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Fifty-two Story Talks To Boys And Girls by Howard J. Chidley

A TALE ABOUT WORDS

Boys and girls like fairy-tales. So my sermon to-day is to be in that form. This fairy-tale comes from France, and it is told by Katherine Pyle in her book, |Fairy-Tales from Many Lands.|

A widow had two daughters. One was coarse and slovenly, with an ugly disposition, but because she resembled her mother the woman loved her and thought her beautiful. The other daughter had hair like gold and a complexion like a pink rose, while her eyes were as blue as the sky. She was sweet-tempered and kind, but her mother hated her, and gave her all the hardest work to do and the poorest food to eat.

One day she gave her a heavy jug and sent her into the forest to bring water for her sister. When the girl reached the spring she was tired and sad, and sat weeping on the stone. Presently a voice behind her asked for a drink, and she turned and saw a withered old woman sitting there. So she gently raised the jug to the woman's lips, and then refilled it and started home.

But the old woman called her back and said: |Daughter, you have helped one who is able to repay you for your kindness. Every word you speak shall be a pearl or a rose.| The girl hastened home. Her mother met her with scolding words, asking her why she had been so long. And when her daughter explained to her, lo! every word she spoke was a pearl or a rose. The greedy old woman snatched up the pearls and left the roses.

Then she called her other daughter, -- the ugly one, -- told her what had happened, and said: |Hasten, daughter! Take the silver pitcher and run to the fountain. If the fairy has given these for a drink from a jug, what will she give for a drink from a silver pitcher!|

The girl sulked off to the fountain swinging the pitcher and loitering along the way. When she reached there no old woman was in sight, but beside the spring was a tall, beautiful young woman who asked her for a drink. The ugly one replied, |There is the pitcher, draw the water for yourself.|

When she was about to go, the young woman said sharply: |Stop! the words that fall from your lips are evil things, and they shall look like the things they are. Every word you speak shall be a spider or a snake, until you learn to speak kindly.|

The girl trudged off home scarcely thinking about what the woman said, little knowing that it was the same fairy who had spoken to her sister. But when she began to answer her mother, spiders and snakes dropped from her lips, and she was very much frightened.

I wonder whether our words would be pearls or spiders if we could see them? Let us make them pearls.

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