Krishna was a very poor boy. He lived in the village with his mother. His father was dead. When Krishna was five-year-old, his mother sent him to school.
The road seemed very long. Krishna thought he had lost his way. He went on and on, till he saw the other village boys going to school. He joined them, and at last reached school.
He had a happy time at school. When lessons were over, he played games with the other boys. It was almost dark when he set out for home.
It was a long way back to home. It grew darker and darker. Krishna was very much afraid. He did not know what to do. So he began to run, and he did not rest till he was in his mother’s arms.
Next morning Krishna told his mother that he did not want to go to school. “But,” said his mother, “You had a happy time at school yesterday, my child, and learnt many beautiful things! You said you loved your lessons. Why do you not wish to go to school today?”
“I love school and my lessons, mother,” replied, “but I am afraid to go alone through the woods, they are thick and dark.”
The poor mother stood for a minute, thinking what to say. She was very poor to send anyone with her son to school. At once the name of lord Krishna came to her mind. So she said to Krishna: “You don’t know, my child, their lives in these woods another son of mine who is always there near the path. Whenever you are afraid, call out Him, ‘O Cowboy Brother, come with me to school!’ He will come at once and take care of you, and then you will not be afraid.””
And Krishna said, “Is it really true, mother, that my Brother, the Cowboy, will come to take care of me on my way to school?”
“Yes, it is true, my boy,” said the mother, “He loves you as a brother does, and will never fail to come to your help when you call out to Him.”
So Krishna set out like a brave boy. But he had not gone very far when he began to feel afraid. So he called out, “O Brother Cowboy, Brother Cowboy, come and play with me!”
A Boy appeared out of the tree, took the child’s hand, and led him to school. When they came near the school, He parted from him, saying: “Call Me again on your way back to home.”
Every day, Krishna, while going to and coming back from school, would call the Cowboy. They would play together all the way. The Cowboy was so kind and good that Krishna came to love Him as he had never loved anyone before.
And when, day after day, Krishna told his mother all about Him, she was not in the least surprised. She knew it was the Child Krishna who came to her son’s help every day.
So time went on. Then one day the school master said:” tomorrow I want to give a feast. All of you, my boys, must bring presents.”
So Krishna said to his mother that night, “Mother, our noble teacher is going to give a feast tomorrow. What should I take to him?”
the child’s words made the mother very sad. She knew she was very poor and could not give anything to her little boy for his teacher. But at the same time she did not want her son to give no present to his Master.
So she said to him, “My boy, I am too poor to give you anything for your teacher. But, while going to school in the morning, ask your Brother to give you something.” She knew that the child Krishna would help them.
So in the morning Krishna said to the Cowboy: “O Brother, my teacher is going to give a feast today. All the boys will be bringing presents. It will look so bad if I give him no present. I am too poor to give anything. Will you, give me something foe my Master?”
“What can I give you, O brother? What am I but a poor Cowboy? Here is a little bowl of milk. That’s all I can give you, Krishna. It is only a poor Cowboy’s present. But you must give it to your teacher, “said the Cowboy.
Krishna went to his master’s house with the present. He waited behind a crowd of boys who were handing over what they had brought.
Krishna waited a long time, but no one saw him. The poor boy became very sad. At last the teacher happened to look at him. He took the small bowl of milk from his hands and went to empty it into a big pan. But great was his wonder when the little bowl filled up again. Again he tried to empty it, and again the little bowl was full. And so he went on emptying it again and again, but still the little bowl was full.
All those present there wondered what it meant. Krishna also wondered. He now understood for the first time that the Cowboy Brother was no other than the Child Krishna Himself.
The teacher asked him, “From where did you get this milk?” Krishna replied, “From my Brother, the Cowboy Brother, who lives in the woods.”
“Who is He?” asked the teacher.
“One who comes and play with me on my way to school,” replied Krishna.
“Can you show me your Brother in the woods?”
“Yes, if you come along with me, Sir.”
So in the evening the teacher and Krishna went together to the place. When they got there, Krishna called: “Cowboy Brother! Brother Cowboy! Won’t you come?” but no Cowboy appeared. Krishna did not know what to do. He called and called, but there was no answer.
At last the boy, full of grief, cried, “O Brother Cowboy, if You do not appear, they will think I do not tell the truth.”
Then came a sound, as it were, from the deep woods, which seemed to say, “No, my little brother, I cannot show my face to your master. He still has long way to wait.”