“MAMMA, I GAVE a penny to a poor man this morning. Was I a good boy for so doing?’

“It depends on the motive you had in view. Did you give it to him because you thought it would do him good?”

“Yes, mamma, I did; for I saw that he was miserable and unhappy, and when I passed him he held out his hat and begged for a penny so that he could buy a trifle to eat. So I thought of the penny I had in my pocket, and I said to myself, ‘Perhaps with my penny he can buy some food, and then he will not be so miserable.'”

“I am sorry to hear it, my dear boy. This is what you should have thought: ‘This man is poor and in dire need, and I possess the means whereby to sustain his life for another day. This possession gives me the power to place him forever in my debt, and to bind him by invisible chains to do my will in hopes of gaining the penny, which after all I may not give to him if I am not pleased with him. And with the profit I make from his servitude I may purchase the lives of multitudes of similar beggars, and gradually form myself an army of shuffling automatons whose very existence depends on my pleasure.'”

“Ah! mamma, I wish I had thought of that, but I am sure I did not intend to do wrong. You know, mamma, I love you so dearly, that I strive to please you in all things.”

“Yes, my dear, I know you love me, and that is because I hold your wretched little life in my hands, is it not? So think, dear child, when next you meet a beggar, what unimaginable power the single penny in your pocket gives you over the wretched lives of those less fortunate than yourself, and you will make me proud of you.”