Sally Sunbeam by Unknown

THIS is not her real name. Her real name is Sally Brown. Why, then, have I called her Sally Sunbeam? Why, because everybody else calls her so.

The reason is this: she is such a pleasant, happy, kind, sweet-tempered child that wherever she comes she comes like a sunbeam, gladdening and brightening all around her. It was her uncle Tom who first gave her her new name. He was spending a few days with the family for the first time for some years, for he lived a long way off and had not seen Sally since she was a baby. Sally became very fond of him at once, and so did he of Sally. As soon as he came down of a morning, there was Sally with her merry, laughing eyes to greet him. Whatever he wanted done, there was Sally with her ready willingness to do it for him. Wherever he went, there was Sally with her merry chat and her pleased and happy face to keep him company.

And when the evening came, and Sally, with an affectionate kiss, had bidden him good-night and gone away to bed, he felt as though a cloud had cast its shadow over the house. So one morning, when Uncle Tom was going out for a walk and wanted Sally to go with him, he said, “Where is my little sunbeam? Sally Sunbeam, where are you? Oh, here you are!” laughing as she came skipping in from the garden.

“But my name is not Sally Sunbeam, uncle,” she said. “My name is Sally Brown.”

Her mamma smiled. “It is only your uncle’s fun,” she said.

“Well, it is only my fun,” said Uncle Tom. “But it’s a very proper name for her, for all that. She is more like a sunbeam than anything else. So come along, Sally Sunbeam. Let us go and have a nice walk.”

And from that time Uncle Tom never called her by any other name. And other people came to call her by it too, and everybody felt that it was as true and fitting a name for her as ever a child could have.

Here she is in our picture, hanging up her doll’s clothes, that she has just washed. How bright and happy she looks! Uncle Tom may well call her Sally Sunbeam. But it is not only her cheerfulness and playfulness that makes her worthy of her name. This, of itself, would not be sufficient to make her loved as she is loved. Oh no! It is the kindness of her heart, the gentleness of her disposition, the delight she takes in trying to make everybody happy. This is what makes everybody love her.

Only the other day a group of several children passed the garden gate on their way from school. There was one poor little thing amongst them whose dress was so shabby and whose shoes were so bad as to make it evident that her parents must be very, very poor.

Sad to say, her schoolfellows were jeering her and teasing her about her appearance. One of these especially was taunting her very cruelly, and the poor child was crying. Sally ran out to her, and putting her arm lovingly round her said,

“What is the matter, dear? What do you cry for?”

 “Because they keep on laughing at me so,” sobbed the child.

“Well, who can help laughing at her?” cried the girl who had been teasing her the most. “Look at her shoes! Do you call those shoes?”

And at this the children all burst out laughing afresh.

“You ought to be ashamed of yourselves,” said Sally, “to laugh at the poor child and make her cry. It is very cruel of you. Suppose you could not get good shoes, how would you like to be laughed at?”

And there was something so serious and pitying in her tone that the children were ashamed of themselves, and went off without saying another word.

“Never mind what they say,” said Sally to the child. “Come into my garden till they have gone right away. There! sit down on that seat for a minute,” she said, leading her to one. “I will be back again directly.”

And she ran to her mamma, and in a great hurry told her all about it, and when the story was finished said, “I’ve got a boxful of money, mamma, that I have saved to buy toys with. May I buy the little girl a pair of new boots with it?”

“I must go and speak to her first,” said her mamma.

So Sally’s mamma came to the child and asked her a few questions, and found that the little thing had no father, and that her mother was ill, and that she had several brothers and sisters, and the good lady judged from all this how poor they must be.

Having satisfied herself that the child’s mother was not likely to be offended by the gift of a pair of boots to her little one, she said, “My little daughter here would like to buy you a new pair of boots. Would you like to have a pair?”

“Buy me a new pair of boots!” said the child, with a look of astonishment. “Oh, but they’ll cost a lot of money. Mother has been going to buy me some for ever so long, only she hasn’t been able to get money enough.”

“But I’ve got ever so much money that I was going to buy toys with,” said Sally, “only I would rather buy you a pair of boots if you would let me. And then those naughty girls won’t be able to tease you about your shoes any more, you know. So come along, and we’ll buy them at once. May we, mamma?”

“Yes, if you like.” And away they all went together to the bootmaker’s, and the money that Sally had thought to buy herself all sorts of toys with was expended upon a nice warm pair of boots for the stranger-child.

Don’t you think that Sally must have seemed like a sunbeam to that poor little one?

But this is only one of the instances of her kindness and sympathy and goodness of heart. She has learned of Him who all his life “went about doing good,” and every day tries to follow his blessed example. She has her faults, of course, like the rest of us, and these she has to fight against. But it is her virtues, not her faults, that she is known by—her brightness, her good temper, her sweetness of disposition, her kindness, her unselfishness; and this is how it is that everybody agrees to call her Sally Sunbeam instead of Sally Brown.