Busy as Benjamin was in his father's shop, he still had time to play a good deal.
He was liked by all the boys of the neighborhood, and they looked up to him as their leader. In all their games he was their captain; and nothing was undertaken without asking his advice.
Not far from the home of the Franklins there was a millpond, where the boys often went to swim. When the tide was high they liked to stand at a certain spot on the shore of the pond and fish for minnows.
But the ground was marshy and wet, and the boys' feet sank deep in the mud.
"Let us build a wharf along the water's edge," said Benjamin. "Then we can stand and fish with some comfort."
"Agreed!" said the boys. "But what is the wharf to be made of?"
Benjamin pointed to a heap of stones that lay not far away. They had been hauled there only a few days before, and were to be used in building a new house near the millpond.
The boys needed only a hint. Soon they were as busy as ants, dragging the stones to the water's edge.
Before it was fully dark that evening, they had built a nice stone wharf on which they could stand and fish without danger of sinking in the mud.
The next morning the workmen came to begin the building of the house. They were surprised to find all the stones gone from the place where they had been thrown. But the tracks of the boys in the mud told the story.
It was easy enough to find out who had done the mischief.
When the boys' fathers were told of the trouble which they had caused, you may imagine what they did.
Young Benjamin Franklin tried hard to explain that a wharf on the edge of the millpond was a public necessity.
His father would not listen to him. He said, "My son, nothing can ever be truly useful which is not at the same time truly honest."
And Benjamin never forgot this lesson.