“I am going to have a spelling-bee tonight,” said Uncle John, “and I will give a pair of skates to the the boy who can spell man best.”
The children turned and stared into one another’s eyes.
“Spell ‘man’ best, Uncle John? Why, there is only one way!” they cried.
“There are all sorts of ways,” replied Uncle John. “I will leave you to think of it awhile,” and he buttoned up his coat and went away.
“What does he mean?” asked Bob.
“I think it is a joke,” said Harry, thoughtfully; “and when Uncle John asks me, I am going to say, ‘Why, m-a-n, of course.'”
“It is a conundrum, I know,” said Joe; and he leaned his head on his hand and settled down to think.
Time went slowly to the puzzled boys, for all their fun that day. It seemed as if “after supper-time” would never come; but it came at last, and Uncle John came, too, with a shiny skate runner peeping out of his coat pocket.
Uncle John did not delay; he sat down and looked straight into Harry’s eyes.
“Been a good boy today, Hal?”
“Yes—n-o,” said Harry, flushing. “I did something Aunt May told me not to do, because Ned Barnes dared me to. I cannot bear a boy to dare me. What’s that got to do with spelling ‘man’?” he added, half to himself.
But Uncle John had turned to Bob.
“Had a good day, my boy?”
“Haven’t had fun enough,” answered Bob, stoutly. “It is all Joe’s fault, too. We boys wanted the pond to ourselves for one day, and we made up our minds that when the girls came, we would clear them off But Joe, he——”
“I think this is Joe’s to tell,” interrupted Uncle John. “How was it, boy?”
“Why,” said Joe, “I thought the girls had as much right on the pond as the boys, so I spoke to one or two of the bigger boys, and they thought so, too, and we stopped it all. I thought it was mean to treat the girls that way.”
There came a flash from Uncle John’s pocket; the next minute the skates were on Joe’s knees.
“The spelling-match is over,” said Uncle John, “and Joe has won the prize.”
Three bewildered faces mutely questioned him.
“Boys,” he answered, gravely, “we’ve been spelling ‘man,’ not in letters, but in acts. I told you there were different ways, and we have proved it here tonight. Think it over, boys, and see.”
—Sunday School Evangelist.