Once upon a time there were three sisters, Alice, Iris, and Patsy, who were all very beautiful. They had an aunt who lived in an old English castle, and one summer they went to visit her. She showed them all around the castle and took them up the winding stairs to the turret room at the top. In it was a lovely, large mirror, and she told them that according to an old story, the mirror had the magic power to answer any question if you said, "Please," very politely.
The girls were much impressed with the story about the mirror, and next morning while their aunt was out in the garden, they tiptoed up to the room where it was. They all sat down on the floor in front of it, and Alice said:
"Mirror! Mirror! Tell us, Please! Which is loveliest of these?"
"Oho!" laughed the mirror. "You wish to know which of you is the loveliest? Loveliest in what? Tell me about yourselves. What about your hair?"
"My hair is golden yellow," said Iris, "and it is curly, too."
"Mine is shiny black," said Patsy, "and long and straight."
"Mine is brown," said Alice, "with a little red in it."
"I see," said the mirror. "Each type is lovely in its own way. The important thing is that you all have hair which makes a beautiful crown for your heads. So, you are really all much alike."
"But our eyes aren't much alike," said Iris. "Mine are blue like the sky, and my eyebrows are light."
"And mine are black as coal," said Patsy, "and I have long, heavy lashes."
"But mine are grey with dark down lashes," said Alice, "so our eyes are all very different, aren't they?"
"Yes," said the Mirror, "they are different in some ways. But all your eyes have eyelids, lashes, and eyeballs, and a black pupil that lets in the light, so you can see all the wonderful things in the world. The loveliest thing about eyes is their power to see, and those who have the gift of sight are equal in one of life's most precious possessions."
"Well, what about our noses?" asked Patsy. "Mine is long and straight."
"And mine is short and turns up a little," said Iris.
"Mine is round and full at the tip," said Alice. "You can easily see that none of our noses are the same."
"Ah!" said the Mirror. "They appear different, but each of your noses has a bridge, and a tip, and two nostrils; and lets you smell the flowers and breathe fresh air. So, in what is most useful, your noses are really much alike."
"But, see our ears," said Iris. "Mine stick out from my head, and are too long, I think."
"And mine are little and close to my head," said Patsy.
"And mine are round as round can be," said Alice. "Our ears are all very different."
"You only look at the outside," said the Mirror. "But look inside at the workings of your ears. Aren't they all to hear with? Don't they all let in music, bird songs, and kind words? Isn't that a lovelier thing than being round or long, or big or little? In what is important, you are all very equal."
And so they went from one feature to the other, and the mirror showed them that underneath their differences, they were all very much alike. They were beginning to understand, but still were a little puzzled.
"But, how can we tell," asked Alice, "in what we are Different, and in what we are Alike? Will you, please, tell us that?"
"I will tell you," said the Mirror. "You each have the same kinds of parts in your bodies, and they serve the same purpose in alll, but yet they may be different in details such as size, color, and shape. So, too, in your minds, you have the same kinds of abilities, but each person uses them differently, so one becomes an artist, another a teacher, and still another may be a fine musician. If anyone puts forth an equal amount of effort, he can accomplish as much in his way as anyone else in a different way, because all people are equal in the opportunity to grow and express themselves."
"But," said Alice, "you still haven't told us which is lovelier."
"The answer is," said the Mirror, "that none is lovelier. One might as well try to say which is more beautiful, a daisy, a rose, or a lily, as to try to tell which of you sisters is more beautiful. You have seen paintings by great artists, but could you tell which was lovelier, a picture of a mountain scene, or of a child, or a bouquest of flowers? So it is with people. Each is special inspiration from God and needs to be appreciated for itself, and it is foolish to try to compare them."
--Edith May Custard.