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From A Hive of Busy Bees

Bee Obedient

Effie M. Williams

“I have something to show you,” said Grandma after breakfast the next morning. “Come with me.”

“Oh, a little calf!” exclaimed Don a moment later.

“Isn’t he cute?” cried Joyce. “See how wobbly his legs are. What’s his name, Grandma?”

“Grandpa says he’s not going to bother naming him, when he has two bright grandchildren here on the farm,” answered Grandma, smiling.

“Does he mean that we can name him?” asked Joyce.

“Yes,” replied Grandma, “he means just that.”

“Oh, Don,” cried Joyce, “what shall we call him?”

“I think Bruno is a nice name,” said Don.

“So do I; we’ll call him Bruno,” agreed Joyce.

“I wonder if he would let me pet him,” said Don, gently touching the calf on his small white nose.

The little fellow tossed his head and wobbled over to the other side of his mother. The children laughed merrily; and they were so interested in watching the little creature that Grandma had to leave them and go back to her work.

The hours passed by very quickly and very happily—there were so many new things to do! Of course Joyce had to write a long letter to Mother, telling her about the sting of the bee, the new little calf, and many other interesting things.

Late in the afternoon the children remembered about the cows, and they thought they would pump the trough full of water ahead of time. It was such fun that they kept on pumping until the trough overflowed, and the ground around it was all muddy.

After supper, they let down the bars for the cows to come through. The cows had just finished drinking, when Don slipped in the mud and fell backward right into the trough. He kicked and splashed about, trying to get out; and Joyce got a good drenching when she tried to help him. Grandpa had to come to the rescue and fish him out. Then they all had a good laugh—even Don. The children could not watch the milking that night, because they had to go to the house and put on dry clothes.

Later in the evening, they reminded Grandma that she had promised to tell them a story. They drew their chairs close to hers, and she began:

“It was to be a story about a bee, wasn’t it? Well, this bee has a sharp sting, and it goes very deep.”

“I hope it will never sting me, then,” said Joyce.

“I hope not,” said Grandma. “The boy and girl in my story were stung severely; but it was all their own fault, as you shall see.

“Anna and her brother lived near a pond, and when the cold weather came it was great fun to skate on the ice. Oftentimes they would slide across it on their way to school. One morning, as their mother buttoned their coats, she said, ‘Don’t go across the ice this morning, children. It has begun to thaw, and it is dangerous.’

“ ‘No, we won’t,’ they promised.

“When they reached the pond, Willie said, ‘Why, see, Anna, how hard and thick the ice looks. Come on, let’s slide across it.’

“Instantly the bee began to buzz about Anna’s ears. ‘Bz-z-z-z-z! Don’t do it!’ said the bee. ‘It’s dangerous. You promised Mother.’

“ ‘We’d better not, Willie,’ said Anna quickly. ‘We promised Mother, you know.’

“ ‘But Mother’ll never know,’ said Willie.

“ ‘But you promised,’ buzzed the bee again.

“ ‘Mother thought the ice was thawing,’ added Willie. ‘She won’t care, when she knows it isn’t. You may do as you like, Anna; but I’m going to slide across right now.’

“When Anna saw her brother starting across the pond, she followed, in spite of the bee. But they had gone only a little way when the ice began to crack, and then to give way under them.

“Anna turned and hurried back to the bank; but Willie had gone too far. She saw him go down in the icy water; and she ran to the road, screaming at the top of her voice.

“A man was passing by at that moment. He picked up a board and ran to the pond as fast as he could. And he reached it just in time to save little Willie.

“Dragging the lad up on to the bank, he called loudly for someone to come and help him. Two or three men came running; and they worked over Willie, until at last he opened his blue eyes and asked faintly, ‘Where am I?’ Then they took him home to his mother.

“She thanked God for saving the life of her disobedient boy, but the danger was not yet past. For many weeks, Willie was a very sick little boy. When at last they carried him downstairs, he lay on the sofa day after day, pale and quiet—sadly changed from the merry, romping Willie of other days. The springtime came; but it was a long time before he could go into the woods with Anna to hunt for wild flowers or sail his toy boats on the pond.

“There was no more school for Willie that year. As Anna trudged off alone day after day, she seemed to hear again and again the buzzing of the bee about her ears—‘Bz-z-z-z! You promised Mother!’

“ ‘I heard it so plainly,’ she would say to herself. ‘It must have been my conscience. But I wouldn’t listen—and I almost lost my brother.’ ”

The old farmhouse kitchen was very quiet for a moment, after Grandma had finished her story. Nothing was heard but the ticking of the old-fashioned clock.

“I’m so glad it didn’t happen—quite!” said Joyce at last. “What was the bee’s name, Grandma?”

“Bee Obedient,” answered Grandma. “It has sometimes stung boys and girls so deeply that the hurt has never been healed.

“But,” added Grandma cheerily, “this bee will never bother you, if you listen to its first little buzz.”

“We will, Grandma, we will!” cried the children as they drifted off to the Land of Dreams.