Chapter Five

 •  15 min. read  •  grade level: 6
VERILY, verily, this quotation is true, "Be not forgetful to entertain strangers: for thereby some have entertained angels unawares" (Hebrews 13:22Be not forgetful to entertain strangers: for thereby some have entertained angels unawares. (Hebrews 13:2)) . Bacha Filina and those in his household proved it. It was just as if God's blessing had moved to them with Palko Lesina. They all had success in everything they undertook. The boy was ready to help everywhere, and set the house in such order as it never had been before.
"You see, the Lord Jesus lives here," Palko explained sweetly. "He is here, and we don't know when He comes and where He would like to sit down. We would not have any place to receive Him."
Stephen taught him how to play the shepherd's horn and he played on it beautiful Christian songs, so that the mountains fairly resounded. When he played tag or blind man's bluff with the boys he was the most joyful of them. But as soon as he was invited to read from his precious Book, he obeyed at once and sat among them, as once his Lord did among learned old men in Jerusalem. On Petrik especially he had a good influence. Petrik was often self-willed and disobedient, so that Bacha had to punish him.
"Why should you make Uncle Filina cross? Just tell it to the Lord Jesus when the Devil is tempting you, and He will deliver you, He will help you," advised Palko.
Ondrejko became more quiet and thoughtful. He liked the talks with Palko very much. He believed everything, even that the Lord Jesus is constantly present. Therefore it is necessary to be always washed and clean and dressed decently, and also that it is necessary to give one's heart to the Lord Jesus when He wants it, and that He takes the heart and cleanses it. Before Palko realized it, the Lord Jesus had one servant more. And thus His Holy Word was fulfilled; "I thank Thee, 0 Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because Thou hast hid these things from the wise and prudent, and hast revealed them unto babes" (Matt. 11: 25). No one can find out how it happens; it passes human understanding, how the caterpillar in the dried-up cocoon takes a new life with the arrival of Spring. Before they reached that part in that precious Book where it begins to tell of the sufferings of and, finally, the death of the Lord Jesus, Ondrejko felt in his heart that all happened for him also. He could not quite explain it, and no one expected him to,' but he knew it in his heart.
Once, when he went with Palko to his hut, he prayed that the Lord Jesus would forgive him everything and asked Him to come into his heart. Ondrejko thereupon believed without fail that it happened, because it is still true today, "If thou shalt believe, thou shalt see the glory of God." Therefore what he believed, he also had. Ondrejko de Gemer already had suffered much on this earth: He suffered many heart-aches for the want of a father or mother. Many nights he cried about it when no one heard him. Very few realize how much pain a little child may suffer from sorrow and hopelessness from lack of love. Before Ondrejko came to Filina he often used to wonder what would become of him, since he had nobody, although both of his parents were living. Would he always have to live with strange people? A book could be written of the thoughts of that forsaken little soul while he was building castles and bridges, and when people thought he was deeply interested in his play. Fortunately Palko Lesina arrived, and through his daily talk made it plain to his little comrade that Someone good and beautiful lives, and that this beautiful and good One also loved him, little forsaken Ondrejko de Gemer, whom even his father did not love, and He wanted to live with him always, that Ondrejko need not feel forsaken anymore. Now he had Someone to bring his complaints to, and he could confide everything to Him, yea, everything. How beautiful that was! Yes, verily, the Lord Jesus now had one servant more.
Even the herdsmen sighed to Bacha, "How shall we ever get along without Palko Lesina? Ever since the boy has been with us, it seems that the sunrise looks more beautiful and the dew is richer on the ground."
"He is a blessed boy," admitted Filina with a sigh. Oh, how very much he needed this boy!
Therefore when, instead of Lesina, a letter came, he was much relieved. Lesina wrote that he would not be able to come back till six weeks later, and asked Bacha to keep Palko with him in the meantime, that he would be useful in every way. He didn't want to let the boy come home alone because it was so far, and he was his only child. When that letter came, the boys jumped for joy, and Fido helped them, but the greatest joy after all was that of Filina himself.
In the evening of that day, while they were sitting before the but and Palko was blowing on the horn, suddenly Dr. H. stood before them. With evident pleasure he noticed the strange boy. Fido wagged his bushy tail in a friendly manner because more than once he had received a good bacon-rind from this kind gentleman. Dunaj, stretched out by the feet of his master, lifted his head also, but made no sound. He knew already whom to let alone and whom not. Formerly he would have jumped up and barked, and tested the long coat of the doctor to see if it was made of good material or not. Today, he would rather snap at a fly which paid with her life for daring to buzz around his nose. Well, the dogs did not give it away and the people did not notice that they had a listener, neither then nor even after Palko began to read in his Book, where there was written about the great man who was the captain of the tax gatherers, who had great riches and many friends, but did not have peace or happiness in his heart because he did not know the Lord Jesus. Palko read how the Lord Jesus spoke to him while he sat in the sycamore tree and invited Himself as his guest.
"Uncle Filina," suddenly Palko interrupted, when he came to the words of the Lord, 'The Son of Man came to seek and to save that which was lost'—"If you simply do just like Zaccheus; and say to the Lord Jesus, 'This day is salvation come to this house,' that would be first, the house of your heart and then the whole hut. Uncle, I beg of you, receive Him today. Zaccheus received Him at once with joy, and how much greater joy did he find afterward when the Lord Jesus forgave him all his sins."
Surprised, the doctor looked at the strange boy and also at Bacha who arose and without a word entered the hut. Then Petrik noticed the guest; both the boys ran to welcome him and each one wanted to be the first to tell him who Palko was and what he was doing among them. The Doctor liked Palko, like everyone else who came in contact with him. Then the boys found out why the doctor had come that day. He wanted to find a cottage near the but where he could place one of his patients for a week, whom only quietness and air and sun could heal.
"Palko, do you hear?" whispered Petrik, but so loud that all could hear him. "That cottage of yours is empty, your father will not come for six weeks, and you could live here with us; that would be a good place for the lady."
"What did you say, boy?" asked the doctor.
Ondrejko began to explain that Lesina had a cottage at the very foot of the "Old Hag's Rock," where the path led to town, and that at the present it was empty.
"Do you think, Palko," asked the doctor, "that your father would agree to lend us the cabin, if it would suit us?"
"Why would he not agree?" said the boy with shining eyes. "Does not the Lord Jesus say, 'I was sick, and ye visited Me?' If the cabin suits you I will give you the key. Just let the sick one come."
It was too late in the evening to go to see the place; so the boys prepared to go with the doctor early in the morning to the cottage.
This time the doctor did not sleep with the boys in the hayloft, because he spoke a long time with Filina. When Filina went to look at the boys, as it was his custom to do every evening, he stood above them a long time in deep thought, then he carefully covered Ondrejko, and sadly stroked his forehead, gently, as if he was very sorry for the boy. But why? Did he not look very lovely, somewhat browned from the sun, with beautiful roses on his velvet-like cheeks, and his small mouth as red as a poppy-flower. It was plainly noticeable how the mountain air and plain food were strengthening and healing him. His face also betrayed his inner happiness which the Lord Jesus had put in his heart. Why then was Bacha sorry for him?
During the night, a thunderstorm of short duration passed over the mountain. The spring morning broke very beautifully, as it can only after a storm. On the grass hung large pearls, and the leaves of the trees were full of diamonds as the sun shone on them. Everything sang praises to the Creator—every bird, every insect, and fly. The vapor rose like the smoke from a great sacrifice. No wonder then that Palko, leading their expedition, began to sing. Petrik gave a sigh, glanced at the doctor, thinking, "What will he say to that?" Ondrejko joyfully joined him, with his clear voice ringing like a golden bell. And thus it sounded over the mountains :
"Let us give thanks to God the heavenly King;
To Him who loved and kept us, let us sing.
To Him be given honor, glory, praise;
To God, Eternal, let our voices raise.
We pray, 'Be constantly with us this day
And guard us from all evil by the way,
That we may to Thy glory ever live,
And blessings to our neighbors ever give;
And when at last we reach the glory shore
We know that we shall praise Thee evermore.' "
The doctor knew that song. He had learned it in his childhood. It made him add his own voice to those clear notes of the children. It may seem strange, but it is true, that nothing will refresh the mind like such an early morning song, sung whole-heartedly on such a beautiful morning, when all nature is joining in praises to the Creator, and at every step man feels His holy, pure, and shining nearness.
"Listen, Palko," the doctor said after a moment's silence when the song was finished; "do you understand what we have sung?"
. "That song?" wondered the boy; "Isn't every word quite clear?"
"Do you think so? Then you explain it to us," smiled the doctor good-humoredly.
"Explain it? Why, we know well what the good Lord sent us during the past night, and we can walk sound and refreshed through this world, and that He is our Lord. We also know that He is the everlasting God."
"Well, that is so, but little children know that much. Go on."
"The third verse I like very much. He is already on the earth, always present with us, even now He goes with us, and so will protect us from evil all day long. I am very glad to see at least a small piece of His garment."
"Where do you see it?" asked Ondrejko.
"Just look how the rays of the sun shine around us. On every drop of dew you see a piece of the rainbow. That is the hem of His garment, and in that soft breeze, His Spirit is touching us. He :s very near to us. Verily, He is a good Father. We cannot see Him just because we could not bear the full glory. What a man was Daniel! Yet he almost died when he saw Him. But also this verse is beautiful, 'That we may to Thy glory ever live.' "
"And how do you do that, you little doctor of theology?" said the doctor.
"I think," said Palko, "that just what we do today is pleasing to the Lord Jesus; we are going to look for a place for one of His sick sheep, and if you should like the cottage we will gladly take care of the necessary wood and flowers. It is clean already, even the windows are washed."
"You little wise man, and lo, surely there is that cabin of yours."
"Yes, yes," cried the boys. And Dunaj, as if he would confirm it, ran directly to the door.
"Listen, boy, that cottage of yours is just as if it had been built for that patient of mine," admitted Dr. H., after he had looked the cottage over inside and out. "I shall have some furniture brought here, carpets shall cover the floor, that it be not cold, and your bed and table we will put in the kitchen, that will be for her nurse. Though the windows are small there are three of them, so there will be plenty of sun all day long. And what surroundings! This beautiful valley with the background of green woods and high mountains! The spring is close to the house, and, too bad there is no bench beside it!"
The three boys cried, "We shall ask Bacha, and he will send Stephen."
"He can make a very beautiful bench," said Ondrejko. "We can go and watch the sheep for him in the meantime."
The doctor stroked the boy's golden hair. "I would like to see you turn in the sheep."
"But he would not have to do that," remarked Palko; "for that purpose we have Whitie and Playwell. They are very wise dogs."
"Well, now; we shall see what can be done. But the bench must be put here. I would like to taste that water."
Palko ran for the flowered pitcher and a cup. They all drank their fill. The water was excellent. Then they sat beside the brook, and the doctor pulled cheese and bread out of his pocket. Each of the boys had his own bread—and quite a big piece at that. When Bacha cut the bread, he counted also on the appetites of Dunaj and Fido. The doctor divided the cheese. They ate the cheese and bread, and drank water. It tasted good to all of them.
Dunaj did not move his eyes from Palko, who shared with him faithfully. Greedy Fido ran from one comrade to the other and even sat down in front of the doctor, and not in vain. But when he came near Palko, Dunaj growled at him, which certainly in a dog's language meant, "Are you not ashamed?" So Fido did not try it a second time.
The doctor saw how the children enjoyed their food and noticed that Ondrejko also ate with a good appetite. He suddenly began to say, "Palko, you said that you would carry wood to the cottage. That will not be necessary. I will have a cord of wood brought and cut, but if you would take care of bringing the flowers that would be very good. The lady is to drink whey. As long as she is weak you could also bring that to her every morning. As soon as she is strong enough she will have to go to the sheepfold herself, and ask for it at the hut. Now, what do you say? Will you help me so that she will get better soon?"
They all heartily agreed that they would do it.
"I will tell you what is the matter with her. For a long time she made day out of night, but she could not change the day into night. Thus she lacked many nights' rest. Now she would like to sleep, but she cannot! She is a sad, unhappy person, and has lived to see much sorrow. It will be well if you help me to cheer her up; then she will recover sooner."
"And does the lady understand Slovak?" fearlessly asked Palko. The doctor smote his forehead.
"You are a wise little fellow, boy. I didn't think of that. But wait! I overheard when she bought oranges, she spoke in Czech. Then you will be able to understand each other. Do you want to help me, boys?"
"We would like to very much," said Ondrejko.
"If Bacha will permit us," added Petrik. Palko thought that nothing would hinder him as long as he was there.
In good spirits the boys returned to the sheepcote. The doctor left them at the "Old Hag's Rock." They took from him a closely-written note for Bacha Filina, who readily enough agreed to everything. He even sent Stephen to build the bench, and also gave permission to the boys to carry whey and flowers to the sick lady.