A Language the Whole World Understands
General Robert E. Lee, who was one of the gentlest and
kindest of men, was one day riding by train to the city of Richmond. The car in
which he was riding was filled with officers and soldiers. At a small station
along the route an elderly woman, poorly dressed, entered the car. Not finding
an empty seat, she walked down the aisle toward the place where General Lee was
Immediately he arose, bowed courteously, and offered the
little old lady his seat. Noticing this act of kindness on the part of their
general, a score or more of the men in the car arose instantly and urged their
superior officer to be seated. "No, gentlemen," he said, "if you
could not rise for an infirm elderly lady, you need not rise for me." It
was a rebuke to those men, and most of them arose and went into another car,
where they would feel more comfortable.
Jesus tells us we should love our neighbor as we love
ourselves. That neighbor may live next door; or he might be of another
nationality, he might speak another language, he might even live across the seas
or in another land. His skin might be a different color.
Some years ago a black man was walking down a busy New York
street, carrying two heavy suitcases. He could not afford a taxicab, so was
carrying his heavy load from the railway station to a hotel some blocks away. As
he struggled along with the heavy burden, a hand was laid upon his shoulder, and
in an instant had reached down and taken bold of one of the heavy suitcases. A
white man's smiling face looked into his, and a friendly voice inquired,
"Pretty heavy, brother, isn't it? Let me take this grip. I am going your
way." The black man wanted to say no. He tried to protest, but it was
useless, for the strong arm already was carrying one piece of the heavy luggage,
and this new-found, big-hearted friend was walking by his side. The black man
was Booker T. Washington, and the white man was Theodore Roosevelt. Big people
The color of a man's skin didn't matter to Roosevelt. Here
was a traveler whose burdens he could lighten, and he gave him a helping hand.
No wonder he became President. It has been said that "no other President
lived the life of America so completely." The door of the White House was
open to all classes during his administration, and Roosevelt was universally
loved. Genuine love which really comes from the heart cannot be valued in gold
or silver. We may have a form of kindness without love in our hearts, but we
just cannot love without being kind. There will never be love without kindness
and courtesy and helpfulness.
A young storekeeper had closed his store after a hard, trying
day, and was hurrying home to his evening meal, when he met a little girl. Her
mother had sent her to the store to buy a spool of thread. Recognizing the young
merchant, she told him of her errand. He retraced his steps, opened the store,
secured the spool of thread for her, and registered the five-cent sale on the
cash register. He was not obliged to do this, but it cheered her tiny heart and
won many friends for the merchant.
One day Abraham Lincoln met a young girl on the street crying
bitterly, and he stopped to see if he could be of any help. He asked what the
trouble might be and if he could help, She was sobbing and crying, but managed
to tell him that the drayman had promised to come and pick up her trunk and take
it to the railroad station, for she was going away on the train. It was near
train time, and the man had not come for the trunk. Mr. Lincoln asked her to
show him where the truck was, so she led him into her house. He took the trunk
on his back and carried it off to the station for her. She and her mother caught
True courtesy has always been a real asset to people, and to
business concerns, too. It has helped many young men and women to positions of
trust and responsibility. The lack of kindness and courtesy has shut the door of
opportunity against many, too. What a simple thing it is to say, Thank
you"; yet how important it is. Kindness pays big dividends. A kind deed
will always leave at least two people happier. It blesses the doer of the deed
as well as the one for whom it is done.
Hands That Speak
Miss Caroline Winters slipped the last golden-brown pie out
of the oven, and setting it on the shelf beside three others, stood a moment or
so viewing her handiwork with unconcealed pride. Then, her work completed for
the afternoon, she sat herself down in the coziest rocker on her back porch, her
hands busy with a bit of tatting, as she listened to the snatches of music that
floated out from the open windows of the little house next door.
Once in awhile, across the green hedge that separated her
house from the Winslows', Miss Caroline could see Lisa's bare, bronzed arms,
flashing in the sunlight as she energetically shook her duster out of the
window. Mostly, though, she could only hear her neighbor whistling cheerfully to
herself, as she swept and dusted and baked. That merry whistle always told Miss
Caroline whether things were going well with Lisa; it was the most infallible of
For many months now, ever since the little mother had gone
away and left the care of the three youngsters to her capable eldest daughter,
Miss Caroline had kept her weather eye--no, ear on that barometer for signs of
Naturally, there had been many times during those months when
the whistling had stopped for a little while--times when Lisa needed just a bit
of encouragement--and once or twice there had been a long interval of silence.
Once, right at the beginning of things, when it seemed for day after day that
nothing Lisa tried to cook would turn out right, and once, later on, when little
Bobby had the whooping cough.
And every time when the little house was still, Miss Caroline
managed to find some excuse that would take her through the hedge. Lisa often
wondered how Miss Caroline always happened to be on hand just when she needed
her most, but she never guessed that she, herself, sent out the trouble call.
Today everything had been running smoothly. A few minutes
more and Lisa would be through with her work, ready to go up to her room to
dress for the afternoon. Miss Caroline had been "listening" so long
that she knew practically every move Lisa made during the day. Yes, she had
figured things out correctly this time, for here was Lisa at the window, giving
the duster a last vigorous shake, with an extra gay flourish in Miss Caroline's
And then something happened, for the whistling died away in
the middle of a note. Miss Caroline peered out of her back porch, and caught a
glimpse of Mary Ellen Tracy just turning up the Winslows' walk.
Mary Ellen Tracy, in her new yellow frock, was delightfully
in accord with the sunshiny afternoon, and exceedingly pretty to look at, yet
Miss Caroline frowned at the sight of her.
So that was what had choked off the whistle! Lisa must have
caught sight of Mary Ellen when she came to the window to give her duster that
last shake before putting it away. Poor Lisa, with her morning dress still
unchanged, and a dust cap covering her pretty hair--it was more than
thoughtless, it was downright mean, of Mary Ellen to come before Lisa was ready
to receive callers, and flaunt her lovely clothes and dainty slippers in front
of this other girl who loved pretty things equally as well, but who had so
little time to wear them.
After what seemed an interminable wait, Mary Ellen went
dancing off down the walk, all unconcernedly, and Miss Caroline sat and
listened. But there was not a sound from the little house across the hedge.
The frown deepened in Miss Caroline's face, and was
supplanted, after a moment of study, by a look of comprehension.
At once she went into her kitchen, and selecting the crispest
and most golden brown of the pies on the shelf, marched herself over to the
Winslows' and in through the back door, without so much as knocking.
Exactly as she had guessed, Lisa was sitting there at the
kitchen table, her head on her arms.
"What's the matter, child?" asked Miss Caroline,
understandingly--15 "Are you worried about your clothes?"
"No, not clothes," denied Lisa, lifting her head,
and bravely attempting a smile, which was a failure. "Hands!"
"Hands!" exclaimed Miss Caroline, taking one of
Lisa's in both of hers, and stroking it soothingly. "What on earth is the
matter with this small hand, I wish you'd tell me? It's strong and capable and
healthy and beautifully shaped--"
"And scratched and burned and bruised and
sunburned--look!" She held out her other hand and disclosed a big bandage
around one finger. "I cut that just a little while before Ellen
"Ah!" nodded Miss Caroline, "I was right. Mary
Ellen had something to do with it. Surely you're not envying her, dear
"Oh, but I am!" admitted Lisa. "Have you ever
noticed her hands? They're too beautiful and exquisite to be truthful, white and
smooth and soft and tiny!"
"Exactly!" snorted Miss Caroline indignantly.
"They're too exquisite to be true, just as you say. They're also too
exquisite to be any good on earth!"
"Why, Miss Caroline," exclaimed Lisa in amazement,
"don't you like
Mary Ellen's hands?"
"I do not," declared Miss Caroline firmly.
"Neither do I like curly white lap dogs, or statuettes or tramps or
anything else that is of no use in the world."
"But don't you think they're beautiful?"
"I do not," repeated Miss Caroline. "Pretty to
look at, yes. But beautiful, no indeed!"
"Oh, Miss Caroline, bow can you say that?"
"Why I mean it, child. You're forgetting what true
beauty is. Don't you know that every blessed scar on these hands of yours is a
mark of service given, and every scratch is a symbol of work well done? And you
would exchange them for hands like Mary Ellen's that have nothing to say for
themselves--just soft and smooth and white--and expressionless as a retouched
Miss Caroline's voice was eloquent with righteous scorn.
"Beautiful? Why, your hands are just like your mother's
hands, child, and I always said that she had the most beautiful hands I ever
saw. There never were hands more exquisitely shaped than hers--yet not for one
moment did she consider them too fine to perform any act of service that was
"Mother did have lovely hands," agreed Lisa,
reflectively. "I always thought so; they were so firm and strong and, oh,
so willing. And they could do anything. I guess they must have been
scarred, too, but I never thought about that. I never thought about mine,
either, until I saw them next to Mary Ellen's."
"Take a look at yours again," suggested Miss
Caroline, "and see if they don't speak of work well done and service
Lisa held her hands out in front of her and looked at them
through new eyes.
"They do, don't they'?" she admitted. "Maybe
you are right, Miss Caroline. Mary Ellen is always afraid to do things, for fear
she'll hurt her hands. I'd hate to be like that!"
"Of course! And the time will come when you'll be
thankful that, instead of being soft and white and helpless like Mary Ellen's,
your hands are strong and willing and unafraid to do tasks that others would
fear to attempt. And Mary Ellen will realize, some day, that never, never can
her hands be so beautiful as yours."
At the end of her prophecy, Miss Caroline suddenly seemed to
remember that she had a home of her own, and started to go. At the door she
turned and said, offhandedly, "I made too many pies today. Do you suppose
this one will come in handy for supper?"
"Oh, you darling!" exclaimed Lisa. "I just
know you made too many on purpose. And is that how you happened to come in, just
But her visitor, who had already reached the hedge, only
turned and smiled.
Miss Caroline's prophecy did come true--and a great deal
sooner than she had anticipated.
It was only a week later that she saw Mary Ellen again turn
primly up the walk to the little house next door. With Mary Ellen was her
five-year old sister, Gertrude, a small, rosy cherub of a youngster, all
"More trouble for Lisa," thought Miss Caroline,
grimly. "Now, why couldn't Mary Ellen have had sense enough to leave
Gertrude home?" For golden curls, her wide blue eyes, and her angelic
smile, could think up more mischief even than Bobby Winslow--and Bobby, all by
himself, could manage to keep Lisa well occupied thwarting the wild stunts he
Miss Caroline could well imagine Lisa's mental comments as
she caught sight of her small visitor, but not for an instant did she betray
herself to her guests.
Bobby and Gertrude jumped eagerly at her suggestion that they
play hopscotch up and down the walk, and the two older girls settled themselves
comfortably on the veranda.
"Now tell me about your New York trip," Lisa
commanded, then interrupted herself, as a sudden howl of distress came from
Gertrude. "But, Mary Ellen, Bobby is so strenuous; perhaps you'd better not
let Gertrude play with him. It's a shame to have her get all mussed up--"
And immediately Mary Ellen's protest, "Oh, what does
that matter if she does spoil things?"
"I suppose it doesn't matter," came Lisa's voice,
"if you don't have to make them yourself, or wash and iron them."
Poor Lisa. Miss Caroline longed to spank Mary Ellen for the
little, self-satisfied, commiserating way she laughed.
Indignantly, she gathered up her work and went inside. Once
there, a thousand tasks claimed her attention, and for a time she half forgot
the trials of her young next-door neighbor.
Passing by a window, Miss Caroline glanced across the lawn
and saw Gertrude and Bobby coming out the back door, carrying a box of matches.
Quickly she started for her neighbors backyard.
Luckily, however, the girls were ahead of her.
Lisa, warned in the middle of a sentence by the ominous
silence (silence she had found, was always ominous where small brothers were
concerned), decided to investigate.
She and Mary Ellen bad just rounded the corner of the house
in time to see Gertrude strike a match from the forbidden box in Bobby's hand,
and, holding the top of a long curl in the flame, laugh with impish glee as it
sizzled; then, as she caught sight of the older girls, instinctively let the
match slip from her fingers as she started to run.
The lighted match, as it fell to the ground, caught the
flimsy material of Gertrude's dress, and flamed up as she ran.
Mary Ellen started after her, then stopped short, seemingly
rooted to the spot and quite voiceless, as she saw what had happened. Little
Gertrude, discovering her flaming dress, started for her sister. But Mary Ellen,
her tongue suddenly loosed, cried out in horror: "Don't come near me,
don't--you'll set me on fire, too. Oh, no, don't come here."
The mischief was done. At the terror in her sister's voice,
Gertrude turned and fled, shrieking at the top of her lungs.
"Gertrude, lie down; lie down on the ground,"
commanded Lisa, trying to cut across her path as she ran, but Gertrude only ran
It was just then that Miss Caroline arrived at the hedge and
headed her off. Turning, Gertrude ran straight into Lisa.
Without an instant's hesitation, Lisa caught the child, and
laying her on the ground, slipped down on top of her, beating out, with her
hands, the flames that she would not smother with her body.
It was all over in two minutes--but they were two minutes
that brought Mary Ellen to her senses. A most illuminating mirror had been held
up in front of her, and she shrank from looking at the picture of her real self
that it presented to her.
Miss Caroline was bending tenderly over Lisa, who lay there
motionless on the grass. She raised her head as Mary Ellen spoke.
"You mustn't judge yourself too harshly, my dear,"
she answered gently, trying to take the sting out of Mary Ellen's bitter
discovery. "You had been brought up to think of yourself first. Now, come
and help me please."
Mary Ellen helped the best she knew how, and waited, scarcely
breathing, as Miss Caroline pronounced the little sister practically unharmed,
except for a few burns on her arms and legs, and the loss of her beautiful
"But, if it hadn't been for Lisa--" Mary Ellen
shuddered. Then she knelt and lifted one of the hands that had saved her sister.
Involuntarily, she shut her eyes at the pitiful sight.
Then she held her own white hands out in front of her and
looked at them as if they were something loathsome. "Oh, I shall never,
never be able to look at my hands again without hating them! Isn't there
something, anything, that I could do to try to make atonement?"
Miss Caroline bathed the poor, bruised, blistered fingers
with oil, and started to bandage them before she answered. "It will be days
before Lisa will be able to use her hands again. You might, if you are sure you
really want to, give up your New York trip and help keep house for her until she
is able to do it once more," she suggested.
Some time later, after the doctor had been there to see Lisa
and had pronounced that the scars would not be disfiguring, as they had feared,
Miss Caroline and Mary Ellen were in the kitchen. Miss Caroline had been showing
her how to get supper.
"Miss Caroline," began Mary Ellen, as she lifted
the lid off the carrots and set it down on the stove while she tested them with
a fork, "what was it that Lisa kept muttering all the time she was
delirious, about 'hands that speak'?"
Miss Caroline told her as kindly as she could.
"Why, how could I ever have thought that my hands were
beautiful," marveled Mary Ellen, "when they were just
Thoughtlessly she started to pick up the cover again--and
dropped it with a sudden scream.
"Ouch! That burned!" she exclaimed. Suddenly a
thought struck her, and she looked at the finger searchingly. Had it left a
mark? It had, decidedly.
"I do believe, yes, Miss Caroline, I do believe the
silence is over for good and all." Proudly she displayed the burn on her
"It's the first word, Miss Caroline,--the very first
word they have said-but," and Miss Caroline smiled tenderly to herself at
the determination in Mary Ellen's voice, "I can promise you that it isn't
going to be the last."
As you realize the great love and
sacrifice that Jesus has made for us, I am sure that you will want to receive
the blessings that come from following Jesus' example.