Those Scars by Unknown

"What are those scars?" questioned Mary Lanman of her father as she sat in his lap, holding his hand in her own little ones.

"Those scars, my dear? If I were to tell you the history of them, it would make a long story."

"But do tell me, papa," said Mary, "I should like to hear a long story."

"These scars, my child, are more than forty years old. For forty years they have every day reminded me of my disobedience to my parents and my violation of the law of God."

"Do tell me all about it, father," pleaded Mary.

"When I was about twelve years old," he began, "my father sent me one pleasant autumn day into the woods to cut a pole to be used in beating apples off the trees. It was wanted immediately to fill the place of one that had been broken.

"I took my little hatchet and hastened to the woods as I had been bidden. I looked in every direction for a tall, slender tree that would answer the purpose; and every time I stopped to examine a young tree, a taller and straighter sapling caught my eye farther on.

"What seemed most surprising to me was that the little trees that looked so trim and upright in the distance, grew deformed and crooked as I approached them. Frequently disappointed, I was led from tree to tree, till I had traversed the entire grove and made no choice.

"My path opened into a clearing, and near the fence stood a young cherry tree loaded with fruit. Here was a strong temptation. I knew very well to whom this tree belonged, and that it bore valuable fruit. I knew, too, that I had no right to touch a single cherry. No house was near, no person was in sight. None but God could see me, and I forgot that His eye looked down upon me.

"I resolved to taste the tempting fruit. I climbed the tree and began to pick the rich, ripe cherries. But I found no pleasure in the taste of them; I was so fearful of surprise and detection. Some one might come and find me in the tree. I therefore resolved to break off some richly-loaded boughs, and feast upon the cherries as I hastened home.

"The top of the tree was bowed with the weight of its fruit. I climbed as high as I could, and bending down the top, attempted to cut it off with my knife. In my eagerness to secure my prize, I did not guard my left hand, which held down the top of the tree. My knife slipped from the yielding wood to my fingers, and passed with unspent force across all the fingers of my left hand, cutting the flesh to the bone.

"I never could look at fresh blood without fainting. My eye caught sight of the red drops that oozed from every finger, and my heart began to die within me. I slipped through the limbs of the tree to the ground. The shock of the fall drove away the faintness, and I soon stood upon my feet.

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"I wrapped my handkerchief about my bleeding fingers, and hurried home. My mission was worse than useless; I had not accomplished the purpose for which I was sent, I had committed a crime and disabled myself for work; for how could I pick apples in my present condition.

"I found no sympathy from anybody; my father reproved me, and threatened chastisement when my wounds were healed. My mother, who dressed my aching fingers, looked very sorrowfully upon me, and I knew that I had grieved her deeply by my disobedience.

"I assisted in picking the apples, but I was compelled to work with one hand, while the other hung in a sling. That was a sad day for me.

"It required some weeks to heal the deep gashes made by my knife, and the scars are as bright, after forty years, as they were when the wounds were first closed.

"But if the scars in the flesh were all, it would have been comparatively a trifle. But the soul was wounded as well as the body. The conscience was defiled with guilt. Tears of repentance could not wipe away the stain. Nothing but the blood of Christ could give health to the wounded spirit.

"As wounds leave scars, so, my dear child, youthful sins leave the traces of their existence. Like the scars of the healed wound, they disfigure and weaken the soul. The follies of youth may be overcome, but they are always sure to leave their mark. Every sin of childhood hangs like a weight upon the neck of manhood. The blood of Jesus Christ alone cleanseth from all sin."