Famous Stories Every Child Should Know
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Famous Stories Every Child Should Know


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Published 08 December 2010
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Project Gutenberg's Famous Stories Every Child Should Know, by Various This eBook is for the use of anyone anywhere at no cost and with almost no restrictions whatsoever. You may copy it, give it away or re-use it under the terms of the Project Gutenberg License included with this eBook or online at www.gutenberg.net Title: Famous Stories Every Child Should Know Author: Various Editor: Hamilton Wright Mabie Release Date: July 8, 2005 [EBook #16247] Language: English Character set encoding: ISO-8859-1 *** START OF THIS PROJECT GUTENBERG EBOOK FAMOUS STORIES EVERY CHILD *** Produced by Juliet Sutherland, Diane Monico and the Online Distributed Proofreading Team at http://www.pgdp.net. Old Man of the Mountain FAMOUS STORIES Every Child Should Know EDITED BY Hamilton Wright Mabie THE WHAT-EVERY-CHILD-SHOULD-KNOW-LIBRARY Published by 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. ACKNOWLEDGMENTS 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. INTRODUCTION 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 oftused 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 FAMOUS STORIES CONTENTS CHAPTER PAGE Illustration: Old Man of the Mountain ACKNOWLEDGMENTS INTRODUCTION I. A Child's Dream of a Star 3 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 37 8 IV. Undine 57 By FRIEDRICH, BARON DE LA MOTTE FOUQUÉ V. The Story of Ruth 140 FROM THE BOOK OF RUTH VI. The Great Stone Face 148 By NATHANIEL HAWTHORNE VII. The Diverting History of John Gilpin By WILLIAM COWPER VIII. The Man Without a Country 182 By EDWARD EVERETT HALE 172 IX. The Nürnberg Stove 212 By LOUISE DE LA RAMÉE ("Ouida") X. Rab and His Friends 271 By JOHN BROWN, M.D. XI. Peter Rugg, the Missing Man By WILLIAM AUSTIN 288 STORIES EVERY CHILD SHOULD KNOW I 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 world. 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 the star!" 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 the star!" 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 joy. 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 the host. 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 tears. 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. II THE KING OF THE GOLDEN RIVER; OR, THE BLACK BROTHERS