ONE beautiful moonlight evening a merry group of boys and girls were returning home from "spelling school." It had been a real old-fashioned spelling-school, in which they 

"chose sides" and "spelled down." 

Mr. Maynard, the young man who had been engaged to take charge of the school at Wilmont for the coming winter, had organized this "spelling school" with a double purpose in view. 

Not only were his pupils lamentably deficient in the art of spelling, but he had noticed, with regret, the deep interest they seemed to manifest in the "club dances" with which Wilmont was afflicted each alternate week. Mr. Maynard expostulated and threatened in vain. The boys and girls were more interested in the "dances" than in their school. At length Mr. Maynard, in despair, began to plan something, which would draw their minds into another channel, and the "spelling-school" was decided upon. Happy thought! The young people, especially those ranging from ten to fourteen years of age, entered into every detail of their teacher's plan, as earnestly and enthusiastically as though the idea had been their own, and were as interested in its fulfillment and success.

There were some murmurs when the boys and girls learned that the evening their teacher had planned for them to meet at the schoolhouse was the same on which they had been wont to meet with older and more thoughtless companions at "The Hall." But they

took a vote on the subject, and decided that as long as Mr. Maynard made the "spelling-school" interesting, they would devote their time and attention in that direction.

They were wide-awake, fun-loving children, every one of them, from tall Fred Ellis, with his mischievous black eyes, to sweet little Bessie Willard, who walked along so demure and grave, and was all the while planning pranks and tricks that no one but her would ever have thought of, she being a kind of general, laying out and planning the battle, while the rest, like true soldiers, executed her plans as speedily as possible. As they turned a corner of the street, Fred Ellis exclaimed: 

"There's a light at Spitfire's. By the way, I just wish we could come some good drive on her. I think she's by far the ugliest and hatefulest girl I ever knew. She got mad, and tore a leaf out of my new geography the other day. Of course I told the teacher, and he punished her; but she had the impudence, after school was out, to tell me that the punishment didn't mend my book."

"That's so," answered Susan Barries. 

"She's just too mean for anything. She threw mud all over little Minnie West's clean dress, the other day, just because Minnie laughed at her shoes; and how could the poor child help it? 

They must have been her grandmother's, and they wabbled about on her feet every step she took."

"I'll tell you what I'll do," said Bessie Willard, suddenly answering from her reverie. "There's no one but herself and her grandmother there, and they are both dreadfully superstitious. 

I'll take one of these sheets off from the line, and wrap it about me, and then I'll go and tap on the window, just three times. Oh, I don't dare, though."

"I'll go," said Harry Willard, Bessie's brother. 

"It'll be capital fun. 

They'll surely think it is some dear departed friend returned to visit them. 

Won't they be scared? And won't it be jolly sport? 

You all wait here behind these bushes, and I'll come back and report presently." 

One, two, three, four, five. How slowly the minutes passed to the waiting, breathless group behind the lilac bushes. At length they grew weary of the cramped position they had assumed, and of the long silence and waiting.

"Where can Harry be all this time?" ventured Bessie in hushed tones. 

"He's had time enough to frighten the whole town into fits, and we haven't heard a single scream." 

"Hush, here he comes," said Fred, and at that moment Harry joined them; but his large blue eyes had a misty light in them, very different from the mischievous sparkle which had been there a few minutes before, and he said, in subdued tones: 

"Girls and boys, I wish you had been with me, under the window, just now." 

"Why?" questioned Bessie eagerly. "Did they almost faint with fright? And was it real funny? Do tell us." 

"No, it wasn't funny one bit," he said soberly, and they don't know that I was there. I fixed the sheet all about me, and then I went close to the window and listened. As I did so, I heard Mary (the children noticed that he had dropped the nickname), say in just the sorriest voice I ever heard: 'O grandma, I can't go to the spelling-school, and have them all make sport of me. It's bad enough at school. They all hate me and laugh at my clothes, when they must know that I'd dress better if I could. Sometimes it makes me feel so wicked, and I do dreadful things, and I feel as though God don't care much, or he'd make them understand how hard it all is for me, and how I'd love them if they'd let me.' She choked right there," added Harry, unsteadily, "and after a while they knelt down, and her grandma prayed for her, and but I can't tell you about it. It went straight to my heart. They're dreadfully poor, and I propose that we form 'A Secret Band of Five' that will be a good name for us and that we come on the sly one evening a week, and leave in the back shed, bundles of things that we best can spare. I wouldn't wonder, from what I heard, but a few potatoes would come good; they haven't anything for breakfast."

"I've got three bushels of my own, that I was going to sell for skates," said Fred. "I'll contribute them."

"Father owes me a dollar," said Harry, "and as he's a miller, I'll take it in flour." 

 "And I," interrupted Susan, "will take the money mother gives me for ribbons. I'll give up the 'dances,' and I won't need half so many, if I don't attend them."  Harry's story had awakened a throb of sympathy in every listener's heart, and they could hardly wait for time to mature their plans.

One morning, a few days later, as Mary Matthews opened the back door of her grandmother's little cottage, to go in search of a few sticks of wood, with which to kindle a scanty fire, her astonished eyes beheld a nice pile of wood, a sack of flour, a bushel of potatoes and a large warm shawl. On lifting up the shawl, a pair of shoes, just her own number, fell out.

"O grandma!" she cried excitedly, " just come out here, and see how God has answered your prayers."

Half an hour later, as she stood holding her thin, blue hands in the genial warmth of a roaring fire, she glanced fondly at the old woman, who was all the poor girl had to love, and who was now wrapped in the warm shawl. Then in quivering tones she said: 

"The strangest of all, dear grandma, is that God answered your prayer right away. The boys and girls at school have been so kind to me ever since that night when you asked God to make it easy for me. I don't understand it. I don't see how he could change their hearts so suddenly. And now these things have come when we needed them so badly; it seems so strange that God should do it; but I'll never doubt him again."

"I don't just understand it either," said grandma softly, patting the warm shawl lovingly with one withered hand. "But it's no more than I expected, for God always keeps his promises, and he has promised to hear and answer prayer." 

Rose Hartwick Thorpe.

WHATEVER you do, do it well. The slighting of a task because it is apparently unimportant, leads to habitual neglect, so that men and women degenerate insensibly into bad workers.