"No," said Kund promptly; "I cannot steal, I am sure."
"Well, but you've got to," they cried.
[Illustration: THE CRIES OF THE DROWNING CHILD GREW FAINTER AND FAINTER]
They threatened to duck him, for these wicked big boys had often frightened little boys into robbing gardens for them. Little boys, they thought, were less likely to get found out.
The threat did not frighten Kund, so to make their words good, they seized him and dragged him into the river, and in spite of his cries and struggles, plunged him in. But the heroic boy even with the water gurgling and choking in his throat, never flinched, for he knew that God had said: "Thou shalt not steal," and God's law he had made his law; and no cursing, or threats, or cruelty of the big boys would make him give up. Provoked by his firmness, I suppose, they determined to see if they could conquer him. So they ducked him again but it still was, "No, no"; and they kept him under water. Was there no one near to hear his distressing cries, and rescue the poor child from their cruel grip? No; there was none to rescue him; and gradually the cries of the drowning child grew fainter and fainter, and his struggles less and less, and the boy was drowned. He could die, but would not steal.
A German boy who had stood near, much frightened by what he saw, ran home to tell the news. The agonized parents hastened to the spot, and all night they searched for the lifeless body of their lost darling. It was found the next morning; and who shall describe their feelings as they clasped the little form to their bosoms? Early piety had blossomed in his little life. He loved his Bible and his Savior. His seat was never vacant at Sunday school, and so intelligent, conscientious and steadfast had he been.
Perhaps the little boy used often to think how, when he grew up, he would like to be a preacher or a missionary, and do something for his Lord and Master. He did not know what post he might be called to occupy, even as a little child; and as he left home that afternoon and looked his last look in his mother's face, he thought he was only going after his cows; and other boys, and the neighbors, if they saw him, thought so, too. They did not then know that instead of going to the pasture he was going to preach one of the most powerful sermons of Bible law and Bible principles the country ever heard. They did not know that he was going to give an example of steadfastness of purpose and of unflinching integrity, such as should thrill the heart of this nation with wonder and admiration. He was then only a Norwegian boy, Kund Iverson, only thirteen years old, but his name was soon to be reckoned with martyrs and heroes. And as the story of his moral heroism winged its way from state to state, and city to city, and village to village, how many mothers cried with full hearts: "May his spirit rest upon my boy!" And strong men have wept over it and exclaimed: "God be praised for the lad!" And rich men put their hands into their pockets and said, "Let us build him a monument; let his name be perpetuated, for his memory is blessed." May there be a generation of Kund Iversons, strong in their integrity, true to their Bibles ready to die rather than do wrong.
-- The Cynosure