FRED WHITE sat on the edge of the side walk, slowly replacing his shoes and stockings. The shoes were heavy with red clay, and the stockings clung firmly to a pair of blue feet, refusing to be tugged beyond the wet little heels of their owner.

"I say, Rob!"

"Well inquired Rob, tracing with one bare toe the hop-scotch pattern on the sidewalk.

"You and the rest of the boys go 'long and get your 'souses. Don't wait for me," tugging at the sock. "Teacher'll expect us back right away.

Meet me at the corner, and we'll all go in to school together. There!"

So Rob and the others ran down the street to get written excuses -for their tardiness in the school-room.

"How they do sing!" Fred said to himself, as the voices of his school-mates fell upon his ears through the open windows. "They ain't late, nor going home for a note, nor anything. Bother the raft and the poles and the mud!" and the little boy ruefully wiped his cheek with his clean jacket-sleeve, and then tied a knot in the stiff clay-colored shoe-string.

"I will be good, I will be good,

I will be good today,"


shouted the chorus in the school-room

"Just what I said to mamma this morning, when she pinned my collar," said Fred. "I meant it, too. But Rob and the boys called me to the water, and then Tom Gray said I didn't dare go on the raft; and, anyway, I won't be dared by Tom." Fred sighed as he opened the little gate, and went through the grass to the kitchen door. The hardest of his way lay in meeting his mamma and getting her to write the note. She was washing though, and perhaps would be in a hurry.  That was in his favor.

"I say,' mamma," winningly.

"Why! Freddie," came in sweet, surprised tones from the cloud of steam.

"Say, now—now, mamma," laying a stick of wood with great care on the nearest pile.

"What is it, dear? Why aren't you at school?  It is late."

"Well, that's just it. You see Rob and the boys and—well, yes—and, and me—" here, Freddie. Let me- wipe your face and your collar. How come you to take hold of it with muddy fingers? Come into the house."

"Oh! Never mind. I'm in a hurry." Fred thrust his feet behind the chips, for reasons best known to himself. "I'm tardy, mamma, and teacher wants a note. Please do it quick, 'cause I've got to be back in time for 'rithmetic. I'll be bringing in wood while you write."

This was an unusual offer for Fred to make, and his mother wondered about it, as she slowly dried her hands. Fred knew she was going to ask questions. He never liked it. It made him so much trouble. Why didn't she let things go, as Tom Gray's mother did?


"Yes'm," he replied from the dim recesses of the woodshed, where the dry sticks lay.

"Come in for a moment." Fred obeyed. She was a little mother, but he always obeyed when she spoke. She led him into a room beyond the kitchen.

"Yes, sir," said Fred to himself, "she is going to ask questions. The boys'll be waiting. Oh, dear! That old raft and Tom Gray!—and, anyway, what did make mamma want to know all about everything for?"

"Where have you been?" began his mother, sitting down in an old arm-chair, and removing the strip of linen from the neck of his "roundabout."

"Just down to the ravine a little while. There were a whole lots of boys, and a raft. They said I daren't get aboard; 'Nd, so I did. You wouldn't have me to be a

coward of course," he said, doubtfully but encouragingly "'Nd then we went to the bridge, and the bell rang before we could get ashore. Rob and the others were late, too."

As his mother's eyes were slightly downcast, Fred stood a little closer to her skirts. His feet seemed in the way.

"What did your teacher say?" asked Mrs. White, so sadly, it seemed, taking from Fred's pocket a roll of soiled linen, once a clean handkerchief.

"Oh! She said we must get our 'scuses—the rule, you know. Oh! No, my feet are warm enough.

Don't mind me! You just be writin', 'cause I'm in such a hurry."

Quietly looking at the clay-spread shoes, Mrs. White began to take them off. Fred thought her hands looked very white and delicate against his

soiled stockings, and wondered, as she laid the damp articles aside, if washing was very hard, anyway. Mamma's arms were slender, too. 'T was

too bad to make her so much work. But the note!

"Come, mamma, will you?"

"Yes, Freddie, since your teacher asks it. Put

on these dry things. "And she turned away to bring her pen.

"Why, ain't she jolly, though?" whispered Fred to his dry socks.

"What shall I say?" asked mamma, as she pushed down the clothes in the boiler and returned.

"Oh! Just what they always say. Please 'scuse -Freddie, as he was necessarily 'tained."

"Then it was necessary for you to go to the Water?" asked his mother, doubtfully.

Freddie was chipping the dry mud from his copper-toes. He didn't reply.

"And necessary to play on the raft?"

"Tom Gray dared me."

"And necessary to stand in the cold water?"

"Well, now, mamma, let's not talk about that now. It's most ten o'clock. Please be writin'."

"What shall I write?"

"Oh! You know," he said, putting his shoestring through an eyelet.

Mamma began writing, gravely. Fred hopped on one foot to the table, anxiously spelling out the words, "N-o, no; e-x-c-u-s-e, excuse. H-i-s, his;

o-w-n, own; f-a-u-l-t, fault."

O mamma! She'll punish me! How can you? Oh! Don't you love me? O mamma!"

"Yes, dear, I love you. Isn't my note true?"

"Well, but couldn't you just say—just say—well, couldn't you fix it somehow?" he sobbed.

"This is the truth, dear, and the truth cannot be improved by fixing. I can't tell a lie for you."

"I don't want you to tell a lie." Oh, no! The dear face of his mother was too pure for that.

"But don't you love me?  "Do you want me to be punished"?

"I love you too well to send you to your teacher with a falsehood in your hand. I cannot fix the note, Freddie, without making it untrue; but I would gladly bear the pain of your punishment on-my own hand. But I will walk back with you, dear, and you will not be as lonely then."

"But you'll hear her whip me. She will certainly do that if I take this note," and the sobs began again.

"Then I shall know you are bearing the pain, rather than carry an untruth from your mother's hand," said Mrs. White, taking Fred's into her own, and moving to the door. His mother bade him good-by at the gate, as though a punishment was nothing.

"Go in now, Freddie. Mamma can't wait for you to make up your mind whether she is right or wrong. Good-by." Fred brushed the tears away. Tom Gray shouldn't see him cry.

He waited to kiss his mamma. She looked so pale, and may be her way was best. He looked back from the entry. He would smile toward her. It would be too bad to let her go home grieving, and he remembered her arms were so small, and those stockings were only two among many muddy ones. He had made her a great deal of trouble this morning—little mother! At noon two feet bounded into the kitchen, and a voice exclaimed, "Hurrah for mamma!"

"Well, dear?"

"She never touched me. Not a stroke. She only looked odd around her eyes, and she read

your note aloud, and she said: 'Here is a good mother.' My! I was so proud I didn't care if I had to stay, and make up my lesson. I wouldn't have you write the other 'scuse for anything."

"And how about Rob and the others" asked his mother.

"Oh! I didn't ask. They didn't have to stay, though; cause they weren't gone so long. Oh! I didn't mind. When a fellow's so full of happy and proud, and never meaning to be bad again, he don't think much about the others getting off easy. I say, mamma (Fred's face was in the kitchen towel), "I say, after all, even if she had whipped me, I think your way's the best. Dinner ready"?




The Children's Friend.




BE Careful to injure no one's feelings by unkind remarks. Never tell tales, make faces, call names, ridicule the lame, mimic the unfortunate, or be cruel to insects, birds, or animals.