IT was a pleasant afternoon in the middle of May; and the boys, who had just been dismissed from school for a half holiday, now stood in a group before the school-house, trying to decide how best to spend the afternoon.  The schoolhouse stood on a hill about half a mile from the sea-coast, in one of our New England States; and the grand scenery with which it was surrounded, furnished many places of amusement for the boys. 

Just back of the schoolhouse were the woods, full of wildflowers and squirrels; and there was the brook over in Farmer Dawson's meadow, full of trout, where they might go fishing; and then there was a large boat on the millpond in the field to the left of the schoolhouse. But the boys could not decide where to go. "I say, boys," said Willie Morgan, "let's go down on the green and play ball."

"Oh, we can play ball enough at recesses, when there is school," said George Brown." Let's go down to our barn and play hide-and-seek."

"I guess your father wouldn't thank us for tramping around on his haymow," suggested Albert Dawson. 

"I would rather go to the woods to play."

"I'll tell you what," said Paul Denton, the largest boy in the group, " I heard James Barton say there were some nice shells on the coast; let's go down there; we can go out as far as the Black Rock, and get back before the tide comes in."

"Agreed!" cried all the boys together, and away they started for the beach.

The Black Rock, as it was called, was a large, singular looking rock, lying quite a distance from the shore. 

When the tide was out, it was high and dry; but it was entirely covered with water when the tide was in. The boys used to go there to gather shells, and to get a peculiar kind of moss that grew on the top of the rock. This was quite dangerous, however, as the tide comes in very fast; and woe to the luckless Wight who happened to be there then.

The tide was out when the boys arrived, and the Black Rock was plainly visible. "Come on, boys," said Paul, "the best shells are out by the Rock."

"I don't believe we'd better venture out so far," said Willie, "we can't tell how soon the tide will turn."

"We can find enough shells here on the shore," said Albert.

"Oh, there is no danger!" exclaimed Paul, "I can get back from the Rock after the tide begins to turn;" and away he ran, just as people often do, even after they have been warned of danger.

"O boys," cried Paul from the Rock, "here are some splendid shells, come and get them."

The boys all started for the Rock, while Paul went some distance beyond, to get some shells which had attracted his attention; but the boys did not get to the Rock, for a noise from the sea warned them to stop.

"The tide has turned! The tide has turned!" exclaimed the boys in a breath; and away they ran for the shore as fast as they could go. They all reached it in safety, but poor Paul was not so fortunate; he had heard the noise of the tide, and, running with all his might, he succeeded in reaching the Rock just as the tide overtook him. To gain the shore was now impossible, and he knew that the boys could not help him. 

The tide was rising rapidly, and as he looked around, the peril of his situation flashed upon him. He called to the boys on the shore, but the roar of the waters seemed to mock his words. He thought of his dead mother, and in this hour of peril the lessons which she had taught him came forcibly to his mind. He remembered that she had told him to pray to Jesus in time of trouble, and kneeling on the rock, only the top of which was now visible, he prayed earnestly. His companions could not hear the words of his prayer, but they knew that he did not pass through the dark waters alone.