Gateway to the Classics: The Way of the Gate by Carolyn Sherwin Bailey
 
The Way of the Gate by  Carolyn Sherwin Bailey

The Child Who Saw in the Dark

I

Once upon a time there was a child who was afraid.

She liked to play in the sunshine. She liked her playroom because it had so many large windows. But the child did not like the shadows. They came and danced on the wall at night, but she shut her eyes so as not to see them. She sat in the lamplight until bedtime. Then she was afraid to go up to bed alone.

So the child's father would take her hand and go upstairs with her. At the top of the stairs he would show her the little, twinkling light of the bedroom candle. When she was tucked in bed, he would show her one bright star shining in through the curtain.

But after he had kissed her good-night, and gone, the child covered up her head and was still afraid. She thought that some night her father might come home too late to go upstairs with her.

One day the child went to play at her little friend's house, and her mother said that she might stay to tea. There were chicken, and strawberries, and sponge cake for tea. But when they had finished supper, and it was time for the child to go home, it was dark. The road home was short and safe. It went between pretty gardens and orchards. The child started home, but she was much afraid of the dark.


II

"Oh, I wish that I had a light in this dark road," the child said.

And just as she spoke a little fairy lantern shone out in front of her. It danced this way and that. It made the child laugh and skip along the road as she followed it. Soon she saw more fairy lanterns. They lighted the trees like Christmas candles. They flashed around the child's head like a crown of lights. They were the fireflies. Her Father in Heaven had sent them to light the dark road for the child.

So the child was less afraid, but she said:

"Oh, I wish that I had another child to walk with me in this dark road."

And just as she spoke, the moon came up in the sky. It shone down on the road. It showed the child another child, walking along beside her. It was a little gray child, and not one bit afraid. It walked very straight, and it had on a hat with streamers just like the child's. It had curls, too, and a best doll in its arms. It was the child's own little shadow, keeping her company all the way.

So the child was scarcely afraid at all, but she said:

"Oh, I wish that some one from home would come and meet me on this dark road."

And just as she spoke, the child saw two bright eyes shining out in the dark.

"Purr, purr-rr," came softly through the bushes.

The child felt warm fur rubbing against her leg. She heard a friendly mew, mew. It was her pet white kitten come from home to meet her.

So the child was not at all afraid. She found that the dark was full of friends. The fireflies lighted her way. Her shadow kept her company on one side, and her kitten on the other. She found, now, pleasant things with which God fills the dark. She could smell the yellow honeysuckle that opens only at night. Soon she saw the light from her house. The door was open, and she went in.

"I am going up to bed alone," she said. "I like the dark."

The Lord my God will lighten my darkness.

—Psalm xviii. 28.


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