"I will tell you why, sister," replied Ernest. "I take pains because my teacher tells me, that, if a thing is worth doing at all, it is worth doing well."
"Did he mean that we should try to do well even in trifles?" asked Winifred.
"Yes," answered Ernest, "because, as a great man once said, 'Perfection is no trifle.'"
Winifred sat looking at her brother, as, handling a pair of scissors, he carefully cut out figures of horses, dogs, pigs, and various other animals.
Three years afterward she remembered this conversation; for it happened at that time, that, her father having died, her widowed mother was left almost destitute with a family of seven children to support.
What should the poor woman do? At first she thought she would take in washing, then that she would try to keep a little shop. While she was hesitating, Mr. Mason, a brisk old gentleman, came to the door, and asked, "Where is the boy who cuts these figures and faces in profile?"
One of his grandchildren had brought him home from school some specimens of Ernest's skill; and Mr. Mason saw at once that they were the work of a gifted and painstaking artist.
"You must mean my little Ernest," said the mother. "Poor little fellow! He little dreams what is coming. I shall soon have to take him away from school."
"Why so?" cried Mr. Mason. "Take him away from school? You shall do no such a thing. I'll not allow it."
"We are destitute, sir, and I have no means of support," said the mother with a sigh.
"No means of support! Nonsense! With a boy in the house who can cut figures like that, do you say you have no means of support?" exclaimed Mr. Mason. "Good woman, I will insure your boy good wages every week for the next year, if you will let him come between school-hours, and cut pictures under my direction."
The rest of my little story may soon be told. Ernest became the staff and stay of his family. The little talent he had cultivated so carefully and diligently was the means of giving him not only an honest employment, but a liberal support. He rose to distinction; and his productions were much sought after by all good judges of art.
............................................ Emily Carter.