A New Story Book for Children
Library of Alexandria
Nobody could be more astonished than I, to find myself famous. I never dreamed of it, when I sat in a small room, at the top of the house where I lodged, scribbling over a sheet of coarse foolscap with noms de plume, out of which I was to choose one for my first article—which article I never thought of preserving, any more than the succeeding ones, supposing my meagre pecuniary remuneration the only reward I was to hope for. I think the reason I selected the name “Fern,” was because, when a child, and walking with my mother in the country, she always used to pluck a leaf of it, to place in her bosom, for its sweet odor; and that gloomy morning, when I almost despaired of earning bread for my children, I had been thinking of her, and wishing she were living, that I might lay my head upon her bosom and tell her all my sorrows; and then memory carried me back, I scarce knew how, to those childish days, when I ran before her in the woods, to pluck the sweet fern she loved; and then I said to myself, my name shall be “Fanny Fern”—little dreaming anybody would ever know or care anything about it. I loved my mother;—everybody did. She had the kindest heart and sweetest voice in the world; and if there was any person in the circle of her acquaintance who was particularly disagreeable to her, for that person would she be sure to do a service, the first opportunity. In a spare room in our house was an old armchair, and in it lay a large Bible. I often used to see my mother go into that room, sighing as she closed the door; and, young as I was, I had learned to watch for her coming out; for the sweet, calm, holy look her features wore, fascinated me like a spell. Now I know how it was! now, that the baptism of a woman’s lot has been mine also; and often, when blinded by the waves of trouble which have dashed over my head, have I thought of the open Bible in the old armchair, its pages wet with tears, which no human eye saw fall, wiped away by no human hand, but precious in His eyes as the seed of the husbandman, from which He garners the golden harvest sheaves. Thus my mother was unselfish—ever with a gentle word for all; thus she looked upon life’s trials, as does the long-absent traveler upon the wayside discomforts of the journey, when the beacon light gleams from the window of the dear old home in sight. Thank God! she has reached it; and yet—and yet—the weary hours of desolation, my heart has ached for her human voice; in which I have sat with folded hands, while memory upbraided me with her patience, her fortitude, her Christ-like forbearance, her sweet, unmurmuring acceptance of the thorns in her life-path, for His sake, who wore the thorny crown.