Read CHAPTER V - THE VALUE OF SUNSHINE of The Girl Wanted , free online book, by Nixon Waterman, on

Do people like you?

Are your girl playmates and classmates fond of your society? Are they eager to work with you, play with you, go strolling or sit by the fire with you?

This one fact we must know; if we are not liked it must be because we are not the possessors of that fine quality known as “likableness.” And if those who have had an opportunity to know us and our traits of character do not love and admire us, it is we and not they who are responsible for their state of mind. For as sure as the warm sunshine attracts the flowers, and the fragrant flowers call the attention of the bee to their store of honey, so a fine likable character is certain to gain and to hold the admiration of good friends and true.

The face full of sunshine, the heart full of hope, the lips that are speaking pleasant words of good cheer and joyous faith in the world, will attract friends about them as certainly as the magnetic pole attracts the needle.

The girl who goes among the people with smiles to offer will find very many ready to receive her gracious gifts, but if she carries with her sighs and frowns, instead, she will learn that the world wants none of them.

We all love to hear pleasant things. The one who tells us that he thinks it is going to set in for a long rainy spell of weather is of less worth to us than the one who says he thinks that the clouds are going to clear away and that we shall have a beautiful day to-morrow.

The grandsire who tells his young friends that they ought to be glad that the grandest, brightest and best era in the world’s history is just before them, does much more to inspire them than does the one who tells them that the best days of the world were “the good old days of long ago,” and that the golden age will never return again. Brooke Herford tells us: “There are some people who ride all through the journey of life with their backs to the horse’s head.

They are always looking into the past. All the worth of things is there. They are forever talking about the good old times, and how different things were when they were young. There is no romance in the world now, and no heroism. The very winters and summers are nothing to what they used to be; in fact, life is altogether on a small, commonplace scale. Now that is a miserable sort of thing; it brings a sort of paralyzing chill over the life, and petrifies the natural spring of joy that should ever be leaping up to meet the fresh new mercies that the days keep bringing.”

Know then, my young friends, that the best time that ever was is the present time, if you will but use it aright. It is full of romance, of heroism, of splendid opportunity, of all that goes to constitute experience and to develop character. There never was a time when there were more good things to be done, or when greater rewards awaited the doers of them. The summers are just as long and bright and golden; the roses blossom just as numerously and as sweetly; human hearts are just as warm and kindly, as they have been at any time in the world’s history. Emerson says: “One of the illusions is that the present hour is not the critical, decisive hour. Write it on your heart that every day is the best day in the whole year.”

So then as far as the time and the hour are concerned, there is nothing in our surroundings to make us morose or gloomy or dispirited or indifferent regarding the influence we are exerting upon those around us. There is no obvious reason why we should not be joyous and happy at the prospect before us. We should have not only grace enough for our own personal needs, but plenty of it to spare for those not so gladly born as ourselves.

And rich beyond computation is the one who has joyousness to spare. Better than gold, better than food and raiment and all material things, betimes, is a ray of sunshine from the heart, an uplift of saving humor from a merry tongue. “I have often felt, myself,” says Benson, “that the time has come to raise another figure to the hierarchy of Christian graces. Faith, Hope and Charity were sufficient in a more elementary and barbarous age, but, now that the world has broadened somewhat, I think an addition to the trio is demanded. A man may be faithful, hopeful, and charitable, and yet leave much to be desired. He may be useful, no doubt, with that equipment, but he may also be both tiresome and even absurd. The fourth quality that I should like to see raised to the highest rank among the Christian graces is the Grace of Humor.”

Splendidly blest is that household that is so fortunate as to possess at least one member gifted with the grace of good humor. One such person in a home is enough if there cannot be more. Just when all the others are seriously confronting what seems to be a most sad and serious condition of affairs how just one word of illuminating good humor can change the whole point of view and send the foreboding proposition glimmering into nothingness. “Do you know, my dear,” says Mrs. Holden, “that there is absolutely nothing that will help you to bear the ills of life so well as a good laugh? Laugh all you can and the small imps in blue who love to preempt their quarters in a human heart will scatter away like owls before the music of flutes.

There are few of the minor difficulties and annoyances that will not dissipate at the charge of the nonsense brigade. If the clothes line breaks, if the cat tips over the milk and the dog elopes with the roast, if the children fall into the mud simultaneously with the advent of clean aprons, if the new girl quits in the middle of housecleaning, and though you search the earth with candles you find none to take her place, if the neighbor you have trusted goes back on you and decides to keep chickens, if the chariot wheels of the uninvited guest draw near when you are out of provender, and the gaping of your empty purse is like the unfilled mouth of a young robin, take courage if you have enough sunshine in your heart, to keep the laugh on your lips. Before good nature, half the cares of daily living will fly away like midges before the wind. Try it.”

What a world of inspiration and cheerfulness in the motto written by Edward Everett Hale for the Lend-A-Hand Society: “Look up, and not down; look forward, and not back; look out, and not in; and lend a hand.” It is the lifting of the burden from another’s tired shoulder that does most to lighten the load resting on our own.

No one who truly is conscious of the value of sunshine upon his own nature and upon the spirits of those with whom he comes into contact will ever, for one minute, permit himself to be taken possession of by


“Blues” are the sorry calms that come
To make our spirits mope,
And steal the breeze of promise from
The shining sails of hope.

Margaret E. Sangster, who is the kind and gracious foster mother to all the girls of her time and generation, says that “being in bondage to the blues is precisely like being lost in a London fog. The latter is thick and black and obliterates familiar landmarks. A man may be within a few doors of his home, yet grope hopelessly through the murk to find the well-worn threshold. A person under the tyranny of the blues is temporarily unable to adjust life to its usual limitations. He or she cannot see an inch beyond the dreadful present. Everything looks dark and forbidding, and despair with an iron clutch pins its victim down. People think, loosely, that trials that may be weighed and measured and felt and handled are the worst trials to which flesh is heir. But they are mistaken. Hearts are elastic, and real sorrows seldom crush them. Souls have in them a wonderful capacity for recovering after knockdown blows. It is the intangible, the thing that one dreads vaguely, that catches one in the dark, that suggests and intimates a peril that is spiritual rather than mortal; it is the burden that carries dismay and terror to the imagination.”

A single member of a household who is given to having “the blues” often darkens a home that would otherwise be bright and sunny. Such an unfortunate person should bear in mind that when a servant is employed the whole household expects her to be kind, tidy, industrious, moral, gentle, and, above all, good natured in her attitude toward all. Surely the daughter of a household cannot wish to feel that she holds her position by accident of birth, and that if her family were not compelled to keep her they would not.

Charles Dickens says: “It is not possible to know how far the influence of any amiable, honest-hearted, duty-doing man flows out into the world.” A bright, cheerful, sunshiny daughter in a home can never know how great is her influence for making the little household world holier and happier for all whose life interests are centered therein. Hamilton Wright Mabie says: “The day is dark only when the mind is dark; all weathers are pleasant when the heart is at rest.” Bliss Carman observes that “happiness, perhaps, comes by the grace of Heaven, but the wearing of a happy countenance, the preserving of a happy mien, is a duty, not a blessing.” This thought that it is one’s duty to be happy is set forth still more forcibly by Lilian Whiting: “No one has any more right to go about unhappy than he has to go about ill-bred.”

The girl with sunshine in her thoughts and sunshine in her eyes will find sunshine everywhere. Wherever she may go her gracious presence will light the way and make her every path more smooth and beautiful. In the home, in the school, amid whatever conditions surround her, she will shine with the glow of a rose in bloom. She will see the good and the beautiful in the persons whom she meets; while all the charms of nature, as portrayed in field and forest, will be to her a never-ending source of interest and enjoyment. Above all, she will warmly cherish life and look upon it as being crowded with priceless opportunities for obtaining happiness for herself and for others. She will be filled with the same exhuberant spirit of joy in the mere fact of her being that Mrs. Holden so happily sets forth: “I love this world. I never walk out in the morning when all its radiant colors are newly washed with dew, or at splendid noon, when, like an untired racer, the sun has flashed around his mid-day course, or at evening, when a fringe of a shadow, like the lash of a weary eye, droops over mountain and valley and sea, or in the majestic pomp of night when stars swarm together like bees, and the moon clears its way through the golden fields as a sickle through the ripened wheat, that I do not hug myself for very joy that I am yet alive. What matter if I am poor and unsheltered and costumeless?

Thank God, I am yet alive! People who tire of this world before they are seventy and pretend that they are ready to leave it, are either crazy or stuck as full of bodily ailments as a cushion is of pins. The happy, the warm-blooded, the sunny-natured and the loving cling to life as petals cling to the calyx of a budding rose. By and by, when the rose is over-ripe, or when the frosts come and the November winds are trumpeting through all the leafless spaces of the woods, will be time to die. It is no time now, while there is a dark space left on earth that love can brighten, while there is a human lot to be alleviated by a smile, or a burden to be lifted with a sympathizing tear.”

We all understand that it is not so difficult for us to be bright and smiling and gracious toward everyone when there is naught to disturb the serenity of our thoughts, and when nothing happens to interfere with the fulfillment of our wishes. But when things go “at sixes and sevens,” when our dearest purposes are thwarted, when some one is about to gain the place or prize which we covet, when we are forced to stay within doors when we very much prefer to go in the fields; then it requires more of character, more of strength, more of the true spirit of sacrifice to wear a smiling face and to maintain a cheerful heart. But instead of fleeing from the petty trials that cross our paths we should welcome them as opportunities for testing and strengthening our good purposes. Newcomb tells us: “Disappointment should always be taken as a stimulant, and never viewed as a discouragement.” To the sunshiny, philosophical person, trials and difficulties but serve to help him to develop into


Oh, the man who wins the prize
Is the one who bravely tries,
As he works his way amid the toil and stress,
Through the college of Hard Knocks,
So to hew his stumbling-blocks,
They will serve as stepping-stones toward success.

Sunshine has ever been deemed by the close students of life as a most essential element in the achievement of the highest and fullest success. The optimist sees open paths leading to pleasant and prosperous fields of endeavor where the pessimist can see no way out of the hopeless surroundings amid which he has been thrust by an unkind fate. The disposition to seize upon the opportunities lying close at hand and to believe that the here and now is full of sunshine and golden possibilities has carried many a one to success, where others, lacking the illumination born of good cheer and a hope well grounded in a broad and beautiful faith, have sat complainingly by the way and permitted the golden chances to go by unobserved.

“Born of only ordinary capacity, but of extraordinary persistency,” said Professor Maria Mitchell, the distinguished astronomer, in the later years of her life in looking back upon her career. But she added, with a simplicity as rare as it is pleasing: “I did not quite take this in, myself, until I came to mingle with the best girls of our college, and to become aware how rich their mines are and how little they have been worked.” At sixteen she left school, and at eighteen accepted the position of librarian of the Nantucket public library. Her duties were light and she had ample opportunity, surrounded as she was by books, to read and study, while leisure was also left her to pursue by practical observation the science in which she afterward became known. Those who dwell upon the smaller islands, among which must be classed Nantucket, her island home, learn almost of necessity to study the sea and the sky. The Mitchell family possessed an excellent telescope. From childhood Maria had been accustomed to the use of this instrument, searching out with its aid, the distant sails upon the horizon by day, and viewing the stars by night. Her father possessed a marked taste for astronomy, and carried on an independent series of observations. He taught his daughter all he knew, and what was more to her advancement, she applied herself to the study and made as much independent advancement as was possible for her to do. It was this cheerful willingness to make the most of her immediate surroundings that proved to be the secret of her world-wide fame in after years when her name was included with those of the other prominent astronomers of the world. At half past ten of the evening of October First, 1847, she made the discovery which first brought her name before the public. She was gazing through her glass with her usual quiet intentness when she was suddenly startled to perceive “an unknown comet, nearly vertical above Polaris, about five degrees.” At first she could not believe her eyes; then hoping and doubting, scarcely daring to think that she had really made a discovery, she obtained its right ascension and declination. She then told her father, who gave the news to the other astronomers and to the world, and her claim to the discovery was duly accepted and ever after stood to her lasting credit. But had she not been interested in her work and competent to seize upon and to make the most of the opportunity that presented itself, she would not have been able to make herself the first of all the beings of our earth to observe and record this strange visitant to our starry realms above us.

It is the faith which the sunshiny spirit has in the “worth whileness” of life and its possibilities that makes him or her who possesses it prepare for the best that is to come. It is because of the “preparedness” achieved by labor that men and women are able to seize upon and make the most of the “lucky chance” that may bring them happiness and success.

While Thomas A. Edison was yet a youth, the desire to make himself of worth to the world and to be able to do something that would make him a living while he was still fitting himself for better things, he spent the leisure which most boys would spend in idleness or purposeless pastime in learning the telegrapher’s code. Later on this knowledge gave him work which enabled him to gain experience as a telegraph operator, which in turn led to his invention of the quadruplex telegraph. But the invention was temporarily a failure, although later on a great success. Sorely reduced in circumstances, he was one day tramping the streets of New York without a cent.

“I happened one day,” he says, “into the office of a ‘gold ticker’ company which had about five hundred subscribers. I was standing beside the apparatus when it gave a terrific rip-roar and suddenly stopped. In a few minutes hundreds of messenger boys blocked up the doorway and yelled for some one to fix the tickers in the office. The man in charge of the place was completely upset; so I stepped up to him and said: ‘I think I know what’s the matter.’ I removed a loose contact spring that had fallen between the wheels; the machine went on. The result? I was appointed to take charge of the service at three hundred dollars a month. When I heard what the salary was I almost fainted.” It had been his hopeful, cheerful, expectant attitude toward the future that had ever prompted him to fit himself so well that when the opportunity offered itself he was able to show that he possessed the grasp of things that made him


There’s a day, there’s an hour, a moment of time
When Fate shall be willing to try us;
This one test of our worth and our purpose sublime,
It will not, it cannot deny us.
’Tis our right to demand one true crisis, else how
Shall we prove by our valor undaunted
That we merit the wreath Fortune lays on the brow
Of the man who is there when he’s wanted?

And whene’er Opportunity knocks at his door
The wise one’s glad greeting is, “Ready!”
He has garnered, of knowledge, an adequate store,
His purpose is seasoned and steady.
With soul and with spirit, with hand and with heart,
And with strength that he never has vaunted,
He is fashioned and fitted to compass his part,
Is the man who is there when he’s wanted.

The world is a stage and our lives are a play
And the rôle that is given us in it
May be grand or obscure, yet there comes the great day
When we speak its best lines for a minute.
And the dream that through all of life’s trials and tears,
The soul, like soft music, has haunted,
Comes true, and the world gives its smiles and its cheers
To the man who is there when he’s wanted.