This story by Bertha Salchow was published in 1906 by the Reid Publishing Company, a firm in Boston that was owned by a Christian Scientist. The Sunday School children of First Church of Christ, Scientist, in Concord, New Hampshire, received this story as a gift from Mary Baker Eddy, who was at the time living at Pleasant View across town from the church. The style is typical of other fiction for children written by Christian Scientists of that era. (To read the companion article about author Bertha Salchow, click here).
“What if the little rain should say,
So small a drop as I
Can ne’er refresh a drooping earth,
I’ll tarry in the sky.”
What play! What fun the raindrops were having! Romping and rolling over and over their cloud-mother’s dress, just like kittens at play among lace curtains; while Sparkle and Glisten were playing catch-games with the sunbeams.
How the raindrops loved their kind mother who was taking them onward, upward, heavenward! Over the houses and hilltops, over forests and fields, over city and country she carried them. And looking down from their happy home, they had a complete view of all moving creatures on the drooping earth; and all the green-leaved families of Sunny-land.
Hark!! What is that!!!
A lightening, wingless, wireless message flew swift as thought through Cloud-land, followed by a trumpet-voiced call to duty. Wor-r-r-k! wor-r-r-k! wor-r-r-k! As if touched by an electric shock, the raindrops suddenly became still, and were all attention.
“My dears,” said the cloud-mother, “have you each thought of the work which you can best do, when you reach Sunny-land?”
“I know what I shall do,” cried Patter-drop. “There is a flock of ducks in a barnyard, and I am going to have some real fun as I patter down among them and develop into a good-sized duckpond.”
“Patter-drop is always scheming for fun,” laughed the others.
“We are going to help on the Rainbow,” said Sparkle and Glisten. “We are each going to watch at an end of it, so that when Princess Sunbeam comes in a shower of falling ray-in-drops (raindrops), we catch a gleam of the variable hues of red, green, or gold in each drop, and thus make the Bow of Promise complete.”
“But what if the Rainbow should say,
So small a path as I
Can ne’er reach from heaven to earth,
I’ll tarry in the sky;”
Said Wee-drop and Wet-face. “Then what?”
“Oh, Princess Sunbeam, like a ‘Woman of women,’ knows how much we need a ray-in-path (rainpath), and how much we are looking for one,” said Sparkle and Glisten. “Where are you going Big-drops?”
“Anywhere that I can strike,” answered Big-drops. “Two boys in Sunny-land are wishing for rain, let us all call on them and help them.”
“We are going to water the whole face of the ground,” cried Wet-face and Wee-drops.
“Yes you will!” exclaimed Soaker and Splasher; “but it takes us to go to the root of things.”
“What is your work going to be?” asked Patter-drop of little Mistie, for the purpose of teasing her.
“Oh, Mistie cannot go!” laughed the other raindrops. “Our cloud-mother cannot go to Sunny-land to chaperon a little working tangle-foot, who cannot even roll and play about like the rest of us. Talk of Mistie—”
Wor-r-r-k! wor-r-r-k! wor-r-r-k! again rang out the trumpet-tones through Cloud-land. Then the cloud-mother exclaimed, “Wor-r-r-k my dears,” at the same time giving herself and them a tremendous shake.
How the raindrops flew, and made off for Sunny-land! Patter-drop and Splasher, Big-drops and Soaker at once found their way to where Kenneth and Victor lived in Sunny-land. Pellmell they came one after another, until there were enough to catch the amazed boys.
“Hurrah for the rain!” shouted Victor, pitching his hat into the air. “Isn’t this fine?”
“Here comes lots more,” laughed Kenneth, just as Wee-drop and Wet-face splashed over him. “Hurrah!”
The raindrops landed everywhere; here on a horse, there on a cow or a sheep; examining them from head to foot, as each had to submit to a shower bath. How they did work in their efforts to clean things up. They very often came near being captured, in some bucket or barrel, whither they had run, but Splasher always came to the rescue, and by his clever way of overrunning things, he would liberate nearly all. They washed the whole house, and its windows, and all the walks around it, even to the shrubbery and garden; and all the time the thunder kept rolling, wor-r-r-k! wor-r-r-k!
Sparkle and Glisten appeared on the scene just as Princess Sunbeam came forth. They both gave the Princess such a royal welcome, that the smile of peace spread from Sunny-land up to Cloud-land, arching the whole heavens with beauty. All at once Sparkle dropped into a lot of rosebushes, while Glisten, at the farther end of the Rainbow, was swinging upon a blade of grass.
What a bit of heaven the raindrops had brought with them! As Mr. Ruskin once said, “Hardly a roadside pond or pool which had not as much landscape in it as above it. It was not the brown, muddy, dull thing we supposed it to be, for the raindrops have hearts like ourselves, and in the bottom of each there are reflected, the boughs of the trees and the waving grass, and all manner of hues of variable, pleasant light out of the sky; nay, the barnyard pool and the ugly gutter, that stagnated over the drainbars, in the heart of the foul city, were not altogether base, for down in the heart of each, if you looked deep enough, you could have seen the dark, serious blue of the sky, and passing clouds.”
Poor little Mistie was such a long time in getting untangled from her cloud-mother’s lace and garments, and in saying goodbye to that loving mother, that, groping her way all alone, it was twilight when she reached Sunny-land at last.
“Oh dear, I have missed lots and lots of fun,” sighed Mistie, when she heard of the many events of the day; and she became sadder still as she heard, while floating about, the various compliments paid to her brothers.
From one open window came these words of a farmer, “Oh, but this rain of to-day was a fine thing! It came just in time for the wheat, and it is of great value to that alone; but it is of the greatest benefit also to the other grains and vegetables, in preparing them for the extreme heat of the summer.”
“Oh dear!” exclaimed Mistie again to herself as she heard this. “Had I only reached Sunny-land when the others did, so that I too, could have helped; but I failed of being a blessing this time.”
“Please shut the window,” Mistie heard another voice saying; “for this mist and dampness, which is coming in, is not good for the carpets and furniture. I need a shawl myself, for my sleeves feel quite damp.”
Mistie turned from that window, and as she went by the children’s room, she heard Walter say, “Oh what a mist there is this evening! there is not a star to be seen.” And he began whistling, “When the mist has rolled away,” as he closed the window.
Little Mistie felt quite discouraged by this time, and as she passed the barnyard, she heard another version of the rain from the duck family.
“Quack, quack;” as they were fluffing out their snowy feathers, after their bath and swim. This, in its pleasant accent, means, “Thanks, thanks;” but there came, “Quack, quack,” in tones of disgust, from an old growler. “I hate this muggy mist; here we are, shut up on account of it, because it is feared that wild animals may be prowling around under its cover; I do love Splasher; quack, quack.”
Mistie felt bluer than ever. She left the barnyard and came to the main road.
“I told you so;” exclaimed one of the belated travelers, who were on the verge of a quarrel; blaming the mist and fog for their unfortunate choice of roads, and also for losing their way.
The bluer Mistie was, the more calamities were laid to her. An accident and the collision of two streamers upon the lake, were caused by “that miserable fog and mist.”
Mistie went onward and came to a city. It was very nice to see the lights and the people, but here again her cup was filled. She heard a lady say to her companion, as they came up the street, “How refreshing it is after the rain! I am so thankful to see the dust laid, and the streets clean once more.”
“Yes, the rain came hard enough to wash everything down the gutters,” said her companion; “but the air is so thick and misty to-night, that it makes one feel like getting indoors.”
Mistie, now very sad, lonely, and despairing, turned and left the city, for the fields and open country, much regretting her trip to Sunny-land.
“O-h-h, o-h-h! Would that I had not come at all! Why, I am of no good in this world. I came to see Sunny-land! Oh where is it?”
Apparently Mistie’s cloud was not clothed with a silver lining, in this, her darkest hour.
Unawares Mistie had drawn near another cottage, and from the open window of this, she heard a man reading from the Bible about “the drops of dew.”
She was weeping in silence now, and her tears, as gentle dewdrops, settled down upon the grass, the flowers and the leaves.
Some of these dewdrop-tears fell upon some flowers in the window, and Mistie became aware of a touch of kindly sympathy from some geraniums. “Oh we are so thankful for these dewdrops!” Mistie heard them say. “As we have no roots yet, this moisture all over our leaves, is like a drink of fresh water from a spring. Thank you, dearie. Why do you cry, Mistie, when you are doing so much good?”
But Mistie only cried the more, and buried her dew-drop-tears the deeper among their leaves.
“Listen and we will tell you our story,” said the geranium slips, as Mistie nestled closely to them.
“We had never known what afflictions were; but grown and nurtured by the mother-stem, we came out in rich red, pink, rosy and white blossom-dresses. We were gathered with other flowers, made into a bouquet, and placed in a vase upon a stand in a church.”
“How we enjoy it all! The chimes in the church tower rang out sweet welcome to mankind: ‘A-wa-ken, way-ken, way-ken; a-way-ken, a-way-ken.’ Then came the beautiful church service: the music, the hymns, the prayer, and the reading. Oh the inspiration and peace of that hour!”
“After the service a lady lifted us gently from the vase, and we were taken, with a loving message of hope, to the couch of a little girl.”
“We were soon the best of friends, for she loved us dearly. We tried to tell her of God,—turning to the Light, who could make her well; and that to realize (real eyes) it was a God-given birthright of hers, to be as well, as happy, and as free, as other boys and girls. She could a-way-ken (a way know) out of error into the truth.”
“After a few mornings, her mother brought her fresh flowers; and as she picked us up she said to the little girl, ‘These flowers are of no more good now, see what beautiful fresh roses I have brought to you.’”
“We were then thrown into the street, out into the hot sun and dust. We indeed felt sad, lonely and forsaken; it seemed as though we could a-way-ken to good no more; we should wither and die. But God, good, was our helper; for two boys, seeing us lying there, picked us up, one saying to the other, ‘What fine geranium slips these are! there must have been some very beautiful flowers on them.’ The other suggested that we be taken to their sister, who was very fond of flowers, and see if she wished to pot us. We have been well-cared for ever since; each having a pot of fresh, rich earth, plenty of water, and a nice shady corner; but when your dewdrop-tears fell on us just now, we felt very thankful to you, dearie. And when you felt so lonely and discouraged a few moments ago, and wished that you had not come to Sunny-land, and said that you were of no good in the world, we just knew that it was all a mistake, and that you could see Sunny-land also, if you would look on the bright side.”
“All a mist-ache!” said Mistie to herself. “What is a mist-ache, I wonder. Oh, I do feel so much better now; the bad feeling is all gone, just like a dream. I am no longer without sympathy, and perplexed about my mission to Sunny-land, since in my dewdrop-tear, I a-way-ken to do good unto others.”
Mistie now became conscious of many still, small voices all about her. The daisy sang,
“Be of good cheer,
God’s presence here,
Perfect love near,
‘Casteth out fear.’”
A lily-bulb, feeling the new life springing up within her, thus voiced her praise,
Turning from sin,
Life you shall win,
God will come in.”
A chorus of good cheer, came from a bed of violets,
“His perfect fold,
God doth behold;
Half was not told,
Ever of old.”
All of the voices sang in unison,
“Ask God in prayer,
Heaven to share;
“I never thought that Good would come to me in this way,” said Mistie to herself. “My old mist-ache is all gone, gone, gone! But it nearly spoiled my whole trip to Sunny-land though. I must find the raindrops now; everywhere I see signs of their work, but where are they now? Have they all gone to dreamland?”
But pretty soon she heard Splasher going over some rocks in high glee. She went to a stream and found that all the raindrops were there. The ground was so well soaked that they were no longer needed, and had all run down to the stream together; and the kindly stream had given them a hearty welcome, after their hard work, and a good bed to rest upon.
But what a lot of dirt and filth the raindrops had brought with them. Their first duty was to become purified, and this required patience, for they must lie very quietly, in order that the work of cleansing might be properly done; it could not be hurried, because it would take days, if the raindrops grew impatient about it; or might cause them to travel a long distance, even to the ocean itself. Purity and peace were thus to be attained, before they could, mounting higher, get back to Cloud-land again.
Patter-drop was too sleepy for fun, and the water too wet to need Soaker’s aid. Sparkle and Glisten lay very quietly looking up to Cloud-land. They were thinking how very far off it seemed. Presently they glanced at their companions, and saw that they also were thinking seriously.
“How shall we ever get there!” cried Wet-face.
“There will never be another Rainbow, if we do not get home again,” said Sparkle and Glisten.
“Thinking of Princess Sunbeam, and a ray-in-path are you?” laughed Patter-drop, teasingly, in a ripple overspreading the stream. “Well,” he added, “falling was the fun of it, but you know that flying is not my nature.”
“Everything will be all dried up again, if we do not get back to Cloud-land,” sighed Soaker. “I cannot return to it by running up hill.”
“I cannot run up hill either, I am so small,” piped in Wee-drop. “It is awful hard work!”
“What will our cloud-mother do without us!” exclaimed Big-drop. “She has neither cloud bottles nor a sunbeam rope, to draw us out of this stream, and up to Cloud-land.”
Just then a snake swam across the stream, and the raindrops fairly rushed to get beyond its reach.
“What is it!” they all gasped at once. “It is very queer, for every creature in Sunny-land has wings, or feet, and some have both, and even the fishes in this stream have paddles or oars sprouted on them; but this thing is all mouth and tail. What is it!”
“A lying thing,” Mistie, who had just arrived, “A mouth with a tale,—a lie.”
Mistie had been through enough, to be convinced that all was not real, which seemed to be. The thought of what the geraniums had told her, inspired her with the idea, that to realize (real-eyes) Good is reality.
“Well we do deserve a rebuke,” said Wet-face and Soaker. “This morning we were boasting of what we were going to do, when we reached Sunny-land, and now we are in a dreadful plight. How are we going to get back home again?”
“I think that I can help you all out,” said Mistie. “Wait until I put on some vapor wings, like a little girl putting on her working apron; it is much easier than sprouting feathers, as the birds have to do. You know that vapor wings are what the sunbeams use to mop up Sunny-land with.”
“Oh, Mistie!” pleaded the raindrops. “How can you, when we all made such fun of you! What will our mother say, when she hears about it!”
Who can describe a brave, dauntless dawn, struggling with doubting night; rising gradually above the horizon, and spreading beyond the border lands of the east; followed by a golden gloaming, as of a harvest field, rising above its greenish yellow leaves and stalks. The golden glow changes swiftly into golden gleams, softening to a pure dazzling sunlight; first caught over the borders of Cloud-land, in a reflection of splendor cast; kindling into beautiful hues of gold, orange, pink, crimson, violet, diamond, topaz, opal, garnet, turquoise, and sapphire. Every fleck in Cloud-land, was as a crumb, fallen from the Master’s table; Mistie among them as she rose higher and higher above the stream.
“What a beautiful morning!” exclaimed Kenneth and Victor.
“Did you ever see such a dainty vapor cloud, as that which is arising from the stream?” asked their mother.
“When it gets up higher, where the colder currents of air strike it, then it will condense into rain. It is like a kettle of water on the stove, from which the steam is escaping; the water in the stream is warmer at night than the atmosphere, and the moisture rises up as vapor clouds by morning.”
He who gave feet to the forest and wings to the wind, was not unmindful of Mistie’s needs. A breeze came to help her, wafting her upward to Cloud-land. She became very blue with the cold, but was brave and did not cry, and thus loose some of the raindrops on the journey upward.
Their mother came forward to welcome them, and Mistie fairly shook with gladness.
“Here we are, home again, mother, thanks to Mistie,” shouted the raindrops.
“Why of course,” smiled the cloud-mother; “Mistie is mother’s little worker, to bring you back again.”
Patiently the raindrops reached the cloud-mother. Wet-face and Wee-drop, Sparkle and Glisten, Big-drop and Patter-drop, Splasher and Soaker, all rolled out of Mistie’s sleeves and vapor wings, as the mist condensed into raindrops again.
But where was Mistie!! She had vanished like a dream.
The raindrops were astonished beyond measure. “Did you ever! What became of her!” they gasped.
“You a-way-ken now, do you not my dears?” said the cloud-mother laughingly.
“Why we thought we did when we left the stream. We thought that all we needed to do, was to slip into Mistie’s sleeves and vapor wings, and let her do the rest of the work herself. No wonder that you ask us if we a-way-ken!”
The cloud-mother replied,
“What if the little Mist had said,
So small a cloud as I
Can ne’er waft you back to heaven,
I’ll tarry and not try.”
“Yes, and we even made fun of her desire to go to Sunny-land, and we wanted her to remain here, where-as if she had, we would not be here now.”
“My dears,” said the cloud-mother seriously, “even Mistie’s mission is clothed with a silver lining, for in it is revealed the shepherd idea. The kind shepherd carries the lambs in his arms, as Mistie carried you.”
“That hand which bears creation up
Shall guard his children well.”
“Whew!” whistled the wind. “W-h-e-w!”
The cloud has disappeared.
To read the companion article about author Bertha Salchow, click here.