THE story goes that three old men—a Mohammedan, a Jew, and a Brahmin—were seated on the ground beside a well, disputing together as to which was the first language spoken upon earth.

The discussion waxed so hot, and the voices were raised so loud, that the sound drew to the spot a young Englishman. The youth had been out shooting; with his gun in his hand and his game at his feet, he now stood leaning against a tree, listening to the discussion between the three men.

The Mohammedan, with violent gestures and many an oath, declared that no language could equal the Arabic.

"Is it not the language," he cried, " in which Mohammed (blessed be his name) received the holy Koran? Is it not that in which the Most High gave laws to the faithful Will ye, O ye unbelievers, cast dust on the grave of the prophet by doubting that Arabic is the oldest language on earth?"

The Jew shook his gray head, and his brow knit into many wrinkles as he made answer: "The language which Abraham, our father, which Isaac and Jacob (peace be on them) spake, must be honored above all other tongues. Surely it was heard in paradise before Eve plucked the forbidden fruit! The oldest and most sacred language assuredly is the Hebrew."

Then spake the Brahmin in tones of scorn: "All languages compared to Sanscrit are as the bulrush compared with the spreading banyan. Nay; even as the banyan sends forth shoots, which, when they touch the earth, spring forth young trees, so other tongues spring from the life-giving Sanscrit.

He must be void of reason who doubts that the most ancient language is Sanscrit."

The old men grew so angry that it seemed as if blows might follow words, when the young Englishman stepped forward.

"O venerable men!" he said, with courtesy,

"you have numbered many years and I but few; yet let me decide between you. I know what is the most ancient and honored language spoken on earth."

"You know?" exclaimed- the Mohammedan, in surprise. "You have but down upon your lips, and will you teach graybeards like us?"

The Hindu muttered to himself, "The Sahib dogs think that they know everything. They can make roads and bridges, and send messages through wire; but what can they tell of ancient languages to a Brahmin?"

"The language of which I would inform you is not only the one first spoken upon earth, but it is the one now spoken in heaven," said the English-man. The three men stroked their beards, and uttered exclamations of astonishment at the presumption shown by the youth.

"And yet more," continued the youth, his eyes, blue as the sky, sparkling with animation as he went on; "without learning to speak this language, no man, of whatsoever nation he be, will ever be suffered to enter the kingdom of heaven."

"Do you know this language?" asked the Mohammedan quickly.

"Yes; God be praised!" the Englishman replied.

"And where did you first learn it?" asked the Jew, doubtingly.

In a softened tone the young man replied: "I learned it first from the lips of my mother."

The three men glanced at each other in surprise; and then the Brahmin inquired, "And what is this language, O Sahib?"

"The language of Truth,"

said the Englishman.

When the word was spoken, the clouds cleared away from the faces of the three; they stroked their beards and cried, "Well said; truth is the language of God, truth is the language spoken in heaven."

"But it must be learned upon earth," said the Englishman earnestly. "Before I came to this land, I gave up pleasures by day and rest by night in order to learn the language of Hindustan. Were I not to know it, I could not remain in the honorable service to which I belong. And thus it is with truth, the language of heaven. God is truth itself, and a lie is to him an accursed thing. It is written in his word: 'Lying lips are an abomination to the Lord."

Again the three men glanced at each other.

There was not one of them that would not have lied for the sake of making a few prices larger profit in a bargain. Lies were to them common as the mosquitoes, which buzzed around their heads; not one of them had ever thought of falsehood as a sin hateful to God.

The Mohammedan was the one to speak first:

"Upon what authority does the Sahib affirm that the gate of heaven is closed against those who speak not the language of truth?"

"On the authority of God's holy word, which cannot be broken," replied the Englishman. "Hear, O my friends, what is declared of the abode of the blessed by Him who cannot utter untruth: 'There shall in nowise enter into it anything that defileth, neither whatsoever worketh abomination or maketh a lie.'"

"Heaven will be very empty, then," -said the Jew, with a sneer. "Your favored Saint Peter, according to your Scriptures, lied thrice, with oaths and curses. Shall he be shut out from heaven, or shall his sin alone go unpunished?"

"Peter's sin was punished," replied the Englishman gravely; "but it was Peter's Lord, the Master whom Peter had denied, who bore the penalty for him. The blood that flowed from the Saviour's wounded side can wash away all sin, whether of thought or word or deed, the sin of falsehood among the rest. But those who would be forgiven like Peter, must, like Peter, believe and love.

When God's Spirit comes into the heart, he comes to drive away evil from it, the unjust become just, and the proud become meek, and the lips that often were stained with falsehood learn the language of, heaven, the language of truth,'"



The Young Pilgrim.





LIFE is a book of which we have but one edition.

Let each day's actions, as they add their pages to

the indestructible volume, be such as we shall be

willing to have the assembled world read.