'* ^ ''Q ^ ^'.
PUBLISHED UNDER THE DIRECTION OF
THE COMMITTEE OF GENERAL LITERATURE AND EDUCATION,
.APPOINTED BY THE SOCIETY FOR PROMOTING
PRINTED FORn TnE.
SOCIETY FOR PROMOTING CHRISTIAN KNOWLEDGE;
SOLD AT THE DEPOSITORY,
GREAT QUEEN STREET, LINCOLN'S INN FIELDS;
4, ROYAL EXCHANGE; 16, HANOVER STREET, HANOVER SQUARE;
AND BY ALL BOOKSELLERS.
AT was a fine evening in the beginning of autumn.
The last rays of the sun, as it sunk behind the
golden clouds, gleamed in at the window of a cot-
tage, which stood.in a pleasant lane, about a quarter
of a mile from the village of Ryefield. On each
side of the narrowgravel walk that led from the lane
to the cottage-door, was a little plot of cultivated
ground. That on the right hand was planted with
cabbages, onions, and other useful vegetables ; that
on the left; with gooseberry and currant bushes, ex-
cepting one small strip, where stocks, sweet-peas -,
and rose-trees were growing ; whose flowers,- for
they were now in full bloom, peeping over the
neatly-trimmed quick hedge that fenced the garden
from the road, had a gay and pretty appearance.
Not a weed was to be found in any of the beds; the
gooseberry and currant bashes had evidently been
pruned with much care -and attention, and were
loaded with fine ripe fruit. But the'most remark-
able thing in the garden was an apricot-tree, which
grew against the wall of the cottage, and which
was covered with apricots of a large size and beau-
6 THE APRICOT-TREE.
The cottage itself, though small and thatched
with straw, was clean and cheerful, the brick floor
was strewed with sand, and a white though coarse
cloth was spread on the little deal table. On this
table were placed tea-things, a loaf of bread, and
some watercresses. A cat was purring on the
hearth, and a kettle was boiling on the fire.
Near the window, in a large arm-chair, sat an
old woman, with a bible on her knees. She ap-
peared happy and contented, and her countenance
expressed cheerfulness and good temper. After
reading for some time with great attention; she
paused to look from the window into the lane, as
if expecting to see some one. She listened as if
for a fodtstep ; but all was silent. She read again
for about -ten minutes longer, and then closing
the Sacred Volume, rose, and, having laid the Book
carefully on a shelf, opened the door, and went
out into the garden, whence she could see. farther
into the lane, and remained for a considerable
time leaning over the little wicket gate, in anxious
What can be the reason that Ned is so late 2"
she said, half aloud, to herself. "He always hastens
home to his poor old grandmother as soon as he
has done work. What can make him an hour
later than usual I hope nothing has happened
to him." But, hush !" she continued, after a
few minutes' pause, surely I hear him coming
She was not mistaken, for in a minute or two
Ned appeared, running quite fast up the lane; and
in a few moments more he was standing by her
side, panting and breathless.
THE APRICOT-TREE. 7
Dear grandmother," he exclaimed, as -soon as
he had recovered breath enough to speak, "I have
a great deal of good news to tell you. Farmer
Tomkyns says he will employ me all through the
winter, and pay me the same wages that he does
now. This is one piece of good news. And the
other is, that Mr. Stockwell, the greengrocer, will
buy all my apricots, and give me a good price for
them. I am to take them to him next market-
day. I had to wait more than half an hour before
I could speak to him, and that made me so late.
O how beautiful they are !" continued he, gazing
with admiration at the tree. 0 Grandmother;
how happy I am !"
SHis grandmother smiled, and said she was glad
to hear this good news. And now come in and
have your tea, child," she added; "for I am sure
Syou must be hungry."
0 grandmother," said Ned, as they sat at tea,
"now that Mr. Stockwell will buy the fruit, you
will be able to have a cloak to keep you warm this
winter. It often used to grieve me, last year,-to
see you obliged to. go to church such bitter cold
weather with only thatthin old shawl on. I know
you said you could not spare money to get a cloak
for yourself, because you had spent all you could
save in buying me a jacket. My tree has never
borne fruit till this year ; and you always said that
when it did, I should do'what I pleased with the
money its fruit would fetch. Now, there is nothing
I should like to spend it on better than in getting
a cloak for you."
Thank you, Ned," replied his grandmother;
it would indeed be a very great comfort. I do
8 THE APRICOT-TREE.
not think I should have suffered so much Tfrb6
rheumatism last winter if I had had warmer cloth'
ing. If it was not for your apricot-tree, I must
have gone without a cloak this winter also; for,
what with our pig dying, and your having no
work to do in -the spring, this has been but a bad
year for us."
The money Mr. Stockwell is going to give
me," resumed Ned, will be enough all but six-
pence; and I have a new sixpence, you know, in
a little box upstairs, that my aunt gave me last
June, when I went to spend the day with her; so
when I carry him the fruit, I'shall take that in
my pocket, and then when I come home in the
evening I can bring the cloak with me. 0 that
will be a happy day "' continued Ned, getting up
to jump and clap his hands for joy.
There is another thing I am very glad of,"
said he, sitting down again. Master is going to
turn Tom Andrews away next week."
You ought not to be glad of that, Ned. Tom
is one of a large family ; and his father being very
poor, it must be a great help to have one of his
children earning something."
But he is illnatured to me, and often plagues
me very much. It was only yesterday he broke
the best hoe, by knocking stones about with it,
and then told master it was my doing. Besides,
he is idle, and does not mind what is said to him,
and often gets into mischief."
And do you think being turned away from
Farmer Tomkyns's will help to cure these faults V"
No," answered Ned, "I do not suppose it
THE APRICOT-TREE. '
4 On the contrary, is it not likely that he will
grow more idle, and get oftener into mischief,
when he has no master to look after him, and
nothing to do all day long but play about the
Why yes, that is true, Still, it will serve
him right to be turned away. I have heard Mr.
Harris, our rector, say that those who do wrong
ought to be punished."
Pray, Ned," asked his grandmother, "can you
tell me what is the use of punishment ?"
The use of punishment ?-" repeated Ned,
thoughtfully. "Let me think. The use of pun-
ishment, I believe, is to make people better."
Right. Now, Ned, you have allowed that"
Tom's being turned away is not likely to make
him better, but worse; so that I am afraid the
true reason why you rejoice at his disgrace is be-
cause you bear resentment against him, for having
been illnatured to yourself. Think a minute, and
tell me if this is not the case."
Ned. owned that his grandmother was right;
and then observed, It is very difficult not to
bear ill will against any one who has done us
Yet," rejoined his grandmother, it is our
duty to pardon those who have injured us. St. Paul
says, in his Epistle to the Ephesians, Be ye kind
one to another, tender hearted, forgiving one
another, even as God for Christ's sake hath for-
given you.' And our blessed Saviour has com-
manded us to 'love our enemies,' to 'do good to
them that hate us, and to pray for those that
despitefully use us, and persecute us.' If you will
10 THE APRICOT-TREE.
look at the fourteenth and fifteenth verses of the
sixth chapter of St. Matthew, you will see what
else our Lord says on the subject."
Ned took the Bible, and having found the place,
read, For if ye forgive men their trespasses, your
heavenly Father will also forgive you : but if ye
forgive not men their trespasses, neither will your
heavenly Father forgive your trespasses."
Before you go to bed," said his grandmother,
when he had finished reading, "I wish you to
get by heart these three texts, and repeat them
Ned did as he was desired, and then his grand-
mother kissed him, and bid him good-night.
Ned loved his grandmother very much, for she
had always been kind to him. His parents had
both died when he was very young; and she then
brought him home to live with her, and had taken
care of him ever since. She taught him to read
and write, and cast up sums ; to be steady and
industrious; and, above all, it was her great care
to instil into his mind religious principles. She
had often told him that the way to profit by what
we read, as well as by the good advice that may
be given us, is to think upon it afterwards ; and
she frequently desired him to make a practice
of saying over to himself every night whatever
verses from the Bible he had learnt by heart
during the day.
This evening, when Ned repeated his texts, he
felt that he had been wrong to rejoice at Tom
Andrews's disgrace, because he had behaved ill to
himself; and he prayed God to make Tom see his
faults, and leave off his bad ways.
THE APRICOT-TREE., 1
The next day Ned, as usual, went early to his
work. Tom Andrews was very teasing, but Ned
tried not to be provoked; and when Tom said
illnatured things to him, he checked the angry
replies he was tempted to make. Two days after-
wards, when Ned came home to tea, he thought
with pleasure that to-morrow was market-day at
the town where Mr. Stockwell lived; and he ran
in and out twenty times, to look at, and admire,
his beautiful apricot-tree. I must get up very
early indeed to-morrow morning," he said to his
grandmother, that I may gather the apricots,
and take them to Mr. Stookwell before I go to
my work." Accordingly the next morning he
rose as soon as it was light, and, taking a basket
the greengrocer had lent him in his hand, went
into the little garden to line it with fresh green
leaves, before putting the fruit into it.
What was his surprise and sorrow when he saw'
that every one of his apricots was gone, and the
tree itself sawn nearly in two, close to the root !
Throwing down his basket, Ned ran to his
grandmother, who was just come down stairs, and
had begun to light the fire.
He could only exclaim, 0 my apricots, my
apricots, they are all gone! And my beautiful
tree--" then covering his face with his hands, he
burst into tears.
What is the matter, my dear ?" inquired his
Ned replied by taking her by the hand, and
leading her into the garden.
Who can have done this 7" he exclaimed,
sobbing. If they had only stolen the apricots,
12 THE APRICOT-TREE.
I could have borne it better But to see my dear
tree spoiled-- It must die-it must be quite
killed-only look how it is cut !"
I am very sorry for you, my poor boy," said
his grandmother, kindly. "It is a most vexatious
0 !" cried Ned, if I did but know who it
was that had done it-"
I would be revenged on them, some how or
other," he was going to have added; but the texts
which he had learned a few days before concerning
the forgiveness of injuries, and which he had fre-
quently repeated to himself since, came into his
mind, and he stopped short.
On looking round the garden, to see if they
could discover any traces of the thief, Ned and
his grandmother saw the prints of a boy's shoe,
rather bigger than Ned's, in several of the beds,
and hanging on the quick-hedge were some tat-
tered fragments of a red cotton handkerchief
checked with white. I know this handkerchief,"
said Ned; it is Tom Andrews's; I have often
seen him with it tied round his neck. It must be
he who stole my apricots."
You cannot be sure that it is Tom who stole
your apricots," rejoined his grandmother. Many
other people besides him have red handkerchiefs."
"But I am sure it can be no one but Tom ; for
only yesterday, when I told him about my apricots
and the money I expected to get for them, he
said he wished he knew how to get some, that he
might have money too. 0 if I could but get
hold of him-"
Again he stopped, and thought of our Saviour's
THE APRICOT-TREE. 13
words; then, turning to his grandmother, he said,
" Whoever it is that has robbed us of the fruit, I
forgive him, even if it is Tom Andrews."
Ned went to work that day with a heavy heart.
Tom Andrews was in high glee; for his master
had said he would give him another week's trial.
Ned told him of the misfortune that had happened
to him, and thought that Tom looked rather con-
fused. He also remarked that his companion
had not got the red handkerchief on that he
usually wore about his neck; and he asked him
I tore it last night, scrambling through a
hedge," replied Tom carelessly.
How came you to be scrambling through a
hedge last night ?" inquired Ned.
What makes you ask me that question ?" re-
turned the other, sharply.
Because," answered Ned, fixing his eyes upon
him, because the person who stole my apricots
left part of a red handkerchief hanging on our
Do you mean to say then that I stole them ?"
exclaimed his companion, in an angry tone. "Il11
teach you to tell this of me."
So saying, he struck Ned a blow on the face
with his fist, before Ned was aware what he was
going to do.
Ned was very much tempted to strike in re-
turn; but just as he raised his arm something
seemed to whisper that he ought not to do so;
and, drawing back a few steps, he called after Tom,
who was beginning to run away, saying,
You need not be afraid of me. I am not
14 THE APRICOT-TREE;
going to strike you, though you did strike 'me;
because it is wrong to return evil for evil."
"Fine talking, indeed 1" rejoined Tom, taunt-
ingly. I know very well the reason why you
will not strike me again. You dare not, because
I am the biggest and strongest. You are afraid
Now Ned was no coward. He would have
fought in a good cause with a boy twice his size;
and he was very much provoked at the words and
manner of his companion.
He had a hard struggle with himself not to
return the blow; but he kept firm to the good
resolution he had made, and went away.
As he was returning home very sorrowful, he
could not help thinking how happy he had ex-
pected to be that evening ; and he regretted ex-
tremely that his grandmother would have no cloak
to keep her warm in the cold weather. Still, the
recollection that he had patiently borne the blow
and* insulting speeches of Tom, and thus endea-
voured to put in practice the good precepts he had
been taught, consoled him, and made him feel less
sad than he would otherwise have been.
How did you get that black eye, Ned ?" asked
his grandmother, as soon as she saw him. I
hope you have not been fighting."
No, grandmother, indeed I have not," replied
Ned ; and he told her how it had happened.
His grandmother said that he was a good boy
to have acted as he did, and added, "It makes me
happier to find that you behave well, than twenty
new cloaks would."
The next day, at dinner time, when Ned went
9THE APRICOT-TREEl. 15
into the little outhouse where he and Tom usually
ate this meal, he found Tom sitting there crying.
What makes you cry, Tom?" inquired Ned.
"' Because I have no dinner," was the reply.
How happens that?" asked Ned.
Because, now father's out of work, mother
says she can only give us two meals a-day. I only
had a little bit of bread this morning; and I shall
have nothing else till I go home in the evening,
and then she will give me a cold potato or
N ed's grandmother had given him that day for
his dinner a large slice of bread, and a piece of
cold bacon. Ned had been working hard, and
was very hungry. He could have eaten all the
bread and bacon with pleasure, and felt- certain
that if he had got no dinner and Tom had, Tom
would no6 have given him any of his. He recol-
lected that Tom had never in his life shown him
any kindness ; that, a fortnight ago, when Tom had-
had four apples given him, he had eaten them all
himself, without even offering him part of one;
and, above all, he called to mind that Tom-was in
all probability the person who had robbed him of
his apricots, and killed his favourite apricot-tree.
But he remembered our Saviour's command;
"'Do good to them that hate you';" and though
Tom was a bad boy, yet it grieved Ned to see him
crying with hunger, whilst he himself had food
to eat. So he divided btli the bread and the
bacon into two equal shares, with his -knife, and
then; going up to Tom, gave him one portion, and
desired him to eat it. Tom looked at Ned in
some surprise, and then, taking the'food that was -
16 THE APRICOT-TREE.
offered him, ate it in a ravenous manner, without
saying a word.
He might just have thanked me," thought
Ned to himself; but he forbore to tell Tom so.
Ned always read a chapter in the Bible to his
grandmother every night when he came home
from work. It happened that this evening the
chapter fixed on was the twelfth of St. Paul's
Epistle to the Romans. He was much struck by
one of the verses in it : Therefore if thine enemy
hunger, feed him; if he thirst, give him drink :
for in so doing thou shalt heap coals of fire upon
Grandmother," said Ned, when he had con-
cluded the chapter, I understand the first part
of this verse very well, it is plain enough ; but
what is meant by the words for in so doing thou
shalt heap coals of fire upon his head F'"
His grandmother replied, that this passage had
once puzzled her; but that an old lady with whom
she had lived when she was a girl, and who kindly
took great pains in explaining different parts of
the Bible that were hard to be understood, had
made this quite clear to her.
She told me," continued his grandmother,
"that the Apostle alludes to the custom of melting
gold and other metals by fire ; and his meaning is;
that as coals of fire melt and soften the metals on
which they are heaped, so by kindness and gentle-
ness we may melt and soften our enemy, and make
him love, instead of hating us."
Ned thanked his grandmother for this explana-
tion, and then was silent for some little time.
"Perhaps," he said to himself, if I go on
THE APRICOT-TREE. 17
being kind to Tom Andrews, I shall at last make
him love me, and leave off teasing me and saying
illnatured things." *
He would not tell his grandmother that he had
given Tom part of his dinner, for fear she should
another day give him more; and he knew she
could not do this without robbing herself.
Tom's father remained out of work for several
weeks and Tom would have been obliged to go
without a dinner most days, if Ned had not regu-
larly given him half his.
For some time Tom received his companion's
kindness sulkily, and without appearing at all
grateful; but at last Ned's good-natured conduct
appeared to touch him, and he said-
"How kind you are to me, Ned! though I am
sure I have done nothing to deserve kindness from
you. Father often says he wishes I was more
like you ; and I do think I should be happier if I
was, for you always seem cheerful and contented,
though you work harder than I do."
"I like working," answered Ned; "nothing
makes me so dull as being idle. Besides, as
grandmother says, people are far more likely to
do wrong when they are not employed.' You
know the lines in the hymn,-
'For Satan finds some mischief still
For idle hands to do.'"
Tom looked down and coloured.
Ned, who had not meant to give him pain by
what he said, added, on observing Tom's con-
"I have so many things I like to do when I go
1 8 THE APRICOT-TXEE.
home after work, that I don't deserve praise for
not being idle."
"I wish I had anything I liked to do when
work is over," returned Tom; "but I have nothing
to do but play, and I soon get tired of that."
So do I," rejoined Ned. I like a game of
ball or cricket every now and then as well as any-
body; but it is a great waste of time, to say the
least of it, to spend all one's spare hours in play;
besides, as you say, we get tired, and do not enjoy
play if we have too much of it."
"What do you do of an evening, that is so
pleasant ?" inquired Tom.
"Why I keep our little garden in order; that
takes up a good deal of time : and I write a copy,
and do a sum or two, and read the Bible to
I should like that very well," observed Tom,
"all except reading the Bible."
0 do not say so !" exclaimed Ned. Surely
you do not mean it."
"I dare say," rejoined Tom, "that I should
like the Bible well enough if I could understand
it; but it's so hard I You understand it all, I
0 dear no! that I do not; but grandmother
sometimes explains what is hard, and tells me a
great many pleasing things about the manners of
the country where our Saviour and his Apostles
lived. I never am happier than when I read to
her, and she talks to me about what I have read."
Well," said Tom, "mother hears me read a
chapter now and then, but she always seems to
think it a trouble; and so I read as fast as I can,
THE APRICOT-TREE. 19
to get it the sooner over. Father commonly says,
he's too tired to listen."
Ned said no more on the subject then; but
when they had both done work he asked Tom if
he would like to walk home with him, and look
at his garden.
Tom hesitated at first: there seemed to -be
something in the idea that made him uncomfor-
table; but he had been gradually growing fond of
Ned, and Ned's account of the pleasures and
comfort of his home had made him wish to go
there. So he told his companion that he would
go with him.
Ned's grandmother received the two boys very
kindly, and gave them some tea and bread and
butter. Having learned from Tom that his parents
would not be uneasy at his absence, she asked him
to stay with them all the evening.
The next day Tom looked wistfully at Ned, as
if he wished to go home with him, but did not
like to say anything about it. Ned observed this,
and told him that his grandmother had said he
might come whenever he liked.
"Then I'll go to-night," said Tom.
And accordingly he went home with Ned, that
evening, and almost every evening afterwards for
some time. He helped Ned to work in his
garden, and took a part in all his other employ-
ments. Ned always read the Bible after tea,
which Tom at first thought'very tiresome; and he
would not have stayed, had he not wished for Ned's
company afterwards to walk part of the way back
with him to the village ; but soon he became so
much interested in what he heard read, as well as
20 THE APRICOT-TREE.
by the improving and interesting conversation of
Ned's grandmother, that he looked forward to the
evening's reading as one of the pleasantest events
of the day.
One afternoon, as the two boys were digging a
bed in the garden, Tom said to his companion-
"I have long been going to tell you of some-
thing that makes me very uncomfortable; but I
have never yet had courage to do it. I know you
think that I stole your apricots, don't you?"
Ned did not immediately reply. His good-
nature made him unwilling to own that he did
suspect Tom; and he could not tell an untruth,
by saying that he did not suspect him.
"Well," continued Tom, "I am sure you
must; and I do not wonder at it. Now the truth
is, that when you told me about your apricots, I
thought to myself that I would come when it was
dusk and take two or three of them just to eat,
thinking that you would not miss such a small
number. But I did not like to go by myself; so
I asked Fred Morris if he would go with me.
He said, '0 yes; he would go anywhere, or do
anything, to get some apricots.' He did not know
of your tree, he added ; or he should have paid it
a visit before. I began to be sorry I had told
him, and made him promise that he would not
take more than three. When it got dark, and we
were set out, I felt that I was doing very wrong.
I wished to turn back; but Fred would not let
me. He said. I need not take any fruit myself if
I wanted to back out; but that if I did not go
with him to show him the tree, he would beat me
within an inch of my life. So we came to the
THE APRICOT-TREE. 21
wicket together; it was fastened, and we clambered
over the hedge. Fred had a large basket with
him, which I had several times asked him about,
and tried to make him say what he brought it for.
He told me that I should see when the time came.
As soon as he got to the tree he began gathering
the apricots as fast as he could, and putting them
into his basket. I tried to hinder him, and said
I would shout and wake you; but he declared
that, if I did, he would kill me ; and you know,
Ned, he is nearly twice as big as I am, and terribly
violent; so all I could do was to hold my tongue,
and let him alone. Just as we were going
away, he caught up a saw that was lying in the
garden, and spoiled the tree with it. I do believe
he did this just for the love of mischief, or maybe
partly to spite me, because I had told him not to
steal all the apricots. He would not let me have
one for my share though I do not think I could
have eaten it if he had, I was so much frightened,
and so surprised at him for stealing all your fruit.
He besides ordered me not to tell what he had
done, and bullied me a great deal about it, till at
last I got away from him. I was too much afraid
to tell you for a good while, but I could not bear
that you should think I had been so very wicked;
and at last I made up my mind to tell you exactly
how it was."
I know that I have been very wrong," con-
tinued Tom ; "and that if it had not been for me
the apricots would not have been stolen. I can't
be more sorry than I am. And now that you
have heard all, Ned, will you forgive me, and try
not to think as badly of me as I deserve ?"
22 THE APRICOT-TREE.
Ned said he was glad to hear Tom had had no
more share in the affair ; and then, holding out
his hand to Tom, he assured him of his entire
"Indeed, Tom," he added, "I forgave you in
my heart long ago."
"I am sure you did," rejoined Tom Warmly,
or you would not have been so kind to me.
O Ned, you cannot think how unhappy it makes
me when I recollect how often I have been teasing
and illnatured to you, notwithstanding your good-
nature to me !"
"Say no more about that," replied Ned; "you
have not been teasing or illnatured lately. We
shall, I hope, always be good friends for the
When Tom was gone, Ned related this conver-
sation to his grandmother.
"I think," she observed, when he concluded,
"that all Tom's sin in this matter came from
breaking the tenth commandment. If he had not
first coveted the apricots, he would not have been
:..empted to steal them. Through earnestly de-
siring what did not belong to him, he was led not
only to commit a great sin himself, but to be the
means of leading a fellow-creature into sin also.
Fred Morris would not have thought of robbing
the apricot-tree had not Tom put it into his head.
In the Bible we are frequently charged not to lead
our brother into sin; and heavy punishments are
denounced against him who shall cause another to
"I used to think, grandmother," observed Ned,
"that the tenth commandment must be the least
THE APRICOT-TREE. 23
important of all; I did not suppose there could
be any very great harm in merely wishing for
what belongs to another person; but I shall never
think so in future."
Several weeks passed away, and the weather
began to grow cold and winterly. Ned could not
help sighing when he sawhis grandmother suffering
from the cold, and recollected that she had no
cloak to keep her warm, and would have none all
He sometimes sighed, too, as he looked at the
apricot-tree, whose branches were now dead and
withering; and so did Tom. Both the boys
agreed that it had better be cut down, and taken
"How I wish," exclaimed Tom, "that we had
another to put in its place !"
"So do I," rejoined Ned; "but apricot-trees,
I believe, are very dear to buy. A gardener my
father used to work for, and who is now dead,
gave me this. I fear there is no chance of our
ever getting another."
"How I do wish I was rich i" cried Tom; "I
would give you an apricot-tree, and all manner oft
things besides. I should like to be as rich as our
Squire best; but it would do to be as rich as
Farmer Tomkyns. 0 if I had only half as many
sheep, and pigs, and cows, and haystacks, as he
has, how happy I should be Don't you wish you
had some of the Squire's or Farmer Tomkyns's
riches, Ned ?"
"No," replied Ned, "I don't ; because we
ought not to wish for other people's things."
He then told Tom all that he could remember
24 THE APRICOT-TREE.
of what his grandmother had-said to him about
the sin of coveting what does not belong to us
and that doing so, besides breaking one command-
ment, is very likely to lead to the breaking of
"But," asked Tom, "how is it possible to help
longing sometimes for things we have not got,
and yet see other people have ?"
"We may not," said Ned's grandmother, who
had come out to call the boys in to tea, and had
overheard the latter part of their conversation;
" We may not, perhaps, be always able to prevent
covetous or envious thoughts from entering our
mind, but we should directly endeavour to drive
them away, and pray to God to make us contented
with 'that state of life in which it has pleased
Him to place us.' 'Be content with such things
as ye have,' says St. Paul. And again, speaking
of himself, he tells us, 'I have learned, in what-
ever state I am, therewith to be content.' Besides,
Tom, the rich are not always happy. They have
a great many cares and anxieties that we know
nothing of. You cannot have forgotten what
trouble Farmer Tomkyns was in last spring when
so' many of his cattle died of the distemper, and
he was afraid he should lose the rest. .It is true
the Squire can afford to have always a grand dinner
to sit down to : but of what use is that when he
is, and has been for years, in such a bad state of
health that the choicest dainties afford him no
pleasure! Do not you think, Tom, that if you
were in his place you would gladly give all the
fine clothes, dainty food and wealth that you
possessed, to be strong and hearty again, even
THE APRICOT-TREE. 25
though you had only a poor cottage to live in,
and a crust of bread to eat ?"
"Yes," replied Tom, "that I would, I am
"We are all," resumed the old woman, "too
apt, I fear, to think more of the blessings and
comforts we want, or fancy we want, than of
those we already possess. We forget that those
among us who have least, have far more than they
"What you say, grandmother," observed Ned,
"puts me in mind of some verses in one of
Watts's Hymns, that I learned by heart a little
while ago. May I say them "
"Do so, my dear," replied his grandmother.
And Ned repeated the following verses:-
Not more than others I deserve,
Yet God hath given me more;
For I have food while others starve,
Or beg from door to door.
While some poor wretches scarce can tell
Where they may lay their head,
I have a home wherein to dwell,
And rest upon my bed.
"While others early learn to swear,
And curse, and lie, and steal;
Lord, I am taught Thy name to fear,
And do Thy holy will.
"Are these Thy favours, day by day,
To me above the rest ?
Then let me love Thee more than they,
And try to serve Thee best."
"They are very pretty verses indeed," said his
grandmother, when Ned had finished; "and I
26 THE APRICOT-TREE.
am glad that you remember them at the right
The day after this conversation, Tom told Ned
that he should not be able to go home with him
when work was over that evening, because his
uncle was coming.
It was frosty, and nothing could be done in the
garden; so when Ned had mended a rail in the
little wicket gate that was broken, and had had
his tea, read the Bible, got by heart a column of
spelling, and said it to his grandmother, he sat
down on a stool near the fire, and amused himself
by going on with a stocking he had begun to
"How thankful I am to you for having taught
me to knit !" said he, "because it is something
pleasant to do when I am in-doors of a winter's
Just as Ned left off speaking a knock was
heard at the cottage door. He ran to open it,
and was rather surprised to see Tom, and with
him a well-dressed, pleasant-looking man, whom
he did not remember to have seen before.
"This is my uncle," said Tom.
Ned bowed, and set a chair for their visitor.
"I come," said Mr. Graham, for that was the
name of Tom's uncle, "to thank you, my young
friend, for your kindness to my nephew. I have
long intended adopting Tom, and taking him to
live with me when he was old enough to learn my
trade, which is that of a carpenter; but when,.I
came to Ryefield, a year ago, I found him so dif-
ferent in many respects from what I could have
wished, that I gave up my intention, for I could
THE APRICOT-TREE. 27
not undertake to teach a boy who was idle and
unsteady. I now find. him so much altered for
the better, and Farmer Tomkyns gives me such a
good account of his behaviour, that I am quite
ready to give him a trial. He tells me that he
has to thank you, Ned, for his improvement; that
he has learned from your example to be steady and
industrious, and to try to correct his faults; and
that it is you and your good grandmother who
have taught him to love his Bible, and take plea-
sure in going to church. Tom also tells me that
it is his fault your nice apricot-tree was spoiled.
Now there is a nurseryman, a friend of mine,
whom I have several times had an opportunity of
obliging, and I have no doubt that he will give
me for you a strong young tree, at the proper
time for planting fruit trees."
Ned thanked Mr. Graham, who then added-
"The town where I live is several miles off, so
that you and Tom will not be able to see each
other as often as you used; but Tom can walk over
here on Sundays, and go with you to Ryefield.
Church sometimes; and I hope your grandmother
will allow you now and then to come and see
Ned's grandmother promised that she would:
and then Tom told Ned that Farmer Tomkyns
had very kindly said he would employ Robert, his
younger brother, in place of himself.
"I am glad to hear it," said Ned.
"And so am I," said his grandmother. "It
will be a great help to your father, Tom, to have
you taken quite off his hands, and one of your
brothers employed also."
28 THE APRICOT-TREE.
Tom then said he had heard that Fred Morris
had been caught stealing some faggots, and taken
before the magistrates, who had sent him to
The next day Farmer Tomkyns told Ned that
ian consequence of his good behaviour since he had
been in his service, he was going to raise his
"Now," said Ned to himself, I shall very soon,
I trust, be able to get grandmother a cloak with
my own earnings."
This thought, and the prospect of having another
apricot-tree, made him feel happy; and so he told
"But, granny," added he, "do you know there
is something that makes me feel happier still than
the thought of the cloak, or the apricot-tree either ?
and that is poor Tom's good fortune, and"-
He stopped and hesitated.
"What were you going to say, my dear? in-
quired his grandmother.
"And knowing that his good fortune is partly
owing to me, I was going to have said, grand-
mother," answered Ned, blushing; "only it
sounds like praising myself."
"It is very natural that you should feel glad at
this, my dear boy," rejoined his grandmother,
smiling kindly ; "for there is no pleasure so great
as that we feel when conscious 6f having contri-
buted, through God's blessing upon our efforts, to
the welfare and happiness of a fellow-creature."
R. CLAY, PRINTER, BREAD STREET HiLL.