P IPPA lived in a great factory town. It was a beautiful old city with hills on either side and a broad, clear blue river winding and turning in and out through the place. The great mills were built on the banks of this river, that its power might turn the machinery in each. There were many of these mills, for here were manufactured great bolts of silk and hundreds of spools of silk every day.
The mills furnished work for thousands of people. Nearly every child who was old enough worked in the factories, and they were proud of their old town, proud of the wonderful silks, which were sent out to all parts of the world, and happy and contented in their work.
Little Pippa worked in one of the great mills every day. She loved the bright colors of the dyes, loved to guide the shining threads truly and firmly on the shuttle or spool. She was happy when she met a beautiful woman, clothed in wonderful silks, for she would whisper softly to herself: "How beautiful you are! I helped to make you look beautiful."
Every day but one, Pippa worked in the factory. One day in the year she had for her very own—one bright, perfect, wonderful day. Pippa called it "my own day!" She was glad when the Sabbath came, glad to go into the great, dim, wonderfully lighted church, and the Sabbath she called God's day; but this one day was her own. From morning till night she could do what she pleased.
Her day always came in the summer, when the sun shone the longest, the flowers were the brightest, the birds sang their sweetest songs for her, and she was thankful, and happy, and glad, and full of joy.
One day, when she came home from work, she said:
Jumping out of bed, she ran to the window and put her bright face out; and, oh, what a sunny world she looked on! It filled her heart with joy, and she sang her happiest, gladdest song:
She dressed quickly, ate her simple breakfast, and went out of doors, for she always spent her own day, if possible, in the woods. The woods were a long way from her house, but she loved to walk; and she ran, singing all the way, her little bare feet making funny marks in the sand. Little Pippa wore shoes only in the coldest weather.
As she went, singing all the way, she passed a house where a blind woman lived. The blind woman was sitting on her porch—sad and still. She thought the world a dreary place to live in, very dark and lonely, but, as Pippa ran by her, she heard her glad little song:
It made her day bright, and she said: "Why, it's true; all's well with my world. God's in His heaven."
Little Pippa ran, singing, along, and she passed the house of a great artist—a man who painted such wonderful pictures that they seemed to be really living. But, this morning, his paints did not work to please him, and he could not find a picture to paint, and he felt dissatisfied, and unhappy. But suddenly he heard Pippa's clear voice caroling like a bird as she ran by. He hurried to the door and saw Pippa, her face raised to the sky she loved so dearly, her hat hanging by the strings around her neck, her hair shining like gold in the sun, and her little bare, white feet pattering along, as her voice rang out, clear and sweet:
So the artist painted her picture, just as he saw her, and he called it "Joy." It was a wonderful picture—the most beautiful picture he had ever painted.
Pippa ran on and on, until she came to a man sitting by the roadside who should have been doing his Master's work, but he was discouraged, and did not feel brave enough, or good enough, or strong enough; but he heard Pippa's song, and saw her flit by, and suddenly he knew that he was strong, and brave, and good. So he rose and went about his Master's work.
Pippa ran on, and she found her woods. Never before did the birds sing more merrily, the river shine and ripple and gurgle more cheerily, or more perfect flowers grow for her pleasure. All the wonders of the woods came out to add to her joy, and she went home with her dress full of flowers.
Perhaps she was tired, but she was happy, and she whispered softly to the stars: "I did not find any one to help, so I just helped myself to be happy, and good, and full of joy. You understand, oh God, in Your heaven."