Gateway to the Classics: The Way of the Gate by Carolyn Sherwin Bailey
 
The Way of the Gate by  Carolyn Sherwin Bailey

Who Kept Labor Day

All the workmen, who helped the people in the town, were gathered in their best working clothes in the square to have a parade. There were the bakers in their white aprons, the butchers in their white caps, the firemen in their helmets and red shirts, the masons with their trowels, the carpenters with their hammers, and all the rest. Oh, it was to be a very fine parade indeed!

Walter watched the workmen form in line and start away, stepping so proudly in time to the band. "This is a holiday. I shall play all day long," he said. Then he took his new red rubber ball and bounced it and tossed it high up in the air. Up and up it went, and higher and higher. Oh, what a pity! walter's ball had gone as high as the roof of the house, and there it lodged in the drain pipe where he could not reach it.

Then it was dinner time. After dinner Walter brought down all his favorite toys from the play room and spread them out on the piazza, his new soldier ten pins and his cut-up map and his toy grocery store and his little milk cart. But he could not decide which of these beautiful toys he should play with first. He called across the garden wall to Jack, the boy who lived on the other side of the wall.

"Oh, Jack!" called Walter. "Come over and tell me which toy it will be most fun for us to play with first."

But Jack, who was carrying cabbage leaves and carrot tops to his pet rabbits, called back: "I'm too busy to come over, Walter. Please come over into my yard."

"The roof of the rabbit hutch will leak the next time it rains. We ought to fix it," said Walter.

So he and Jack went to the woodshed and found some big shingles. They were able, by working together and very carefully, to cut these down into little shingles with Walter's knife. They let the rabbits run about in the grass so the hammering would not frighten them. To the roof of the rabbit hutch they nailed the little shingles securely, so that no rain could possibly get through.

"What shall we do next?" asked Walter when the rabbits were snugly shut inside the house again.

"Let's work in my garden," said Jack. So Walter took a little, shiny hoe and Jack took a little, shiny rake. They hoed and raked until there was not a weed able to show its head.

Then they took some vegetables to Jack's mother. She thanked them and gave them each a large square of sponge cake. Then they took some flowers to Walter's mother. She thanked them and gave them each a mug of sweet, cool milk. The two boys sat down on Walter's steps to cat the cake and drink the milk.

"I was going to play, but we've had a better time doing our work, haven't we?" Walter said, looking at his toys.

"Yes, indeed," Jack said. "You know it's Labor Day, Walter." This made Walter remember what the flags and the parade and his own happy work really and truly meant.

Others have labored, and ye are entered into their labor.

—John iv. 38.


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