A More Excellent Way

"MOTHER, mother," exclaimed Charley Morris,

as he rushed into the house after school in

great excitement," what do you think we are

going to do in school?"

"Study, I hope," said his mother, quietly,

while the little boy stopped to take breath.

"We shall have to, that's a fact," said Charley,

"but that was not what I wanted to tell

you, mother. You know there are just six

weeks before examination, and they are going

to give certificates then only to the very best

scholars, who have sustained themselves 

perfectly through the term."

"And you mean, of course, to rank among

the very best, if you can," said Mrs. Morris.

"Of course I do, mother, but there is one

thing more. The boy who has been at the

head of his classes for the longest time is to

have besides his diploma, a golden star to

wear upon his breast. He will be called the

star scholar, and will rank highest in the


"So you are aiming at this bright particular


"Yes, mother, and will have it too, you will

see!" Dr. H. says it is a more honorable 

distinction than the Legion of Honor. Won't

you be proud, mother, to see me wearing it at

the evening exhibition. The teachers will tell

you that your boy is the best scholar in the

school." Mrs. Morris smiled. "Won't you

be glad, mother?" repeated Charley, eagerly.

"Glad I shall certainly be of the scholarship

that has won the honor, if it is fairly

earned," replied the mother. " But what are

your grounds of expectation?"

"Why, mother, I am at the head of all my

classes but one, and in that there is no one

above me but Henry Colton. I don't suppose

there would be any hope of going beyond him

if he was always there, but he is sometimes 

absent at the hour we recite, and so he wont 

have as good a chance of keeping his place in

 the class."

"What is the cause of his absence?"

"He has to do errands for his mother. She

takes in sewing, and they are too poor to have

any servant, so Henry carries the bundles home."

"Mrs. Colton-has made great effort to keep

her boy at school. He is a good scholar is he


"Yes, mother, I don't know a boy that studies

harder than Henry Colton."

"Not even Charley Morris."

"No mother, but then I am not obliged to

study so much because I have been to school

more regularly than he has, and then I have

more time to myself at home. Why, Henry is

up and studying before any one else is stirring

in the morning, and always sleeps with his

book under his pillow at night."

"Then if he fails to obtain the highest rank

in the school, it will not be for want of diligence,

or even of scholarship, but from the

mere accident of his outward circumstances.

But he will doubtless make a great effort to be

punctual for these six weeks to come."

"He will, if he knows of the plan," said

Charley moodily.

"He learns his lesson at home, does he not,

so as to keep up with the class, though he

should be absent for a single day?"

"Yes, mother, but to-day we had a special

explanation of something in arithmetic, that I

know he cannot work out by himself."

"Is my boy quite conscious of the spirit he

is indulging?" asked the mother gently.

"Does he really wish to gain this prize for

himself at the expense of one who deserves it

full as much, and perhaps even more?"

"Then you don't want me to get the star after

all, mother," said Charley, after a few moments


"You will not doubt your mother's interest

in your improvement, even if she should be less

solicitous about this particular honor," Mrs.

Morris replied." You know all the ambition

I have in the world, is centered in my children.

I would see them active, energetic, foremost, if

possible, in the pursuit of every honorable 


And yet there is a more excellent way, which I would have them follow;

An attainment higher even than mental wealth,

without which, though possessing  all knowledge

they are nothing."

Charley's glowing ambition had somewhat

cooled, during his mother's calm, but earnest

conversation. He was listening attentively as

he sat in his favorite place at her feet, though

his eyes were downcast, and a sense of shame

stole over him.

"You remember the passage in which this

' way' is described" asked his mother.

Charley took down the little well-worn Bible

in which he always loved to read aloud to his

mother. Turning to 1 Corinthians 13, he slowly

 read the first three verses.

"Do you think, mother,” he asked "that

this forbids seeking any honor for one's self?

It says, 'seeketh not her own.'"

"It is not necessary for us to settle the bearing

of this on the question of prizes at school.

But one question comes nearer to the case in

hand. Do you think that in strict honesty the

star would be your own, if you gained it, not

by superior scholarship, but by your more 


circumstances, and Henry's hindrance

through his mother's necessities? The only

value of the sign is in the thing signified. To

me this badge would mean, not that my boy

was a better scholar than Henry, but only that

his father was richer than Henry's mother."

"Mother, I don't want the star at all," said

Charley with a resolute effort, "that is, if Henry

can get it. I am going around now, if you

are willing, to show him about the arithmetic,

and to ask his mother to arrange if possible, so

that he can attend school constantly, the next

six weeks."

Mrs. Colton's consent to the latter arrangement

was easily gained, especially when Charley

had begged permission to assist in doing"

the errands after school hours. The obstacles

in arithmetic were cleared away, so that the

 rivals started on their friendly race with a fair

field and no favor to either. Henry had been

at the head of the class just the same length

of time that Charley had been before him, when,

three weeks before the examination, he was

 taken sick. It would be difficult to say which of

the two classmates was most disappointed at

this derangement of their plans. Charley

watched the progress of the fever almost as

anxiously as Mrs. Colton, and daily beset the

doctor, to learn the prospect of a speedy recovery.

The third week had arrived before Henry

was able to be dressed, and breathe the outer

air for a few minutes of the day. Examination

day came, and by Charley's earnest entreaties

the invalid was permitted to be present

on the important occasion. He sat next his

friend and leaned upon him when too weary

with the effort and excitement. After many

less interesting exercises, the president arose,

and with some words of explanation, proceeded

to confer, as he said, the highest mark of honor

ever received in the institution. The star was

awarded to " Charles Morris, for punctuality of

attendance, propriety of deportment, and success in scholarship."

There was a moment of almost breathless

attention through the crowded audience, as

Charles walked to the foot of the platform and

was seen to address a few words to the president.

Those who were nearest could hear him

say :

"The star, sir, does not rightfully belong to

me. Henry Colton has worked harder than I

to obtain it. He is a better scholar, and but

for sickness, would have been at the head of

all his classes."

After a moment's consultation with the gentlemen on the platform, the president replied:

"The faculty, Morris, prefer that you should

retain the star, as you have literally fulfilled

the conditions prescribed."

"It would not be right, sir," said Charley,

firmly, though with a trembling voice. "I beg

you will give it to Henry."

"In that case, you yourself must bestow it,"

said the president. " Henry Colton will come


Henry, unsuspecting what was going on 

advanced, his pale face flushed with wonder and

amazement. Charley, stooping down, fastened

the star upon his breast, and then supported

him back to his seat. The noisy applause of

the audience jarred almost painfully upon his

heart, full as it was of a deeper joy than earthly

fame can give the joy of obedience to the

precept, "In honor preferring one another."

In his mother's loving smile he found a full

reward for the sacrifice of his selfish ambition.

Coveting earnestly the best gifts he had found

in the spirit of brotherly-kindness," a more

 excellent way."