11. The Lost Boy
I will tell you of a boy who did not mind what was said to him. He used to do what he was told must not be done, and that was very sad. I hope you are not like him.
The boy's name was John. He had a dog that he used to play with; and he had a kite, and he used to fly it in a field by the side of the house. He had many other toys, more than I can tell you of. But he was too fond of play, and did not love his book; and when he was more than five, he did not know how to read the most easy lesson. Was he not an idle boy?
One day, John was by the gate at the end of the lawn. No one was with him, for Ann the maid was just gone away, and she had told him to wait till she came back. The gate was half open, so he went to peep into the lane. He saw a bird hop on the path, and its wing hung down on one side as if it had been hurt. John did not mind what Ann had said, that he must wait for her at the gate, and he ran to take hold of the bird. Then it flew away, but not far, and John ran after it down the road. He put out his hand to catch it; but the bird rose again, and at last it flew to a bank high up the lane, and John did not see it any more.
Then he said, "I will go back to Ann at the gate." But he did not know that he had run so far, and a turn was in the lane, so that he could not see the gate. Then John was in great fear, for he did not know which way to go to get home. He cried out for Ann as loud as he could; but Ann was far off, and he was not able to make her hear. Oh! what fear he was in!
John ran very fast down the lane, but he did not see any one to show him the way home. When he was too much tired to ran any more, he sat down on the bank and cried. A bird sang in a tree over his head, and the sun was up high in the blue sky. It was a fine day, and if John had done as he was bid, he would have had a nice long walk with Ann. But now he was very sad, and he sat on the bank and cried. Boys are sure to be made sad, if they will not mind, and do as they are told.
When Ann came back to the gate, and saw that John was not there, she ran into the lane to look for him, and to call him. But John could not hear her call him, for you know he was a long way off. Then Ann ran back into the house, and told John's papa and mamma that he was lost. As soon as his papa heard this, he laid down his book, and put on his hat to go and seek him. The man also went to seek him. And his mamma said, "Pray make haste and bring my dear boy home again." As for Ann, she took the dog with her down the lane to help to find him, for he was very fond of John. Dash was the dog's name, and a good dog he was.
It was not long till Ann and Dash came to the turn of the lane, and then they both saw John, who sat upon the bank, very sad. The dog gave a bark, as if he had said, "There he is! I am glad we have found him!" Then Dash ran up to him as fast as he could, and John was very glad to see him come along the lane; and he said, "Good Dash! dear Dash! you are come to take me home."
So John and Dash went to meet Ann, for she did not run as fast as the dog had done. John told her that he had been a bad boy and was very sorry. When Ann saw that he was sorry, she gave him a kiss, and said that he must not do so any more. Then they went back home, and John soon saw his papa in the lane. But he did not run to him, and look glad, as he did at other times. Why did not John run to his papa? Can you guess? Yes, it was that he had not done as he was bid, and he knew his papa did not like to hear that he had been a bad boy.
His papa stood still; and when John, and Ann, and Dash came up to him, John said, "Papa, I have not been good. I am very sorry, I will try to be good next time." So his papa said, "I hope you will;" and he took hold of his hand, and led him back to the house. And his mamma was very glad to see him, safe and well.
John said that it was his wish to be good, and his papa told him that he must pray to God to help him. I hope you will pray to God. No one can make you good but God. I cannot make you good. Your papa cannot make you good. No one can do this for you, but God. Then pray to him. Say, "Lord, help me to be good, for the sake of Jesus, thy dear Son, who died upon the cross to take away my sins." God can see you now; and if you pray to him, he will hear you.