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- A Hive of Busy Bees - 10/13 -
the hot streets of the village. Who was in trouble, they wondered?
"When they reached the market-place, no one was there; but they saw the starving old horse, nibbling at the tender grapevine.
"'Ho, ho!' cried one, 'it is the miser's brave old steed. He rings the bell to plead for justice.'
"'And justice he shall have!' cried another.
"'See how thin he is,' said a lad with a kind heart.
"By this time, many people had gathered in the market-place. When they saw the old horse, a murmur of astonishment swept through the crowd.
"'The miser's steed!' cried one to another. 'He has waited long; but he shall have justice today.'
"'I have seen the old horse wandering on the hillside day after day, in search of food,' said an old man.
"'And while the noble steed has no shelter,' said his neighbor, 'his master sits at home, counting his gold.'
"'Bring his master to us!' cried the judges sternly.
"And so they brought him. In silence he waited to hear what the judges would say.
"'This brave steed of yours,' they said, 'has served you faithfully for many a long year. He has saved your life in times of danger. He has helped you to hoard your bags of gold. Therefore, hear your sentence, O Miser! Half of your gold shall be taken from you, and used to buy food and shelter for your faithful horse.'
"The miser hung his head. It made him sad to lose his gold; but the people laughed and shouted, as the old horse was led away to a comfortable stall and a dinner fit for the steed of a king."
"Hooray!" cried Don. "Good for the brave old horse! Grandpa, I'm so glad you aren't a miser!" He was thinking of old Ned, with his sleek, shining black coat.
"Bedtime!" announced Grandma, as she led the way into the house. "Good-night, children--and happy dreams to you!"
When the children ran down to meet the mailman in the morning, he handed them another letter from Mother. She and Daddy were going home next Friday, she said; and they must be there Saturday, to start school on the following Monday.
"Only three more nights to be here," said Joyce, taking the letter in to Grandma. "I want to go home and see Mother and Daddy, but I wish I could stay on the farm, too."
"And only three more stories about bees," added Don. "We must remember them all, Joyce, so we can tell them to Mother."
"What do you want to do today, children?" asked Grandma.
"After our morning work is done," said Joyce, with her most grown-up air, "we must finish weeding the flower-bed."
"Grandma," called Don a little later, "come and see how nice it looks where we pulled the weeds yesterday."
Grandma stood a moment thoughtfully looking down at the half-weeded bed of flowers.
"Children," she said suddenly, "If you wanted a flower this morning, where would you pick it--in the part of the bed that is full of weeds, or in that patch over there that you have weeded so nicely?"
"I would pick my flower where there aren't any weeds," answered Don, wondering why she asked. "I would take that pretty big red one right over there."
"And so would I!" declared Joyce, pulling up a stubborn weed.
"But why wouldn't you take this one?" said Grandma, as she parted the weeds and showed another red beauty.
"Well," answered Don, "I s'pose it's just as pretty, but some way the weeds make it look ugly."
"That's just what I was thinking about," said Grandma. "I have seen children who were like this flower in the weeds. They had beautiful faces; but they let the weeds of disobedience, selfishness, deceit, and pride grow all about them until you could not see their beauty for the ugly weeds.
"This garden makes me think of two cousins that I knew once. One was obedient, unselfish, and kind to everybody; and although she did not have a beautiful face, she was loved by all who knew her. The other girl had a beautiful face; but she had such an unlovely disposition that nobody cared for her, and so she was left very much to herself. Her beauty, like this lovely flower, was quite hidden by the ugly weeds growing up all around her.
"These weeds in the flower-bed were very small in the beginning; but they grew and grew, until now they are taller than the flowers. And the weeds in God's child-gardens are small at first, too. To begin with, there springs up the weed of telling a story that is not quite true. If it is not pulled up at once, soon it grows up into a big ugly lie weed. Other weeds--disobedience, selfishness, and unkindness--spring up around it; and soon the beautiful flower is hidden by the tall weeds. And when the Master of the Garden wants a lovely flower-child to do a kind deed for Him, He never thinks of choosing one that is surrounded by weeds."
"What a nice story!" exclaimed Joyce. "But it wasn't about a bee, Grandma."
"Yes, it was," said Don--"Don't Bee Weedy."
"But there haven't been any Don't Bee's in the stories before," said Joyce. "Besides, I wouldn't call that Don't Bee Weedy; I'd call it Bee Clean."
"That's a good name for it," said Grandma. "I hope you'll always keep your lives clean from the weeds that children so often allow to grow up around them."
Grandma went back to the house, while the children set to work weeding the rest of the flower-bed. They were very careful not to pull up any of the flowers with the weeds. When they had finished, the flower-bed looked beautiful, cleared as it was of all weeds and grasses.
"I surely don't want any ugly weeds to grow in _my_ garden, so I shall always listen to Bee Clean," said Joyce softly, as she walked slowly toward the house.
"Will you make us a kite, Grandpa?" asked Don after dinner.
"Yes, do!" cried Joyce. "It will be such fun to fly it."
"Well," said Grandpa, "you children hunt around and find some sticks. Then ask Grandma for some paper and paste and string; and bring them out to the woodshed, and I'll try my hand at making a kite."
After it was made, they had to let it lie in the sun for a while, to dry. Then they took it out to the pasture. There was a soft breeze blowing, and Grandpa said the kite ought to fly. Don took the string and ran along with it for quite a distance. The wind lifted it a little; but after it had darted back and forth, it fell on the ground. This happened several times, and at last Grandpa said, "It's too bad, children, but my kite won't fly. But I'll see if I can make something else for you."
Then Grandpa took some thin boards and whittled out darts. He took a short stick, and tied a string to it; and then he fitted the string in a notch which he had cut in one end of the dart. He threw the dart up in the air, ever so high. It came down just a few yards from Don. The sharp end stuck fast; and there it stood, upright in the ground.
Don was as much pleased with this as he would have been with a kite that would fly. Soon he and Joyce were shooting darts into the air, to see whose would go the highest.
They had so much fun that the afternoon flew by very fast. It was nearly suppertime when Don gathered up the darts and took them to the house with him. He carefully put them away in the little trunk, saying, "I'll show the boys how to throw darts when I get home."
That evening, as they sat on the porch in the quiet twilight, they heard the faint tinkle of a cowbell in the distance. They talked a while, and then they sang some songs together.
"It's story time, isn't it?" said Grandpa by and by. "And who is going to get stung tonight?" he asked, winking at Joyce.
"I hope _I_ don't," she laughed, remembering the time the bee had stung her on the first day of her visit.
"No one shall be stung tonight," said Grandma. "I have a very sweet little bee to tell you about. And because the little girl in my story listened to its buzz, it made honey for her all her life. Its name is Bee Loving; and it can do things that nothing else in the world can do. You know people can sometimes be _loved_ into doing things that they could not be persuaded to do in any other way.
"Gene was a very little girl who had been left alone in the world. She had never seen her father; and her mother had died when she was only two and a half. Some kind people had taken care of the little girl when her mother was ill; and when she died, they tried to find her relatives, to ask what should be done with Gene. But they could not find any trace of them.
"When Gene was three, these kind people wanted to go away for a couple of weeks, and they asked a lady to take care of the child while they were gone. The lady was very glad to do this, for she loved little children. And so Gene came to stay in the big mansion where the lady, her husband, and grown-up daughter lived.
"The lady's husband did not like children very well, and it always annoyed him whenever little Gene came near him. She had a sunny disposition and
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