Well, I can’t believe we’ve actually come round to the final Monday of 2020—and the final edition of our short story downloads!
Our pilot story for this series was “Nellie’s Christmas Letter” by Emily Elizabeth Steele Elliott. And now our finale is by the same author. “What It Said at Home” is an excellent little tale about missionary work—and home work—and a mysterious box with a surprising ability to “speak” a word in season.
SAW Publishing’s FREE Short Stories
“What It Said at Home” is the seventh story in our series of FREE monthly downloads, featuring good and great literature from authors and poets of past generations.
Most of the stories have been gently edited (not abridged!) to remove content that might be inappropriate for today’s children, to make ambiguities in the text clearer for the 21st Century reader, or occasionally to make a brief passage flow more smoothly or effectively. Without recommending all of a featured author’s publications, we hope we can introduce you to many valuable pieces of historic literature that have fallen out of general circulation in the modern world.
Each download presents either a short story or poem by a public domain author. Today’s story is “What It Said at Home” by 19th Century author Emily Elizabeth Steele Elliott.
I enjoy the way “What It Said at Home” has a message that connects faithfulness in the big, far-away things with faithfulness in our everyday, commonplace life.
I also think the author has struck a fairly good balance between authority figures who challenge the main characters to growth and authority figures that are still understanding of a child’s capabilities. At the beginning of the scene with the Sunday School lessons, I wasn’t sure whether I was going to be able to say that—but I liked the father’s final conclusion: it’s okay to find memory work difficult or even tedious, but at the same time we want to value God’s word enough that we don’t grumble and complain about “having” to learn it.
I like the way the author drops us right into the middle of the minister’s puzzling sentence, as the story opens. It’s a technique that creates an element of interest that wouldn’t have been there if the tale had begun a couple of paragraphs sooner in Richard and Mary’s lives.
(And yes, I am aware that Richard and Mary have the same names as two of the characters in As the Heavens Are Higher! I did briefly consider altering them, but that didn’t seem quite fair to Emily Elizabeth Steele Elliott. So we will just remember that they rank pretty high on the list of common names in the mid-1800s!)
I also like that the story is long enough for a Part One and a Part Two. That may just be personal preference. (My favourite compliment/criticism of authors I love has long been, “That book was too short!”) But I do think that the added space gives room for us to see not only the lesson Richard and Mary learned—but also how they applied it to their lives.
What It Said at Home: Looking Forward to 2021
About twelve years ago, I drove with my grandparents down a mountain range in the eastern U.S. The day was rainy—the valleys were muffled in fog. We pulled up to a lookout, where a sign encouraged us to look across the ridges, and imagine how these slopes might have appeared without any man-made buildings, in the days of the early settlers.
It wasn’t a difficult challenge, because as we looked out, all that met our eyes was one solid sheet of impenetrable white.
I wonder how many of us feel a similar sensation as we look out, from the mountain-peak of 2020, over the unknown future which awaits us in the coming year?
May the message of “What It Said at Home” go with you, as you walk beside the Saviour into that wall of white. He is there—whether you are setting out to mighty works in far-off lands—or just living faithfully, at home.
He has precious blessings, and I wish all of them to you, Sheep Among Wolves readers, in the year that’s just about to begin!
If you are looking for other short stories from the 2020 vintage collection, see our previous post:
- This Child: A FREE Week-Long Sale
- 2021: Three Resolutions You Can Still Make