The Baldwin Libraqy
THE GOLD THREAD
l Stog for te HtuIng
By NORMAN MACLEOD, D.D.
CHARLES BURNET & CO.
9, BUCKINGHAM STREET, STRAND
TO MY CHILDREN.
I DEDICATE this story to you, because it
was for you I first wrote it, and to you I first
read it among the green hills of Moffat. It was
afterwards printed in Good Words, and now you
see it again appears as a little book for other
children, who, I hope, will like it as much as
I wish .to help and encourage you, and all who
read this story, to learn the great lesson which
it is intended to teach; that lesson is, that we
should always trust God and do what is right,
and thus hold fast our gold thread in spite of
every temptation and danger, being certain that
vi To My Children.
in this way only will God lead us in safety and
peace to His home.
Now, God gives each of you this gold thread
to hold fast in your own house or in school, in
the nursery or in the play-ground, on every
day and in every place. His voice in your
heart, and in His Word, will also tell you always
what is right, if you only listen to it. You, too,
will be constantly tempted in some way or other
to give up your gold thread, and to be selfish,
disobedient, lazy, or untruthful. Many things,
in short, will tempt you to do your own will
rather than God's will.
You already know, and I hope you will always
love and remember, those true stories in the
Bible about the good men of the olden time,
whose lives are there written. Now, what
shewed that they were good ? It was this, that
they trusted God, and did what was right. If
they ever let this their gold thread go, they
To My Children. vii
lost their way and became unhappy; but when
they held it fast, it led them in a way of peace
and safety. To see how true this is, you have
only to recall such stories as those of Noah,
Abraham, Joseph, Moses, Job, Caleb and Jo-
shua, Samuel, David and Jonathan, Elijah and
Elisha, Hezekiah, Jeremiah, Daniel and his
three companions, &c., &c., with those told you
in the Book of Acts, not to mention the history
of Jesus Christ, the perfect example for us all.
That you, my dear children, may be "fol-
lowers of those who through faith and patience
now inherit the promises," and thus be "followers
of God as dear children," is the constant prayer
of your mother, and of your father,
THE WANDERER-WOLF THE SWINEHERD, .
THE ROBBER'S TOWER, 12
THE JOURNEY HOME-THE BIRD WITH THE GOLD
EGGS-TRIALS AND DIFFICULTIES, 3
rHE GREAT LION-THE LITTLE SQUIRREL-AN
OLD FRIEND-THE BLOODHOUND-THE LAST
THE GREEN ISLAND OF THE LAKE, AND THE RE-
TURN HOIMEI, .
NCE upon a time, a
boy lost his way in a
vast forest that filled many
a valley, and passed over
many a hill, a rolling sea of
leaves for miles and miles,
further than the eye could
reach. His name was Eric,
son of the good King Mag-
nus. He was dressed in a
blue velvet dress, with a
gold band round his waist,
and his fair locks in silken
curls waved from his beau-
The Gold Thread.
tiful head. But his hands and face were
scratched, and his clothes torn with the briars,
as he ran here and there like one much per-
plexed. Sometimes he made his way through
tangled brushwood, or crossed the little grassy
plains in the forest, now losing himself in dark
ravines, then climbing up their steep sides, or
crossing with difficulty the streams that hur-
ried through them. For a long time he kept
his heart up, and always said to himself, "I shall
find it, I shall find it;" until, as the day ad-
vanced, he was wearied and hungry; and every
now and then he cried, "Oh, my father! where
is my father! I'm lost! I'm lost!" Or, "Where,
oh, where is my gold thread !" All day the forest
seemed to him to be very sad. He had never seen
it so gloomy. There was a strange sadness in
the rustle of the leaves, and a sadness in the noise
of the streams. He did not hear the birds sing as
they used to do. But he heard the ravens croak
with their hoarse voice, as their black forms swept
along the precipices which here and there rose
above the trees. The large hawks, too, always
The Gold Tkread. 3
appeared to be wheeling over his head, pausing,
and fluttering as if about to dart down upon him.
Why was he so sad? Why was he so afraid?
But on Eric journeyed, in the hope of finding
his way out of the boundless forest, or of meet-
ing some one who would be his guide. At last,
the sun appeared to be near its setting, and he
could see the high branches of the trees, shining
like gold, as its last rays fell upon them. But
underneath, the foliage was getting darker and
darker; the birds were preparing to sleep, and
everything soon became so still that he could
hear his steps echoing through the wood, and
when he stopped, he heard his heart beating, or a
leaf falling; but nowhere did he see a house, and
no human being had he met since morning, Then
the wind suddenly. began to rise, and he heard it
at first creeping along the tree-tops like a gentle
whisper, and by and by to call louder and louder
for the storm to come. Dark clouds gathered over
the sky, and rushed along chased by the winds,
that were soon to fight with the giant trees.
At last, he sat down at the root of a great old
The Gold Thread.
oak, burying his face in his hands, not knowing
what to do. He then tried to climb the tree, in
order to spend the night among its branches, in
case wild beasts should attack him. But as he
was climbing it, he heard some one singing with
a loud voice. Listening attentively, and looking
eagerly through the leaves, he saw a boy ap-
parently older than himself, dressed in rough
shaggy clothes, made from skins of wild animals.
His long matted hair escaped over his cheeks
from under a black bearskin cap. With a short
thick stick he was driving a herd of swine
through the wood. "Hey there, you black
porker!" cried the boy, as he threw a stone at
some pig which was running away. Get along,
you lazy long-snout!" he shouted to another,
as he came thump on its back with his cudgel.
And then he sung this song with a loud vice
which made the woods ring:-
"Oh, there's nothing half so fine.
As to drive a herd of swine,
And through the forest toddle,
With nothing in my noddle,
But rub-a-dub, rub-dub, hey-up, halou I
The Gold Threa. 5
When I wish to have some fun,
Then I make the porkers run,
Till they gallop, snort, and wheeze.
Among the leafy trees;
Oh, rub-a-dub, rub-dub, hey-up, hall !
"How their backs begin to bristle,
When I shout aloud and whistle I
I-low they kick at every lick
That I give them with my stick I
Oh, rub-a-dub, rub-dub, hey-up, halloo!"
"Get along, you rascals," cried the savage-
looking herd, "or I'll kill and roast you before
your time." But soon the herd, with his swine,
were concealed from Eric's sight by the wood;
though he still heard his "rub-a-dub" chorus, to
which he beat time with a sort of rude drum,
made with a dried skin and hoop. Eric deter-
mined to make his acquaintance, or at all events
to follow him to some house; so he descended
from the tree, and ran off in the direction from
which he heard the song coming. He soon over-
"Hollo!" said the wild-looking lad, with as
much astonishment as if Eric had fallen from
5 The Gold Thread.
the clouds: "Who? where from? where to?"
" I have lost my way in the wood," said Eric,
"and want you to guide me." "To Ralph ?"
asked the swineherd. "Ralph! pray, who is
he?" "Master, chief, captain, everything, every-
body," replied the young savage. I will go any-
where for shelter, as night is coming on; but I
will reward you if you bring me to my father's
home." "Who is your father, my fine fellow?"
inquired the swineherd, leaning on his stick.
"The king," replied Eric. "You lie, Sir Prince!
Ralph is king." I speak the truth, swineherd."
The swineherd by this time was examining Eric's
dress with an impudent look. "Pay me now,"
said he; "give me this gold band, and I will
guide you." I cannot give you this gold band,
for my father gave it to me, and I have lost
enough to-day. By the by, did you see a gold
thread waving anywhere among the trees ?" "A
gold thread! what do you mean? I saw no-
thing but pigs until I saw you, and I shall treat
you like a pig, d'ye hear? and lick you too, for
I have no time to put off. So give me your
The Gold Thread. 7
band. Come, be quick!" said he, with his fierce
face, and holding up his stick as he came up to
Eric. "Keep off, swineherd; don't touch me!''
"Don't touch you! why shouldn't I touch you?
Do you see this stick ? How would you like to
have it among your fine curls, as I drive it among
the pigs' bristles ?" And he began to flourish it
over his head, and to press nearer and nearer.
"Once, twice, when I say thrice, if you do not
unbuckle, I shall save you the trouble, and leave
you to the wild beasts, who would like a tender
bit of prince's flesh better than pork. Come;
once! twice !" Eric was on his guard, and said,
"I shall fight you, you young robber, till death,
rather than give you this band,-so keep off."
"Thrice!" shouted the herd, and down came his
thick cudgel, which he intended should fall on
Eric's head. But Eric sprang aside, and before
he could recover himself, dashed in upon him,
tripped him up, and threw him on the grass,
seizing him by the throat in a moment. The
herd, in his efforts to get out of Eric's grasp, let
go his cudgel, which Eric seized, and held over
The Gold Thread.
his head. Unless you promise, Master Swine-
herd, to leave me alone, I may leave you alone
with the wild beasts." "You are stronger than
I thought," said the herd. "Let me up, or I
shall be choked. Let me up, I say, and I pro-
mise to guide you." "I shall trust you," said
Eric, "though you would not trust me. Rise!"
So the herd rose, and picked up his cap, but
Eric would not give him his stick until he guided
him to some house. "Come along," said he,
sulkily. "What is your name?" asked Eric.
"They call me Wolf. I killed a wolf once with
my boar-spear." "Why, Wolf, did you try to
kill me ?" "Because I wanted your gold belt."
"But it is a great sin to rob and kill." "Other
people rob me, and would kill me too, if I did
not take care of their pigs," said Wolf, carelessly.
"You should fear God, Wolf." "I fear that
name truly, for Ralph always swears by it when
he is in a rage. But I do not know what it
means." "Oh, Wolf, surely your father and
mother told you about God, who made all
things, and made you and me; God, who loves
ThIe Gold Tlzriad.
us, and wishes us to love Him, and to do what is
right ?" I have no father or mother," replied
Wolf, "nor brothers or sisters, and I do not know
God. No one cares for me but my pigs, and so
I sleep with them, and eat with them." "Poor
fellow I" said Eric with a look of kindness, "I
am sorry for you. Here. is all the money I
have. Take it. I wish to shew you that I have
no ill-will to you;" and Eric gave him a gold
coin. Wolf gave a grunt like .one of his pigs,
and began his song of" Rub-a-dub." "No one
ever gave me money before," remarked Wolf
almost to himself, as he examined the coin on
his rough hand, which looked like tanned leather.
"How much is this?" inquired Wolf. Eric ex-
plained its value. The herd was astonished, and
began to think what he could purchase with
it. "It would buy a large pig," he said. .He
seemed very anxious to conceal the coin, and so
he hid it in the top of his hairy cap. "See that
tall tower," said Wolf, "which looks like a rock
above the trees; that is the only house near for
twenty miles round. You can reach it soon;
The Gold Thread.
and when you do reach it," said Wolf, speaking
low, as if some one might hear him, "take my
advice, and get away as fast as you can from my
master Ralph, for "-and Wolf gave a number
of winks, as much as to say, I know something.
"What do you mean?" asked Eric. "Oh, no-
thing, nothing; but take Wolf's advice, and say
to Ralph you are a beggar. Put the gold band in
your pocket, and swear to remain with him, but run
off when you can. Cheat him; that's my way."
"It is not my way," replied Eric, "and, come
what may, never can be, for a voice says to me,
'Better to die
Than ever to lie.'"
"Ha! ha!" said Wolf; "I wish you lived
with Ralph. He would teach you another les-
son, my lad." "I would rather that I had you,
Wolf, to live in my house. I would be kind to
you, and help you to be good, and tell you about
God, who lives in the sky." "And is that He
who is speaking ? Listen!" Thunder began to
mutter in the clouds. "Yes, it is He," replied
Eric, "and if you will only listen, you can also
The Gold Thread. ii
hear Him often speak with a small, still voice
in your heart." "I never heard Him," replied
Wolf; "but I cannot stay longer with you, for
my pigs will wander: there is a black rascal who
always leads them astray. Now, king's son, give
Wolf the stick; it is all he has." Here it is to
you, and I am sure you will not use it wrongly,
you will try and be good, Wolf? for it will make
you happy," "Humph," said Wolf, "I am
happy when I get my pigs home, and Ralph
does not strike me. But I must away, and see
you don't tell any one you gave me money.
They would rob me." And away he ran among
the trees in search of his pigs, while Eric heard
his little drum, and his song of "Rub-a-dub,
halloo!" die away in the distance. Another
loud peal and flash of lightning made Eric
start, and off he ran towards a light which now
beamed from the tower. But he thought to
himself, I am much worse than that poor Wolf,
for I knew what was right, and did not do it. I
heard the voice, but did not attend to it. Oh,
my father, why did I not obey you !"
THE ROBBER'S TOWER.
SOMETIMES he lost
sight of the light, and
again he caught it, till
it became brighter and
brighter, and very soon
he came to a high rock,
on the top of which was
perched a tall, dark
tower. After groping
about, he found a nar-
row path that led up to
the tower, from one of
the windows of which
the light was brightly
shining. He ascended
The Gold Thread.
a flight of steep steps till he reached a massive
door covered with iron. He knocked as loud as he
could, when a large dog began barking furiously
inside, and springing up to the door, as if it would
tear it down. Then a gruff voice called out of a
window over the door, "Who is there ? Who dis-
turbs me in this way ?" The little boy replied,
"Please, sir, I am Eric, son of King Magnus,
and I have lost my way in this wood." "The
son of the king, are you?" asked the voice.
"That is a grand joke! Let me have a sight
of you." Then the window was shut, and he
heard footsteps coming tramp, tramp, down the
stairs, and the voice said to the dog, "Lie down,
hound, and don't be greedy! You would not
eat a young prince, would you ? Lie down,
Tuscar !" The door was then opened by a
fierce-looking man, with a long beard. The
man bid him enter, and examined him about
himself and his journey. Eric answered truly
every question. Then the man rang a bell for
an old woman who lived in the house, and bid
her take the boy with her, and give him his
14 The Gold Thread.
supper. The old woman looked very ugly and
very cross, and led him up, up, a great number
of dark, gloomy stairs, until she reached a small
room, with a bed and table in it, where she bade
Eric wait till she brought him supper. The big
hound followed them, and stayed in the room
while the woman went away. Eric was at first
afraid of the dog, he was so large and wild-
looking, but he came and laid his head on his
knee, and he scratched his ears, and patted him,
and was very kind to him. The supper came,
and the boy managed to keep a few bits of meat
out of his own supper for the dog, and when the
old woman went out of the room, he fed the
hound, who seemed very hungry, and said to
him, "Tuscar, old fellow, I like you very much.
Take another bit, good dog, and be happy!"
The dog wagged his tail, and looked up kindly
with his large eyes, for he was thankful for his
supper, and ate much more than Eric. "Now,"
said the old woman gruffly, when she took away
the remains of the supper, "you have ate what
would do me for a week. You won't starve,
The Gold Thread.
Master Prince. Go to bed." The old woman
left him, but suddenly returning, she discovered
Eric on his knees. As he rose, she scoffed and
jeered him, and asked, Do you always say your
prayers?" "Yes, always," replied the boy.
"Who taught you?" "My mother, who is
dead." The old woman heaved a deep sigh,
but the boy did not know why. Perhaps she
used to pray when she was a litde girl herself,
and had given up speaking to God, or even
thinking of Him, and so had become wicked;
or perhaps she thought of some child of her own
whom she had never taught to pray. She soon
went away without speaking a word more, and
Eric was left in darkness. He looked out through
the narrow window of his room, but could see
nothing but black clouds rushing over the sky.
Far down he heard a stream roaring, and the
wind, which now blew a gale, came booming
over the tree-tops, and howling round the tower.
Every now and then a flash lighted up the
forest, and the thunder crashed in the sky. It
was a fearful night!
16 The Gold Thread.
Some time after, he heard footsteps at his
door, and immediately the man with the beard
entered, and sat down. "Do you know," he
asked, "where your father is?" "No," said
Eric; "as I told you, I lost my way in the
forest, and have been wandering all day, and
cannot find him; but perhaps you will send
some one to-morrow with me to shew me the
way to his castle, and I am sure my kind, good
father will give you a rich reward." "You are
very, very far from your father's house," said the
man, "and I fear you will never see him again;
but come with me, and I shall shew you some
beautiful things that will please you." So the
man took Eric by the hand, and, carrying a
lamp, he led him into a room that seemed full
of gold and silver, with beautiful dresses, spark-
ling with diamonds, and every kind of splendour,
and he said, Stay with me, my boy, and I will
give you all this, for I am a king too, and will
make you my heir." "Oh, no, no," said Eric;
" I will never forsake my own father." The
man then said, If you stay with me, you need
Thie Gold Thread. 17
never go to school all day, but may amuse your-
self from morning till night, and have a beau-
tiful pony to ride, and a gun to shoot deer with,
and also fishing-rods, and a servant to attend
you, and any kind of meat and drink you like
best. Do stay with me!" You are very
kind," said Eric, "but I cannot be happy with-
out my father." "Come then with me, my fine
fellow, and I shall shew you something differ-
ent," said the man, seizing Eric firmly by the
arm, and looking very angry. After walking
along a passage, from the end of which confused
noises came, a door was opened, and in a large
hall, round a great oak table, sat a company of
fierce-looking men, drinking from large flagons
which stood before them. Their faces were red,
and their eyes gleamed like fire. Ralph placed
Eric on the table. One of the robbers was sing-
ing this song:-
"We're the famous robber band-
The lords of all the land-
:8 The Gold Thread.
A fig for law or duty,
If we only get our booty;
With a fa, lal, la, la. la !
'Every man to mind himself,'
Is the rule of Captain Ralph 1
Then let the greatest thief
And robber be our chief-
With a fa, lal, la, la, la "
No wonder poor Eric trembled as he heard
that lawless band thus glorying in their shame.
and like demons singing their horrid song in
praise of all that was most dreadful and most
wicked. He had read stories of robbers, which
sometimes made him think that they were fine,
brave fellows; but now that he was among them,
he saw how depraved, cruel, and frightful they
were. Their savage, coarse looks terrified him;
but he was held by Ralph on the table. When
the song was ended, one of them asked, "Whom
have we got here?" "Who do you think?"
replied Ralph. "What would you say, my men,
to a young prince,-no less than the son of our
great enemy, King Magnus?" "A young
The Gold Thread. 9
prince! The son of Magnus What a prize!"
they exclaimed. "What shall we do with him ?"
"First of all, let us have his gold belt," said
Ralph, unbuckling Eric's belt. Ha what a
pretty thing it is!" "My father gave it to me,
and I don't wish to part with it. The swineherd
Wolf tried to take it from me, but I fought him,
and kept it," said Eric. "Wolf is a brave young
robber," replied Ralph, "and he shall have it
for his trouble. In the meantime, my lad, it is
mine. But what, my men, shall we do with the
prince?" Kill him," said one. "Starve him
to death," said another. "Put his eyes out, and
send him back to his father," said a third. Eric
prayed to God, but said nothing. "I propose,"
said Ralph, "to make him a captain if he will
stay with us." "Never!" said Eric; "I would
rather die!" "Let him die, then," said a fierce
robber; "for his father hung my brother for
killing one of his nobles." I tell you what we
will do with the lion's whelp," said Ralph; "let
us keep him in prison, and send a message to
his father, that we have him snug in a den
20 The Gold Thread.
among the mountains, and that, unless he sends
us an immense ransom, we shall kill him."
"That will do famously," said the robbers; "so
off with him!" Then Ralph led the boy down
stairs,-down, down, until he thought they never
would stop, and at last they came to an iron
door, with great bars on it, and a large lock,
and he turned to Eric, and said, "I know your
father, and I hate him! for he sends his soldiers
after me, and tries to save travellers from me,
and now I have got his son. I will keep you
here till you die, or till he pays!" Then he
opened the dungeon door, and thrust Eric in.
When it closed, it echoed like thunder through
the passages. Eric cast himself down on the
All appeared to be a strange dream. Oh, how
he repented having disobeyed his father! and how
he seemed to be as bad as the dreadful robbers
in having done what he pleased, and followed
his own will, instead of doing what was right!
About an hour after, he heard some rustling, as
if high up on the wall, and a voice whispered
The Gold Thread. 21
"Eric!" "Who is there?" asked Eric, and his
little heart trembled. "Silence! quiet! it is
Wolf. Here is a small window in your prison,
and I have opened it outside; climb up, get out,
and run for your life." Eric heard no more, but
scrambled in the dark up the rough stones in
the wall until he reached the window, where he
looked out, and saw the stars and the woods. He
soon forced his way through, and dropped down
on the opposite side. Some one caught him in
his arms. It was Wolf. "Here is your gola
band, Eric. I got it from Ralph; for He who
was speaking in the thunder has been saying
things in my heart. You were kind to poor
Wolf. Now escape! Fly! I shall close the
window again. Ralph will never know how you
got out, and he will not open the prison-door
till after breakfast. So you have a long time.
Run as long as you can along that road till you
reach a hill, then cross it, until you reach a
stream, which you must follow downwards. The
worst of the storm is over, and the night will
soon be calm. Off!" "Bless you, Wolf!" said
1f The Gold Threaa.
Eric; I shall never forget you." Poor Eric 1
how he ran, and ran, beneath the stars! He
felt no fatigue for a time. He thought he
heard the robbers after him; every time the
wind blew loud, he imagined it was'their wild
cry. On he ran till he reached the hill, and
crossed it, and came to a green spot beneath a
rock, on the banks of the stream, when he could
run no more, but fell down, and whether he
fainted or fell asleep he could not telL
The Gold Thread.
a limb, as if under some strange fascination. It
was early morning. High over head a lark was
"singing like an angel in the clouds." The
mysterious voice went on in the same beautiful
and soothing strain-
Oh, sweet is the lark as she sings o'er her nest,
And warbles unseen in the clear morning light;
But sweeter by far is the song in the breast
When in life's early morning we do what is right "
Eric could neither move nor speak; but in
his heart he confessed with sorrow that he had
done what was wrong. And again the voice
Now, darling, awaken, thou art not forsaken !
The old night is past and a new day begun;
Let thy journey with love to thy father be taken,
And at evening thy father will welcome thee home."
I will arise and go to my father!" said Eric,
springing to his feet. He saw beside him a
beautiful lady, who looked like a picture he once
saw of his mother, or like one of those angels
from heaven about whom he had often read.
And the lady said, "Fear not! I know you.
The Go/l Thread 25
Eric, and how it came to pass that you are here.
Your father sent you for a wise and good pur-
pose through the forest, and gave you hold of a
gold thread to guide you, and told you never to
let it go. It was your duty to him to have held
it fast; but instead of doing your duty, trusting
and obeying your father, and keeping hold of
the thread, you let it go to chase butterflies, and
gather wild-berries, and to amuse yourself. This
you did more than once. You neglected your
father's counsels and warnings, and because of
your self-confidence and self-pleasing, you lost
your thread, and then you lost your way. What
dangers and troubles have you thus got into
through disobedience to your father's commands,
and want of trust in his love and wisdom For
had you only followed your father's directions,
the gold thread would have brought you to his
beautiful castle, where there is to be a happy
meeting of your friends, with all your brothers
and sisters." Poor little Eric began to weep!
" Listen to me, child," said the lady, kindly,
"for you cannot have peace but by doing what is
The Gold Thread.
right. Know, then, that all your brothers and
sisters made this very journey by help of
the gold thread, and they are at home with
great joy." "Oh, save me! save me!" cried
Eric, and caught the lady's hand. Yes, I will
save you," said she, "if you will learn obedi-
ence. I know and love you, dear boy. I know
and love your father, and have been sent by him
to deliver you. I heard what you said, and
know all you did, last night, and I was very
glad that you proved, in trial, your love to your
father, your love of truth, and your love of
others, and this makes me hope all good of you
for the future. Come now with me !" And so
the beautiful woman took him by the hand.
The storm had passed away, and the sun was
shining on the green leaves of the trees, and every
drop of dew sparkled like a diamond. The
birds were all warbling their morning hymns,
and feeding their young ones in their nests.
The streams were dancing down the rocks and
through the glens. "The mountains broke
forth into singing, and all the trees clapped their
The Gold Thread. 27
hands with joy." Everything thus seemed beau-
tiful and happy to Eric, for he himself was happy
at the thought of doing what was right, and of
going home. The lady led him to a sunny glade
in the wood, covered with wild flowers, from
which the bees were busy gathering their honey,
and she said, "Now, child, are you willing to
do your father's will?" "Oh, yes!" "Will
you do it, whatever dangers may await you ?"
" Yes !" "Well, then, I must tell you that your
father has given me the gold thread which you
lost; and he bids me again tell you, with his
warm love, that if you keep hold of it, and follow
it wherever it leads, you are sure to come to him
at sunset; but if you let it go, you may wander
on in this dark forest till you die, or are again
taken prisoner by robbers. Know, also, that
there is no other possible way of saving you,
but by your following the gold thread." "I am
resolved to do my duty, come what may," said
Eric. May you be helped to do it!" said the
lady. She then gave him a cake, to support
him in his journey. "And ncw, child," she
The Gold Thread.
added, "one advice more I will give you, and
it was given you by your father, though you
forgot it; it is this-if ever you feel the thread
slipping from your hands, or are yourself tempted
to let it go, pray immediately, and you will get
wisdom and strength to find it, to lay hold of it,
and to follow it. Before we part, kneel down
and ask assistance to be good and obedient,
brave and patient, until you meet your father."
The little boy knelt down and repeated the
Lord's Prayer; and as he said, "Thy will be
done on earth, as it is done in heaven," he felt
calm and happy as he used to do when he knelt
at his mother's knee, and he thought her hand
was waving over him, as if to bless him. When
he lifted up his head there was no one there but
himself; but he saw an old gray cross, and a
GOLD THREAD was tied to it, and passed away,
away, shining through the woods.
With a firm hold of his gold thread, the boy
began his journey home. He passed along path-
ways on which the brown leaves of last year's
growth were thickly strewn, and from among
The Gold Thread. 29
which flowers of every colour were springing.
He crossed little brooks that ran like silver
threads, and tinkled like silver bells. He passed
under trees with great trunks, and huge branches
that swept down to the ground, and waved far
up in the blue sky. The birds hopped about
him, and looked down upon him from among
the green leaves, and they sang him songs, and
some of them seemed to speak to him. He
thought one large bird like a crow cried, "Good
boy good boy !" and another whistled, Cheer
up! cheer up! and so he went merrily on, and
very often he gave the robins and blackbirds
that came near him bits of his cake. After
awhile, he came to a green spot in the middle
of the wood, without trees, and a footpath went
direct across it, to the place where the gold
thread was leading him, and there he saw a
sight that made him wonder and pause. It was
a bird about the size of a pigeon, with feathers
like gold and a crown like silver, and it was
slowly walking near him, and he saw gold eggs
glittering in a nest among the grass a few yards
30 The Gold Thread.
off. Now, he thought, it would be such a nice
thing to bring home a nest with gold eggs The
bird did not seem afraid of him, but stopped and
looked at him with a calm blue eye, as if she
said, "Surely you would not rob me?" He
could not, however, reach the nest with his hand,
and though he pulled and pulled the thread, it
would not yield one inch, but seemed as stiff as
a wire. "I see the thread quite plain," said the
boy to himself, "and the very place where it
enters the dark wood on the other side. I will
just leap to the nest, and in a moment I shall
have the eggs in my pocket, and then spring
back and catch the thread again. I cannot lose
it here, with the sun shining; and, besides, I see
it a long way before me." So he took one step
to seize the eggs; but he was in such haste that
he fell and crushed the nest, breaking the eggs
to pieces, and the little bird screamed and flew
away, and then suddenly the birds in the trees
began to fly about, and a large owl swept out
of a dark glade, and cried, "Whoo-whoo-
whoo-oo-oo;" and a cloud came over the. sun !
The Gold Thread. 31
Eric's heart beat quick, and he made a grasp at
his gold thread, but it was not there! Another,
and another grasp, but it was not there! and
soon he saw it waving far above his head, like a
gossamer thread in the breeze. You would have
pitied him, while you could not have helped
being angry with him for having been so silly and
disobedient when thus tried, had you only seen
his pale face, as he looked above him for his
thread, and about him for the road, but could
see neither! And he became so confused with
his fall, that he did not know which side of the
open glade he had entered, nor to which point
he was travelling. But at last he thought he
heard a bird chirping, "Seek-seek-seek!"
and another repeating, "Try again-try again
-try-try!" and then he remembered what the
lady had said to him, and he fell on his knees
and told all his grief, and cried, "Oh, give me
back my thread! and help me never, never, to
let it go again !" As he lifted up his eyes, he
saw the thread come slowly, slowly down; and
when it came near, he sprang to it and caught
The Gold Thread.
it, and he did not know whether to laugh, or
cry, or sing, he was so thankful and happy!
"Ah!" said he, "I hope I shall never forget
this fall !" That part of the Lord's Prayer came
into his mind which says, "Lead us not into
temptation, but deliver us from evil." "Who
would have thought," said he to himself, "that
I was in any danger in such a beautiful, green,
sunny place as this, and so very early, too, in
my journey! Oh! shame upon me!" As he
proceeded with much more thought and cau-
tion, a large crow up a tree was hoarsely croak-
ing, and seemed to say, "Beware, beware!"
"Thank you, Mr Crow," said the boy, "I
shall;" and he threw him a bit of bread for
his good advice. But now the thread led him
through the strangest places. One was a very
dark, deep ravine, with a stream that roared
and rushed far down, and overhead the rocks
seemed to meet, and thick bushes concealed
the light, and nothing could Eric see but the
gold thread, that looked like a thread of fire,
though even that grew dim sometimes, until he
The Gold Thread. 33
could only feel it in his hand. And whither he
was going he knew not. At one time he seemed
to be on the edge of a precipice, until it seemed
as if the next step must lead him over, and
plunge him down; but when he came to the
very edge, the thread led him quite safely
along it. At another, a rock which looked
like a wall rose before him, and he said to
himself, "Well, I must be stopped here! I
shall never be able to climb up !" But just as
he touched it, he found steps cut in it, and up,
up, the thread guided him to the top! Then
it would bring him down, down, until he once
stood beside a raging stream, and the wate,
foamed and dashed. "Now," he thought, "I
must be drowned; but come what may, I will
not let my thread go." And so it was, that
when he came so near the stream as to feel
the spray upon his cheek, and was sure that
he must leap in if he followed his thread, what
did he see but a little bridge that passed from
bank to bank, and by which he crossed in per-
fect safety; until at last he began to lose fear,
34 The Gold Thread.
and to believe more and more that he would
always be in the right road, so long as he did
not trust mere appearances, but kept hold of
his thread !
THE GREAT LION-THE LITTLE SQUIRREL-
AN OLD FRIEND-THE BLOODHOUND-
THE LAST TEMPTATION.
BUT Eric had now to endure a
great trial of his faith in the thread.
As he journeyed on, it led him up a
winding path towards the summit of
a hill. The large trees of the forest
were soon left behind, and small
stunted bushes grew among masses
of gray rocks. The path was like the
bed of a dry brook, and was often
very steep. There were no birds ex-
cept little stone-chats, that hopped
and chirped among the large round
36 The Gold Thread.
stones. Far below, he could see the tops of
the trees, and here and there a stream glitter-
ing under the sunbeams. Nothing disturbed the
silence but the hoarse croak of the raven, or the
wild cry of a kite or eagle, that, like a speck,
wheeled far up in the sky. But suddenly, Eric
heard a roar like thunder coming from the direc-
tion towards which the thread was leading him.
He stopped for a moment, but the thread was
firm in his hand, and led right up the hill. On
he went, and no wonder he started, when, as he
turned the corner of a rock, he heard another
roar, and saw the head of a huge lion looking
out of what seemed to be a cave, a few yards
back from the edge of a dizzy precipice! He
saw, too, that the path he must follow was
between the lion's den and the precipice. What
now was to be done? Should he give up his
thread and fly? No A voice in his heart
encouraged him to be brave and not fear, and
he knew from his experience that he had always
been led in safety and peace when he followed
the road, holding fast to his thread. He was
The Gold Thread. 37
certain that his father never would deceive him,
or bid him do anything but what was right; and
he was sure, too, that the lady, from her love to
him, and her teaching him to trust God and to
pray, would not have bid him do anything that
was wrong. And then an old verse his father
taught him came into his mind-
In the darkest night, my child,
Canst thou see the Right, my child
Forward then i God is near I
The Right will be light to thee,
Armour and might to thee;
Forward and never fear "
So Eric resolved to go on in faith. There was
just one thing he saw which cheered him, and
that was a white hare, sitting with her ears
cocked, quite close to the lion's den, and he
wondered how she had no fear, but he could
not explain it at the time. On he walked, but
he could hardly breathe, as the thread led still
nearer and nearer to the den. These big eyes
were glaring on him, and seemed to draw him
closer and closer! There the lion stood, on
The Gold Thread.
one side of the path, while the great precipice
descended on the other. One step more, and
he was between these two dangers. He moved
on until he was so near that he seemed to feel
the lion's breath, and then the brute sprang out
on him, and tried to strike him with his huge
paw that would have crushed him to the dust !
Eric shut his eyes, and gave himself up for lost.
But the lion suddenly fell back, for he was held
fast by a great iron chain, and so Eric passed
Oh, how thankful he was! and how gladly he
ran down hill, the lion in his den roaring behind
him! Down he ran until all was quiet again.
As he pursued his journey in the beautiful green
woods, something told him his greatest trial was
past. He felt very peaceful and strong. And
now, as he reached some noble old beech-trees,
the thread fell on the grass, and he took this as-
a sign that he should lie down too, and so he
did, grateful for the rest. He ate some of his
cake, and drank from a clear spring beside him,
and feasted on wild strawberries which grew in
The Gold Thread.
abundance all round him. He then stretched
himself on his back among soft moss, and looked
up through the branches of the gigantic tree,
and saw with delight the sunlight speckling the
emerald green leaves and brown bark with
touches of silver, and, far up, the deep blue sky
with white clouds reposing on it, like snowy
islands on a blue ocean; and he watched the
squirrels, with their bushy tails, as they ran up
the tree, and jumped from branch to branch,
and sported among the leaves, until he fell into
a sort of pleasant day-dream, and felt so happy,
he hardly knew why. As he lay here, he thought
he. heard, in his half-waking dream, a little
squirrel sing a song. Was it not his own heart,
now so glad because doing what was right,
which was singing? This was the song which
he thought he heard:-
'"m a merry, merry squirrel,
All day I leap and whirl,
Through my home in the old beech-tree;
If you chase me, I will run
In the shade and in the sun,
But you never, never can catch me
40 The Gold Thread.
For round a bough I'll creep,
Playing hide-and-seek so sly,
Or through the leaves bo-peep,
With my little shining eye.
Ha, ha, ha! ha, ha, ha ha. ha. Ih
Up and down I run and frisk,
With my bushy tail to whisk
All who mope in the old beech-trees;
How droll to see the owl,
As I make him wink and scowl,
When his sleepy, sleepy head I tease I
And I waken up the bat,
Who flies off with a scream,
For he thinks that I'm the cat
Pouncing on him in his dream.
Ha, ha, ha ha, ha, ha! ha, ha, ha i
"Through all the summer long
I never want a song,
From my birds in the old beech-trees;
I have singers all the night,
And, with the morning bright,
Come my busy humming fat brown bees.
When I've nothing else to do,
With the nursing birds I sit,
And we laugh at the cuckoo
A -cuckooing to her tit !
Ha, ha, ha ha, ha, ha I ha, ba, as i
" When winter comes with snow,
And its cruel tempests blow
The Gold Thread.
All the leaves from my old beech-trees;
Then beside the wren and mouse
I furnish up a house,
Where like a prince I live at my ease I
What care I for hail or sleet,
With my hairy cap and coat;
And my tail across my feet,
Or wrapp'd about my throat I
Ha, ha, ha I ha, ha, ha I ha, ha, ha I"
As Eric opened his eyes, and looked up, he saw
a little squirrel with its tail curling up its back,
sitting on a branch looking down upon him;
and then it playfully ran away with the tail
down and waving after it. "Farewell, happy
little fellow!" said Eric; "I must do my work
now, and play like you afterwards;" for at that
moment the thread again became tight, and
Eric, refreshed with his rest, and hearty for his
journey, stepped out bravely. He saw, at some
distance, and beyond an open glade in the forest,
a rapid river towards which he was descending.
When near the river, he perceived something
struggling in the water, and then heard a loud
cry or scream for help, as if from one drowning.
He was almost tempted to run off to his assist-
42 The Gold Thread.
ance without his thread, but he felt thankful
that the thread itself led in the very direction
from whence he heard the cries coming. So off
he ran as fast as he could, and as he came to the
brink of a deep, dark pool in the river, he saw
the head of a boy rising above the water, as
the poor little fellow tried to keep himself
afloat. Now he sank-again he rose-until
he suddenly disappeared. Eric laid hold of
his thread with a firm hand, and leaped in
over head and ears, and then rose to the sur-
face, and with his other hand swam to where
the boy had sank. He soon caught him, and
brought him with great difficulty to the sur-
face, which he never could have done unless
the thread had supported them both above the
"EricI" cried the gasping boy, opening his
eyes, almost covered by his long, wet hair.
"Wolf!" cried Eric, "is it you?" It was indeed
poor Wolf, who lay panting on the dry land,
with his rough garments dripping with water,
and himself hardly able to move. "Oh, tell me,
The Gold Thread.
Wolf, what brought you here! I am so glad to
have helped you!" After a little time, when
Wolf could speak, he told him in his own way,
bit by bit, how Ralph had suspected him; and
how the old woman had heard him speaking as
she was looking out of an upper window; and
how when Ralph asked the gold belt he could
not give it; and how he was obliged himself to
fly; and how he had been running for his life
for hours. "Now let us fly," said Wolf; "I am
quite strong again. I fear that they are in pur-
suit of us."
They both went on at a quick pace, Eric hav-
ing shewn Wolf the wonderful thread, and ex-
plained to him how he must never part with it,
come what may, and having also given him a
bit of his cake to comfort him. 0 rub-a-dub,
dub !" said Wolf, squeezing the water out of his
hair, as he trotted along; "I am glad to be
away. Ralph would have killed me like a pig.
The voice told me to run after you." So on
they went together, happy again to meet. Sud-
denly Wolf stopped, and listening with anxious
44 The Gold Thread.
face, he said, "Hark! did you hear anything ?"
"No," said Eric, "what was it?" Hush!-
listen -there again-I hear it!" "I think I
do hear something far off like a dog's bark,"
replied Eric. "Hark!" So they both stopped
and listened, and far away they heard a deep
" Bow-wow-wow-wow-o-o-o-o-o echoing
through the forest. "Let us run as fast as we
can," said the boy, in evident fear; "hear him I
-hear him!" Bow-wow-wow-o-o-o-o," and
the sound came nearer and nearer. "What is
it? why are you so afraid?" inquired Eric.
"Oh! that is Ralph's bloodhound, Tuscar,"
cried Wolf, "and he is following us. He won't
perhaps touch me, but you he may." So Eric
ran as fast as he could, but never let go the
gold thread, which this time led towards a steep
hill, which they were obliged to scramble up.
"Run, Eric !-quick-hide-up a tree-any-
where! "I cannot, I dare not," said Eric;
" whatever happens, I must hold fast my thread."
But they heard the Bow-wow-o-o-o" coming
nearer and nearer, and as they looked back they
The Gold Thread. 45
saw the large hound rush out of the wood, and
as he came to the water, catching sight of the
boys on the opposite hill, he leaped in, and in a
few minutes would be near them. And now he
came bellowing like a fierce bull up the hill, his
tongue hanging out, and his nose tracking along
the ground, as he followed their footsteps. I
shall run and meet him," said Wolf, "and stop
him if I can;" and down ran the swineherd,
calling, "Tuscar! .Tuscar! good dog, Tuscar!"
Tuscar knew Wolf, and passed him, but ran up
to Eric. As he reached Eric, who stood calm
and firm, the bloodhound stopped, panting,
smelling his clothes all round, but, strange to
say, wagging his huge tail! He then ran back
the way he had come, as if he.had made a
mistake, and all his race was for nothing! How
was this ? Ah, poor Tuscar remembered the
supper Eric had given him, and was grateful
for his kindness!
Wolf was astonished at Eric's escape, until he
heard how he and Tuscar had become acquaint-
ed; and then Wolf heard the voice in his heart
46 The Gold Thread.
say that there was nothing better than kindness
and love shewn to man or beast. They both
after this pursued their journey with light and
hopeful hearts, for they had got out of what was
called the wild robber country, and Eric knew
that he was drawing near home. The thread
was stronger than ever, and every hour it helped
more and more to support him. Wolf trotted
along with his short stick, and sometimes snort-
ing and blowing with the fatigue like one of his
own pigs. They talked as best they could about
all they had seen. Did you see big Thorold
the lion?" asked Wolf. "I did," said Eric;
" he is very awful, but he was chained." Lucky
for you!" said Wolf, "for Ralph hunts with
him and kills travellers. He will obey none but
Ralph. I heard him roaring. He is hungry.
He once ate one of my pigs, and would have
ate me if he had not first caught the poor black
porker. I escaped up a tree." And thus they
chatted, as they journeyed on through woods,
and across green plains, and over low hills, until
Wolf complained of hunger. Eric at once gave
The Gold Thread.
him what remained of his large cake; but it did
not suffice to appease the hunger of the herd,
who was, however, very thankful for what he got.
To their delight they now saw a beautiful cottage
not far from their path, and, as they approached
it, an old woman, with a pretty girl who seemed
to be her daughter, came out to meet them.
"Good day, young gentlemen!" said the old
woman with a kind smile and a courtesy; "you
seem to be on your travels, and look wearied?
Pray come into my cottage, and I shall refresh
you." "What fortunate fellows we are!" said
Wolf. We are much obliged to you for your
hospitality," replied Eric. But, alas !the thread
drew him in an opposite direction; so turning
to Wolf, he said, I cannot go in." "Come, my
handsome young gentleman," said the young
woman, "and we shall make you so happy.
You -shall have such a dinner as will delight
you, I am sure; and you may remain as long
as you please, and I will dance and sing to you;
nor need you pay anything." And she came
forward smiling and dancing, offering her arm
The Gold Thread.
to Eric. "Surely you won't be so rude as refuse
me you are so beautiful, and have such lovely
hair and eyes, and T never saw such a belt as
you wear: do come!" "Come, my son," said
the old woman to Wolf, as she put her hand
round his neck. "With all my heart !" replied
Wolf; "for, to tell the truth, I am wearied and
hungry; one does not get such offers as yours
every day." "I cannot go," again said Eric.
They could not see the thread, for to some it
was invisible; but he saw it, and felt it like a
wire passing away from the cottage. "Who are
you, kind friends ?" inquired Eric. "Friends of
the king and of his family. Honest subjects,
good people," said the old woman. "Do you
know Prince Eric ?" asked Wolf. "Right well !"
replied the young woman. He is a great friend
of mine; a fine, tall, comely youth. He calls
me his own little sweetheart." "It is false!"
said Eric; "you do not know him. You should
not lie." But he did not tell her who he was,
neither did Wolf, for Eric had made a sign to
him to be silent. "I won't enter your dwelling,"
The Gold Threqd. 49
said Eric, for my duty calls me away." They
both gave a loud laugh, and said, "Hear himi!
Only hear a fine young fellow talking about
duty,! Pleasure, ease, and liberty are for the
young. We only want to make you happy:
come" I shall go with you," said Wolf; do
come, Eric." "Wolf, speak to me," whispered
Eric to the swineherd. "You know I cannot
go, for my duty tells me to follow the thread.
But now I see that this is the house of the
wicked, for you heard how they lied; they
neither know the king nor his children; and
they laugh too at duty. Be advised, Wolf, and
follow me." Wolf hesitated, and looked dis-
pleased. "Only for an hour, Eric!" "Not a
minute, Wolf. If you trust them more than
me, go; but I am sure you and I shall never
meet again." "Then I will trust you, Eric,"
said Wolf; "the voice in my heart tells me to
do so." And so they both passed on. But the
old woman and the girl began to abuse them,
and call them all manner of evil names, and to
laugh at them as silly fellows. The girl threw
The Gold Thread.
stones at them, which made Wolf turn round
and flourish his stick over his head. At last
they entered the cottage, the old woman shaking
her fist, and calling out from the door, "I'11 soon
send my friend Ralph after you!" "Oh, ho
is that the way the wind blows!" exclaimed
Wolf, with a whistle; and, grasping Eric's arm,
said, You were right, prince I never suspected
them. I see now they are bad." I saw that
before," replied Eric, "and knew that no good
would come to us from making their acquaint-
ance." Were they not cunning ?" "Yes; but,
probably, with all their smiles, flattery, and fair
promises, they would have proved more cruel
in the end than either Ralph or old Thorold."
" What would they have done to us? Why did
they meet us ? Who are they, think you ?" I
don't know, Wolf; it was enough for me that
they lied, and did not wish us to do what was
right. The gold thread given me by my father
never could have led me into the society and
house of the wicked. I am glad we held it
THE GREEN ISLAND OF THE
LAKE, AND THE RETURN
NOT long after this
strange adventure, they
reached a rising ground,
from which a magnificent
view burst upon them,
Below, there was a large
lake, surrounded by wood-
ed hills, above which rose
noble rocks fringed with
stately pines, and higher
ranges of mountains be-
yond, some of whose sum-
mits were covered with
52 The Gold Thlread.
snow that glittered like purest alabaster in the
azure blue of the sky. Eric gave a cry of
joy; for he saw the house of one of his
father's foresters, which he had once visited
with his father. "Wolf! Wolf!" he exclaimed,
"look yonder, that is the house of Darkeye,
the forester. We are safe!" and the thread
was leading straight down in the very direc-
tion which they wished. Darkeye's house was
built on a small green island in the lake. The
island was like a little fort, for on every side
the rocks descended like a wall. It could only
be approached by a boat, which Darkeye kept
on the island, and then by a narrow stair cut
out of the rock at the landing-place. No rob-
bers could thus get near it, and Darkeye was
there to give shelter to travellers, and to help
any of the poor who had to pass that way. The
thread led down to the shore. They forgot their
fatigue, and ran down till they reached the ferry.
"Boat, ahoy !" shouted Eric. By and by two
boys were seen running out of the cottage, and
after looking cautiously at those who were call-
The Gold Thread.
ing for the boat, they rowed off, and soon were
at the shore, where stood Eric with his gold belt,
and Wolf in his rough skins. "Olaf! Torquil!
don't you remember me?" asked Eric, looking
at his old friends. The boys looked astonished
as they recognized the young prince, and re-
ceived him joyfully into their boat, he holding
by the thread, which seemed to cross the ferry
towards the cottage. How many questions were
mutually put and answered in a few minutes!
They told him their father was at home; and
how he had lately seen the king; and how the
king was anxiously looking for Eric's return;
and how glad all on the island would be to see
him; and the younger boy, Torquil, told him
how they had now a tame otter, that fished in
the lake, and a fine golden eagle which they had
got young in her nest, that also lived on the
island with them; and how their mother had
got another baby since he had been there, and
how happy they all were, and so on, until they
arrived at the island, and there was old Darkeye
himself waiting to receive them; and when he
54 The Gold Thread.
saw who was in the boat, he ran down the stone
steps and grasped the young prince's hand, and
drew him to his heart. "Welcome! welcome!"
said he; "I knew you had been in the forest,
but your father would not tell me anything more
about you. He only said that he longed for
your coming home. But who is this ?" asked
Darkeye, pointing to Wolf. "A friend of mine,"
said Eric, with a smile. My name is Wolf,"
grunted the swineherd. I think I have seen
him before. But no What ? Yes! said Dark-
eye, examining him; then added, as if he had
discovered some old acquaintance, "Surely I
have seen him. Tell me my fine fellow, did
you"- It was evident Darkeye had seen
Wolf killing his game, or in some affray with
the robbers. Wolf looked sternly at Darkeye,
then at Eric, but said nothing. Oh, Darkeye,
do not trouble poor Wolf," said Eric, but let
him go into the cottage; and come you with me,
as I wish to tell you all that has happened to
me during these few days." So, while the boys
took Wolf to the cottage, and food was being
The Gold Thread. 53
prepared, Eric told Darkeye all his adventures;
and you would have been sure that the forester
was hearing something which surprised and in-
terested him wonderfully, had you seen his face,
and how he sometimes laughed, or knit his brows
and looked angry, or sad and solemn, or sprung
to his feet from the rock on which he was sitting
beside Eric. When Eric came to speak about
the old woman and her daughter, "Ah!" said
Darkeye, "there are not worse people in that
wicked country! They say that the old woman
is a witch of some kind. But whether she poi-
sons travellers or drowns them, I know not.
No doubt she is in league with Ralph the rob-
ber, and would have robbed you or kept you
fast in some way or other till you were handed
over to him. You were right, my prince, in all
you did. The only way of being delivered from
temptation is to be brave, and do what is right,
come what may." Then, grasping Eric by the
hand, he led him back to the cottage. There
Darkeye's wife received him like a mother,
and all the children gathered round him in
The Gold Thread.
surprise and admiration, he looked so brave and
One of the walls of the cottage was reared on
the edge of the rock, so that it seemed a con-
tinuation of it, and to rise up from the-,deep
waters of the lake. The boys were thus able
often to fish with a long line out of the window.
A winding-stair led to a look-out on the roof,
from which the whole island, called "The Green
Island of the Lake," could be seen. It was
about a mile or more in circumference, and was
dotted all over with the cottages of the other
foresters and king's huntsmen, each surrounded
with clumps of trees, through which the curling
smoke from the chimneys might be seen ascend-
ing. There were everywhere beautifully-kept
gardens, with fruits, and flowers, and bee-hives;
and fields, too, with their crops. On the green
knolls and in the little valleys might be seen
cows and sheep; while flocks of goats browsed
among ivy-covered rocks. In the middle of the
island was a little shallow lake, beside which the
otter had his house among the rocks; and there
The Gold Thread. 57
the eagle also lived. All the children in the
island were the best of friends, and they played
together, and sailed their boats on the little lake,
and every day met in the house of one of the
foresters to learn their lessons; and on Sunday,
as they were very far away from any church, old
Darkeye used to read the Good Book to them,
and worship with them, and did all he could to
make them love God and one another. There
was also in the island a house, where, by the
king's orders, all poor travellers could find refuge
and refreshment. And it was a great pleasure
to the boys and girls to visit them; and if they
were sick and confined to bed, to attend to their
wants. If the stranger had any children, the
young islanders always shared their sports with
them. And nothing pleased these stranger chil-
dren more than to get leave to sail a boat, or to
have the loan of a fishing-rod, or to hear the
boys call Oscar, for that was the name of the
otter, out of his den, and to play with Tor the
eagle; or to see them feed Oscar with some of
the fish they had caught, and Tor with a bit of
58 The Gold Thread.
meat. The dogs were so friendly, too, that they
never touched Oscar, but would swim about in
the same pool with him. And so all were happy
in the Green Island; because Darkeye had
taught them what a wicked thing selfishness
was, and that the only way to be happy was by
thinking about others as well as themselves, and
by becoming like Him, the Elder Brother of us
all, who "pleased not Himself." He also used
to say: "Now, when you work, work like men,
and when you play, play like boys: be hearty
at both." And so, while there was no idleness,
there was abundance of recreation. Another
evil was never permitted on the island, and
that was, disobedience to parents, or want of
respect to the old. But, indeed, punishment
for these offences was seldom needed. The
young learned to like to do what was right, and
were too brave and manly to give pain and
trouble to others, by forcing them to find fault
or to punish. I should have mentioned, also,
that they had a little band of musicians. One
beat the drum, a few played the fife, and others
The Gold Thread. 5S
some simple instrument; while almost all could
sing tolerably well in parts. Thus, many a tra-
veller would pause and listen with delight, as he
heard, on a summer's evening, the chorus sung
from many voices, or the music from the band
coming from the island. "Young people," Dark-
eye used to say, have much wealth and happi-
ness given them, for themselves and others, if
they only used their gifts."
But I am forgetting Eric and Wolf. They
were both, you may be sure, ready for their
dinner, and there was laid for them on a table,
cream, cakes, and fresh trout, and such other
good things as the kind woman could get ready.
But now the thread began to move, as if it
wished Eric to move also. Before' rising to
depart, he told Wolf how Darkeye, for his sake,
would be so glad to take care of him, until he
got his father's permission to bring him into the
castle; that he would learn to be a huntsman,
and be taught what was good, and to know
about the Voice that spoke in his heart; and
that all the boys in the island would make him
6o The Gold Thread.
their friend if he did what was right. Ralph
will come here!" said Wolf, hanging his head.
"I wish the rascal did," said Darkeye, "for he
would never go back. But he cannot enter my
fort, and knows me and my huntsmen too well
ever to try it. I have had more than one brush
with the villain, and we hope soon to drive him
and- his brood from their bloody nest. Wolf,
you are welcome and safe, for Eric's sake !"
Then turning to Eric, he said, I shall teach
him, and make a man of him, my young prince,
depend upon it. And now, before we part, I
have to ask a favour," continued Darkeye. "You
know our custom near evening? If the thread
permits, remain, and be one of us." I remem-
ber it," said Eric, "and will remain and be one
of you, and let poor Wolf also be one." And so
they entered the cottage, and all sat down round
an open window which looked out upon the
beautiful lake with its wooded islands, and sur-
rounded by the noble forest, above which rose
the giant peaks and precipices. The water was
calm as glass, and reflected every brilliant colour
The Gold Thread. 61
from rock and tree, and, most of all, from the
golden clouds, which already began to gather in
the west. Darkeye read from the Good Book
of one who had left his father's house, and went
to a far country, where he would fain have satis-
fied his hunger from the husks which the swine
did eat, and could not, but who at last returned
home after having suffered from his disobe-
dience. When he closed the book, all stood
up and sung these words with sweet and happy
"Father I from Thy throne above,
Bless our lowly home below!
Jesus, Shepherd in Thy love,
Guard Thy flock from every foe.
"Thine we are I for Thou hast made us ;
Thine, for we're redeem'd by Thee ;
Thine, for Thou hast ever led us,
Thine, we evermore shall be!
May we love Thee, may we fear Thee.
May Thy will, not ours, be done.
Never leave us till we're near Thee
In the Home where all are one !i
Then they knelt down, and Darkeye spoke to
62 The Gold Thread.
God in name of them all, thanking Him for His
goodness, and telling Him their wants. When
they rose from their knees, the gold thread shone
brilliantly, and, like a beam of light, passed out
at the door in the direction of the ferry. Dur-
ing the singing of the verses, Wolf seemed for
the first time quite overcome. He bent his head,
and covered his face with his hands. He then
said, in a low voice, when the short service was
over, and as if speaking to himself, while all
were silent listening to him, "I had a dream.
Long, long ago. A carriage-a lady. She was
on her knees, with her hands clasped, and speak-
ing to the sky. She had hold of me. Ralph
was there and the robbers. I forget the rest."
He rose and looked out of the window, gazing
vacantly. "What can he mean?" asked Eric
aside to Darkeye, who was looking tenderly on
Wolf. "Ah who knows, poor boy! Singing
always touches the heart of these wanderers.
Perhaps-yes-it may be," he said, so that Eric
alone could hear him, "that he has been taken
when a child by Ralph from some rich traveller,
The Gold Thread. 63
and perhaps his mother was killed! i He may
have been the child of good people. Was that
person his mother who, he says, prayed for him ?
If so, her prayers are now answered, for her
boy will be delivered,-poor Wolf! Wolf, my
boy," said Darkeye, "come and bid farewell to
your friend." Wolf started as from a dream,
and came to Eric. "Farewell, my kind Wolf,
and I hope to see you some day in my father's
house." The herd spoke not a word, but wiped
his eyes with the back of his rough hand.
Cheer up, Wolf, for you will be good and
happy here." "Wolf is happy already, and he
will take care of the pigs, or do anything for
you all." He then held out his stick to Eric,
and said, "Take it; keep it for my sake; it is
all Wolf has to give; Ralph has the gold coin."
"Thank you, good Wolf; but you will require
it, and I need nothing to remember you."
"Don't be angry, Eric, for what I did to you
in the forest when we first met. My heart is
sorry." "We did not know one another then,
Wolf, and I shall never forget that it is to you
64 T1e Gold Tltread.
I owe my escape." "Wolf loves you, and every
one here." "I am sure you do, Wolf, and 1
love you. God bless you, Wolf, I must go:
farewell!" And thus they parted. But all ga-
thered round Eric, and accompanied him to the
boat, blessing the little prince, and wishing him
a peaceful and happy journey. Eric thanked
them with many snrl.es and tender words.
Darkeye alone went with him into the boat,
wondering greatly at the thread, and most of
all at the prince, who shone with a beauty that
seemed not of this world. The prince landed,
but Darkeye knew, for many reasons, that he
could not accompany him in his journey, which
he must take alone. Eric embraced Darkeye,
and waving his hand to all on the island, he
was soon lost to their sight in the great forest.
A winding pathway, over the ridge of hills,
led down to a broad and rapid but smooth river,
and on its banks was a royal boat, splendid and
rich to look upon. She was white as snow, with
a purple seat at the end covered by a canopy,
that gleamed with golden tassels and many
The Gold Thread. 65
gems. The thread led into the boat, and though
no one was there, Eric entered, and sat on a
purple cushion, on which the Gold Thread also
laid itself down. No sooner had he gone on
board of the boat, than-as if his little foot,
when it touched her, had sent her from the
shore-she slowly moved into the centre of the
channel, and was carried downwards by the
current. On she swept on the bosom of that
clear stream, between shores adorned with all
that could delight the eye-rocks and trees and
flowers, with here and there foaming waterfalls,
from mountain rivulets which poured themselves
into the great river. The woods were full of
song, and birds with splendid plumage flashed
amidst the foliage like rainbow hues amidst the
clouds. Eric knew not whither he was being
carried, but his heart was sunshine and peace.
On and on he swept with the winding stream,
until at last, darting under a dark archway of
rock, and then emerging into light, the boat
grounded on a shore of pure white sand, while
the thread rose and led him to the land. No
The Gold Thread.
sooner had he stepped on shore and ascended
the green bank, than he found himself at the
end of a long broad avenue of splendid old
trees, whose tops met overhead. The far-off
end of the avenue was closed by a great marble
staircase, which ascended to a magnificent
castle. Wall rose above wall, and tower over
tower. He saw grand flights of stairs, leading
from one stately terrace to another, with marble
statues, clear gushing fountains, and flower-gar-
dens, and every kind of lovely tree. It was his
father's castle at last! He ran on with breath-
less anxiety and joy. He soon reached a large
gate, that seemed to be covered with glittering
gold. As he looked at it, he saw the thread tied
to a golden knocker upon it, shaped like the old
cross in the forest. Inscribed over the gate were
the words, "He that persevereth to the end
shall be saved." He seized the knocker, and
the moment it fell, the thread broke and van-
ished like a flash of.light. A crash of music
was then heard. The door opened, and there,
in the midst of a court paved with marble of
The Gold Thread. 67
purest white, and on a golden throne, sat Eric's
father, surrounded by his brothers and sisters.
The beautiful lady was there too, and many,
many more to welcome Eric. His father clasp-
ed him to his heart, and said, My son was lost,
but is found !" While all crowded round Eric
to bid him welcome, with his weary feet and
torn dress, kept together by the golden band, a
chorus was heard singing,-
"Home where the weary rest,
Home where the good are blest.
Home of the soul;
Glorious the race when run,
Glorious the prize when won,
Glorious the goal "
Then there rose a swell of many young voices
Oh, be joyful, be joyful, let every voice silig !
Welcome, brothers, our brother, the son of the king ;
His wanderings are past, to his father he's come;
Little Eric, our darling, we welcome thee home I
Oh, bless'd is the true one who follows the road,
Holding fast to his GOLD THREAD OF DUTY TO GOD,
Who, when tempted, is firm, who in danger is brave,
Iho. forgetting himself, will a lost brother save.
The Gold Thread.
Then be joyful, be joyful, for Eric is come
Little Eric, our darling, we welebme thee home I "
And then the sun set, and the earth was dark,
but the palace of the king shone like an aurora
in the wintry sky.
MORRISON AND GIBB, PRINTERS, EDINBURGH.
Nof? A N
J, i I