A COUNTRYMAN had with his own hands cultivated a row of valuable fruit trees. To his great delight they were bearing the first fruit, and he was anxious to see of what kind this fruit would be.

Then the son of his neighbor, a bad boy, came into the garden and enticed the countryman's son to go out with him and rob all the trees of their fruit before it was quite ripe.

When the owner of the garden came up and saw the naked trees, he was very sorry, and cried, "Oh! Why have they done this to me? Some bad boys have spoiled all my pleasure.”

 These words smote the heart of the countryman's son, and he ran to the neighbor's son, and said:

"Alas, my father is grieved about the deed that we have done. Now I have no more peace in my heart; my father will not love me any more, but will punish, me with contempt, as I deserve."

Then the other boy, who was a very wicked boy, answered,"You foolish boy! Your father knows nothing about it, and will never know anything. You must carefully conceal it from him, and be upon your guard."

But when Godfrey for that was the boy's name came home and saw the friendly countenance of his father, he dared not to look at him with friendly glances in return; for he thought, "How can I look cheerfully at him whom I have grieved? I cannot bear to look at myself. My sin lies like a dark shadow on my heart."

And now his father came up, and gave each of the children some autumn fruit, and he gave some to Godfrey too. Then the other children came bounding up, and they were very glad, and ate the fruit; but Godfrey hid his face and wept bitterly.

Then his father turned to him and said: "My son, why do you weep?"

"Oh!" replied Godfrey, "I am not worthy to be called your son! I can no longer bear to appear in your eyes and in the eyes of others different from what I am. Dear father, do not be kind to me any more; but punish me, that I may come to you again, and cease to be my own tormentor.

Let me suffer severely for my wrong doing, for it was I who robbed the little trees."

Then his father gave him his hand, and pressed him to his heart, and said: "I forgive you, my child; and may God grant that this be the first and the last time you may have anything to conceal; then I shall not regret the little trees." 

Young Crusader.