The Boy who Kept His Purpose
by the American Sunday-School Union
"I would not be so mean," said George Ward
to a boy who stood by, while he put the candy he
had just bought in his pocket.
"I wouldn't be so mean."
"You have no right to call me mean," replied
Reuben Porter, "because I don't spend my money
"You never spend it for any thing," continued
It was true. Reuben did not spend his money.
Do you suppose it was because he loved it more
than other boys do?
Reuben turned slowly away, meditating upon
what had occurred.
"I will not care for what George thinks," he at
length said to himself; "I have four dollars now,
and when I have sold my cabbages, I shall have
another dollar. I shall soon have enough," and his
heart bounded joyfully, his step recovered its elasticity
and his pace quickened, as the pleasant thought
removed the sting which the accusation of meanness
had inflicted on his sensitive spirit.
Enough did not mean the same with Reuben as
it means with grown people. It had a limit. He
hastened cheerfully home, or to the place he called
home. He had no father or mother there, but kind
and loving friends in their stead. His father had
died two years before, leaving a wife and four
children without property to sustain them. Reuben
was the eldest, and as he was old enough to assist
in the labours of a farm, it was thought best he
should leave his mother. Mr. Johnson, a neighbour
took him into his family, where he soon became a great favourite.
There was one thing about the child, however,
which good Mrs. Johnson regarded as a great fault.
It was what she called "a spirit of hoarding." She
said she never gave him an orange, or an apple, that
he did not carry it to his room, instead of eating it.
Perhaps his sisters at home, or dear little brother
Benny, could tell what became of them.
Mrs. Johnson had noticed, too, in his drawer, a
box, which was quite heavy with money. She did
not believe he had bought so much as a fish-hook,
since he had been in their family. If he should go
on in this way he will grow up to be a miser. Mr.
Johnson smiled at his wife's earnestness, and remarked
that with such an example of generosity as
Reuben had constantly before him, he could not
believe the child was in much danger from the fault
she feared. "It must be remembered," he said,
"that Reuben has his own way to make in life.
He must early learn to save, or he will always be
poor. There are his mother and sisters, too, who
need his aid."
In various ways Reuben added to his store.
When the snow came, he made nice broad paths
about the house, which so attracted the notice of a
neighbour, that she asked if he might be allowed to
make paths for her. He rose early that he might
have time for this extra work, and was well paid for
his efforts. The box grew heavier from week to
week. Reuben had almost enough.
One day there was a barrel of flour left at Mrs.
Porter's. She thought there must be a mistake
about it; but the man said he was directed at the
store to take it to that house. Mrs. Porter went
immediately to learn about it, and what was her surprise
on finding her son had been the purchaser.
How could he pay for a whole barrel of flour?
"The money," said the merchant; "he brought in
a box. It was in small bits, which took me some
time to count, but there was enough."
The mother called, with a full heart, at Mrs.
Johnson's, and related what had occurred. Reuben
wondered why his mother should cry so. He thought
she would be happy. He was sure he was happy.
He had been thinking two years of that barrel of
flour, and now he felt more like laughing than
Those tears, noble boy, are not tears of sorrow,
but of the deepest, fullest joy. You are more
than repaid for your self-denial. You have persevered
in your determination. You have resisted
every temptation to deviate from the course which
you marked out as right. You have borne meekly
the charge of meanness so galling to your generous
spirit, and now you receive your reward. You are
happy, and so is your mother, and so are your kind
friends, Mr. and Mrs. Johnson.
That night, Mr. Johnson remarked to his wife, as
they sat together before the cheerful fire, that he had
some idea of keeping the little miser and educating
him. "A boy who could form such a purpose, and
keep it, will, in all probability, make a useful man."
After-years proved the correctness of this conclusion.
Reuben is now a man of intelligence and
wealth. He is one whom the world delights to
honour; but among his pleasantest memories, I
doubt not, is that of the barrel of flour he bought
for his beloved mother.
"Filial love will never go unrewarded."