Aquarian Age Stories for Children
The Little Shadow
D. D. Arroyo
Bessie's small face was very red, and tears
were streaming down her cheeks as she stamped her foot angrily and cried:
"I don't care! This doll is mine, and Marie took it away. I slapped her and
I'm not sorry!." She held the doll defiantly in her arms, and stamped her
foot again, still sobbing.
Mother shook her head sadly and said, "Oh, Bessie, Marie is
only a little girl. She's just barely three, and here you are a big girl of
five. It was very wrong of you to slap her. You could have let her play with
your doll for a little while, just as well as not. You know you always get your
things back. Now, what should I do with you? I do so want you to understand and
be kind. Especially to be kind to those who are younger than you. Little
children who are younger than you are don't understand all the things you do.
You know that, and that is why you should be kind and helpful to them until they
are as big as you are. When Marie is as old as you are now she won't take
things, because she will know better."
Bessie had grown quieter as her mother talked. She felt ashamed,
but she did not want to admit it. This was what always happened to her. Her
temper just came up like a big black cloud inside of her, and she forgot to be
kind and good. She got real mad and hurt people. Then she cried and cried and
stamped her foot. Much later when she thought about these things she could not
understand it at all. It was as though it were some other little girl inside of
her doing all the bad things . . . because she knew the real little girl she was
didn't want to do them at all. Yet they happened all the time. She didn't know
what she could do about it. She just forgot and got mad all over again each
Mother took her hand now and led her out onto the sunny porch in
the back yard. "Look," she said, "see how you have a shadow. See
how much bigger it is than you are. See how it sometimes goes in front if your
back is to the Sun. Then see how it jumps in back of you and follows along if
you are turned about. It sometimes gets smaller than you are even. But it always
follows you as long as you are in the sunlight"
Bessie looked up at her mother in surprise. She wondered what
this had to do with her being a bad girl. She knew it would have something to do
with it. Mother didn't scold very often. Instead she had ways of telling things
so that it made you want to try to be better. That was what scolding was
supposed to do, but scolding never did.
Mother sat down on the porch steps, and pulling Bessie gently
over beside her, went on talking. "I'm going to tell you a story about a
shadow. I want you to listen very carefully, and then I 'm going to let you sit
here alone for a a while and talk about it." That, too, was the way Mother
did things. After the story, you had to think about it, and then you knew what
you could do about it to make the story fit in your own life. Some stories can
be made to help you like that.
Mother's soft voice continued: "Once there was a little
girl. She was pretty and had a nice home. She had everything a little girl
needed to be a fine little girl. Sometimes little girls don't have everything
they need. It's harder for these little girls, but there was no excuse for the
little girl I'm telling you about. She had what she needed except being nice
inside herself. She could be very nice when she wanted to be, but other times
she had a very bad temper. When she got mad, she did just awful things. She was
cruel sometimes. Very often she made others unhappy. Then after she had these
bad temper fits she felt unhappy too. Still, she just kept right on having
temper fits just the same. But one day a very strange thing happened to her. She
was just terribly mad. She had kicked her best friend. Then she stamped her foot
and screamed and cried so much that it hurt everyone's ears to hear her. No one
wanted to be near her. They just walked away and left her alone, and that's when
this strange thing happened. Can you guess what it was?"
Bessie silently shook her head and Mother went on with the
story. "Well, she was left all alone in the garden. The Sun was shining
down, and her shadow danced up and down just as she did. All of a sudden though,
it just stepped away from her. The shadow spoke as it did this saying, 'Little
girl, I 'm tired of following you around. I'm not going to stay with you any
longer. You will be the only little girl in all this land without a shadow. And
I won't come back until you stop making everyone so miserable. Why, just look at
the way you've been shaking me up and down every time you get into one of your
tantrums. No shadow likes that. A shadow wants to follow a nice person around.
Goodbye until you become nice!' And the shadow walked away.
"Soon she began to feel very lonesome. She got so she
didn't like to walk in the sunshine any more, for then everyone noticed that she
had no shadow and wouldn't come near her. They just stood a distance away and
pointed at her, some of them saying, 'Look, there 's a strange little girl. She
has no shadow! She must be very bad if her own shadow won't follow her any
"This made the little girl very unhappy, and she began to
feel sorry for the way she had treated others. Soon she began trying to be more
kindly and considerate in her feelings toward others, and not to lose her
temper. She tried so hard that after a while she didn't have tantrums any more.
Losing one's temper is just a bad habit, after all, and people can learn to form
the good habit of NOT losing their tempers - if they try. The little girl was
rather surprised to learn that this was really true, although her mother had
told her that it was. Now her shadow came back, and all her friends did, too.
She was her real self now, and a lovely playmate."
Mother stood up. "Please think about this story, Bessie. I
think you will find that it will help you with your temper."
Bessie heard the door behind her close quietly as Mother went
into the house to prepare supper. It was only a fairy story, of course - she
knew that. Nobody ever heard of such a thing as a shadow not staying with
anyone. That was silly. But she knew what the story meant all right. She knew
how the little girl must have felt. If such things could happen it would be just
awful. It would be almost like not having on a dress, if you didn't have your
own shadow with you. She knew it was going to help her remember not to get mad
any more. Every time she looked at her shadow it would be a reminder.
She slipped off the porch, and her shadow went gaily along with
her. She crossed the yard to Marie's house. She felt very bad when she saw the
sharp red flush on Marie 's small face where she had slapped her a short while
before. She sat down and handed the doll to her, saying, "There, Marie, you
can play with it. I'm sorry."
Marie smiled up happily with forgiveness in her eyes. Wanting to
make up for her meanness Bessie said, "I'll tell you a story, Marie."
So she explained about shadows to Marie, and then told her the story that Mother
had just told her. They were sitting together happily when Bessie heard Mother
calling her in to supper.
She skipped home with her shadow skipping along in back of her.
Throwing herself into Mother's arms, she said, "Mummy, my shadow followed
me. It's fun watching it, and I'll try to remember not to shake it up and down
by being mad any more."
Mother gave her a kiss and replied: "That's just what I
hope you'll do, dear. I want you just as lovely inside as you are outside."
Bessie laughed happily, for everything was all right now. She
wanted to be nice inside, too, the way Mother said. It felt so much better being