"MAMMA, what can Paul be doing? Almost every afternoon, for a long time now, he has gone into his workshop, locked the door, and refused to let us in."

"I think may be he's commenced some work for Santa Claus; you know papa said yesterday the year was going down hill, and on its way to Christmas," answered Nettie.

"No, it is too early for that," continued Bell; "what can he be doing, mamma?"

"Indeed I cannot tell, but if he prefers you should not know, it is quite rude to be curious and to trouble him with questions."

Just at this moment Paul entered, looking flushed and warm, though the day was cool and bracing, and a bright fire burned in the grate. Bell turned toward him with an inquiry in her large brown eyes, but her mother's words silenced the inquisitive sentence rising to her lips. In a few moments papa joined them, and the sisters were diverted from the subject of curiosity.

The next day, and for a number following, Mrs. Mansfield observed that Paul went immediately to his workshop after returning from school in the afternoon, and remained there alone for half an hour, entering the house later with the same flushed, eager face as upon the evening when the matter was first mentioned. What could it be, the mother queried; nothing wrong, surely; but her boy was not wont to withhold aught from her ever-ready sympathy, and there was an unacknowledged sense of disappointment, day after day, as he continued the habit, yet never alluded to the subject.

One Friday afternoon he entered the sitting-room, heated as usual, and quite excited, and with a sudden impulsive gesture, exclaimed: "Mother, just feel my muscle!

I am ever so much stronger than I used to be." She clasped her slender fingers about his arm, as he drew it back and forth. "Yes, indeed, it is becoming quite full and firm. I will be so glad to see you more robust."

He had been somewhat delicate, and had always been an object of solicitude to his parents.

She passed her hand caressingly over his soft chestnut curls.

"How warm you are, dear "—she had never asked a question regarding his occupation in the workshop. She would not force the confidence of her children, but now her eyes looked into his with an unspoken inquiry.

"Well, yes, mother, to tell the truth, I've been hard at work, and I do believe I'll tell you all about it."  With a sudden burst of boyish confidence, he dropped upon a chair at her side, took her hand, and began eagerly: "Now, mother, you mustn't stand in my way, because it's got to be done. Cham Nevis says so"— he paused a second.

"What, Paul, what must be done?"

"Why, I must whip Ed Chamberlain; I just can't stand him any longer. Ever since school opened he has been as mean to me as one boy could be to another; he hides my hat, my books, he spills my ink; indeed I can't tell what he doesn't do. I have struck him several times, but he laughs in the most aggravating way, and says he will not fight a boy under his size. So, two months ago, Cham Nevis loaned me a pair of dumb-bells, and helped me hang a sandbag in the workshop.

Every day since then I have practiced faithfully, and now,"—with a look of defiance he sprang to his feet, doubled one hand and struck it violently against the other,—"now I am ready for him."

"What do you propose doing!" asked his mother, with a peculiar

"stir tone in her voice that the children always understood and unconsciously dreaded.

"Why, I intend to whip Ed Chamberlain, then I guess he'll find himself mistaken, and let me alone. Tomorrow we are to go out nutting, you know, and when he tries some of his usual tricks I will 'open fire,' as the boys say." He looked into her eyes somewhat anxiously.

"Now, now; mother, doesn't he deserve it?"

"That is possible, Paul; I suppose we all deserve severe punishment sometimes; but can you think of no other way to 'exhibit your strength, no better, nobler, more manly and Christian way?'

A look of great disappointment crept into his face. "O mother, don't talk that way,

I've been thinking about it so long, and just waiting for the time to come. I want to let the boys see what I can do with him."

"Well, dear, let us think; it may sound very unreasonable in your present frame of mind, but is there no great service you could perform for him; is there no feat of strength which you could accomplish, and by which you could prove your ability to punish him, but show your unwillingness to do so?  Do you remember the message sent to Zerubbabel, not by power, nor by might, but by my Spirit, saith the Lord of hosts'? By that Spirit you can overcome the giant of revenge and mortified pride which has built a stronghold in your heart." Paul sat with a bowed head and dispirited face, his eyes averted. "O, mother, you can't know how a boy feels about these things."

"Indeed, dear, I think I can, and, above all, God knows." They were interrupted, some one entered, and nothing more was said upon the subject, save that it was remembered in the mother's prayers.

The next morning a merry party of boys called for Paul, and with a hasty kiss on her cheek, a glance for one moment into her earnest eyes, he was gone. The day dragged heavily; her fond mother's heart followed him through all the long hours, and many times the petition, "Strengthen him, O Lord," found its way to the ever-listening Ear.

At last, just as the twilight gathered, she heard the merry voices returning, and hastened to the door with a faint sensation of anxiety that would not be banished nor give way before her abiding faith. The party of boys was just pausing at the gate, and could she believe her eyes!—Ed Chamberlain was standing very close to Paul, both hands on his shoulders, saying, " Old fellow, we are friends for life; you will never know how ashamed I am of the past."

Then Paul came bounding in, threw his arms about her, and drew her to a seat. "O mother, how thankful I am we had that talk yesterday evening! He was treating me all the morning just as usual, but I could not find it in my heart, after what you said, and the way you looked, to carry out my plan, so kept putting it off. Late this afternoon we were all on the shore of Fox River, near the landing, when the steamer came up; as she moved off, he exclaimed, 'I dare you to untie that skiff and ride the waves in her wake! 'No,' I answered, mother would not be willing; it is dangerous.' He gave a loud laugh, exclaiming,

Hear that, boy! Mother wouldn't be willing!' Only two of the little boys were near, the others had just gone up the bank, but he and I were standing on the pier. He laughed again, and stepped forward, as if to push me in; his foot tripped, and over he went. The water is very deep there, and the current made by the boat drew him under.

For a second I was stunned, but when he rose farther out in the water, I had jerked off coat, vest, and shoes, and plunged in. Then—I can't tell you just how I did it,—it was hard work, but I got him to the shore; and just think, mother, I never could have done it but for this—this—muscle. I couldn't have done it but for our talk.

I will surely tell you everything from this day."

"Thank God, thank God," she murmured, pressing a kiss upon his forehead.

"And now, mother, we will be the best of friends; I can't tell you all he said to me."

"O my darling, 'not by power, nor by might, but by the Spirit of God,' may you vanquish all the foes that will arise in this life."



New York Observer.