A Home For Harry
“Home” was a strange word to little Harry; he had never known what a home was. He had lost both his parents at a very young age and had been alone in the world ever since. His whole life he had been lonely, wandering about the big city all day and sleeping at night under some bridge or archway, with no one to think about him or to care for him. He learned how to speak in a rough, hard way using nasty language because he had nobody to show him love and kindness. He knew only the coldness of the street, a cold which was reflected in his heart.
One day a kind old man found Harry on the street and took him home to live with his family. It felt strange for Harry to leave behind the well-known city streets and go on the long journey with this man. The old man told Harry to call him “Grandfather.” Soon the houses were left behind and Harry’s eyes began to take in all the new things he could see. There were high hills, trees, and beautiful green fields. He had never seen anything like it before and it all seemed strange and funny to him. He felt like laughing and talking, but he felt slightly afraid of the white-headed, grave old man by his side.
The daylight was already disappearing and Harry felt quite sleepy when they finally arrived at Grandfather’s little house. As he walked into his new home, he looked around and felt at once that there was something home-like and pleasant about this house. He had never known this feeling before and it felt nice.
The next morning Harry awoke in his real bed feeling refreshed, but very strange. He hardly remembered having slept in a real bed before. He heard the sound of children playing outside the window, and jumping into his few ragged clothes he was soon outside playing among them. He met a boy named Hugh who was kneeling by the well. Hugh was holding something in his hands and all the other children were looking at it. Harry moved closer to the children and saw that in Hugh’s hand was a baby swallow that appeared to have fallen out of the nest under the roof.
As Harry approached he heard a girl called Hannah say, “Grandfather says it’s a good sign that the swallows are coming back to our house. I think it shows that they know what’s good, that’s all.” Hugh laughed, saying, “So you think everybody that comes to our house must feel at home? What do you say to that Harry? Do you feel at home?”
Harry had no time to answer before a girl named Hatty interrupted clapping her hands. “Yes, yes! Jesus brought both Harry and the little sparrow to us and we’ll take care of them both, won’t we, Grandfather, and make them both so happy they will always want to come back here!” Little Hatty jumped up and ran indoors very pleased with her bright idea. Harry followed slowly, dragging his feet behind the other children and feeling hot and red all over. He did not like the idea of being compared to a little outcast bird. He doubled up his fist and wanted to shout out loud that he wouldn’t stay here, that he hated them all, but suddenly he caught the sound of some words which soothed him. “Hannah,” said little Hatty under her breath, “Harry isn’t much like our little pet swallow, is he? He is so rough and untidy. But, Hannah, what pretty eyes he’s got. Do you know, I think I will like him if he likes me.”
Harry felt surprised and pleased by Hatty’s kind words. Nobody had ever told Harry that his eyes were pretty, and certainly nobody had ever offered to like him. It was a completely new idea, and rather nice one, thought Harry. He decided that he liked Hatty, and from that day on they were great friends.
By this time Harry had begun to feel quite at home and he was as happy as could be. To his delight his cheeks became rosy and round and nobody would ever have guessed that he was not a country boy.
“The mother,” as Harry called her, took a great interest in little Harry. She taught him about Jesus. She corrected him when he said nasty words and with her help he learned to speak gently and with love. She taught him that ”a soft answer turneth away wrath; but grievous words stir up anger.” Proverbs 15:1. She helped him break off all of his bad habits his homeless life had taught him. He always listened to the wise words of “the mother” because he was learning about Jesus through her. As Harry grew bigger, it was a great pleasure for him to be a help to “the mother,” and sometimes her own children teased her saying she spent more time with him than anyone else. However, the children understood that she spent more time with Harry to give him the love and guidance he needed to forget the old ways he had learned on the streets. In this way, Harry lived happily among this family until he went off to make his way in the world.
The years passed by and many changes had taken place. The old house where Harry grew up, however, looked much the same, and the swallows twittered about, building their nest under the thatch as they used to do. Hatty had grown into a beautiful young woman and she loved to be outside in the garden listening to the sound of the birds. One day as she watched the swallows building their nest, she caught sight of a tall, handsome soldier walking up the hill to the house. He seemed familiar, and straining her eyes against the sun, she recognized the grown-up face of little Harry. He had come back from the war! How they all welcomed him with open arms and smiling faces. Everyone was so happy to see him. Harry had never forgotten the love they had given him when he needed it most and he remembered where his “home” was. He was so happy that Jesus had given him a home with a family that loved him.
Harry and the family had a lot of time to catch up on, and they spent a long night sitting together reminiscing on old times. Harry reminded Hatty of the spring evening many years before when she had offered him her friendship, saying they would make the swallows and a certain little homeless boy happy in their home and always welcome them home when they wanted to come back. Now Harry was back.
Harry grew up to be a nice young man because somebody had cared enough to bring him to their home, show him the love of a family and teach him about Jesus. It changed his life and made a difference in the lives of that little family also. When we offer a kind hand to somebody in need, we are doing what Jesus would do. “Is it not to deal thy bread to the hungry, and that thou bring the poor that are outcast to thy house? When thou seest the naked, that thou cover him, and that thou hide not thyself from thine own flesh?” Isaiah 58:7. Little Harry found a loving home and learned the meaning of kindness because someone followed the words of Jesus.