A DOZEN boys stood on the green by the schoolhouse, careless and jolly, just from a game of ball. A boy came round the corner of the schoolhouse, with an old cloth cap on his head, and wearing a loosely-fitting garment of coarse cloth. In his hands were an iron stove-shovel and a hod of ashes.

"Oh, here comes old Dust and Ashes," shouted one of the group, springing forward and giving the coat a jerk.

"Hallo! What's the price of sackcloth?"

The boy's cheek flashed in an instant. The shovel rang on the gravel walk, and his fingers clutched; but as quickly his cheeks paled again, and, clenching his teeth, as with a great effort to keep back something, he turned a little and muttered the word 


"Ho! Ho!" shouted the other. 

"The baby's sick, and wants to see his mother."

The boy in the coarse frock turned away, and rapidly disappeared behind an old barn; then, breaking into a run, he fled swiftly down the path to the maple woods, his faithful Hunter bounding and racing through the grass by his side.

Most graciously stood the maples, all russet and crimson and yellow, bathed in the yellow haze of the still October afternoon. In among their shadows he sprang, his feet rustling the already fallen leaves, and flinging himself in a little hollow, he buried his face in his hands. Poor Hunter stood by, wondering why his young master, any more than himself, could possibly think of anything but birds and squirrels at such a time. Then the boy, seizing his only playmate in his arms, cried: 

"Oh, nobody loves me, nobody in the world loves me but you, Hunter! Oh, mother, mother, why did you die?"

And the sobs came fast and thick, and the tears flowed like rain. Long did the motherless boy wail and cry, till, from very weariness, he could weep no longer. Tears brought relief, and the holy quiet of the grand old woods filled him with solemn and holy thoughts, thoughts of his dead mother.

Only one year ago she had died, and he remembered his agony and loneliness, and the year of toil as the ward of a cruel uncle. He remembered his eagerness to go to school, his trying to pay his way by working about the schoolroom, and the unfeeling gibes and jeers his humble station and coarse clothing had earned him. Again the angry, rebellious thoughts came up, as his eye fell on his coarse coat, and the quivering sobs returned; but with them came the words of that mother, and how her poor fingers had toiled to make that coat, the best she could give him. 

Though coarse its texture, every thread was hallowed by a mother's love. He took from his vest pocket the well worn Bible, her Bible, and read the precious promise to the widow and orphan again and again. New and strange thoughts came to him, and there, in the grand old forest, with the autumn sunset shimmering the golden maple leaves, was a new purpose born in his soul. He had begun to conquer himself. Henceforth there was no hesitation for him. Body and soul he devoted himself to God. Companions might jeer, but Jesus reigned in his heart.

The years rolled on, and the boy became a man, but the purpose formed in the old maple grove burned in his bosom yet; and now his feet tread the decks of an India steamer, bearing him swiftly to the chosen scenes of his toil, for these words are in his heart: "I must be about my Master's business."