Project Canterbury




Talks to Children in the Chapel
of the Transfiguration
Glendale, Ohio


Reverend Mother Eva Mary, C. T.



Publishers Boston.


Transcribed by Wayne Kempton
Archivist and Historiographer of the Episcopal Diocese of New York, 2008

[5] The Tree With the Bad Heart

ONCE upon a time two little trees were planted at the same time by the same man and not very far apart from one another. One of the little trees said, "Now I must be careful to develop my roots." So she pushed her roots out as far as she could, and sent out little feelers to find the way in the dark underground, and to catch hold of the good strong earth, so that the tree would be well-rooted against the storms. The tree put so much of her life into the development of her roots, that she did not seem to grow very much above ground for two or three years.

But the other little tree said, "What is the use of taking so much trouble about something no one will ever see? I am going to grow, and beat all the other trees in growing." So she sent out one or two big roots just to be good feeders, and then she put her whole strength into rapid growing. It was wonderful to see how much she would grow in a single year.

The man who planted them came out and looked at the trees, and said to the gardener, "See how fine this tree is. It is much larger and more beautiful than her sister tree that was planted at the same time. I wonder what makes it the better tree."

The gardener shook his head: "It's growing too fast for its roots, I'm afraid." But the tree was prouder than ever.

The little tree said to it, "Oh, do be careful; if you have not good, strong roots, what will be the good of your size? The rough wind will blow you down just the more easily."

But the proud tree replied, "You are just envious because you are not so large and beautiful as I am. The Master commended me and pitied you."

So she went on growing as fast as she could. But by and by the roots she had--only two or three--said they could not feed so large a tree. Some of it would have to die. Should it be one of the spreading branches?

[6] "Oh, no," said the tree, "that would make me lop-sided and ugly. Let it be some part that will not show."

"Very well," said the roots gruffly, "it can be the heart then, but that will make you hollow, you know."

So the tree's heart began to rot and dry up because there was no food for it, and gradually the tree became hollow. But her branches were still all intact, and very beautiful, and green; and she still would bear a very great abundance of pears, that looked very good on the outside, but they were all rotten at heart, and squashy. She stopped growing, for the roots said they really could not get any more nourishment for her than would just keep her going at her present size.

The other tree, that had spent so much time over her roots, was growing very fast now, for she had a great many roots, big and little ones, going out in all directions underground, and bringing the rich, nourishing sap into the tree. Soon she was very big, and by and by, she grew bigger than the vain pear tree which now could not grow any more.

Every Spring when the birds began to make their nests, they would hire Madam Woodpecker to test the trees for them, for they did not want to nest in a hollow tree. And Madam Woodpecker would come tap-tap-tapping at the good tree, and she would say, "This tree is all right Master Robin," and then she would come tap-tap-tapping at the tree with the bad heart, and she would say, "Don't nest here, Mrs. Thrush. The tree is hollow." And so she would get her pay, a worm or a fly, and would go after some other customer.

She made her living that way, tap-tap-tapping at the trees; and she made quite a good deal out of the tree with the bad heart, because it looked so fine and flourishing that birds would come wanting to rent its broad green branches, and she was too clever to say, "Oh, I know that tree. It is hollow. It has a bad heart." She would say, "M'm--it looks all right, but perhaps I had better tap it for you." And then she would tap-tap it and report, "No, it's hollow; don't build there. A worm, please."

So, while the other tree had a whole colony of singing [6/7] birds nesting in its branches, the tree with the bad heart was avoided by all the birds, until one day--or night, rather--an owl came and lived in the hole in the top of the tree. Then some time after, a squirrel made its home in the hollow part in the middle of the tree. Last of all a snake lived in the hollow close to the ground. And now all the little birds feared the hollow tree for it gave shelter to their enemies. The owl would steal their little ones, and the squirrel would eat their eggs. The snake would charm the poor birds with its evil eye, and then creep up on them when paralyzed with fright, and kill them. The tree was hated by all on the lawn, for it seemed a shame to be an enemy to the little birds.

One day, the Master came out and talked to the gardener about the trees, and he said, "Why, what has happened to this tree that had such a good start? The other tree is way ahead of it now--and a fine tree it is, to be sure!"

The tree with the bad heart was so angry and spiteful when she heard the Master praise her sister that she threw one of her rotten pears at him, and it squashed on his coat. All the trees whispered in horror:

"What an unmannerly thing to do!"

Then at last, when the two trees were fifteen years old, came the great storm. In the solemn pause that preceded it, the little birds flew to shelter in the strongest trees. The trees themselves stuck out the feelers on their roots to find a new and stronger hold in the ground, and brace themselves against the attack of the winds. Little whispers and shivers ran through them. The leaves trembled with anticipation one moment, the next hung dead and lifeless, as if fearing to move.

A Great Terror lay over everything, which increased as the golden sunlight gradually turned to a ghastly green, and then suddenly was blotted out altogether. Out of the great black cloud that darkened the heavens, all the furies seemed to be let loose at once. Shrieking winds rushed at the trees, sometimes from two or three sides at once, and they struck out with their great arms like giants in deadly conflict. Branches and leaves were whirled through the air. The rain drove [7/8] against the trees like bullets, and seemed one moment like a horizontal sheet of water, the next a whirling maelstrom, engulfing the world. The noise was tremendous. There was not only the occasional rumble or crackle of thunder, but also the constant shriek of the winds, the double tattoos of the rain, the crying and sobbing of the trees, in a life and death struggle to maintain their hold on the earth.

Far beneath in the dark, where the roots were desperately seeking a stronger hold on the earth, the distant echo of the strife above came muffled through the earth. To them, it was the beat of the rain that sounded most ominously. The rain, that usually they welcomed so gladly, came in such torrents as to wash away the earth they were clinging to, making slippery as soap the stones they were trying to brace themselves against. Over and over again they would say to one another in startled whispers:

"Oh, I'm slipping!"
''Hold hard,'' said Mother Tree from above.
''Catch me before I go, called another.
"Just hold here, and don't think of letting go, called down Mother Tree to them.

And now the wisdom of sending out numerous roots in all directions was manifest. Each one was holding on for dear life, and where one gave way, others held on. So, though the good stout tree swayed, and cracked, and strained in the raging winds, her roots held, and her stout trunk resisted the strain of branches. One branch and a quantity of her leaves were whirled off, but she held the little birds to her heart, and rocking to and fro, murmured, ''Don't be afraid, little ones, I will take care of you.''

In the very height of the storm, a terrible shriek, and screaming, and crash were heard. It frightened the trees so, that they almost let go. Then there was a sickening swish. The sound of a great tree falling through the air--a great crackling and splitting sound, and the tree with the bad heart lay on the ground, a complete wreck. Under its ruins lay a snake crushed to death, and an owl caught under one of the [8/9] branches. But the squirrel had made a flying leap just in time to save itself, and was still trembling on the branch of the neighbor tree, so violently, that it could hardly hold on.

"I'll never touch another bird's egg again," he chattered. "I'll just eat nuts and acorns."

After the storm was over, and the sun came out to see what the wind had done, the Master and the gardener came walking out, and looked at the wreck of the tree that had fallen.

"What a worthless tree it was! It is splintered into kindling wood," said the Master.

"No wonder," said the Gardener. "See, it had almost no roots, only the big tap root, broken off here, and two others with no tendrils or rootlets to help it. The wonder is that it lived as long as it did. The first hot summer would have killed it, anyhow."


[10] The Violin Tree

ONCE upon a time a tree grew up in the forest, sound at heart, close and fine of grain, and with fine spreading branches. The sweetest of the singing birds nested there, for it seemed easier to sing in that tree than in others about it. The tree drank in with delight all the music of the forest--the singing of birds, the whispering breezes, the deep organ notes of the great winds, the patter of the silver rain. All was sweet music to the tree, and it was all gathered into her heart and kept there, and worked into the fineness of her wood texture. Then, one day all those faint and unperceived yearnings of her heart received a definite impulse. She was now a great tree with a splendid trunk. A young man came stepping springily through the forest carrying under his arm a violin. He paused beneath the tree, and leaning against its great supporting trunk, lifted his violin and his bow, and drew such music from it, that the tree was thrilled to the heart. This was different from anything she had heard before--different from the wild forest music, more thrilling, more sustained, more rhythmical, of a higher order.

As the musician carelessly rested his violin against the tree, she suddenly recognized that it was made of the same sort of wood that she was of--for trees have a way of knowing when some of their own wood touches them. A wonderful thought came to her: "If only I could be made into violins! How I would love to make such beautiful music!" But she could not express her thought, except to the winds, who understood her little whispered wish. The musician after an hour of rest, carelessly picked up his violin and went on his way; nor even gave a thought to the tree that had sheltered him for an hour. But the tree dreamed constantly of the violin and of her desire to become one.

At last some woodsmen came into the forest and began to cut down some of the trees, and this one was one marked for cutting. Very cheerfully she bore the pain of cutting, for she [10/11] thought to herself, "Now I shall be made into violins." But alas! that was not the destination of the tree. She was made into strong beams for the building of a house.

After she got over her first great disappointment, she began to be quite interested in the life of the house. There was a large family in it with many children, and the music of their laughter delighted the tree; while any quarrel or discord jarred and discomposed her, till the words of penitence and forgiveness were spoken. The house saw many joys and many sorrows. The children grew up, and words of love were whispered, and sank into the heart of the fine, old beams. Age silvered the hair, and ripened and mellowed the hearts of the different members of the family, one by one. Some went away and started their lives in other houses, but some remained in the old house with new generations of children; and the great beams, made out of the music-loving tree, drank deep of the music of human life, even as she had, in the old days, drunk deep of the wild, forest music.

At last the day came when the old house was to be taken down. It had served three generations, and its day of usefulness was over. In taking it down, however, the men were astonished to find how sound and strong were the solid beams that supported the floors; and they took them to the warehouse of the merchant who had the contract of wrecking the house. He was a queer, stuffy, old man, and crotchety; but he knew a good thing when he saw it. So he put the sound wood into a great storeroom filled with all sorts of junk, and there she lay in silence for a long time. The dust lay thick upon her, and she had nothing to do but dream of her past--her bright and beautiful youth in the forest, when she had had visions of a wonderful, music-filled and music-producing future, dreams that had never been realized.

Then she thought of her strong and active middle age, when she had bent all her strength to the support of an ever-flowing tide of human life. How interesting it had all been! How she had loved those dear human beings who had passed through, and into her life in the old house! And now, this [11/12] was old age, to be laid aside and forgotten; to dream of the past because there was no future to dream about, and no present to demand its energies.

Yet the tree felt there was strength in her still, and power for service, if only a use would be made of her. She did not repine, however. She said to herself, "I have had a happy life, and a useful one, even if it was not quite what I dreamed of when I was young." But even as she was whispering this to herself, the door opened, and the old merchant, who now owned her, came in with a stranger, a man with a look in his face that strangely reminded the old beams of the musician who had first inspired her with a conscious yearning for a musical life.

The old merchant was talking in his high, cracked voice. "I believe, Monsieur Stradivarius, I have just the thing you want--old, fine-grained wood, well-seasoned. The house from which I took it was nigh a hundred years old, and much of it was rotten; but these beams were all perfectly sound, not a flaw in them. Ah! but men built well in the old days. None of your flimsy modern stuff. I can sell you the whole lot, if you want it. It would make a power of violins though!"

The stranger wiped away the dust, and tested the wood to see that it was sound. Then he took his magnifying glass, and having chipped off a bit, examined the grain freshly exposed.

"This is exactly what I want, Friedmann," he said quietly, "and I will take it all. You may send it over to my place tomorrow."

And so it came about, that the tree that had dreamed, and lived, and suffered; and had never grown sour, or discontented; but had ever kept a sound, sweet heart, at last came into the realization of her earliest dreams, a grander realization than she had ever thought of. She became world famous, for the Stradivarius violins today are sought for by the greatest artists, and are more precious than their weight in gold. But the master hand that made them said:

"Yes, there is the skill in making; but the material, that, [12/13] too, is important, and this wood is perfect for the violin. I know of no other like it in all the world. It seems to have the music in it. I seem to hear the forest music at times, the whispering winds, the young birds; but it changes again, and has all the sweetest tones of the human voice, too--the murmurs of lovers, the laughter of children, the sighing and sobbing of broken hearts! When I am dead and gone, my violins will be making music for the world, and I am well content."

Then he passed his hands across the strings of the violin he had just completed on an order from Paganini, the great violinist, and a throbbing, golden sound came forth that seemed the echo of his own last words,

"I am well content."


[14] The Three-Leaved Clover

ONCE upon a time there was a wee little flower and a wee little leaf. It was just a little clover. In those days the leaf was round, much as a nasturtium leaf is now. But it was a sweet little leaf, and good for the sheep to eat, and they cropped it so closely, that sometimes there were no leaves left.

Then the clover said, "I must grow thick and cover the earth''; so it put out a great many leaves and made a soft, pleasant carpet for people to walk on. But you do not think much of clovers. We do not think much of anything that is as common as a clover. And men did not in those days either.

But the clover did not care. It said, "I am so glad that the sheep like me. I am so glad that I can make a nice, soft carpet for people to walk on. I must try to be sweeter, and softer, and cover more of the earth."

Whenever it saw a bare, ugly place it would say, "I am going to try to grow there, and make that place pretty and green." And so, it went on, in its own humble, little way, being useful to men and to the animals, but nobody cared!

God looked down on the little clover. He saw and cared. He called one of the great and mighty angels, who always stand in His Presence, and said, "Go through all the earth, and bring Me the most beautiful flower that you can find."

Now, the angel, that had stood in the presence of God for centuries, had drunk in some of the wisdom and love of God. He passed by many beautiful flowers, beautiful for earth, but he knew they would not be beautiful for God. At last he came to the place where the little clovers were. Men were walking over them, and sheep nibbling them. All of the other flowers despised them, and said, "You will never be seen by anyone if you let the sheep go on eating you. You ought to grow tall so that you can be seen."

But the angel looked at it, and said, "I think this is the flower that will give God the most pleasure." So he carried [14/15] one little flower and one little leaf up to Heaven. It was so frightened, that it trembled and shook all over, and when it came close to the throne of God, it went all to pieces, so that when the angel opened his hand, only the little green leaf was there.
The Lord God took it, and said, "Little flower, because you are the humblest thing on earth, because you have always served man and beast in the quietest, gladdest way, I am going to have you serve God, also. I am going to stamp on you my three-fold Name;" and He breathed upon it, and the leaf parted into three little leaves, and the angel took it back to earth. After a while all of the clovers had three little leaves, just as we see them today. Do you suppose it grew tall and made itself proud? No! It said, "I must go on growing sweeter, and softer. I must be here for the sheep and for the carpet."

But long centuries after, something happened. A nice, little boy was captured by pirates. The pirates were very rich, but they worshiped idols. One of the pirates wanted to take him into his own house, but the boy would not pour out wine to the idols first, so he could not have him serve him at the table. So, his master got angry with him, and sent him out to tend sheep. It was cold and barren, and the little boy sat down and cried for home.

"There is nothing here," he said, "that God loves; not one thing that speaks of God." He clutched at the grass in his bitterness. After a little while, he looked at what he had in his hand and found a little clover leaf, and said, "Here is something that has the Name of God. Maybe God wants this country. Maybe He means for me to be here. I will do whatever God wants me to do." So, like David, he kept the sheep. One day he ran away and escaped from the pirates.

Years afterwards, he came back again as a missionary. When his old master saw him, he said, "You are my property; you are my escaped slave."

But he said, "No, I am not your slave. I am an ambassador come to you from God."

[16] The pirate said, "Come with me before the king, and we shall hear what he has to say about your being an ambassador." When they stood before the king the man said, "O King, this is my slave. He ran away from me twenty years ago. I claim him as my own."

Then the king asked him, "What made you come back?" and he told him all about the wonderful things of the Christian religion. He did not say one word about himself. He did not care what became of himself. He wanted this one chance to save that country, and to preach to them of God.

He finished his talk with the words, "Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Ghost."

Then the heathen king said, "What is this? You say there is only one God, and here you have called on three."

"There is but one God," replied the Saint, "but in three Persons. There are three names to call Him by. He is One in Three and Three in One."

"The idea! What nonsense!" said the king. "No one can think of three in one, and one in three."

"Why, King Laoghaire, it is right at your feet! The clover that you see every day is one in three and three in one. And you say that that cannot be in Heaven, when we see it on earth?"

The king said, "I have seen that all my life long, but I never thought of that before." St. Patrick did not go back to be a slave, but stayed and became the great apostle of Ireland.

Think how a little clover leaf comforted a Saint, and converted a heathen nation.


[17] The Princess' Tongue

I HAVE been talking Sunday after Sunday to the big girls. Today, I am going to talk to you little ones. I am going to tell you a fairy story, so keep your eyes wide open.

Once upon a time there was a little princess. She was so very clever, that when she was only two years old, she could talk in whole sentences. When she was four years old, she could talk and talk; and when she was six, she could talk all day long.

People would stand and laugh at what she said. "Oh, is she not clever? Does she not say cute things," they would exclaim. By the time she was eight, she could talk all night as well as all day. When she was ten, she was learning to make sharp, caustic, sarcastic remarks about all sorts of things. People did not like that. They did not stand around, and listen, and admire the princess now. Those who had to wait upon her stuffed cotton in their ears.

"Dear, dear, dear, I wish she would not talk so much," they said. "I wish, at least, that she would not talk all night."

Now, it happened that next door there lived an old man who had a fine garden. In the middle of the garden, there were two fruit trees with delicious looking fruit upon them. The princess could see them very plainly from her window. Every day she would steal down and try to open the gate, but it was always locked.

"What a horrid man," said the princess, "to keep the gate to his garden locked."

But one day it was open, and the little princess walked in, and stood right under one of the two trees. It was covered with lovely, ripe apples. She held up her apron and sang,

"Pretty tree, pretty tree,
Shake down apples unto me."

And the tree shook its branches, and down came the fruit until her apron was full of rosy-cheeked apples. Then she went back to her father's garden, and ate, and ate, and ate. I could [17/18] not tell you how many apples she ate. Inside of each one was a core with the brown seeds in it, but these she threw away. But they were apples of discord, and made the little princess quarrelsome. Nobody came near her after that, but she quarreled with them, and that made her more disagreeable than ever.

Again a little while afterward the gate was open, and the princess went into the old man's garden, and stood under the same tree as the first time. But now, instead of apples, the tree was full of beautiful peaches. You see, it was a fairy tree--I told you this was going to be a fairy story--and the princess sang,

"Pretty tree, pretty tree,
Shake down peaches unto me."

And the tree shook its branches, and the princess filled her apron with them, and ran into her own garden, and ate them all up. But what do you think they were? They were peaches of lying. Each one had a little lie wrapped up inside it. After that no one could trust her, for the princess told lies.

Once more she found the gate unlocked, and went into the garden, and said the same thing. This time there were plums on the tree. After that she was boasting all of the time, and telling what great things she could do. The next time she went, there were beautiful pears on the tree. But they were pears of unkindness. Again and again she went, and each time there was a different kind of fruit. And the more fruit she ate, the more ill-tempered she grew. Nobody would stay where she was, if they could help it. The seeds she threw away sank into the soft earth, and grew.

Twelve times she went into the garden. Twelve times she found a different kind of fruit on the tree. Every time she got a different kind of sin on her tongue. Then there was no more fruit on the tree.

After that a strange thing happened to her tongue. She got a dreadful disease. You know what disease means. Well, her tongue grew, and grew, and grew. It grew right out of her [18/19] mouth, and hung down over her chin. Pretty soon it grew down to her lap, and then down to her feet. She was horrid-looking, with this great, red tongue hanging out of her mouth; and it was so troublesome, that all she could do was to sit down, and nurse her tongue. And now, no one could bear to look at her. But she did not stop talking. No, indeed! How could she with her tongue out of her mouth all the time? She talked every minute. Why, the dictionary could not hold the words that rolled off her tongue. And still her tongue kept growing longer.

Then the king became anxious, and thought something ought to be done. So he summoned the court doctor, but he did not know what to do. Finally, the king sent for all the doctors in his kingdom, and they held a consultation for three days, and decided that the only thing to do was to cut off her tongue. It had grown way out on the floor now.

So they cut off the princess' tongue. Of course, it hurt her dreadfully and it bled and bled, but it was in her mouth again anyway, and she could close her teeth and lips. But it grew out again, faster than ever, and the doctors said it must be cut off again. The princess kicked, and screamed, and said that she would never have her tongue cut off again; that it hurt too much. Then the doctors said they would try to pickle it. So they put it in vinegar. How horrid that would be to have your tongue pickled! It did no good, for it would not drop off, but grew longer and longer. Then they tried to shrink it up. They bought bottles and bottles of the essence of persimmon juice, but it only made the tongue grow faster. It was so long now, that the princess had to sit in the middle of the floor, and let her tongue coil around her. And she never stopped talking, and no one would come near her, for she kept this great red tongue wagging, and they were afraid of it. And she was so noisy that they had to pad the doors and keep them shut all the time. When she screamed, it could be heard all over the kingdom, and if she just talked, it could be heard all over the house. And now she said such cross, ugly, bad words all of the time that no one would come near her. They would not [19/20] bring her anything to eat, nor comb her hair, nor button her apron, nor wash her face.

The princess was so miserable that she began to cry, and the salt tears ran down into her mouth, and she screamed, "Oh, you have given me salt water." But, of course, it was only her tears. The doctors said that they could not do anything more, and the king shut them all up in prison.

Just after that, the old man who kept the garden came in and told the king that he could cure the princess, but only on two conditions. One was that he must let all of the doctors out of prison, because it was not their fault that they could not help the princess. The other one was that she must promise to do everything he said. The king was only too glad to promise anything, and so was the princess, for she was very unhappy, and very uncomfortable all of the time now. So the next day the gardener came and brought a beautiful golden apple, and told the princess that she must eat every bit of it. The princess thought that was a very nice kind of punishment. She was very hungry, too, as she had had nothing to eat for two whole days.

"Eat this up, every bit," said the gardener, "and plant the seeds in this pot of earth." It was the golden apple of silence. It tells us, you know, in the Bible, "that a word fitly spoken, is like apples of gold in pictures of silver." So this was the beautiful, golden apple of silence. But it did not taste as nicely as the princess thought it would, and she made a face. But the gardener told her that was only because her tongue was diseased, that the trouble was all there, and not in the apple. So she ate it all up, and planted the seeds.

The next day he brought her a peach. You see, the fruit on the other tree in the garden was ripening now. This was the peach of truthfulness. Her tongue made it taste bad, but the old man made her eat it. Then he brought her plums. These made her say nice, kind things about others, and people began to come near her again. And it was real nice and quiet in the palace again. The old king could get a nap, and have a quiet smoke now, sometimes.

[21] During twelve long days her tongue grew shorter, and shorter. Finally, it got back into her mouth again.

"Now," said the gardener, "you have a double door that God has given you to keep your tongue from coming out. They are your teeth and your lips. There are three things I want you to remember before you open this little, double door. The first is to think very carefully before you say a word, 'Is it true, what I am going to say?' Second, 'Is it kind?' And third, 'Is it necessary?' Do not let any words come out that do not pass the three tests. Will you remember?" The princess nodded her head as if she meant to remember.

Now what was the trouble with the princess? Well, she had been eating the fruit of the tree of malice, and none at all of the tree of charity. The good gardener brought her the fruit of the tree of charity, and made her eat it, and that killed the fruit that had been growing in her before. But all of the seeds from the fruit of the tree of malice grew up and there is much of it in the world still. The other seeds grow, too, so that we have charity as well.

Here in this home, I think that we have some of both. There are little girls who go and eat fruit from the trees, and then come and tell lies about it. Those are the apples of discord and the peaches of lying. But there are the apples of charity here, also. There are girls who say kind things and who tell the truth. Which kind are you going to be? You have heard of long-tongued women, have you not? You do not want to be that kind, I am sure. But in order not to be that kind, you will have to remember the three things that the gardener told the princess. That is the reason I have told you the story, because I want you to remember them every day. You must keep the door of your lips tightly shut until you think, "Is it truthful?" "Is it kind?" "Is it necessary?"

Now, I am going to say just one word to the bigger girls, for they are just as apt to make a mistake as you little ones. I want you to write down on a paper the twelve fruits of the tree of malice, and side by side the twelve fruits of the tree of charity, and see if one set will not cure the other. If you will [21/22] only remember this, I shall have a house full of little girls who know how to use their tongues. They will remember to keep silent in the silence times; they will say kind, gentle things when they are reproved; they will not gossip and tell tales. Then we shall have a nice, quiet house. There will be no need to pad the doors if we want a little rest. There will be no need to go out of the house and say, "Oh, oh, oh, the tongues of those children." Are you all going to try to be like the princess after she ate the good fruit? It is just as wholesome fruit, and just as sweet. Only diseased tongues find it hard to distinguish it. When you find yourself disliking to keep still, or to say kind things, you must make yourself do it, and think, "I must eat this fruit to make my tongue good."

If you all did that, we would have the happiest house in all the whole country. It would be full of little girls saying kind things. The tongue is a little member now, but it may get to be a big one, and there is no telling how miserable you will be if it gets too big for your mouth.


[23] Silverhair's Adventure

ONCE upon a time there was a little girl, a sweet little girl, who lived in a beautiful house. It was a large house with many rooms, and was very clean, and pretty. This house had a name. Perhaps you think you know its name. You think it was Bethany Home. But that is not right. Its name was Duty. Well, this little girl lived in the pretty house with her mother, and her mother's two sisters, who were, of course, her aunts. The mother's name was Eva, and that means life. The name of the one aunt was Beatrice, which means happiness. How could it mean anything else! And the name of the other aunt was Grace, which means spiritual love and strength. The little girl herself was called Silverhair. Her name was not Goldilocks while she was little. That became her name when she was grown up, and when the prince came, and sang to her:

"Goldilocks, Goldilocks, wilt thou be mine?
Thou shalt not wash dishes, nor yet feed the swine,
But sit on a cushion and sew a fine seam,
And feed upon strawberries, sugar, and cream."

But all that happened years later. At the time of this story, she was a sweet little girl, and had the name Silverhair, and that means innocence. There she lived in that lovely house with lovely people.

But you know it is not nice to stay in a house all the time, even in a charming one. Silverhair did not have to do so. There was a garden about the house, and it had a name, too. Its name was Eden, which means delight, pleasure. You see everything had a name, and every name meant something. Silverhair had her own little garden where she could plant seeds, dig up weeds, and pick flowers just as she liked. Of course, she could not do these things in all the big garden; oh, no, only in her own little plot. There she had many, pretty flowers. The weeds would spring up, too, and needed to be pulled out. [23/24] One must be very careful what kind of seeds one plants. There was a fence about the garden. You may think a fence is a useless, troublesome thing, but it is not, really. This fence was called Rule. It could keep out some of the ugly things which spoil a garden, the dogs, the bears, the lions, the things which would eat a little girl up. But a fence could not keep out the worms which burrow under, and eat the roots of the plants, nor the bad flies which come over the fence and sting the blossoms, so that worms grow in them, and spoil them. Yes, the fence was good for bears, and wolves, and bad dogs, but not for burrowing things, and flying things.

Now the garden had a nice, little gate. When Silverhair went into and out of it, she did not fly over the fence, nor crawl under it, but walked respectably through the gateway. The name of the gate was Permission. It was usually kept locked, but the little girl had the key, and when one carries a key, the lock does not bother one. The key's name was Trust, and as that word begins with a T which looks like a cross, it is sure to be a good thing. But what have you if you rub out the T? Yes, rust. Think what would happen to that bright little key if the T were left off. It would be a rusty key, and it would not turn the lock. But, oh! what if the R is rubbed out, and a D gets into its place! Then you have dust. Think of the bad words which begin with D; dust, discontent, devil. Don't put any D's into your pockets to change your golden keys into dust. How did Silverhair keep her key bright and shining? Well, she did it by hanging it about her neck, and letting it rest upon her heart. That is how to keep your trust bright.

But one day the string broke, and instead of going straight to her mother, or one of her aunts, to ask for a new one, she put the key into her pocket. Then she picked up a dirty weed and put that in, too, and there was a D in her pocket. When she pulled out the key it was no longer shining, but black and ugly. At the same time, discontent found its way into her heart. She wanted to go out of the garden to gather wild flowers, to hear the songs of wild birds. She was tired of the tame [24/25] things she knew so well. She had been told of the dangers outside, of bears and wolves; but she unlocked the gate and went out. It was pretty outside, and so different from her garden. The flowers were different. There were wild violets which looked like her tame ones, but there were many kinds entirely different. One thing about these flowers was disappointing. They were not sweet, and some even had a bad, rank smell. Fancy such a thing about a flower! But she could gather all she pleased. The trees were tall and beautiful, but they kept the sunshine out. She enjoyed the birds' songs, though some birds sang very strange things.

The whip-poor-will sang, "Have your own will, have your own will."

And the thrush sang, "Hush, don't tell; hush, don't tell." But Silverhair met no wolves, no bad dogs, no giants; so she said to herself that her mother was mistaken about them. She found only nice trees, and flowers, and birds.

On, and on, she went. When she was tired and thought of wanting to go home, she came to a little house in the wood. It was a smaller house than the one she lived in. It had a red roof. The door stood wide open! There is always a house of temptation in the wild wood. Sometimes, someone stands in the door and invites us in. But no one called to Silverhair. Would she go in? Yes. She was hungry, and tired, and wanted to eat, and rest, and then to go home. She found no people in the house; only things, the very ones she wanted. We always do when we meet temptation. First, there was a table, and on it were three bowls filled with smoking, hot porridge. It made her so hungry to smell it. The first bowl was so big, and held too much; and the second was quite too large, also. But the third one was just her size. We always find something just our size. So she ate the porridge, and scraped the bottom of the bowl with her spoon. After we have eaten warm food, we are not in a hurry to do things. Silverhair was tired, and did not want to go home right away. So she looked about for a chair, and there were three in a row. The first was very big, much too large for a little girl. The second was a rocking, [25/26] chair, and when she tried it she almost tipped it over. But the third was a little red chair with arms. It is a little girl's nature to sit down in such a chair. So Silverhair sat down hard, when crack! the seat broke, and the straws stuck into her. You know how they do. Temptation always sticks into one. She did not like her seat, so she hunted a place to sleep. It was her nap time, anyhow. Up the stairs she went, and there she found three beds. One was so big and so high, that she needed a ladder to climb into it. But she did not want to climb into bed. The second was not quite so large, but it did not suit her. Then she found what did please her, a nice little bed in a corner with a wild-rose comforter over it. She forgot that roses have thorns. She crawled in, covered herself, and fell fast asleep. She had not intended to; she meant to take a nap, with one eye open; but she forgot, and slept with both eyes.

Now this house belonged to bears. All that had been said about the wild woods was true. Red Riding Hood and Snowball had had experiences there. The three bears had put the porridge there in order to catch little girls, exactly as we put cheese in a trap to catch mice. The bears came home, chuckling to themselves when they found someone had been in the house.

The big bear growled, "Someone has tasted my porridge."
The next bear mumbled, "Someone has tasted my porridge."
The little bear piped, "Someone ate up my porridge, and I'll help eat her up, too."

Then they noticed the chairs. The big bear said, "Someone has been in my chair."
The middle-sized bear said, "Someone has tipped my chair over."
The little bear giggled. "Someone has been in my chair and sat right through."

Then they went upstairs on tiptoe, pita-pat, pita-pat, pita-pat, speaking in whispers. The big bear asked, "Who tried to climb into my bed?"

The middle bear asked, "Who pulled my pillow awry?" [26/27] The little bear said, "There is someone in my bed, and won't she make a nice meal!"

Now he was only a tiny Teddy Bear, and he forgot to whisper. Silverhair woke up, and was so scared when she saw three bears with huge goggle eyes, red tongues, and white teeth looking at her! That instant she realized that what her mother and aunts had told her was true. Luckily, the window was open and she jumped out--anything rather than be eaten by those dreadful creatures. They caught her by her long hair, but she kept her wits about her. She had a pair of scissors attached to her belt. Her mother had given them to her. The scissors were called Good Resolution. Silverhair seized them, cut off her hair and tumbled into a brier bush. She was scratched, her clothes were torn, but she got out, and ran screaming through the wood. Then, in her hurry, she got stuck in a bog, and lost one shoe. On she ran, still screaming with fright, and never stopped until she reached home, when she rushed into her mother's arms, and told her all about it. Aren't you glad she was not eaten by the bears, and did get home again?

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