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- A Hive of Busy Bees - 4/13 -
"Later Joe and Henry, sauntering down the street together, saw the same sign in the window--'Boy Wanted. Apply in Person.'
"'Guess he doesn't want a boy very bad,' said Joe. 'That's no job--sorting those old rusty things. Did you find anything in the chest besides bolts and nails, Henry?'
"'I'm not telling _everything_ I found,' said Henry with a laugh.
"Joe looked up, puzzled and a little alarmed. 'Now I wonder--' he began--but broke off suddenly and started to talk about something else.
"A few days later Charles passed by the drug store and saw the sign in the window. He went in and told the druggist he would like to have the job.
"'Are Joe and Henry friends of yours?' asked the druggist, looking at him sharply.
"'Oh, no, sir.' replied Charles quickly. 'We used to be good friends; but something happened between us that I don't like to tell; and they wouldn't have anything to do with me afterward.'
"'I'm glad to hear that,' said the druggist. 'I rather think you're the boy I want.'
"For two or three hours Charles worked steadily, now and then whistling a snatch of tune. Then he went to the druggist and said, 'I have finished the job you gave me. What shall I do next?'
"The druggist went to the little room to see how Charles had done his work. The boy had found some boxes lying about; and he had placed the bolts in one, the nails in another, and the screws in a third.
"'And see what I found!' exclaimed Charles. 'It was lying under those old crooked bolts in the bottom of the chest.' And he handed the druggist a five-dollar gold-piece.
"The druggist took the money and said with a smile, 'Now you may place the bolts and screws back in the chest just as you have them arranged in the boxes.'
"After he had done that, Charles was sent on a few errands; and then he was dismissed for the day.
"A few days later the druggist gave Charles a key and said, 'You may come early in the morning and open the store, and do the sweeping and dusting.'
"At the end of the first week, when Charles received his pay-envelope, he found the five-dollar gold-piece along with the week's wages.
"One morning not long afterward, when Charles was sweeping the floor, he found a few pennies lying near the counter. He picked them up and laid them on the shelf, and told the druggist about them. Another day he found some pennies, a dime, and two nickels. These too he laid on the shelf, telling the druggist where he had found them.
"About a month later, when he was sweeping one morning, he found a bright, shiny new dollar. How he did wish he might keep it for himself!
"'The druggist would never know it,' whispered a tiny voice.
"But just at that instant, Bee Honest began to buzz around his ears. 'Don't forget what Mother told you,' said the bee. 'She said she would never be ashamed of you, as long as you were perfectly honest.'
"Charles turned the shiny dollar over and over in his hand. The bee kept on buzzing--'Never do anything that will make your mother ashamed of you. Be honest! Be honest!'
"'Yes,' said Charles at last, 'I will.' He laid the dollar up on the shelf; and when the druggist came in, he told him about it.
"The druggist smiled and patted him on the shoulder. 'You are an honest boy,' was all he said. And at the end of the week, Charles found the shiny dollar in his pay-envelope, beside his usual wages.
"A few weeks later, the druggist began to give Charles large sums of money to take to the bank for him. 'I have found that I can trust you, my boy,' he would say.
"Charles worked in the store all that summer; and when school opened again, he helped the druggist mornings and evenings. His tired mother did not have to take in so many washings now; for Charles always gave her his money at the end of the week.
"After he had finished school, the druggist gave him a steady job in the store, with good wages.
"'Charles,' said the druggist one day, 'do you remember the day you sorted bolts and nails for me?'
"'Indeed I do,' answered Charles. 'How glad I was to find work that day, so I could help my mother a little! And I shall never forget how surprised I was when I found a five-dollar gold-piece at the bottom of the chest.'
"'I put it there on purpose,' said the druggist. 'I wanted to find out what sort of boy you were.'
"'You did!' exclaimed the astonished boy.
"'Yes; and when you brought it to me I was pretty sure that I had found an honest boy. But I wanted to be able to trust you with large sums of money, so I tested you still further. I left pennies and nickels and a dime on the floor; and last of all, a dollar. When you picked them all up, and laid them on the shelf, and told me about them--I knew then that I could safely trust you.'
"'I should like to ask you,' said Charles suddenly--'was there a gold-piece lying in the bottom of that chest when Joe and Henry sorted the nails, too?'
"'Yes,' said the druggist, 'each of them found a gold-piece there; and each of them kept it for himself.'
"'So you lost ten dollars!' exclaimed Charles.
"'Yes, lost ten dollars hunting for an honest boy. But it was worth it--for I found one at last!'"
"Is that the end of the story?" asked Joyce, as Grandma paused.
"Not quite," said Grandpa, who had been listening. "Tell them what happened to Henry and Joe."
"Oh yes; I must not forget to tell you about them," said Grandma. "Soon after Charles started working for the druggist, Henry was caught stealing some things from a department store. He was arrested; but his father paid the fine, so he was allowed to go free.
"But his dishonest habits soon got him into trouble again. He broke into a house while the family was away, and stole some money. He was sent to a reformatory for boys; and he had to stay there a long time. After that, he never could keep a job long; for he was so dishonest that no one could depend on him.
"Joe did not get into so much trouble in his boyhood; but after he became a man he forged a check, and was sent to the penitentiary."
"How much better it would have been," said Joyce thoughtfully, "if Henry and Joe had only listened to the bee in the first place."
"Yes indeed;" said Grandma, "I have often thought of that; for I am sure the bee talked to them, as well as to Charles."
"Maybe," said little Don softly, "they didn't have a Grandma to tell them how to be good."
"Maybe not," said Grandpa, smiling as he rose to take the little fellow in to bed.
"Didn't they ever change into good men?" asked Joyce.
"I'm afraid not," answered Grandma. "That's the saddest part of the whole story. They felt the sting of the bee as long as they lived."
Every day Joyce and Don went out to meet the mailman; and how glad they were this morning when he brought them a letter from Mother! Mother and Daddy were having a good time at the lake; and there was a picture of Daddy smiling at them, as he held up a day's catch of fish.
"What a string of fish!" exclaimed Grandpa, when they showed it to him. "And what fine big ones they are!"
"I wish," said Don, "that we could go fishing, Grandpa."
Grandpa whispered something in his ear; and the little fellow began to dance about and clap his hands.
"What is it?" asked Joyce excitedly.
"Only that we're going fishing tomorrow," said Grandpa. "We'll start out bright and early in the morning, take our lunch, and spend the day at the river."
Joyce and Grandma were busy all morning about the house; and in the afternoon they baked cookies, and got the lunch as nearly ready as they could for the trip. Grandpa and Don went out to the garden to dig bait.
They soon had a can full of worms; and then Don found a larger can, and filled that, too. When Grandpa said they had enough, Don covered the worms with loose dirt and set the cans out in the shed. Then they got out the fishing tackle.
Late in the afternoon, Grandma called the children and asked them to catch a chicken for her, so she could get it ready for their picnic lunch.
The children asked if they might pick off the feathers. They had watched Grandma do it so many times, they thought it would be an easy job. But when they tried it, they found it was not so easy after all. They turned the chicken round and round, picking first in one place and then in another. It took them a long time to get all the feathers off.
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