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American Sunday School Union
The Allis Family; Or, Scenes of Western Life 04
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THE ALLIS FAMILY; OR, SCENES OF WESTERN LIFE

Chapter 4:
ANNIE'S TEMPTATION.


A few days after, Susie was not very well, and her mother thought best to
keep her at home. Annie, however, was sent to school, as usual. As she was
preparing to set out, she thought to herself,--

"Now I am going all alone, and mother will never know it; I will not wear
my shoes to-day." So, when she was just starting, she stole softly round to
the back-side of the house, and hid her shoes behind the rain-barrel. On
she skipped, but not so light-hearted and happy as usual. It was her first
act of wilful disobedience. As she went on she at last repented that she
had ventured to disobey her kind mother; but something seemed to whisper in
her heart, "It will do you no harm: your mother will never find it out."

Do any of my little readers know whose voice that was in Annie's heart? It
was the voice of him who spoke the first lie ever uttered in this
beautiful world; who in the garden of Eden said to our first mother, "Ye
shall not surely die."

As she approached the school-room, she stopped near a huge pile of rocks at
the road-side to gather some flowers for her teacher. She found a great
many, and, among others, some which she had never seen before. As she
stooped forward hastily to pluck them, she heard a sound close by her.
Looking quickly about her, she spied a large snake just below her naked
feet, among the loose stones. Uttering a loud scream, she sprang terrified
from the spot; nor did she slacken her speed until she reached the
schoolhouse, her delicate feet cut and bleeding in several places, and a
large thorn in the side of one foot, which pained her sadly. The girls
laughed at her fright, and one rude boy ran out, shouting, at the top of
his voice,--

"Hallo, boys! hallo! Annie Allis has come to school barefooted."

Poor, foolish child! what would she have given if she had only obeyed her
mother!

The little white feet swelled and ached all the day long. Annie had hardly
ever felt so much pain in all her life, and there was nobody to pity her.
But the pain in her feet was nothing to the pain in her heart. How could
she meet her dear mother, after having so wickedly disobeyed her? At length
school was out. Slowly and painfully she walked homeward. As she approached
the house she shook with pain and dread. Down in the little grove at her
right hand she saw Susie and Mary with the dear little baby, and they
beckoned her to come to them; but she could not. Oh, how could the guilty
child look into the clear, sweet eyes of that innocent one, with such a
load of sin and disobedience on her heart?

Softly-- just like a thief-- she stole round the house, as she thought,
unobserved. She sat down on the little green mound beside the rain-barrel,
and reached behind it. Suddenly she started back as if a serpent had stung
her. Again she reached quite around the barrel, as far as she could stretch
her little arms; but nothing was there. Then she peered carefully into the
place; but no shoes were to be found. It is plain now,-- quite plain. What
shall be done? Some one has taken the shoes away! Overpowered entirely, she
bursts into a passionate fit of crying. Who is it that approaches the
erring child and so kindly and tenderly inquires,--

"What is the matter, Annie?"

It is the mother, weary as she can be, and made still more weary and
sorrowful by her little daughter's disobedience. She takes the child into
the house and lays her upon the bed. The aching feet are bathed in water,
the dirt is washed from the scratches and wounds, while poor Annie weeps
and sobs as if her little heart would break. But the ugly thorn would not
come out: it must ache on until father comes. Silently and sadly the mother
bends over her suffering child, bathing her aching head. At length Annie
said,--

"Dear, dear mother, forgive me; and I will never, never want to disobey
you again!"

I suppose every child knows just what this good Christian mother said to
her little unhappy daughter,-- how she told her that she had offended God as
well as her mother, and broken his good law. She told her, too, how sinful
it was to try to deceive, and then comforted her with her full and free
pardon, and said that her heavenly Father would pardon her even more freely
than her mother did, if she truly repented of her fault and asked his
forgiveness with her whole heart. Then she taught Annie to pray, "Lead me
not into temptation, but deliver me from evil;" and, although the little
one had said that prayer many times, never, never had she understood its
meaning so perfectly before: now she felt her dependence on God.

Soon Susie and Mary came in with the baby; and, while they were pitying
poor Annie and asking questions, they placed the child on the bed beside
her. There it laughed and crowed merrily and stretched out its little
dimpled hands, while Annie, unable to smile in return, wondered how it
could be so happy when she was so wretched.

It was late when Mr. Allis came in; and upon examining the foot he said the
thorn would have to be cut out in the morning. In vain a soothing poultice
was applied to the wound. Annie scarcely closed her eyes all night. Worse
than that: she kept her mother awake, although she tried hard to be patient
and bear the pain as well as she could. In the morning her father sharpened
his penknife and cut out the thorn. Of course he was very careful, but it
did hurt sadly. It was many days before the poor foot got well; and I think
Annie Allis will remember her mother's "reasons" for refusing to go
without her shoes for many a day.


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