A time of grave crisis; upon the events of the next few minutes would hang the issue of a hard-fought battle. Already at one end of the line the troops seemed to be wavering. Was it indeed defeat?
Just where the fight was most fierce, a young officer was seen to leap from his horse. His followers, sore pressed though they were, could not help turning toward him, wondering what had happened. The bullets flew like hail everywhere; and yet, with steady hand, the gallant soldier stood by the side of his horse and drew the girth of his saddle tight. He had felt it slip under him, and he knew that upon just such a little thing as a loose buckle might hinge his own life, and, perhaps, the turn of the battle. Having secured the girth, he bounded into the saddle, rallied his men, and swept on to victory.
Many a battle has been lost on account of no greater thing than a loose saddle-girth. A loose screw will disable the mightiest engine in the world. A bit of sand in the bearing of an axle has brought many a locomotive to a standstill, and thrown out of order every train on the division. Lives have been lost, business houses wrecked, private fortunes laid in the balance, just because some one did not tighten his saddle-girth!
Does it seem a small thing to you that you forgot some seemingly unimportant thing this morning? Stop right where you are and go back and do the thing you know you should have done in the first place.
One of the finest teachers in the leading school of one of our cities puts stress day after day on that one thing of cultivating the memory so that it will not fail in time of stress. “Do the thing when it should be done,” she insists. “If you forget, go back and do it. You have no right to forget; no one has.”
Tighten up the loose screw the moment you see it is loose. Pull the strap through the buckle as soon as you feel it give. Wipe the axle over which you have charge, clean of dust or grit. If your soul is in the balance, stop now, today, this very moment, and see that all is right between you and God.
* * * * *
If You But Knew
O lad, my lad, if you but knew
The glowing dreams I dream of you,—
The true, straight course of duty run,
The noble deeds, the victories won,
And you the hero of them all,—
I know that you would strive to be
The lad that in my dreams I see;
No tempter’s voice could make you fall.
Ah, lad, my lad, your frank, free smile
Has cheered me many a weary mile;
And in your face, e’en in my dreams,
Potent of future manhood beams,—
Manhood that lives above the small;
Manhood all pure and good and clean,
That scorns the base, the vile, the mean,
That hears and answers duty’s call
And lad, my lad, so strong and true,
This is the prayer I pray for you:
Lord, take my boy, and guide his life
Through all the pitfalls of the strife;
Lead him to follow out thy plan,
To do the deeds he ought to do,
To all thy precepts ever true;
Make him a clean and noble man.