SOME boys who had been told of a wonderful echo among the hills set out in search of it, wandering from one nook to another, until a solid rock barred their further progress in the direction in which they had been walking.

One, more impatient than his fellows, uttered an oath; and the terrible words were repeated until they seemed to pierce his very brain. Angry at this, another profane exclamation passed his lips, to be echoed and reechoed in what seemed to him a voice of thunder.

"Mercy! What have I done?" he cried, clasping his head with his hands.

"Taken the name of your God in vain," came the answer, clear and distinct; and the echoes of question and answer mingled in strange confusion.

"Come away!" called a companion. "Don't stand on that stone another minute. We shall all be crazy, if you do."

"I believe I am crazy."

"You are more wicked than crazy."

Half-frightened at this response, the swearer sprang from the position he had occupied, and threw himself upon the ground several feet distant.

At length the echoes died away, and the boys conversed in low tones. 

They had no need to go further; but there was a mystery yet unexplained: there must be some one near them, and there must be a double echo.

"I don't care about the mystery, or the echo either," said he who had tested its power. "I don't believe I shall ever dare to say another wicked word as long as I live, for fear it will go sounding on forever."

"Sounding on forever."

A young man, standing upon the very spot where the profane boy had stood, repeated his concluding remark, thus giving a new message to the echo.

"Boys, I think I owe you an apology for my plain speaking," said the stranger, as he came toward them.

"This is the second day I have been among the hills, hoping to hear the wonderful echo. I came up on the other side of the rock; and when I heard the exclamations following the oath, I responded almost involuntarily. I am always grieved and sorry when I hear an oath, because I know it will go sounding on forever. Perhaps none of you ever thought of it in that way.''

"I never thought of it in that way," at length replied one of the party.

"I don't believe any of us did," said another.

"Yet it is true that not a word, good or bad, is ever lost. Every word has an influence. It will be echoed silently, perhaps, but really echoed through all the ages of time. It may seem to die away in the distance; but somewhere it is doing its work. 

That may sound to you like a sermon; but it is regarded by many as a scientific fact."

"How so? Please tell us." And now every boy's attention was gained.

"Some philosophers maintain, that, in the upper air, there is a blending of all sounds heard here on earth. 

There is the sweetest of harmony, and the most terrible of discords."

"No one can be sure of that."

"Certainly not; but we are sure that we shall be called to account for every word we speak, and that God will not hold the swearer guiltless. 

No word we speak will ever be forgotten. Somewhere there is an unfading record. Our words will be echoed, too, by some one with whom we associate. Some child who looks up to you as superiors will be likely to talk as you talk."

"I know that is so. Small boys always want to talk and act as large boys do."

"Yes; and often small boys are ruined in that way. When I was about twelve years old, I swore for the first time in my life, and within an hour my little brother, only four years old, repeated my words in my mother's hearing. She was shocked, as well she might be; but the child justified himself by quoting my example: 

'Brother Will said it, and he's a big boy.' My mother told me that if he grew up to be a profane, wicked man, the sin would lie at my door. The words clung to him, until it seemed as though he would never forget them; and even now, good Christian as I believe he is, he says he would give a great deal if he had never heard them. That is my punishment; and since then I have tried to put a guard upon my lips."

"I didn't mean to swear this morning; but the words came without my thinking of them. I know swearing is wicked and vulgar; but I got in the habit of it from hearing a man who used to work for father."

"Then you are his echo."

"I suppose I am; but I ought to echo good words instead of bad ones. 

I will try to break myself of swearing."

"I am sure you will, if you remember how your words are to be echoed and reechoed. Now, suppose we try the echo with some singing, so that we may leave a pleasant sound here."

This suggestion was received with favor; and, after some further conversation, and a careful selection of the exact spot where the best effect could be produced, they joined in a hymn of praise to Him whose name is exalted above every name; and as the rocks gave back the echo, they rejoiced that their words would go sounding on forever.