It is undoubtedly true that sin is the cause of all misery. Had sin not entered into the world, there would be neither death, mourning or sorrow in the earth. But because of sin, this earth is cursed, and it brings forth thorns and briars, What struggles among mankind; what pain and grief. How much lost time and labor there is in this world. How many people there are who are blind to the cause of all trouble, who weary themselves with that which is all vanity, and at times seek to obtain it in an illegitimate manner. They are not the best advisers. They spend their labor to obtain that which is not necessary, and neglect that which is absolutely essential. What shall it profit a man though he gain the whole world and lose his soul? "The little that the righteous has is better than the abundance of the wicked." Diligence and fair dealing shall be blessed.

In a little city, located by the sea, lived a poor widow. She remembered the time that four children, like olive plants, were seated around her table. But three of them had died, and only the youngest was left. What pleasant times had she enjoyed in her simple home while her husband was yet alive, and she, with him, shared the Lord’s mercies. For they both were filled with the fear of God. They knew a greater good, and greater enjoyment than that which this world can supply. Their hearts were set upon the one thing needful, in which they also instructed their children. The cup of suffering was not withheld from this widow. Her husband, her support and provider, became sick, and died. She remained with four children, all too young yet to realize the loss and not able to earn a livelihood. But still more grief was laid up for her, since in a short space of time, the Lord removed the three oldest children, and she was left with the youngest boy, named William. What heavy trials, to see her husband and her children die, and to be left in a needy condition with one little boy of eleven years old. But God remains faithful in all that He does. His ways are higher than our ways, and His thoughts higher than our thoughts. He is a Father to the fatherless and a Judge to the widows. All the grief that the Lord brings upon His children, has been measured in heaven before it comes to them. And He will lay no more upon His children than what seemeth good to Him. At the same time a benefit is experienced with it, for with the affliction, He sends His consolation.

Many were filled with sympathy towards the poor widow. And whereas she was very handy and willing to do whatever her hand found, she was enabled to provide for herself in her greatest need by sewing, with which she was supplied plentifully. For a long time she was successful, but eventually she noticed that the work would become too much for her, especially as she had to sacrifice many hours of her night’s rest to supply the most necessary things for herself and her child. At times she would have to deny herself in order to give it to her only lamb. How often did the tears trickle down her checks when she thought of the days gone by. However, she did not murmur, but in her need was privileged to cast herself upon God, Who knew all her wants, and Who was able to do above all that which we can desire. Though William was very young, and although he was not insensible to the admonitions of his dear mother, it was not pleasant to him to notice that she began to look pale and sickly. At times he was sad, and in his own way he sought to comfort and cheer his mother. He was an industrious boy. The teachers had no cause for complaint with respect to him. At one time he received, as a present for his diligence, a beautiful Bible, in which was written such a nice testimonial, that the tears welled up in his mother’s eyes when he read it to her.

One morning, about three weeks after he had received that prize, our William was walking along the harbor, looking toward the broad and blue sea and the many ships which were riding at anchor.

The sea had a great power of attraction to him. He could not keep his eyes off the sailors and officers, the loading and unloading of the ships, and the many little boats sailing to and fro. He hoped one day, when he became somewhat older, to be able to sail the sea on some ship and at the same time to work towards the support of his dear mother.

That morning, while William was walking beside the harbor, a stiff breeze was blowing. A strong gust of wind caused him hastily to grab for his cap, but at the same moment something rushed past him, and he heard

someone cry, "Stop it! Stop it!" William looked about, and saw close behind him a man in the uniform of a sea captain. His head was uncovered and with wild, fluttering hair he was running to catch his headgear, which had been blown away by the wind. As soon as William saw what had happened, he ran after the cap, glad to be of service to the captain. But to get hold of it was no easy task. At least the captain soon had to give up the race. William, however, continued the chase and finally got hold of the cap.

"At your service, sit," he said handing the cap to the captain, who had come up to him wiping the perspiration from his brow. The captain, who was a robust man, looked for a moment at the boy, as if he thought to himself, "Should I give him a dime for his running?" He seemed to consider, and at last he said, "I must say, you are light-footed, little man. Would you have a mind to go with me? I can always use nimble boys, and aboard ship they have a good living."

That was spoken after the heart of William. The captain had touched the innermost string. If it was up to him, he would have forthwith given his assent. But what about his mother? "Sir," he answered, "I would very willingly go, but I must first consult my mother about this. May I come and tell you then by and by?"

"Very well," the captain said kindly, "there lies my ship, the ’Northstar,’ remember this well. But if you come, you must bring a certificate of good conduct, otherwise I can’t use you. "

William ran home and cried to his mother, "Mother, I am going to sea, may I? Ali, come on, say yes, mother. You know I would like to very much."

The poor widow was altogether dumbfounded and terribly frightened when she heard the sea mentioned. No, nothing could come of that. Though William urged her, it was of no use. She could not part with her boy. At that moment the captain himself stepped into the house and began to converse with the mother in a winning manner. He liked her boy very much and would gladly take him on board. He asked her if she realized that God is able to protect us everywhere. The dangers,at sea were great, but those on shore were no less great. And he whom God preserves is well preserved. Though tremblingly and with many sighs,

the mother finally consented, with the prayer that the Lord would go with her boy and that He might keep him from all danger.

William was in high spirits. But his joy was tempered a moment when the captain said, "Now you must have a certificate of good conduct. Can you show me that?" "No, sir," William answered, embarrassed, "but yes, wait a minute, I have one at that." He hurriedly left the room and soon returned with his Bible, which he had received as a present from his teachers. He showed the captain what was written on the first page. It was now the captain’s turn to be embarrassed. "Is that your certificate?" he asked. "That is a testimonial within a Testimonial. The best I have ever seen. It is sufficient."

Two weeks later, William bid farewell to his dear mother. Tears trickled down the cheeks of them both. He came aboard to take a long voyage. The destination was St. Petersburg, or Leningrad, as it is called today, and what at that time was the capital of Russia. That was a strange life to William, withdrawn from the quiet life with his mother, and now over against that, the busy life aboard ship. But in the person of the captain, he had a good keeper, who took care that he did not have it too busy. Now and then he had an hour to himself. And if the weather was nice, then our young friend would get out his beautiful Bible to read a portion therein.

He was very happy when the sailors came to him and asked if he would read to them. He gladly consented to this, and now and then a conversation about the Truth, and how a person can only be saved by Christ, would be thc result. His mother had kept this only way of salvation continually before him, and this had left an impression. Thc captain saw and heard with great delight whenever William and the sailors were busily engaged in conversation on the one thing needful.

After a prosperous voyage, the ship arrived at St. Peters- burg. William’s eyes opened wide. Such a big city! As soon as the first bustle was over, the captain gave him permission to go ashore, escorted by one of the mates, to see the city. That was something for him. Never before had he seen thc like. Such long streets, such immense squares. And then those palaces and churches! William did not have eyes enough to see it all.

When they turned the corner of a distinguished street, they saw a multitude of people before a church, and in the midst of them, many beautiful carriages. Naturally, both strollers stood still too, and the mate, who could speak a little Russian, asked one of the spectators what was really going on. He answered that a lady-in-waiting of the empress was getting married.

-to be continued-