Small decisions make all the difference.

from Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy page 186 fiction ~2 min read

Returning home, the children felt that something solemn had taken place and were very quiet.

Everything went well at home, too; but at lunch Grisha started whistling and, what was worst of all, did not obey the governess and had to go without cake. Darya Alexandrovna, had she been there, would not have let it go as far as punishment on such a day, but she had to uphold the governess’s orders, and she confirmed her decision that Grisha would not have any cake.

Grisha wept, saying that Nikolenka had also whistled but was not being punished, and that he was weeping not because of the cake – it made no difference to him – but because he had been unfairly dealt with. This was much too sad, and Darya Alexandrovna decided to talk with the governess and get her to forgive him. But, passing through the drawing room, she saw a scene that filled her heart with such joy that tears came to her eyes, and she herself forgave the culprit.

The punished boy was sitting at the corner window in the drawing room; next to him stood Tanya with a plate. Under the pretext of wishing to feed her dolls, she had asked the governess’s permission to take her portion of cake to the nursery and had brought it to her brother instead. Continuing to weep about the unfairness of the punishment he was suffering, he ate the cake she had brought, saying between sobs: ‘You eat it, too, we’ll eat it together ... together.’

Tanya was affected first by pity for Grisha, then by the consciousness of her virtuous deed, and there were tears in her eyes, too; but she did not refuse and was eating her share.

Seeing their mother, they were frightened, but peering into her face, they understood that they were doing a good thing, laughed and, their mouths full of cake, began wiping their smiling lips with their hands, smearing tears and jam all over their beaming faces.

—Leo Tolstoy, Anna Karenina, p. 186