The Grape Clusters

by the American Sunday-School Union

Very beautiful were the grape-clusters as they hung on the graceful vine, and very tempting to the hand that was near enough to pluck them.

Two little boys came on an errand to the lady who lived in the house which the grape-vine shaded. It was reviving to come out of the city's heat and dust, and enter that pleasant parlour, screened from the fiercer rays of the summer's sun by its green curtain of leaves. The hot pavement and the glaring walls of the city seemed far distant, for the charm of the country was spread over that retired room. All city sights were shut out, and peace and quiet reigned within.

The lady was sitting at her desk, writing, when the boys entered. She spoke to them kindly, for they were objects of her kind care, although they did not live with her. They handed her a note which required an answer. She gave them permission to play in the yard, while she should write it. They were very happy, for it was an unusual pleasure for them. They examined the flowers which grew in the narrow bed by the high, close fence, and then they began to look wistfully at the rich bunches of grapes, which were within their reach. The lady had not told them that they might gather any, and they felt that they ought not to do so. But the tempter was near, and they listened to his suggestions.

The lady was sitting at her desk writing, when the boys entered. The lady was sitting at her desk writing, when the boys entered.

Looking towards the house to see if they were observed, they cautiously went up to the vine, and each gathered a bunch of grapes. They ate them secretly, that they might avoid detection; but although they knew it not, there was an eye in the house that saw them, and there was another eye from which their act was not hid—the eye of the all-seeing God.

When the note was written, the boys were recalled to the parlour, and pleasantly dismissed. I think they must have felt somewhat ashamed, that they had abused the confidence reposed in them, and had been guilty of stealing from their kind friend.

After they left, the lady was informed what they had done. When she visited "the home," where they lived, she mentioned the fact to their teacher, although she did not allude to it to them.

The teacher took occasion to talk with her scholars about being honest and trustworthy, and asked them what they should think of children who, when sent on errands and permitted to go into the yard to enjoy themselves, should stealthily take the fruit which grew there. They, of course, condemned such conduct. She gave them the instruction they needed, and endeavoured to impress its importance upon their minds.

Soon after the close of the school, the two boys who had taken the grapes went to her and told her what they had done. She talked with them kindly. They seemed truly penitent. She asked them if they would like to go to the lady and acknowledge their fault. They said they should, and immediately they put on their straw hats, and their clean sacks, and went cheerfully to make all the reparation in their power for the fault they had committed. Confession is always pleasant to the truly penitent.

Again they stood in that shaded parlour. They were affectionately welcomed as before. They confessed freely and fully, what they had done on their previous visit, and asked forgiveness, which was readily granted. Just as they were leaving, they turned and inquired, "Can you ever trust us again?" The lady assured them that she could, and they went away happy and strengthened in their good purposes.

From that time there has been a marked change in the children. Their characters have much improved and they have been, in all respects, more conscientious and trustworthy. One of the boys has, I think, found a Christian home, and the other is waiting for one.