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." "I wouldn't be so mean."


"You have no right to call me mean," replied Reuben Porter, "because I don't spend my money for candy."

"You never spend it for any thing," continued George, tauntingly.

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 crying.

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."