The Children's Portion
THE KING'S CHILDREN.
There was once, in Christendom, a little kingdom where the people were pious and simple-hearted. In their simplicity they held for true many things at which people of great kingdoms smile. One of these things was what is called the "Golden Age."
There was not a peasant in the villages, nor a citizen in the cities, who did not believe in the Golden Age. If they happened to hear of anything great that had been done in former times, they would say, "That was in the Golden Age." If anybody spoke to them of a good thing he was looking for in years to come, they would say, "Then shall be the Golden Age." And if they should be speaking of something happy or good which was going on under their eyes, they always said, "Yes, the Golden Age is there."
Now, words like these do not come to people in a day. And these words about the Golden Age did not come to the people of that ancient kingdom in a day. More than a hundred years before, there was reigning over the kingdom a very wise king, whose name was Pakronus. And to him one day came the thought, and grew from little to more in his mind, that some time or other there must have been, and some time or other there would be again, for his people and for all people a "Golden Age."
"Other ages," he said, "are silver, or brass, or iron; but one is a Golden Age." And I suppose he was thinking of that Age when he gave names to his three sons, for he called them YESTERGOLD, GOLDENDAY, and GOLDMORROW. Sometimes when he talked about them, he would say, "They are my three captains of the Golden Age." He had also a little daughter whom he greatly loved. Her name was FAITH.
These children were very good. And they were clever as well as good. But like all the children of that old time, they remained children longer than the children of now-a-days. It was many years before their school days came to an end, and when they ended they did not altogether cease to be children. They had simple thoughts and simple ways, just like the people of the kingdom. Their father used to take them up and down through the country, to make them acquainted with the lives of the people. "You shall some day be called to high and difficult tasks in the kingdom," he said to them, "and you should prepare yourselves all you can." Almost every day he set their minds a-thinking, how the lives of the people could be made happier, and hardly a day passed on which he did not say to them, that people would be happier the nearer they got to the Golden Age. In this way the children came early to the thought that, one way or other, happiness would come into the world along with the Golden Age.
But always there was one thing they could not understand: that was the time when the Golden Age should be.
About the Age itself they were entirely at one. They could not remember a year in their lives when they were not at one in this. As far back as the days when, in the long winter evenings, they sat listening to the ballads and stories of their old nurse, they had been lovers and admirers of that Age....