Years ago a colporteur greeted a woman within a forest cottage in France and offered a New Testament for sale.

Jeanne hesitated. Would the priest approve? That was the question. Still she wistfully eyed the neat little volume, and at last, producing 50 centimes, she took the book and said, "I cannot refuse, monsieur, but may I be pardoned if it is a sin."

Presently in came Jacques, the charcoal burner, her husband, and Jeanne timidly produced her book. As she rather feared, he was tired and cross and upbraided her for spending his money in this fashion.

"But," said she, "the money is not all yours, Jacques. I brought my dowry when we married. The half franc was as much mine as yours."

"Give me the book," shouted Jacques in a temper. He snatched it from her hands.

"The money was half yours, and half mine, you say. Very well, the book is the same." He opened the book roughly, tore it in two pieces, keeping one and throwing the other to Jeanne.

Several days later Jacques sat in the forest and suddenly remembered the torn book. He would investigate it.

It was the latter part of the New Testament. His rough fingers had divided it in Luke's Gospel. He began at the very beginning.

"And I will say unto him, Father, I have sinned against heaven and before thee, and am no more worthy to be called thy son."

Spellbound he read to the end of the story, and then a dozen questions presented themselves. What had he done — the poor lost son? Why was he exiled? Where had he been? What induced him to return? The questions haunted him, but at first his pride prevented him asking for the first part of the book. Meanwhile Jeanne lived her monotonous days, occasionally poring over her part and spelling out its contents. She began to delight in it, but when she reached the end her interest was doubly quickened. That younger son — his waywardness, his journey, his sin, his misery, the wonderful change in his thoughts. "I perish with hunger. I will arise and go to my father ..." There the story stopped.

But what happened? Did the father welcome him? Her tender heart longed for a satisfactory answer. She even cried over the story, but she could not screw up her courage to consult Jacques.

One day, however, the rain poured down with special vigor, and Jacques came home feeling specially weary. He ate his soup and bread for supper as usual, and at last he blurted out, "Jeanne, you remember the book I tore in two? My part had in it a wonderful story, but only the end of it. I cannot rest until I know the beginning of it. Bring me your piece."

"Oh, Jacques! The same story is ever in my mind, only I lack the ending. Did the father receive that wilful son?"

"He did. But what was the sin that separated them?"

She brought her piece and knelt by his chair. Together they read the whole of the beautiful parable, and the Spirit of God who had been working in both their hearts caused its hidden meaning to dawn on them.

That was the first of many Bible readings by the firelight after the soup and bread were eaten, and both have yielded hearts and lives to the Lord Jesus Christ.

Has the parable of the prodigal son ever raised in your mind the question that it did in theirs, and have you seen its application to yourself?

"What had he done?" was the question raised by the ending of the story. He had sinned, and that confession should be on all our lips.

Then comes the question, "Did the father receive that wilful son?" He did, for "When he was yet a great way off, his father saw him, and had compassion, and ran, and fell on his neck and kissed him." Much more he did, but for details you must turn to Luke 15 and read for yourself. If you turn to God through through the Lord Jesus Christ, confessing yourself a sinner and pleading the merits of his atoning sacrifive, you will get such a gracious reception. But you must turn to God and experience it for yourself.