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Tip Lewis and His Lamp

CHAPTER XIX.

"And all thy children shall be taught of the Lord."

"Father," said Tip, as, after having carefully measured out and given him some cough-drops, he sat down for a chat with him before school,—"father, didn't you and Mr. Bailey go to school together when you were boys?"

"Yes," said Mr. Lewis. "Our fathers lived side by side, and we used to walk more than a mile to school together every morning; we were in the same class, too, and the best scholars in school. My! times are changed since that day. My father was considerably better off than his was, and now he's a rich man, and I'm nobody."

"Was he such a boy as Will Bailey is—or, I mean, as Will used to be?"

"I don't know much about Will; but I know his father was a sorry scamp, and many's the scrape he got me into. He took a notion to me. We lived near by, and were always together, and then I was as full of pranks as he was, I suppose. But he was a regular tyrant over the rest of the boys; they were more than half afraid of him; I don't know but what I was myself. Anyhow, I know I've thought I'd have been different, maybe, if I hadn't followed him so close in all his scrapes."

"Father, did you know Mr. Bailey was different now?"

"Different—how? What do you mean?"

"Why, he comes to prayer-meeting, and speaks and prays, and seems to love to."

"The mischief he does!" said Mr. Lewis, surprised out of his usual quiet tone. "I should think he was different. Why, he used to make great fun of all such things."

"Yes, that's what he says; but I tell you he don't make fun now."

"When did all that happen?"

"A few weeks ago, when the revival was, you know. He got up one night and asked them to pray for him, and now he almost always speaks or prays in the meetings."

"Well," said Mr. Lewis, after a pause, and with a little sigh, "I'm sure I ain't sorry. I only hope it will last; he needed it as bad as any one I know of."

"It will last," Tip said, speaking positively. "God will look out for that."

Then he waited a little before he spoke again—but he had been praying for his father long enough and earnestly enough to feel bold:

"I thought, last night, that you must have been pretty good friends once," he said presently, "for he most broke down when he was praying for you, and the tears just blinded him."

Mr. Lewis turned himself on his pillow, and looked steadily at his son. "Did Mr. Bailey pray for me?" he asked at last.

"Yes, he did; and he prayed as if he meant it."

"How came he to?"

"Why, I asked 'em to—all the folks in meeting, you know. I wanted you to be a Christian, and prayed for you, and then I asked them if they'd pray, and Mr. Bailey got right up. You don't mind that, do you, father? All the folks down there ask us to pray for their friends."

"No," answered Mr. Lewis at last, speaking slowly, "I don't know that I do. I need praying for, I suppose, if anybody does. I'm going where I can't be prayed for, pretty fast, I guess."

Tip had no answer to make to that.

"So you prayed for me too, did you?" his father asked presently.

"Yes, and I do every day, father; I do want you to know Jesus."

A long silence followed, and then the sick man spoke again:

"Well, Tip, I'm glad that you've got right, gladder than I can tell you. My father was a good man, and tried to make me do what was right; but I went all wrong, wasted my whole life, and brought up my children to do so too; but you're getting on without my help, and I'm glad you'll grow up to be a good man, and be a comfort to your mother when I'm gone. But I don't know that you need ask folks to pray for me; it's too late,—I've gone too far to get back."

Tip's bold, prompt manner did not forsake him now; he answered quickly,—

"Father, I don't believe any such thing. God doesn't say anything about it's being too late; and He says if we want anything very much, and pray for it, and it's good to have, He'll give it to us; and I'm bound to believe Him. Once I prayed for Kitty, and prayed and prayed, and it didn't do a bit of good, until at last Mr. Holbrook told me that maybe it was because I didn't really believe any of the time that God was going to do what I wanted Him to; and I found out that was it. Just as soon as I began to think He would hear me, it all came out straight; and now I'm bound to believe Him every time. I've asked Him to make you a Christian, and I'm going to keep on asking, and He'll do it. Father,"—Tip's voice took a softer tone, for he knew there was one very tender spot in his father's heart,—"don't you want to see little Johnny up in heaven?"

The muscles around Mr. Lewis's mouth began to twitch nervously, and a tear rolled down his cheek.

"I'm pretty near it," he said at last; "and I think sometimes I'd give the world, if I had it, to be ready to go; but it's all too late. I've known the right way all my life, and I've gone the other way; now I must just take my pay."

The very Spirit of Christ must have shown Tip what to say next. He spoke the words earnestly and solemnly; he meant no disrespect:

"Father, do you know more about it than God? Because, you see, it don't say any such thing anywhere in the Bible; I know it don't, for we talked about it in Sunday school once, and Mr. Holbrook said, 'No matter how old a man was, nor what he had done, he could be a Christian.'"

"I always thought it looked mean and sneaking in a man to have nothing to do with such things all his life, and then turn around just because he was going to die, and pretend to be very good. God can't be pleased with any such thing as that. I've always said that I'd never do it."

Tip couldn't answer this: it didn't sound true; he felt sure it was not true; but he had no wisdom with which to meet it. He went to school with those last words of his father's ringing in his heart, and his thoughts took shape, and spoke in the very first sentence that he addressed to Mr. Holbrook, whom he overtook as he came out of the post office:

"Mr. Holbrook, can I ask you a question?"

And the minister, always ready to help any one out of trouble, smiled and bowed, and walked on by the side of the troubled boy.

"If a man should tell you he thought it would be mean in him to turn around and go to serving God, after he had found out he had but a little while to live, when he had cheated Him out of all the rest of his life, what would you say?"

"I think," said Mr. Holbrook, "I would be very likely to ask him whether he supposed he would feel any less mean for cheating God out of the last year of his life, simply because he had been doing so all the other years. Because a man has been doing wrong for forty years, I don't know why he should add another year of wrong; I should think he might much better turn around, and make all the amends he could."

"Oh!" said Tip, drawing a long breath; "why couldn't I have thought of that? I knew it was wrong,—I saw it plain enough; but I couldn't think of a word to say."

Mr. Holbrook looked earnestly at the eager boy. "Edward," he said at last, "do you think your father would see me this morning?"

"Yes," said Tip decidedly, "I know he would. If you would only go and see him, Mr. Holbrook, and explain that to him, I would be so glad."

And, looking back soon after, he had the satisfaction of seeing Mr. Holbrook walk quickly down town in the direction of his home. And now Tip felt hopeful for his father: he had prayed for him, he had worked for him, and now Mr. Holbrook had gone to him; surely he could leave the rest in God's hands.

 

 

 

 


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