"May we go, mamma? Oh, do say yes. Please say yes."
Lilian and her brother Earl were invited to a children's lawn party, and, as they were not different from most other children, they were very anxious to attend.
"Lilian may go, but I am afraid to trust Earl," said mamma. "There will certainly be ice cream and berries, cake and lemonade, and you know what the doctor said, Earl. You think you are well, but you are not strong after your illness and you are not to eat or drink anything ice-cold for some time to come."
"But I needn't eat things because they are there," said Earl, "and I promise you, mamma, that I won't."
"I'm sure he won't." Lilian added. "I don't care to go unless Earl can, and I'll promise for him, too, that he'll be good."
"That means that you will be his security," said mamma, smiling. "You will be a surety for him, as they call it, and give your own pledge that Earl will do his duty. Well, then, if you both promise, I will let you go. You must learn to do right, even if there is temptation to do wrong."
So the loving brother and sister, who wished to go together, as brothers and sisters should, went merrily off at the appointed time, and enjoyed themselves with their playmates upon the lovely lawn.
As they went in together, Lilian said, "Now, remember, Earl, that when we have things to eat, you must not take ice cream and lemonade."
"I'll remember," said Earl, and then, as it was a large party, the two were soon separated. Lilian trusted her brother so fully that she did not think it needful to speak to him again, and when refreshments were served, she did not think of looking for him. As it happened, they were far apart.
Earl was very warm. His mother had told him to be careful about playing too hard, but when interested in a game, the boy did not realize how fast and far he ran. When the tempting ice cream, with berries, cake and lemonade were passed, he allowed himself to be helped with the rest, thinking only how hot he was and how good the cold things would taste. He had eaten half his cream and half emptied his glass before he really thought of his promise. Then he stopped suddenly, feeling sorry and distressed.The ice cream and lemonade prove too big a temptation.
"But what could I do?" he reasoned. "It would not be polite to ask for just berries alone."
This was Earl's second mistake. The first was forgetting his promise, the second in thinking true obedience could ever be impolite.
"I might as well finish now, for if it's going to hurt me it has already, and the rest won't do any more harm."
Mistake number three. Why should any wrongdoing be finished? Suppose a driver should say about a horse, "He has a pretty big load now and so I might as well pile on as much more as I can," would it be no worse for the horse? Earl was entirely wrong.
Of course he suffered for it. The doctor had to be sent for in the night, and the next day, though better, he was ill and weak, and had to stay in bed—something no boy was ever known to enjoy.
He had hoped that the simple remedies mamma gave him as soon as he confessed what he had done, and began to feel ill, would undo the mischief, but they did not....