As you read today’s story about Moses and his family, think about his sister Miriam.
Reading: Exodus 2:1-8
Do you think Miriam ever became annoyed with her little brother Moses? Do you think Miriam ever got angry with her mother, Jochebed? Do you think Jochebed and her husband Amram ever argued with one another? Moses’s family was probably very similar to all families. They had their ups and downs, their problems and arguments.
But when things became hard, Moses’s family had something very special. They all had faith in God. This means they believed and obeyed their God. So, even though Pharaoh said that all the Israelite baby boys had to be killed, Moses’s parents obeyed God and hid their baby. Miriam obeyed God and watched out for her little brother.
The following story was written by Thornton W. Burgess and published in 1913 in a collection of nature stories called Mother West Wind’s Neighbors. Burgess’s books can be found from used booksellers and free online.
THE MOST BEAUTIFUL THING IN THE WORLD
Old Mother West Wind came down from the Purple Hills while the dew still lay heavy on the grass. She turned her Merry Little Breezes out to play on the Green Meadows and then, because she was in no hurry that pleasant morning, she stopped at the Smiling Pool to speak with Grandfather Frog.
“Good morning, Old Mother West Wind. Isn’t this a beautiful morning?” said Grandfather Frog.
“It is indeed,” replied Old Mother West Wind, “and there are many other beautiful things, Grandfather Frog. Do you know, I’ve just seen the most beautiful thing in the whole world.”
“Where?” asked Grandfather Frog.
“Over in the old briar-patch,” replied Old Mother West Wind.
Just then she remembered that the cows in Farmer Brown’s barn-yard had no water to drink, so she said “Good-by” to Grandfather Frog and hurried away to turn the windmill that would pump the water for them.
Grandfather Frog sat on his big green lily-pad and watched her go. “Now what can be the most beautiful thing in the whole world?” said Grandfather Frog to himself. He looked over the Smiling Pool. What could the old briar-patch have more beautiful than the pure white water-lilies smiling up at him? If the briar-patch were not such a long way off, he would go see for himself. Just then he saw Billy Mink.
“Billy! Billy Mink!” called Grandfather Frog. “Old Mother West Wind says that she has just seen the most beautiful thing in the whole world, and it is over in the old briar-patch.”
“Huh!” cried Billy Mink. “There’s nothing beautiful in that old briar-patch!”
Now Billy Mink is naturally curious. The more he thought about the most beautiful thing in the whole world, the more he wanted to see it. So presently he hitched up his trousers and started across the Green Meadows towards the old briar-patch. On the way he met Jimmy Skunk.
“Where are you going, Billy Mink?” asked Jimmy Skunk.
“Over to the old briar-patch to see the most beautiful thing in the whole world,” replied Billy Mink.
“I’ll go with you,” said Jimmy Skunk, for he had had a good breakfast of fat beetles and had nothing special to do.
So, one behind the other, Billy Mink and Jimmy Skunk trotted along the Lone Little Path across the Green Meadows. Pretty soon they met Johnny Chuck.
“Where are you going?” asked Johnny Chuck.
Billy Mink and Jimmy Skunk looked a wee bit foolish. “We’re going to see the most beautiful thing in the whole world, “said Billy Mink and Jimmy Skunk together.
“Where is it?” asked Johnny Chuck.
“Over in the old briar-patch,” replied Billy Mink.
“I’ll go with you,” said Johnny Chuck.
So the three, one behind the other, trotted along the Lone Little Path acr5oss the Green Meadows. As they passed the big hickory-tree, Sammy Jay saw them.
“Where are you going?” called Sammy Jay.
“To see the most beautiful thing in the whole world,” replied Billy Mink and Jimmy Skunk and Johnny Chuck, and trotted on along the Lone Little Path across the Green Meadows.
Sammy Jay scratched his head. “Now what can there be more beautiful than this blue coat of mine?” said Sammy Jay, for you know he is very vain, oh, very vain indeed. The more he thought about it, the more sure he was that there could be nothing more beautiful than his handsome coat. But if there was – Sammy Jay flirted his tail and started to follow Billy Mink, Jimmy Skunk, and Johnny Chuck.
Half-way across the Green Meadows they met Bobby Coon and Happy Jack Squirrel.
“Where are you going?” asked Bobby Coon.
“Over to the old briar-patch to see the most beautiful thing in the whole world,” replied Billy Mink. “Come along with us.”
“No,” replied Bobby Coon. “I’m too sleepy.” You see Bobby Coon had been out all night and he could hardly keep his eyes open.
But Happy Jack Squirrel said he would go; so the four, Billy Mink, Jimmy Skunk, Johnny Chuck, and Happy Jack Squirrel, one behind the other, trotted along the Lone Little Path across the Green Meadows, and behind them flew Sammy Jay. Presently they came to the old briar-patch. It looked just as it had always looked, which really wasn’t beautiful at all. It was a great, tangled mass of brambles, with ugly-looking thorns sticking out in all directions. Billy Mink stepped on a thorn.
“Ouch!” cried Billy Mink.
Jimmy Skunk tried to crawl through between two bramble bushes and scratched his nose.
“Ouch!” cried Jimmy Skunk.
Johnny Chuck put his head through a little opening, and the briars pricked his ears.
“Ouch!” cried Johnny Chick.
A crafty old bramble caught in Happy Jack Squirrel’s tail.
“Ouch!” cried Happy Jack.
Then from the middle of the old briar-patch they heard a voice. It was Peter Rabbit’s voice.
“What are you looking for?” asked Peter Rabbit.
Peeping between the brambles, they saw Peter Rabbit in one of his secret hiding-places. He had a little bundle of clover leaves and was picking out the sweetest and tenderest and feeding them to his little baby brother.
“We are looking for the most beautiful thing in the whole world,” said Billy Mink. “Have you seen it, Peter Rabbit?”
“No,” said Peter Rabbit, “I haven’t seen the most beautiful thing in the whole world. What is it?”
“We don’t know,” replied Billy Mink. “But Old Mother West Wind said she saw it in the old briar-patch. Come help us find it.”
Peter Rabbit sat up for a minute, for Peter has a great deal of curiosity, a very great deal indeed. He wanted, oh, so much, to join the others and look for the most beautiful thing in the whole world. Then he looked down at his little baby brother, who was still hungry.
“I’ll come pretty soon,” said Peter Rabbit, and once more began to feed sweet, tender, young clover leaves to his little baby brother. He was hungry himself, but he would not touch a leaf until his baby brother had had enough, and, oh dear, that wasn’t until the very last leaf had disappeared down his funny little throat.
Then Peter Rabbit started to try and find the most beautiful thing in the whole world. He hunted through all his secret little paths and hiding-places in the briar-patch, while the others hunted outside. They looked here, they looked there, they looked everywhere, but no-where could they see the most beautiful thing in the whole world. Finally they gave it up.
Late that afternoon Grandfather Frog saw Billy Mink sitting on the Big Rock nursing the foot with which he had stepped on the thorn.
“Ho, Billy Mink!” called Grandfather Frog. ‘Did you find the most beautiful thing in the whole world?”
“No,” said Billy Mink shortly. “It wasn’t in the old briar-patch. There was nothing and nobody there but Peter Rabbit feeding sweet, tender, young clover leaves to his little baby brother. The briar-patch is the ugliest place in the whole world.”
Grandfather Frog smiled to himself as he watched Billy Mink limp away to the Laughing Brook. He thought of Peter Rabbit feeding all his tender young clover leaves to his baby brother and he smiled again.
“Chugarum!” said wise old Grandfather Frog. “Old Mother West Wind was right. She did see the most beautiful thing in the whole world right there in the old briar-patch, and Billy Mink saw it but didn’t know it. And Jimmy Skunk saw it, and Johnny Chuck saw it, and Happy Jack saw it, and Sammy Jay saw it, yet not one of them knew it. They saw it when they watched Peter Rabbit feed all his sweet clover leaves to his little baby br4other, and it is called ‘love.’”
For Further Study: