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
"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."