Little Tim sat on the ground close beside a very ugly dark-colored stone jug. He eyed it sharply, but finding it quite impossible to see through its sides, pulled out the cork and peered anxiously in. "Can't see nothin', but it's so dark in there I couldn't see if there was anything. I've a great mind to break the hateful old thing."
He sat for awhile thinking how badly he wanted a pair of shoes to wear to the Sunday School picnic. His mother had promised to wash and mend his clothes, so that he might go looking very neat indeed; but the old shoes were far past all mending and how could he go barefoot?
Then he began counting the chances of his father being very angry when he should find his jug broken. He did not like the idea of getting a whipping for it, as was very likely, but how could he resist the temptation of making sure about those shoes? The more he thought of them, the more he couldn't. He sprang up and hunted around until he found a good size brick-bat, which he flung with such vigorous hand and correct aim that the next moment the old jug lay in pieces before his eyes.
How eagerly he bent over them in the hope of finding not only what he was so longing for but, perhaps, other treasure! But his poor little heart sank as he turned over the fragments with trembling fingers. Nothing could be found among the broken bits, wet on the inside with a bad-smelling liquid.
Tim sat down again and sobbed as he had never sobbed before; so hard that he did not hear a step beside him until a voice said:
"Well, what's all this?"
He sprang up in great alarm. It was his father, who always slept late in the morning, and was very seldom awake so early as this.
"Who broke my jug?" he asked. "I did," said Tim, catching his breath half in terror and half between his sobs.
"Why did you?" Tim looked up. The voice did not sound quite so terrible as he had expected. The truth was his father had been touched at sight of the forlorn figure, so very small and so sorrowful, which had bent over the broken jug.
"Why," he said, "I was looking for a pair of new shoes. I want a pair of shoes awful bad to wear at the picnic. All the other chaps wear shoes."
"How came you to think you'd find shoes in a jug?"
"Why Mama said so. I asked her for some new shoes and she said they had gone into the black jug, and that lots of other things had gone into it, too -- coats and hats, and bread and meat and things -- and I thought if I broke it I'd find them all, and there ain't a thing in it -- and Mama never said what wasn't so before -- and I thought 'twould be so -- sure."
And Tim, hardly able to sob out the words, feeling how keenly his trust in mother's word had added to his great disappointment, sat down again, and cried harder than ever.
His father seated himself on a box in the disorderly yard and remained quiet for so long a time that Tim at last looked timidly up.
"I am real sorry I broke your jug, Father. I'll never do it again."
"No, I guess you won't," he said, laying a hand on the rough little head as he went away leaving Tim overcome with astonishment that his father had not been angry with him.
Two days after, on the very evening before the picnic, he handed Tim a parcel, telling him to open it.
"New shoes! new shoes!" he shouted. "Oh, Father, did you get a new jug and were they in it?"
"No, my boy, there isn't going to be a new jug. Your mother was right all the time -- the things all went into the jug; but you see getting them out is no easy matter so I am going to keep them out after this."
-- New York Observer