CECIL was going to run away. Perhaps you will think it was a strange thing for a boy five years old to do; but he had been thinking of it for several days, not all the time, but whenever mamma called him to rock the baby or to drive the hens off the garden. These were very busy days at the farmhouse; and Mrs. Stone was in the kitchen a good deal, helping Ann pick over and can the bright red currants and cherries and raspberries. So Cecil had to stay in the sitting room and mind the baby altogether too much to please him; and it seemed to him that as sure as he did get a chance to play, the hens were in the peas. He made up his mind that no little boy ever had so hard a time as he; and so this afternoon he was going to run away. 

Cecil waited till he was sure his mamma was not looking, and then slipped out through the little vine covered porch. But now that he had fairly started to run away, he hardly knew where to go. He could not go down the road, for his father was at work in the field that way; and if he went up the road, he would have to go by grandma's house, and she would be sure to see him, though she did wear glasses. So he made up his mind that he would go to the woods, and he ran as fast as he could through the garden and orchard; but when he got to the little brook that flowed through the meadow, he stopped to catch minnows. Soon he heard his mother calling him, and on he ran, and climbed over the fence into the woods. 

For a while Cecil amused himself by chasing squirrels and butterflies and picking the bright flowers; and then he began to be tired and lonesome. He had hurt his bare feet on the sticks, and was getting hungry; and altogether he was about sick of running away. But he thought if he went home, his mother would punish him, so he sat down under an old tree to rest; and pretty soon he saw the strangest sight. Squirrels, mice, butterflies, bees, and birds of every kind came flocking around him, and began chattering and talking to each other,—yes, really talking so Cecil could understand,—and it was all about a little boy who had run away. He had a pleasant home and a kind father and mother and a little baby brother, they said; and he had run away because he was lazy and did not want to rock this little brother. And the baby had cried, and his mother had had to leave her work; and they had called and called him, and he did not come; and Ann had been to bring his father to look for him, and still they could not find him—and all this because a little boy had run away. 

And now what was to be done to punish this bad little boy? The squirrel thought one thing and the mouse another, and the birds chattered and scolded; but after a while they all agreed that he should never go back to his pleasant home again, but that he must go to live in a cave with the "Old Man of the Mountains," whom Ann had often told him about. 

Then Cecil began to rub his eyes and cry; and as he looked around, the birds, the squirrels, and the mice were all gone, and he was left alone under the big tree. The sun had gone down, and night was coming on, and Cecil started toward home as fast as his tired feet would carry him. 

And just as Mr. Stone was about to start out again to look for him, a forlorn looking little boy stole in at the door, and running to his mother, hid his face in her lap, sobbing as if his heart would break. Then he told her how bad he had been and what the animals had all said about him. But the mother only stroked the little flaxen head tenderly, and her face wore an odd smile as she said, I guess my little boy has been dreaming." 

And this was the last of Cecil's running away. 

Now, children, how do you think he learned his lesson? 

E. B.