From the Juvenile Instructor, Jun 1908 –
The Little Stone House
By Annie Malin
The little stone house stood at the bend of the road leading to Sunnydale. Its shabby walls were partly covered with the green leaves of a Virginia creeper during the summer, while in autumn the frost tinted them with wonderful shades of red and gold. One spray, more venturesome than the rest, had climbed to the top of the crumbling chimney, and there hung swaying in the wind.
In one window blossomed a red geranium, while looking out from the other two little faces could be seen; one, with brown eyes looking eagerly out upon the road, the other framed by a mass of golden curls, while blue eyes watched the antics of a dog, as it passed along the way.
In the shabby kitchen the mother rubbed briskly on the wash-board while another child, little Joe, came in with an armful of wood. Mrs. Lane, the mother of the children, washed for a living. Her husband had gone away four years before, and according to the neighbors his wife was well rid of him, for he drank more than he was able to pay for and often treated his family unkindly. After his departure the oldest boy, Jim, was led into wild ways by other boys and finally left the little stone house to poor Mrs. Lane and the three little ones. The poor woman was nearly broken-hearted and many a tear fell into the tub as she worked steadily on, turning and wringing, boiling and rinsing until her back ached nearly as badly as did her heart.
As she went out into the yard where the lines were stretched she said wearily, “how can the sun shine and the birds sing while hearts are breaking? It is enough to make one doubt the goodness of God.”
Just then she heard a step, and, turning, was clasped in the arms of her son.
“Mother,” he said, as he kissed her, “can you forgive me? I have come back to help you and work for you.”
He told her how he had traveled about from one place to another until he met a young man, who, taking an interest in him, had talked to him in such a way that he had resolved to turn from his evil ways. This man was very religious and had prayed with him, and for him until he grew to love him and his religion.
“To what sect did he belong?” asked the happy mother, and when she learned he was a Latter-day Saint, she stared with astonishment. “A Mormon?” she exclaimed.
“Yes, mother, and I belong to that Church, too,” answered Jim.
At first the mother was horrified, but after Jim had been home a few weeks and she had had time to see the wonderful change in him she became reconciled to the idea. After a time Jim’s friend came to talk with her, and after much deliberation and prayer she resolved to be baptized, and had the little boy Joe baptized also. She was happier than she had ever expected to be again and felt that she could not be grateful enough to her heavenly Father. Jim got work and made life easier for his mother, and so thoughtful and loving had he become that the neighbors were obliged to confess that his religion had done wonders for him.
“Your prayers were heard, mother,” he said, reverently, after such words had been repeated in his hearing.
“Will God ever answer our prayers for your father?” she replied.
“Yes, mother, if we pray continually and have faith enough,” he answered, earnestly.
One day, as the two little girls stood at their usual places at the window, their attention was attracted by the queer actions of a man as he passed several times, looking in each time. At last he hesitatingly opened the gate and approached the door. Jennie ran to bring her mother, and she, as she opened the door gave a startled cry. It was her husband. Not the bleary-eyed sot as she last saw him, but an erect, manly man, whose clear eyes looked lovingly into hers, as she said, humbly:
“Mary, I have come home, if you can forgive me. With God’s help I will be a man.” Then he said, hesitatingly, “I must tell you one thing before we go any further, for I want to start square. I am a Mormon, and I am proud of it.” Mrs. Lane stared at him for a moment, as he regarded her anxiously, then she laughed heartily.
“I guess you may come in, Henry,” she said at last, “we are all Mormons here.” And in the little stone house was perfect happiness at last.