“I’ve noticed that you seem to admire that wheel in the window of Stark Brothers a good deal,” he said, “and I’m going to give you each a chance to win it. I’ll offer it as a prize if you are willing to work for it on my conditions. I’ve heard that you will each be in business for yourselves in a small way this summer, and I’ll make this offer. If each of you boys without any help from any one, will choose a good proverb or text out of the Bible for a business motto, I’ll give the wheel to the boy who makes the best choice. You can select any three business men in Bardstown to be the judges; but the proof of a pudding is in the eating, you know, so you must apply that motto to your own business faithfully for two months, and the excellence of the motto will be judged by the results.”
The boys looked at the judge in open-mouthed surprise. They thought he surely must be joking, but nothing could be more serious or dignified than the way in which the white-haired old gentleman repeated his offer. So, after awhile, the boys succeeded in naming three business men to be the judges, who were satisfactory to all of them. They chose a grocer, a druggist, and a livery-stable proprietor, who were located on the same street with Stark Brothers.
“Ain’t it the funniest thing you ever heard of?” said Chicky Wiggins, when they were once more on the street. “It’ll be a long time to keep a secret, and I’ll be aching to know what mottoes you kids have picked out. I’ll bet it’s just a trap to get us to read the Bible. He’s one of your pious kind.”
“Well, it’s a trap worth walking into,” answered Abbot, “if it’s baited with something as tempting as a bicycle. The only trouble is that it will take so long to find a motto. The Bible is so full of them that a fellow’d feel like he ought to read it clear through, for fear of skipping the very one that might take the prize, and we have only a week to make a choice.”
Abbot did not have to search long for his verse. He found it the second day, and chose it the instant his eye caught the sentence on the page. “Why, I’ve heard uncle say that a dozen times!” he exclaimed, as he read the familiar line, “’The hand of the diligent maketh rich.’ That worked all right in uncle’s case, and it will be an easy one to live up to, for, if I buckle down to it, and sell a whole lot of vegetables, I can prove my motto is the best.” From that day Abbot began to feel a sense of ownership in the wheel in Stark Brothers’ show-window.
Todd Walters worried nearly a week over his choice. It was the last week of school, and he sat with a little pocket Bible hidden between the covers of his geography many an hour when he should have been learning the rivers of Asia, or doing long sums in the division of fractions. Six days of the seven went by before he found a motto to his liking. He was lying stretched out on the old lounge in the tiny sitting-room that noon, waiting for dinner. Todd and his mother lived alone in this little cottage, and she was busy all summer making preserves and pickles and jellies to sell. It was their only means of support.