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Converting A Prodigal
by [?]

“Do you really think so, sir?” said he, thoughtfully; “ain’t you playin’ it on me?”

“I assure you, Charles,” said the good man, catching a ray of hope from the boy’s dawning seriousness, “you will certainly end your days in a workhouse, unless you speedily abandon your course of extravagance. There is nothing like habit–nothing!”

Charles may have thought that, considering his frequent and lavish contributions to the missionary fund, the parson was rather hard upon him; but he did not say so. He went away in mournful silence, and began pelting a blind beggar with coppers.

One day, when Johnny had been more than usually provident, and Charles proportionately prodigal, their father, having exhausted moral suasion to no apparent purpose, determined to have recourse to a lower order of argument: he would try to win Charles to economy by an appeal to his grosser nature. So he convened the entire family, and,

“Johnny,” said he, “do you think you have much money in your bank? You ought to have saved a considerable sum in nine years.”

Johnny took the alarm in a minute: perhaps there was some barefooted little girl to be endowed with Sunday-school books.

“No,” he answered, reflectively, “I don’t think there can be much. There’s been a good deal of cold weather this winter, and you know how metal shrinks! No-o-o, I’m sure there can’t be only a little.”

“Well, Johnny, you go up and bring down your bank. We’ll see. Perhaps Charles may be right, after all; and it’s not worth while to save money. I don’t want a son of mine to get into a bad habit unless it pays.”

So Johnny travelled reluctantly up to his garret, and went to the corner where his big tin bank-box had sat on a chest undisturbed for years. He had long ago fortified himself against temptation by vowing never to even shake it; for he remembered that formerly when Charles used to shake his, and rattle the coins inside, he always ended by smashing in the roof. Johnny approached his bank, and taking hold of the cornice on either side, braced himself, gave a strong lift upwards, and keeled over upon his back with the edifice atop of him, like one of the figures in a picture of the great Lisbon earthquake! There was but a single coin in it; and that, by an ingenious device, was suspended in the centre, so that every piece popped in at the chimney would clink upon it in passing through Charlie’s little hole into Charlie’s little stocking hanging innocently beneath.

Of course restitution was out of the question; and even Johnny felt that any merely temporal punishment would be weakly inadequate to the demands of justice. But that night, in the dead silence of his chamber, Johnny registered a great and solemn swear that so soon as he could worry together a little capital, he would fling his feeble remaining energies into the spendthrift business. And he did so.