down one of the branches towards herself to breathe in its sweetness ;
aud a light arose in her soul. It seemed to do her heart good; and
gladly would she have plucked a flower, but she could not make up her
mind to break one off, for it would soon fade if she did so. Therefore
the girl only took a single leaf, and laid it in her Bible at home ; and it
lay there quite fresh, always green, and never fading.
Among the pages of the Bible it was kept ; and, with the Bible, it
was laid under the young girl's head when, a few weeks afterwards, she
lay in her coffin, with the solemn calm of death on her gentle face, as if
the earthly remains bore the impress of the truth that she now stood
before her Creator.
But the wonderful plant still bloomed without in the forest. It was
almost like a tree to look upon ; and all the birds of passage bowed
" That 's giving itself foreign airs now," said the Thistles and the
Burdocks ; " we never behave like that here."
And the black snails actually spat at the flower.
Then came the swineherd. He was collecting thistles and shrubs, to
burn them for the ashes. The wonderful plant was placed bodily in his
" It shall be made useful," he said ; and so said, so done.
But soon afterwards, the King of the country was troubled with a
terrible depression of spirits. He was busy and industrious, but that
did him no good. They read him deep and learned books, and then
they read from the lightest and most superficial that they could find ;
but it was of no use. Then one of the wise men of the world, to whom
they had applied, sent a messenger to tell the King that there was one
remedy to give him relief and to cure him. He said
" In the King's own country there grows in a forest a plant of heavenly
origin. Its appearance is thus and thus. It cannot be mistaken."
" I fancy it was taken up in my bundle, and burned to ashes long ago,"
said the swineherd ; " but I did not know any better."
The Drop of Water. 259
" You did not know any better ! Ignorance of ignorances ! "
And those words the swineherd might well take to himself, for they
were meant for him, and for no one else.
Not another leaf was to be found ; the only one lay in the coffin of
the dead girl, and no one knew anything about that.
And the King himself, in his melancholy, wandered out to the spot in
" Here is where the plant stood," he said ; " it is a sacred place."
And the place was surrounded with a golden railing, and a sentry was
The botanical professor wrote a long treatise upon the heavenly plant.
For this he was gilded all over, and this gilding suited him and his
family very well. And indeed that was the most agreeable part of the
whole story. But the King remained as low-spirited as before ; but
that he had always been, at least so the sentry said.
THE DROP OF WATER.
OF course you know what is meant by a magnifying glass one of
those round spectacle-glasses that make everything look a hundred times
bigger than it is ? When any one takes one of these and holds it to his
eye, and looks at a drop of water from the pond yonder, he sees above
a thousand wonderful creatures that are otherwise never discerned in
the water. But they are there, and it is no delusion. It almost looks
like a great plate-full of spiders jumping about in a crowd. And how
fierce they are ! They tear off each other's legs and arms and bodies,
before and behind ; and yet they are merry and joyful in their way.
ISTow, there was once an old man whom all the people called Kribble-
Krabble, for that was his name. He always wanted the best of every-
thing, and when he could not manage it otherwise, he did it by magic.
There he sat one day, and held his magnifying glass to his eye, and
looked at a drop of water that had been taken out of a puddle by the
ditch. But what a kribbling and Grabbling was there ! All the thou-
sands of little creatures hopped and sprang and tugged at one another,
and ate each other up.
" That is horrible ! " said old Kribble-Krabble. "Can one not persuade
them to live in peace and quietness, so that each one may mind his own
business ? "
And he thought it over and over, but it would not do, and so he had
recourse to magic.
" I must give them colour, that they may be seen more plainly,"
said he ; and he poured something like a little drop of red wine into the
drop of water, but it was witches' blood from the lobes of the ear, the
finest kind, at ninepeiice a drop. And now the wonderful little crea-
tures were pink all over : it looked like a whole town of naked wild men.
Stories for the Household.
" What have you there ? " asked another old magician, who had no
name and that was the best thing about him.
" Yes, if you can guess what it is," said Kribble-Krabble, " I '11 make
you a present of it."
But it is not so easy to find out if one does not know.
And the magician who had no name looked through the magnifying
THE TWO MAGICIANS.
glass. It looked really like a great town reflected there, in which all
the people were running about without clothes. It was terrible ! But
it was still more terrible to see how one beat and pushed the other,
and bit and hacked, and tugged and mauled him. Those at the top were
being pulled down, and those at the bottom were struggling upwards.
" Look ! look ! his leg is longer than mine ! Bah ! Away with it !
There is one who has a little bruise. It hurts him, but it shall hurt him
The Dumb Book. 261
And they hacked away at him, and they pulled at him, aud ate him
up, because of the little bruise. And there was one sitting as still as
any little maiden, and wishing only for peace and quietness. But now
she had to come out, and they tugged at her, and pulled her about, and
ate her up.
" That 's funny !" said the magician.
" Yes ; but what do you think it is ? " said Kribble-Krabble. " Can
you find that out ? "
" Why, one can see that easily enough," said the other. " That 's
Paris, or some other great city, for they 're all alike. It 's a great city ! "
" It 's a drop of puddle water !" said Kribble-Krabble.
THE DUMB BOOK.
BY the high road in the forest lay a lonely peasant's hut ; the road
went right through the farm-yard. The sun shone down, and all the
wdndows were open. In the house was bustle and movement ; but in
the garden, in an arbour of blossoming elder, stood an open coffin. A
dead man had been carried out here, and he was to be buried this morn-
ing. Nobody stood by the coffin and looked sorrowfully at the dead
aian ; no one shed a tear for him : his face was covered with a white
cloth, and under his head lay a great thick book, whose leaves consisted
of whole sheets of blotting paper, and on each leaf lay a faded flower.
It was a complete herbanum, gathered by him in various places ; it
was to be buried with him, for so he had wished it. "With each flower
a chapter in his life was associated.
" Who is the dead man ? " we asked ; and the answer was :
" The Old Student. They say he was once a brisk lad, and studied
the old Isnguages, and sang, and even wrote poems. Then something
happened to him that made him turn his thoughts to brandy, and take
to it ; and when at last he had ruined his health, he came out here into
the country, where somebody paid for his board and lodging. He was
as gentle as a child, except when the dark mood came upon him ; but
when it came he became like a giant, and then ran about in the woods
like a hunted stag; but when we once got him home again, and pre-
vailed with him so far that he opened the book with the dried plants, he
often sat whole days, and looked sometimes at one plant and sometimes
at another, and at times the tears rolled over his cheeks : Heaven knows
what he was thinking of. But he begged us to put the book into the
coffin, and now he lies there, and in a little while the lid will be nailed
down, and he will have his quiet rest in the grave."
The face-cloth was raised, and there was peace upon the features of
the dead man, and a sunbeam played upon it ; a swallow shot with
arrowy flight into the arbour, and turned rapidly, and twittered over
the dead man's head.
THE POWER OF I II IS HOOK.
What a strange feeling it is and we Lave doubtless all experienced
it that of turning over old letters of the days of our youth ! a new
life seems to come up with them, with all its hopes and sorrows. How
many persons with whom we were intimate in those days, are as it were
dead to us ! and yet they are alive, but for a long time we have not
thought of them of them whom we then thought to hold fast for ages,
and with whom \ve were to share sorrow and joy.
Here the withered oak-leaf in the book reminded the owner of the
friend, the school-fellow, who was to be a friend for life : he fastened the
green leaf in the student's cap in the green wood, when the bond was
made " for life : " where does he live now ? The leaf is preserved, but
the friendship has perished ! And here is a foreign hothouse plant, too
delicate for the gardens of the North ; the leaves almost seem to keep
The Jewish Girl. 263
their fragrance still. She gave it to him, the young lady in the noble-
man's garden. Here is the water rose, which he plucked himself, and
moistened with salt tears the rose of the sweet waters. And here is
a nettle -what tale may its leaves have to tell ? What were his thoughts
when he plucked it and kept it ? Here is a lily of the valley from the
solitudes of the forest. Here's an evergreen from the flower-pot of
the tavern ; and here's a naked sharp blade of grass.
The blooming elder waves its fresh fragrant blossoms over the dead
man's head, and the swallow flies past again. " Pee-wit ! pee-wit ! "
And now the men come with nails and hammers, and the lid is laid over
the dead man, that his head may rest upon the dumb book vanished
and scattered !
THE JEWISH GIRL.
AMONG the children in a charity school sat a little Jewish girl. She
was a good, intelligent child, the quickest in all the school ; but she had
to be excluded from one lesson, for she was not allowed to take part in
the scripture-lesson, for it was a Christian school.
In that hour the girl was allowed to open the geography-book, or to
do her sum for the next day ; but that was soon done ; and when she
had mastered her lesson in geography, the book indeed remained open
before her, but the little one read no more in it: she listened silently to
the words of the Christian teacher, who soon became aware that she was
listening more intently than almost any of the other children.
"Bead your book, Sara," the teacher said, in mild reproof; but her
dark beaming eye remained fixed upon him ; and once when he addressed
a question to her, she knew how to answer better than any of the others
could have done. She had heard and understood, and had kept his words
in her heart.
When her father, a poor honest man, first brought the girl to the
school, he had stipulated that she should be excluded from the lessons
on the Christian faith. But it would have caused disturbance, and
perhaps might have awakened discontent in the minds of the others, if
she had been sent from the room during the hours iu question, and con-
sequently she stayed ; but this could not go on any longer.
The teacher betook himself to her father, and exhorted him either to
remove his daughter from the school, or to consent that Sara should
become a Christian.
' I can no longer be a silent spectator of the gleaming eyes of the
child, and of her deep and earnest longing for the words of the Gospel,"
said the teacher.
Then the father burst into tears.
" I know but little of the commandment given to my fathers," he
said ; " but Sara's mother was steadfast in the faith, a true daughter of
264 Stories for the Household.
Israel, and I vowed to her as she lay dying that our child should never
be baptized. I must keep my vow, for it is even as a covenant with God
And accordingly the little Jewish maiden quitted the Christian school.
Tears have rolled on.
In one of the smallest provincial towns there dwelt, as a servant in a
humble household, a maiden who held the Mosaic faith. Her hair was
black as ebony, her eye dark as night, and yet full of splendour and
light, as is usual with the daughters of Israel. It was Sara. The ex-
pression in the countenance of the now grown-up maiden was still that
of the child sitting upon the school-room bench and listening with
thoughtful eyes to the words of the Christian teacher.
Every Sunday there pealed from the church the sounds of the organ
aud the song of the congregation. The strains penetrated into the
house where the Jewish girl, industrious and faithful in all things, stood
at her work.
" Thou shalt keep holy the Sabbath-day," said a voice within her, the
voice of the Law ; but her Sabbath-day was a workiug day among the
Christians, and that seemed unfortunate to her. But then the thought
arose in her soul : " Doth God reckon by days and hours ? " And when
this thought grew strong within her, it seemed a comfort that on the
Sunday of the Christians the hour of prayer remained undisturbed ;
and when the sound of the organ and the songs of the congregation
sounded across to her as she stood in the kitchen at her work, then even
that place seemed to become a sacred one to her. Then she would read
in the Old Testament, the treasure and comfort of her people, and it
was only in this one she could read ; for she kept faithfully in the
depths of her heart the words the teacher had spoken when she left the
school, and the promise her father had given to her dying mother, that
she should never receive Christian baptism, or deny the faith of her
ancestors. The Xew Testament was to be a sealed book to her ; and
yet she knew much of it, and the Gospel echoed faintly among the re-
collections of her youth.
One evening she was sitting in a corner of the living-room. Her
master was reading aloud ; and she might listen to him, for it was not
the Gospel that he read, but an old story-book, therefore she might stay.
The book told of a Hungarian knight who was taken prisoner by a
Turkish pasha, who caused him to be yoked with his oxen to the plough,
and driven with blows of the whip till the blood came, and he almost
sank under the pain and ignominy he endured. The faithful wife of the
knight at home parted with all her jewels, and pledged castle and land.
The knight's friends amassed large sums, for the ransom demanded was
almost unattainably high ; but it was collected at last, and the kuight
was freed from servitude and misery. Sick and exhausted, he reached
his home. But soon another summons came to war against the foes of
Christianity: the knight heard the cry, and he could stay no longer, for
he had neither peace nor rest. He caused himself to be lifted on his
SARA LISTENING TO THE SINGING IN THE CHUECH.
war-horse ; and the blood came back to his cheek, his strength appeared
to return, and he went forth to battle and to victory. The very same
pasha who had yoked him to the plough became his prisoner, and was
dragged to his castle. But not an hour had passed when the knight
stood before the captive pasha, and said to him,
" What dost thou suppose awaiteth thee ? "
" I know it," replied the Turk. " Ketribution."
" Yes, the retribution of the Christian ! " resumed the knight. " The
doctrine of Christ commands us to forgive our enemies, and to love our
fellow-man, for it teaches us that God is love. Depart in peace, depart
to thy home : I will restore thee to thy dear ones ; but in future be mild
and merciful to all who are unfortunate."
Then the prisoner broke out into tears, and exclaimed,
266 Stories for the Household.
" How could I believe in the possibility of such mercy ? Misery and
torment seemed to await me, they seemed inevitable ; therefore I took
poison, which I secretly carried about me, and in a few hours its effects
will slay me. I must die there is no remedy ! But before I die, do
thou expound to me the teaching which includes so great a measure of
love and mercy, for it is great and godlike ! Grant me to hear this
teaching, and to die a Christian! " And his prayer was fulfilled.
That was the legend which the master read out of the old story-book.
All the audience listened with sympathy and pleasure ; but Sara, the
Jewish girl, sitting alone in her corner, listened with a burning heart ;
great tears came into her gleaming black eyes, and she sat there with a
gentle and lowly spirit as she had once sat on the school bench, and felt
the grandeur of the Gospel ; and the tears rolled down over her cheeks.
But again the dying words of her mother rose up within her :
" Let not my daughter become a Christian," the voice cried ; and
together with it arose the words of the Law : " Thou shalt honour thy
father and thy mother."
"I am not admitted into the community of the Christians," she said ;
" they abuse me for being a Jew girl our neighbour's boys hooted me
last Sunday, when I stood at the open church door, and looked in at the
flaming candles on the altar, and listened to the song of the congrega-
tion. Ever since I sat upon the school bench I have felt the force of
Christianity, a force like that of a sunbeam, which streams into my soul,
however firmly I may shut my eyes against it. But I will not pain thee
in thy grave, O my mother, I will not be unfaithful to the oath of my
father, I will not read the Bible of the Christians. I have the religion
of my people, and to that will I hold ! "
And years rolled on again.
The master died. His widow fell into poverty ; and the servant girl
was to be dismissed. But Sara refused to leave the house : she became
the staff in time of trouble, and kept the household together, working
till late in the night to earn the daily bread through the labour of her
hands ; for no relative came forward to assist the family, and the widow
became weaker every day, and lay for months together on the bed of
sickness. Sara worked hard, and in the intervals sat kindly ministering
by the sick-bed : she was gentle and pious, an angel of blessing in the
" Yonder on the table lies the Bible," said the sick woman to Sara.
"Bead me something from it, for the night appears to be so long oh,
so long ! and my soul thirsts for the word of the Lord."
And Sara bowed her head. She took the book, and folded her hands
over the Bible of the Christians, and opened it, and read to the sick
woman. Tears stood in her eyes, which gleamed and shone with ecstacy,
and light shone in her heart.
" O my mother," she whispered to herself; "thy child may not re-
ceive the baptism of the Christians, or be admitted into the congregation
thou hast willed it so, and I shall respect thy command : we will re-
The Elder Tree Mother. 267
main in union together here on earth ; but beyond this earth there is a
higher union, even union in God ! He will be at our side, and lead us
through the valley of death. It is He that descendeth upon the earth
when it is athirst, and covers it with fruitfulness. I understand it I
know not how I came to learn the truth ; but it is through Him, through
And she started as she pronounced the sacred name, and there came
upon her a baptism as of flames of fire, and her frame shook, and her
limbs tottered so that she sank down fainting, weaker even than the
sick woman by whose couch she had watched.
"Poor Sara!" said the people; "she is overcome with night watch-
ing and toil ! "
They carried her out into the hospital for the sick poor. There she
died ; and from thence they carried her to the grave, but not to the
churchyard of the Christians, for yonder was no room for the Jewish
girl ; outside, by the wall, her grave was dug.
But God's sun, that shines upon the graves of the Christians, throws
its beams also upon the grave of the Jewish girl beyond the wall ; and
when the psalms are sung in the churchyard of the Christians, they
echo likewise over her lonely resting-place ; and she who sleeps beneath
is included in the call to the resurrection, in the name of Him who spake
to His disciples :
" John baptized you with water, but I will baptize you with the Holy
Ghost ! "
THE ELDER TREE MOTHER.
THEKE was once a little boy who had caught cold ; he had gone out
and got wet feet ; no one could imagine how it had happened, for it was
quite dry weather. Now his mother undressed him, put him to bed,
and had the tea-urn brought in to make him a good cup of elder tea,
for that warms well. At the same time there also came in at the door
the friendly old man who lived all alone at the top of the house, and
\vas very solitary. He had neither wife nor children, but he was very
fond of little children, and knew so many stories that it was quite
" Now you are to drink y-our tea," said the mother, "and then perhaps
you will hear a story."
"Ah ! if one only could tell a new one! " said the old man, with a
friendly nod. "But where did the little man get his feet wet?" he
" Yes," replied the mother, " no one can tell how that came about."
" Shall I have a story ? " asked the boy.
" Tes, if you can tell me at all accurately for I must know that
first how deep the gutter is in the little street through which you go
268 Stories for the Household.
" Just half way up to my knee," answered the boy, " that is, if I put
my feet in the deep hole."
"You see, that 's how we get our feet wet," said the old gentleman.
" Now I ought certainly to tell you a story ; but I don't know any more."
" You can make up one directly," answered the little boy. " Mother
says that everything you look at can be turned into a story, and that
you can make a tale of everything you touch."
" Yes, but those stories and tales are worth nothing ! No, the real
ones come of themselves. They knock at my forehead and say, ' Here
" "Will there soon be a knock ? " asked the little boy, and the mother
laughed, and put elder tea in the pot, and poured hot water upon it.
" A story ! a story ! "
"Yes, if a story would come of itself; but that kind of thing is very
grand; it only comes when it 's in the humour. Wait ! " he cried all at
once ; " here we have it. Look you ; there 's one in the tea-pot now."
And the little boy looked across at the tea-pot. The lid raised itself
more and more, and the elder flowers came forth from it, white and
fresh ; they shot forth long fresh branches even out of the spout, they
spread abroad in all directions, and became larger and larger ; there was
the most glorious elder bush in fact, quite a great tree. It penetrated
even to the bed, and thrust the curtains aside ; how fragrant it was,
and how it bloomed ! And in the midst of the tree sat an old, pleasant-
looking woman in a strange dress. It was quite green, like the leaves
of the elder tree, and bordered with great white elder blossoms ; one
could not at once discern whether this border was of stuff or of living
green and real flowers.
" What is the woman's name ? " the little boy asked.
" The Eomaus and Greeks," replied the old man, " used to call her a
Dryad ; but we don't understand that : out in the sailor's suburb we
have a better name for her ; there she's called Elder Tree Mother, and it
is to her you must pay attention : only listen, and look at that glorious
" Just such a great blooming tree stands outside ; it grew there in the
corner of a poor little yard, and under this tree two old people sat one
afternoon in the brightest sunshine. It was an old, old sailor, and his
old, old wife ; they had great grandchildren, and were soon to celebrate
their golden wedding ;* but they could not quite make out the date, and
the Elder Tree Mother sat in the tree and looked pleased, just as she
does here. ' I know very well when the golden wedding is to be,' said
she ; but they did not hear it they were talking of old times.
' Yes, do you remember,' said the old seaman, ' when we were quite
little, and ran about and played together ! it was in the very same yard
where we are sitting now, and we planted little twigs in the yard, and
made a garden.'
l ( ? en - W( l ddin S is celebrated in several countries of the Continent, by the two wedded
survive to see the fiftieth anniversary of their marriage-day.
TUB OLD NEIGHBOUE VISITS THE LITTLE BOY.
" ' Yes,' replied the old woman, ' I remember it very well : we watered
the twigs, and one of them was an elder twig ; that struck root, shot
out other green twigs, and has become a great tree, under which we old