I bought the little kite while we were on holiday at the sea-side. It wasn't a very expensive one, but I thought it would do for the children. We carried it down to the beach on a windy afternoon. I tied it to the end of a ball of string, and ran with it into the wind. But do you think it would go up? No. It rose a few feet into the air, swirled wildly round and round, and went whack on the sand.
I felt rather foolish, but I went on trying for a long time, with the same result, until a young man in shorts who was playing nearby with his little girl, shouted out: "It needs a heavier tail!" I called back, "How do you make the tail heavier?" He replied, "With newspaper!"
The young man came over to help me. We found an old newspaper which some untidy people had left on the beach, and tore it into strips. We fixed about two yards of new string to the little short tail of the kite, and weighted it with twists of newspaper every foot or so. The kite seemed quite crestfallen when it found it couldn't leap about, and I thought it would never be able to lift all that extra weight. But the young man was right. Once the wind got under it, the kite rose steadily, up and up among the sea-gulls; nor did it ever stop rising until my ball of string was exhausted and I had no more line to give it.
We were all delighted with the success of our efforts. But soon a tragedy occurred. The kite must have got into an upper layer of air, and it began to tug and pull, this way and that. It nearly wrenched the string out of my hand. It kept jerking wildly, until suddenly ... the string snapped and fell; and there was our kite, high up in the air, with no lifeline to support it. For a few minutes it spun round and round on its own, then down it came, splosh! into the sea.
Everyone on the beach was watching, and some holiday-makers in a little boat rowed over to it, and, with much laughter, fished it out and brought it to shore, throwing it over on to the sand. I rolled the string back into a ball, and we carried the wet kite back to our hotel.
When the kite and I were alone together, I found that the poor little creature was quietly weeping. His face was soaking with tears. "It was the heavy tail that caused the trouble!" he sobbed. "Why didn't you leave me as I was when you bought me?"
"Nonsense!" I laughed. "Without that heavy tail you wouldn't have gone up at all! You crashed, not because your tail was too heavy, but because you broke your lifeline. Why did you do that?"
The kite hung its head. "I saw the sea-gulls swooping about in the wind, so free and happy, not tied to anything, no string fixed to their tails! and I wanted to be free too. So I pulled and tugged until I broke loose. And I should have been quite all right if it hadn't been for that wretched tail! It pulled me straight down into the sea, and nearly drowned me!"
I couldn't help smiling. "You know, little kite," I began, "you are just like some of us humans. When we are young and have no cares, we just flap about and never get anywhere. Then we go out into the world, and the Great Master puts weights on our tails to keep us steady. We are given work to do, and have cares and troubles. You might think that this would make it more difficult than ever for us to rise; but actually the opposite is the case. So long as we keep on a lifeline with the Master, our cares and troubles are the best thing for us! They give us a sense of responsibility, and, by keeping us steady, enable us to go up and up. The steadier we are kept, the higher we climb.
"But this only continues if we are joined up with the Master. The sea-gulls will tempt us to break loose and be `free', but actually we are only free so long as we are tied to Him. If the string breaks, down we crash. And we should crash just the same, whether we had a heavy tail or a light one! So, little kite, don't ever try to break free again. Keep contact with your Master, and all will be well."
I finished my little talk, and looked at the kite. He was fast asleep! ("Just like my friends at home," I thought, "sleeping through the sermon!") But he seemed to have learned his lesson, because next day, when he was dry, I took him down to the beach again; and this time he went right up into the sky and behaved beautifully. Every now and then he would give a little tug at the string, as if to say: "Have you got hold of me, Master?" And I would give a little tug back, as if to say: "Yes, I'm here, all's well!" and we played happily together till lunch-time.