"YES; Emma Lewis is a very bad girl," said Madge, as she sat with two or three other girls, busy at some fancy work. "She behaves worse in Sabbath-school than any one else. I wonder Miss Barton doesn't send her out of the class."

"She's worse at school, I'm sure. She don't care how many bad marks she gets," chimed in another.

"And how she goes on at prayer-time! All the time Miss Brand is reading the Bible, she draws pictures, or makes dolls with her handkerchief. I think it's dreadful."

"And when we're at prayer, she knows the teachers are not likely to see, and she stares about and pulls the hair of the girls she can reach, and cuts all the capers she can think of."

"How do you know all this, Madge?" asked her mother, who, sitting a little apart, had happened to overhear most of the conversation.

"I've seen her, mamma. It is really true."

"And you are not at prayer at the same time?"

"Why, of course, mamma."

"Then how comes it that Madge Irving knows that Emma Lewis is staring about during prayer-time?" she asked with a smile. Madge colored, and the other girls looked a little foolish.

"Well, I'm afraid, mamma, I'm not always as attentive myself as I might be; but you know prayers at school are not the same as prayers at home."

"Indeed, dear. To whom then do you pray at school?"

"O mamma!"

"Do you know what kind of teaching Emma gets at home?"

"'Not much about praying, I guess; for her father and mother never go to church."

"Then I'm afraid you, dear children, have not tried to set her a very good example."

"Nobody seems to expect to behave very well at prayer-time in school, mamma; and I don't believe it would do a bit of good to try to set an example."

"I do not see why prayers in school are less sacred than other prayers. You are addressing the same great God, who is just as much to be loved and feared and reverenced, there, as anywhere else. You are asking the same everyday blessings, and exposed to the same everyday perils and temptations. If you bow as if in prayer, when your thoughts are far away, it is a mockery,—a direct lie in the face of the living God. It is a serious thing to trifle with the majesty of the Great King."

"Mamma, you make such a solemn thing of it," said Madge.

"It is a ‘solemn' thing, daughter, and I would like to impress it as such upon you all. And I want you to remember that you, who are carefully taught in such matters, will be called upon to answer for your influence over others.

"I remember, long ago, when I was a child, my mother was obliged to leave home for a long time on account of her health, and Aunt Susan came to take care of us children. She was a sharp, nervous little body, full of the best intentions, though perhaps not always wise in carrying them out. At prayer-time she always seemed too busy watching us to attend to her own part of it. At the least stir she was on the alert, and I got in the way of peeping around to see if her keen eye was not on us. She, good soul, thought it a part of her duty to us, but I am sure it was not the best way. When, at last, our mother came home, I was astonished to see that she never seemed to think whether we were behaving well while she knelt in prayer. I was more impressed by the fact that she was entirely taken up with the solemn service, than I had ever been by all Aunt Susan's frowns and shakes of the head at us. We knew our duty, and only needed the power of a good example to lead us to do it.

"Now, girls, do not forget that the glory of the Master, the good of those about you, and your own credit, all call upon you to set an example of right doing. Do not fail, then, to show by your bowed heads and reverent demeanor, that you realize how solemn a thing it is to address Him who is the hearer and answerer of prayer."




Sidney Dyre.