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´╗┐Title: By the Roadside
Author: Yates, Katherine M. (Katherine Merritte), 1865-1951
Language: English
As this book started as an ASCII text book there are no pictures available.
Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

*** Start of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "By the Roadside" ***

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Author of
"Up The Sunbeams"
"On The Way There"
"What The Pine Tree Heard"
"Through The Woods"
"Along The Trail"
"On The Hill Top"
"At The Door"

The Harmony Shop
Publishers of Good Books
Boston Mass.
Copyright, 1908
Katherine M. Yates


"It's time to go to work," said the little brown Dream.

"I'm not ready to go to work," said Marjorie, crossly, turning over and
snuggling her head more comfortably into her pillow.

The Dream said nothing. He only sat on the foot-board and swung his

By and by Marjorie turned over again,--and then again,--and then at last
she sat up, exclaiming angrily: "I wish you wouldn't bother me! I want
to go to sleep."

"Well," said the Dream, "how am I preventing you from sleeping?"

"You said it was time to go to work."

"That was half an hour ago," said the Dream. "I haven't spoken since."

"That doesn't make any difference," said Marjorie. "When you once say a
thing that I know is true, it stays with me, and you might as well keep
shouting it all the time as to have said it once;--I can't get away from

"If it is true, why do you want to get away from it?" asked the Dream.

"Because--" Marjorie hesitated, "--because I'm sleepy," she said

"There are ever so many sleepy folks in this world," observed the Dream.

"Then one more can't make much difference," said Marjorie.

"That's what the others think,--and that's why there are so many.
Suppose every one thought that!"

Marjorie pondered for a moment,--then she laughed. "Just think what a
great big alarm-clock it would take to wake them all up!" she said.

The Dream rubbed his chin thoughtfully. "An alarm-clock is a pretty
noisy article," he observed, "and it never says anything; and besides, I
don't like its name. But one good, wide-awake person--" he looked
directly at Marjorie, "--one good, wide-awake person could waken a very
great many people--if he wanted to. But go on to sleep if you choose. I
won't bother you."

"I'm not sleepy any more," said Marjorie; "and anyway, I slept only a
little while after you spoke."

The Dream nodded. "Only a little while,--just long enough to let your
work pass you by."

"_My_ work?" exclaimed Marjorie. "Why, I hadn't anything in particular
to do!"

"Every one has something in particular to do," said the Dream, "if he
has his hand ready;--but yours wasn't,--it was under your cheek."

"What was the work?" asked Marjorie.

The Dream pointed up the long hill in front of them; and away, almost at
the top, she saw a little girl lifting a basket from the roadside, where
she had set it while she was resting. It was a large, heavy basket with
a handle at each end, and so it was awkward for one to carry alone.
Marjorie started forward impulsively; but the Dream did not stir.
"Wait," he said, "you cannot catch up with her now, before she reaches
the top of the hill; it is only a little way farther."

"But," cried Marjorie, "I can help her then! That basket must be hard to
carry, even on level ground."

"She lives at the top of the hill," said the Dream, quietly. "She has no
farther to carry it."

Marjorie bit her lip. "And she was right here when you first spoke?"

"Yes," said the Dream, "she was right here."

"But I didn't see her," protested Marjorie.

"You weren't looking for her," said the Dream.

"I'm sorry," said Marjorie, "but--but--" searching vainly for an excuse;
and then a little virtuous tone coming into her voice; "--as likely as
not she is better off for having carried it alone,--stronger, you
know,--more experienced,--" this last rather lamely, for the Dream was
looking at her fixedly. "Don't you think so?" she asked presently, as
the Dream made no reply.

"I think," he said at last, "that there was Some One, a long time ago,
who spent His entire life helping others, wisely."

"And I suppose you think that I ought to have taken the whole basket and
lugged it up the hill for her, and let her walk along and carry her
hands!" exclaimed Marjorie, angrily.

"No," said the Dream, "not unless, for some reason, you thought that you
ought to. You are not arguing honestly. You are not called upon to do
one thing more than you think, _honestly_, that you ought to. No more
than that is your work."

"But I could _make_ myself think--" began Marjorie.

"I said _honestly_," said the Dream. "It isn't honest to _make_ yourself
think anything."

"But mustn't I study about it, and try--"

"Cer-tain-ly! Study about it carefully; but do it fairly. Don't take
what some one else says that you 'ought' to do, and try to shave
yourself down to fit it. Study it out and think it out for yourself; and
then if the other fellow's opinion seems wise, follow it;--and if it
doesn't, follow a better one of your own."

"But suppose that some one has a right to tell me what to do?"

"That's different. If you have given some one the right to tell you what
to do, it must be because you believe that person understands better
than you do. If you believe that, be obedient; if you don't, say so and
go your own way. Be honest, that's all,--be honest with you."

"With _me_?"

"Yes, with you. If you are honest with yourself, you are square with the

"I see," said Marjorie. "Oh, dear, that is the third stone I've stumbled
over in two minutes! I wonder why some one doesn't roll them out of the
road,--they are not so very large."

"I wonder why," echoed the Dream, and there was a queer little note in
his voice that made Marjorie glance toward him; and then her face
flushed and she gave a little laugh.

"Why, of course it's my work!" she exclaimed, stooping and beginning to
roll one toward the side of the way. It was rather heavy and awkward to
handle; but she kept bravely on, and soon returned for another. As she
bent toward it, she happened to glance back down the road, and then she
suddenly straightened up. "Oh, look!" she cried. "See all the people
dragging that wagon up the hill,--and just hear them shout! Something
must have happened to the horse! I'm going to help!" and she started to
run down the hill.

"I thought you were busy," called the Dream, after her.

"Yes," she called back, "I know; but I can do that after a while,--I
want to help with the wagon now;" and she ran on down the hill, and
squeezing in among the others, she managed to get hold of one of the
ropes, although there was scarcely room for her hand to grasp it. Up
the hill she came, struggling and panting with the rest, and as she
reached the spot where the Dream had remained, she waved her free hand
proudly; but just then her foot struck a stone, and she tripped and fell
against the person next to her, who let go of the rope in a wild effort
to regain his balance; while the man behind her stumbled upon her feet
and let go his hold; others stumbled, the rope was jerked from their
hands, and in another moment the wagon began to roll slowly backward.
Every one made a dash for it; but it was too late, and in an instant it
was careening madly down the hill,--then a wheel struck another stone,
the tongue turned, and with a great lurch the whole thing went over,
scattering potatoes, turnips, and other vegetables in every direction,
and sending barrels and boxes rolling and tumbling down the hill with a
tremendous clatter.

Marjorie had picked herself up and stood watching it all with great,
frightened eyes. "Oh, look, look!" she cried. "It's all my fault, and I
was only trying to help! Oh, I'm so sorry! I didn't mean to trip,--I
truly didn't!"

"Never mind, never mind," said a man near her, "you weren't to blame. It
was all because of those stones in the road,--any one would trip on
things like that;--some one else would have stumbled if you hadn't, so
don't worry," and he began pitching the stones out of the way.

"Oh," cried Marjorie, in dismay, "then it really was my fault more than
I thought! Why didn't I keep on with what I was doing, when it needed to
be done, and I was doing it right! Oh, dear, what shall I do now?"

But the man did not understand. "You can't do anything," said he,
sending the last stone flying into the ditch. "It isn't your fault; it
is the fault of the people who go by here every day and leave these
stones lying in the road, when it would take only a few moments to clear
them away. Now run along and don't worry,--you couldn't help it."

So Marjorie turned and walked sorrowfully away beside the Dream.

"I don't see why it didn't come out right," she said at last. "I really
wanted to help,--I was honest."

"Were you, truly?" asked the Dream.

"Why, yes," said Marjorie, "I--" then she hesitated.

"You saw the need of moving the stones, didn't you?"

"Yes," said Marjorie.

"And you were able to do it?"

"Oh, yes."

"And the people were really bringing the wagon up the hill quite easily,
there were so many of them?"

"Yes," admitted Marjorie.

"Then, honestly, why did you leave the stones in order to go and pull on
the rope?"

Marjorie stood still and thought, very soberly. "Well," she said at
last, "I guess it was because it looked more interesting."

"It wasn't because you actually thought that they needed your help?"

"No-o," admitted Marjorie. "But then, I didn't stop to think of it that
way,--I just wanted to do it."

"But you didn't ask yourself why you wanted to do it,--or if it were

"No-o. It just looked like helping, and I--I wanted to be in with the

"Yes," said the Dream, "you are not the only one who wants to 'be in
with the shouting.' But just let me tell you something:--if you want to
be honest with yourself, carry a great big WHY around with you all the
time,--and when you have an impulse to do anything, look at that first.
Don't just glance at it,--look at it squarely, if for only a moment.
When you have answered that honestly, you will know what to do."

The two walked on in silence for quite a distance. By and by Marjorie
heaved a little sigh. "I wish that I could find a big work," she said.
"I wish that it would be very, very big,--very, very big and very

"Why?" asked the Dream.

"Oh!" cried Marjorie, clasping her hands, "so that years and years from
now, people would look at it and say that _I_ did it,--and would
remember me for it."

"'M-hm," said the Dream.

"Wouldn't that be grand?" went on Marjorie, enthusiastically.

"'M-hm," said the Dream.

Marjorie looked hard at him. "Isn't it right to want to do great and
wonderful things?" she asked.

"Yes," said the Dream.

"Then what--" Marjorie stopped.

"When you look at it fairly and squarely," said the Dream, "what do you
think of your reason for wanting to do something great?"

Marjorie bit her lip.

"Be honest," said the Dream.

"Well," said Marjorie, at last, "I suppose the reason is just about as
small and selfish and useless as a reason could possibly be."

"It is," said the Dream. "Now I'll tell you something. Those who have
come to be known for their work are those who have worked for the love
that was in them,--not for the name. To really work, is only to help;
and those who are helped will see to it that the work and the worker are
never separated; for while the work lives, the worker is in and of it.
Do you see?"

"Yes, I see," said Marjorie, softly. "I am not honest enough, nor
unselfish enough for a great work yet; but the little things will get me
into practice, so I must love to do them, and perhaps the other will
come when I am ready for it."

They had reached the top of the hill and passed a little school-house
before either of them spoke again, and then the Dream broke the
silence. "Why did you do that?" he asked; for Marjorie had jumped across
the little ditch and was walking in the grass and weeds along the
roadside. "The road isn't dusty," he added, "so it is no pleasanter
walking there."

"Well, you see," explained Marjorie, "I noticed that some people had
walked along here and made a little path, and it will be much better to
walk on a path by and by when the road _is_ dusty."

"But your walking there this once can't help much."

"It will help some," said Marjorie, "and it is only a little hard for
me; and walking in the dust will be very hard for ever so many after a
while, and the weeds and grass would be grown quite high by that time.
You see, my walking here presses the grass down and makes it look
easier, so that some one else will do the same and help to wear the way.
There," pointing backward, "do you see? All of those schoolchildren have
come over on to the path because they saw me, and that will help ever so

"I guess you're right," said the Dream. "It is a good thing to make
every step that you take, do work that will help some one some time."

Presently they came to a cross-roads, and Marjorie hesitated for a
moment to see which way to turn; and then she noticed that the wind had
blown one of the sign-boards from off its post, and that it lay,
face-downward, in the road, covered with mud. Taking it up, she went to
the little brook by the wayside and washed it carefully; and then,
holding it as high as she could reach, she fastened it to the post, by
pounding in the loosened nails with a stone. This had all taken some
time, and when she had finished, she stepped back to view her work,
wearing an expression of extreme complacence, which quickly changed to
one of vexation, as she discovered that she had nailed the sign up side
down, so that not only were the words inverted; but it pointed in the
wrong direction.

"Oh, dear, see what I've done!" she cried.

"How did you happen to do that?" asked the Dream, looking interested.

"It was just because that little girl over there kept calling and
calling to me. I tried not to hear, at first, but she worried me until I
didn't know what I was about."

"What was the matter with her?" asked the Dream.

"Oh, she had got her dress caught on the fence when she was climbing
over, and spilled some apples or something out of a basket. There, see
how she's torn her dress! It's her own fault! I told her to wait until I
got through, and I would help her;--but I was too busy then."

"You told her to wait where? On the fence?"

"Oh, well, _I_ couldn't help it,--it wasn't my fault that she caught her
dress, she ought to have been more careful,--and, anyway, I had to nail
the sign-board,--that was much more important, wasn't it?"

The Dream turned and looked at the sign-board critically. "Yes," he
said, "I suppose it did have to be done in a hurry,--sign-boards don't
'keep' very well."

Marjorie flushed. "But some one might have come along who wanted to know
the way."

"Yes," assented the Dream, dryly, "it would have been too bad if some
one had come along before you got it put up--_that_ way."

Marjorie's head drooped.

"As far as I can see," went on the Dream, "the only way to read that
sign is to turn it 'tother end to,' in your mind."

"Yes," said Marjorie, in a very low voice.

"And how do you like to go on record as standing for a sign that
reads:--'If you want to go right, _don't_ follow me?'"

Marjorie's lip was quivering. "I'll take it down," she said, and began
to pull upon the board, but it was of no use; for she had driven in the
nails so tightly that she could not start them. Her eyes filled with
tears. "Oh, what shall I do?" she sobbed. "I can't bear to go away and
leave it like that!"

"I suppose that you see your mistake," said the Dream.

"Yes, yes, I know," sobbed Marjorie. "I ought to have stopped and helped
the little girl,--I could have set up the sign at the foot of the post
while I did it;--but I was interested in what I was doing, and didn't
want to be bothered."

Just then the little girl came across the road, carrying the basket of
apples which she had picked up, the long rent in her frock gathered
together in her hand. "What is the matter?" she asked, looking at
Marjorie's wet cheeks.

Marjorie pointed miserably to the sign.

"Oh," said the little girl, "you've made a mistake, haven't you! Let's
fix it right."

"We can't," said Marjorie. "I can't get the board off."

"Perhaps both of us, together, can," said the little girl. "Come, let's
both pull at once," and setting down her basket, she took a firm hold of
the sign. And so Marjorie took hold again, and with much pulling and
tugging, together, they soon had it off; and then, together, they nailed
it back in place,--right.

When it was done, they stepped back to look at it, breathless and proud.
Marjorie's hand crept into that of the little girl. "How good you are to
help me," she said softly, "when I had been so unkind to you."

"It was my work, too," said the little girl, "and I was glad to do
it;--and you were busy when I called to you."

"I was selfish," said Marjorie; "but I am sorry. Mayn't I help you to
fix your dress? I have pins, and it is hard for you to walk with it that
way; for you tread on it at every step, unless you carry the torn part."

And so, together, they pinned up the torn skirt; and then, with a loving
hand-clasp, the little girl went away up one road, and Marjorie and the
Dream turned to follow the other.

"I wish that she was going my way," said Marjorie, at last. "She is so
kind, and she didn't keep complaining and talking about how hard it was
to do her work, and how much she would rather do something else; and how
much pleasanter this road looks than the one she had to take; but she
was just loving and sunshiny and helpful."

And now they came to a place where there was a clump of wild roses
growing by the wayside, and Marjorie stopped and began to gather some.

"The thorns are troublesome, aren't they?" asked the Dream, presently.

"Yes," said Marjorie, "but these are only little scratches, and I don't

"But why are you gathering the roses?"

"Because there is nothing else to do just here, and I shall soon find
some one who will love to have them; and, besides, they will make me
happier, as I go along," and she buried her face in the pink petals.

After a time they came to where a little brook wandered across the road.
There had been stepping-stones, but some thoughtless youngsters had
taken them to one side and built a dam, which caused the water to back
up until the way was impassable, if one would cross dry-shod.

Marjorie stood and looked for a moment, and then turned toward the fence
where she saw that others had crossed by clinging to the boards. Then
she stopped, and laying her roses in the shadow of a clump of bushes,
she went to the little dam and began to loosen the stones. They proved
to be heavy and slippery, and well embedded in the mud; but she managed,
at the expense of wet feet and clothing, to dislodge them at last;--and
then came the task of carrying them to where the other stepping-stones
were. One she carried, and dropped it into exactly the right place, and
then another, and was just returning for a third, when she saw a boy
coming along the road. When she saw him, she hurried more eagerly, and
was just lifting a very large stone when he came forward, timidly, but
with outstretched hands. "Let me help you," he said.

But Marjorie half turned her back, with the heavy stone. "No, no!" she
said. "I can do it myself."

"I would like to help you," the boy persisted. "I could make it much
easier for you."

"No," said Marjorie, "I don't need you. Please let me pass."

The boy stepped aside with a little sigh. "No one wants me to help," he
said, "and I don't seem to find any work of my own. I am not very
clever," and he went on, crossing upon the stones which were already
laid, and then jumping to the farther side, where he stood, watching.

Marjorie followed with her load, stepping carefully from one stone to
another, and then, just as she bent to lower her burden into the stream,
it slipped from her hands and dropped with a great splash that deluged
the boy on the other side, with muddy water.

"There!" exclaimed Marjorie, impatiently, "I've got you all muddy! I'm
sorry, but you shouldn't have waited. I told you that I didn't want

"Never mind," said the boy, wiping the mud from his face; and turning
away, he walked quietly up the road.

Marjorie looked after him ruefully.

"What is the matter?" asked the Dream.

"I don't exactly know," said Marjorie; "but there is a mistake

"Why didn't you let him help you?" asked the Dream.

"I didn't need his help. I could do it alone."

"But perhaps he needed to help you."

Marjorie bit her lip. "I wanted to do it alone," she said. "I thought it
was my work. I wanted to work, and I was glad that it was hard, and that
the stones were all that I could lift,--it made it seem more like doing

The Dream was silent for a moment, and Marjorie stood dabbling the toe
of her shoe in the water. At last, "Were you selfish?" asked the Dream.

"Yes," said Marjorie, in a low voice, "I was." Then she went back and
gathered up her roses, and she and the Dream walked slowly on, soon
finding themselves on the outskirts of a town.

Presently the streets grew dingy and the houses high and narrow. "I
don't see anything to do here," said Marjorie. "Couldn't we go back into
the country again?"

"Don't you see anything to do?" asked the Dream, and just then Marjorie
noticed a little child standing on the curbing, it's hands clasped and
it's eyes fixed upon the bunch of roses.

Selecting the largest and most beautiful one, she placed it in the
child's hands,--and a little farther on she gave two to a weary-looking
woman,--and then a bud to an old man whose eyes moistened, and whose
fingers trembled as he placed it in his button-hole,--and then a flower
to a ragged, hard-featured boy, who held it awkwardly for a moment, his
face transfigured, and then dived into the door of a dismal tenement.
And all the way up the squalid street Marjorie distributed her bright
blossoms, and always with a cheery word and smile.

At last the houses began to be farther and farther apart, and the yards
larger, and presently they found themselves back in the open country
once more. The road was very much like the one by which they had
approached the town, pleasant and shady, and with a tiny brook running
along the side. Marjorie bent over the little stream to wash the grime
of the city from her hands, and then stopped for a moment to splash the
bright drops upon some thirsty flowers growing on the bank and leaning
as far over as they could. While she was doing this, she heard the sound
of a hammer close by, and, glancing around, she saw that she was near a
farm-house with a large barn and sheds, and that a boy was busily
nailing the pickets on to a fence, the frame of which stood a little way
back from the road. Marjorie watched him for a few moments, admiring the
evenness with which he placed the pickets, and the sure, firm blows of
the hammer; at last, however, she began to grow uneasy. "Look," she said
to the Dream, "see how close together he is nailing them. That isn't the
right way. Why do you suppose he does it so? He's just spoiling the
looks of his fence."

"Probably he does it that way because he wants it that way," said the
Dream carelessly.

"But they don't look well that way, and it takes more pickets and more
nails and a longer time."

The Dream looked at the boy and the fence, critically. "It's not such a
bad fence," he said, dryly; "and the boy looks fairly smart, doesn't
he?--and he handles his tools as if he had built fences before. Perhaps
he knows what he is about."

"Y-e-s, he looks smart enough," agreed Marjorie; "but he is certainly
making a mistake now, and I think I ought to tell him about it."

"All right," said the Dream. "Go ahead."

So Marjorie approached the boy, who stopped hammering and looked up at
her pleasantly. "I thought that I would better tell you--" began
Marjorie, somewhat embarrassed, "that--that--" she found it more
difficult than she had expected, "--well, you see, you are making a

"What do you mean?" asked the boy glancing along the trim row of

"Why, you are putting the pickets too close together," said Marjorie.
"They don't look well that way, and they are too near the ground,
besides. I was just speaking to my friend about it, and I thought that I
ought to tell you, as well."

"Thank you," said the boy, gravely; and then:--"Do you know what I am
building this fence for?"

"No-o," said Marjorie. "I supposed it was just--just a fence."

"Well," said the boy, "a fence usually has some particular purpose; and,
as a general thing, the person building it knows that purpose better
than any one else, and just what sort of a fence is best in that
especial case."

Marjorie said nothing, and the boy went on.

"I am fencing in a place for some white rabbits. Some of them are very
small, and so I had to put the pickets near together and close to the
ground. Do you see?"

"Oh," said Marjorie, "I didn't know what you were going to keep inside!
Of course you would have to build it this way for the little rabbits. If
I had known what it was for, I wouldn't have said anything."

"Was it necessary for you to know?" asked the boy. "It is _my_ fence."

Marjorie flushed, "I don't think that you are very grateful," she said;
"and, anyway, the pickets don't look well so close together, even if you
do have to have it that way," and she turned and went back to the road.

"Well?" said the Dream, as she approached.

"He was disagreeable," said Marjorie, "and acted as if I had no right to
tell him of his mistake."

"But is he going to change the pickets?"

"No," said Marjorie, "he has to have them that way to keep some rabbits
inside. I told him it didn't look well, anyway."

"Of course that helped some," said the Dream, "since he must have them
so, whether they look well or not."

"Yes," said Marjorie. "See, he has come out into the road to look at
them. I guess what I said sort of worried him. I don't think those
pickets are a good shape, either. I like them better where they are cut
sort of curly on top, instead of just plain points."

"Yes," said the Dream. "And did you tell him about that too?"

"No," said Marjorie, "I didn't think about it then; but--say--where do
you suppose those rabbits are now? You don't think that they are shut up
in that little dark shed over there, do you? Wouldn't that be dreadful?
There, those people heard what I said, and they are wondering too. See
them look,--and I suppose that they will tell others about it. Isn't it
too bad? And he's such a nice appearing boy too. I'm sure he doesn't
mean to be cruel. I think that some one ought to speak to him. Poor
little things, shut up in the dark on a beautiful day like this! It
ought not to be allowed. I'm going to talk to him!" and Marjorie ran
across the road again.

The boy glanced up as she approached; but waited for her to speak.
Marjorie looked him straight in the eye. "Where are your rabbits?" she
asked, severely.

"In the shed," he replied, motioning with his head in the direction of
the building she had noticed.

"What!" she exclaimed. "A lot of lovely white rabbits shut up in that
little dark shed! Oh, how can you be so unkind?"

"They have been there only about two hours," said the boy, "and I shall
let them out as soon as I have nailed on these last few pickets. It will
be only a little while; and besides, the shed is not dark, there is a
big window on the other side, and they have cabbage and things to eat,
and a great armful of clover."

"But they are shut up!" cried Marjorie. "How would you like to be shut
up in jail, even if you did have a lot of cabbage and clover? You ought
to let them out right away. Don't you love them at all?"

"Of course I love them," said the boy; "but can't you see that if I let
them out now I will lose them? And, besides, they are tame rabbits and
don't know how to take care of themselves, and would get into all sorts
of trouble, and probably spoil all of the gardens in the neighborhood."

Marjorie looked unconvinced. "Your arguments sound all right," she said;
"but I am sure that they must be wrong somewhere, because it certainly
isn't right for those poor, dear little rabbits to be shut up that way.
They ought to be let out right now. The fence is nearly done and they
wouldn't try to go through the opening while you are working on it; they
would be afraid. If you don't let them out, every one will be talking
about how cruel you are. I suppose that is what those people are talking
about now," and Marjorie pointed to the persons who had overheard her
comments a few moments before.

The boy glanced toward them anxiously, and then toward the shed. "Well,"
he said at last, doubtfully, "perhaps I can manage it;--if only they
won't go through the gap before I can get back to it after opening the
door," and he turned and walked unwilling toward the shed.

"I'll watch the gap," called Marjorie after him.

When he reached the building, he hesitated for an instant, and then he
drew the bolt and threw open the door; but before he had time to turn
and head them off, out scrambled a white wave of rabbits; big and
little, fat and thin; and with one accord made straight for the opening
in the fence. The boy ran after them, calling excitedly to Marjorie to
stand firm and not let them through; and for a moment Marjorie did stand
firm before the oncoming army of waving ears and flying feet; but when
she felt the first scrambling of paws about her ankles, she lost her
nerve, and in a sudden panic she fled wildly across the road and on to
the top rail of the fence on the other side; and by the time that the
boy reached the opening, the rabbits were scattered in every direction
up and down the road and over the fields. For a few moments he stood,
looking after them, and then, without glancing toward Marjorie, he took
up in his arms one trembling little white fellow who had failed to find
the opening, and turned toward the shed with it.

Marjorie climbed slowly down from the fence and walked along the road,
silently and with her head down.

Presently the Dream spoke. "Was it your work that the boy was doing?" he

"No," said Marjorie.

"Was he worried and uncertain when you came along? Did he ask for your
opinion or advice?"

"No," said Marjorie.

"And what did you do?"

Marjorie spoke in a very low voice, but very steadily. "I criticised him
unjustly; I talked about him in the hearing of other people, and some of
them will never know that he was right and I was wrong; and I
interfered, and now--" Marjorie stopped and swallowed hard.

"And now--what?" asked the Dream.

"I am sorry," said Marjorie humbly.

"So is the boy," said the Dream.

Marjorie said nothing.

"Aren't you afraid you'll get the habit?" asked the Dream, presently.

"What habit?"

"You've said 'I'm sorry,'--how many times to-day?"

Marjorie shook her head. "It seems as if I have said it oftener than
anything else. But I ought to be sorry when I make mistakes, oughtn't

"Yes. Only don't hold on to it after you have learned your lesson,
that's all. The lesson is the only good thing about being sorry;--and
you and the boy, each, had a lesson this time."

"Yes," said Marjorie, "and mine is that other people's work--"

"Make it short," said the Dream. "Call it 'mind your own business.'"

Marjorie nodded gravely. "And the boy's lesson is--"

    "'Be sure you're right, then go ahead,
    'Don't mind what people say.'"

hummed the Dream.

Marjorie nodded again. "But it is so hard to 'be sure you're right,'
when other people think that you are wrong."

"Not if you keep an honest WHY in sight," said the Dream.

"Listen," said Marjorie, "I hear singing," and she looked all about her
eagerly, but could see no one. "How sweet it sounds," she said; "there
must be quite a number singing together. Oh, there they are!" and she
pointed to where a group of five or six children were just emerging from
a shady lane and turning into the road, all singing gaily to a tune
which Marjorie knew very well. "Come," she cried, "let's catch up. I'd
love to sing with them," and she hurried her steps.

As she came up behind the children, several turned and saw her. "Come
and sing with us," called one of them.

"Thank you," said Marjorie. "I was just wishing you'd ask me," and she
eagerly joined the group. However, as they took up the song again,
Marjorie did not take part in it; but, instead, a little wrinkle came
between her eyebrows, and she glanced anxiously at the Dream, who did
not seem to be looking in her direction at all.

Presently, one of the children who was walking beside her, stopped
singing and turned toward her. "Why don't you sing?" he asked.

"I--I don't know those words," said Marjorie.

"Do you know the tune?" asked the boy.

"Oh, yes," said Marjorie; "but I always sang different words to it."

"Well, you can learn these easily," said the boy. "I'll teach them to

Marjorie hesitated. "You are very kind," she said; "but--but--"

"But--what?" said the boy.

"Well--" Marjorie was thinking hard, "--I am not sure but that I ought
to be going on--"

"You said that you wanted to sing," said the boy.

Suddenly Marjorie's face brightened. "Oh, I know!" she exclaimed. "Did
you ever try singing the multiplication table to that tune? It's lots of
fun. Let's try it."

"All right," said the boy, "only I don't know it all."

"This will help you to learn it," said Marjorie. "I remember it, so you
just follow me. We'll begin with the fives, because they're easy;" and
they dropped a little way behind the others and began to sing, softly,
putting their own words to the tune. The boy was delighted to find how
easily the words fitted, and presently they went on to the "Sixes," and
began to sing a little louder; and then another of the children dropped
back to find what they were doing, and joined in, with gusto. This
attracted the attention of others, who gradually joined them, until soon
the words of the multiplication table rose high above the silly and
senseless words of the song which they had been singing;--and Marjorie's
voice led them, singing true to note and to the facts of the table.

"Good!" said the boy who was walking beside Marjorie, as they stopped
for breath. "I always thought the 'Sixes' were hard; but they are easy
this way; for the tune makes me think of the right words to put in. Now
let's try the 'Sevens.'"

And so they tried the "Sevens" and the "Eights," some of the children
stumbling badly at first; but soon getting into the swing of the tune
and the words, until their voices all blended smoothly and sweetly. By
and by the children began dropping out of the group, as they came to
their homes on the road; each one calling a cheery good-by to Marjorie,
and going away singing by himself.

"I'm going to teach it to my brother and sister," called one, as he
turned in at his gate, "so that we can sing it together at home."

"And so am I," "And so am I," called the others; "and we'll sing it
coming from school every night until we know it all."

When Marjorie and the Dream were again alone, Marjorie continued humming
the little tune, happily.

"The world is more beautiful than it was. Don't you think so?" said the
Dream, presently.

"Yes," said Marjorie.

"I suppose you know what was the best thing that you did there?" said
the Dream.

"Yes," said Marjorie. "It was putting something true into their song, in
place of what was silly and meaningless and untrue."

"And you did it without making one of them feel cross or contrary. You
only showed them something better than they had, and did it without
being obtrusive. Every one wants what is better than he has;--if he is
allowed to take it of his own accord, and doesn't have it thrust upon

After this they walked along in silence for quite a long way, until they
came to the top of a hill, and sat down to rest for a few moments.
Marjorie heaved a sigh as she looked away over the low, green hills, the
shady woods, and the winding stream. "I've come a long way," she said,
"and I haven't done much;--but I wanted to,--you don't know how I wanted

"And what are you going to do now?" asked the Dream.

"Keep on," said Marjorie, bravely.

"In just the same way?"

"No. I've learned some things,--and I shall learn some more. I've made
ever so many mistakes--"

"But you've seen them," said the Dream.

"Yes. I don't think I'll make the same ones again;--and I'll try to
watch and think, so that I will not make so many as I have,--and--but I
wanted, so much, to find some real work to do!"

"Do you remember what I told you, a while ago, that real work is?"

"Yes. Just helping, wisely."

"And how can you help best?"

Marjorie mused for a moment. "By loving, and living love," she said;
"and having your hand ready." And then, after a moment, "Do you suppose
that I will ever find something big to do, instead of just the little
bits by the wayside?"

"It is all 'by the wayside,'" said the Dream; "and the big things will
come,--when you are big enough for them."

*** End of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "By the Roadside" ***

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