The Power of Kindness

(We do not know the origin of the following excellent article.)

A certain individual, whom we shall call Bullard, was one of the most cross and peevish of men. It was misery to be near him. He grumbled and snarled incessantly, and found fault with everyone and everything around him. Nothing seemed to please him. He seemed to exist in one perpetual foment of irascible impatience, uncomfortable himself, and sowing the seeds of anger, fretfulness, and discord wherever he appeared. His home was especially unhappy. Bitter retorts and passionate invectives obtained dominant sway. He constantly railed at his wife, and she replied in the same cold-hearted strain; the children quickly imbibed a like vindictive habit, until such a thing as a pleasant look or kindly word was never known among them.

One day Mr. Bullard was returning to his cheerless dwelling, more feverish in temper than was his custom, in consequence of some disappointment, ready to vent his angry spleen upon his family as soon as he arrived. If the supper was not ready to sit down to at the very moment, he would almost turn the house upside down, and strike his wife to the quick with his taunting complaints. But chancing to approach a little sunny-haired girl, whose mild blue eyes and loving face were such a picture of bursting kindness as he had never seen before, an incident occurred which effected a complete revolution in his peevish frame of mind and planted a new feeling in his turbulent heart.

The girl, and one, evidently her older brother, were playing with a small carriage; and, suddenly turning near a stone step, she accidentally struck the carriage against one corner, and broke it into pieces. In a passionate burst of anger, the boy advanced, and struck his sister a severe blow in the face with his clinched hand, and stamped his feet in a tempest of fury upon the ground.

But, instead of returning the blow and revengeful speech, after an involuntary cry of pain, the noble girl laid her hand gently on her brother's arm, and looking sorrowfully into his flushed face, softly said, "Oh, brother Tom! I did not think you would do that." In a moment, as if stung by a hot iron, the boy shrank back, and hung his head in shame and conscience-stricken pain. Then he said, "Forgive me, dear Helen! I will never do it again." Scarcely had the penitent words left his lips, when his sister's arms were thrown around his neck, and forgiveness sobbed on his bosom.

Here was a lesson for Bullard! At first he was quite stunned by it; he could not understand it. It was something utterly beyond his philosophy. But he felt that it had somehow done him good. Bit by bit, as he proceeded on, his own angry feelings vanished, until he felt more calm and kindly than he had done for years. Yes, he was softened to his heart's core, and he felt something very like moisture springing to his eyes.

Little noting the wonderful change which had taken place in her husband's temper, Mrs. Bullard was dreading his arrival home, for supper was not near ready, and she had had the misfortune to burn the cakes she had baked for that meal. And the children, copying from her, were unusually cross and angry. In vain she had scolded and whipped them; they only snarled and struck each other, and almost drove her distracted with their quarreling confusion.

Mr. Bullard entered, and Mrs. Bullard could scarcely give credit to her senses. Instead of slamming the door behind him in a pettish crash, and stamping his way forward to the kitchen, he took the crying baby from its bed, and hushed it with the softest, and most endearing words he had ever used. And his face had a smile on it--a genuine, kind, sunshiny smile.

What strange wonder was this? Mrs. Bullard was, at first, struck quite dumb with astonishment, and the children stared at their changed father as if at a loss to make the mystery out. He spoke, and actually said, "My dear Mary, is supper nearly ready? I'm as hungry as a hunter!" Their wonder increased more and more. The children hardly seemed assured whether it was their father or not; and Mrs. Bullard scarcely knew whether to believe in the evidence of her eyes and ears.

But the change was real. Already a blessed feeling diffused through the family circle, like unto the falling of the morning dew, or the fragrant breath of summer flowers.

At first, hesitatingly, Mrs. Bullard replied--"Supper will be ready directly. But I am so sorry these cakes are burned. Should Willie run to the bakery for a loaf?"

"No, never mind," returned Mr. Bullard, "we can scrape off the burned part, and then they will taste as well as need be."

And taste as well they did, and better than cakes had tasted in the Bullard dwelling for a long time before. Not one jarring sentence marred the pleasantness of that happy meal. Mr. Bullard's kindly speech and smiling face had passed to his wife, and from both became reflected in their children. The house looked brighter. The beautiful mantle of cheerfulness had fallen on it, and there was unutterable music in the very ticking of the old clock.

Mrs. Bullard cried with delight, when she saw the baby crowing in its smiling father's lap; and he promised, if the elder ones would be good, to take them on a nice walk with him on the next Sunday. And she resolved never more to speak a peevish or angry word again, if constant watchfulness could prevent their utterance, but retain the peaceful happiness which only kind words and smiles can bring.

A happy influence, too, was exerted on the children. They no longer saw peevishness and anger in their parents; and gradually, but surely, lost it in themselves. And Mr. Bullard, whenever he felt his old bad feelings rising up to find a vent, called to mind the conduct of the blue-eyed girl, and resolutely crushed them down.

Reader, believe us, kind words are the brightest flowers of earth's existence; they make a very paradise of the humblest home the world can show. Use them, and especially around the fireside circle. They are jewels beyond price, and more precious to heal the wounded heart, and make the weighed-down spirit glad, than all other blessings the earth can give!

"Reckless words pierce like a sword, but the tongue of the wise brings healing." Proverbs 12:18

"An anxious heart weighs a man down, but a kind word cheers him up." Proverbs 12:25

"A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger." Proverbs 15:1

"Pleasant words are a honeycomb, sweet to the soul and healing to the bones." Proverbs 16:24