BREAKFAST was not quite ready, and while waiting, Mary took up a paper for a minute, and her eye fell upon these words: "A good Quaker was wont to say, I expect to pass through this world but once; if, therefore, there be any kindness I can show, or any good thing I can do, to my fellow-beings, let me not defer or neglect it, for I shall not pass this way again." 

Mary read the paragraph twice over, and it made a deep impression on her mind. She took her seat at the table thoughtfully, and she wondered, as she glanced up at the already wearied face of her mother, whether she had not let many golden opportunities slip, never to return. She could not go that way again. But here was a long bright holiday she had proposed to spend in self amusement; indeed, she had kept herself awake for an hour or more in planning the day's enjoyment, intending to fill it as full as she could. 

Now these words, "I shall not pass this way again," haunted her mind, and awakened quite a new train of thought.  What if that mother's cheek should grow paler and paler, her cough deeper, and her thin hands—those hands, which had so lovingly cared for her—be finally folded away forever on her silent heart? The thought was startling and terrible.  Oh, what bitterness of regret she would feel that she had lightened her burdens so little! For this day, at least, she would do what she could. 

"Mother," she said when breakfast was over, "you have been waiting for a spare day to run over to Grafton and see Aunt Mabel, and now is your time. I mean to do all your work today," she continued pleasantly. 

"Not today, Mary, of all days, when there is so much to be done."

"Yes, mother, this is just the day. I have nothing else to do but to take your place. You shall see tonight how well I have filled it." 

Mary's persuasions prevailed, and the mother spent a long, bright summer day visiting a beloved invalid sister, to whom her visit was a joyful surprise It did "good like a medicine" to both sisters, while the gain to Mary herself was a hundred fold greater.

Children’s Friend