Mama will never know,” thought Flora Marshall, as she took a large orange from the piled-up dish on the table, and, putting it in her pocket, started hastily upstairs.
She was expecting friends to spend the day with her, and had been busily arranging things for the afternoon, but while waiting for them to come, she was tempted to take one of the oranges which had been placed on the table for lunch. She hurried from the room, but had not reached the top of the stairs before her brother’s voice stopped her, calling, “Flora, I see some of your friends coming.”
Flora ran quickly downstairs, but her face was flushed, and she felt miserable and ashamed as she met her young friends, and took them to speak to her mama.
Flora tried to laugh and talk as merrily as any of them, but she could not forget how wrong she had been. Besides this, not having been able to eat the orange she had taken, she was in constant fear lest she might draw it from her pocket.
Poor Flora! She had sinned against God and against her kind mother and had spoiled all her afternoon’s pleasure for the sake of an orange. At lunch, she could not raise her head to meet her mother’s glance, who saw that something was wrong with her, and who said very kindly, “Flora, dear, you are scarcely eating anything—are you not well?” This made Flora ready to cry with shame and repentance. Her conscience was too tender to allow her to be happy while her fault remained unconfessed.
All the afternoon she and her friends played games. Several times she had fancied she had dropped the orange in some of the rough movements of the games, and had gone more than once quietly into a corner of the room to feel in her pocket if it was still there. “How could I be so wicked and so greedy?” thought Flora; “mama always gives me as much fruit as is best for me, and yet I have made myself a thief, and after all have not eaten the orange, or been able to put it back, and it has spoiled all my pleasure.”
When her friends had gone, she sat still, miserable and unhappy for a little longer, and then her resolution was made—she would tell her mama.
With a slow step and a beating heart, she approached her mother. “Well, Flora,” said Mrs. Marshall kindly, “you seem tired and out of spirits tonight; have you come to wish me goodnight?”
“O mama!” sobbed Flora, “I have come to tell you how bad I have been, and how very sorry and miserable I am”; and hiding her face in her mama’s lap, she told the story.
Very gravely, but gently, her mother spoke to her about her sin, and the consequences it had brought upon her. “I shall not punish you, Flora,” she said; “your own conscience has been a sufficient punishment. I should have wondered what was wrong with you had I not seen you take the orange as I passed the door, which was slightly open. Knowing what you had done, I was not surprised that you seemed unhappy.”
“But can you forgive me, mama?”
“I will forgive you, Flora, because you have told me of your fault; but remember there is One above whose forgiveness you must seek as well as mine, whose eye is always upon you, and who is grieved when you do wrong. Before you sleep tonight, ask God to pardon you and to cleanse you from this and every other sin for the sake of His Son, our Saviour Jesus Christ.”
www.WrittenTreasures.org (February 23, 2007).