Selfish Ella

by the American Sunday-School Union

Ella Russell is a little girl with soft, flaxen hair, bright eyes, and a complexion fair and clear. She is neat and orderly in her habits, and is very gentle and mild in her manners. Her musical laugh sometimes rings through the house like a sweet melody. It is so contagious that you would laugh yourself to hear it.

Ella is obedient, and needs as little care as any child I ever knew. Her father is living, but she has no mother, and Ella lives with a Mrs. Lindsley, who has three daughters, two of them older and one younger than Ella. She is much attached to this lady, and feels perfectly at home in her house.

Ella's mother was in feeble health several years before her death. Ella was her constant companion, and nothing gave her more pleasure than to wait upon her and do all in her power to relieve her sufferings and make her more comfortable. Mrs. Russell said her daughter was an excellent nurse, although she was not more than seven or eight years old. It shows how much even small children can do for the comfort of their invalid friends, if they really try. It is very gratifying to a mother to have a child so careful and thoughtful, and Ella and her mother loved each other more and more every day. Mrs. Russell's disease was consumption, and she could not be restored to health. Poor Ella, how lonely she felt when her mother died! She was young to know so much sorrow.

Ella's home is not far from the city. Her father often goes there, and frequently sends her some delicacy which he knows she would relish—a box of early strawberries, or a basket of plums or peaches, or whatever fruit may be in season. Mr. Russell is exceedingly generous, and he expects his little daughter to divide the fruit with the family where she has found so excellent a home.

Ella, good child as she is in most respects, has one sad fault. She is selfish. When she receives any rarity she would prefer to eat it herself, just as the chickens do when they have found a nice tit-bit. It is really a trial to her that she cannot eat a whole basket of peaches before they would spoil! Indeed, one day, after receiving such a present, she said to a person in the family, "I wish my father would not send so many. I like it better when I have only a small basket, and can keep it in my own room."

At one time Mr. Russell sent a basket of peaches to Mrs. Lindsley. Ella was not at home. She had gone out to make a call on some of her friends. She heard this basket had been sent, and hastened back as soon as she could. "I hope they haven't eaten up all my peaches!" was her first exclamation. She was quite indignant to find the basket had been opened.

Mrs. Lindsley gave her all she considered it safe for her to eat; but Ella was not happy. She felt as if they all ought to be hers, and she really cried about it. A day or two after Ella saw her father, and he told her the peaches were designed for the family. Ella was somewhat mortified, and afterward told Mrs. Lindsley what her father said about the basket of fruit.

It seems very strange that Ella should be so selfish, for her father is not at all so, and I know it must grieve him to have a child of his so forgetful of the enjoyment of others. This selfishness does not make her happy. It occasions her much trouble, and it always will.

I know a little boy, six years old, who is very fond of fruit, and who is much delighted when his father brings him an apple; yet I have seen him, when he had but one, divide it between his brothers and sisters, and reserve no part of it for himself. He seemed entirely happy in doing so.

One day he heard his mother say, "I have not even a penny in my purse." He went up-stairs to his money-box, and brought down a handful of pennies, and gave them to her. His mother kissed his plump, brown cheek, and thanked him for his gift.

His mother kissed his plump, brown cheek. His mother kissed his plump, brown cheek.

Which should you prefer to be like—selfish Ella, or this generous little boy?

The selfish person is always willing to receive favours, but to the generous "it is more blessed to give than to receive."