....Katy’s face had grown thin, and her eyes
had red circles about them from continual crying.
Her hair had been brushed twice that morning by Aunt Izzie, but Katy had run
her fingers impatiently through it, till it stood out above her head like a
She wore a calico dressing-gown, which, though clean, was particularly ugly in
pattern; and the room, for all its tidiness, had a dismal look, with the
chairs set up against the wall, and a row of medicine-bottles on the
“Isn’t it horrid?” sighed Katy, as Cousin Helen looked around. “Everything’s
horrid. But I don’t
mind so much now that you’ve come. Oh, Cousin Helen, I’ve had such a dreadful,
“I know,” said her cousin, pityingly. “I’ve heard all about it, Katy, and I’m
so. very sorry for you. It is a hard trial, my poor darling.”
“But how do you do it?” cried Katy. “How do you manage to be so sweet and
beautiful and patient, when you’re feeling badly all the time, and can’t do
anything, or walk, or stand?”—her voice was lost in sobs.
Cousin Helen didn’t say anything for a little while. She just sat and
stroked Katy’s hand.
“Katy,” she said at last, “has papa told you that he thinks you are going to
get well by and by?”
“Yes,” replied Katy, “he did say so. But perhaps it won’t be for a long, long
tine. And I wanted to do so many things. And now I can’t do anything at all “
“What sort of things?”
“Study, and help people, and become famous. And I wanted to teach the
children. Mamma said I must take care of them, and I meant to. And now I can't
go to school or learn anything myself. And if I ever do get well, the
children will be almost grown up, and they won’t need me.”
“But why must you wait till you get well?”
asked Cousin Helen, smiling.
“Why, Cousin Helen, what can I do lying here in bed?”
"A good deal. Shall I tell you, Katy,
what it seems to me that I should say to myself if I were in your place?"
"Yes, please,” replied Katy, wonderingly.
"I should say this: ‘Now, Katy Carr,
you wanted to go to school and learn to be wise and useful, and here's a
chance for you. God is going to let you go to His school—where He
teaches all sorts of beautiful things to people. Perhaps He will only keep you
for one term or perhaps it may be for three or four; but whichever it is, you
must make the very most of the chance because He gives it to you Himself.”
"But what is the school?” asked Katy.
“I don’t know what you mean.”
"It is called The School of Pain,” replied
Cousin Helen with her sweetest smile. “And the place where the lessons are to
be learned is this room of yours. The rules of the school are pretty hard, but
the good scholars who keep them best, find out after a while how right and
kind they are. And the lessons aren’t easy either, but the more you study the
more interesting they become.”
"What are the lessons?” asked Katy, getting
interested, and beginning to feel as if Cousin Helen were telling her a story.
“Well, there’s the lesson of Patience. That's
one of the hardest studies. You can’t learn much of it at a time, but every
bit you get by heart, makes the next bit easier. And there’s the lesson of
Cheerfulness. And the lesson of Making the Best of Things.”
“Sometimes there isn’t anything to make the
best of,” remarked Katy, dolefully.
“Yes there is, always! Everything in the
world has two handles. Didn’t you know that? One is a smooth handle. If you
take hold of it, the thing comes up lightly and easily, but if you seize the
rough handle, it hurts your hand and the thing is hard to lift. Some
people always manage to get hold of the wrong handle." ...
[Through her illness, Katy did learn patience
and all the other lessons that God wanted to teach her. By His grace, she
changed, and her little sisters and brothers changed with her. They learned to
adore this sweet sister who now had time to listen, encourage, teach and comfort. The
following Christmas was one of their best. Katy
received a special wheel chair. Then...]
"More surprises. To the other arm of the
chair was fastened a beautiful book. It was The Wide, Wide World--and there was
Katy's name written on it....
This particular book, The Wide Wide World
-- the Norwegian version -- was the only one of all my precious books that my
family brought along when we first came to America. We were not a
Christian family, but I first learned to love God through this wonderful old
book that I treasured.