COMING home from school one day, I found a large pile of wood before our door. 

"There's work for you, Willie," said Ned Blake, the boy who was with me. “Your father had better do as my father does-hire a man to get it in. It is too much for a boy, mother says, and it will take the whole of the afternoon. You will have no time for play. Now, Will, I would not do that, I tell you." 

This was the substance of Ned's talk as we stood before the woodpile, and the more he said, the bigger it grew. By the time he left me, I began to think myself a poorly used boy indeed. 

"There is work for you, Willie," said mother, as I sidled into the kitchen. "Did you see that beautiful wood at the gate as you came in?" 

"I should think I did I" I muttered to myself, but said nothing aloud, only asking how father was. He was ill, and had been for many months, and the family funds, I knew, were becoming low. 

"It is a monstrous pile," 

I at length said, getting a glimpse of it from the window. 

"So much the better for us, Willie," said the mother, cheerfully. "A long winter is before us, you know."' 

Dinner was soon ready, the table spread in the little kitchen, and father was helped out from an adjoining room by his two little daughters, one on each side. Father and mother sat down to our frugal meal with thankful hearts, I am sure; the girls chatted as usual, while I sat brooding over that "awful wood pile;" I am afraid that my chief dish was a dish of pouts. Father asked me several questions, but I took no part in the pleasant table talk. 

"Well, my boy," said father, after dinner, 

"there's that wood to be put in-No school this afternoon, so you have time enough. You had better do it the first thing." 

"It will take the whole afternoon," I said coldly. 

"The boys are going a nutting." 

I was not sure of this, but anything in the way of an objection to the wood. My father said nothing. Dear, dear father! God forgive me for wounding his feelings! 

"Mother," I said, following her into the pantry, 

"Ned Blake's father hires a man to get his wood in. 

His mother thinks it is too much for a boy to do. Why does not father hire one?" 

"Ah!" said my mother sadly, "the Blakes are better off than we. Your poor father" 

Tears came into her eyes; she stopped, Mary ran in where we were, and-I, half ashamed of myself, escaped out of the door. 

Still Ned Blake's words rankled in me, and I thought it was too bad; nor did the brisk west winds blow off the fumes of the foolish grumbling, which made a coward of me. I sat down on the wood block, my hands in my pockets, and shuffled my feet among the chips in sour discontent. 

"It is such a monstrous pile!" I said to myself a dozen times. Presently out came mother. I jumped up. 

"Willie," she said cheerfully, " I would go to work earnestly. You will soon get it in." 

"It is monstrous, mother!" I said in self-pitying tone. "It will take me forever, and half kill me in the bargain." 

"`Forever' is a long, long while," she said. 

"Come, let us look at the pile. It is big, but all you have to do is to take a stick at a time. That will not hurt you, Willie, I am sure-only one stick at a time! Yet one stick at a time will make that pile vanish quicker than you think, Willie. Try it now." 

There was a kindness, yet a decision in mother's tone, which were irresistible. She could put even hard things, or what we thought hard, in a very achievable light. 

"Only one stick at a time!" I cried, jumping up and following her. Really the pile seemed already to lessen under this new mode of attack. 

"Only one stick at a time!" 

That seemed easy enough. "Only one stick at a time! What was the need of a man to do that? 

One stick at a time! If Ned Blake could not do that, he was a poor tool." 

Ah! And a poor tool he proved to be. My mother had got my metal up, and I boldly went to work. 

"Father," said I, bolting into the house at a later hour in the afternoon, all in a glow, "please tell me what time it is." 

"Eight minutes after three," answered he, looking at his watch. 

“Whew!" I shouted, "and the pile is mastered!" 

Never did I feel such a strong and joyous sense of the power of doing. Finding mother, I put my arm round her neck, and said, “Mother, I was a naughty boy, but one stick at a time' has cured me." 

I did not then know the full value of the lesson I had learned. Years of labor –successful labor-have since tested and proved its value. When the work looks insurmountable, and you seem to have no heart to take hold of it, as work many a time will, remember it is only one stick at a time, and go at it.