The Seven Little Sisters
HERE, dear children, are your seven little sisters. Let us count them over. First came the brown baby, then Agoonack, Gemila, Jeannette, Pen-se, Manenko, and Louise. Seven little sisters I have called them; but Marnie exclaims: "How can they be sisters when some are black, some brown, and some white; when one lives in the warm country and another in the cold, and Louise upon the shores of the Rhine? Sallie and I are sisters, because we have the same father and live here together in the same house by the sea-side; but as for those seven children, I can't believe them to be sisters at all."
Now, let us suppose, my dear little girl, that your sister Sallie should go away,—far away in a ship across the ocean to the warm countries; and the sun should burn her face and hands, and make them so brown that you would hardly know her,—wouldn't she still be your sister Sallie?
And suppose even that she should stay away in the warm countries and never come back again, wouldn't she still be your dear sister? and wouldn't you write her letters, and tell her about home and all that you love there?
I know you would.
And now, just think if you yourself should take a great journey through ice and snow and go to the cold countries, up among the white bears and the sledges and dogs; suppose, even, that you should have an odd little dress of white bear-skin, like Agoonack, wouldn't you think it very strange if Sallie shouldn't call you her little sister just because you were living up there among the ice?
And what if Minnie, too, should take it into her head to sail across the seas and live in a boat on a Chinese river, like Pen-se, and drive the ducks, eat rice with chop-sticks, and have fried mice for dinner; why, you might not want to dine with her; but she would be your sweet, loving sister all the same, wouldn't she?
I can hear you say "Yes" to all this; but then you will add, "Father is our father the same all the time, and he isn't Pen-se's father, nor Manenko's."
Let us see what makes you think he is your father. Because he loves you so much and gives you everything that you have,—clothes to wear, and food to eat, and fire to warm you?
Did he give you this new little gingham frock? Shall we see what it is made of? If you ravel out one end of the cloth, you can find the little threads of cotton which are woven together to make your frock. Where did the cotton come from?
It grew in the hot fields of the South, where the sun shines very warmly. Your father didn't make it grow, neither did any man. It is true a man, a poor black man, and a very sad man he was too, put the little seeds into the ground, but they would never have grown if the sun hadn't shone, the soft earth nourished, and the rain moistened them. And who made the earth, and sent the sun and the rain?
That must be somebody very kind and thoughtful, to take so much care of the little cotton-seeds. I think that must be a father.
Now, what did you have for breakfast this morning?
A sweet Indian cake with your egg and mug of milk? I thought so. Who made this breakfast? Did Bridget make the cake in the kitchen? Yes, she mixed the meal with milk and salt and sugar. But where did she get the meal? The miller ground the yellow corn to make it. But who made the corn?
The seeds were planted as the cotton-seeds were, and the same kind care supplied sun and rain and earth for them. Wasn't that a father? Not your father who sits at the head of the table and helps you at dinner, who takes you to walk and tells you stories, but another Father; your Father, too, he must be, for he is certainly taking care of you.
And doesn't he make the corn grow, also, on that ant-hill behind Manenko's house? He seems to take the same care of her as of you.
Then the milk and the egg. They come from the hen and the cow; but who made the hen and the cow?
It was the same kind Father again, who made them for you, and made the camels and goats for Gemila and Jeannette; who made also the wild bees, and taught them to store their honey in the trees, for Manenko; who made the white rice grow and ripen for little Pen-se, and the sea-birds and the seals for Agoonack. To every one good food to eat,—and more than that; for must it not be a very loving father who has made for us all the beautiful sky, and the stars at night, and the blue sea; who sent the soft wind to rock the brown baby to sleep and sing her a song, and the grand march of the Northern Lights for Agoonack,—grander and more beautiful than any of the fire-works you know; and the red strawberries for little Jeannette to gather, and the beautiful chestnut woods on the mountain-side? Do you remember all these things in the stories?
And wasn't it the same tender love that made the sparkling water and sunshine for Pen-se, and the shining brown ducks for her, too; the springs in the desert and the palm-trees for Gemila, as well as the warm sunshine for Manenko, and the beautiful River Rhine for Louise?
It must be a very dear father who gives his children not only all they need for food and clothing, but so many, many beautiful things to enjoy.
Don't you see that they must all be his children, and so all sisters, and that he is your Father, too, who makes the mayflowers bloom, and the violets cover the hills, and turns the white blossoms into black, sweet berries in the autumn? It is your dear and kind Father who does all this for his children. He has very many children: some of them live in houses, and some in tents; some in little huts and some under the trees; in the warm countries and in the cold. And he loves them all; they are his children, and they are brothers and sisters. Shall they not love each other?