MARGHERITA had a frown on her forehead and a worried feeling of wrong in her heart. She hadn't been really happy for two whole days not since she had spoken unkindly of her little friend Marie, and repeated a story about her that she was not sure was true.
She knew she would never feel comfortable about it until she had talked it over with Mother, but she hated to have her know. Finally, she couldn't stand it any longer, and, throwing her arms around her mother's neck, she told all about it.
Mother looked very sorry, but all that she said was, "Rita, I want you to go to the three-acre lot down by the blacksmith shop and gather a handful of the brown seed-pods o' the milkweed. On your way home, open the pods and let the little winged seeds fly away for a frolic with the wind. Then come back to me."
This sounded like a very light reproof, and Margherita quickly found some milkweed plants. She ran and hopped and jumped through the field, tossing from her hands the silky, floating seeds. Pink-cheeked and smiling, she came back to her mother.
"Now," said her mother, "go back to the field, and, on the way, gather the seeds you have scattered, every one, and bring them to me."
The little girl set out to do as she was bidden. But as she passed along, she found that the frolicsome wind had scattered the delicate seeds far and wide. Even among the leaves of the wayside trees they had flown, and through the hedges, and over the little river that ran through the town.
Some of them had found a new field, where they settled themselves to establish new colonies of milkweed plants.
At last, discouraged and almost in tears, Margherita went back to her mother with only a few of the seeds she had scattered.
"My little daughter," Mother said, "it was just this that you did when you scattered unkind words about Marie, whether they were false or true. Spoken words of blame and suspicion may be like little sparks of fire falling in dried grass; they may cause great damage at, home, perhaps, or at school, or even in the world. And words once spoken are scattered like milkweed seeds.
Boys flying kites haul in their white-winged birds;
You can't do that way when you're flying words.
"Careful with fire," is good advice, we know:
"Careful with words," is ten times doubly so.
Thoughts unexpressed may sometimes fall back dead;
But God Himself can't kill them when they're said!