THE LEGEND OF THE SILVER CUP.
"HE CAME BACK WITH A SILVER CUP IN HIS HAND" (. 15).
THE LEGEND OF THE
AND OTHER STORIES FOR CHILDREN.
REV. G. CRITCHLEY, B.A.,
AUTHOR OF "THE TRANSFIGURATION OF SIN," ETC.
WITH TWELVE ILLUSTRATIONS.
S. W. PARTRIDGE & CO.
8 & 9, PATERNOSTER ROW.
T HESE stories were written for children,
and have been read to children. The
children have listened. That is the only
word the author ventures to say about his
LEE, KENT, 1898.
THE LEGEND OF THE SILVER CUP. II
THE ALABASTER BOX OF OINTMENT 27
CLEAN HANDS 41
THE RING OF IRON AND GOLD 47
THE ROBE MADE WHITE 59
THE BEAUTIFUL GATES 71
THE MAGIC OIL .89
THE NEW SONG IOI
A PERFECT MAN 13
FURNISHING THE HOUSE OF LIFE .. 125
THE JOURNEY OF THE KING 141
THE KING S FERRY BOAT 155
THE LEGEND OF THE SILVER
ONCE upon a time, many, many years ago,
a boy named Ccelestius and his sister
Ccelestia were living together in the city of
Evanescentia in the country of Chaliphah.
It was a curious place, for this reason-that when
any one first went to live there, everything looked
fresh and bright and beautiful, but after a little
while everything began to fade away and change.
There seemed to be something in the light and
something in the air of this strange land which
made things quickly wither and decay.
When you first came the grass looked green,
the flowers glowed with splendid colours, the
trees grew tall and strong, and the houses seemed
as if they were solid and grand enough to stand
for hundreds and hundreds of years.
But in a little while it all began to change,
the grass turned- brown and dry, the flowers
turned pale, the leaves of the trees hung down
as if they were nearly dead, and the houses
12 THE LEGEND OF THE SILVER CUP.
crumbled and crumbled till they looked like
great ruinous heaps of stone.
Well, you must know that like most people
who came into this strange land the two children
Ccelestius and Ccelestia were highly delighted with
it at first, for it was all so beautiful that they
fairly danced and sang aloud for joy.
But after a little while the change began;
great streaks of yellow came in the grass upon
the lawn, rotten branches dropped down from the
stately trees, the grand house where they lived
began to look worn and old, and every-
thing seemed to be drying up and withering
But that was not the worst of it, for one day
some terrible things happened which frightened
the two children very much, and made them wish
to leave the place.
The first was this: when the girl was going
up the stairs, just as she put her foot on one
of the steps very near the top, that step crumbled
up like so much touch-wood, and her leg went
right through. 'My word, she did just scream and
make a noise But what startled them still more
was something that happened in the night; for
while Ccelestius was fast asleep the house was
suddenly struck by a tremendous blow, and this
was followed by a loud crash. He jumped up in
THE LEGEND OF THE SILVER CUP. 13
alarm, and cried out, "What is the matter?
Whatever is the matter ?" Then, looking up,
he saw that a great piece of the wall had fallen
off, and from far, far away the quiet stars of
heaven were looking in.
It all made them feel sorrowful and afraid. So
in the morning the girl said to her brother,
" Oh, do come away, do come away, and let us
go somewhere else to live!"
But he said, "Where shall we go? All the
houses in the town seem just as bad as ours. I
do not know what safer place we can find, I am
And then Coelestia said to him, Oh, let us
try to find some one who can tell us where there
is a place in which things do not break up and
get ugly and old so soon. I would go if it were
a hundred miles away."
Well," replied her brother, there is only the
old wise man who lives out on the island in the
river that can tell us. It would be no use asking
the people round about, for they all seem just as
sad and fearful as ourselves."
So they went down the street on an old
broken pavement, and along a muddy road worn
into deep ruts, and then across a shaky little
wooden bridge over the stream to the island in
THE LEGEND OF THE SILVER CUP.
And when they got across the bridge they
found a path winding through a beautiful garden
and leading up to the door of a little house. So
they went hand in hand along the path until they
reached the door, and then they knocked.
They waited ; then they knocked again. And
after a little while the door was opened by a tall
old man, dressed in a long black robe, who asked
them rather sternly what they wanted, knocking
at his door."
They were a little bit afraid at first, but when
they looked up and saw his wise, kind old face they
took courage, and told him all the trouble they
were in, and how they wanted to get away to some
safer, happier place, where things did not so soon
get broken, worn, and old.
And then the old man said, Yes, children, I do
know of such a place, but it is a long and trouble-
some journey; and besides, there are a great many
enemies upon the way, who will try to keep you
from ever getting there at all. Now, if I tell you,
will you be sure to go, and promise never to turn
And they both cried out, Oh, yes, do tell us !
we will be sure to go."
So he said, Very well; but I must ask you
to wait here at my door for a few minutes, and I
will come to you again."
THE LEGEND OF THE SILVER CUP., 15
Then he went into the house, and presently
came back with a tall, beautiful Silver Cup in his
It was not shaped like a teacup, or bowl, or
anything of that sort, but like a goblet or a
Well, he gave this cup into the boy's hands, and
said, Now hold it, and look down upon the
ground, and tell me whether you can see anything
So Coelestius took the cup and looked-looked
very carefully upon the ground; and then he said,
" I think I see something red; it's like a foot-mark,
as if some one had passed along with bleeding feet,
and there is another, and another-oh, they go
right along as far as I can see."
And then the girl said, But, brother, I can't
see them; show them to me."
No," said the old man, you cannot see them,
unless you hold the cup in your own hands. Give
her the cup."
And when she took it in her hands she looked
down, and then exclaimed, Oh, yes, I see them
-red steps, red steps, all along the way."
Well," said the old man, "you must take the
cup; and go along the path with the red marks,
and you must keep on until you come to the
fountain, and when you come to the fountain
16 THE LEGEND OF THE SILVER CUP.
you must hold the cup under the stream of run-
ning water until it is filled. And, near the
fountain, you will find a gate, a large wooden gate.
Knock at the door of the gate, and if your cup is
full you will be let in, and inside is the happy
country that you want to find."
Well, they were very glad, and began to hasten
away as fast as they could go; but the old man
called them back and said, Not so fast, not so
fast; I want to tell you two things before you
start. The first is this: Remember there are a
good many fountains on the road, so be careful,
for it is only that one close to the door which will
quite fill your cup.
That is the first thing, and the second thing is
this : There are a great many enemies upon the
road, who will try to stop you getting to the
fountain ; they are of three sorts-dwarfs, wizards,
and giants-and the dwarfs are the worst of
Then the boy began to laugh, and said, I
never saw any of those things, but I don't care;
they sha'n't stop me, never fear."
Then the old man looked at him, and shook
his head-as old gentlemen do sometimes when
they think that a boy has too good an opinion
of himself-but only said, Very well, only
remember; you are warned,"
THE LEGEND OF THE SILVER CUP. 17
And then he went in and shut the door, and
these two went upon their way, happy and singing,
feeling more joyful than they had done for many
and many a day.
But just then something happened, for all at
once the girl gave a little jump and a scream, and
cried out, Oh, my foot, my foot, it's cut! and
there, sure enough, was a cut like a stab from a
knife, from which the blood was flowing. When
they looked for what could have done it, there
was a little ugly dwarf, no bigger than your
thumb-nail, with a small, sharp knife in his hand,
grinning at the mischief he had done.
And of course the poor foot was very painful,
for the cut was like a fifty-power mosquito bite.
All the dancing was over, and she could only just
But she was a brave girl after all, and though
the teas would come sometimes, still, when
her brother said, Let us stop and rest until it
gets better," she said, No, no, let us keep on
to find the fountain that fills the Silver Cup."
So on they went; but they had not gone far
before the boy cried out, Oh there is something
round my legs ; I can hardly walk ; it seems as if
they were tied round and round." And then they
heard a tiny, mocking laugh, down on the ground,
and there sure enough was another of these dwarfs;
18 THE LEGEND OF THE SILVER CUP.
and, when they came to look, he had been winding
a coil of fine cord, not thicker than a spider's
thread, round and round the boy's legs. And he
had done it so quietly, and made it tighter and
tighter so cleverly, that the boy did not find it
out till he was almost tumbling down.
But I must not stop to tell you of all the mis-
chievous things that these dwarfs did. Some of
them would come and flit by the travellers' faces,
and squirt tiny drops of juice into their eyes, that
made them see everything wrong; and some
others would come and fill the air with a sort of
sleepy gas that made these two children want to
lie down and go to sleep. So these dwarfs
were very troublesome indeed.
Well, as you may suppose, all this made them
very tired, and more anxious than ever to get to
their journey's end.
And just then, when they stopped at a certain
place, they heard a sound-trickle, trickle, trickle,
like the murmer of a distant stream. And one
said, Hark! hark! it is the fountain." And
then they thought, No, it is off the red-marked
And then they thought again, "Yes, it may
be," and resolved to go and see.
So they turned aside, and they found that this
road was much pleasanter and smoother than the
THE LEGEND OF THE SILVER CUP. 19
old one; there were flowers along the banks, and
birds singing in the trees, and pleasant seats to
rest on, and ripe fruit hanging from the branches
on the way.
So they thought, Surely this is the end of our
journey; and presently they came to a beautiful
fountain, worked all in and out with fanciful
pictures and other ornaments, which seemed like
the fountain they were looking for, yet somehow
not quite the right one, after all.
They came, they held the Silver Cup beneath
the stream of water, but though it flowed and
flowed the cup would not fill.
They held it there for a long, long time-an
hour or more-but it never got even half full.
The water turned to froth, and sank down as fast
as it came.
They wondered what could be the matter, and
while they were wondering about it who should
come along but their old friend the sage from the
island in the river; so they said to him, Oh,
sir, tell us why our cup will not fill ?"
And the old man replied, "Oh, children, this
is the wrong place; the frothy waters of this
fountain can never fill the Silver Cup; you must
go farther on."
So they were very sorry, because they had
wasted so much time, and because they would
20 THE LEGEND OF THE SILVER CUP
have to go so far back to find the right road
again. But they plucked up their courage and
trudged back, and after a long walk found the
old path with red foot-marks once more.
But they had not gone very far before they
saw a kind-looking old gentleman driving along
the road, and when he overtook them he said,
" Ah, my dear young friends, I am very glad to
see you, very glad indeed; but you look very
tired-jump up and have a ride."
So they thought that would be first-rate, and
they jumped up into the carriage, and the horses
went flying along the road.
They rode as it seemed for hours; they hardly
thought where they were going, it was such a
capital ride; but they said at last they thought
it was time to get down.
And when they got down, what do you think ?
Why, they were just exactly where they had got
up. They hadn't moved an inch. It was one
of those wizards; his name was Easy-ways of
Doing Things," and Mr. Easy-ways of Doing
Things generally sets you down where you began;
for short cuts are usually long roads, and lazy
people generally take the most pains.
And when the children began to say it was
cruel of him to play them such a shabby trick,
he only smiled and said, "Good-bye, my dear
THE LEGEND OF THE SILVER CUP. 21
young friends; I do hope you enjoyed your ride."
And so he drove away.
Well, when they had got rid of the wizard and
tramped a long way farther on, they came to a
place where they heard a great roar, as if there
were a waterfall close by; and when they heard it
they said, Listen! that must be the fountain.
Now we shall find the safe home. There must
be water enough to fill the cup at this great
And so once more they turned aside, and the
new path led between high rocks streaked with
silver, and glittering with gold. And at the end of
this path there was an enormous golden fountain
all set about with jewels, and out of the great pipe
or mouth, big enough for a river to flow through,
there came rushing and thundering a great stream
of yellow water.
It was an awful-looking place. They felt
almost afraid of going near, especially when they
saw that this yellow stream of water was mixed
and streaked with blood.
But still they went, and put the Silver Cup
beneath the water. But the great pouring river
wouldn't fill it. They tried, and tried again, but
no! it seemed just to pour in and melt away, and
a few drops of horrible muddy stuff were all that
was left at the bottom of the cup.
22 THE LEGEND OF THE SILVER CUP.
Then Ccelestia said, Brother, this is not the
place: we have made a mistake again, we must
go farther on."
And poor Coelestius said, "Yes, farther on; oh
dear farther on."
But it was not so easy, for when they turned
round to go back and find the red-marked path
once more, a great giant came out and straddled
right across the path, and lifted up a great club,
and roared out that they should never come out
of that place any more. Then they were dread-
fully afraid, but after a long time of fear and
waiting they plucked up courage, and determined
to push by.
Then the giant roared at them again, and lifted
up his great club to strike them down; but
Ccelestius clenched his fists and put his head
down, and ran right at the giant's middle, and-
what do you think ?-he just burst like an air-ball;
for you know that this was the Giant Difficulty,
and all these giants are generally great wind-bags,
So he collapsed, and they got away. And then
after travelling certain, days, at last they came to
a quiet land, and there beneath the shadow of
some trees, such as were never seen in this
world yet, for they bore all manner of fruit, and
never withered and never died, they saw a plain
THE LEGEND OF THE SILVER CUP. 23
white marble fountain. Flowing from it was
" living water clear as crystal," that fell into a
basin underneath, splash, splash, splash, like the
music of a beautiful song.
Then they placed the Silver Cup underneath,
and the water flowed into it and it was filled.
When it was filled they looked round, and there
among the trees was the door of which they had
They knocked, they entered in, and so at last
they found the blessed country, where things
never fade and wither, where homes are never
broken and joy never vanishes away.
What does it mean? I will just tell you a few
things to help, but the rest you must find out for
The city of Evanescentia is this world of
The Silver Cup is the human heart, never to
be filled except with the love of God and Jesus
The dwarfs are little sins. The wizards are
deceiving sins. The giants are the great big
sins, and wrongs, and difficulties of life. And
the three fountains-the first and fanciful one is
pleasure, and that cannot fill the cup. The second .
and golden one of yellow water streaked with
blood is wealth and ambition, and that cannot fill
24 THE LEGEND OF THE SILVER CUP.
the Silver Cup. The third, of plain white marble,
with its crystal water, is the love of God and
Jesus Christ. The whole story is just a parable
of the beautiful pilgrimage of heaven. You can
all start upon it, and I pray God you may,
so that this word may be true of you every
one, They desire a better country, that is, a
heavenly (Heb. xi. 16).
"SHE PRESSED THE DROP OF PERFUME INTO THE BOX" (p. 33).
THE ALABASTER BOX OF
ONCE upon a time, late on a gloomy October
afternoon, just between light and dark,
when it was what old folks used to call "the
blind man's holiday," a little group of children
were sitting round the fire, in a certain house in
one of the many cities in Story-land.
It was a very quiet little group, and they were
talking earnestly to one another about something
that interested them very much.
It seems that they had been reading in the
Bible about the alabaster box of ointment, very
And just as the story begins, the eldest sister
said, I should like to give Jesus something like
that, but I don't see how I can."
No," said a small boy, whose chair seemed
to be growing very uncomfortable, in consequence
of his having sat on it for three whole minutes
without moving-" no, of course you can't, be-
28 THE ALABASTER BOX OF OINTMENT
cause Jesus isn't here now for you to give to
Him. He's gone for ever up to heaven, and
I don't know what the teachers mean when
they tell us to give something to Jesus
But," said his sister, it must mean some-
thing, and I should like to give Him some
beautiful thing-shouldn't you ?"
Yes, of course," replied the boy, but He isn't
here, and we haven't anything beautiful to give,
so what's the good of talking any more ?" And
with that he rolled from his chair, gave a mighty
yawn, and departed from the room, and the little
company broke up.
But the girl thought more about it, and for
days after she wished and wished that she could
get as near to Jesus as the poor woman did, and
could find a box of ointment to pour upon His
But heaven was very far away, and she was
very little and very poor, and it did not seem as
if she could ever find anything precious enough
to give to Jesus, or that she would be able to
reach Him with it if she could.
And all this made her rather anxious and rather
sad; and since you know, or will know by-and-by,
we often dream of what we have been thinking
very hard about, one night she had a dream, and
THE ALABASTER BOX OF OINTMENT. 29
I want you to listen carefully and then try to find
out the meaning of her dream.
She seemed but just to have gone to sleep,
when in the middle of the dark room there
appeared a tiny streak-not nearly so big as a
candle flame-a tiny streak of very beautiful and
very dazzling light. She did not feel the least
afraid, but just lay watching it as the soft radiance
spread all over the room.
Presently the gleam of light grew larger and
brighter, and changed into the form of a crystal
globe of fire. And each ray of light as it darted
from the central brightness seemed to twist
itself into the letters of a word. The beautiful
light grew larger and larger, until it came to
be as high as a man, and then it opened just
as softly and gently as the clouds do sometimes
up in the sky, and from out of these doors of
light there stepped the figure of a man. His
robe was shining white-whiter than the driven
snow. Upon his brow there rested a crown,
which looked as if a coronal of thorns had been
changed into one of gold, and on his hands there
were stains of blood, as if a nail had pierced them
through and through.
He drew near her side, and in a gentler voice
than she had ever heard, even from her mother's
lips, he said, My child, do you really wish to
30 THE ALABASTER BOX OF OINTMENT
find an alabaster box of ointment, very precious,
to pour upon your Saviour's feet ?"
And she said, Oh, yes, I do, but Jesus is so
far away now; and I am so small and so poor
that I shall never be able to find anything good
and beautiful enough for Him to take."
The white-robed figure smiled, and stretching
out his hand, he said, Come with me, and I
will show you what to do and where to look."
And then all at once the place seemed to
change, and she found herself, dressed and stand-
ing, hand in hand with the man in the shining
raiment, out upon the broad, beautiful, sunlit road.
They went along a little way together, and
then they stopped, and the man said, pointing
along the road, You must go along that path,
and it will take you to the place where you will
find the alabaster box of ointment, very precious,
that you wish to give to the Lord." And then he
blessed the child and was gone.
So the girl went on her way, but when she
began to look about her she found it was a very
curious sort of road; for it was paved all the
way along, not with real stones, but with all
the different things she and her brothers and
sisters, and all the different people she knew,
had to do.
And these things were turned into what looked
THE ALABASTER BOX OF OINTMENT. 31
like stones, and with these the whole way was
For example, there was one stone marked
" Work," another Lessons," another Silence,"
and another Help one another." And there
were stones of Love, Obedience, Faith, and
Truth, and so on all along the way.
But there were more strange things than these
about this road. For far, far away, quite at the
very end of the way, there was a large, beautiful
garden, full of all the loveliest flowers, brought
from all parts of the world-roses, and lilies, and
violets, and all the rest, larger and lovelier than
ever bloomed on earth. And in the little cup of
each flower there was a drop of honey, scented
with the most delicious perfume, each of its own
different kind. But besides this, there was in the
centre of the garden a small stand, in the shape
of an altar, made of purest gold. And on this
was placed an alabaster box of a delicate pink
colour, and beautifully carved. But it was an
empty box as yet.
And there was something else in the garden
beside all this. It was a human shape, but you
could hardly tell whether it was an angel, or a
spirit, or a girl, only the remarkable thing was
that she was exactly like the girl on the
32 THE ALABASTER BOX OF OINTMlENT.
Now, you will remember, down there at the
beginning of the road was the girl walking
along the curious pavement of the stones, and
there at the very end was this flower garden,
with the altar and box, and this spirit form so
like the human girl among the flowers. But
there was something else still, and perhaps the
strangest thing of all. For from the real girl, right
away to the angel-girl among the flowers, there
were fine silver threads, that joined them both
together. Out from the fingers of the girl upon
the road stretched away the threads of silver to
join the fingers of the girl in the garden. And
so it was from lip to lip, heart to heart, so that
everything the girl upon the road did was felt by
the girl among the flowers.
The threads did not seem to be in the way
at all, but they just joined the two together, like
the wires of two electric dials.
And we shall see how it worked.
The real girl went on along the road as she
had been told, and presently she heard a soft
voice that she knew well say, Sister, help me,"
and there was her own little sister, trying to
climb over a big stone that was really a hard
lesson. And our young traveller stretched out
her hand with a pleasant smile to help the child
PH[E ALABASTER BOX OF OINTMENT. 33
But as she did so there was a gentle musical
sound among the silver threads, a thrill passed
up them to the angel-girl among the flowers,
and she turned round and plucked one of the
flowers, and carefully pressed the drop of per-
fumed honey out of the flower cup into the
Then the girl upon the road went on again,
and heard her mother's voice say, My child, I
am very tired; let me lean on you a little over
this piece of way."
It was a rough, stony part of the road; each
stone was a home duty and a home care. And
the girl did as she was asked-did it directly and
cheerfully. And the same thing happened that
had occurred before-the same faint sound of
music, the same gentle thrill among the silver
threads, another flower was plucked, and an-
other drop of the perfumed honey fell into the
And so it was that every time she did a kind
and gentle and obedient thing the sweet store
was increased, and the angel-girl among the
flowers smiled with gladness. But when, as
sometimes happened, whole hours and some-
times days passed without a loving deed, the
angel of the garden grew pale, and thin, and
34 THE ALABASTER BOX OF OINTMENT.
Well, time passed on, for you know that years
go past like minutes in a dream, and the girl
seemed to have travelled a long, long way, and to
have changed into a woman too.
But she had not yet found the box of oint-
ment, very precious, to pour upon the Saviour's
Only of course, as she went forward, those
silver threads grew shorter, for she was drawing
nearer and nearer to the garden that lay at the
end of the road.
And not only so, for those musical tones kept
sounding higher notes, the electric thrills grew
more frequent, and the angel-girl among the
flowers was fast filling the alabaster box with the
perfumed drops, and there was great joy within
One day, our traveller was going on along
the road, when she heard a cry like that of
a little child in pain; she stopped, and there
beside the way was a little one, who had fallen
down. She asked whose it was, and was told
And so she took the fatherless and motherless
child, and carried it in her own kind and faithful
arms-carried it long and far over the rough
places of the way. And as she did so there
seemed to be a mightier flash along the silver
THE ALABASTER BOX OF OINTMENT 35
threads, and in that garden a flower of richer
perfume was gathered than had been ever plucked
And now as time sped on, and she found her-
self far upon the road, her hair turned white,
her step grew slow; for she was growing very,
But still she had not found the box of ointment
which she had come so far to seek, and the silver
threads were growing very short.
And she went on and on, till at last she
reached the end of the long road, and right
across the road was the gate of the garden of
She stretched out her hand, lifted the latch, and
pushed it gently open.
And as she did so the silver threads trembled
to the music for the last time, and the angel-girl
of the garden flew to meet the aged woman just
entering from the road, and clasped her hand,
and kissed her wrinkled face.
And the aged woman said, Who art thou,
beautiful spirit, so young and fair ?"
And the angel-girl replied, I am thine own
beautiful self, which ever since thou didst start
upon this journey hath been waiting for thee in
the garden of the Lord."
Ah," said the aged woman, I set out to find
36 THE ALABASTER BOX OF OINTMENT
the alabaster box of ointment to pour upon my
Saviour's feet, but I have come all the way and
never found it."
And then the angel-girl took the aged woman
by the hand and led her to the golden altar, on
which the alabaster box was standing, and showed
her that it was quite filled now with perfumed
honey-drops that had been so long gathering from
And the aged woman looked at the beauti-
ful thing, and smelt the rich perfume. Then
she said, Tell me what this is, and what it
And the angel-girl said, Ah, human form of
mine, this alabaster box of ointment, very
precious,' is just what you have come so far to
seek. Every kind word you spoke, every prayer
you offered, every gentle deed that you per-
formed, pressed a perfumed drop from some
flower of God. And now you may take this
fragrant unguent-your faith, and truth, and good-
ness-and pour it on our Saviour's feet.
And with that the angel-girl kissed the aged
woman, and "she was young again."
Then other angel-forms came thronging down
the garden paths and led her to a beautiful palace
and into the presence of the Lord Jesus Christ.
And lo I as she knelt before Him, she raised her
g. 2 l % '. .. ,, '
THE ALABASTER BOX OF OINTMENT. 37
eyes to look upon His face, and she saw that it was
He, the very same, who had come to her out of
the gleaming light and told her to walk along the
road. And she was very glad. She knelt and
broke the box of ointment upon His feet, as she
had longed to do, and said, Lord Jesus, I did not
know how this precious ointment could be made,
but I have learnt now, for it is formed of all those
drops of love which fall in humble services and
kindly deeds from an earnest and obedient heart.
Here is my box of ointment, very precious, here
is my life, here is my own self."
And the Lord Jesus answered, Yes, it is
even so, for all the good you ever did, and all the
love you ever showed to those you found in want
and sorrow, added to the fragrant store, even
as I said long ago, 'Inasmuch as ye have done
it to one of the least of these My brethren, ye
have done it unto Me.'"
And as the ointment fell upon His feet the
perfume spread throughout the palace, and the
angels sang so loud that the girl woke up; and
behold! it was a dream.
Was there ever such a dream? Oh, yes,
there was such a dream, and, what is more, you
can make every bit of it a blessed, beautiful
reality. You may walk that road and find that
gate, and offer to Jesus Christ the precious oint-
38 THE ALABASTER BOX OF OINTMENT
ment of loving service, and of a faithful, earnest,
obedient life. And if you do so, you will hear
Him say at last, to boys and girls, to men and
women, Well done, good and faithful servants,
enter ye into the joy of your Lord."
"THE LITTLE BOY WAS OBSERVED TO WASH HIS HANDS MANY TIMES A DAY (p. 41).
IN Psalm xxiv. 3, we read the words: Who
shall ascend into the hill of the Lord? or
who shall stand in His holy place ?" And a
part of the answer to that question is, He that
hath clean hands."
This is a bit of Bible picture-talk. It is all
true, but sometimes the words do not mean just
exactly what they seem to mean; they are only
pictures of it, making it really plainer if we take
care to understand, but causing us to make rather
funny mistakes if we read it in a careless, unin-
telligent kind of way.
For instance, there is the story told of the
little boy who was observed to do what is rather
an astonishing thing for almost any boy to do of
his own accord, that is, to go and wash his hands
many times a day.
After a lesson, or after a bit of play, he would
look at his hands, and then trot off and wash
them in a most energetic way. He would do it
five or six times in the morning and three or four
times in the afternoon, and in between whiles
besides-whenever he saw a speck of dirt upon
his hands. But friends noticed that he was not
nearly so particular about his face. So at last
his elder brother asked him what made him wash
his hands so often. And this was his answer,
" Because I wish to be strong."
What do you mean? said his brother. Do
you think that washing your hands will make you
strong ? "
Yes," said the little fellow; I am sure of
it. I read it in the Bible."
Where ? asked the other.
So the little man went and fetched his Bible,
and found the Book of Job; then he found the
seventeenth chapter, and, putting his finger on
the ninth verse, he said, There you see it says,
' He that hath clean hands shall be stronger and
stronger,' and that is why I wash my hands."
His brother could not help smiling at the inno-
cent mistake, though it was one of a sort some-
times not quite so innocent that a good many
other people, wiser and older than little boys,
have made; and then the elder brother preached
a little sermon. He said that was a bit of Bible
picture-talk, a sort of tiny parable; and he told
him that there were two kinds of dirt in the
world-one that you could see, and another, a
worse kind, that you could not. The sort that
you could see was made up of such things as
mud and ink, and soot and dust ; while the other
sort was made up of cruelty, dishonesty, idleness,
mischief, and the rest. And then he showed
how the Bible puts the dirt which we can see
just as a picture for these wrong, bad things that
stain the soul; and he said that it was not
washing the hands with soap and water-though
that ought to be done at proper times-which
really made them clean, but keeping them away
from bad, cruel, mischievous things, and using
them in useful work and kindly deeds, that
made them look clean and beautiful in the sight
Well, do you know, the little sermon made
the boy sleepy, as sermons do sometimes, little
boys and little girls too. And so, when the
sermon was finished, he went to sleep and had
He thought he saw an angel standing at the
gate of a beautiful garden, and a number of
people came up and asked to be let in; and the
angel bade them stretch out their hands, and he
looked at them-first at one, and then the other.
But at most he shook his head, and told them
to go away ; their hands were not clean.
A dainty lady came, and showed hers-all
white with jewelled rings. But he said, No,
And a big, grand man came; but it was No"
And children came, but many of them, too,
were sent away.
Then by-and-by a poor old woman came, lean-
ing on a stick, for she could only just walk along
very slowly with its help, and she held out her
hands, one after the other-poor, old, brown,
hard, wrinkled hands they were.
But the angel of God said, Clean hands!
beautiful hands! "
And the boy said, Oh, sir, why ? "
"Ah!" said the angel, those hands, poor,
and brown, and wrinkled as they look to you,
are beautiful to me. They have nursed little
children, and wiped away tears, and bound up
wounds, and fed the hungry, and always been
used to do kind, gentle, honest things." And
then he said again, Clean hands! beautiful
hands! Come into the Lord's garden and rest
And just as she was going in the boy woke
up and said, I know what it means now, and I
will ask God to help me to have the real sort of
' clean hands' all my life."
"SHE GAZED ASTONISHED AT THE WONDERFUL APPEARANCE"
THE RING OF IRON AND
ON a certain dull November afternoon many
years ago a girl was sitting before the fire
in the front room of a little house. The house
stood in a poor street just on the borders of a
It was a rather shabby-looking room, not so
much because the things were very common or
very old, but because the place appeared untidy
and neglected, as if no one cared to make it nice
and bright. The cloth was all awry upon the
table, the ashes were unswept beneath the grate,
and dust was everywhere. The girl was dressed
in black, as if in mourning for some recent loss,
and somehow she looked forlorn and sad as she
sat there gazing into the fire, while her thoughts
went wandering far away. She had been reading,
for a half-closed book was resting on her lap;
and the book had sent her off into a sort of
48 THE RING OF IRON AND GOLD.
It was one of those old-fashioned books of
fairy-tales, that told of Aladdin's wonderful lamp,
and how when you rubbed the lamp a genie
would appear, who did everything that he was
If you told him to build a palace, it would be
all ready for you the next day. If you bade him
spread a feast, the feast would be upon the table
in a flash of time. If you commanded him to
bring heaps of gold and jewels, nice brown-skinned
servants would instantly appear carrying trays
loaded with everything you could desire.
The book told also of those magic crystals into
which you could look, and see things that were
happening thousands of miles away, and things
that were going to happen in time to come; and
more than that, it told of those strange mystic
words, like Sesame and others, that, if you could
only manage to say them exactly right, would
open doors, change dust into gold, common
stones into diamonds, and make you wise and
beautiful and rich.
It was a capital book, full of these fanciful
old stories, and as she let it fall upon her lap, her
mind went off into the fairy-land it conjured up,
and she began talking to herself.
This was what she said, Oh, I do wish some
of it were true! It is so unhappy for us all here
THE RING OF IRON AND GOLD.
since mother died. I wish I had a lamp that I
could rub, and then a genie would come to make
pleasant things happen for us, and put beautiful
things all about the room, and give us exactly
what we wished for ; but, alas! it is only a fairy-
tale; nothing nice like that ever comes-it is only
work, work, work, and be tired and poor all the
Now, while she was dreamily thinking in this
way, and staring into the fire, a strange thing took
place; for the centre of the fire-just the heart of
it, we might say-changed into a deep, glowing
red; then the coals just there fell slowly apart
until they formed a beautiful crimson arch, and
then this arch seemed to grow larger and larger
until it looked like the 'doorway of a splendid
temple, and standing on its threshold was the
figure of a man. He was clothed in a white dress
that seemed to shine and burn; upon his head
there was a crown made of twisted thorns, that
somehow had been changed to bands of gold, and
in his hand he held a ring. A curious ring it was,
too, for the hoop was inlaid, worked all in and out
with arabesques of gold. The pattern was a very
pretty one, for the figures went all round the
ring, and were of the same gold as that which was
shining in his crown.
She:gazed astonished at the wonderful appear-
50 THE RING OF IRON AND GOLD.
ance, and while she looked he spoke, and said,
" My girl, do you really wish for some charm
like those of the old fairy-tales-a charm that
will make all things around you beautiful and
Ah, yes," she said," I do indeed."
Would you use it diligently and kindly if it
were yours?" he asked.
And she replied, I would-I promise faith-
"Then," said the man, "stretch out your
She held it out towards him, and he placed
upon her finger this ring of iron with the orna-
ments of gold.
Now," said he, "when you want any ugly
thing changed into something more beautiful;
when you want gloomy things made bright; when
you want sorrowful things made glad, touch
them with this ring, and they will change.
But remember, if you use it when you are
angry, or use it only to please yourself, the ring
will lose its power, and will give you no help
She answered, '' Sir, I will remember; I will
try to use it well."
But now another strange thing took place, for
even while she was saying these last words the
THE RING OF IRON AND GOLD.
form of the man began to fade away, the red arch
shrank slowly back to its old size and then fell
in, and she found herself sitting before the fire
in the dingy room again.
She started up in her chair, and wondered
whether it could have been only a dream. But
then, there was the ring upon her hand! The
iron ring all worked in and out with the tiny
threads and ornaments of gold.
She could not understand it; all was so strange.
But after a little while she said to herself, I
wonder whether the ring will do the things he
said. I will try it now."
Then she looked around the room and said
again, I wish the place did not look so dull;
I should so like it to be bright and nice when
father and the boys come home; I would love
to make it look just as it used to, when mother
was here to see that everything was right. I
will try the ring."
So she got up and began to move about the
room. First she touched the table-cloth that
was all awry, and somehow it went back into its
Then she quickly touched the mantelpiece,
and the chairs on which the dust was lying, and
lo! the dust all went away. Then she stooped
upon the hearth, and in a few moments it was
52 THE RING OF IRON AND GOLD.
swept. She stirred the fire, and it grew bright;
and last of all-for by this time it was almost
dark-she lit the lamp upon the table, and drew
down the blinds. When it was all done, she
looked round again and said, Oh, it is all true !
The room does look pleasant now; it is like the
dear old times when mother did it all."
Presently she heard a step outside, and then a
knock at the front door. It was her father's
knock, she knew, and she ran to let him in.
Such a white-haired, sorrowful, weary-looking
man he was.
But when he felt the gentle touch of his
daughter's hand, the hand with the ring upon it,
and looked around the room, he brightened up
and said, "Why, my dear, what have you been
doing to the place? It looks quite like home
But she only kissed him, and did not tell,
for she thought, I'll keep the secret for a
little while, and see whether it all comes really
Next morning things did not look quite so
bright. The day was dull and cold; the work
was hard, and there was a great deal of it to
do; worse still, the youngest brother was taken
with a terribly perverse fit, and was what big
sisters call "dreadful," which seems to mean
THE RING OF IRON AND GOLD.
something a little less bad than what is known as
the "simply awful" state.
But this good girl did as she had done the
night before ; she moved briskly about the house,
she touched all the disorder and unpleasantness
with her wonderful ring, and when the work was
done she took the little fellow up, and won him
back to good temper with a few kind words, so
that in a short time things began to look bright
again, and this was for them all the beginning of
many happy days.
But our girl was not a perfect girl at all, and so
one day a black fit of evil temper came. She said
to herself, Why should I keep oh always thinking
about these others ? I never get a bit of pleasure
for myself. I am tired of it, and I shall do what
I like to-day. Oh, I do wish that something
very pleasant would happen, just for me alone!"
It was not a happy frame of mind to be in at
all, and it sent her grumbling and cross about
As might be expected, nothing went right that
day, from the beginning to the end. The fire
went out, the kettle would not boil, her thread
knotted, her needle broke. Everything she tried
to do took twice the usual time, and at last
she sat down in despair. Just then, her eyes
fell upon her ring, and-the gold of it was gone;
54 THE RING OF IRON AND GOLD.
it was just a plain black hoop of common iron
that no one would care anything about.
Ah, how sad and sorrowful she felt! But
while she was grieving over her great loss, a hand
was laid upon her shoulder, and turning round
there was the man of the fire again. And he said,
" Did I not tell you that if you let yourself get
angry, or only tried to please yourself, the ring
would lose its power ?"
And then very solemnly he added, Give it
back to me."
She obeyed, thinking it was to be taken from
her for ever. But he did not mean that, for
he took it and pressed it underneath his robe
close to his *heart, and when he drew it out it
was just gold-marked, and beautiful as it had
been before. With a kind and yet half-sorrowful
look he gave it back to her and said, There,
try again, try again."
And she did try, and found that the wonderful
ring had regained all its magic power, for the
things about her all grew bright and beautiful
And so the time passed on; the girl who once
sat dreaming by the fire became a woman with
many sorrows and many joys, but through all
she kept on wearing her mysterious ring, and
no one was more beloved than she.
THE RING OF IRON AND GOLD.
When people were in trouble, no one seemed
able to help them half so well; when they were
sorrowful, no one was able to dry their tears with
such a gentle hand; and when they were sick,
no one could so quickly soothe their pain.
People said, "What a dear woman she has
grown! But she knew it was all the sweet,
strange magic of the ring.
At last, when she was very old, and laid herself
down to die, her own children gathered round
her dying-bed, and she told them all the story
of her wonderful ring. Just before she bade
them good-bye, she held up her wasted hand
and showed them the ring once more. There it
was, with the iron worn very thin, but the gold
shining more brightly than it had ever done
through all the years since that old time of the
dream beside the fire. They closed her eyes and
said, Now we know what made her so dear to
every one, and why she told us all to seek a
blessing like her own."
But many, who in after days heard the strange
story of the ring, wondered whether these things
were really so, until a wise man came along and
said, I think I know what it really means : the
ring of iron and of gold is just the emblem of
work made beautiful by love, for work alone is
like the iron ring without its golden ornament,
56 THE RING OF IRON AND GOLD.
and love alone is the shining gold without the
iron's usefulness and strength ; but work and love
make all things beautiful and bright.
"And," said he, "I think that I can tell you,
too, who was the giver of the ring. The figure
which she saw in the fire was a dream picture of
Jesus Christ. For it was He who showed not
only a little discontented girl, but also the great
discontented world, that the secret of happiness
was a secret no longer, when people learned of
Him to make the iron ring of duty beautiful with
the golden ornaments of patience, gentleness,
"JUST PUT THESE ON, AND LOOK AT YOURSELF" (p. 63).
THE ROBE MADE WHITE.
M ANY years ago there lived a boy named
Philautos in the city of Akatharsia, in the
country of Avohn.
It was a very curious place; for this reason, that
everything which belonged to any one else looked
never a bit better, and often very much worse
than it really was; while everything that belonged
to oneself looked as fine as fine could be.
There was something in the light or something
in the people's eyes that produced this curious
effect, so that if you looked at what belonged
to any one else-it appeared crooked and ugly,
while if you looked at what belonged to yourself
there was never anything so splendid in the world.
And so some strange things happened in this
curious land, for if a mother went into somebody
else's house and the children were brought in,
she would say to herself, "Well, these are the
plainest children I ever saw," but when she got
home and looked at her own she would say, Oh,
how beautiful they are! "
THE ROBE MADE WHITE.
And it was just so with all their other things;
if they only had a tin teapot of their own they
would think it was silver, while anybody else's
real silver they would fancy was only plated, or
German, or some sort of imitation. It was just
the same about their clothes. The men could
see a hole in anybody else's coat directly, but
if they were all over rags themselves they would
strut about fancying they were the best-dressed
people in the place.
It was the same with their looks. They could
see grey hairs, and wrinkled faces, and turned-
up noses in other people quite plainly, but they
thought themselves the handsomest, and finest,
and youngest-looking people in the world.
Well, you must know that our young friend
Philautos was pretty much like all the rest: very
well satisfied with himself indeed. I do not know
that he thought very much about his figure or his
face; boys don't very often think about these
things till they get to be rather large boys, old
enough to have other things in view.
But he did think a good deal about his dress;
and as his parents were very well off, and gave
him the very best clothes the best shops in the
city could afford, he used to think that he
looked rather well-ever so much better than a
good many of his friends.
THE ROBE MADE WHITE.
Now, I must tell you in that country boys
did not dress as we do, but they wore a white
robe reaching about down to the knees, with a
purple hem round the bottom, round the neck,
and round the sleeves, and it was clasped round
the waist with a golden girdle. When it was
quite fresh and clean, and they came out with
a gilt circlet on their heads, and boots or buskins
with gilded clasps on their feet, they certainly did
look rather fine.
Only unfortunately with this fault, that in their
own eyes they used very often to think that they
were all right when they were all wrong, and
were not really looking half so handsome as they
And I must tell you another thing, that long,
long before this time the King of this country
had been so offended by the people's self-conceit
that he had left off living in his splendid palace
in the city, and had built another at a distance
from the place.
But every now and then he used to send word
that if any of them would come to his house
with a really white robe, he would not only be
glad to see them, but would make them his
companions and friends, for, said he, They
shall walk with me in white, for they are
THE ROBE MADE WHITE.
Well, one day a messenger of the King came to
the city of Akatharsia, and made a proclamation.
And this was what he said:-
Oyez oyez this is to give notice, that who-
soever will, may come to the King's palace, if
he will come with a white robe, without spot or
And the messenger went to the market-place,
and in front of every public building, and at every
place where the streets crossed each other he
gave this notice, so that every one in the city
might hear and know.
Now, it happened that our young friend Phi-
lautos was passing across the great market-place
just as the messenger arrived. So he listened to
the proclamation, and then he' said, Why, I am
just the very one to go. There is no one else
here with a robe half so white as mine. I will
go and see the King."
So he set off at once, and went along the streets,
through the city gates, and out along the road.
But he had not got far before he met a venerable-
looking old gentleman, who said, "Whither away
so fast, young sir ? You seem in haste."
So I am," was the reply. I am going to
see the King."
But," said the old man, you are not fit to
go, for does not the proclamation say that who-
THE ROBE MADE WHITE.
soever comes must have a robe without spot
or stain ? "
"Yes," was the lad's response, "it does say
so, and that's just why I am going. Look at my
dress ; what's the matter with me ?"
Then the old man did look, and a very curious
look it was, but he did not say anything just then.
Only he put his hand in his pocket and took
out a little black leather case; he opened it very
slowly and drew out a pair of spectacles, and then
he said, Just put these on, and look at yourself;
these are the true orthopanoptikon spectacles, which
show all things as they really are."
"Well," said the boy, "that is a very long
word, but how am I to know that you are telling
me the truth ? "
Never you mind about the long word," said
the old man; "here is my certificate," and he
pulled out a parchment signed and sealed, which
showed that he was a true servant of the
So the lad put on his spectacles, and for the
first time in his life saw himself and his dress as
they really were. He was frightened and amazed.
His robe was not white-anything but that.
All down one side was a great smear of red,
stamped with green letters, P R I D E.
All along the other side was a streak of dull
THE ROBE MADE WHITE.
blue, stamped with sleepy-looking grey letters,
Down the front was a yellow stain, with black
letters, SEL F.
What was on the back he couldn't see. Only a
girl can manage to see her back; boys can't
see theirs. But an instant's glance at himself,
as he really was, was enough to make his lips
quiver and his cheeks turn pale, and he clasped
his hands and said, Oh, sir, am I really so bad
as this ? Then I can never, never see the King."
And the old man said, What you see now is
what you really are, but still you may see the
King, for all these stains may be washed away."
Then Philautos said, Oh, show me how, for
I want to look upon his face, and so I want the
garment that is without a stain."
And the old man said, Do you really mean it ?
If I show you how, will you persevere ?"
And he said, I will."
Then the aged man pointed off the great high
road to a very narrow path that led away across
the fields and hills, far as the eye could reach-not
a very pleasant-looking path, for in some places
it was muddy as if with recent rain.
And all along it was marked with a red line.
And he said, Follow that path, and you will dis-
cover how your robe will be made white and
TIIP ROOBE 11ADLIE WHITI
clean. I will meet you sometimes on the way,"
and saying this the old man turned from him and
So. after standing for a moment Philautos
went also upon his way. And presently he
came to a river, neither very deep nor wide, but
with muddy banks on either side; and as he came
to the brink he heard a cry-the cry of a voice
which he knew very well-" Brother, brother,
help me," and there was his own little brother
struggling in the water and tossing up his arms
But for a moment Philautos thought, Dare
I go down there and get my robe more stained ?
Must I not cross by the bridge?" But it was
only for a moment, for, do you know, the red
trail went straight down to where the child was
crying in its need.
So down he went, dashed through the water,
clutched the child, and then struggled to the
other side. But when he reached the bank he
looked at himself, and he said, Oh, my robe, it is
worse now than ever it was before; even I can
see the stain."
But while he was speaking the old man ap-
peared, just as he had promised he would, and he
said, What is the matter ? why are you mourning
in this way. ?"
THE ROBE MADE WHITE.
And the boy said, Oh, master, master, look
at my dress, it's worse than it was before; but I
was obliged to go right down into that muddy
river, for my brother was there, and I could not
see him sink."
Then the old .man smiled, and putting his hand
into his pocket, he drew out the spectacles again,
and said, Look at yourself and see what you
So Philautos put them on, and lo the great
yellow stripe of selfishness was paler than it was
before, the letters had grown fainter, and his robe
looked cleaner than it had ever done.
Then the old man said, Never be afraid to
follow where the red line leads; nothing can
leave any stain upon you which comes to you in
that way. Go forward; I shall see you by-and-
Then the path led on into a great wide sandy
plain, where the sun was beating down all day
long; and he had often to stoop down to make
sure that he was in the right way, for the wind
swept the sand over the red trail and almost
hid it from view.
But he persevered; and when he met, or rather
overtook, some other traveller, who was old and
very tired, or young and weak, he would help
him on the way, tell him how he could not be
THE ROBE MADE WHITE.
wrong if he would only keep to the path; and
sometimes he would sing a song about the rest
that was waiting and the glory of the King.
But as time went on, the boy changed into a
man, his head grew grey, and then white, his
hands were hard with toil, and his dress grew
travel-stained and worn and old, and began to drop
in holes. And one day when he was very tired
he sat down, and he said, Alas, alas, the palace
of the King is very far away, and my robe instead
of becoming whiter is wearing out; how shall I
dare to appear in such a poor old dress as this ? "
But just then he heard a voice asking, "What
did you say?" and looking up he saw his old
"Ah," said Philautos, "I was saying I am so
old, so unclean, so unfit."
But the aged man took out the spectacles once
more. And when the pilgrim put them on and
looked he was astonished, for the stains were
almost gone; you could hardly make out a single
letter of the words Pride," Sloth," or Self,"
that once were there. They had been bleached
out by the light and brightness of the sun.
But it is ragged," he said.
Never mind that," said his friend ; the King
doesn't mind rags. If they are white rags he will
take you all the same."
THE ROBE M4DE WHITE.
And now as time sped on he found himself
nearing the end of the road, and he had become a
very aged man; the path led through a valley,
with high rocks on either side, and at the bottom
was a river, deeper and darker than he had ever
seen before. But he went on, and down, and
presently was lost to sight.
And just then the thick dark cloud on the other
side of the river parted, and a light-clear, beauti-
ful, brighter than ever came from the brightest sun
upon a summer's day-shone down upon him as
he struggled up the farther bank. And one came
down the pathway of glory, with a kingly crown
upon his head and love unspeakable shining on
his face. And he drew near the old man as he
knelt, and raised him up. And as he rose, in
that wondrous light, the old stained garment
changed into a spotless robe of matchless purity,
and the King said, Welcome home, my brother;
keep by my side, thou shalt walk with me in
white; for thou art worthy, thy robe hath grown
white by thy faithful following of the appointed
way. Thou shalt be no more called Philautos,
self-lover, but Philo-Christus, Christ-lover." And
so they went up, up the hill into the gates of the
shining city, and as they entered the cloud settled
down once more upon the river. But all the
watchers knew he had gone home to God.
" THE ROAD WAS CROWDED WITH CHILDREN (p. 74).
THE BEAUTIFUL GATES.
T HIS is the story of a dream. It all began
in a little room, where three children were
sitting round the fire. At least the eldest would
hardly have liked to be called a child, for she was
more than sixteen years of age, and was seriously
thinking of putting her hair up and having a
dress that really touched the ground behind.
Her name was Agatha; and if you had asked
her what she was doing, she would have said,
with all the dignity of elder sisterhood, that she
was there to keep the children quiet.
The second did not always take kindly to his
sister's superior ways, for he was a boy of four-
teen or thereabouts, and objected to be ordered
about and told to behave himself, so that there
was occasionally a small breeze in the family.
His name was Mark.
The third was a rosy-cheeked, sunny-haired
girl of ten, named Muriel, but generally called
Dimples; and, as I said, these three were sitting
round the fire in the little room.
THE BEAUTIFUL GATES
It was a winter's Sunday night at the beginning
of the year, and at the morning service the
minister had been preaching to them from this
text: The beautiful gate of the temple."
And he had been telling them that though the
old temple at Jerusalem was all burnt up and
destroyed hundreds of years ago, yet there were
many beautiful gates of God, still opening into
glorious temples for us in this world-Gates
of Knowledge, Gates of Service, Gates of Self-
denial-and he spoke to them particularly about
the New Gate of Time, which had just opened
for them on the morning of this New Year's
Well, these three were talking about the
sermon, for it was one of those parable sermons
that the right sort of young people generally like.
And the elder sister was trying to improve the
occasion, or as her brother used to say when he
wanted to stir her up a little, she was talking
But he thought about it afterwards, for he was
a good fellow in the main, and these three were
very fond of one another indeed, though things
got lively among them now and then.
Well, the night wore on, and it became time for
them to go to bed, and all the while Mark kept
thinking of the words, The gates, the beautiful
THE BEA UTIFUL GATES.
gates of God." He thought about it when he
knelt to say his prayers, he thought about it
while he hunched up his pillow into comfortable
untidiness for going to sleep, he thought about
it after he lay down, and then he began talking to
Ah," he said, if they were real gates, made
of wood or iron or anything of that sort, so that
one could really go into them and do the things
they talk about, it would be easy enough, and I
would very soon go and find them out; but then
they are not, and there's the trouble of it, so it's
no good thinking about it any more."
But somehow the words would not go away.
It was like something whispering in the room,
" The gates-come into the gates-the beautiful
gates of God."
And then he said, I wonder what they are ?
I wonder whether I could find them if I tried?
I wonder-I wonder- "
And then something happened, for all at once
he found himself dressed, and standing up out-
of-doors wide awake. But it was not the out-of-
doors he knew-it was quite a different place;
for he was in a sort of field or park at the foot
of a grand hill, and he could see all about in the
distance cottages and houses peeping out amongst
the trees. And there was a clear, shining river,
THE BEAUTIFUL GATES.
sparkling and dimpling in the sunlight as it went
along; and there was a long, straight road,
leading on and on as far as ever you could see;
and there was what Alice in Wonderland would
have called the most curiousest thing of all' ;
for the place and the road were crowded with
children and quite young people-there were
scarcely any old folks there at all.
You can very well believe he was surprised:
he rubbed his eyes and pinched himself to make
sure that he was awake, and then looked again.
But there it all was as natural as life-the park,
the river, the houses in the distance, children
crowding along the road; and so he said at last,
and quite loud, "Where am I? where am I ?"
For though he was a big fellow, fourteen years
old, and not in the least a coward, yet he did
feel a little bit frightened too, so he said, Where
am I ? where on earth have I got to now ? "
And just then he heard some one speaking
close behind him, saying, My boy, was that
you who said, 'Where on earth have I got to
And Mark said, "Yes, sir, that was me." He
ought to have said, "That was I," of course,
but he was frightened out of his grammar for the
moment, just as some bigger people are some-
times, and so he said, "Yes, sir, that was me."
THE BEAUTIFUL GATES.
Well," the old man said, I'll tell you; you
are not on the earth at all. You are in Soul-
land, and I have brought you here to show you
the beautiful gates of God. Would you like to
And Mark said, Oh, yes, sir, that I should!"
Then the old man said, "It will give you
some trouble and some hard work; shall you
Oh, no," said Mark, "I won't mind that at
Then said the old man, Come along with
But then something happened which surprised
Mark very much, for the old man turned right
round and went down the road just the opposite
way to that in which all the people were going.
Mark went along with him, of course; but when
they had gone a good long way, and kept on
meeting the crowds and crowds all going in the
opposite direction, Mark said at last, I say, sir,
aren't we going wrong ? All the other people are
going the other way; is this the way to one of
the gates ? "
Yes," answered his guide, it is all right;
we are going down to see the first gate. Don't
you know that you are inside one of God's gates
THE BEAUTIFUL GATES.
No," said Mark, I didn't. What is
You wait and see," said his companion; I'll
tell you about it when we get there."
So they went on, and here was another curious
thing, for as they went down the road the children
they met kept getting smaller and smaller, and
younger and younger, until it seemed that only
quite babies were coming along. And by-and-by
Mark saw in the distance something glittering
like a pile of snow when the sun is shining on
it, only this was so high that you could hardly
tell when the top ended among the white clouds
of the sky.
They went nearer and nearer, and then Mark
saw that it was an enormous Silver Gate, and
when they came quite close they could see the
gate swing open pretty nearly every minute with
a musical sound, partly like the chime of a silver
bell and partly like a gentle song, and every time
the gate swung open a little child came in and
began following the rest along the road.
What is this ?" said Mark ; what is
this ? "
And the old man answered, It is the Silver
Gate of Life, the first of the beautiful gates
Did I come in there? said Mark.
THE BEA UTIFUL GATES.
"Yes," was the answer, "you came in there
fourteen years ago. And never forget it any
more; you were God's from the very beginning,
for you came in by one of His beautiful gates,
the Silver Gate of Life."
Then for a minute the dream went out-you
know how it is in dreams-and Mark was back
again where he was at' first.
Then he said to the old man, "Let us
make haste and go on and see another of the
gates. I like this; let us make haste."
But his old friend-for he was quite like a friend
by now-said, No, we can't make haste, for you
have a great deal to do upon the way !"
Mark didn't like that quite so well, but of
course he couldn't help himself in a dream, so
they went on just as the dream took them along
this road, and presently Mark said, Why, look
there, that's my old school. Must I go in
Yes," said his guide, you must."
And in a minute Mark was inside grinding
over Latin verbs, puzzling out equations, learning
as hard as ever he could, for he was so anxious to
get on to the next gate.
Presently school was done and he came
But by this time he was growing up, and he
THE BEAUTIFUL GATES.
was beginning to look like a man, for across his
upper lip a moustache was coming that he was
very careful of indeed, and he had taken to stand-
up collars and all the rest of it, so that he thought
he was quite ready to go on.
His old friend met him at the bottom of
the school-house steps, and Mark said, Let
us make haste to the next gate. I am all
So on these two went along the road that
went up and got steeper with every step they
It was downright hard climbing sometimes,
and now and then they had to stop while Mark
cut out some steps in the rock so that they could
clamber up. And once or twice he had to roll
some big stones out of the road, and Mark often
grumbled at it. It was such hard work," It
was such a jolly fag," he said, just as boys do
down here when they have to get up in the cold
morning and go to work and have hard things
But the old man only laughed, and said,
" Never mind, you will find the good of it by-
And so he did, for in a little while they came
to an enormous Iron Gate, built right across the
road. It was splendidly wrought into all sorts
THE BEAUTIFUL GATES.
of ornamental patterns, and from the other side
there came the sound of the voices and tramping
of mighty crowds.
But what was very strange, there was no one
in front of the gate, and the gate was shut,
only there was a great big key in the lock
What is it ? what is it ? said Mark.
"This," was the reply,-" this is the Iron
Gate of Manhood, the second of the beautiful
gates of God."
How can we get in?" he asked. "Shall
we knock ?"
No," said his guide; "there is the key; you
must turn it yourself."
But it is so big and heavy," said the boy.
" I can't, and I shall never get in."
Nonsense! the old man said; try."
So he tried. It didn't turn. Then he took
his coat off and tried again. It did just move
a little bit. Then he turned his sleeves up, and
with a mighty scroop the key turned round, the
lock shot back, the gate opened, and in another
minute they were both inside.
That's the way to do it," said the old man.
"Always remember it, Never say I can't' when
a thing is hard to do. Take off your coat, turn
your sleeves up, and go at it with all your might.
THE BEAUTIFUL GATES.
Nearly all the keys of God's gates are turned that
way. And remember this as well: it was to make
you strong enough to do it that you had all that
hard work of climbing and cutting and learning
a little while ago."
So they went in, and found themselves in a
wonderful place indeed. There were great
factories, where all sorts of things were made.
There were great furnaces melting iron, making
glass, and men moulding things out of brass and
silver and gold.
There were great markets where all sorts of
things were sold, there were homes where the
people lived, and everybody as busy as they
could possibly be.
At first Mark was very much pleased indeed,
and went working away at one thing and another
like the rest. And what pleased him most of all
was that when he had settled down to work the
first day he found that many of his old friends
and schoolfellows were there too, and when he
went home at night, to his surprise he found
himself knocking at the old house door. And
when he got inside there were father and mother,
sisters, and those he loved; the only thing was
that they had got older now.
But time passed on, and by-and-by he began to
feel restless ; it was all very happy, but he wanted
THE BEAUTIFUL GATES.
something more, and every now and then he
looked up and saw great mountain heights above
him, shining with splendour brighter than any
sunshine he had ever known.
And so one day when work was done, he met
his old friend again and told him all about what
And the old man said, Ah, yes, I know; you
want to go on, and go in to another of the gates
of God. Come along with me."
So they started out again, and this time on a
very narrow, quiet way.
At one part -there were trees on either side, and
birds sang among the branches.
At another, there were great rocks, like mighty
walls, with just a narrow path between.
And at another, there were sharp, rough stones
upon the road; but at last they came out on a
beautiful sunshiny plain, and there in front of them
was a great Golden Gate, shining in the sunlight,
like a pile of yellow fire.
On the front of it, just above the entrance, there
was a cross, and the curious thing about it was
that the gate itself was open, but it was only
just big enough for a man to get through if he
stooped very low.
It was quite amusing to see the people coming
up and trying to get through with the things they
THE BEAUTIFUL GATES.
brought, and then going away so angry and
While Mark and his friend were standing
there, a great lord, with a coronet upon his head,
came riding up on a fine horse, all as grand as
could be. But of course he could not get through
at all. Then he got down from his horse, and
tried to walk through in a very dignified way with
his coronet on; but that would not do either-he
had to take that off Then he tried just walking
upright, but he only struck his head against the
top of the door, and at last had to stoop down and
go in in a very humble sort of way.
; A rich man came up, carrying great bags of
jewels and money on his shoulders; but, to his
great amazement, he could not squeeze through
Mark wondered what it meant, and said,
What is this ? "
And the old man told him that, this was the
Golden Gate of Religion, always open, but very
strait, narrow, and small, the third of the beautiful
gates of God."
So Mark went in, and there inside he saw
people moving about. Some were teaching chil-
dren, others were healing the sick. One man
went along with a big, knobbly bundle, with all
sorts of queer shapes sticking out of it; and when
THE BEAUTIFUL GATES.
they asked him what it was, he said, Oh, toys for
the children's hospital, you know ; they have been
holding a service yonder, and a lot of kind-hearted
children brought these for the little ones who are
sick and poor."
Then Mark said to him, "Why, what is it
you do here inside the Golden Gate ?"
Oh," said the man, "we serve the Lord
What ?" Mark said. Say prayers and sing
hymns, and go to church all the time? "
And the man gave a great laugh, and said,
" Oh, no, we do that, but we don't call that
service, we call that refreshment. Service of the
Lord Jesus Christ is helping one another, doing
kind things to those in trouble, learning to be
right and good and true, getting ready to go up
yonder into the Gates of Pearl by-and-by."
Is that it ? said Mark. Can I serve Him ?"
To be sure you can," said the man. Come
along, and I'll show you."
So Mark joined him, and away they went to-
gether, and Mark set about the new work of
serving the Lord Jesus Christ.
Well, by this time (in the dream, you know)
Mark felt that he was getting quite old-his hair
was white, his steps were feeble, and he was
getting very tired; so he went in search of his
THE BEAUTIFUL GATES.
old friend one day, and told him that he wanted
a place of rest.
Ah," said the old man, that is it, is it ? Very
well; but, my friend, how is it you have nobody
with you? The Lord of the way dislikes any
one to go in at the next gate alone."
What shall I do ? said Mark.
Why," said his guide, go and find some one
that wants helping along."
So Mark went, but for a long time he could
not find anybody that seemed to want his
But one day he went down to the Golden Gate,
and just outside was a woman peeping in. And
he said to her, Why do you stay outside ? Come
And she said, May I ? I am afraid."
But he answered, There is nothing to be
afraid of; stoop down right under the cross and
So she came, stooping through the low, narrow
gate; and when she got through and stood up,
who do you think it was ? Why, his own sister,
Dimples of long ago.
Then they were both very glad, and they went
hand in hand together after the old guide, and
asked him to show them the way to the next
THE BEAUTIFUL GATES.
He told them to follow him, for he was going
that way himself, and he led them up the gentle
slope of a hill with something shining at the top
like a great white star. It was the gate they
sought. It was made of a beautiful white pearl,
and there were angels standing all about.
And Mark said, What is this ? "
And his old friend said, "This is the Gate
of Heaven, the last of the beautiful gates of
They went up to it, and looked at the shining
figures of the angels standing there. And
Dimples said, Look, Mark, there's mother, and
there's Agatha, and there's father too! and so
they both ran forward with a cry of joy, and there
was a shout and a song of greeting-a shout so
loud that Mark woke up, to find it was nothing
but a dream.
But he remembered it, and often thought of
that dream-journey in Soul-land, and of how he
passed one by one through the Silver Gate of
Life, the Iron Gate of Manhood, the Golden
Gate of Religion, and had stood at last by the
Pearly Gate of Heaven.
He did more than think, for the dream fiade
him understand what these Beautiful Gates of
God really were, and as he grew up he tried to
go through them one by one,
86 THE BEA UTIFUL GATES.
May God send to each one of us the Guide,
the Holy Spirit of His love, so that we too may
pass through all God's beautiful gates of life's
experience on earth, and find at last all love and
goodness waiting for us at heaven's Gate of
"THEY STOOD LISTENING TO WHAT A IAN WAS SAYING TO THE
PEOPLE" (p 89).
THE MAGIC OIL.
TWO boys, named Marcus and Marcellus,
were standing together in the market-place
of the City of Biopolis, watching a great crowd.
It was easy to see that they were brothers,
for they were so much alike, from the very tips of
their chubby noses to the holes in the toes of their
boots. And very nice, clever-looking boys they
were so their mother said. But then mothers
do say queer things of the sort about their boys,
However, there they stood in the market-place,
watching the great crowd, and listening to what
a man in a very showy dress was saying to the
people gathered there.
Now, you must understand that the country
in which this City of Biopolis was situated was
a very curious sort of place; there was not one
builded house in it. I mean a house built of
brick, of stone, or of wood; there was not one
builded house in all the land, except the palace
of the King, for all the people lived in tents.
THE MAGIC OIL.
And then another thing was this, that the
King's palace was built on the top of a lofty
hill, right in the middle of the country; and
since this was the very highest hill in all the
land, in fact was quite a mountain, the King's
palace could be seen on every fine, clear day,
by any one who chose to look at it, for miles
and miles around. And it was very beautiful
indeed to see, for the hill itself was of pure
white stone, while on the top of it was built
the palace made of marble whiter still.
The gates were gold, the ornaments were
different-coloured jewels, the turrets were carved
into all kinds of lovely forms, and you may just
think how beautiful it looked, shimmering and
shining in the clear light of a summer's day.
And sometimes in the evening, when the sunset
glory fell upon the lovely place, the children would
stop playing in the street, and old men would come
to their tent doors to look, and mothers would
stand and hush their babies with this song:
"They stand, those halls of beauty,
All jubilant with song,
And bright with many an angel,
And all the martyr throng;
The Prince is ever in them,
The daylight is serene,
The pastures of the blessed
Are decked in glorious sheen."
THE MAGIC OIL.
But the most curious thing of all was that the
tents of which the city was built all moved.
The streets did not alter, the places where the
tents stood did not appear to change, but still the
tents moved; only a little, but just a little at
every ticking of the clock, so slowly that the
people who lived in them hardly knew that they
moved at all; but they did, and always a little
nearer and a little nearer to the white mountain
on which was the palace of the King; for there
was the strange thing, that this City of Biopolis
was not a continuing city, not one that stood
still, but one that kept moving all the time.
Well, the two boys Marcus and Marcellus
were standing, on the day I told you of just now,
in the market-place of this strange city, watch-
ing the crowd and listening to what the man
in the showy dress was saying to the people
It seems that he was one of the King's
messengers, and after blowing his trumpet to
call all the people out, he said,-
Oyez! oyez! this is to give notice, that
it is the King's pleasure, that whosoever will
try to keep his tent beautiful and bright, and
fill it with such ornaments as the King shall
approve, shall be called the King's friend, and
shall have a crown to wear, and splendid raiment
THE MAGIC OIL.
to put on, and shall have a home in the King's
palace with the golden gates."
Then the people shouted and seemed very
glad; but when they had all gone away the two
boys still stood there, and watched the messenger
as he folded up the paper from which he had
been reading this royal proclamation, and began
to walk slowly along the street.
Then Marcus said to his younger brother,
" Shouldn't you like to have that?"
Have what ? said the little fellow.
"Why," said the other, "the crown, and the
beautiful dress, and go to live always in that
splendid palace on the white hill yonder, that
the man has just been telling us about."
"Yes," said the younger one, I should, but I
don't think he meant boys; that's all for grown-
up people ; the King would not care for the little
bits of things we could do, I am sure."
Do you think so ? said Marcus. Mother
told me the King was very kind, and once when
he came to our city took a great deal of notice
of the children. Tell you what, I'll run after
that man and ask him."
So they ran, and when they got near the King's
messenger, they shouted, I say, sir! I say,
The messenger turned round and smiled when
THE MAGIC OIL.
he saw their bright, eager faces, and said, Well,
what is it ?"
Oh," said one of them, if you please, do
you mean boys?"
He looked at them as if he didn't understand;
so the youngster said, We want to know if
boys can try for that reward."
Why, yes," replied the messenger, "of course
-boys and girls too; didn't you hear the word
' whosoever' in the King's message that I read ?"
Yes, well, we did, but we were not quite sure,
so we thought we would come and ask you."
Then the man said, And I am very glad you
did, for you are the only ones who have. All
the people shouted and said Hooray,' just as if
they thought it was a very easy thing to keep
their tents beautiful and bright, and fill them
with ornaments with which the King will be
Why, is it so very hard, then ? said Marcus.
Very hard indeed; almost impossible without
the Magic Oil,' replied the messenger.
"What is that?" said both the boys in the
"Come with me, and I will show you," said
So they went with him along the road until
they came to a lane, on either side of which some
THE MAGIC OIL.
trees were growing; and when they had gone
down this a little way it led them into a wood,
where everything was still.
They trod swiftly on the pine-needles that
made a carpet beneath their feet, so that not even
the sound of their own footsteps broke the silence.
The trees grew thicker, and the place grew darker
and darker, but they still went on.
Until at last they came to a spot where the
trees had all been cleared away-all but one. A
strange, strange tree it was, which stretched out
its branches and grew into a shape that was very
like a cross.
Then the King's messenger went up to this
wonderful tree, and held a cup beneath the leaves
which grew in the middle near the top, and-what
do you think ?-some drops of red oil began to
fall from the tips of the leaves into the cup.
Then, after a little while, he moved the cup to
the right, and some iron-coloured oil began to
drop off the leaves that were hanging there;
and then he moved it to the left-hand side, and
golden oil began to flow.
But these were all mixed together in the cup,
and as they mixed and melted into each other,
the oil was dark red with a golden gleam.
When the cup was quite full, and the three
sorts were quite mixed together, the King's
THE MAGIC OIL.
messenger drew from his side pocket a silver
flask, poured the cupful of oil into that, and gave
it to the boys, and said, There, now, you take
this, and when you set about making your tents
beautiful, drop one drop upon your tools, for it
will make them work so easily you will be quite
surprised; and when your eyes grow dull, or your
hands tired, do the same-just drop one drop upon
them, and they will be all right again, for this is
the Magic Oil. Keep it carefully, and use it always,
and your work will be easily and happily done."
So they promised and thanked him, and went
And it all turned out to be beautifully true, for
when they got back home again, Marcellus-that
was the little one-said, See, brother, I am
going to make that little corner of my tent pretty
with a picture I shall paint upon the canvas;"
and so he got his brushes and his colours and
began to work. But somehow it didn't go right
at first-it was all wobbly like," as I heard a boy
once say about a drawing ; but then he took a drop
of the Magic Oil, and though it was only a child's
picture after all, there was something in it that
made people stop and look, and talk of A light
more beautiful than ever shone on land and sea."
Then Marcus, the elder brother, said to himself,
" That brother of mine is a good little chap. Tell
THE MAGIC OIL.
you what I'll do-I'll get some pieces of wood
and carve out some toys; they'll be an ornament
to the tent as well."
And so he got out his tools; but being older
he was wiser (elder brothers always are wiser,
you know-at least they seem to think they are,
and give themselves mighty airs in consequence-
but, however, this one really was), so he was careful
to touch all his tools with the Magic Oil before he
began, and though a toy-maker might have called
it clumsy work, yet somehow there was a charm
about these things that costlier toys did not possess.
And so it was with everything. When the lesson
bookswere brought out, and the school-tasks began,
the work was sometimes very hard to do, but a
drop of this Magic Oil rubbed just above the eyes
seemed to get into their brains, and make them
so bright and sharp and clever that the task, if
not always quickly, was always well done.
But I must not stay to tell you of every wonder
wrought by the Magic Oil-it would take too long;
but there is one thing that must be told. You
remember that I said these tents were moving
tents, and went creeping and creeping on towards
the King's palace on the hill. Well, one day they
had crept up to where a forest lay across the path.
And so the question was how to clear the great
trees from the way. Some said, Burn them up."
THE MA GIC OIL.
Others said, "Chop them down," and so the
people went to work in these different ways.
But the boys, who by this time had grown into
young men, knew what to do, for they got out
their axes and touched them with the Magic
Oil, and surprised everybody with the swiftness
by which they were enabled to clear the way.
Well, time went on, and at last the tents had
nearly reached the foot of the Palace Hill.
The day was fixed when the King would come
to look at the tents and distribute the rewards.
Many of them looked very beautiful, for they
were hung with purple and crimson and all the
rest of it, and many of them were filled with
costly things. Of course everybody said, Oh,
there are the people who will get the prize."
But when the King came, what do you think he
did? He lifted up his hand, and in the palm of it
there was a great ruby, from which the light went
flashing out, and he turned it on all these different
Ah, and when the light from the blood-red
stone fell upon many of these showy tents, and
on the things of which the people were so proud,
you should have seen how poor, and pale, and
wretched many of those things looked.
While some of them that looked old and
ragged, and were filled with clumsy things, at which
THE MAGIC OIL.
the great folk laughed, turned to the softest silk,
and loveliest colours, and most splendid shapes,
and the King said, These must have the prize."
The two brothers-they were old men now-
looked on in wonder, and waited anxiously for the
King to come to their.tent. And when he did, it
was so very strange, for lots of things that they
had got together looked just good for nothing
when the ruby light fell on them, but the old toys,
the little picture, and all those other things that
they had made themselves with the help of the
Magic Oil, began to shine and sparkle, and look
grandly beautiful, so that their hearts grew glad.
And the King called the two old men before
him and said, "You have made some mistakes,
you have spent your time and money over many
worthless things, but still you have been faithful
and obedient in many more. See, these things
shall win for you the prize; enter ye into the
' Joy of the Lord.' "
That is the story. Let me only tell you what
were the three liquids mixed in the Magic Oil
gathered at the tree shaped like a cross. The
red was love, the iron-coloured was industry, the
gold was cheerfulness.
These three make up the Magic Oil of Life,
when we get them from the grace and goodness
of our Saviour, Jesus Christ.
" WHEN HE TRIED TO SING THE MUSIC CAME" (p. 109).