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stories for the children to skip, but each story has been left to impress insensibly with its own teachings.
This book is what it professes to be: a collection of stories only. So much of the words of Scripture have been quoted, therefore, as told the story, and no more. Neither the whole of Sacred History, nor the whole body of Christian doctrine come within the scope of this little book, or can be expected to be found within its pages; for them the whole Bible alone suffices.
And since the Bible is not simply a story book, it has been necessary, caret'ully, after repeated readings, to eliminate each of the stories from other matter with which it was interwoven. Some of the stories which occupy but two or three of the following pages will be found in the Bible itself, scattered through as many chapters. Again, frequently, matter which might be considered a part of the story, is of such a nature as not to be interesting to children, and sometimes such as they could not understand. Where such matter could not be omitted without injuring the completeness of the narrative, so much only has been retained as was absolutely necessary to such completeness. In other cases, where the thread of the story was complete without it, such matter has been omitted altogether. Occasionally it has been necessary to supply a word or words to tie the different parts of the story or fragments of sentences together. This, however, has been much less frequently done than at first sight would be supposed; and in no instance has a sentence, or, it is believed, any considerable portion of a sentence, been so supplied.
Sentences, or fragments of sentences, or even larger portions of the story, have sometimes been transposed to make the thread of the story clear, or, where it was necessary, to perfect the sense. In no case, however, has such transposition altered the sense, yet it may sometimes give to a person comparing the stories as they stand with the Bible itself, the impression that words or sentences have been supplied, when a more careful examination will show them in the text, but mingled with other matter. In one instance the same passage has been used in two of the stories, because each of the stories would have been incomplete without it. In a few instances a general terin
TO THE OLD FOLKS.
has been substituted for a specific one, as in the story of tho Prodigal Son, where the word sinners is substituted for the name of a particular class of sinners.
Still, after the greatest care and diligence have been used, it cannot be expected that all will be satisfied with the result. And if this is the case with respect to the manner in which individual stories have been prepared, still more will it be the case with respect to the selection of the stories which form the collection. Some will have particular favorites, which they will be disappointed not to find here; yet so large a portion of the Bible is of a narrative character, that all the stories in the Bible given in full would make a book nearly as large as the Bible itself. Others will think that many of the stories might much better have been omitted. Some stories which will be interesting to the elder children, will not be so to the younger ones. It is necessary to think of and provide for all. Many of the stories have been repeatedly read over to children, and amended and reamended as then proved desirable, and the selection of stories, and whole character of the book is based on a long experience in telling stories to children, and consequent knowledge of their tastes, and on an extended series of inquiries which have been answered by many mothers, who have said, “ It is just such a book as we want.”
TO THE CHILDREN.
WHEN I was a little child I used to sit in a little chair beside my mother, while she told me stories. No stories have ever seemed since so beautiful as those; perhaps because, while I was still a little child, a day came after which I was to hear them no more. It was a cold, bleak, gloomy day, with a cutting wind sweeping over the bare fields. They sent my little brother and me to play at a distance from the house, so that we should not disturb our mother, for she was very ill. It was just beginning to grow dark, when a little servant-girl came to call us in. She was crying bitterly, and as we ran after her, we asked, “What is the matter, Susan ?” But she only ran on, crying still, but not answering. Why did I ask what was the matter? in my heart I knew what it must be, only too well—too well.
When we came into the house, everybody was crying. I knew why, but I could not say a word or shed a tear. But Tom said in a tone of fright and wonder, “ How is mother ?”
I think that for a moment no one heeded us; then our oldest brother came to us, his eyes red with weeping, and stood looking at us like a kind of Fate, while we stood waiting for the sword which was to pierce our hearts. Oh, I can remember just how the words sounded, to this day. “ Children, your mother is in heaven!" Oh, my mother! my dear, dear mother!
Since that bleak day the world has never seemed the same to me. While my mother lived it seemed beautiful to my childish eyes, and the world which she left behind her was the same world no more.
No more! as I sit here looking at the words, and thinking how in that one great loss all the world was changed to me, little voices come floating in from the garden beneath my window, and I know that little figures—as it might be me as I was thenare there at play, and I pray that great Father whose love is yet more infinite than a mother's love, that they may be long spared the great loss which came to me when I was yet a little child.
Those little children that I speak of have been often gathered around me, while I told them the stories which long ago my dear mother used to tell to me, and at such times I have sometimes forgotten that it is I who am telling, and that I am not listening, by my mother's side, a little child once more.
One day the thought came to me that I would gather their favorite stories in a little book, so that when I was not with them