EXISTENCE OF GOD
Where'er thou art, He
is; the eternal mind
Acts through all places; is to none
Fills ocean, earth and air and all above,
through the universal mass does move.--Dryden.
Mrs. Fischer may have felt
that her neighbors were learning too much about her family
matters and business affairs, and it may have been for other
reasons best known to herself, but she soon became
dissatisfied with the farm and thought best to move away to
another part of the country. The place decided upon was near a
public highway where there was an extra building that could be
used by the uncle as a blacksmith-shop, and there was also a
good barn, where the horse, cow, and chickens could be kept.
When Mrs. Hahn heard of
her neighbor's plans, she was sorry, for she had become very
much attached to Edwin and did not like to see him go so far
away from her home. She therefore decided to ask Mrs. Fischer
to allow the boy to stay through the summer months with them
in their home. "He could do lots of little light things that
would be a great help to husband and me," she said.
"Well, I can't see why you
are taking such an interest in that boy," the mother replied.
"Now, if he were bright like Elmer, I wouldn't be surprized,
but Ed is such a blockhead. You can have him, though, if you
can make any use of him, but I'm sure that you will very soon
be sick of your bargain."
Mrs. Hahn assured the
mother they were willing to run the risk, and it was decided
that Edwin should stay with the Hahns for a while. So it
happened that Edwin saw his people pack their goods and drive
away from the farm leaving him behind. To be left in the care
of the old couple whom he was learning to love so dearly was
indeed a happy change, but how great it was none but him and
his heavenly Father could understand. Surrounded as he was in
this home by kind friends, provided good food, and enabled to
think happy thoughts, he soon grew well and strong and was
able to do all the work that could be expected of any
In the new home of Mrs.
Fischer things went along seemingly well enough for a time,
but as Elmer continued his underhanded work of taking things
that did not belong to him, he became more and more bold, and
Mrs. Fischer, not having Edwin to blame, was forced to see
some of his faults.
One day shortly after the
family were settled in their new home, word that the barn was
on fire rang out loud and clear, and a smell of burning wood
and hay and clouds of smoke filled the air. Rushing to the
door, Mrs. Fischer saw that the barn was wrapped in flames.
With a scream for help she ran out into the yard, where she
discovered the uncle and several others endeavoring to deaden
the flames, but their efforts seemed all in vain.
It was too late to save
the barn, so the attention of all was turned to the house and
other buildings. As the wind was in their favor, no other
building besides the barn was lost, and fortunately the
disaster had occurred in the daytime, when the animals and
chickens were out in the lot, so that the damage was not so
great. When the excitement had somewhat subsided, and Mrs.
Fischer looked about for some one to blame for carelessness,
she found that Edwin was not there and that Elmer was the
guilty person. Having repeatedly watched his father smoking a
pipe or a cigar, Elmer had decided that it was time for him to
learn to smoke if he ever expected to appear like a man.
Accordingly, with a few stolen matches in his pocket and some
corn-stalks cut into cigar-lengths, he had gone to a place
back of the barn for his first lesson. He had not intended to
have his actions upon this particular occasion known, because
both his father and Mrs. Fischer had seemed to be against his
learning to smoke so young. But through the fire, caused by
the dropping of burning matches among the litter at his feet,
and the testimony of his little brother, who had been present,
his guilt became known.
Although Mrs. Fischer knew
that Elmer deserved correction for this deed, she simply
smoothed the matter over and allowed it to pass by unnoticed.
But when the news of the burning of the barn reached the ears
of Mrs. Hahn, she said: "Edwin, you should be very thankful
that you were not there. Had you been, Elmer would no doubt
have laid the blame on you, and in her fury your mother might
have thrown you into the flames." Edwin understood that what
Mrs. Hahn had said could very easily have been true, and he
was very glad that he had not been present when the barn was
His life in this new home
was so different in every way from what it had been in his
mother's and he was so happy and content that he had no desire
to return. He was therefore very sad when he was told in the
fall that the farm was sold and that as his old friends would
go to the city to live with their children, it would be
necessary for him to return to his mother.
"I'm very sorry," Mrs.
Hahn said, "that you must leave us; but, Edwin, I believe that
your mother will be more kind to you, because you have learned
how to do so many things and can do your work so well. I will
see that Mr. Hahn goes with you and will have him explain to
your mother what you can do, and when she sees that you can
learn when you are taught and can do the things that she
expects of you, we shall hope that she will have more patience
with you than she has had in the past."
Thus it was that one day
late in the fall as the sun was slowly sinking down into a bed
of crimson and gold, Mr. Hahn and Edwin drove up to the place
of which they had both heard but only Mr. Hahn had seen. If
Edwin had expected to find a pile of rubbish to be cleared
away where the ruins of a barn was resting, he was mistaken;
for the owner of the property had attended to that, and a new
building had been erected upon the old foundation, and
everything else was neat and clean.
"Well, Mr. Hahn," Mrs.
Fischer began in answer to the announcement that her son had
arrived, "I suppose you are very glad to be rid of your
charge. I'm afraid he has made you lots of trouble."
"Oh, no, Mrs. Fischer,"
Mr. Hahn replied, "we got along just fine! I have no fault
whatever to find with your son. He is as good-hearted and
faithful a boy about his work as I have ever seen, and if we
were not going to leave the farm, I wouldn't think of bringing
him back. I think you have misunderstood Edwin; for he seems
so very anxious to learn and asks so many questions about
everything that I have found it hard to find enough answers
for them all. Then, when he has once learned a thing, he never
forgets it, and he seems to want to put every bit of his
knowledge into use. I'm sure your fears about his being dull
are groundless, but he does need to be taught, and you will do
well to give him a fair chance along with the other children."
After making a few other
remarks and giving Edwin the promise, "If I ever return to the
farm again, I will let you know and will take you back again,"
Mr. Hahn said, "Good-by," and Edwin was left behind to begin
again the kind of life that had been so hard and bitter. The
kindnesses shown him during the summer and the greater
keenness of his judgment and understanding made the renewal of
past cruelties even harder to bear than they had been before.
After Edwin's home-coming
Elmer and the other children found more time to shirk, and,
seeing his eagerness and ability to do so many things that he
had not before understood, the family forced the poor little
tired form to work far beyond its strength. But without
complaint Edwin strove to do all the work assigned to him and
to make every move count so that he would be able to
accomplish more than that if possible, but on every hand only
failure and unhappiness seemed to be awaiting him.
Late in November, one
evening just before time to do the milking, Mrs. Fischer,
while in a terrible fit of anger because of some little
mistake of Edwin's hardly worth the mentioning, ordered him to
go out in the yard and bring her a good strong stick and to
hurry. And Edwin, though knowing that the stick was to be used
upon himself, went to an apple-tree and cut from it a good
strong branch. Even under such extreme circumstances he was
determined to do his best. As he handed the stick to his
mother, she clutched it and with a fiendish expression she
beat her son so cruelly that he fell upon the floor. Then with
her foot she kicked him about the room until the blood was
flowing freely from various wounds and gashes made by her shoe
and the stick.
The condition of the room
and the helpless state of the child seemed to enable the
wicked woman at last to realize what she was doing, and,
fearful lest some one discover him thus, she ceased her
cruelties and commanded Edwin to get up and clean the room.
Then, without waiting to be sure that he could do so, she went
out to the barn to milk the cow.
Edwin, in almost an
unconscious state, realized at last that he was in the kitchen
alone, and he endeavored to arise, but there seemed to be a
pain in every part of his body, and he was lying in a pool of
blood. After a great effort he managed to reach the sink, but
it was some time before he could stop the flow of blood from
his mouth. Looking at himself in the glass, he saw that a
portion of his lip was cut and loosely hanging so that the
teeth behind it were exposed, and the blood was still running
from his mouth. Until then, though he would not have known how
to express the thought, he had never ceased to hope that in
some way or other he would be able to win his mother's love
and confidence, but with this terrible outbreak of passion all
desire to try to live seemed to vanish.
After doing what he could
to cover up his mother's cruel conduct, he staggered through
the open door and down the walk that led to the barn. He was
intending to do what he could to help with the evening work,
but he could not suppress the sobs that were welling up from
his poor troubled and wounded heart. Only hardships and
discouragements seemed to be his portion, and without
considering who was liable to hear him, he cried out in his
"If such it the best that
a person can have in life, it would be better for him not to
live at all."
As the cry of distress
floated in through the partly open stable-door, Mrs. Fischer
was filled with wonder. Never before had she heard her son
speak so sensibly, and, hastening to see what it all meant,
she said: "Ah, Ed! I heard you speak, and this time your words
were not those of an idiot, but wise and full of reason. But
how dare you wish yourself dead? Don't you know that there is
a God over us who hears every word we say?" Then she added,
"Why is it on such things you can talk so well and on others
you seem so dull?"
At the sight of his
mother's face and the sound of her words, two thoughts flashed
through his mind: "Have I done anything to displease her?" and
"Is there really some powerful being by the name of God above
me in the sky?" Instantly a feeling of awe and reverence
filled his soul, and something within him told him that this
great Being who could hear all that he said must be more than
a common man. The very thought that God could hear him speak
made Him seem strangely near.
As he continued to think,
his troubles seemed to vanish and the suffering from his
wounds became less intense. Then he remembered that the name
of God had been used many times by his mother, uncle, and the
children in ways that he was sure were wrong. If God could
hear everything, what must he think of the people who would
talk about him thus? He wondered, too, why Mr. Hahn had not
mentioned the name of God when explaining the reasons for the
sounds above the sky, or "high blue arch," as he had called
it. Poor untaught child! God alone could be his teacher.
"Who is like unto
the Lord our God, who dwelleth on high, who humbleth himself
to behold the things that are in heaven, and in earth! He
raiseth up the poor out of the dust, and lifteth the needy out
of the dunghill; that he may set him with princes, even with
the princes of his people" (Psa. 113:5-8).