I WONDER," thought Joe, "what I can do about it, anyway;" and he swung his feet in and out, as he sat perched up on his little work-bench in the woodshed. But he could see no way out of his trouble, so he fell to work on a box he was making, sending the chips and shavings flying all around, as if they could help him think.

The trouble was this: Joe couldn't go to school.  Not a very great trouble, did you say? It was to Joe; for he loved his books better than he did anything else except his mother. His parents were not blessed with much of this world's goods; but they loved books, and it was a great trial for them to keep Joe out of school. They had not told him what they intended to do, but he had overheard them talking one night after he had gone to bed.  He did not mean to listen, he had too much honor for that; but mamma had left the door open between his room and theirs, and he could not help hearing what was said.  I'm very sorry to take Joe out," he heard his papa say; "but you know I have been sick and out of work for nearly a year; and I cannot even now get much to do." Then mamma shut the door, and he heard no more.

The next day, after he had weeded out the onion bed, and brought in the wood for his mother, he went to his little "shop" in the corner of the woodshed, to finish the box he had begun. He wore a very sober face, for he was thinking, thinking what he could do so that he might not have to leave school.  His tools had been a Christmas present from his grandfather over a year ago; and Joe had already become very handy in the use of them. He was a pains-taking boy, and always took great care to have everything true and square, and to do his work just the best he knew how. He was very orderly, taking care always to have a place for everything, and to put everything back in its place when he was done using it; so that his mother did not mind having his bench in the corner of her neat woodshed.

After he had worked awhile, he heard his mother calling, "Joe, Joe! Take this pail, and go over to Mr. Porter's for some milk; and come right home, because I want it for dinner."

"All right," answered Joe, as he took the pail, and started off on his errand.  Just as he was going out of the yard, he met Mr. Porter driving down toward home, with a wagon full of empty boxes.

"May I have a ride, please, sir?" called out Joe.

"Yes; jump right up here," answered the man good-naturedly, reaching out a hand to help him up onto the high seat.

"Fine morning," said Mr. Porter, as he cracked the whip over old Dobin's back; "splendid weather for the strawberries. Seems as if my patch never bore so well as they have this year.

"I've just been to town after some boxes," he continued, pointing to the boxes behind him, "and got a letter that the firm that makes them found that it was impossible to fill all my order; and so I shall have to go without part of them, as nobody around here has any to spare."  How Joe's eyes sparkled when he heard this!

"O sir!" he cried, "Do you think I could make you some?" and then he told him what his father had said, and how badly he wanted to earn some money this vacation, that he might not be obliged to leave school.

"Well," replied Mr. Porter, with a kindly twinkle in his eyes, "suppose you make one, and bring it over to let me see how good a workman you are. If they suit me, I will pay you well for them.

"But here we are," he said, as they drove into the barnyard gate.

You may be sure Joe minded his mother this time, and hurried right home, anxious to begin the box. He worked very busily all that afternoon; and the next morning, he set out bright and early for the fruit farm.  Mr. Porter was out in the front yard, training up a wayward rose-bush, as Joe approached the house.

"You're prompt, at any rate," said he, laughing, as Joe came up. Then he took the box, and looked it over very carefully. "That is very well done," he said, at last—"done much better than I expected a boy of your age to do. If you want to stick to the bargain, you may make me two dozen of them." Then he paid Joe for the box, and cut a bunch of roses for him to take home to his mother.

After the boxes were all made, Mr. Porter was so pleased with Joe's ‘careful' work that he let him help pick the berries, and after that the cherries and blackberries. So Joe kept busy nearly all summer; and when vacation was over, he found he had money enough to buy all his books for that year, and a new pair of shoes besides.

For three summers now he has helped Mr. Porter during the fruit season; and as he grows older, he does better and better work all the time. And he has proved to himself and his friends that boys can, if they will, help themselves a great deal more than they sometimes do.




W. E. L.