All children need bread and shelter. But a true home, of course, is much more than that. Children also need love and order and, because they are not born knowing the difference between right and wrong, a place where they can begin to develop a moral sense. The transmission of virtues is one important reason for a home, and attention to the virtues is one of the important ties that bind a family together. "It is the peculiarity of man, in comparison with the rest of the animal world," Aristotle wrote, "that he alone possesses a perception of good and evil, of the just and the unjust, and of other similar qualities; and it is association in these things which makes a family."
And so home is the place where we receive our first instruction in the virtues. It is our first moral training ground, the place where we can come to know right from wrong through the nurturing and protective care of those who love us more than anyone else. Our character takes shape under the guidance of the dos and don'ts, the instructions, the exhortations we encounter around the house. Equally important, our moral sense emerges under the influence of examples set by mother, father, sisters, and brothers. In the familiar world of home and hearth, we learn the habits of virtue that will fortify us when we venture into the world.
In this chapter we find some of these lessons of home and hearth. We find family members helping each other along, and looking toward each other for help. We find siblings showing what "brotherhood" and "sisterhood" really mean. We see children learning about chores and responsibilities and self-sacrifice, and learning to help parents out of love. We encounter young hearts giving loving obedience. We witness the growth of conscience, of a desire to live up to the expectations of those who love us. We witness how our loyalty and courage and perseverance see families through hard times with a love that can overcome any number of obstacles.
Of course, no home is perfect. Home can be the place where we get our first look at vices as well as virtues. And, unfortunately, some homes are simply not good places -- not all homes are havens; not all hearths have a warm glow. But all homes teach lessons, even if they are the wrong kind of lessons. And so even though many homes do not resemble the best ones we find in these pages, the stories here are no less valuable because they give us all something at which to aim. They remind us of the kind of conditions families need and the attention children deserve. We set these examples before our eyes in order to keep raising our sights and our efforts.
These first lessons stay with us long after we leave home. In our affections and our memories, they remain forever a part of us, often the most cherished part of us. "Where shall a man find sweetness to surpass his own home and parents?" Odysseus asks in Homer's Odyssey. "In far lands he shall not, though he find a house of gold." The early experiences of home become a moral compass point, guiding and instructing us for the rest of life's journey.
And in one sense, the moral journey that begins with leaving home is the search for opportunities to offer others the same nurture and love we received in our own childhood. The memory of home becomes a past, an experience, an ideal we seek to re-create in our later lives, and in the new lives we shepherd into the world. We build our own homes, offer our own lessons, nurture our own children in the strength and knowledge once gained beside the first warm hearth of home.
Hush, Little Baby
pardThe first notes we hear are those cradle songs that spring from a parent's heart. Lullabies abound in every age and every culture. By such promises of nurture and protection babies find trust to rest and grow.
Hush, little baby, don't say a word,
Papa's going to buy you a mockingbird.
And if that mockingbird won't sing,
Papa's going to buy you a diamond ring.
If that diamond ring turns brass,
Papa's going to buy you a looking glass.
If that looking glass gets broke,
Papa's going to buy you a billy goat.
If that billy goat won't pull,
Papa's going to buy you a cart and bull.
If that cart and bull turns over,
Papa's going to buy you a dog named Rover.
If that dog named Rover won't bark,
Papa's going to buy you a horse and cart.
If that horse and cart fall down,
You'll still be the sweetest baby in town!
Lullaby and good night, with roses bedight,
With lilies bedecked, is baby's wee bed.
Lay thee down now and rest, may thy slumber be blest,
Lay thee down now and rest, may thy slumber be blest.
Sweet and Low
Sweet and low, sweet and low,
Wind of the western sea,
Low, low, breathe and blow,
Wind of the western sea!
Over the rolling waters go,
Come from the dying moon, and blow,
Blow him again to me;
While my little one, while my pretty one, sleeps.
Sleep and rest, sleep and rest,
Father will come to thee soon;
Rest, rest, on mother's breast,
Father will come to thee soon;
Father will come to his babe in the nest,
Silver sails all out of the west
Under the silver moon:
Sleep, my little one, sleep, my pretty one, sleep.
What Bradley Owed
Adapted from Hugh T. Kerr
Home is the place where first lessons are learned. And it is the place where much of what you do, you do for love.
There was once a boy named Bradley. When he was about eight years old, he fell into the habit of thinking of everything in terms of money. He wanted to know the price of everything he saw, and if it didn't cost a great deal, it did not seem to him to be worth anything at all.
But there are a great many things money cannot buy. And some of them are the best things in the world.
One morning when Bradley came down to breakfast, he put a little piece of paper, neatly folded, on his mother's plate. His mother opened it, and she could hardly believe it, but this is what her son had written:
Mother owes Bradley:
For running errands 3 dollars
For taking out the trash 2 dollars
For sweeping the floor 2 dollars
Extras 1 dollar
Total that Mother owes Bradley 8 dollars
arHis mother smiled when she read that, but she did not say anything.
When lunchtime came she put the bill on Bradley's plate along with eight dollars. Bradley's eyes lit up when he saw the money. He stuffed it into his pocket as fast as he could and started dreaming about what he would buy with his reward.
All at once he saw there was another piece of paper besides his plate, neatly folded, just like the first one. When he opened it up, he found it was a bill from his mother. It read:
Bradley owes Mother:
For being good to him nothing
For nursing him through his chicken pox nothing
For shirts and shoes and toys nothing
For his meals and beautiful room nothing
Total that Bradley owes Mother nothing
Bradley sat looking at this new bill, without saying a word. After a few minutes he got up, pulled the eight dollars out of his pocket, and placed them in his mother's hand.
And after that, he helped his mother for love.
Nails in the Post
M. F. Cowdery
In this tough story from a Civil War-era school reader, we find another kind of lesson that some homes offer. Here is a father giving his son stern but loving moral instruction.
There was once a farmer who had a son named John, a boy very apt to be thoughtless, and careless about doing what he was told to do.
One day his father said to him, "John, you are so careless and forgetful, that every time you do wrong, I shall drive a nail into this post, to remind you how often you are naughty. And every time you do right I will draw one out." His father did as he said he would, and every day he had one and sometimes a great many nails to drive in, but very seldom one to draw out.
At last John saw that the post was quite covered with nails, and he began to be ashamed of having so many faults. He resolved to be a better boy, and the next day he was so good and industrious that several nails came out. The day after it was the same thing, and so on for a long time, till at length only one nail remained. His father then called him, and said: "Look, John, here is the very last nail, and now I'm going to draw it out. Are you not glad?"
John looked at the post, and then, instead of expressing his joy, as his father expected, he burst into tears. "Why," said the father, "what's the matter? I should think you would be delighted; the nails are all gone."
"Yes," sobbed John, "the nails are gone, but the scars are there yet."
So it is, dear children, with your faults and bad habits; you may overcome them, you may by degrees cure them, but the scars remain. Now, take my advice, and whenever you find yourselves doing a wrong thing, or getting into a bad habit, stop at once. For every time you give in to it, you drive another nail, and that will leave a scar on your soul, even if the nail should be afterwards drawn out.
Robert Louis Stevenson
There is no better place to begin learning about bravery than in the safe confines of home. For many children, the first great adventure is that long, perilous journey up the stairs to bed. Making it can be a first exercise in courage.
1. Good Night
When the bright lamp is carried in,
The sunless hours again begin;
O'er all without, in field and lane,
The haunted night returns again.
Now we behold the embers flee
About the firelit hearth; and see
Our faces painted as we pass,
Like pictures, on the window glass.
Must we to bed indeed? Well then,
Let us arise and go like men,
And face with an undaunted tread
The long black passage up to bed.
Farewell, O brother, sister, sire!
O pleasant party round the fire!
The songs you sing, the tales you tell,
Till far tomorrow, fare ye well!
2. Shadow March
All round the house is the jet-black night;
It stares through the windowpane;
It crawls in the corners, hiding from the light,
And it moves with the moving flame.
Now my little heart goes a-beating like a drum,
With the breath of the bogy in my hair;
And all round the candle the crooked shadows come,
And go marching along up the stair.
The shadow of the balusters, the shadow of the lamp,
The shadow of the child that goes to bed --
All the wicked shadows coming, tramp, tramp, tramp,
With the black night overhead.
3. In Port
Last, to the chamber where I lie
My fearful footsteps patter nigh,
And come from out the cold and gloom
Into my warm and cheerful room.
There, safe arrived, we turn about
To keep the coming shadows out,
And close the happy door at last
On all the perils that we past.
Then, when Mama goes by to bed,
She shall come in with tiptoe tread,
And see me lying warm and fast
And in the Land of Nod at last.
Laura E. Richards
Brothers and sisters help each other along, first up backyard hills, and later up life-long climbs.
I cannot walk up this hill," said the little boy. "I cannot possibly do it. What will become of me? I must stay here all my life, at the foot of the hill. It is too terrible!"
"That is a pity!" said his sister. "But look, little boy! I have found such a pleasant game to play. Take a step, and see how clear a footprint you can make in the dust. Look at mine! Every single line in my foot is printed clear. Now, you try, and see if you can do as well!"
The little boy took a step.
"Mine is just as clear!" he said.
"Do you think so?" said his sister. "See mine, again here! I tread harder than you, because I am heavier, and so the print is deeper. Try again."
"Now mine is just as deep!" cried the little boy. "See! Here, and here, and here, they are just as deep as they can be."
"Yes, that is very well," said the sister, "but now it is my turn; let me try again, and we shall see."
They kept on, step by step, matching their footprints, and laughing to see the gray dust puff up between their bare toes.
By and by the little boy looked up.
"Why," he said, "we are at the top of the hill!"
"Dear me!" said his sister. "So we are!"
The Three Billy Goats Gruff
This familiar Norse tale is about an age-old job for big brothers -- looking out for little brothers.
Once upon a time there were three billy goats who lived in a meadow at the foot of a mountain. They were all three brothers, and their last name was Gruff.
One fine day they said to each other, "Let's go up on the hillside, and eat grass, and make ourselves fat."
The youngest of the three started out first. After a while, he came to a bridge. Now the little billy goat did not know it, but under this bridge lived a terrible Troll, with eyes as big as a saucer, and a nose as long as a poker. As the Smallest Billy Goat Gruff went trip-trap, trip-trap over the bridge, the Troll roared out, "WHO'S THAT tripping over my bridge?"
"It's I, the Smallest Billy Goat Gruff. I'm going up on the hillside to eat grass, and make myself fat."
"Well, I'm coming to gobble you up!" roared the Troll.
"Oh, don't do that! I'm so little, I'll make scarcely a mouthful. My brother the Middle-Sized Billy Goat Gruff will be along soon. He'll make a much better meal. You'd better wait for him."
"Very well, be off with you!" said the Troll.
So the little goat ran on, trip-trap, trip-trap, across the bridge and up on the mountain, where he was safe.
Pretty soon, along came the second Billy Goat Gruff.
He went trip-trap, trip-trap, over the bridge.
"WHO'S THAT tripping over my bridge?" roared the Troll.
"It's I, the Middle-Sized Billy Goat Gruff. I'm going up on the hillside to eat grass, and make myself fat."
"Well, I'm coming to gobble you up!" roared the Troll.
"Oh, don't do that! I'm not very big, and I won't make much of a meal. My brother the Big Billy Goat Gruff will be along soon. He'll make a much better dinner. You'd better wait for him."
"Very well, be off with you!" said the Troll.
So the Middle-Sized Billy Goat Gruff ran on, trip-trap, trip-trap, across the bridge and up on the mountain, where he was safe.
After a while, along came the Big Billy Goat Gruff. TRIP-TRAP, TRIP-TRAP he went over the bridge, and it creaked and groaned under his weight.
"WHO'S THAT tripping over my bridge?" roared the Troll.
"IT'S I, THE BIG BILLY GOAT GRUFF!" said the billy goat in a big voice of his own.
"Well, I'm coming to gobble you up!" roared the Troll.
"HO! HO!" laughed the Big Billy Goat Gruff. "You don't say so! Well, come along! I'll crush you to bits, body and bones!" That's what Big Billy Goat Gruff said in his big, rough voice.
Up came the Troll. He jumped on the bridge and put clown his big, bushy head and ran at the billy goat. The Big Billy Goat Gruff put down his head and ran at the Troll, and they met in the middle of the bridge.
But the Big Billy Goat Gruff's head was harder than the Troll's, so he knocked him down, and thumped him about, and took him up on his horns, and threw him over the edge of the bridge, into the river below! The Troll sank out of sight, and no one ever saw him again.
Then the Big Billy Goat Gruff went up on the hillside with the other Billy Goat Gruffs, who knew all along their big brother would punish the terrible Troll. And they all ate grass, and ate grass, and ate grass, until they were so fat they could hardly walk home.
Adapted from Lawton B. Evans
Happy homes need helpful hands.
Some young girls were talking by the brook, boasting of their beautiful hands. One of them dipped her hands in the sparkling water and the drops looked like diamonds falling from her palms.
"See what beautiful hands I have! The water runs from them like precious jewels," said she, and held up her hands for the others to admire. They were very soft and white, for she had never done anything but wash them in clear, cold water.
Another one of them ran to get some strawberries and crushed them in her palms. The juice ran through her fingers like wine from a wine press until her fingers were as pink as the sunrise in the early morning.
"See what beautiful hands I have! The strawberry juice runs over them like wine," said she, and she held up her hands for the others to admire. They were very pink and soft, for she had never done anything but wash them in strawberry juice every morning.
Another one gathered some violets and crushed the flowers in her hands until they smelled like perfume.
"See what beautiful hands I have! They smell like violets in the deep woods in the spring time," said she, and she held up her hands for the others to admire. They were very soft and white, for she had never done anything but wash them in violets every morning.
The fourth girl did not show her hands but held them in her lap. An old woman came down the road and stopped before the girls. They all showed her their hands and asked her which were the most beautiful. She shook her head at each one and then asked to see the hands of the last girl, who held hers in her lap. The last girl raised her hands timidly for the old woman to see.
"Oh, these hands are clean, indeed," said the old woman, "but they are hard from toil. These hands have been helping Mother and Father dry the dishes, and sweep the floor, and wash the windows, and weed the garden. These hands have been taking care of the baby, and carrying hot tea to Grandma, and showing little brother how to build his blocks and fly his kite. Yes, these hands have been busy making the house a happy home, full of love and care."
Then the old woman fumbled in her pocket and brought out a ring set with diamonds, with rubies redder than strawberries, and turquoise bluer than violets.
"Here, wear this ring, my child. You deserve the prize for the most beautiful hands, for they have been the most helpful."
And the old woman vanished, leaving the four girls still sitting by the brook.
Adapted from Juliana Horatia Ewing
In English folklore, brownies are good-natured fairies or elves who perform services at night, such as washing, mending, and sweeping. Juliana Horatia Ewing wrote this widely loved tale about the little people, in the mid-nineteenth century. The story helped inspire Robert and Agnes Baden-Powell to found the junior branch of the Girl Guides movement in England (now called the Brownie Girl Scouts in the United States).
"Children are a burden," said the tailor to himself as he sat at his bench, stitching away.
"Children are a blessing," said the kind old lady who sat knitting at the window. "It is the family motto. The Trouts have had large families and good luck for generations."
It was the tailor's mother who spoke. She knew the history of the whole family going back years and years, and which of the Trouts were buried under which old stones in the graveyard. And she had an endless supply of tales about ghosts and fairies and hobgoblins and such, much to her grandchildren's delight.
"Children are a blessing!" she declared again.
"But look at Tommy," the tailor argued. "That boy does nothing but whittle sticks from morning till night. I almost have to lug him out of bed in the mornings. If I send him on an errand, he loiters. If I give him a little chore to do, he does it unwillingly and with such poor grace that it would be far better for me to do it myself. He's not a bad one, mind you, I'm not saying that. But he's not much help, and I did hope he would be a blessing rather than a burden."
"Well, there's still Johnny," the old lady murmured.
"Johnny's too young to be much of a help right now," Mr. Trout replied. "And he won't turn out any different from Tommy if his older brother doesn't stop leading him by the nose."
Now, the thing the boys loved more than anything else in the world was to hear their grandmother tell them the old stories of times gone by. One evening as they sat beside the fire, she told them about a brownie who used to live in the Trout house and help them with the work.
"What was he like, Granny?" Tommy asked.
"Like a little man, they say, my dear."
"What did he do?"
"He came in before the family was up, and swept up the hearth, and lit the fire, and set out the breakfast, and tidied the room, and did all sorts of housework. Sometimes he weeded the garden or threshed the corn. He saved endless trouble. But he never would be seen, and was off before anyone could catch him. The family could hear him laughing and playing about the house sometimes, though."
"Did they give him any wages, Granny?"
"No, my dear. He did it for love. They left a glass of water for him overnight, and now and then a bowl of bread and milk or cream. He liked that, for he was very dainty."
"Oh, Granny! Where did he go?"
"I don't know, dear."
"I wish he'd come back!" both boys cried at once.
"He'd tidy the room," said Johnny.
"And sweep the floor," said Tommy.
"And wash the dishes," said Johnny.
"And pick up our toys," said Tommy.
"And do everything!" they both decided. "We wish he hadn't gone away."
"Well, there are plenty of brownies," the old lady said. "Perhaps the Trouts will have another someday."
"But how do we get one?" Tommy asked.
"Only the Old Owl knows that, my dear. You'd have to ask her."
That night, when they crawled into bed, little Johnny was soon in the land of dreams, but Tommy could not get the thought of the brownie out of his mind.
"There's an owl living in the old shed by the pond," he thought. "It may be the Old Owl herself, and she knows, Granny says. When Father's gone to bed and the moon rises, I'll go."
Soon the moon rose like gold, and went up into the heavens like silver, flooding the moors with a pale ghostly light and painting black shadows under the stone walls. Tommy crept softly out of bed, through the kitchen, and out onto the moor.
It was a glorious night, although everything but the wind and Tommy seemed asleep. The stones, the walls, and the gleaming lanes were intensely still. The church tower in the valley seemed awake and watching, but silent. The houses in the village all had their eyes shut, that is, their window blinds down, and it seemed to Tommy as if the very moors had drawn white sheets over themselves and lay sleeping too.
"Hoot! Hoot!" said a voice from the woods behind him. Somebody else was awake, then.
"It's the Old Owl," said Tommy -- and there she came, swinging heavily across the moor with a flapping, stately flight, and sailed into the shed by the pond. Though Tommy ran hard, she was in the shed some time before him. When he got inside, there sat the Old Owl, blinking down at him with yellow eyes.
"Come up! Come up!" she said hoarsely.
She could speak then! Beyond all doubt it was the Old Owl, and none other. Tommy shuddered.
"Come up here! Come up here!" said the Old Owl.
The Old Owl, l sat on a beam that ran across the shed. Tommy had often climbed up for fun; he climbed up now, and sat face to face with her, and thought her eyes looked as if they were made of flame.
"Now, what do you want?" said the owl.
"Please," said Tommy, who felt rather reassured, "can you tell me where to find the brownies, and how to get one to come and live with us?"
"Oohoo!" said the owl, "that's it, is it? I know of two brownies."
"Hurrah!" said Tommy."where do they live?"
"In your house," said the owl.
Tommy was aghast.
"In our house!" he exclaimed. "whereabouts? Let me rummage them out. Why do they do nothing?"
"One of them is too young," said the owl.
"But why doesn't the other work?" asked Tommy.
"He is idle, he is idle," said the Old Owl, and she gave herself such a shake as she said it, that her fluff went flying through the shed, and Tommy nearly tumbled off the beam in his fright.
"Then we don't want them," he said. "What is the use of having brownies if they do nothing to help us?"
"Perhaps they don't know, as no one has told them," said the owl.
"I wish you would tell me where to find them," said Tommy. "I could tell them."
"Could you?" said the owl. "Oohoo! Oohoo!" Tommy couldn't tell whether she was hooting or laughing.
"Of course I could," he said. "They might be up and light the fire, and spread the table, and that sort of thing, before Father comes down. Besides, they could see what was wanted. The brownies did all that in Granny's mother's young days. And then they could tidy the room, and sweep the floor, and wash the dishes, and pick up my toys. Oh! there's lots to do."
"So there is," said the owl. "Oohoo! Well, I can tell you where to find one of the brownies, and if you find him he will tell you where his brother is. But this depends upon whether you feel equal to undertaking it, and whether you will follow my directions."
"I am quite ready to go," said Tommy, "and I will do as you tell me. I feel sure I could persuade them. If they only knew how everyone would love them if they made themselves useful!"
"Oohoo! Oohoo!" said the owl. "Now pay attention. You must go to the north side of the pond when the moon is shining and turn yourself around three times, saying this charm:
Twist me, and turn me, and show me the Elf!
I looked in the water and saw...
Then you look in the pond, and if you see the brownie, you must think of a word that will finish the rhyme. If you do not see the brownie, or if you fail to think of the word, it will be of no use."
"Is the brownie a merman, that he lives underwater?" asked Tommy, wriggling himself along the beam.
"That depends on whether he has a fish's tail," said the owl, "and this you can discover for yourself."
"Well, the moon is shining, so I shall go," said Tommy. "Goodbye, and thank you, ma'am." And he jumped down and went, saying to himself as he ran, "I believe he is a merman all the same or else how could he live in the pond? I know more about brownies than Granny does, and I shall tell her so." For Tommy was somewhat opinionated, like other young people.
The moon shone very brightly on the center of the pond. Tommy knew the place well, for there was a fine echo there. Around the edge grew rushes and water plants, which cast a border of shadow. Tommy went to the north side and turning himself three times, as the Old Owl had told him, he repeated the charm:
Twist me, and turn me, and show me the Elf!
I looked in the water and saw...
Now for it! He looked in and saw...the reflection of his own face.
"Why, there's no one but myself!" said Tommy. "And what can the word be? I must have done it wrong."
"Wrong!" said the echo.
Tommy was most surprised to find the echo awake at this time of night.
"Hold your tongue!" he said. "Matters are provoking enough by themselves. Belf! Celf! Delf! Felf! Gelf! Helf! Jelf! What rubbish! There can't be a word to fit. And then to look for a brownie and see nothing but myself!"
"Myself!" said the echo.
"Will you be quiet?" said Tommy. "If you told me the word, there would be some sense to your interference. But to roar 'Myself!' at me, which neither rhymes nor fits -- it does rhyme, though, as it happens. How very odd! And it fits, too:
Twist me, and turn me, and show me the EIf!
I looked in the water and saw myself!
What can it mean? The Old Owl knows, as Granny would say. I shall go back and ask her."
"Ask her!" said the echo.
And so he did. He went back to the shed, and there sat the Old Owl as before.
"Oohoo!" said she, as Tommy climbed up. "What did you see in the pond?"
"I saw nothing but myself," Tommy said indignantly.
ard"And what did you expect to see?" asked the owl.
"I expected to see a brownie," said Tommy. "You told me so."
"And what are brownies like, pray?" inquired the owl.
"The one Granny knew was a useful little fellow, something like a little man," said Tommy.
"Ah," said the owl, "but at present this one is an idle little fellow, something like a little man. Oohoo! Oohoo! Are you quite sure you didn't see him?"
"Quite," answered Tommy sharply. "I saw no one but myself."
"Hoot! Hoot! How touchy we are! And who are you, pray?"
"I'm not a brownie," said Tommy.
"Don't be too sure," said the owl. "Did you find the rhyme?"
"No," said Tommy. "I could find no word with any meaning that would rhyme but 'myself.'"
"Well, that rhymes," said the owl. "What else do you want?"
"I don't understand," said Tommy humbly. "You know I'm not a brownie, am I?"
"Yes, you are," said the owl, "and a very idle one too. All children are brownies."
"But I couldn't do work like a brownie," said Tommy.
"Why not?" inquired the owl. "Couldn't you sweep the floor, light the fire, spread the table, tidy the room, wash the dishes, and pick up your own toys? As you said, there's lots to do."
"Please," said Tommy, "I should like to go home now, and tell Johnny. It's getting cold, and I am so tired!"
"Very well," said the Old Owl. "I think I had better take you."
"I know the way, thank you," said Tommy.
"Just lean against me," insisted the owl. "Lean with your full weight, and shut your eyes."
Tommy lay his head against the Old Owl's feathers. He had a vague idea that she smelled of heather and thought it must be from living on the moor. He shut his eyes and leaned with his full weight, expecting that he and the owl would certainly fall off the beam together. Down...feathers...fluff...he sank and sank. He could feel nothing solid. He jumped up with a start to save himself, opened his eyes, and found that he was sitting in bed, with Johnny sleeping at his side! But even odder was that it was no longer moonlight but early dawn.
"Get up, Johnny," he cried. "I've got a story to tell you!" And while Johnny sat up and rubbed his eyes open, Tommy told him everything.
And from that day forward, the Trout household had two of the most useful brownies in the whole land.
Does this man live at your house? This is a great poem to help teach responsibility. It's fun to read out loud too.
I know a funny little man,
As quiet as a mouse,
Who does the mischief that is done
In everybody's house!
There's no one ever sees his face,
And yet we all agree
That every plate we break was cracked
By Mr. Nobody.
'Tis he who always tears our books,
Who leaves the door ajar,
He pulls the buttons from our shirts,
And scatters pins afar;
That squeaking door will always squeak
For, prithee, don't you see,
We leave the oiling to be done
By Mr. Nobody.
He puts damp wood upon the fire,
That kettles cannot boil;
His are the feet that bring in mud,
And all the carpets soil.
The papers always are mislaid,
Who had them last but he?
There's no one tosses them about
But Mr. Nobody.
The finger-marks upon the door
By none of us are made;
We never leave the blinds unclosed,
To let the curtains fade.
The ink we never spill, the boots
That lying round you see
Are not our boots; they all belong
To Mr. Nobody.
The Tree That Was Lonesome
Home is shelter from storms -- all sorts of storms.
There was once an old oak tree that had stood for a long time in the forest.
Many years before, a great storm had swept through the forest. This storm had left the oak only a crooked, ugly tree. It was no longer straight and beautiful like the others. Each spring it covered its ugliness with new green leaves. In the fall the leaves turned to a pretty crimson cloak. But the winds of the forest always swept by. They carried the leaf cloak of the old oak tree away with them. Then it was left with nothing to cover its ugliness.
After years and years, the old oak tree began to feel hollow. It felt as if its heart as well as its body were hurt. The wind sighed through its bare branches one fall when it was very, very old indeed. It made the old oak speak. "No one wants me. I am of no more use in the world," the oak said.
Tap, tap, rap-a-tap-tap! That was Mr. Red-headed Woodpecker. He was hammering at the trunk of the old oak tree. Tap, tap! He hammered and drilled. He worked until he had made a little round front door. It led into his winter house in the trunk of the tree. He had found a ready-made pantry there. It was full of grubs for himself and his family to eat when the cold days came. The walls of his house were warm. It was snug and cozy.
"How grateful I am for this hollow tree," sang Mr. Red-headed Woodpecker.
Whisk, whirr! That was Bobby Squirrel. He ran up the trunk of the old oak tree until he came to the round hole that was his little front window. Bobby Squirrel peeped inside. Oh, how comfortable and snug was the little house that he saw! He lined it with moss. Where the bark stuck out and made shelves, Bobby Squirrel laid piles and piles of nuts. They were ready to feast upon when the cold days came. He would be able to live there, warm in his fur overcoat and well fed. He would be safely sheltered until spring came.
"How grateful I am for this hollow tree," chattered Bobby Squirrel.
Then a strange thing happened to the tree. The beating of the wings of the bird and the happy heart of the little squirrel inside it warmed it. They made the heart of the old oak tree full of joy.
Instead of sighing in the wind, the old oak tree's boughs sang with happiness. The fall rains had left tears on the ends of its twig fingers. Now they turned to diamonds until its twig hands sparkled with them. The snow covered its ugly body with a cloak of white. The starlight at night and the sun in the day time set a crown upon its head.
In all the forest there was no tree more glad, or more beautiful, than the old oak tree.
The Prince's Happy Heart
A close-knit and loving home is worth more than a kingdom, as the little prince discovers in this story.
Once upon a time there was a little Prince in a country far away from here. He was one of the happiest little Princes who ever lived. All day long he laughed and sang and played. His voice was as sweet as music. His footsteps brought joy wherever he went. Every one thought that this was due to magic. Hung about the Prince's neck on a gold chain was a wonderful heart. It was made of gold and set with precious stones.
The godmother of the little Prince had given the heart to him when he was very small. She had said as she slipped it over his curly head: "To wear this happy heart will keep the Prince happy always. Be careful that he does not lose it."
All the people who took care of the little Prince were very careful to see that the chain of the happy heart was clasped. But one day they found the little Prince in his garden, very sad and sorrowful. His face was wrinkled into an ugly frown.
"Look!" he said, and he pointed to his neck. Then they saw what had happened.
The happy heart was gone. No one could find it, and each day the little Prince grew more sorrowful. At last they missed him. He had gone, himself, to look for the lost happy heart that he needed so much.
The little Prince searched all day. He looked in the city streets and along the country roads. He looked in the shops and in the doors of the houses where rich people lived. Nowhere could he find the heart that he had lost. At last it was almost night. He was very tired and hungry. He had never before walked so far, or felt so unhappy.
Just as the sun was setting the little Prince came to a tiny house. It was very poor and weather stained. It stood on the edge of the forest. But a bright light streamed from the window. So he lifted the latch, as a Prince may, and went inside.
There was a mother rocking a baby to sleep. The father was reading a story out loud. The little daughter was setting the table for supper. A boy of the Prince's own age was tending the fire. The mother's dress was old. There were to be only porridge and potatoes for supper. The fire was very small. But all the family were as happy as the little Prince wanted to be. Such smiling faces and light feet the children had. How sweet the mother's voice was!
"Won't you have supper with us?" they begged. They did not seem to notice the Prince's ugly frown.
"Where are your happy hearts?" he asked them.
"We don't know what you mean," the boy and the girl said.
"Why," the Prince said, "to laugh and be as happy as you are, one has to wear a gold chain about one's neck. Where are yours?"
Oh, how the children laughed! "We don't need to wear gold hearts," they said. "We all love each other so much, and we play that this house is a castle and that we have turkey and ice cream for supper. After supper mother will tell us stories. That is all we need to make us happy."
"I will stay with you for supper," said the little Prince.
So he had supper in the tiny house that was a castle. And he played that the porridge and potato were turkey and ice cream. He helped to wash the dishes, and then they all sat about the fire. They played that the small fire was a great one, and listened to fairy stories that the mother told. All at once the little Prince began to smile. His laugh was just as merry as it used to be. His voice was again as sweet as music.
He had a very pleasant time, and then the boy walked part of the way home with him. When they were almost to the palace gates, the Prince said:
"It's very strange, but I feel just exactly as if I had found my happy heart."
The boy laughed. "Why, you have," he said. "Only now you are wearing it inside."
We Thank Thee
Blessings of the home often last longer when we remember to be grateful for them. Gratefulness is too often a forgotten virtue in our day.
For mother-love and father-care,
For brothers strong and sisters fair,
For love at home and here each day,
For guidance lest we go astray,
Father in Heaven, we thank Thee.
For this new morning with its light,
For rest and shelter of the night,
For health and food, for love and friends,
For ev'rything His goodness sends,
Father in Heaven, we thank Thee.
The Golden Windows
Retold by Laura E. Richards
We often dream of the splendors of faraway places, but on inspection those attractions are seldom as precious as home.
All day long the little boy worked hard, in field and barn and shed, for his people were poor farmers, and could not pay a workman; but at sunset there came an hour that was all his own, for his father had given it to him. Then the boy would go up to the top of a hill and look across at another hill that rose some miles away. On this far hill stood a house with windows of clear gold and diamonds. They shone and blazed so that it made the boy wink to look at them. But after a while the people in the house put up shutters, as it seemed, and then it looked like any common farmhouse. The boy supposed they did this because it was supper-time; and then he would go into the house and have his supper of bread and milk, and so to bed.
One day the boy's father called him and said: "You have been a good boy, and have earned a holiday. Take this day for your own; but remember that God gave it, and try to learn some good thing."
The boy thanked his father and kissed his mother. Then he put a piece of bread in his pocket, and started off to find the house with the golden windows.
It was pleasant walking. His bare feet made marks in the white dust, and when he looked back, the footprints seemed to be following him, and making company for him. His shadow, too, kept beside him, and would dance or run with him as he pleased; so it was very cheerful.
By and by he felt hungry, and he sat down by a brown brook that ran through the alder hedge by the roadside, and ate his bread, and drank the clear water. Then he scattered the crumbs for the birds, as his mother had taught him to do, and went on his way.
After a long time he came to a high green hill; and when he had climbed the hill, there was the house on the top. But it seemed that the shutters were up, for he could not see the golden windows. He came up to the house, and then he could well have wept, for the windows were of clear glass, like any others, and there was no gold anywhere about them.
A woman came to the door, and looked kindly at the boy, and asked him what he wanted.
"I saw the golden windows from our hilltop," he said, "and I came to see them, but now they are only glass."
The woman shook her head and laughed.
"We are poor farming people," she said, "and are not likely to have gold about our windows. But glass is better to see through."
She bade the boy sit down on the broad stone step at the door, and brought him a cup of milk and a cake, and bade him rest. Then she called her daughter, a child of his own age, and nodded kindly at the two, and went back to her work.
The little girl was barefooted like himself, and wore a brown cotton gown, but her hair was golden like the windows he had seen, and her eyes were blue like the sky at noon. She led the boy about the farm, and showed him her black calf with the white star on its forehead, and he told her about his own at home, which was red like a chestnut, with four white feet. Then when they had eaten an apple together, and so had become friends, the boy asked her about the golden windows. The little girl nodded, and said she knew all about them, only he had mistaken the house.
"You have come quite the wrong way!" she said. "Come with me, and I will show you the house with the golden windows, and then you will see for yourself."
They went to a knoll that rose behind the farmhouse, and as they went the little girl told him that the golden windows could only be seen at a certain hour, about sunset."
Yes, I know that!" said the boy.
When they reached the top of the knoll, the girl turned and pointed; and there on a hill far away stood a house with windows of clear gold and diamonds, just as he had seen them. And when they looked again, the boy saw that it was his own home.
Then he told the little girl that he must go. He gave her his best pebble, the white one with the red band, that he had carried for a year in his pocket; and she gave him three horse-chestnuts, one red like satin, one spotted, and one white like milk. He kissed her, and promised to come again, but he did not tell her what he had learned. He went back down the hill, and the little girl stood in the sunset light and watched him.
The way home was long, and it was dark before the boy reached his father's house; but me lamplight and firelight shone through the windows, making them almost as bright as he had seen them from the hilltop. When he opened the door, his mother came to kiss him, and his little sister ran to throw her arms about his neck, and his father looked up and smiled from his seat by the fire.
"Have you had a good day?" asked his mother.
Yes, the boy had had a very good day.
"And have you learned anything?" asked his father.
"Yes!" said the boy. "I have learned that our house has windows of gold and diamonds."
The Legend of the Christ Child
Adapted from a retelling by Elizabeth Harrison
This beautiful old story reminds us that in homes where love is, God is.
Once upon a time, long, long ago, on the night before Christmas, a little child was wandering all alone through the streets of a great city. There were many people in the street, fathers and mothers, sisters and brothers, uncles and aunts, and even gray-haired grandfathers and grandmothers, all of whom were hurrying home with bundles of presents for each other and for their little ones. Fine carriages rolled by, express wagons rattled past, even old carts were pressed into service. All things seemed in a hurry and glad with expectation of the coming Christmas morning.
From some of the windows bright lights were already beginning to stream, until it was almost as bright as day. But the little child seemed to have no home, and wandered about listlessly from street to street. No one took any notice of him, except perhaps Jack Frost, who bit his bare toes and made the ends of his fingers tingle. The north wind, too, seemed to notice the child, for it blew against him and pierced his ragged garments through and through, causing him to shiver with cold. Home after home he passed, looking with longing eyes through the windows in upon the glad, happy children, most of whom were helping to trim the Christmas trees for the coming morrow.
"Surely," said the child to himself, "where there is so much gladness and happiness, some of it may be for me." So with timid steps he approached a large and handsome house. Through the windows he could see a beautiful Christmas tree already lighted. Many presents hung upon it. Its green boughs were trimmed with gold and silver ornaments. Slowly he climbed up the broad steps and gently rapped at the door.
It was opened by a tall and stately footman. He had a kindly face, although his voice was deep and gruff. He looked at the little child for a moment, then sadly shook his head and said, "Go down off the steps. There is no room here for such as you." He looked sorry as he spoke. Through the open door a bright light shone, and the warm air, filled with the fragrance of the Christmas pine, rushed out from the inner room and greeted the little wanderer like a kiss. As the child turned back into the cold and darkness, he wondered why the footman had spoken thus, for surely, thought he, those little children would love to have another companion join them in their joyous Christmas festival. But the little children inside did not even know that he had knocked at the door.
The street grew colder and darker as the child passed on. He went sadly forward, saying to himself, "Is there no one in all this great city who will share the Christmas with me?" Farther and farther down the street he wandered, to where the homes were not so large and beautiful. There seemed to be little children inside of nearly all the houses. They were dancing and frolicking about. Christmas trees could be seen in every window, with beautiful dolls and trumpets and picture-books and balls and tops and other wonderful toys hung upon them.
In one window the child noticed a little lamb made of soft, white wool. Around its neck was tied a red ribbon. It had evidently been hung on the tree for one of the younger children. The little wanderer stopped before this window and looked long and earnestly at the beautiful things inside, but most of all was he drawn toward the white lamb.
At last, creeping up to the windowpane, he gently tapped upon it. A little girl came to the window and looked out into the dark street where the snow had now begun to fall. She saw the child, but she only frowned and shook her head, and said, "Go away and come some other time. We are too busy to take care of you now." Back into the dark, cold street he turned again. The wind was whirling past him and seemed to say, "Hurry on, hurry on, we have no time to stop. 'Tis Christmas Eve and everybody is in a hurry tonight."
Again and again the child rapped softly at door or windowpane. At each place he was refused admission. One mother feared he might have some ugly disease which her darlings would catch; another father said he had only enough for his own children, and none to spare for beggar brats. Still another told him to go home where he belonged, and not to trouble other folks.
The hours passed; the night grew later, and the wind colder, and the street darker. Farther and farther the little one wandered. There was scarcely anyone left on the streets by this time, and the few who remained did not notice the child. Suddenly ahead of him there appeared a bright, single ray of light. It shone through the darkness into the child's eyes. He looked up, smiling, and said, "I will go where the little light beckons. Perhaps they will share their Christmas with me."
Hurrying past all the other houses he soon reached the end of the street and went straight up to the window from which the light was streaming. The house was old and small, but the child cared not for that. The light seemed still to call him in. From what do you suppose the light came? Nothing but a candle which had been placed in an old cup with a broken handle, in the window, as a glad token of Christmas Eve. There was neither curtain nor shade at the small, square window, and as the little child looked in he saw standing upon a neat, wooden table a small Christmas tree. The room was plainly furnished, but it was very clean. Near the fireplace sat a sweet-faced mother with a little two-year-old on her knee and an older child beside her. The two children were looking into their mother's face and listening to a story. She must have been telling them a Christmas story, I think. A few bright coals were burning in the fireplace, and all seemed light and warm within.
The little wanderer crept closer to the windowpane. So sweet was the mother's face, so loving seemed the little children, that he took courage and tapped gently, very gently, on the door. The mother stopped talking, the little children looked up. "What was that, Mother?" asked the little girl at her side.
"I think it was some one tapping on the door," replied the mother. "Run quickly and open it, dear, for it is a bitter cold night to keep anyone waiting in this storm."
"Oh, Mother, I think it was the bough of the tree tapping against the windowpane," said the little girl. "Do please go on with our story."
Again the little wanderer tapped upon the door.
"My child! My child!" exclaimed the mother, rising. "That certainly was a rap on the door. Run quickly and open it. No one must be left out in the cold on Christmas Eve."
The child ran to the door and threw it wide open. The mother saw the ragged stranger standing without, cold and shivering, with bare head and almost bare feet. She held out both hands and drew him into the warm, bright room. "You poor dear child," was all she said, and, putting her arms around him, she drew him close to her breast. "He is very cold, my children," she exclaimed. "We must warm him."
"And," added the little girl, "we must love him and give him some of our Christmas, too."
"Yes," said the mother, "but first let us warm him."
The mother sat down beside the fire with the child on her lap, and her own two little ones warmed his half-frozen hands in theirs. The mother smoothed his tangled curls, and, bending low over his head, kissed the child's forehead. She gathered the three little ones close to her and the candle and the firelight shone over them. For a moment the room was very still. I think she must have been praying. Then she whispered to the little girl, who ran into the other room and returned with a bowl of bread and milk for the little stranger.
By and by the little girl said, softly, to her mother, "May we not light the Christmas tree, and let him see how beautiful it looks?"
"Yes," replied the mother. With that she seated the child on a low stool beside the fire, and went herself to fetch the few simple ornaments which from year to year she had saved for her children's Christmas tree.
And as they busied themselves about the tree, they began to notice that the room had filled with a strange and wonderful light. Brighter and brighter it grew, until it shone like the sun; from floor to ceiling all was light as day. And when they turned and looked at the spot where the little wanderer had sat, it was empty. There was nothing to be seen. The child was gone, but the light was still in the room.
"Children," the mother said quietly, "I believe we have had the Christ Child with us tonight."
And she drew her dear ones to her and kissed them, and there was great joy in the little house.
My Two Homes
Henry Hallam Tweedy
Many children feel at home in their house because they know it is part of God's house.
Of all the houses in the world
The one that I love best
Is that in which I wake and play
And lay me down to rest.
My father built it by his toil;
My mother makes it home;
You cannot find a lovelier place
No matter where you roam.
The rooms are clean and bright and fair
With pictures, books, and toys,
And food, and clothes, and beds, and chairs
For all the girls and boys.
We children work and care for it,
And help to keep it clean,
Our palace of true happiness,
Where mother reigns as queen,
And father guards us with his strength,
A wise and gracious king,
To whom we pay the honor due,
And glad obedience bring.
So full of love and joy it is,
So safe and bright and warm,
I would not go too far from it
Lest I should come to harm.
And yet when I go out of doors
And look up at the sky,
I know I'm in my Father's house,
And that His love is nigh.
For God is Father -- Mother, too!
The world is my big home;
The green grass is the carpet,
And the blue sky is the dome.
On every side are pictures;
The fields are full of food;
And all the things that God has made
Are beautiful and good.
He keeps me by His mighty power,
He loves me as His child;
His paths are bright with happiness,
His laws are just and mild.
And all His children in this house,
So wonderful and fair,
Should love each other, learn His truth,
And trust His love and care.
I thank thee, Father, for these homes,
Where we may dwell with Thee,
And cast out fear, and share the joys
Thou givest full and free.
The Matsuyama Mirror
This charming Japanese tale was popular with American children around the turn of the twentieth century. It was handed down from parent to child in Japan over many generations, and dates to a time when people living outside of cities knew nothing of mirrors or their uses. It reminds us that in many ways, we grow up in our parents' image. We hope their virtues become our virtues.
Long ago there lived, in a quiet spot in far away Japan, a young man and his wife. They had one child, a little daughter, whom they loved dearly. I cannot tell you their names, for they have been long since forgotten; but the name of the place where they lived was Matsuyama.
It happened once, while the little girl was still a baby, that the father had to go to the great city, the capital of Japan, upon some business. It was too far for the mother and her little baby to go, so he set out alone, after bidding them good-by and promising to bring them home some pretty present.
The mother had never been farther from home than the next village, and she could not help being a little frightened at the thought of her husband taking such a long journey; and yet she was a little proud, too, for he was the first man in all that countryside who had been to the big town where the King and his great lords lived, and where there were so many beautiful and curious things to be seen.
At last the time came when she might expect her husband back, so she dressed the baby in her best clothes, and herself put on a pretty blue dress which she knew her husband liked.
You may fancy how glad this good wife was to see him come home safe and sound, and how the little girl clapped her hands, and laughed with delight, when she saw the pretty toys her father had brought for her. He had much to tell of all the wonderful things he had seen upon the journey, and in the town itself.
"I have brought you a very pretty thing," said he to his wife. "It is called a mirror. Look and tell me what you see inside." He gave to her a plain, white, wooden box, in which, when she opened it, she found a round piece of metal. One side was white like frosted silver, and ornamented with raised figures of birds and flowers; the other was bright as the clearest crystal. Into it the young mother looked with delight and astonishment, for from its depths was looking at her a smiling, happy face.
"What do you see?" again asked the husband, pleased at her astonishment, and glad to show that he had learned something while he had been away.
"I see a pretty woman looking at me, and she moves her lips as if she were speaking, and -- dear me, how odd, she has on a blue dress just like mine!"
"Why, it is your own face that you see," said the husband, proud of knowing something that his wife didn't know. "That round piece of metal is called a mirror. In the town everybody has one, although we have not seen them in this country place before."
The wife was charmed with her present, and for a few days could not look into the mirror often enough, for you must remember that this was the first time she had seen a mirror, so of course it was the first time she had ever seen the reflection of her own pretty face. But she considered such a wonderful thing far too precious for everyday use, and soon shut it up in its box again, and put it away carefully among her most valued treasures.
Years passed, and the husband and wife still lived happily. The joy of their life was their little daughter, who grew up the very image of her mother, and who was so dutiful and affectionate that everybody loved her. Mindful of her own little passing vanity on finding herself so lovely, the mother kept the mirror carefully hidden away, fearing that the use of it might breed a spirit of pride in her little girl.
She never spoke of it; and as for the father, he had forgotten all about it. So the daughter grew up as simple as the mother had been, and knew nothing of her own good looks, or of the mirror which would have reflected them.
But by and by a sad misfortune came to this happy little family. The kind mother fell sick; and, although her daughter waited upon her day and night, with loving care, she got worse and worse, until at last there was no hope but that she must die.
When she found that she must so soon leave her husband and child, the poor woman felt very sorrowful, grieving for those she was going to leave behind, and most of all for her little daughter.
She called the girl to her and said, "My darling child, you know that I am very sick; soon I must die, and leave your dear father and you alone. When I am gone, promise me that you will look into this mirror every night and every morning. There you will see me, and know that I am still watching over you." With these words she took the mirror from its hiding place and gave it to her daughter. The child promised, with many tears, and so the mother, seeming now calm and resigned, died a short time after.
Now this obedient and dutiful daughter never forgot her mother's last request, but each morning and evening took the mirror from its hiding place, and looked in it long and earnestly. There she saw the bright and smiling vision of her lost mother; not pale and sickly as in her last days, but the beautiful young mother of long ago. To her, at night, she told the story of the trials and difficulties of the day; to her, in the morning, she looked for sympathy and encouragement in whatever might be in store for her.
So day by day she lived as in her mother's sight, striving still to please her as she had done in her lifetime, and careful always to avoid whatever might pain or grieve her.
Her greatest joy was to be able to look in the mirror and say, "Mother, I have been today what you would have me be."
Seeing her every night and morning, without fail, look into the mirror, and seem to hold converse with it, her father at length asked her the reason for her strange behavior.
"Father," she said, "I look in the mirror every day to see my dear mother and to talk with her." Then she told him of her mother's dying wish, and how she had never failed to fulfill it. Touched by so much simplicity, and such faithful, loving obedience, the father shed tears of pity and affection. Nor could he find it in his heart to tell the child that the image she saw in the mirror was but the reflection of her own sweet face, becoming more and more like her dear mother's, day by day.
The Apron String
Laura E. Richards
The much-derided apron string can come in handy, especially when its fibers are the virtues we've learned at home. Those bonds stay with us.
Once upon a time a boy played about the house, running by his mother's side; and as he was very little, his mother tied him to the string of her apron.
"Now," she said, "when you stumble, you can pull yourself up by the apron-string, and so you will not fall."
The boy did that, and all went well, and the mother sang at her work.
By and by the boy grew so tall that his head came above the window-sill; and looking through the window, he saw far away green trees waving, and a flowing river that flashed in the sun, and rising above all, blue peaks of mountains.
"Oh, Mother," he said, "untie the apron-string and let me go!"
But the mother said, "Not yet, my child! Only yesterday you stumbled, and would have fallen but for the apron-string. Wait yet a little, till you are stronger."
So the boy waited, and all went as before; and the mother sang at her work.
But one day the boy found the door of the house standing open, for it was spring weather. He stood on the threshold and looked across the valley, and saw the green trees waving, and the swift-flowing river with the sun flashing on it, and the blue mountains rising beyond. And this time he heard the voice of the river calling, and it said "Come!"
Then the boy started forward, and as he started, the string of the apron broke.
"Oh! how weak my mother's apron-string is!" cried the boy; and he ran out into the world, with the broken string hanging beside him.
The mother gathered up the other end of the string and put it in her bosom, and went about her work again; but she sang no more.
The boy ran on and on, rejoicing in his freedom, and in the fresh air and the morning sun. He crossed the valley, and began to climb the foothills among which the river flowed swiftly, among rocks and cliffs. Now it was easy climbing, and again it was steep and craggy, but always he looked upward at the blue peaks beyond, and always the voice of the river was in his ears, saying "Come!"
By and by he came to the brink of a precipice, over which the river dashed in a cataract, foaming and flashing, and sending up clouds of silver spray. The spray filled his eyes, so that he did not see his footing clearly; he grew dizzy, stumbled, and fell. But as he fell, something about him caught on a point of rock at the precipice-edge, and held him, so that he hung dangling over the abyss; and when he put up his hand to see what held him, he found that it was the broken string of the apron, which still hung by his side.
Stories for a Life's Journey
The Moral Compass
Stories for a Life's Journey
The Moral Compass, the inspiring and instructive companion volume to The Book of Virtues, offers many more examples of good and bad, right and wrong, in great works from literature and in exemplary stories from history. Organized by the stages along life's journey, these stories and poems serve as reference points on a moral compass, guiding the reader through the ethical and spiritual challenges along the pathway of life: leaving home, entering into marriage, easing the burdens of others, nurturing one's children, and fulfilling the obligations of citizenship and leadership.
Drawn from familiar Western history and mythology as well as a wide selection of tales and folklore from Asia, Africa, and Latin America, the stories in The Moral Compass are literary and evocative, designed to inspire as well as instruct. Complete with informative introductions and notes, The Moral Compass is an indispensable guide that will help family members meet the challenges of life at any age.
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