Paper by Mary E.
The wind was blowing quite keenly from the north, and Miss Stratton
had the collar of her coat turned up, as she hurried through the
darkness of the avenue. She was talking behind her coat collar, the
tips of which brushed her lips. If what Miss Stratton said had been
audible to any one beside herself, it would have sounded as if she
were talking severely to somebody.
"I don't see why you can't throw that evening paper where we can
find it!" Miss Stratton was saying under her breath. "We have a broad
walk, and there's plenty of room! I've been out in the yard three or
four times to-night, and hunted thoroughly, and mother's been out
once. Mother's eyes are poor, and she likes to have the paper before
Miss Stratton caught her breath in the cold wind. She hastened by a
gas-lamp, climbed the hill, and found her way in darkness up the long
steps of a house. She fumbled for the bell and rang it. There was a
little stir within, the opening of an interior door to let light into
the hall, and then a boy's step. The front door opened. Miss Stratton
looked straight into the boyish face that appeared.
"I want to know where you threw our paper to-night," she demanded.
"I can't find it anywhere."
The boy stepped one side so that the light within the farther room
might fall on Miss Stratton's face. He recognized her.
"Oh," returned the boy, "your paper went up a tree."
"Up a tree!" exclaimed Miss Stratton, indignantly. "Why didn't you
come in and tell me, so I'd know where to look for it?"
"If I'd had an extra copy with me, I'd have thrown in another,"
said the boy--"I'll get you one."
He walked back into the sitting-room, glad to escape from the
accusing subscriber, whom he had not expected to see following him to
his home. Miss Stratton sternly waited. The boy's sister had come into
the hall, and was holding a candle for a light. Her brother came back
with the evening paper, and Miss Stratton took it.
"I wish you'd be careful where you throw that paper, Harry," she
admonished him, her indignation cooling. "I've spoken to you about
that before. I don't like to have to come away up here for the paper.
It isn't convenient."
"Yes'm," answered the boy.
Miss Stratton hurried home. When she arrived there, one of the
first things she saw gleaming faintly through the garden's darkness,
was the missing evening paper that Harry had thrown into a pepper tree
near the side fence. During Miss Stratton's absence, the strong wind
had shaken the paper down, and it lay at the foot of the tree. "How
did he suppose I was going to find that paper up that tree?"
questioned Miss Stratton. "I did look up there before dark, but I
didn't see anything."
The evening paper was easily discoverable for a week or so after
this: Then matters went back to their old state and Miss Stratton
frequently spent a quarter of an hour finding her evening paper.
"If he'd take the slightest pains he could throw it on this walk
that is ten feet wide!" she would tell herself indignantly, as she
pushed aside the branches of blue marguerites and the leaves of
calla-lilies, and peered into holes on either side of the steps near
the front gate, where the watering of the garden had washed away the
Miss Stratton had liked Harry very much, when he first became paper
boy. He had a frank manner that made him friends. At first he
carefully threw the paper on Miss Stratton's front piazza. He never
skipped an evening, as the former paper boy had sometimes done, and
Miss Stratton rejoiced that at last a paper boy who was reliable had
been found for the route. Months had passed, and while Harry was as
careful at some houses as before, Miss Stratton's was not among that
number. Harry had three 'customers on that street and he nightly
walked only as far toward Miss Stratton's as would enable him to
throw her paper and then, with two or three steps, throw another
paper to the neighbor diagonally across the street. A few more steps
would have made Harry sure that Miss Stratton's paper fell every
night squarely on the broad front path, but he "fired the paper at
her," as he expressed it, and the result was Miss Stratton's
otherwise unnecessary number of steps hunting after her paper. Yet
Harry would have scorned to cheat any customer. He fulfilled the
letter of the law. He delivered the paper.
Late one afternoon the minister and his wife, Mr. and Mrs. Landler,
came by invitation to take supper with Mrs. and Miss Stratton. After
a while, as they sat, pleasantly chatting, Mr. Landler spoke of a
ship that had been overdue for almost two weeks. A neighbor's son was
on board, and this fact caused Mr. and Mrs. Landler to look at the
papers, morning and night, as soon as possible, to ascertain if
anything had been heard of the missing vessel.
"That's what my daughter and I have been doing, too," returned Mrs.
Stratton. "I wonder if this evening's paper hasn't come, so we could
Her daughter glanced at the clock.
"Why, yes!" said she. "That paper ought to have come before now."
Miss Stratton went out and hunted carefully. No paper was visible,
search as she might.
"Perhaps it hasn't come yet," she said to the guests, when she came
A little later she went out again. Mrs. Landler came to help
search, though Miss Stratton disclaimed the need of aid.
"The paper doesn't always fall where I can see it," explained Miss
Stratton, mortified at her failure to find the paper for her guests.
"Who brings it around?" asked Mrs. Landler, looking at the broad
"Harry Butterworth," answered Miss Stratton.
She did not tell of the annoyance Harry had caused her heretofore.
Harry's mother was a church friend of the Landlers and the Strattons,
and Miss Stratton was loath to expose the boy's shortcomings.
No paper appeared, and after a thorough search, Mrs. Landler and
Miss Stratton went into the house. Dusk was coming. Miss Stratton had
occasion to go upstairs for something, and glancing out of the front
hall window, she saw the twisted roll of that evening's paper lying on
a projection of the roof.
"He threw the paper on the roof!" exclaimed Miss Stratton, "and he
didn't come in to tell me!"
She pushed up the hall window, and reaching out as far as she
dared, she tried with an old umbrella handle to dislodge the paper.
She drew breathlessly back.
"It's no use! I can't get it!" she gasped.
She went downstairs and told her mother quietly, but Mrs. Stratton
had no scruples about informing her guests what had happened.
"That boy's thrown this evening's paper on the roof!" stated old
Mrs. Stratton. "He does put us to so much trouble!"
The minister instantly offered to climb the roof. Miss Stratton and
her mother protested, but Mr. Landler took off his coat, climbed out
of an upper-story window, and secured the paper. In one column was a
notice that the missing ship had been heard from and was safe. Great
was the rejoicing around the Strattons' supper-table that their
friend's son was not lost.
The next time Mr. Landler saw Harry, the minister said pleasantly,
"You gave me quite a climb the other night, my boy."
Harry looked astonished.
"Gave you a climb?" he questioned. "I gave you one?"
"Yes," nodded Mr. Landler. "Miss Stratton's evening paper fell on
her roof. My wife and I were taking supper there, so I climbed the
roof for the paper."
Harry turned very red. Was ever a paper boy so unfortunate? He knew
the paper fell on the roof, but who would have supposed Mr. Landler
was at the Strattons'? Harry wanted very much to be thought well of
by the minister and his wife. Everybody liked them.
"I didn't know you were there," apologized Harry, hardly knowing
what to say.
"No," said the minister, gently, "we never know who may be in any
home. You didn't know you were delivering the paper to me. You
thought it was to Miss Stratton. Wasn't that it?"
"Yes," acknowledged the boy.
"If the Lord Jesus were here on earth, Harry," went on the minister
in a very grave, tender tone, "and if he wanted a little service from
you, you wouldn't render it in the way you deliver Miss Stratton's
paper, would you? Yet she is his child, one of his representatives on
earth, and as you treat her you treat him. 'Inasmuch as ye have done
it unto one of the least of these,' you know, Harry."
The next night Miss Stratton's paper fell with an emphatic thwack
in the middle of the front walk. The next night it did the same, and
the next, and the next.
"What has changed that boy?" wondered Miss Stratton with grateful
relief, as weeks passed and the paper still fell in plain sight.
She did not know that as Harry carefully aimed his papers, the boy
thought, "'Ye have done it unto me.'"