“Hurrah! hurrah! Such a splendid morning for skating. Come ahead, boys; there’s no telling how long this weather will last.” Said Roger to two of his friends whom he met on his way to the park.
His eyes sparkled, his cheeks were almost as bright as the scarlet scarf he wore around his neck, and the dangling skates told for themselves the expedition upon which he was bound. The other boys readily agreed to join him, and after running home for their skates, they started off in such high spirits that the bus driver encouraged them to be a little more quiet.
“Not quite so noisy, please, young gentlemen,” he said, as they paid their fare.
After awhile the bus stopped for another passenger; the driver assisted the person in getting on, and Roger, thinking more time was taken than usual, called out:—
“Hurry up, hurry up—you are wasting our time!”
The newcomer was a boy about his own age, but sadly disabled; he had a badly twisted back, and had a pale, delicate face, which spoke of sorrow and painful suffering.
“Now please move over and give this boy a seat,” said the bus driver, as the boys sat still, not offering to make room. The bus driver refused to drive until they gave him room, so to mock the boy, they all crowded together, giving much more room than was necessary,—the three together trying to sit on one seat. They continued talking and joking noisily, until the bus stopped at the entrance of the park.
Bob and Frank pushed out ahead of all the other passengers. Roger was rushing after them when the bus driver laid his hand on his shoulder.
“Don’t push and shove, there is plenty of time, young man.”
The warning came too late, for Roger in his impatience to get out, did not pay attention to what he was doing, caught one of his skates in the scarf of the disabled boy, who had been sitting next to him. He gave his skate strap a hard pull, knocking the boy rather roughly, and stepping on a lady’s toes.
“What a hassle!” he exclaimed impatiently, and giving the scarf another jerk, harder than before, he succeeded in disentangling it; then he rushed out, hurried over to the boys who were waiting for him on sidewalk, stamping their feet and whistling. The small disabled boy also got off the bus at the park and he gently asked Roger, “It wasn’t my fault, was it?”
Roger ignored the boy’s question and went to join his friends.
“That cripple caught his scarf in my skate. I thought it would never come out,” he exclaimed. “That is what held me up all this time!”
“Hush, Roger,” interrupted Frank in a low tone of voice. The boy was just behind them and had evidently heard what had been said, for his pale face turned scarlet. He lingered behind to see which path the boys intended on taking and then walked off in the opposite direction. They soon lost sight of him.
Roger was hasty and impulsive, but his nature was kindly, after all; and when his skates were on and he started to skate, he thought of his unfeeling speech. The pale, sad face of the boy rose before him.
“Was it my fault?” The question rang in his ears. Was it the boy’s fault that his legs were crooked, and his back misshapen and awkward? Was it his fault that he must go through life, receiving pity or contempt from his more fortunate fellow-men, whose limbs were better formed than his own?
The more Roger thought about it, the ruder his treatment of the poor lad now seemed, and putting himself in the boy’s place, he felt that such words would have been hurtful.
“Hey Roger,” said Bob, who was happily skating on a smooth, glassy spot of ice, “what makes you so gloomy?” Roger was deep in thought and did not answer, “Hey, look, there’s the little disabled boy sitting over there on the bank, looking at the skaters,” continued Bob.
Roger looked in that direction, and saw him sitting alone. His only enjoyment consisting in watching, without being able to join in the pleasure of others.
“What can a poor fellow like that do with himself I wonder?” added Bob. “I don’t suppose he can skate or do anything else without making a show of himself.”
“That’s probably true,” said Roger thoughtfully, wondering how he could make up for his rudeness, or take back his own words. He decided to try to not think of it for now. In future he would be more careful, and less hasty in speaking; for Roger did not have sufficient manliness to go over to where the boy was sitting, and say frankly; “I ask your forgiveness for my rudeness.”
The boys then decided to play a game of tag. Roger was an excellent skater; he engaged in the game with great zest: his spirits rose, and the disabled boy and the reproaches of his conscience passed entirely out of his mind as he skated on, knowing that he could keep his balance well and skate better than perhaps, any fellow on the pond.
The swiftest and strongest, however, are not always the most successful, and as he swooped around, curving in very near the shore, a strap on his skate broke, and before Roger could help himself, it tripped him, and he sprawled at full length on the ice.
The boys shouted; some laughed, because a fall is such a common occurrence that no one was very much concerned until Roger attempted to stand up again to show them all that he was not hurt,—he would be all right again in a minute. Then he tried to stand; but when an awful pain shot up from his ankle, he realized that it was quite impossible to stand.
His friends ran to his assistance, but before they reached him, a soft hand was held out to him, and a gentle voice asked:
“Have you hurt yourself badly?”
Roger saw the disabled boy standing by his side, and then remembered that he had seen him sitting nearby on the bank.
“I think I must have sprained my ankle,” he replied.
The disabled boy knelt on the ice, and while the others clustered around, asking questions and offering suggestions, he quietly unbuckled his skates for him.
“I’ll have to go home, I suppose,” said Roger faintly; “but boys, don’t let this spoil your fun—don’t come with me.”
“May I go with you?” asked the disabled boy. “I am not going to stay here any longer.”
Roger thanked him. A policeman came up at that moment to ask about the accident. He found a carriage that was willing to take Roger home. The disabled boy accompanied Roger as he was driven home.
“My fun is spoiled for this winter,” he said, with a moan. “I know a fellow who sprained his ankle last year, and the doctor said perhaps he will never be able to skate again. What an unlucky thing for me!—it wasn’t my fault either.”
“No,” added the disabled boy gently. “It was not your fault; and it was not my fault that my nurse let me fall when I was a baby and injured my back. I sometimes think it would have been better if she had killed me outright, though strong and well-formed people think it wicked for me to wish that.”
The colour which had left Roger’s pale cheeks from his pain, rushed back for a moment, as he held out his hand and said:—
“I was a brute to you in the bus this morning, but I didn’t think what I was doing. Will you forgive me?”
“I know you didn’t. Please don’t say anything more about it. It is hard to pity the suffering of others unless we have felt pain ourselves.”
Roger’s sprain prevented him from skating again that season, and taught him also a lesson which he will remember all his lifetime.
Have you ever spoken words that you regretted later? The Disciple Peter did just that in the judgement hall when Jesus was going to be crucified. Just earlier that day Peter said to Jesus that he was willing to go with Him to prison and to death, and now he was denying Jesus. He spoke rashly without thinking.
Always think before you speak. If you are upset or in a hurry, it is better to say nothing than to regret and have to repent of your words later.
Remember Jesus said: “For by thy words thou shalt be justified, and by thy words thou shalt be condemned. Matthew 12:37