Today's Beautiful Gem: Part I of "Gopala and his Friend", a story retold by me.

"Once upon a time, there lived in a village a young boy named Gopala.
His parents were poor, but they wanted their son to obtain a decent
education. In the neighbouring village was a famous teacher (guru)
to whom they took Gopala. The teacher was willing to take Gopala
under his tutelage. The only problem with this arrangement was that
Gopala had to walk through a small but dense forest to reach the
neighbouring village. It was not possible for his parents to escort
their son daily to the house of the guru. Gopala began to cry and
asked his mother: "Mother, I am worried to walk through the woods.
I hear several noises. It's also quite dark inside the forest. I'm
afraid of the animals and the snakes." His mother told Gopala:
"Don't you hear your father offering this prayer to God Krishna daily?

`tvameva mAtaca, pitAtvameva / tvameva bandhus'ca sakhA tvameva |
tvameva vidyA draviNam tvameva / tvameva sarvam mama devadevah: ||'

`You are my mother, you are my father,
you are my relative, you are my friend,
you are the wisdom, you are the wealth;
you are everything to me, my Lord of lords.'

You think of Krishna, call him by name; he will protect you in your
walk through the woods." The next day, as soon as Gopala entered the
forest, he called aloud: "Krishna, Krishna, where are you? I'm
frightened here. Come to me." Soon Gopala heard some footsteps.
A boy, more or less of the same age as Gopala and dressed in similar
clothes, clean but inexpensive, appeared beside him. They talked
about many little things, which only children can understand and
appreciate. When they neared the guru's village, the new boy told
Gopala: "Call me when you are returning in the evening. However,
please don't tell anybody. This must be a secret between us." He
then walked away."

Note: I read the theme of this story during my childhood days in the
book "Cradle Tales from Hinduism" by Sister Nivedita. For the sake
of effect, I took the liberty of making a few changes here and there.
Parents, I am sure little children might enjoy this tale.

om s'santih: Peace! - J. K. Mohana Rao