Short Stories » Franz and His Mother
Franz and His Mother
I ONCE knew a woman whose life was a long record of love and kindness worthy of much praise. Her only son died in infancy, and the happy home became more silent than before his precious presence gladdened it. After a few years of lonely sorrow, her heart so craved the companionship of children that she and her husband adopted an orphan girl-baby. A while after this, a deserted infant was also taken into their hearts and home, and still another was laid at their door one stormy night. This was a boy, and she accepted him in place of her lost son. The good woman labored hard to help her husband maintain them, and if he ever reflected how much farther his means would have gone if used only for his dear wife and himself, and still allowed something to put by for old age, he never spoke of it, but was content to share with the little strangers. Many of his friends had emigrated to America, and they wrote such letters to him, how he could become a land-owner so easily, and soon own cows, horses and other good things, until he decided to follow their advice, and was soon on his way. Soon after his arrival he found work at good wages. Everything seemed like a blessing from t*he Lord, and he looked forward to so many things, all to be accomplished by his thankful heart and willing hands. One night sickness came upon him, and be- fore he realized his danger, the end was near.
The poor widow, in the firm faith of again meeting her husband, struggled on, doing day's work for the support of the children. Laundress by day and seamstress by night, she toiled on. In a few years the eldest girl went to a home of her own, with her mother's blessing. Although she might have remembered her foster-mother's kindness in many ways she seemed not to think of it. Fruit lay wasting in the large orchard, vegetables in the garden, fowls gathered in flocks around the barn-yard, and fresh eggs lay in plenty in the nests, but neither of these found their way to the little widow's home in the city, though the young wife had many company dinners.
As the second daughter had an opportunity of going out to service in a fine family, with good wages and light work, this was also accepted, but instead of following the example of her foster-parents, she spent her means in attempting to follow the fashions of those who were her superiors in station.
Franz, the youngest, remained at home with the mother, and in due time obtained employment in a store, with promise of advancement if deserving. Feeling independent now that he was earning something, he began to be very indifferent to her requests; this grew to open disrespect, and finally he announced his intention to "do as he pleased."
The kind mother bore all his conduct with patience, continually pouring out her sorrow in prayer to the Father, and pleading that his heart might be changed and return to the principles he had forsaken.
Sometimes Franz would bring home a present, which she would accept with kind expressions, although she knew he would at some other time refer to it vauntingly, but she hoped to win him back in time by unwearying kindness. "When he is older and away from giddy boys, he will repent and be my own dear boy again." But Franz was impulsive and head-strong, scorned to ask counsel or receive it, and before his mother thought of his being a man, Franz brought home a wife. All the cares and much work rested upon the mother, now grown gray and feeble. Even when a babe came to bless the household, it was only the poor old mother that realized all about it, but she welcomed it and seemed to feel paid for all her trials. The child grew to love her dearly, and this gave the young parents greater freedom to follow pleasure's rounds. But a change came at last, so swiftly and strangely it could not have been anticipated. Some friends were coming to-morrow to spend a day with them, and would not the mother go in the evening, after the baby was asleep and the work was all done, and order the pastry, fruits, and confectionery ? Franz could not be bothered with anything so easy for mother to do, and Anna would have no idea what to order.
The grandma laid the sleeping infant in his crib, and, speaking to his parents, "I go now," left the house. More than an hour had passed, and she was returning wearily, when " Oh, was the house on fire?" The feeble limbs hurried along. The house was reached. " Franz ! Anna ! " she called, but met no answer. The door was unlocked, and she mounted the stairs through the smoke that came from the bedroom. She found the crib. Her loved one was there, but now where was the door? Was he alive? With the warm smoke choking her, she called on the Lord to deliver her for the sake of the little child. A flash of flame burst up before her and she saw the way. Gathering her skirt around the babe to protect it from tongues of fire, she plunged through and down the steps out into the fresh, cool air at last And the babe the sweet air was restoring him; he was alive. "Franz! Anna!" called the mother, but a fireman answered, " They were out walking, listening to the band; were not you at home?" They were soon there, for the cry of fire had spread and echoed down the street. They had left the baby asleep he always slept so well and they thought mother would be home soon, and then the lamp must have exploded. So they said, when they found what had happened.
But the poor mother it was feared that her face and hands would always be scarred ; and oh, how Franz wept, and how his heart smote him, for every time he looked upon her bandaged face, the sight pierced him through without mercy, and he could not still the cries of conscience! What did he not owe to her who had reared him when his own parents cast him forth; all those years of labor, love, and example, and then at last she had saved his child from his own wicked carelessness, at the risk of her own life ! " Franz, I must better go," she whispered one day, but his sobs frightened her so she put out her hands and found him where he knelt beside her. "Hush! my dear boy, and I will try to stay." If her bandaged eyes could have seen his efforts to control his anguish and remorse! Weeks passed before they looked upon him again, and then the eyes of her soul saw that the answer to her prayers had come at last.