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Marked For A Mast
by [?]

Mary had just come from the little post-office in the town where she was spending the summer, and in her hand she held a bunch of letters. Mail time was the event of the day, and all the summer people flocked about the office as soon as the little boat carrying the mail was heard blowing her whistle below the bend.

To-day Mary had been very impatient as the old postmaster had slowly sorted the mail. She had watched him look carefully at one address after another, and, knowing him as she did, she was sure that many in the town would know by night how many interesting letters had come to people in the town. She had been almost the first at the little window for her mail and then had had to brave the laugh of the rest when Mr. Blake had said,

“Here’s your letter and it’s a fat one that took four cents. My, but he must like you.”

Mary had been waiting for this very letter because in the last one George had said, “I have a big surprise in store for you but I can’t tell you yet–maybe in the next letter.”

So this long one must be the surprise. Eagerly she tore it open and read the first two pages that told of things happening in the home town and good times the young people were having. Then she read,

“And now for my secret. You know we are going to our camp for a whole month of fun in August. Mother likes you and you are such good company for us all that she tells me to write in her name and ask you to spend the first two weeks with us there. Don’t say no for we–no, I–must surely have you to share our good times.”

The first two weeks! Those were the weeks she had planned to go to the conference and train for some special work for the church during the coming winter. The church had said they would pay her expenses if she cared to go, and already she had made application. Oh, dear! Now what should she do? She had said to her pastor, “I want to go to the conference more than anything I have ever wanted but I can’t afford to go.” Now she wanted to go with her friends and she would have to say to him, “I want a good time more than I want the conference.” The conference would come again the next year, but this invitation might never come again.

To be sure, she had many, many good times. Maybe she would have a good time at the conference. Which did she want the more? If she went with her friends, she could not do the winter work at the church as it ought to be done. But there was the last sentence. “We–no, I–must have you to share our good times.” That meant a lot to her as she read it. Should she go to the conference or should she go to the camp?

Mechanically she turned the other letters over. There was one from mother, and one from a school friend, and a business letter–oh, here was a correspondence card from Mrs. Lane, her teacher in the Church School.

“Dear Mrs. Lane,” thought Mary. “How I should love to see her! She was going to Maine. I wonder if this little snapshot is a picture of some pines where she is staying.”

After looking long at the beautiful, tall pines in the picture, she turned to the card and read,

“Dear Mary:

“As we came up the beautiful Sebago Lake last week, I saw something that reminded me of you so strongly that I must tell you of it. Away off in the distance, we saw some wonderful pines that towered high above the rest. They seemed so tall that we spoke to the pilot of the boat about them and he told us this story about them.