have those stones if he wants them, for what
are they worth, anyway?"
Edwin said no more; and Elmer, glad to have his own way,
yielded to his selfish desire and, again thrusting his hand
into the trousers-pocket, became a thief indeed.
How sad! Edwin had
early chosen the path of right because it was right, but Elmer
was already on the road that leads to destruction and death!
Why? Because he had decided in his heart to do evil. Even the
kind old lady at the almshouse had not entered his life. Was
it Elmer's fault? Not altogether. Temptation comes to all, but
with the temptation there is a way of escape (1 Cor. 10: 13).
Elmer could have chosen to do right and leave the stones where
they belonged; but when he was caught in the act of stealing,
Mrs. Fischer, who was responsible for his training, should
have carefully taught him the dangers connected with stealing.
A little seed of dishonesty sown in the heart needs only
cultivation to help it to grow.
morning when Edwin's tasks in the house were completed, he was
told to go outside to look after the baby, and here it was
that he recalled Elmer's act. After making sure that the
stones were not in his pocket, Edwin went over to that part of
the yard in which his cousin was playing, and as their eyes
met he said:
"Elmer, why did
you steal my stones last night? I want them back."
"I haven't got
anything that belongs to you, and I didn't steal your stones,"
Elmer almost shouted; and, running to Mrs. Fischer, he said
excitedly, "Ed called me a thief and said I stole those stones
out of his pocket last night."
"I'll teach him to
call you a thief!" the woman exclaimed in an exasperated tone
and ran toward her son with a club and began using it freely
upon him, saying as she did so: "Ed, you wretched child! Is
that all you've learned at the poorhouse? What are those
little old stones good for, anyway? And to think you'd dare to
accuse Elmer of stealing them!"
The beating that
Edwin received was far worse than the one given him the day
before, and in the evening when he laid his little tired and
aching body upon the bed beside his cousin, he wondered why he
was forced to suffer and bear the punishment that rightfully
belonged to some one else, but he did not complain or feel
unkindly toward those who justly deserved the blame.
When at last he
fell asleep, God sent angels to minister to the needs of the
little forlorn child, and they cared for him tenderly while he
"When my father
and my mother forsake me, then the Lord will take me up" (Psa.
"But let none of
you suffer as a murderer, or as a thief, or as an evil-doer"
(1 Pet. 4: 15).