Every Child Should Know
Hamilton Wright Mabie
DOUBLEDAY, DORAN & CO., INC., _for_
THE PARENTS' INSTITUTE, INC.
_Publishers of "The Parents' Magazine"_
9 EAST 40th STREET, NEW YORK
COPYRIGHT, 1907, BY DOUBLEDAY, PAGE & COMPANY.
PRINTED IN THE UNITED STATES AT THE
COUNTRY LIFE PRESS. GARDEN CITY. N.Y.
The stories of "The Great Stone Face" and "The Snow Image" by
Nathaniel Hawthorne, are used in this volume by permission of Messrs.
Houghton, Mifflin & Company. Messrs. Little, Brown & Company have
granted permission for the republication of "The Man Without a
Country" by Edward Everett Hale.
The group of stories brought together in this volume differ from
legends because they have, with one exception, no core of fact at the
centre, from myths because they make no attempt to personify or
explain the forces or processes of nature, from fairy stories because
they do not often bring on to the stage actors of a different nature
from ours. They give full play to the fancy as in "A Child's Dream of
a Star," "The King of the Golden River," "Undine," and "The Snow
Image"; but they are not poetic records of the facts of life, attempts
to shape those facts "to meet the needs of the imagination, the
cravings of the heart." In the Introduction to the book of Fairy Tales
in this series, those familiar and much loved stories which have been
repeated to children for unnumbered generations and will be repeated
to the end of time, are described as "records of the free and joyful
play of the imagination, opening doors through hard conditions to the
spirit, which craves power, freedom, happiness; righting wrongs, and
redressing injuries; defeating base designs; rewarding patience and
virtue; crowning true love with happiness; placing the powers of
darkness under the control of man and making their ministers his
servants." The stories which make up this volume are closer to
experience and come, for the most part, nearer to the every-day
happenings of life.
A generation ago, when the noble activities of science and its
inspiring discoveries were taking possession of the minds of men and
revealing possibilities of power of which they had not dreamed, the
prediction was freely made that poetry and fiction had had their day,
and that henceforth men would be educated upon facts and get their
inspirations from what are called real things. So engrossing and so
marvellous were the results of investigation, the achievements of
experiment, that it seemed to many as if the older literature of
imagination and fancy had served its purpose as completely as alchemy,
astrology, or chain armour.
The prophecies of those fruitful years of research did not tell half
the story of the wonderful things that were to be; the uses of
electricity which are within easy reach for the most homely and
practical purposes are as mysterious and magical as the dreams of the
magicians. We are served by invisible ministers who are more powerful
than the genii and more nimble than Puck. There has been a girdle
around the world for many years; but there is good reason to believe
that the time will come when news will go round the globe on waves of
air. If we were not accustomed to ordering breakfast miles away from
the grocer and the poulterer, we should be overcome with amazement
every time we took up the telephone transmitter. Absolutely pure tones
are now being made by the use of dynamos and will soon be sent into
homes lying miles distant from the power house, so to speak, so that
very sweet music is being played by arc lights.
The anticipations of scientific men, so far as the uses of force are
concerned, have been surpassed by the wonderful discoveries and
applications of the past few years; but poetry and romance are not
dead; on the contrary, they are more alive in the sense of awakening a
wider interest than ever before in the history of writing. During the
years which have been more fruitful in works of mechanical genius or
dynamic energy, novels have been more widely distributed and more
eagerly read than at any previous period. The poetry of the time, in
the degree in which it has been fresh and vital, has been treated by
newspapers as matter of universal interest.
Men are born story-readers; if their interest subsides for the moment,
or is absorbed by other forms of expression, it reasserts itself in
due time and demands the old enchantment that has woven its spell over
every generation since men and women reached an early stage of
development. Barbarians and even savages share with the most highly
civilised peoples this passion for fiction.
Men cannot live on the bare, literal fact any more than they can live
on bread alone; there is something in every man to feed besides his
body. He has been told many times by men of great disinterestedness
and ability that he must believe only that which he clearly knows and
understands, and that he must concern himself with those matters only
which he can thoroughly comprehend. He must live, in other words, by
the rule of common sense; meaning by that oft-used phrase, clear sight
and practical dealing with actual things and conditions. It would
greatly simplify life if this course could be followed, but it would
simplify it by rejecting those things which the finest spirits among
men and women have loved most and believed in with joyful and fruitful
devotion. If we could all become literal, matter of fact and entirely
practical, we should take the best possible care of our bodies and let
our souls starve. This, however, the soul absolutely refuses to do;
when it is ignored it rebels and shivers the apparently solid order of
common-sense living into fragments. It must have air to breathe, room
to move in, a language to speak, work to do, and an open window
through which it can look on the landscape and the sky. It is as idle
to tell a man to live entirely in and by facts that can be known by
the senses as to tell him to work in a field and not see the
landscape of which the field is a part.
The love of the story is one of the expressions of the passion of the
soul for a glimpse of an order of life amid the chaos of happenings;
for a setting of life which symbolises the dignity of the actors in
the play; for room in which to let men work out their instincts and
risk their hearts in the great adventures of affection or action or
exploration. Men and women find in stories the opportunities and
experiences which circumstances have denied them; they insist on the
dramatisation of life because they know that certain results
inevitably follow certain actions, and certain deeply interesting
conflicts and tragedies are bound up with certain temperaments and
types of character.
The fact that many stories are unwholesome, untrue, vulgar or immoral
impeaches the value and dignity of fiction as little as the abuse of
power impeaches the necessity and nobility of government, or the
excess of the glutton the healthfulness and necessity of food. The
imagination must not only be counted as an entirely normal faculty,
but the higher intelligence of the future will recognise its primacy
among the faculties with which men are endowed. Fiction is not only
here to stay, as the phrase runs, but it is one of the great and
enduring forms of literature.
The question is not, therefore, whether or not children shall read
stories; that question was answered when they were sent into the world
in the human form and with the human constitution: the only open
question is "what stories shall they read?" That many children read
too many stories is beyond question; their excessive devotion to
fiction wastes time and seriously impairs vigour of mind. In these
respects they follow the current which carries a multitude of their
elders to mental inefficiency and waste of power. That they read too
many weak, untruthful, characterless stories is also beyond question;
and in this respect also they are like their elders. They need food,
but in no intelligent household do they select and provide it; they
are given what they like if it is wholesome; if not, they are given
something different and better. No sane mother allows her child to
live on the food it likes if that food is unwholesome; but this is
precisely what many mothers and fathers do in the matter of feeding
the imagination. The body is scrupulously cared for and the mind is
left to care for itself!
Children ought to have stories at hand precisely as they ought to have
food, toys, games, playgrounds, because stories meet one of the normal
needs of their natures. But these stories, like the food given to the
body, ought to be intelligently selected, not only for their quality
but for their adaptation. There are many good books which ought not to
be in the hands of children because children have not had the
experience which interprets them; they will either fail to understand,
or if they understand, they will suffer a sudden forcing of growth in
the knowledge of life which is always unwholesome.
Only stories which are sound in the views of life they present ought
to be within the reach of children; these stories ought to be well
constructed and well written; they ought to be largely objective
stories; they ought not to be introspective, morbid or abnormal in any
way. Goody-good and professionally "pious" stories, sentimental or
unreal stories, ought to be rigorously excluded. A great deal of
fiction specially written for children ought to be left severely
alone; it is cheap, shallow and stamped with unreality from cover to
cover. It is as unwise to feed the minds of children exclusively on
books specially prepared for their particular age as to shape the
talk at breakfast or dinner specially for their stage of development;
few opportunities for education are more valuable for a child than
hearing the talk of its elders about the topics of the time. There are
many wholesome and entertaining stories in the vast mass of fiction
addressed to younger readers; but this literature of a period ought
never to exclude the literature of all periods.
The stories collected in this volume have been selected from many
sources, because in the judgment of the editor, they are sound pieces
of writing, wholesome in tone, varied in interest and style, and
interesting. It is his hope that they will not only furnish good
reading, but that they will suggest the kind of reading in this field
that should be within the reach of children.
HAMILTON WRIGHT MABIE
I. A Child's Dream of a Star
By CHARLES DICKENS
II. The King of the Golden River or, The Black Brothers
By JOHN RUSKIN
III. The Snow Image: A Childish Miracle
By NATHANIEL HAWTHORNE
By FRIEDRICH, BARON DE LA MOTTE FOUQUÉ
V. The Story of Ruth
FROM THE BOOK OF RUTH
VI. The Great Stone Face
By NATHANIEL HAWTHORNE
VII. The Diverting History of John Gilpin
By WILLIAM COWPER
VIII. The Man Without a Country
By EDWARD EVERETT HALE
IX. The Nürnberg Stove
By LOUISE DE LA RAMÉE ("Ouida")
X. Rab and His Friends
By JOHN BROWN, M.D.
XI. Peter Rugg, the Missing Man
By WILLIAM AUSTIN
STORIES EVERY CHILD SHOULD KNOW
A CHILD'S DREAM OF A STAR
There was once a child, and he strolled about a good deal, and thought
of a number of things. He had a sister, who was a child too, and his
constant companion. These two used to wonder all day long. They
wondered at the beauty of the flowers; they wondered at the height and
blueness of the sky; they wondered at the depth of the bright water;
they wondered at the goodness and the power of God who made the lovely
They used to say to one another, sometimes, supposing all the children
upon earth were to die, would the flowers, and the water, and the sky
be sorry? They believed they would be sorry. For, said they, the buds
are the children of the flowers, and the little playful streams that
gambol down the hill-sides are the children of the water; and the
smallest bright specks playing at hide and seek in the sky all night,
must surely be the children of the stars; and they would all be
grieved to see their playmates, the children of men, no more.
There was one clear shining star that used to come out in the sky
before the rest, near the church spire, above the graves. It was
larger and more beautiful, they thought, than all the others, and
every night they watched for it, standing hand in hand at a window.
Whoever saw it first cried out, "I see the star!" And often they cried
out both together, knowing so well when it would rise, and where. So
they grew to be such friends with it, that, before lying down in their
beds, they always looked out once again, to bid it good-night; and
when they were turning round to sleep, they used to say, "God bless
But while she was still very young, oh very, very young, the sister
drooped, and came to be so weak that she could no longer stand in the
window at night; and then the child looked sadly out by himself, and
when he saw the star, turned round and said to the patient pale face
on the bed, "I see the star!" and then a smile would come upon the
face, and a little weak voice used to say, "God bless my brother and
And so the time came all too soon! when the child looked out alone,
and when there was no face on the bed; and when there was a little
grave among the graves, not there before; and when the star made long
rays down toward him, as he saw it through his tears.
Now, these rays were so bright, and they seemed to make such a shining
way from earth to Heaven, that when the child went to his solitary
bed, he dreamed about the star; and dreamed that, lying where he was,
he saw a train of people taken up that sparkling road by angels. And
the star, opening, showed him a great world of light, where many more
such angels waited to receive them.
All these angels, who were waiting, turned their beaming eyes upon the
people who were carried up into the star; and some came out from the
long rows in which they stood, and fell upon the people's necks, and
kissed them tenderly, and went away with them down avenues of light,
and were so happy in their company, that lying in his bed he wept for
But, there were many angels who did not go with them, and among them
one he knew. The patient face that once had lain upon the bed was
glorified and radiant, but his heart found out his sister among all
His sister's angel lingered near the entrance of the star, and said to
the leader among those who had brought the people thither:
"Is my brother come?"
And he said "No."
She was turning hopefully away, when the child stretched out his arms,
and cried, "O, sister, I am here! Take me!" and then she turned her
beaming eyes upon him, and it was night; and the star was shining into
the room, making long rays down towards him as he saw it through his
From that hour forth, the child looked out upon the star as on the
home he was to go to, when his time should come; and he thought that
he did not belong to the earth alone, but to the star too, because of
his sister's angel gone before.
There was a baby born to be a brother to the child; and while he was
so little that he never yet had spoken word he stretched his tiny form
out on his bed, and died.
Again the child dreamed of the open star, and of the company of
angels, and the train of people, and the rows of angels with their
beaming eyes all turned upon those people's faces.
Said his sister's angel to the leader:
"Is my brother come?"
And he said "Not that one, but another."
As the child beheld his brother's angel in her arms, he cried, "O,
sister, I am here! Take me!" And she turned and smiled upon him, and
the star was shining.
He grew to be a young man, and was busy at his books when an old
servant came to him and said:
"Thy mother is no more. I bring her blessing on her darling son!"
Again at night he saw the star, and all that former company. Said his
sister's angel to the leader:
"Is my brother come?"
And he said, "Thy mother!"
A mighty cry of joy went forth through all the star, because the
mother was reunited to her two children. And he stretched out his arms
and cried, "O, mother, sister, and brother, I am here! Take me!" And
they answered him, "Not yet," and the star was shining.
He grew to be a man, whose hair was turning gray, and he was sitting
in his chair by the fireside, heavy with grief, and with his face
bedewed with tears, when the star opened once again.
Said his sister's angel to the leader: "Is my brother come?"
And he said, "Nay, but his maiden daughter."
And the man who had been the child saw his daughter, newly lost to
him, a celestial creature among those three, and he said, "My
daughter's head is on my sister's bosom, and her arm is around my
mother's neck, and at her feet there is the baby of old time, and I
can bear the parting from her, God be praised!"
And the star was shining.
Thus the child came to be an old man, and his once smooth face was
wrinkled, and his steps were slow and feeble, and his back was bent.
And one night as he lay upon his bed, his children standing round, he
cried, as he had cried so long ago:
"I see the star!"
They whispered one to another, "He is dying."
And he said, "I am. My age is falling from me like a garment, and I
move towards the star as a child. And O, my Father, now I thank Thee
that it has so often opened, to receive those dear ones who await me!"
And the star was shining, and it shines upon his grave.
THE KING OF THE GOLDEN RIVER; OR, THE BLACK BROTHERS
I. - HOW THE AGRICULTURAL SYSTEM OF THE BLACK BROTHERS WAS INTERFERED
WITH BY SOUTHWEST WIND, ESQUIRE
In a secluded and mountainous part of Stiria there was, in old time, a
valley of the most surprising and luxuriant fertility. It was
surrounded, on all sides, by steep and rocky mountains, rising into
peaks, which were always covered with snow, and from which a number of
torrents descended in constant cataracts. One of these fell westward,
over the face of a crag so high, that, when the sun had set to
everything else, and all below was darkness, his beams still shone
full upon this waterfall, so that it looked like a shower of gold. It
was, therefore, called by the people of the neighbourhood, the Golden
River. It was strange that none of these streams fell into the valley
itself. They all descended on the other side of the mountains, and
wound away through broad plains and by populous cities. But the clouds
were drawn so constantly to the snowy hills, and rested so softly in
the circular hollow, that in time of drought and heat, when all the
country round was burnt up, there was still rain in the little valley;
and its crops were so heavy, and its hay so high, and its apples so
red, and its grapes so blue, and its wine so rich, and its honey so
sweet that it was a marvel to everyone who beheld it, and was
commonly called the Treasure Valley.
The whole of this little valley belonged to three brothers called
Schwartz, Hans, and Gluck. Schwartz and Hans, the two elder brothers,
were very ugly men, with overhanging eyebrows and small, dull eyes,
which were always half shut, so that you couldn't see into _them_, and
always fancied they saw very far into _you_. They lived by farming the
Treasure Valley, and very good farmers they were. They killed
everything that did not pay for its eating. They shot the blackbirds,
because they pecked the fruit; and killed the hedgehogs, lest they
should suck the cows; they poisoned the crickets for eating the crumbs
in the kitchen; and smothered the cicadas, which used to sing all
summer in the lime-trees. They worked their servants without any
wages, till they would not work any more, and then quarrelled with
them, and turned them out of doors without paying them. It would have
been very odd, if with such a farm, and such a system of farming, they
hadn't got very rich; and very rich they _did_ get. They generally
contrived to keep their corn by them till it was very dear, and then
sell it for twice its value; they had heaps of gold lying about on
their floors, yet it was never known that they had given so much as a
penny or a crust in charity; they never went to mass; grumbled
perpetually at paying tithes; and were, in a word, of so cruel and
grinding a temper, as to receive from all those with whom they had any
dealings the nickname of the "Black Brothers."
The youngest brother, Gluck, was as completely opposed, in both
appearance and character, to his seniors as could possibly be imagined
or desired. He was not above twelve years old, fair, blue-eyed, and
kind in temper to every living thing. He did not, of course, agree
particularly well with his brothers, or, rather, they did not agree
with _him_. He was usually appointed to the honourable office of
turnspit, when there was anything to roast, which was not often; for,
to do the brothers justice, they were hardly less sparing upon
themselves than upon other people. At other times he used to clean the
shoes, floors, and sometimes the plates, occasionally getting what was
left on them, by way of encouragement, and a wholesome quantity of dry
blows, by way of education.
Things went on in this manner for a long time. At last came a very wet
summer, and everything went wrong in the country around. The hay had
hardly been got in, when the hay-stacks were floated bodily down to
the sea by an inundation; the vines were cut to pieces with the hail;
the corn was all killed by a black blight; only in the Treasure
Valley, as usual, all was safe. As it had rain when there was rain
nowhere else, so it had sun when there was sun nowhere else. Everybody
came to buy corn at the farm, and went away pouring maledictions on
the Black Brothers. They asked what they liked, and got it, except
from the poor, who could only beg, and several of whom were starved at
their very door, without the slightest regard or notice.
It was drawing towards winter, and very cold weather, when one day the
two elder brothers had gone out, with their usual warning to little
Gluck, who was left to mind the roast, that he was to let nobody in,
and give nothing out. Gluck sat down quite close to the fire, for it
was raining very hard, and the kitchen walls were by no means dry or
comfortable-looking. He turned and turned, and the roast got nice and
brown. "What a pity," thought Gluck, "my brothers never ask anybody to
dinner. I'm sure, when they've got such a nice piece of mutton as
this, and nobody else has got so much as a piece of dry bread, it
would do their hearts good to have somebody to eat it with them."
Just as he spoke there came a double knock at the house door, yet
heavy and dull, as though the knocker had been tied up - more like a
puff than a knock.
"It must be the wind," said Gluck; "nobody else would venture to knock
double knocks at our door."
No; it wasn't the wind: there it came again very hard, and what was
particularly astounding, the knocker seemed to be in a hurry, and not
to be in the least afraid of the consequences. Gluck went to the
window, opened it, and put his head out to see who it was.
It was the most extraordinary looking little gentleman he had ever
seen in his life. He had a very large nose, slightly brass-coloured;
his cheeks were very round, and very red, and might have warranted a
supposition that he had been blowing a refractory fire for the last
eight and forty hours; his eyes twinkled merrily through long silky
eyelashes, his moustaches curled twice round like a corkscrew on each
side of his mouth, and his hair, of a curious mixed pepper-and-salt
colour, descended far over his shoulders. He was about four-feet-six
in height, and wore a conical pointed cap of nearly the same altitude,
decorated with a black feather some three feet long. His doublet was
prolonged behind into something resembling a violent exaggeration of
what is now termed a "swallow-tail," but was much obscured by the
swelling folds of an enormous black, glossy-looking cloak, which must
have been very much too long in calm weather, as the wind, whistling
round the old house, carried it clear out from the wearer's shoulders
to about four times his own length.
Gluck was so perfectly paralysed by the singular appearance of his
visitor that he remained fixed without uttering a word, until the old