Stories Worth Rereading: The Handy Box

“Grandmother, do you know where I can find a little bit of wire?” asked Marjorie, running from the shed, where an amateur circus was in preparation.

Grandmother went to a little closet in the room and disappeared a moment, coming out presently with the wire.

“O, yes! and Fred wanted me to ask if you had a large safety-pin.” Marjorie looked a little wistful, as if she did not quite like to bother grandmother.

There was another trip made to the closet, and the safety-pin was in Marjorie’s hand.

“You are a pretty nice grandma,” she said, over her shoulder, as she ran out.

Not very long after, Marjorie came into the kitchen again. This time she stood beside the sink, where grandmother was washing dishes, and twisted her little toes in her sandals, but seemed afraid to speak.

“Fred wants to know”—began grandmother, laughing.

“Yes’m,” said Marjorie, blushing.

“If I can’t find him a piece of strong string?” finished grandmother.

“O, no—it’s a little brass tack!” declared Marjorie, soberly.

She was a patient, loving grandmother, and she went to the little closet again. Marjorie could hardly believe her eyes when she saw the tacks, for there were three!

“He—said—” she began slowly, and stopped.

“You ought to tell him to come and say it himself,” and grandmother laughed; “but we will forgive him this time. Was it ‘Thank you,’ he said?”

“He feels ‘Thank you’ awfully, I’m sure,” said Marjorie, politely, “but what he said was that if wasn’t too much bother—well, he could use a kind of hook thing.”

Her grandmother produced a long iron hook, and Marjorie looked at her wonderingly. “Are you a fairy?” she asked, timidly. “You must have a wand and just make things.”

Grandmother laughed. “Come here,” she said. And she opened the little dark closet, and from the shelf took a long wooden box. This she brought to the table, and when she opened it, Marjorie gave a little cry of delight. It seemed to her that there was a little of everything in it. There were bits of string, pins, colored paper, bobbins, balls, pieces of felt, and every sort of useful thing generally thrown away.

“When I knew my grandchildren were coming here to spend the summer,” she said, “I began on this box, and whenever I find anything astray that would naturally be thrown out I just put it in.”

“Do you want me to help save, too?” asked Marjorie, who thought the story should have a moral.

“You must start a handy box of your own when you go back, and keep it in the nursery. You don’t know how many times a day you will be able to help the others out. A little darning yarn, an odd thimble, a bit of soft linen, and all the things that clutter and would be thrown away, go to fill up a handy box. You can be the good fairy of the nursery.”

“It is just wonderful!” said Marjorie. “If I had a little—just a little wooden box, I would begin today, and when I go home I can have a larger one.”

Grandmother smiled, and brought out a smaller wooden box, just the right size. From that moment Marjorie was a collector, and her usefulness began.

Mira Jenks Stafford, in Youth’s Companion.