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The Pamphlet Collection of Sir Robert Stout: Volume 28

Monday night

I saw as funny and as pretty a bit of a drama this afternoon as I have seen for a long time Faith had been rolling out in the hot hay ever since three o'clock, with one of the little Blands, and when the shadows grew long they came in with flushed cheeks and tumbled page 73 hair, to rest and cool upon the door-steps. I was sitting in the parlour, sewing energetically on some sun-bonnets for some of Aunt Winifred's people down town,—I found the heat to be more bearable if I kept busy,—and could see, unseen, all the little tableaux into which the two children grouped themselves; a new one every instant; in the shadow now,—now in a quiver of golden glow; the wind tossing their hair about, and then-chatter chiming down the hall like bells.

"O what a funny little sunset there's going to be behind the maple-tree," said the blond-haired Bland, in a pause.

"Funny enough," observed Faith, with her superior smile, "but it's going to be a great deal funnier up in heaven, I tell you, Molly Bland."

"Funny in heaven? Why, Faith!" Molly drew herself up with a religious air, and looked the image of her father.

"Yes, to be sure. I'm going to have some little pink blocks made out of it when I go; pink and yellow and green and purple and—O, so many blocks! I'm going to have a little red cloud to sail round in, like that one up over the house, too, I shouldn't wonder."

Molly opened her eyes. "O, I don't believe it!"

"You don't know much!" said Miss Faith, superbly. "I shouldn't s'pose you would believe it. P'r'aps I'll have some strawberries too, and some ginger-snaps,—I'm not going to have any old bread and butter up there,—O, and some little gold apples, and a lot of playthings; nicer playthings—why, nicer than they have in the shops in Boston, Molly Bland! God's keeping them up there a purpose."

"Dear me!" said incredulous Molly, "I should just like to know who told you that much. My mother never told it at me. Did your mother tell it at you?"

"O, she told me some of it, and the rest I thinked out myself."

"Let's go and play One Old Cat," said Molly, with an un comfortable jump; "I wish I had'nt got to go to heaven!"

"Why, Molly Bland! why, I think heaven's splendid! I've got my papa up there, you know. 'Here's my little girl!' That's what he's going to say. Mamma, she'll be there, too, and we're all going to live in the prettiest house. I have dreadful hurries to go this afternoon sometimes when PhŒbe's cross and won't give me sugar. They don't let you in, though, 'nless you're a good girl."

"Who gets it all up?" asked puzzled Molly.

"Jesus Christ will give me all those beautiful fings," said Faith, evidently repeating her mother's words,—the only catechism that she has been taught.

"And what will he do when he sees you?" asked her mother, coming down the stairs and stepping up behind her.

"Take me up in his arms and kiss me."

"And what will Faith say?"

"Fank—you!" said the child softly.

In another minute she was absorbed, body and soul, in the mysteries of One Old Cat.

"But I don't think she will feel much like being naughty for half page 74 an hour to come," her mother said; "here how pleasantly her words drop! Such a talk quiets her, like a hand laid on her head. Mary, sometimes I think it is His very hand, as much as when He touched those other little children. I wish Faith to feel at home with Him and His home. Little thing! I really do not think that she is conscious of any fear of dying; I do not think it means anything to her but Christ, and her Father, and pink blocks, and a nice time, and never disobeying me, or being cross. Many a time she wakes me up in the morning talking away to herself, and when I turn and look at her, she says: O mamma, won't we go to heaven to-day, you fink? When will we go, mamma?"

"If there had been any pink blocks and ginger-snaps for me when I was at her age, I should not have prayed every night to 'die out.' I think the horrors of death that children live through, unguessed and unrelieved, are awful. Faith may thank you all her life that she has escaped them."

"I should feel answerable to God for the child's soul, if I had not prevented that. I always wanted to know what sort of mother that poor little thing had, who asked, if she were very good up in heaven, whether they would'nt let her go down to hell Saturday afternoons, and play a little while!"

"I know. But I think of it,—blocks and ginger-snaps!"

"I treat Faith just as the Bible treats us, by dealing in pictures of truth that she can understand. I can make Clo and Abinadab Quirk comprehend that their pianos and machinery may not be made of literal rosewood and steel, but will be some synonyme of the thing, which will answer just such wants of their changed natures as rosewood and steel must answer now. There will be machinery and pianos in the same sense in which there will be pearl gates and harps. Whatever enjoyment any or all of them represent now, something will represent then. But Faith, if I told her that her heavenly ginger-snaps would not be made of molasses and flour, would have a cry, for fear that she was not going to have any ginger-snaps at all; so, until she is older, I give her unqualified ginger-snaps. The principal joy of a child's life consists in eating. Faith begins, as soon as the light wanes, to dream of that gum-drop which she is to have at bedtime. I don't suppose she can outgrow that at once by passing out of her little round body. She must begin where she left off,—nothing but a baby, though it will be as holy and happy a baby as Christ can make it. When she says: 'Mamma, I shall be hungry and want my dinner, up there,' I never hesitate to tell her that she shall have her dinner. She would never, in her secret heart, though she might not have the honesty to say so, expect to be otherwise than miserable in a dinnerless eternity."

"You are not afraid of misleading the child's fancy?"

"Not so long as I can keep the two ideas—that Christ is her best friend, and that heaven is not meant for naughty girls—pre-eminent in her mind. And I sincerely believe that He would give her the very pink blocks which she anticipates, no less than He would give page 75 back a poet his lost dreams, or you your brother. He has been a child; perhaps, incidentally to the unsolved mysteries of atonement, for this very reason,—that he may know how to 'prepare their places' for them, whose angels do always behold His Father. Ah, you may be sure that, if of such is the happy kingdom, He will not scorn to stoop and fit it to their little needs. There was that poor little fellow whose guinea-pig died,—do you remember?"

"Only half; what was it?"

"'O mamma,' he sobbed out, behind his handkerchief, 'don't great big elephants have souls?'

"'No my son.'

"'Nor camels, mamma?'


"'Nor bears, nor alligators, nor chickens?'

"'O no, dear.'

"'O mamma, mamma! Don't little Cleanwhite—guinea-pigs have souls?'

"I never should have had the heart to say no to that; especially as we have no positive proof to the contrary. Then that scrap of a boy who lost his little red baloon the morning he bought it, and, broken-hearted, wanted to know whether it had gone to heaven. Don't I suppose if he had been taken there himself that very minute, that he would have found a little balloon in waiting for him? How can I help it?"

"It has a pretty sound. If people would not think it so material and shocking—"

"Let people read Martin Luther's letter to his little boy. There is the testimony of a pillar in good and regular standing! I don't think you need be afraid of my balloon, after that."

I remembered that there was a letter of his on heaven, but, not recalling it distinctly, I hunted for it to-night, and read it over. I shall copy it, the better to retain it in mind:—

"Grace and peace in Christ, my dear little son. I see with pleasure that thou learnest well, and prayed diligently. Do so, my son, and continue. When I come home I will bring thee a pretty fairing.

"I know a pretty, merry garden wherein are many children. They have little golden coats, and they gather beautiful apples under the trees, and pears, cherries, plums, and wheat-plums;—they sing, and jump, and are merry. They have beautiful little horses, too, with gold bits and silver saddles. And I asked the man to whom the garden belongs, whose children they were. And he said : 'They are the children that love to pray and to learn, and are good.' Then said I: 'Dear man, I have a son, too; his name is Johnny Luther. May he not also come into this garden and eat these beautiful apples and pears, and ride these fine horses?' Then the man said: 'If he loves to pray and to learn, and is good, he shall come into this garden, and Lippus and Jost, too; and when they all come together, they shall have fifes and trumpets, lutes and all sorts of music, and they shall dance, and shoot with little cross-bows.'

"And he showed me a fine meadow there in the garden, made for dancing. There hung nothing but golden fifes, trumpets, and fine silver page 76 cross-bows. But it was early, and the children had not yet eaten; therefore I could not wait the dance, and I said to the man: 'Ah, dear Sir! I will immediately go and write all this to my little son Johnny, and tell him to pray diligently, and to learn well, and to be good, so that he also may come to this garden. But he has an Aunt Lehne, he must bring her with him. Then the man said: It shall be so; go, and write him so.'

"Therefore, my dear little son Johnny, learn and pray away! and tell Lippus and Jost, too, that they must learn and pray. And then you shall come to the garden together. Herewith I commend thee to Almighty God. And greet Aunt Lehne, and give her a kiss for my sake.

"Thy dear Father,

"Martinus Luther.