The Boys' Heaven by L. Maria Child
Harry and Frank had a hearty cry when an ill-natured
neighbor poisoned their dog. They dug a grave for their
favorite, but were unwilling to put him in it and cover him up
"I wish there was one of the Chinese petrifying streams near
our house," said Frank. "We could lay Jip down in it; and,
after a while, he would become a stone image, which we would
always keep for a likeness of him."
Harry, who had been reading about the ancient Egyptians, remarked
that it was a great pity the art of embalming was lost.
But Frank declared that a mummy was a hideous thing, and
that he would rather have the dead dog out of his sight forever,
than to make a mummy of him.
"It seems very hard never to see him again," said Harry, with
a deep sigh.
"But perhaps Jip has gone to some dog-heaven; and when we
go to the boys' heaven, we may happen to see our old pet on the
"If he should get sight of us he would follow us," said Frank.
"He always liked us better than dogs. O yes, he would follow
us to the boys' heaven, of that you may be sure; and I don't
think boys would exactly like a heaven without any dogs. Mother,
what kind of a place is a boys' heaven?"
His mother, who had just entered the room, knew nothing of
what they had been talking about; and, the question being asked
suddenly, she hardly knew what to answer.
She smiled, and said, "How can I tell, Frank! You know I
never was there."
"That makes no difference," said he. "Folks tell about a great
many things they never saw. Nobody ever goes to heaven till
they die; but you often read to us about heaven and the angels.
Perhaps some people, who died and went there, told others about
it in their dreams."
"I cannot answer such questions, dear Harry," replied his
mother. "I only know that God is very wise and good, and that
he wills we should wait patiently and humbly till our souls grow
old enough to understand such great mysteries. Just as it is
necessary that you should wait to be much older before you can
calculate when the moon will be eclipsed, or when certain stars
will go away from our portion of the sky, and when they will
come back again. Learned men know when the earth, in its
travels through the air, will cast its long dark shadow over the
brightness of the moon. They can foretell exactly the hour and
the minute when a star will go down below the line which we
call the horizon, where the earth and the sky seem to meet; and
they know precisely when it will come up again. But if they
tried ever so hard, they could never make little boys understand
about the rising and the setting of the stars. The wisest of men
are very small boys, compared with the angels; therefore the
angels know perfectly well many things which they cannot
possibly explain to a man till his soul grows and becomes an
"I understand that," said Harry. "For I can read any book;
but though Jip was a very bright dog, it was no manner of use to
try to teach him the letters. He only winked and gaped when I
told him that was A. You see, mother, I was the same as an
angel to Jip."
His mother smiled to see how quickly he had caught her meaning.
After some more talk with them, she said, "You have both
heard of Martin Luther, a great and good man who lived in Germany
a long time ago. He was very loving to children; and
once, when he was away from home, he wrote a letter to his little
son. It was dated 1530; so you see it is more than three hundred
years old. In those days they had not begun to print any books
for children; therefore, I dare say, the boy was doubly delighted
to have something in writing that his friends could read to him.
You asked me, a few minutes ago, what sort of a place the boys'
heaven is. In answer to your question, I will read what Martin
Luther wrote to his son Hansigen, which in English means Little
John. Any boy might be happy to receive such a letter. Listen
to it now, and see if you don't think so.
"To my little son, Hansigen Luther, grace and peace in Christ.
"My heart-dear little Son: I hear that you learn well and pray
diligently. Continue to do so, my son. When I come home I will bring
you a fine present from the fair. I know of a lovely garden, full of
joyful children, who wear little golden coats, and pick up beautiful
apples, and pears, and cherries, and plums under the trees. They
sing, and jump, and make merry. They have also beautiful little
horses with golden saddles and silver bridles. I asked the man that
kept the garden who the children were. And he said to me, 'The
children are those who love to learn, and to pray, and to be good.'
Then said I, 'Dear sir, I have a little son, named Hansigen Luther.
May he come into this garden, and have the same beautiful apples and
pears to eat, and wonderful little horses to ride upon, and may he play
about with these children?' Then said he, 'If he is willing to learn,
and to pray, and to be good, he shall come into this garden; and Lippus
and Justus too. If they all come together, they shall have pipes,
and little drums, and lutes, and music of stringed instruments. And
they shall dance, and shoot with little crossbows.' Then he showed
me a fine meadow in the garden, all laid out for dancing. There hung
golden pipes and kettle-drums and line silver crossbows; but it was too
early to see the dancing, for the children had not had their dinner. I
said, 'Ah, dear sir, I will instantly go and write to my little son Hansigen,
so that he may study, and pray, and be good, and thus come into
this garden. And he has a little cousin Lena, whom he must also bring
with him.' Then he said to me, 'So shall it be. Go home, and write
"Therefore, dear little son Hansigen, be diligent to learn and to pray;
and tell Lippus and Justus to do so too, that you may all meet together
in that beautiful garden. Give cousin Lena a kiss from me. Herewith I
recommend you all to the care of Almighty God."
The brothers both listened very attentively while that old letter
was read; and when their mother had finished it, Frank exclaimed,
"That must be a very beautiful place!"
Harry looked thoughtfully in the fire, and at last said, "I
wonder who told all that to Martin Luther! Do you suppose an
angel showed him that garden, when he was asleep?"
"I don't know," replied Frank. "But if there were small
horses there with golden saddles for the boys, why shouldn't Jip
be there, too, with a golden collar and bells?"
"Now, wouldn't that be grand!" exclaimed Harry. And
away they both ran to plant flowers on Jip's grave.