Ways - The Round Table
Everybody liked Jack. He was a pleasant, manly boy, about fourteen years
old, a boy who was on friendly terms with the whole world. His father was a
physician, and his family lived in a small country town.
Of course Jack went to school. In the afternoon, when school was over, he
always ran up to his mother's room to tell her, in his bright, boyish way,
how the day had passed, and to see if she had any errands for him to do,
always glad to help in any way he could. After this little chat with his
mother, he would dash off into the yard to play, or to busy himself in some
other way. But he was never far away, ready to be called any moment, and
generally where he could be seen from some of the many windows of the big,
This had always been his custom until the winter of which I am speaking.
This winter Jack seemed to have fallen into queer ways. He came home, to be
sure, at the usual time, but, after the little visit with his mother,
seemed to disappear entirely. For an hour and a half he positively could
not be found. They could not see him, no matter which way they looked, and
they could not even make him hear when they called.
This all seemed very strange, but he had always been a trusty boy, and his
mother thought little of it at first. Still, as Jack continued to
disappear, day after day, at the same hour, for weeks, she thought it best
to speak to his father about it.
"How long does he stay out?" asked the doctor.
"Very often till the lamps are lighted," was the answer.
"Have you asked him where he goes?"
"Why, yes," the mother replied; "and that's the strangest part of it all!
He seems so confused, and doesn't answer directly, but tries to talk about
something else. I cannot understand it, but some way I do not believe he is
doing wrong, for he looks right into my eyes, and does not act as if he had
anything to be ashamed of."
"It is quite strange," said the doctor. Then he sat quiet for a long time.
At last he said, "Well, little mother, I think we will trust the lad awhile
longer, and say nothing more to him about it; though it is strange!"
Time passed on, and the mother looked anxious many an evening as she
lighted the lamps and her boy was not home yet. And when at last he did
come in, flushed and tired, and said not a word as to how he had spent his
afternoon, she wondered more than ever.
This kept up all winter. Toward spring the doctor was slowly driving home
one day just at twilight, when, as he passed a poor, forlorn cottage, he
heard a rap on the window. He stopped his horse at once, got out of his
gig, and walked to the door. He knocked, but no one opened, only a voice
called, "Come in!"
He entered the shabby room, and found a poor old woman, lying on a
miserable bed. The room was bare and cheerless except for the bright fire
burning in the small stove, beside which lay a neat pile of wood. The
doctor did what he could to ease the poor woman s sufferings, and then
asked who lived with her to take care of her.
"Not a soul," she said. "I am all alone. I haven't a chick nor child in all
the wide world!"
The doctor looked at the wood near the stove, and wondered to himself how
the sick old woman could chop and pile it so nicely; but he said nothing,
and she went on sadly:—
"I have had a hard time of it this winter, and I would have died sure if it
hadn't been for that blessed boy."
"Why, I thought you lived alone, and had no children!" exclaimed the
"No more I haven't," she said. "I am all alone by me lone self, as I told
ye, but the good Lord has been a-takin' care of me; for a bit of a boy,
bless his heart! has been a-comin' here every day this winter for to help
me. He chopped the wood the minister sent me, and brought some in here
every night, and piled it up like that" (pointing to the sticks in the
corner): "and the harder it stormed, the surer he seemed to come. He'd never
so much as tell me where he lived, and I only know his name is——"
"Jack?" asked the doctor, with unsteady voice.
"Yes, sir; that's it. Do ye be knowing him, doctor?"
"I think perhaps I do," was the husky answer.
"Well, may the Lord bless him, and may he never be cold himself, the good
The doctor did not speak for a few moments; then he left, promising to send
some one to care for the sick woman that night. He drove home very fast,
and a strange dimness came into his eyes every now and then, as he thought
it all over.
He went to his wife's room, and began, as usual, to tell her all that had
happened during the day. When, at last, he came to his visit at the
cottage, he watched his wife's face, as he told of the lonely, sick old
woman, the warm fire, and the young chopper.
When he had finished, tears were in her eyes, but she only said, "Dear
Jack's queer ways were explained at last. And "Jack's old woman," as they
called her, never wanted from this time for any comfort as long as she
lived. So, after all, Jack could not feel so very sorry that his kindness,
done in secret, had at last "found him out."—The Round Table.
My Missionary Garden
Some money I desired to earn
To send to foreign lands,
So mother took some garden seeds
And placed them in my hands.
Then earnestly I went to work
With spade and rake and hoe;
I planted every seed I had,
And wondered if they'd grow.
It wasn't long before I saw
Some little leaves of green;
I thought they looked more beautiful
Than any I had seen.
Each day when I came home from school,
I to my garden went;
In hoeing and in pulling weeds,
My leisure time I spent.
My mother said to me, "My child,
You've worked so very well
I'll buy of you, if you desire,
Whate'er you have to sell."
I never tasted anything
So tender and so sweet;
I thanked the Lord most heartily
For all I had to eat.
My mother is so good to me,
But God is better still;
Whatever I can do for him,
With all my heart I will.