BEN THOMPSON was a sailor. He spent the most of his time on the sea, sometimes not coming home for two or three years. Each time he left home, he would say to his two boys, Elmer and Robert: 

"Now, lads, I'm going back to the ship, and I want you to be good to your mother, and do just as she tells you, and if I live to get back, I hope to hear her say that she couldn't get along without her boys. And if I should never get back, I hope you will grow up good men, and always care for your mother and sister." 

After he was gone, their mother would give them each certain things to do before they were to play. Robert was to drive the cow to and from the pasture, while Elmer fed the chickens and ducks. They each had their share of the corn and potatoes to hoe, and while one split the wood, the other would pile it in the shed. After these and various other things were done, the boys were allowed to do what they pleased, if they would stay near enough to the house to hear their mother if she called. Sometimes their little sister, "Tot," was allowed to play with them, if they would be kind to her, and watch that she did not get hurt. 

Then, if they were good all the week, every Thursday they would all take their dinner and go to the woods. On these trips they would gather flowers, and nuts, and autumn leaves, and sometimes the boys would catch a young rabbit, or squirrel, or fox, which they would bring home and tame. 

But what the boys liked most of all to do, was to build little ships, and sail them on the pond back of the house. One time when their father was home, he taught them to swim, and then told them they could build rafts, and pole or paddle them over the pond. One summer, the boys grandmother came to visit them, and when Robert learned that her name was Ann Eliza, he said to Elmer,— 

"Let's each build a ship; you name your ship  "Ann," and I'll name mine "Eliza." Then we'll launch and christen them on Grandma's birthday. 

So when the birthday came, Grandma was called down to the bank of the pond to see her namesakes launched. Robert's boat seems to have made the best start, but perhaps by the time little "Tot" gets to the water's edge, Elmer will have his craft along side of Robert's. 

How much better these boys enjoy their sport after they have all their work done, and know that they have been useful to their mother, than they would if they had neglected part of it, or spent all their time in play! And when they get to be men, they will always follow the same motto that their mother taught them,—"Business first, and pleasure afterward."