The Child’s Story – 1852 – A Christmas tale
The Child’s Story was the second of two Christmas contributions by Dickens for a special 1852 editio of Household Words. It is a sketch, a reverie, or and allegory rather than, strictly speaking, a short story.
Once upon a time, there was a traveller, and he set out upon a magic journey.
He travelled along a dark path until he met a beautiful child, and asked what he was doing. The child said he was always playing, and invited the traveller to join him.
They played all day long and they were very merry. They had lots of toys and picture-books. The books were all about scimitars, slippers and turbans, and dwarfs, giants, genii and fairies, they talked of riches andcaverns and forests. But then the child disappeared.
The traveller journeyed on until he came acroos a handsome boy. He asked what he was going. The boy said he was always learning, and invites the traveller to join him.
He learned of Jupiter and Juno, about the Greeks and the Romans, all manner of things, many of which he soon forgot. But it wasn’t just about learning, they played games too, They rowed on the river and rode on horseback, they skated on ice and played many sports. Then he lost this child too.
He journeyed on until he met a young man and asked him what he was doing, He said he was always in love, and invited him to came and love with him. They came across someone who reminded the traveller of Fanny, the young man fell in love with her. They loved and argued, they were to be married. But the traveller lost them.
He travelled on until he met a middle-aged man. He asked him what he was doing and he said he was always busy, and invited the traveller to be busy with him.
They travelled through a wood, the man had a wife and children who came with them. They worked hard passing through the forest, then a new avenue opened up and they were joined by a new child. New avenues opened up and one child said he was off to India, another was off to seek his fortune, yet another said he was off to Heaven. As they entered a darker part of the forst, the wife announced she was called, and was gone. The the traveller lost the gentleman.
|He travelled on and found an old man sat on a fallen tree. He asked him what he was doing and was told always remembering, The old man asked him to join him. |
The traveller sat beside the old man and remembered the beautiful child, the handsome boy, the young man in love, and the father mother and children. They were all there respecting and caring for each other.
The narrator says that he thinks the traveller must be you, dear Grandfather, because this is what you do to us, and what we do to you.
The beautiful child
The handsome boy
The young man
The middle-aged man