The Lost Children
Timothy Shay Arthur, 1852
"Tell us the story about the lost children, dear mother," said George, laying down his playthings and coming to his mother's side.
"Oh, yes, mother, please do," added the little boy's sister; a bright-eyed, rosy-cheeked girl, just ten years old.
"I told you the story yesterday," replied the mother.
"I know you did," answered George. "But we want to hear it again. Tell it to us, dear mother, and we will be such good children!"
"There was once a little boy and girl," began the mother; "no older than you are, my children, who got lost in a thick, dark forest, in which were fierce wild beasts. They were brother and sister, and their names were Edward and Ellen. They were playing near their father's house one day, when Edward said, 'Come, sister, let us go across the field into the woods yonder, and gather some pretty flowers for mamma.'
"Ellen was pleased at the thought of getting for her dear mamma a beautiful bouquet of flowers, and so she said, 'Oh, yes, brother, let us go.'
"So this little boy and girl went across the field and into the woods, where they wandered about, gathering a great many bright wild flowers. When their hands were full, Ellen said, 'Now, brother, let us go home.'
"They took hold of each other's hands and started, as they thought, toward their home — but I am sorry to say they went away from, instead of toward their home — and soon found that they were lost in a thick, dark forest! Poor Ellen began to cry. Edward put his arm around her, and said —
"'Don't cry, sister, we will find our way home.'
"'Oh, no, Edward," she said, 'we are lost in the woods, and it will soon be dark. Oh! we shall be eaten up by the wolves!'
"'The wolves will not eat us up,' replied the brave-hearted little boy, confidently. 'So don't cry, sister.'
"'Oh, yes, I am sure they will.'
"'Don't be afraid. I know they won't hurt us. Wolves are fierce animals, but if we pray to God to take care of us, He will not let the wolves hurt us.'
"'Oh, let us pray then,' said Ellen. And all alone in the gloomy forest, this dear little boy and his sister knelt down and prayed that God would keep the fierce wolves from hurting them.'
"After they had prayed, Ellen's tears dried up, and she took hold of Edward's arm, and clung close to his side. Just then a deep growl sounded through the forest, and presently they saw a long gray wolf coming fiercely toward them.
"The children dropped upon their knees, and Edward said aloud —
"'Our Father in Heaven, keep the wolves from hurting us!'
"They had no sooner prayed that prayer, than the wolf stopped still for a minute or two, and then ran off another way.
"They were very much frightened, and trembled all over. Ellen said —
"'God has made the fierce wolf go away — He will not let him hurt us. Oh, I wish He would show us the way home. It is getting so dark!'
"'Let us ask Him to show us the way home,' said Edward.
"Again the lost children knelt down and prayed. They were still on their knees when they heard afar off, the sound of their father's voice calling them. Oh! how their little hearts jumped for joy. They sprang up, and ran as fast as they could in the direction from which the sound came. In a little while they were in their father's arms, crying for joy. And that is the end of my story!"
"I am so glad!" exclaimed George and his sister at once. "God wouldn't let the wicked wolf eat those two children up!"
"No, my children. He kept them from all harm. And if you will be good, and pray to him — He will protect you in every danger."
"Don't you know any more stories about lost people, dear mother?" asked George.
"Shall I tell you about the men who were once lost in the Wilderness of Sin?"
"Oh, yes, please do mother!"
"All mankind was once lost, and about to be destroyed by hungry wolves — but the Lord saved them, and brought them out of the wilderness."
"Please tell us all about it, mother?"
"Yes, if you will listen very attentively. I do not mean that all men were lost in just such a forest as Edward and Ellen were lost in; nor, that they were in danger of being eaten up by such wolves as threatened to eat up this dear little boy and girl."
"What kind of wolves were they?" asked the children.
"They were just such things in their hearts, which corresponded to wolves and every evil and hurtful beast — wicked thoughts and acts. But let me tell you all about it."
"The Lord made men innocent and good. All things around them were as beautiful as the loveliest garden you have ever seen. In their hearts dwelt only those good feelings, to which the lambs and doves and all good animals correspond. They were very happy, and God was their companions.
"But, after a while, they began to forget the good Lord who made them, and gave them every blessing they enjoyed. At the same time that they forgot God, they forgot to love one another. The innocent lambs began to die in their hearts — and evil beasts of prey to take their place. They hated, instead of loving one another. Then war, dreadful war, first appeared on the earth. Men not only hated, but sought to kill each other. Wicked spirits possessed them, soul and body. They were as if lost in a great wilderness, and about to be destroyed by the wild beasts which were in their hearts!
"It was then that the Lord came and saved them. He drove out the evil spirits and cruel beasts, and led the lost men out of this dark and fearful wilderness. It was Jesus Christ, of whom you read in the New Testament, the Lord of Heaven and Earth, who did this. When you are older, and can understand better, I will tell you more about the lost men, and the good Lord who saved them."