HOW IT HAPPENED
THE WOODED ISLAND
 In a quaint little cottage not far from the sea-coast,
David Duval first
saw the light of day. His father, a very industrious
man, supported his
family by making willow baskets, and his children, as
they grew able,
helped him considerably. David, the oldest child, was
favorite, for he showed great skill in his work, was
quick and obliging
and rendered his father considerable assistance.
Although David gave
promise of being a great man some day, yet he had a
very grave fault,
and this was his headstrong will. He always wanted to
have his own way
in everything, would never yield to another's rights,
and his parents
found great difficulty in teaching him to obey orders.
His sisters, too,
suffered much from his bad temper and from his
His rich uncle, Philip, gave him many invitations to
dine with him.
David enjoyed nothing better than to have the feasts
which his uncle
provided, but they made him dissatisfied with the
simple fare of his own
modest little home. He grumbled all the while he was
eating in his own
 house, and did not think it worth while to thank
God or his parents for
When he was reminded of his faults, he would promise to
do better, but
in a little while he would fall back to his old ways.
This saddened his
parents and they thought that the fond hopes which they
held for his
future would all be blasted.
His uncle would often say to him: "David, David, take
care! God will yet
send you to a special school, the 'School of
Experience,' where He will
discipline you, in order to make something good of
From the hill upon which David's house stood, one could
see a vast
expanse of water. A little island which lay not far
from the coast lent
beauty to the scene by its wealth of verdure. No one
lived upon it and
David's father visited it, from time to time, in order
to gather willow
branches for his basket weaving.
David, who was now strong enough to help his father row
and also to cut
down the branches, often accompanied him. One night his
father said to
him: "If the sky and the sea stay propitious, we will
both row over to
the island in the morning." David leaped for joy, and
the prospect of
the trip would hardly let him sleep.
At dawn on the following day, as the sky began to glow
and the morning
star grew paler and paler, David stood ready. He helped
food and wraps into the little boat. It had once
happened that the
weather had suddenly changed, and David and his father
had been obliged
to remain on the island for three days, suffering much
for the want of
food and covering; therefore, mother took the
precaution to give them a
pot, a pan and some matches, so that they could start a
fire and cook
something, if necessary.
As everything was now in readiness for the trip, David
took his straw
hat, while his sister playfully pinned a feather in the
"Oh," said his father; "get a couple of baskets, David;
"What for?" asked David.
"You'll find that out soon enough," said his father,
you trust that I well know to what use I will put them?
You do the same
to me, as many people do to their Father in heaven.
They always want to
know why this or that was ordered. Do what I tell you,
and in the end it
will come out all right." David then hurried and
brought back the
They both seated themselves in the boat, and pushed
from the shore.
Mother and daughter called after them: "A pleasant trip
and a happy
return." David vied with his father in rowing, and it
made him so warm
that he took off his coat.
Soon they reached the island and made a
land-  ing, while
David tied the
boat to a tree stump. They hurried toward the willow
trees, cut the
branches, tied them together in bundles and carried
them to the little
boat. The father was delighted with David's
helpfulness, and said: "That
is right; children should help their parents as much as
When they had gathered as many branches as were needed,
the father said:
"Now, let us rest a while and eat some lunch. After
labor, rest is
sweet, and one's food tastes so much better." When the
meal was ended,
the father said: "Now I want to give you another
pleasure. Get the
baskets and follow me." Soon they came to a beautiful
walnut tree, whose
branches, spreading far out on all sides, were laden
with nuts. David
was overjoyed at this sight, as he had never seen the
tree before. He at
once filled his pockets with nuts and tried to crack
one with his teeth
and get at the kernel. "Father," said he, "why did God
put the sweet nut
between two shells, a bitter and a hard one?"
"My dear boy," said his father, "God had the wisest
purpose for doing
this. He wanted to protect the sweet kernel, out of
which such a
beautiful tree could grow and save it from the gnawing
teaches us how to take the bitter and hard trials of
this life. As we do
not despise or throw away this sweet nut, because it
has a bitter and a
hard shell, so we must not resent the
 sorrows and
situations that come to us. The first experience we
feel is that sorrows
are bitter and hard, but we must trust that the good
and sweet kernel
which they have hidden within them will come to light
at last, and will
be not only of use, but also a blessing to us."
The father then climbed the tree and began to shake it.
the nuts which rained down and put them into the
baskets, which he
carried to the boat, where he emptied them, returning
many times for
"How your mother will rejoice when she sees these
nuts," said the
father, "and what shouts of joy we'll hear from your
sisters when I
divide them. The thought of it pleases me now, for
certainly there is no
joy greater than that of giving pleasure to others."
While David and his father were busy with their work,
there crept over
the heavens heavy black clouds. Then there arose a
dreadful wind storm,
just as David stood in the boat emptying his last
basket of nuts. The
wind bent the trees and raised the waters into high
waves. All at once,
a blast came, tore the boat from its moorings and took
it far out to
David cried loudly, in horror. His frightened father
hurried to the
shore and saw the boy in the boat, in the far distance.
increased in size and soon the little boat could be
 on the
crest and then hidden in the trough. It was carried
The father saw his boy wringing his hands, but of his
cries he could
hear nothing, for the sound of the roaring waters and
The entire sky was now enveloped in black clouds and
dark night hovered
over the sea. Flashes of lightning illuminated the
heavens and dreadful
crashes of thunder filled the air. Seeing no more of
his son or of the
boat, the father sank disheartened under the willow
tree and spent the
night alone with his grief.
Meanwhile, his wife and other children were distracted
with fear. As the
lightning broke forth, followed by thunderous crashes,
and the island
was shrouded in rain, they prayed for the absent ones.
When the storm
abated, they gazed long and patiently, in the hopes of
getting a signal
of the returning boat. They saw and heard nothing. The
mother spent the
night in sleepless anxiety.
As the morning broke forth in beautiful sunshine, and
still no sign of
the little boat could be seen, the mother's fears grew
greater. She ran crying to Philip, and told him her
troubles. He knit
his brow and shook his head. "It is strange that they
have not come back
yet. I'll just row over and see what has happened to
them." He stepped
into his boat lying close at
 anchor, and, with
his assistant, rowed over
to the little island. Mother and children stood
watching them in anxiety
At last, they saw the little boat, in the distance,
returning with its
load. "Oh thanks," cried the mother. "Philip has other
passengers in the
boat, besides his assistant. Now, it is all right." She
hurried down to
the shore, but as the boat neared them she cried in
fright: "Where is my
David?" The father, deathly pale, looked at her in
silence. His deep
grief had made him dumb. Uncle Philip then spoke to
her: "May God
comfort you, for our David has been drowned in the sea.
Poor David had
his faults, but he was a good-hearted boy."
The mother could find no comfort and the children
FAR FROM HOME
 While David was being wept over as dead, he still
lived. He had had a
dreadful shock, riding on the tumultuous waves, far,
far out to sea. His
boat, over which the waves had dashed in fury,
threatened each moment to
sink. At last, after hours and hours of torture, the
wind drove his boat
upon the coast of a rocky island.
As soon as David was sure that the boat was firm on the
hurried out, waded through the foaming, shallow water
to the land and
climbed up the rocks, while his clothes dripped with
rain and sea water.
"As soon as David was sure that the boat was firm on the
rocks he hurried out."
After he had recovered a little from his shock and
fear, he gazed out at
his little boat and wondered how it had been so well
guided into the
clefts of the rocks. A good sailor could have made no
"Who steered this rudderless boat so safely into this
haven? God's great
goodness and mercy has certainly led me to this safety,
and all my life
I shall be grateful."
The storm had now been broken and the rain ceased.
David thought he
could see the green island, with its trees but it
seemed no bigger than
a bush, that he could easily have covered with his
straw hat. The land,
still farther away, seemed
 to touch the horizon,
and it looked like a
"Oh," cried David, "how dreadfully far I am from human
island, on which I have been cast, cannot be seen by my
people; I never
saw it when I looked out to sea. They will never think
that I am here
and they will mourn me as dead. The men will go and get
my father, but
no one will come for me. I have often heard them say,
'for fifty miles
out, there is no sign of land.' "
The waters, little by little, grew calmer, so David
hurried down to his
boat; but, as he was about to step into it, he noticed
that it had
sprung a leak. "Oh," cried he, "my little boat is
useless now, and I am
a prisoner on this rocky island. I must stay here till
I die and never
again shall I see my people." His face grew white with
fear and the
tears rolled down his cheeks.
As David saw starvation staring him in the face, he
collected the nuts
that were in the boat, put them into the baskets and
carried them to
safety, where he also placed the few utensils that had
not been washed
overboard. Then he pulled his little boat as far up on
the rocks as he
could get it.
The fear through which he had passed had now exhausted
him. He felt
almost afraid to sleep, out in the open, all alone, but
he prayed his
evening prayer as he had been accustomed to, lay
 down beside his nuts
and his few kitchen utensils, and soon was fast asleep.
After a restless
night, filled with many strange dreams of home, he was
awakened by the
noise of sea birds, fluttering overhead. As he gazed
before him and saw
nothing but the boundless sea, he uttered a loud cry.
A bevy of birds flew toward the land. "Oh, dear birds,
I wish you could
carry a message to my people and tell them that I am
here. My good
father and uncle would risk their lives to get me."
After he had breakfasted on a few nuts and a little
piece of bread, he
decided to examine the island. "Perhaps I shall find
some fruit trees
that will afford me nourishment till God delivers me
captivity; and maybe I shall find some people living
here who will take
me to my home."
He wrapped a few pieces of bread and nuts in his
handkerchief, tied the
bundle to the end of a stick, slung it over his
shoulder and started
forth. It was a dangerous, weary journey that gave no
signs of human
life. Nor did he see any of the narrow paths usually
made by animals.
Numberless trees were there, but none that bore fruit.
"If I have to stay long on this island, I'll die of
he, as the perspiration rolled down his cheeks. "But
before hunger kills
me, I know I'll die from thirst." As he continued his
 way, he heard a
murmuring sound, like that of water. He hurried in the
direction of the
sound, and found a little spring, cold and clear as
crystal. He seated
himself beside it to cool off, and then drank to his
heart's content. He
had never before noticed what a blessing from God water
really is; but
now he appreciated the drink and offered his thanks for
He proceeded on his way, and at last reached the
highest point of the
island. It filled him with dread, as he saw the entire
with trees, and lying there, at his very feet and on
immeasureable sea. Now he realized that he was all
alone and far from
help. "I will come to this point every day and watch.
Perhaps a passing
steamer will pick me up and take me home."
The sun began to sink and colored the heavens with
gold-rimmed rays of
purple and red. As David stood gazing at the beauties
of the sky which
he had never before noticed, he prayed to the Creator
to send him help
and guide some ship to this lonely island. Then he
descended the rocks
and retraced his steps. Soon he lay down under a clump
of trees and fell
fast asleep. When he awoke, he ate a few nuts and some
Each day he wandered to the rocky summit and watched
for a ship. But all
in vain, for on the great, wide sea no ship was to be
seen. He saw the
necessity of eating sparingly, or his food
not last; so he took
his little knife and made cuts across his bread,
showing how much he
could eat daily, and only when he was very hungry. The
little piece of
bread had become very hard and he had to soften it in
the water from the
"Oh," cried he, "how many good things I had at my
father's table, that I
grumbled about and for which I never thanked God." As
he sat thinking
about himself and all his ingratitude, he saw the
fishes swimming in the
water. "I'd catch some fish," said David, "if I only
had a line."
Picking up his straw hat, he ripped out the thread, and
taking the pin
with which his sister had fastened the feather, he made
a hook out of it
and tied the thread to it. He searched for some worms,
and soon, he
began to angle. He tried again and again, but not a
nibble could he get.
At last luck favored him, and soon he had three fishes.
matches which his mother had put into the tin-covered
pail, he decided
to start a fire and cook his fish, adding a little
salty water for
seasoning. He relished this little repast more than the
served at his rich uncle's house.
One morning, as he again ascended the rocky summit, he
saw a large ship
that seemed no more than a mile away. Its sails were
all unfurled and
gilded with the rays of the bright sun. Hope filled his
breast and he
trembled with fear. He
 watched it, as it came
nearer and nearer.
Suddenly, he seized a stick, and tying his red
handkerchief to it, moved
it to and fro like a signal of danger and distress. But
before the ship
had come close enough to see the sign, it changed its
sailed away into the far distance. David followed its
course, till it
was lost to view, and then he sank upon the ground
The hours of the day that were not used in fishing,
chopping, he spent gathering shells, in which he often
found pearls. As
no person had ever been there to gather them, he found
quantities. Then, too, he found many beautiful corals
moss-covered rocks. "If God permits me to return to my
people," said he,
"I will bring them these pearls and corals, as
He spent his time as best he could and often sighed for
For hours he would gaze at the friendly moon, at which
he had never
before gazed more than a second. And the twinkling
stars, too, seemed to
have a new meaning for him. "The heavens truly show
work," said David. Even the delicate green moss that he
deigned to notice now had its value, since it afforded
him a soft bed.
"I see God's finger in everything about me," said he.
everything has been ordered." Good thoughts were now
 his mind
and they were, like wings, carrying his heart to
"Loneliness must be sent for a good reason," thought
he. "Perhaps God
sent me to this dreary, lonely place to make me see and
feel what I
never understood before." David realized now that he
had never been
grateful to his parents for their care. Nor as obedient
to their wishes
as he should have been.
"Oh, if I ever get back to my home, I will be grateful
and obedient to
my parents." He remembered, too, how disagreeable he
had often been to
his sisters, and said: "Oh, how sorry I am. If God lets
me return I will
ask their forgiveness and be a good brother to them. I
my home, my parents, nor my sisters. God forgive me and
let me return,
and I will try to repay them in kindness and love for
An intense longing for his people filled David's heart;
and it grew
stronger every minute. Each day he watched for ships
and often sighted
one, but they never neared the island. At last he came
to the conclusion
that the coast was rocky and dangerous, and so no ship
would ever come
With this sad thought, he was retracing his steps one
day, carrying some
wood to his little retreat. But what a terror seized
him. He saw in the
direction of his little retreat thick, black, clouds of
to the heavens, and two
 red flaming brands of
fire, like two church
spires. David had often heard of islands that were
volcanic and sent
forth fire, and now he thought that this was one. He
threw his wood to
the ground and with palpitating heart drew closer and
closer: but all he
could see was smoke and flames. The crackling of the
fire filled him
with more fear. At last he saw that it was not from the
earth that the
fire issued. He realized that the wind had blown the
flames of his
little fire, which he always kept lighted, against some
bushes and had
set them on fire. Almost everything he owned was being
destroyed and two
immense trees were being consumed.
When he considered, above all, the loss of his little
fishing line that
meant so much to him, he cried aloud: "Oh, what a
misfortune this is!
Now, I'll die of hunger. I often heard my father say
misfortune, fortune sometimes grows, but, when I look
at this damage, it
doesn't seem possible that any luck could come from it.
"Oh, how good it is to live with people. How easily one
can help the
injury to another. Oh, if ever I have the luck to get
back to my family,
how willingly will I help them in times of need. But
who will help me, a
poor, lost boy, on this lonely island? I am like a poor
bird driven from
her nest." A mighty painful longing for his father's
house again seized
him. "If only a ship would come and take me back," he
 His people too, were mourning through these weary,
weary weeks. One day
the father said to the mother: "I need some willow
branches and although
it is very painful for me to go to that island, still,
there is no other
place where I can get them."
"Then you must not go alone," said the mother. "Take
the children with
you. They will be a help and a comfort to you." Soon
they were all ready
and rowed over to the island. After landing, they sat
under a tree for a
"This poplar tree," said the father, "is the very one
under which David
and I sat the last day we were here. And over in that
pointing toward the island, "he was carried in his
little boat." Tears
stood in the father's eyes; the boy, Andreas, turned
his head to wipe a
tear; while the girls cried.
"Let us go now and gather nuts," said the father, to
cheer them again.
They soon filled their baskets and were about to return
to the boat,
when the boy said: "Dear father, let us go to the top
of the hill and
get a view. I've never been up there." "Oh, yes,"
begged the girls, "do
let us go."
 The father consented and they all mounted the
hill. It was a beautiful
day. The sky was cloudless and the air was so clear and
dry, that one
could see distinctly far out into the distance.
shouted: "Father, what is that I see? Isn't smoke
coming up out of the
water?" The father looked in the direction pointed, and
said: "I don't know what it is. I fear it is a steamer
on fire. It
seems," continued he, shading his eyes, "that I see a
dark spot, out of
which the smoke is ascending. Don't you see it?"
"Oh, yes," cried the girls, "and it has two sharp
points at the top."
"I see it, too," cried Andreas. "One point is higher
than the other."'
"That is no ship," said the father, "for a ship would
have a different
shape, and wouldn't look so big from such a great
distance. It must be
an island, but I am sure I never heard of it. People
must live there, or
how could smoke arise from it."
"Oh, my," cried one of the girls, "wouldn't it be
wonderful if our dear
David lived there."
"Maybe so," cried Andreas.
"Nothing is impossible with God," said the father. "We
nothing undone in our search for him. We will ask Uncle
and get him to help us. Let us retrace our steps, now,
for it is time
for us to return."
 Little did they know how truly they had
prophesied, for the smoke which
they saw was ascending from the fire on the rocky
island—the same that
had cost David many tears of anguish and fear.
When they reached home, they told the mother their
happy conjecture at
once, and a faint ray of hope filled her heart.
The neighbors were now called together, but their ideas
on the subject
"Nonsense," cried one. "How did that island get there.
I never heard
about it in my life. It must be a burning ship."
"No," cried another, who always thought he knew better
else, "that's no ship, but a volcano sending out its
fire. I have often
heard that such islands appear over night. We would
come to a nice
place, if we should sail near such a fire-brand."
"It's either a ship or a volcano," said a third; "but
for a hundred
dollars I wouldn't go over there in such little boats
as we have."
"If you'll pay me," said a fourth, "I will go, but not
The old, honest Uncle Philip raised his quiet voice,
and said: "Brother,
I will go with you. Here is my hand on it. David was my
It may not be certain that he lives, hardly probable,
possible. Therefore it is worth the trouble of
danger-  ous trip and God, who gives
us courage to go ahead, will also see us
Peter, a young, strong lad, shouted: "I will go too. I
have often risked
my life for a fish, so I'll risk it now to save a human
life, if I can.
I want no money, for as long as I live I would be happy
in the thought
that I had helped to save David, and this thought would
be a sufficient
"God give us all this joy," said Uncle Philip. "If wind
continue favorable, we will set sail at daybreak." The
departed, shaking their heads and predicting
Peter and Uncle Philip remained and discussed the
matter a little
further. "I will take my sail boat and furnish the
food," said Philip.
The following morning proved perfect and a light wind
Mother and daughter accompanied the men to the boat
landing, and said:
"God grant that you may return safely, bringing our
David with you."
The men unfurled the sails and pushed off from the
land, passing the
green island and going in the direction of the smoke.
Nearer and nearer,
did they come, and at last Peter cried: "It is really
an island. Let us
help with the oars." Suddenly Uncle Philip shouted:
"Stop, and furl the
sails. There are many dangerous rocks in the sea. We
must be very
careful or we will founder."
By means of the rudder and much care and
they at last made a
landing. Peter was the first to leap on shore, and
cried: "Now we have
reached the island and perhaps we shall find David.
Whatever is begun in
God's name and out of love to humanity, will succeed."
The other two men now stepped out and fastened the boat
Philip looked at the rocks, shook his head and said:
"This isn't a nice
place to live."
They began to search the island and climbed over the
rocks and deep
clefts. At last they reached a little trodden path
which led them to
David's retreat. Peter hurried ahead.
David had passed a sleepless night in fear and sadness.
As the morning
sun shone over all, a little lightness had crept into
his heart, and he
sank upon his knees and prayed.
As David was kneeling, the three men came behind him.
But he was so
absorbed that he heard no steps.
Peter saw him first, and said to the others: "See,
there is a hermit,
maybe he can direct us. Brother, can you tell us?"—he
had no time to
finish his question, for David had risen to his feet.
He recognized his
father, and cried: "Oh, my father! my father!" Then a
silence broke over
them, for neither had the power to speak.
At last they controlled their emotion and thanked God
in one voice, for
bringing them together. David then greeted his uncle
gathering up his belongings, hastened with them to the
On the homeward trip, David related all his adventures,
and shed tears
of joy. Even his father had to dry his eyes several
times. "You were
very wise, and helped yourself wonderfully. Necessity
understanding," said Peter.
"Don't you remember?" said his uncle, "what I once said
to you that God
would send you to a special school? That's where you've
been. In the
school of Experience. In this school you learned to
know God, to pray to
Him, to love Him, and to thank Him for his blessings.
What I find most
wonderful of all in your story is about the smoke which
arose from your
island. What is more trivial than smoke, yet the smoke
was like a sign
from heaven, that this was an island upon which some
one lived. That was
God's finger." All silently gave thanks for the sign.
"I thought," said David, "that the fire was the worst
thing that could
have happened to me, but now I see it was my greatest
Then Uncle Philip said: "Our beloved ones at home are
waiting for our return." So, Peter quickly busied
himself with a stick
upon which he fastened some ribbons.
"What are you going to do with that?" asked David.
"I promised your sisters if we succeeded
finding you, to raise this
banner. How they will rejoice when they see it." Then
and there he
fastened it to the prow of the ship.
Each moment brought them nearer home and David's heart
beat high with
hope, for on the shore his mother and sisters and all
the villagers, big
and little, were gathered. As David stepped on land, a
cry of joy arose
from the people; but the mother's joy at seeing her
David was so intense
that she wept.
Men and women, boys and girls, shook his hand and
wished him a thousand
times welcome. David's mother wanted to hear his story
and was about to
drag him home but the people wouldn't let her. "We want
to hear it too,"
and they led him to a big linden tree and bade him step
upon the seat
and tell his story. All pressed around him. All eyes
were on him. When
it was still, David began. He told them of his dangers,
suffering, and said, in the end, that these had taught
him the things
which he had never learned before. "I am grateful to
God for my
deliverance and for the joy of being with you all
Thanking them for their interest in him and bidding
them good-bye for
the present, he entered his father's house, where a
hearty meal was
spread before him.
When the meal was over, David opened his little bundle
and displayed his
pearls and corals and said: "I have brought you all a
present from my
 island." All stood in astonishment and admired
"My, my," cried Uncle Philip, examining them closely,
"you have brought
some valuable things. These pearls and corals will
yield much money, for
some of them are very large. Now you have helped your
father out of all
his debts and trouble."
"No, no," said his father, "we will share them with
Peter and yourself.
You shared the dangers of this trip with me, and you
shall also share
the treasures. Philip, you take first choice, and then
Two of the men who had offered to go on the trip for
money, now entered
the room and wished they had gone for nothing. "For
such a reward as
that," they said, "it would have been worth while."
"Go, go, you poor, miserable wretches," cried Philip,
"you wouldn't move
a hand or foot to help a fellow man in trouble without
being paid for
it. It serves you right that you get nothing,"
"I wish none of this money," continued Philip, "I have
enough and ask no
more. But Peter must take his share, for the spirit
which he showed gave
all of us courage, and he must be rewarded. Besides, he
Deeply touched, Peter took the reward with thanks.
Then the grateful parents again urged Philip
take the pearls, but he
replied: "Let it be, as I said before. The pearls and
corals are the
least that David brought back with him; for he has
gathered unto himself
costlier treasures: 'Love for God and to humanity.'
These are priceless
Turning to David, he said: "Not only have you found
these treasures for
us, but you have brought good fortune to our little
pearls and corals can now be gathered by the men of
this village, and
offered for sale. This will furnish a comfortable
living for many of
them. So, you have become a public benefactor."
The little household soon resumed its usual routine and
into the life and spirit of his home. He became a model
of virtue for
the village youths, and the joy, staff and crown of his
He grew to be a noble, pious man, full of love and
helpfulness to his
fellow men; and his memory remains blessed.