There was once a good little boy, who liked to see everybody happy. He had large blue eyes, fair, rosy skin, and such beautiful golden hair that he was known throughout the whole country by the name of little Goldenlocks. He often worried because he was too small and too weak to be of any use in the world, and he felt in haste to be a man, if it was only that he, might have the power of doing good. There are not many little children of this sort, it is true. Goldenlocks is a proof, however, that there are such.
At that time there lived a great magician, an intimate friend of the good fairies, who corresponded with him from the four corners of the globe; this correspondence was very easy. Each one had an enchanted box, with a little hole in the top. They wrote what they had to say on a bit of paper, when, lo! the paper went straight to its address without any further trouble. You can understand how convenient this was, and how easy it was for the magician to know all that was going on in the world. In this way he found out what was troubling Goldenlocks, and he was so deeply affected by it, that he felt himself instantly growing better; that is to say, more powerful; for you must know he belonged to a class of magicians whose power were in exact proportion to their goodness. "Oh!" cried he, "this child thinks himself too small and too weak, and yet he has made me stronger than I was before. I must give him some aid." And putting his spectacles on, with which he would see a thousand miles, he looked towards the house where the little boy lived. It was quite a nice house, lost among the multitude of houses in a long street. The street itself was confounded in the magnitude of a large city, which, however, was not the most important one in the country. And the country, in its turn, though of considerable size, was only a speck on the globe. I leave you to imagine what a small place the little boy held in it. Goldenlocks, at that moment, was seated in the nursery with a book in his hand that did not seem to amuse him much, watching his sister who were busy picking strawberries in the garden for their mamma. It was the day for making sweetmeats, and the whole house was in commotion about such an important event. It must be confessed that Goldenlocks was a little indolent, as the magician saw at a glance from the way he held his book, which was oftenest bottom upward. He was thinking less about his lesson than the sweetmeats. The little boy could not keep his feet still a single minute, and had been delighted to hear somebody say one day in his presence that birds and little children should be allowed to skip and hop about as much as they pleased, for God made them for it. He had no scruples, therefore, in leaving his tiresome book every few minutes to play with two beautiful canary birds (his rivals in skipping about), whose cage, suspended from the wall, was one of the chief ornaments of the room; or else to pay a visit to his garden, a great pot of earth, in which he and his sister had planted some orange seeds the winter before, and which now held oranges trees, three inches high, a thousand times more tenderly cared for that those in the orangeries. This did not seem calculated to make much effect upon the world. "I will make this dear little fellow the most important personage on the face of the earth," said the great magician; "every time that he wins a victory over himself, all mankind shall do the same." Then turning his telescope in a different direction, he went to see what was discussing what color the queen's dress should be on the coronation day. Goldenlocks held in his little hands, therefore, without knowing it, the destinies of the whole human race. He learned his lesson no better on that account. Seeing that his orange tree was a little dry, he had just finished sprinkling a glass of water over it, when a darling little fairy, who had undertaken to make a man of him, came in without knocking.
"Well," said she, very much vexed, "is this the way you learn your lesson?"
"Oh, I could not leave our trees in this condition; they were dying of thirst, and, besides, I have been studying my lesson a long time," replied Goldenlocks.
"Well, recite it, then," He did not know a word of it. "My little Goldenlocks, you make me very sad," said the fairy, as she quitted the room, wiping away a tear.
Then the child began to reflect and to be ashamed of his conduct. He sat down to his book and studied it courageously, without paying the least attention to anything else. His feet were still a little while, in spite of the example set by the animals, who were not made to study. Poor little creature! In a quarter of an hour the lesson was well he learned, and Goldenlocks, much contented with himself, ran in search of the good fairy to recite it to her. Meanwhile a great change had taken place on the globe. All the little truants who were wandering on the streets left all their marbles and mud pies and ran to school as fast as their legs would carry them. The ignorant became ashamed to their lack of knowledge, and the booksellers, suddenly besieged by the impatient crowd that filled their shops, knew not where to find books enough to satisfy so many demands at once. Those who knew nothing were seized with an impulse to learn something; those who knew something felt the use of learning more; there was a general revolution in minds—the happiest that had been since the beginning of the century; and Goldenlocks had done all this because he learned his lesson well. He was rewarded personally by a warm kiss on each cheek; and the time for luncheon having come, he was invited to take part in a splendid feast, composed of a beautiful pyramid of slices of bread, spread with strawberries that had escaped the preserving kettle. A lady, who took great interest in the children of the family, had sent them a pot full of cream, and there was a universal cry of admiration when the group found themselves in the presence of so many good things. Nothing gives one such an appetite as hard work. Goldenlocks, who was no glutton, nevertheless stretched his hand toward a fine slice of bread from the part of the loaf he liked best. Happy and proud of having learned his lesson well, he chatted as he ate, and carefully laid aside the finest strawberries to eat last with his cream. His little brother, whose appetite knew no bounds, had devoured the whole of his before Goldenlocks was half through his luncheon. The little fellow looked with a wistful eye at his brother's bread and strawberries, and large saucer of cream, and determined to have them. As he was as wilful as he could be, a scene of cries and tears would have followed had not Goldenlocks divided with the poor, hungry child, though he gladly would have eaten the whole. His mamma, who had arrived on the spot meanwhile, was greatly delighted, and gave goldenlocks a smile that amply repaid him for his sacrifice. But he had a far greater reward. For, Lo! at the same instant all over the globe men suddenly began to reflect how many of their fellow-creatures might be famishing with want, and each one set out with provisions in search of the hungry. Nothing was seen in the streets but baskets filled with bread, great platters of meat, sacks of potatoes and baskets of fruit, on the way to the houses of the poor. Every one who was fortunate enough to find a family in want, loaded it with plenty, and his neighbors envied him his happiness. The suffering poor could not believe their eyes. Children who had never seen cake in their lives, now made the acquaintance of that remarkable production of human industry, and a thing that had never before been seen. No one went supperless to bed that night. What a triumph for Goldenlocks! But he knew nothing of it. For a full quarter of an hour he was absorbed in a great question. The little fellow was very pretty—at least he had often been told so by his nurse, who worshiped him, and had no greater pleasure than that of dressing him in his fine clothes after lunch, and walking in the large garden, where all the rich children were in the habit of visiting. Now goldenlocks had a black velvet coat in which he thought himself dazzling. His nurse was of the same opinion, and although the coat had been made for holidays, she never lost an opportunity to take it from its drawer. His mamma scolded, but the mischief was done, and the child then strutted about like a peacock. This time again the nurse brought out the velvet coat, which was joyfully received. He already had one arm in the sleeve, when his elder sister entered.
"Oh, Goldenlocks, you must not wear that coat; your cloth jacket is good enough to play in the dirt with!" she exclaimed.
"My cloth jacket has holes in the sleeves; I look like a beggar in it."
"Come, be good; you know mamma will be displeased."
The dear little boy said no more; the idea of displeasing his mother made him forget all his vanity. He took off his coat, and quietly put on his jacket, in which he amused himself like a king in his garden. He had scarcely obeyed his sister, when Pride took a flight from the globe. Great ladies in Denmark began to return the salutes of the humblest citizen. The noblemen of the court found themselves saying "good morning" to the peasants whom they met returning from market. Men tried to understand the reasons which they had had for despising each other, but were unable to find them. You can form no idea of the universal relief. Even the little boys that had stood first at school were rid of the foolish pride which had rendered them so ridiculous. What was Goldenlocks doing all this time? On his return from his walk, a great dispute had arisen between him and one of his sisters only a year older than himself, whom, nevertheless, he loved with all his heart. Alice, for that was her name, had a fault common to all little girls—she was something of a tease. Her brother having said before her several times that he meant to be a physician, she called him nothing but "doctor," and during the whole walk she had tormented him with this hateful name.
"I am tired of being a doctor," said poor Goldenlocks, at last. "I mean to be a Bishop." This was much worse, and the name of "My Lord the Bishop" began to be showered upon him.
"When are we to ask 'My Lord the Bishop' for his blessing?" said she at last, bowing before him with mock humility.
"You shall have it directly," cried Goldenlocks, furious. Taking a ruler, he began to make the most threatening gestures towards his provoking sister. Alice, whose hands were as nimble as her brother's, quickly found another ruler, and the two champions began skirmishing with each other, taking care, however, to strike, not each other, but the piece of wood in their adversary's hand; an unlucky blow, however, having fallen on alice's fingers, she uttered a cry of pain, which made Goldenlocks forget his anger. He dropped the ruler and threw his arms around his sister's neck.
"Forgive me! I will never do it again, and you may call me 'Bishop' as much as you please."
Their papa, who was the best papa in the world, had hastened toward them at the noise of the quarrel, and was already preparing to scold, when what was his joy to see the brother and sister tenderly embracing each other! He clasped them to his breast, and thought himself happy in having such good children. Great wars were raging at the moment on the earth, and men were striving who should invent the most frightful machine of destruction. The child had no sooner laid down his arms, that all this war-like ardour ceased, as if by enchantment. Men instantly perceived that it was very foolish to kill each other to know which was right. It was agreed to refer the dispute to the looker-on; then there was a universal embracing all along the lines from the generals to the children of the common soldiers who had been in the habit of fighting whenever they were on their way from school. Good little Goldenlocks went to bed that night content with his day, after receiving a thousand caresses from his family, and fell asleep, asking when he would be as large and strong as a man. At the same moment, the earth, delivered by him from ignorance, want and war, abandoned itself to universal joy; from Norway to Patagonia great bonfires were kindled on the mountains, which played so brightly that they could have been seen from the moon.
The magician is no longer at hand, my dear children, to give such importance to the victories which you win over yourselves; something remains of it, however, even to-day; believe me—children are stronger than men in doing good. While your parents are sometimes obliged to make the greatest sacrifice to prevent you from being unhappy, you, on your side, can render them happy by the smallest sacrifice. If the world is not changed in a single moment thereby, as in the time of goldenlocks, be sure that these petty sacrifices are never lost in it. Every drop of water that falls finds its way to the sea.
A Fictional Short Story by
Agnes Taylor Ketchum & Ida M. Jorgensen