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“I guess you did not mean to, did you, Wally ?” said little Haddy, whose tender heart was so touched by the utter misery depicted on her brother's face, that her pity for him overcame her sense of her own and pussy's wrongs. Wallace sighed deeply, but spoke no word of apology or excuse. The children looked at Wallace, at their father and their mother, and still the sad silence was unbroken. The dinner bell rang. “ Go to your own room, Wallace,” said his father. have forfeited your right to a place among us.
Creatures who are the slaves of their passions are, like beasts of prey, fit only for solitude."
“ How long must Wallace stay up stairs ? ” asked Haddy, affectionately holding back her brother, who was hastening away.
« Till he feels assured,” replied Mr. Barclay, fixing his eye sternly on Wallace," that he can control his hasty temper; at least so far as not to be guilty of violence towards such a dear, good little girl as you are, and murderous cruelty to an innocent animal; till you, sir, can give me some proof that you dread the sin and danger of yielding to your passions so much that you can govern them.”
The family sat down to table. The parents were silent, serious, unhappy. The children caught the infection, and scarcely a word was said above a whisper.
There was a favorite dish on the table, followed by a nice pudding. They were eaten not enjoyed. The children felt that it was not the good things they had to eat, but the kind looks, the innocent laugh, the cheerful voice, that made the pleasure of the social meal.
“ My dear children," said their father, as he took his hat to leave them, “ we have lost all our comfort to-day — have we not?”
“ Yes, sir, yes, sir,” they answered in a breath.
“ Then learn one lesson from your poor brother. Learn to dread doing wrong. If you commit sin, you must suffer, and all that you love must suffer with you ; for every sin is a violation of the laws of your heavenly Father, and he will not suffer it to go unpunished.”
The days passed on. Wallace went to school as usual, and returned to his solitude, without speaking or being spoken to. The children began to venture to say to their father, whose justice they dared not question, “How long Wally has staid up stairs !” and Charles, each day, eagerly told how well Wallace behaved at school. His grandmother could not resist her desire to comfort him. She would look into his room to see“ if he were well,” “ if he were warm enough,” or “ if he did not want something." The little fellow's moistening eye and tremulous voice evinced his sense of her kindness; but he resolutely abstained from asking any mitigation of his punishment.
LXXXII. — THE SAME SUBJECT, CONCLUDED.
Two weeks had passed when Mr. Barclay heard Wallace’s door open,
and heard him say, “ Can I speak with you one minute before dinner, sir?”
“ Certainly, my son.” His father entered and closed the door.
Father,” said Wallace, with a tremulous voice, but an open, cheerful face, “ I feel as if I had a right now to ask you to forgive me, and take me back into the family.”
Mr. Barclay felt so too ; and, kissing him, he said, “ I have only been waiting for you, Wallace; and, from the time you have taken to consider your besetting sin, I trust you have gained strength to resist it.”
" It is not consideration only, sir, that I depend upon, for you told me I must wait till I could give you proof; so I had to wait till something happened to try me.
I could not possibly telf else; for I always do resolve, when I get over my passion, that I never will be angry again. Luckily for me
for I began to be very tired of staying alone - Tom Allen snatched off my new cap, and threw it into the gutter.
“ I had a book in my hand, and I raised it to throw it at him; but I thought just in time; and I was so glad' that I had governed my passion, that I did not care about my cap, or. Tom, or any thing else. But one swallow doesn't make a summer, as aunt Betsey says; so I waited till I should get angry again. It seemed as if I never should: there were provoking things that happened; but, somehow or other, they did not provoke me. Why do you smile, father ?”
“I smile with pleasure, my dear boy, to find that one fortnight's resolute watchfulness has enabled you so to curb your temper that you are not easily provoked.”
“ But stay, father; you have not heard all. Yesterday, just as I was putting up my arithmetic, which I had written almost to the end without a single blot, Tom Allen came along, and gave my inkstand a jostle, and over it went on my open book. I thought he did it on purpose; I think so still ; but I don't feel so sure. I did not reflect then: I doubled up my fist to strike him."
“ O Wallace !”
“ But I did not, father, I did not: I thought just in time. There was a horrid choking feeling, and angry words seemed crowding out; but I did not speak one of them, though I had to bite my lips to keep them in.”
“ God bless you, my son.”
“And the best of it all was, father, that Tom Allen, who never before seemed to care how much harm he did me, or how much he hurt my feelings, was really sorry; and this morning he brought me a new blank book, nicely ruled, and offered to help me copy my sums into it; so I hope I did him some good, as well as myself, by governing my temper.”
There is no telling, Wallace, how much good may be done by a single right action, or how much harm by a single wrong one.”
“I know it, sir. I have been thinking a great deal since I went up stairs; and I do wonder why God did not make Adam and Eve so that they could not do wrong."
“ This subject has puzzled older and wiser heads than yours, my son, and puzzled them more than I think it should. If we had been created incapable of sin, there could have been no virtue. Did you not feel happier yesterday after your trial, than if it had not happened ?”
“O, yes, father ; and the strangest of all was, that, after the first flash, I had not any bad feelings towards Tom.”
“Then you can see, in your own case, good resulting from being free to do good or evil. You were certainly the better for your victory, and, you say, happier. It is better to be virtuous than sinless — I mean, incapable of sin. If you
subdue your temper, the exercise of the power to do this will give you a pleasure that you could not have had without it."
“ But if I fail, father?” Wallace looked in his father's face with an expression that showed he felt that he had more than a kingdom to gain or lose.
“ You cannot fail, my dear son, while you continue to feel the worth of the object for which you are striving; while you feel that the eye of God is upon you ; and that not only your own happiness, but the happiness of your father and mother, and brothers and sisters, of our home, depends on your success. “ You have manifested a virtuous resolution ; and you
have not only my forgiveness, and my entire sympathy, but I trust you have the approbation of your heavenly Father. Come, come along to your mother; take her happy kiss, and then to dinner. We have not had one truly pleasant dinner since you have been
stairs." “Stop one moment, father.” Wallace lowered his voice as he modestly added, "I don't think I should have got through it alone; but every day I have prayed to God to help me.”
“ You have not been alone, my dear son,” replied his father, much moved, “ nor will you ever be left alone in your
efforts to obey God; for, you remember, Jesus has said, “If a man keep my words, my Father will love him, and we will come unto him, and make our abode with him!' God, my son, is present in every pure affection and holy emotion of your soul.”
A farmer who has seen a beautiful crop bend under the storm, and after it rise stronger and more promising than ever, can have some feeble conception of Mr. Barclay's satisfaction, while, leaving Wallace with their mother, he assembled the children in the dining room, and recounted to them as much as he deemed proper of his conversation with their brother.
The dinner bell sounded, and Wallace was heard running down stairs before his mother, his heels as light as his heart. The children, jumping up behind and before him, shouted out his welcome. Grandmamma wiped her eyes, and cleared her voice to say, “ Dear Wally, how glad we all are to see you !”