IN a pleasant farmhouse among the hills of Vermont lived Earl and Linnie Winslow. All around the house were nice shade trees, and on two sides was the large old orchard, with its bent and gnarled apple trees. Every May the trees were crowded with beautiful blossoms, and later in the summer the low white house was almost hidden in a sea of green. Then in the autumn when the apples were ripe, what fine times the children had helping to gather the fruit brown, red, and golden! What fun it was to toss the leaves about, and heap the apples up in little mountains! And then when father came along with the team, the children would help to put the apples in the baskets and bags, and finally ride away on the load to the house, where the precious fruit was stored in the cellar for the winter.

Beyond the orchard were the meadows, where the children went to gather violets and hunt bird's nests; and still beyond were the woods, where early in the spring they went with their father to the sugar camp. Then after a few weeks they went again, to gather the "May Flowers" and "Spring Beauties" which grew there so plentifully.

On the east side of the house was the garden, with its fresh vegetables, nice strawberry bed, and long rows of currant and gooseberry bushes. And just beyond the garden fence was the well, with an old-fashioned stone curbing around it. The well was left open, and the water was drawn with what they called a "sweep," to which was fastened a strong bucket.

The well had been dug many years before, when the old log house had stood near it. After a while the new house was built over in the orchard, and the old log one torn away. But they could not move the well; and as the water was so clear and cool, they still came there to draw, though it was quite a way from the house.

So you see the children, Earl and Linnie, had many nice places to play.

Earl was eight years old, while Linnie was only five; and he was very proud that his mother should trust him to take little sister with him to play in the fields and orchard. But time and again the mother had said to them as they went out to play, "Now, be sure to keep away from the old well; you might fall in!'' But one day as they were at play in the backside of the garden, Earl began to wish he could go through the fence where the well was. He had been there with father many times, and had never fallen in; and wasn't he big enough to take care of Linnie?

To be sure, mother had told them not to go there; but, then, he was sure they would not get hurt, and he wanted to go so much, just for a few minutes, this once.

So he unfastened the gate, and leading the little girl by the hand, he disobeyed his mother and went on to the forbidden ground. He had not intended to go very near the well; but after a while he crept cautiously up and peeped over the top of the curbing.

How pretty and cool the water looked way down there so deep! And as Linnie came up beside him, he put his arm about her, and together they stood leaning over the well, looking at the mossy stones and watching the reflection in the water of their own faces and the shadow of a tall tree which grew near the well. They were very much interested, and leaned over farther and farther, when all at once they never knew how Linnie lost her footing and went over down, down into the dark water!

Earl did not know what to do, but his screams soon brought his father and the hired men, who were working in a field near by. When they found what had happened, the father got into the large bucket, and the men let him down. Linnie was just rising for the last time; and reaching down his strong arms, he took her out of the water, and they were soon drawn up.

The little girl was cold and white, and Earl thought she was dead. But after they had worked over her some time, she opened her blue eyes and finally began to breathe. Then they carried her into the house to mother, who had all this time been busy getting supper, and knew nothing of the terrible thing that had happened.

Earl's joy knew no bounds when his little sister could sit up and talk to him once more. He was so sorry for what he had done that his father and mother thought he had been punished enough; and they were all so thankful to have their little girl back alive that no one said much to him about his fault. But he learned a lesson that day which he has never forgotten, though he has now grown to be a man and has little boys and girls of his own. He often tells them the story, and always says that he, as well as his little sister, fell into a well that day; though it was not a well of water.

Do any of you know what well it was? 

LITTLE hands can work with meekness,

Smallest things may please the Lord;

Little feet can run with fleetness,

Errands must be done for God.