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- A Hive of Busy Bees - 3/13 -
"Instantly the bee began to buzz about Anna's ears. 'Bz-z-z-z-z! Don't do it!' said the bee. 'It's dangerous. You promised Mother.'
"'We'd better not, Willie,' said Anna quickly. 'We promised Mother, you know.'
"'But Mother'll never know,' said Willie.
"'But you _promised_,' buzzed the bee again.
"'Mother thought the ice was thawing,' added Willie. 'She won't care, when she knows it isn't. You may do as you like, Anna; but I'm going to slide across right now.'
"When Anna saw her brother starting across the pond, she followed, in spite of the bee. But they had gone only a little way when the ice began to crack, and then to give way under them.
"Anna turned and hurried back to the bank; but Willie had gone too far. She saw him go down in the icy water; and she ran to the road, screaming at the top of her voice.
"A man was passing by at that moment. He picked up a board and ran to the pond as fast as he could. And he reached it just in time to save little Willie.
"Dragging the lad up on to the bank, he called loudly for someone to come and help him. Two or three men came running; and they worked over Willie, until at last he opened his blue eyes and asked faintly, 'Where am I?' Then they took him home to his mother.
"She thanked God for saving the life of her disobedient boy, but the danger was not yet past. For many weeks, Willie was a very sick little boy. When at last they carried him downstairs, he lay on the sofa day after day, pale and quiet--sadly changed from the merry, romping Willie of other days. The springtime came; but it was a long time before he could go into the woods with Anna to hunt for wild flowers or sail his toy boats on the pond.
"There was no more school for Willie that year. As Anna trudged off alone day after day, she seemed to hear again and again the buzzing of the bee about her ears--'Bz-z-z-z! You promised Mother!'
"'I heard it so plainly,' she would say to herself. 'It must have been my conscience. But I wouldn't listen--and I _almost_ lost my brother.'"
The old farmhouse kitchen was very quiet for a moment, after Grandma had finished her story. Nothing was heard but the ticking of the old-fashioned clock.
"I'm so glad it didn't happen--_quite_!" said Joyce at last. "What was the bee's name, Grandma?"
"Bee Obedient," answered Grandma. "It has sometimes stung boys and girls so deeply that the hurt has never been healed.
"But," said Grandma cheerily, "this bee will never bother you, if you listen to its first little buzz."
"We will, Grandma, we will!" cried the children as they drifted off to the Land of Dreams.
It seemed to Don that he had just fallen asleep when he heard Grandma's cheery voice calling, "Breakfast!" He dressed as quickly as he could; but when he got downstairs, all the others were waiting for him.
After breakfast Joyce dried the dishes for Grandma; and then she helped with the sweeping and dusting. Don helped Grandpa to grease the wagon and oil some harness; and he handed staples to Grandpa, while he mended some broken places in the fence.
The children were kept busy until dinner time; but in the afternoon they were free to do anything they liked. Today, they decided to play house in the orchard; so they got out some of the things that Mother had packed in the little trunk, to fix up their house.
But Don soon grew tired of that sort of play. "Let's play hide-and-seek," he said.
"All right," answered Joyce. "I'll run and hide, while you count to one hundred."
Away she ran, and Don began to count. Just as he said, "Ninety-five," she ran to the chicken-house door. It was standing open, so she stepped inside.
Now there was something in the chicken-house that Joyce did not expect to find. One of Grandpa's pigs was there, rooting around in the loose straw.
The pig was not looking for company; and he was so frightened that he ran toward the door pell-mell. Joyce, standing just inside, was in his way; and as he ran against her, she was lifted off her feet and thrown on to his back. Mr. Piggy dashed wildly out of the chicken-house.
Just outside the door was a large, shallow pan full of water, which Grandma kept there for the chickens. Joyce fell off the pig's back into the pan of water; and then she rolled over in the dirt.
Don stopped counting when he heard her screams, and Grandma came hurrying out. Poor Joyce! What a sight she was! And she was so frightened that it took Grandma quite a while to quiet her sobs. But a bath and a change of clothes made the little girl feel quite like herself again.
That evening when Grandma came up from the milking, she found the children on the porch waiting for another story.
"Very well," said Grandma, "I shall tell you a story tonight about Bee Honest.
"Many years ago there lived three little boys--Joe, Henry, and Charles. They all started to school at the same time. For a long while they kept together in their classes; and they were very good friends.
"But when they were about fourteen, two of the boys--Joe and Henry--began to go out nights; and it was always late when they got home. Charles stayed at home in the evening and studied his lessons for the next day, as he had always done.
"Of course, the difference soon showed up in their school work. Charles always knew his lessons, while Joe and Henry fell far behind.
"When examination time came, the boys begged Charles to help them.
"'No,' said Charles firmly, 'I will never do anything like that. My mother says that my father wanted me to be honest; and I mean to be.'
"'Aw,' said Henry, 'your father has been dead a long time; and your mother'll never know.'
"'I say there's no harm in giving a fellow a lift in his examinations,' grumbled Joe.
"'It would be cheating,' said Charles quietly; 'or helping you to, and that would be just as bad.' And with that he turned to his own work, and began to write diligently.
"Of course Charles passed all his examinations with honors; and of course Joe and Henry failed.
"After that, the boys tormented Charles in every way they could. They called him 'Mother's honest little darling'; and when they saw him coming they yelled, 'Go home and hang on to your mother's apron string.'
"Mother knew, by Charles' sober face, that something had gone wrong. 'What is it, son?' she asked; and Charles told her what had happened. She told him how glad she was that he would not do wrong; and how proud his father would be of such a son.
"'I shall never be ashamed of you,' she said, 'as long as you are perfectly honest. Sometimes you will find it rather hard; but just wait a few years, and you will see that it pays.'
"Charles had been almost discouraged; but Mother's words made him feel quite strong and brave again. The next time he saw the boys, his honest blue eyes looked straight into their faces, unashamed and unafraid. They dropped their eyes, and hurried away as quickly as they could. They did not bother Charles again; for the principal had heard of their actions, and had punished them severely.
"When school was out, the boys began to think about doing something to earn a little money. Henry was passing the drug store one day when he noticed a sign in the window--'Boy Wanted, Apply in Person.' He went into the store at once, and asked for the job.
"The druggist took him to a little room back of the store. 'Here,' he said, 'is a chest of nails and bolts. You may sort them.'
"The boy worked for a while, and then he said to himself, 'What a queer job this is!' He went back into the store and said to the druggist, 'If that is all you have for me to do, I don't believe I want the job.'
"'Very well,' said the druggist, 'that is all I have for you to do just now.' He paid Henry for the work he had already done, and the boy went home.
"The druggist went back to the little room, and found bolts and nails scattered all over the floor. He put them back in the chest; and then he hung his sign in the window again.
"The next day Joe passed by and saw the sign; and he too went in and asked for the job. The druggist took him to the little room and showed him the chest of nails, and told him to sort them.
"When the boy had worked only a little while, he went back to the druggist and said, 'Those rusty old nails are no good. Why don't you let me throw them all away? I don't like this kind of job, anyway.'
"'All right,' said the druggist; and he paid Joe for what he had done, and let him go. As he put the nails and bolts back in the chest he said to himself, 'I am willing to pay more than this to find a really honest boy.'
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