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Children's Story Garden  >  Mind the Light

Girl standing in wild undergrowth, casting milkwood seeds to the breeze.

The Children's Story Garden

Mind the Light


THE wind howled around the eaves of the little room where William Starr lay in his four-post bed, staring into the dark. A hare branch squeaked against the roof and the window-panes rattled furiously. "William hardly heard them, although without thinking he pulled the thick quilt closer around his shoulders. The moaning and whistling of the most piercing gales were usually music to his ears, lulling him in his warm bed to a deeper and more delicious sleep. Now sleep was far away. He heard only one sound — and that not in his ears, but speaking to his heart.

"William Starr," it seemed to say, "Rise out of thy bed and carry my message to the people of Clearbrook."

So strangely vivid the command came that he almost answered aloud, forming the words with his lips in the darkness.

"To Clearbrook, Lord? Surely Thou canst not mean that I shall ride on this wild night those forty miles. I have received no summons from there to come."

"Thy summons comes from Me. Ride thou to Clearbrook before the dawn."

"Oh, Lord, what message shall I deliver for Thee there?" William almost groaned.

"Ride thou to Clearbrook," the Voice replied.

It was not strange to William to hear the Voice of God speaking to him clearly out of the darkness, and it was his simple habit to obey. On such a wild night as this, however, his body almost rebelled. He lay for several minutes fighting with himself. Then with a bound, he threw back the soft warm covers and stood barefooted in the numbing draft. Forty miles to Clearbrook — eight hours' hard riding through partly frozen mud. At least half the distance must be covered before dawn, and he did not know what message he was to give. Blindly, he dragged on his clothes, stumbled to the barn, and finally rode off into the night, urging his unwilling horse toward Clearbrook.

At ten o'clock next morning the people of the little village of Clearbrook were gathered in their meeting house. The company had been deep in silent worship for several minutes when a horse was heard galloping up to the door. A few turned their heads as a tall, weary-looking, mud-splattered man strode up the aisle and took a seat in the gallery. All were filled with curiosity. After the silence had continued unbroken for sometime, William Starr rose stiffly and stood before them. Still, the message he was to deliver to these people had not been given to him, still he waited for the further words of God. The Voice was silent. Slowly and with much embarrassment he told of the command which had come to him in the night. "I have obeyed, I have ridden to deliver the message to you — and — the message goes no further." He sat down, his face flushed, his eyes troubled.

The people sat as awestruck as though a miracle had been performed before their eyes. They knew well the fearful roads over which William Starr had travelled; they thought of the bitter hours of darkness and of the wind that still raged. They thought of the times without number when they, too, had heard the Voice of God in their hearts, and had not heeded it.

Finally, an old man rose and said, solemnly, what all were thinking, "Indeed, our friend has delivered his message. It is, 'Mind the Light.'"

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In The Children's Story Garden. Stories collected by a committee of the Philadelphia Yearly Meeting — Anna Pettit Broomell, Emily Cooper Johnson, Elizabeth W. Collins, Alice Hall Paxson, Annie Hillborn, and Anna D. White. Illustrated by Katharine Richardson Wireman and Eugénie M. Wireman. Published in 1920 by J. B. Lippincott Company, Philadelphia.

Notes and links

Mind the Light
True in all the important details. The name of the hero and the place of the meeting are fictitious. (Historical Notes.)
"Mind the light"
This would appear to have been a popular expression among Friends. It is also the title of a short discussion by Samuel J. Levick, the subject of A Courageous Visitor in this book.