Mother stood in the doorway of the living room. “What are you looking at, children?” she asked. “What kind of book do you have there?”
Linda jumped up from the footstool and began to leaf through her school reader that lay on the couch. But Betty Lou and Eddie did not look up. “Oh, come and see these funny pictures!” they said. “Look at this man with the big hands and feet and the crooked nose.”
“Where did you get that book?” asked Mother, taking one glance at the floor, where Eddie lay stretched out on the rug, chin in hands, while Betty Lou turned the pages.
“Under the chair cushion, where we were looking for a lost pencil.”
Mother took another look and then said, “Linda, please go into the garden and bring me the most beautiful flower you can find.”
Then to the younger ones she added, “Let us put the book away and look at something pretty for a while.”
Harold came into the room in time to see Linda bring in a beautiful chrysanthemum. At the same moment his quick eye caught sight of the comic book which Mother had laid on the mantelpiece. At sight of the book and the upturned chair cushion his face turned red, but Mother pretended not to see it.
She held up the chrysanthemum and said, “I want you to look at this lovely flower. Now shut your eyes. Can you still remember what it looks like with your eyes closed?”
Yes, they all agreed they could.
“Our minds make a picture of the things we look at,” continued Mother, “so that we remember them when we can no longer see. If our minds are full of beautiful pictures, our faces will show it. Little by little we become like the things we think about and the pictures we see. Of course we cannot change the shape of our noses or the color of our eyes or hair by looking at pretty things. But kind deeds, sweet thoughts, and beautiful pictures in our minds do make beautiful faces—faces full of sweetness and love.
“God made man in His own image, after His likeness. Do you think He is pleased when people make ugly pictures of what He has created? Do you think He is pleased when we look at these ugly pictures? Most of these comic books show pictured stories of crime and sin that get us to thinking wrong. That is why Daddy and I haven’t bought them for you children. What do you think we should do with this one?” The look on Mother’s face was serious.
“Let’s burn it, like all the rest of the rubbish,” volunteered Harold, who felt ashamed of himself for bringing the book into the house. As he spoke he tore the book in two and flung it into the fireplace.
“Who’ll strike the match?” asked Mother.
“I will! I will!” said Eddie in his shrill, eager voice. Linda held the matchbox while Eddie struck the match. Betty Lou wanted to help too; so Mother let her set fire to the other half of the book.
As they watched its pages shrivel in the flames and saw the smoke curl up toward the chimney, Mother said, “That is what God will do someday with all the ugly, wicked things in the world. They will be burned up with fire.
“Where did you get that comic book, Harold?” Mother asked.
“At school,” was Harold’s frank answer. “One of the boys brought it and hid it in the basement by the furnace. He was afraid the teacher would find it, so he asked me to take care of it. I wish I had told him right then to throw it into the furnace!”
“That would have been a good idea,” said Mother, as she laid a hand on Harold’s shoulder.
Happy Home Stories by Ella M. Robinson, TEACH Services, Inc., 2005, pages 107–111.