Stories Worth Rereading: Why the Mite Boxes Were Full

Rosella had a blue mite box, and so had her brother Drew. The mite boxes had been given out in Sunday-school, and were to be kept two months. All the money saved in the mite boxes was to go toward sending the news about Jesus to the heathen girls and boys across the ocean. The Sunday-school superintendent said so, and so did the sweet old blind missionary woman, who had talked to the scholars.

Rosella and Drew carried their mite boxes across the fields toward their tent. They and their mother and aunt and cousins had come several miles from their farm to tent, with a number of other folks, near the Farmers’ Cooperative Fruit Drying buildings, during the fruit season, to cut fruit for drying.

Another girl was going across the fields with a blue mite box. She was the Chinese girl, Louie Ming, whose father and mother had come from the city to cook for some of the owners here.

“Louie Ming’s got a mite box!” said Rosella.

Drew laughed. “Do you suppose she’ll save anything in it?”

“I don’t believe she will,” said Rosella.

Rosella and Drew carried their mite boxes into their mother’s tent.

“We’re going to cut apricots and peaches to help the heathen!” announced Rosella.

Mother nodded.

“We’ll have a whole lot of money in our mite boxes when we carry them back,” said Rosella.

“We’ll see,” said mother.

For two or three mornings Rosella and Drew rose early, and after breakfast hurried to the cutting-sheds to work. But, after a while, Rosella and Drew grew tired. It was more fun to run over the fields, and mother never said Rosella and Drew must cut fruit, anyhow, though she looked sober.

“The heathen children won’t know,” said Rosella to herself. “Suppose the heathen children were me, I wonder if they’d cut apricots every day to send me Bibles and missionaries? I don’t believe they would.”

The first month melted away. When it was over, Rosella had two nickels in her mite box, and Drew had three in his.

“The heathen children won’t know,” said Rosella.

But one Saturday night Rosella and Drew were going by the tent where Louie Ming lived. Inside the tent sat Louie Ming, with her week’s pay in her lap. In the Chinese girl’s hand was her blue mite box. Louie Ming was putting her money into her mite box, and did not notice Rosella and Drew.

“Why-ee!” whispered Rosella. “See there! Why, Drew! I do believe Louie Ming’s putting every bit of her pay into her mite box! Do you suppose she knows what she’s doing?”

Rosella and Drew stood watching.

“Do you suppose Louie Ming understands?” whispered Rosella again. “Why, she’s giving it all! Drew, she’s been working in the cutting-sheds every time I’ve been there. She didn’t cut fruit till she got her mite box. There, she’s given every cent!”

When Louie Ming looked up, and suddenly discovered Rosella and Drew, she looked half scared. Rosella stepped toward the tent, and said:—

“What made you give all your money? Why didn’t you save some? You’ve worked hard for it. The heathen children wouldn’t know if you kept some for candy and things.”

Louie Ming looked shy.

“You say wha’ fo’ I give money?” she asked softly.

“Yes,” said Rosella. “Why do you give so much?”

Louie Ming looked down at the blue mite box. Somehow it seemed hard for her to answer, at first. Then she spoke softly: “One time I have baby brudder. He die. Mudder cry, cry, cry. I cry, cry all time. I say, ‘Never see poor little baby brudder again, never again!’ An’ I love little brudder. Then I go mission school. Teacher say, ‘Louie Ming, love Jesus, an’ some day you see your baby brudder again.’ O, teacher make me so happy! See little brudder again! I go home and tell my mudder. She not believe, but I get teacher to come and tell. She tell about Jesus to my fadder and mudder. They learn love him. Some day we all go heaven and see little brudder! Now I save money to put in mite box. Way over in China many little girls don’t know about Jesus. Their little brudders die. They cry, cry, all the same me did. Maybe some my money send teacher tell those poor Chinese girls how go to heaven, see their baby brudders again. So I work very hard to put money in my box, because Jesus come into my heart.”

Rosella did not answer, but stood looking at Louie Ming. Then she suddenly turned and caught Drew’s hand, and pulled him along till they were running toward their own tent. Rosella rushed in. The baby was sitting on the straw floor, and Rosella caught him up, crying:—

“O baby, baby brother, don’t you ever die! I couldn’t spare you!”

“Goo!” said baby brother, holding out his arms to Drew.

Drew did not say anything, but he took baby brother.

“Drew,” said Rosella, “I’m going straight to work. Aren’t you? I’m ashamed of myself. To think that a Chinese girl who once did not know about Jesus, would work so hard now for her mite box, and you and I haven’t! Why, Drew Hopkins, I haven’t acted as though I cared whether the heathen boys and girls knew about Jesus or not! I’m going to work to fill my mite box. Why, Drew, Louie Ming’s box is most full, and she used to be a heathen!”

Drew nodded, and hugged baby brother tighter.

The next Monday Rosella and Drew began working hard cutting fruit. How they cut fruit the remaining month! How they saved! And how glad they were that their mite boxes were heavy when the day came to carry them back!

The blind missionary woman was at Sunday-school again. After the school closed, the superintendent, who knew Rosella and Drew, introduced them to the missionary. And the blind missionary said, “Bless the dear girl and boy who have cut peaches for two whole months to help send the gospel to heathen children!”

Then Rosella, being honest, could not bear to have the missionary think it had been two months instead of one, and she suddenly burst out, half-crying, and said, “O, I wasn’t so good as that! I didn’t work two months, and I—I’m afraid if Louie Ming hadn’t loved Jesus better than I did, Drew and I wouldn’t have had hardly any money in our mite boxes.”

The blind missionary wanted to know about Louie Ming, and Rosella told the missionary all about her. Then the blind missionary kissed Louie Ming’s cheek, and said, “Many that are last shall be first.”

But Rosella was glad that she and Drew had worked to send the news about Jesus to heathen children.

Mary E. Bamford, in “Over Sea and Land.”