As the daily teaching continued, Mrs. Worthington taught her children many helpful lessons. She told them of the great necessity of a Savior and of his mission to humanity. She taught them how God looked upon disobedience, and always illustrated her talks with interesting Bible stories and their every-day experiences. In this way she taught them not only the evil effects of wrong-doing but also the sure reward of right-doing.
One summer, while the family was spending their vacation in Michigan at the pretty country home of an aunt, something happened that helped the children to apprehend their mother's meaning. This incident, although in some measure painful to Mrs. Worthington, impressed the lesson upon their young minds almost better than anything else could have.
The house was situated upon a hill that sloped gradually down to the shore of a lake. In many ways this lake was very attractive, especially to the two little girls, who were then at the ages of two and four years. Mrs. Worthington carefully warned the children of the danger of playing near the lake shore; but, not realizing the greatness of their temptation, she trusted them too far. Time after time they made their way down to the water's edge. Something must be done; but what?
One morning Mr. Worthington noticed his little daughters standing in front of the house. Although he could not hear their words, he clearly perceived that they were talking about a trip to the forbidden lake. They hesitated some time, but at last walked slowly down the hillside to the lake. Again they hesitated. Finally descending the steps of the boat-house, they stepped into the sparkling water. How dainty the ripples about their feet, and how clear the water!
|Surely there can be no harm or danger,| thought Bessie; but she remembered the oft-repeated warnings of her parents and aunt. The shells lost their beauty when she remembered hearing her father say that bears sometimes travel up and down the shores. What if a bear should some that morning? She gave a quick, searching glance among the trees, but, seeing nothing, she tried to forget about bears. She might have been able to forget about them, but she could not forget that she was disobedient. Her conscience would not let her; the more she tried to forget, the louder it talked. She was just about to take her little sister back to the house, when she heard a rustling among the branches of a tall tree directly above the path over which she must pass. The next moment she thought she heard a low growl. |O Louise,| she cried, |I do believe that is the bear papa told us about.| The tree then began to sway from side to side and they heard another growl, louder than the first. Seizing her little sister's hand, Bessie hastened to help her out of the water. By this time both were thoroughly frightened; for while visiting one of the parks in Chicago once, they had seen a bear hug his keeper until he could not stand. Bessie remembered the incident and tried to help Louise to hurry; but when the tree shook again, this time just above her, she screamed wildly and ran a few steps alone. When she got past the danger-point her reason returned, and, looking back, she saw her sister's great danger, as she stood just beneath the fatal tree. Rushing back, she almost carried Louise (while the growling continued), and they were soon up the hill. In the house they told of their strange experience, the substance of the story being, |The bear; The bear!|
Mr. Worthington soon joined the excited circle and secretly explained to his wife that he had been the supposed bear and that he had taken this course to teach the children a lesson. His plan was successful, for after that the children did not care to go to the lake alone.
Mrs. Worthington, however, was very sad because her children had been deceived. Unlike her husband, who was not a Christian, she believed in keeping the confidence of her children and in praying with them when they were disobedient. She decided to be more prompt and watchful in the future and to shield them from temptation as much as possible.
She improved the opportunity for some wholesome instruction. From the stories of Jonah and King Saul she brought forth some excellent lessons on disobedience. She told the children that, although they might think when tempted to disobey that nobody saw them, yet there was one whose eye was ever beholding their deeds, whether good or bad. Then she knelt in prayer with her children, praying with a full heart to that God who is everywhere present and from whom all our strength must come, that he would teach her how to guide the precious souls entrusted to her care.