Moral Stories For Kids - Valley Of The Singing River

 Valley Of The Singing River

Ages ago, so long ago that nobody can say when a humble hamlet nestled amidst pleasant hills. Chattering brooks playfully rushed down the tender green slopes. And under the stone bridges and through the cobbled streets of the village flowed a river softly singing on its way. "Happily I pass through this kindly hamlet, To the great sea down, along with many a streamlet. Blessed are those who are selfless and giving, This indeed the art of joyful living." In fact, the river rejoiced in the little village through which it flowed. For indeed its folks were good and kind and cared for others than they did for themselves. It felt happy and proud when people paused on the bridges or sat by its bank and quietly listened to its delightful song. Years rolled by and the hard-working folks prospered and grew very rich. So much so they no longer liked to live in their humble dwellings. So the entire hamlet was pulled down and in its stead appeared a town. The mayor built a magnificent palace for himself.

The priest constructed a high rising church and on its slender steeple swiveled a golden weathercock gleaming in the sunlight. And the people built beautiful mansions richly furnished and decorated. "We are now wealthy, We are now healthy, Life is indeed good, Oh, what a happy mood! We must grow richer still, Our coffers with gold pieces fill. Why think of others and waste our time, Let's sing and dance while the church bells chime." Thus day and night the townsfolk revelled to their heart's content. Not a thought they had to spare for others. No one paid heed to the bells while they rang from the belfry tower. On Sundays, the church was almost empty. The priest hurried home to join the feasting, leaving the church gate locked, unmindful that a humble farmer and his family who had traveled a long way from the top of the hill were waiting to pray. No more did the people find time to linger on the banks of the river to listen to its song. And the river continued to sing its song, but a sadder one. One day a weary hunchbacked traveler climbed to the top of the hill and saw the lovely town that spread out on the valley below. "Such a sunny place! Surely the people there cannot fail to be kind and generous and give me some food and shelter," he said and began descending the hill. He went past the town's gate and came to a cobbler's house. "My good man," said he, "I pray, would you kindly mend my shoes? They are full of holes and sore my weary feet. I have a long way to go. In return, I shall bless you, my son."

"What? Repair the shoes of a mendicant who has not even a farthing to offer? Be off. I have work at hand which will earn me enough to feast and dance when evening comes. I can do without your blessings," replied the cobbler rudely. The old beggar moved on. "Good Baker," he said before a bakery, "have pity on your grandpa. Many a weary mile I have traveled without a bite of food. Give me half a loaf. God shall bless you." "Out you go," sternly answered the baker. "Not even the tiniest piece of bread shall you receive from here. I have got lots of savories to bake for the evening feast." With a deep sigh, the old man plodded away and came to a great castle, with its battlements, towers, and red flags fluttering atop its four turrets. Slowly he made his way to the kitchen. The cook and his assistants were busy preparing food for the evening banquet. "Kind master of the kitchen," said the mendicant in a hopeful tone, "give me a glass of clear cold water from the pitcher there. My throat is parched after a long and weary journey. You shall be blessed with happiness, my son." "What? Clear cool water for nothing but an old man's blessings! Be off at once," shouted back the cook. Just as he turned to go, the mayor himself appeared on the scene. "What's that beggar doing here?" he asked. "Reverend Sir," said the old man bowing gracefully, "life has given you everything. You are rich and happy. Spare a little for a pauper. A glass of water is all I need." "If I start satisfying every other beggar like you, why, I myself will be reduced to penury in no time. Now, just get lost," angrily replied the mayor. 

Towards the splendid church, with its weathercock gleefully swiveling in the evening breeze, the old man sadly wended his way."Everybody has refused to help, the cobbler, the baker, the cook, and even the mayor himself. Surely the priest will be kind to me." he thought. Gently he knocked on the heavy wooden door. "Good Evening, father," he said soberly, "I pray, out of goodness of your heart, give me shelter for the night." "Ha! Ha! Ha! A beggar in this holy place! Oh, his pockets have nothing but mere holes," laughed the guardian of God's house, dismissing the old man's appeal. "Are there no gentle souls, kind and generous, in this charming town?" pondered the hunchbacked man as he crossed one of the bridges. He stopped and leaning over the stone parapet, listened to the river. Softly it sang as it quietly flowed to its destination. "Be not selfish or greedy, Help the poor and the needy. For your warmth and your kindness, You shall be rewarded with happiness. O, Friends! Pay heed to the words of this river, Else everything is lost forever." The old man sighed and smiled sadly and began to climb the hill. The sun had set. The stars twinkled in the sky. The path had become dark and dangerous. Suddenly he saw a yellow light glowing not very far away. Reaching it he came across a poor farmer with a lantern in one hand and a staff in the other, returning home from his fields.

"My good man," said he, "I am weary from a long long journey. Could you help me find a morsel of food and a roof over my head for the night?" "Grandpa, you are welcome to my humble dwelling, just a furlong away from here. Naturally, it is nothing compared to the splendid mansions you have just visited," replied the simple man leading him towards his cottage. "My boy, are you happy?" asked the old man. "We are a small family, happy and contented. Every Sunday we go to the church in the town below to pray and offer our gratitude to the Lord. It is only on such rare occasions, when we have guests, that we wish we had more provisions to properly entertain them," replied the farmer as they reached his cottage. The farmer's wife and his two little children greeted their guest with the warmest of smiles. Most happily they shared their food and drink with him. "Come, Grandpa, sleep well," the farmer said after he had prepared a bed of straw and feathers in the coziest corner of their dwelling. "I feel so sad that I have so little to offer you." "My good fellow, what little you have done for me is far greater than you can ever imagine," answered the mendicant as he closed his eyes. In the morning the farmer and his wife were amazed to see the table laid for breakfast, spread with varieties of food that they had never even dreamt of in their life. A large jug stood on one end, full to the brim with thick creamy milk. But when they looked for their guest to greet him, he was not in his bed nor was he anywhere else. Realizing how hungry they were and how hungry they had so often been, the small happy family ate with relish. But no sooner had they finished than, lo and behold, the empty platters and the jug again got filled with food and drink.

"Alas, the visitor we had last night was none other than an angel in disguise," said the farmer to his wife after a moment of contemplation. All of a sudden black clouds gathered in the sky. Lightning flashed and thunder echoed and reechoed over the hills. Darker and darker it grew and the day almost turned into night. A terrible storm brews up bringing torrential rains that lashed the little town below. The river swelled and with an angry roar flooded the cobbled streets, the castle, the church, and all the splendid houses. It rained for seven days and nights. When at last the sun shone again, the farmer and his wife came out of their cottage. What do you think they saw in front of them? There stretched a great lake. There was no trace of the town or its inhabitants. The family atop the thill prospered and there was never a shortage of food or drink in their house. Often when the lake receded one could catch a glimpse of the golden weathercock that once gleamed in the sunshine. Sometimes on Christmas eve, when the blessed family would look at its serene water, it would seem to them that they could hear the chiming of the church bells below. The river flows on, still singing its sweet and sad song, the story of a proud little town that once was.

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