On the Way There
A Wonder Tale for Boys and Girls, Both Little and “Grown Tall.”
by Katherine M. Yates
“A Little Gem”
“I recommend to Christian Scientists, and to all lovers of truth, to read the little book, On the Way There, by Katherine M. Yates. It is scientific, simple. It is an object lesson for each one of us to learn the meaning of this saying of our Master: ‘Be ye therefore wise as serpents and harmless as doves.’
Mary B. G. Eddy
Pleasant View, Concord, NH August 18, 1904”
Quoted from The Christian Science Sentinel of August 27, 1904, page 828.
An allegory may tell much or little, according as the reader reads between the lines or sees only the printed page. The story is but the symbol of a greater truth lying behind and inspiring it, just as man, as we seem to see him, is but the imperfect symbol of the perfect man which is, the only man, the man which we should learn to recognize despite the appearance which he seems to show to us.
The loyal Christian Scientist “reads between the lines” whichever way he turns; for his wonderful textbook, Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures, by Mary Baker G. Eddy, is a key to the understanding of all which comes into his consciousness; and with this joyous comprehension of “a new heaven and a new earth” comes a heartfelt love and gratitude of which there are no words to tell.
The little story of what Marjorie saw “On the Way There,” is for big or little folks, according as he who reads it, finds it worth while, in the best sense of the phrase.
The little books of the “Marjorie and the Dream” series are not written primarily for children in years; but are for the little girl or boy within, who never has grown up and never will grow up. Those who would find the kernel of these bits of allegory, have but to know that Marjorie is this ever- young child within; and the Dream besides his dream character, is the prosecuting attorney, self-analysis, who asks us questions — questions which we all must answer either now or sometime in the years to come.
On the Way There
“I don’t see what you are good for, anyway,” said Marjorie, crossly. “It’s queer that I can’t go to bed and to sleep quietly, without a horrid old Dream like you coming to bother me.”
The Dream balanced himself on the foot-board and cracked his heels together saucily. He was little and thin and brown; and he wore a tight fitting brown velvet suit, and very pointed little brown velvet slippers, and a little brown velvet cap perched jauntily on one side of his head.
“Well,” he said, grinning in a most aggravating manner, “what is it that you don’t like about me? Didn’t I just let you walk along the ridge-pole of the house? Even your mother never lets you do that.”
“Yes, and when I got to the edge of the roof you pushed me off and I kept falling, falling and falling — why I’d be falling yet if I hadn’t wakened up.”
The Dream giggled. He had a very unpleasant way of giggling when things were not at all funny.
Marjorie went on. “It wouldn’t be so bad if you would take me to places where I really want to go, and let me see really interesting things; but you never let me have anything to say about it. You just take me anywhere that you have a notion to, and you don’t care in the least whether I like it or not.”
“You think that you could plan your trips better, yourself, do you?” asked the Dream.
“Of course I could,” said Marjorie. “You don’t know where I want to go, and I do.” “Well, where do you want to go tonight?” asked the Dream.
“Nowhere,” said Marjorie. “I want to be let alone tonight.” “All right,” said the Dream, “we’ll go there, then.” “Where?” asked Marjorie, in surprise.
“To Nowhere, of course,” said the Dream. “That’s where you said you wanted to go isn’t it?”
“Yes,but — ” began Marjorie.
“Then what are you waiting for?” asked the Dream.
“Well, I — I guess I don’t want to go there, after all,” said Marjorie, looking somewhat worried. “I guess you don’t know where you do want to go,” sniffed the Dream, contemptuously.
Marjorie hesitated. “I’ll tell you what!” she exclaimed, suddenly, “take me to the very nicest place that you know of, will you?”
“Sure,” agreed the Dream, cheerfully, only the way there isn’t so nice.”
“Oh, I don’t mind that,” said Marjorie, “if it’s only nice when I get there.”
“Look out for that mud-puddle!” exclaimed the Dream.
Marjorie stepped over the mud puddle very carefully. “It’s bad walking,” she said, looking about her.
They were making their way through some very low and swampy ground, and there was mud and water upon every side, much of it hidden by a growth of long rank grass, which looked particularly green and coarse. There seemed to be a great many other children going along the same way, and Marjorie looked at them curiously. Some appeared to be intelligent and well dressed, and other dull and poorly clad; but all showed, upon their features and clothing, spots of mud and dirt from the marsh through which they were passing.
“Do we have to go far in this swamp?” asked Marjorie.
The Dream pointed to where, a long, long way ahead, they could see roofs and spires shining in the distance, surrounded by groves of trees.
“It seems a pretty long way,” said Marjorie, turning from the sight to look about her once more. The swamp stretched away as far as she could see upon one hand, and upon the other was a high, thick hedge. Here and there, about the marsh, were scattered little islands which were fairly dry and sported a few trees and bushes; and upon each of these knolls was a crowd of children, still soiled and grimy from plodding through the mud, but laughing and singing and playing games in the gayest and noisiest manner.
“Let’s go and watch them,” said Marjorie, pointing to a nearby island.
“All right,” agreed the Dream, “only you won’t get to the nice place so quickly.”
“I don’t mind,” said Marjorie. “I’d like to see what they are doing.”
As the two drew near, they saw that the children were not having such a very good time, after all; for scattered thickly about among them, were a lot of unpleasant looking little dwarfs about ten inches high, and with very ugly faces. The dwarfs did not seem to have any games of their own; but merely spent their time hanging on to the arms or perched upon the shoulders of the children as they played and appeared to be annoying them in every way possible. The children did not pay much attention to them, though they really almost spoiled the fun, being such a weight and hindrance; and besides, every once in a while, one of the dwarfs would bite or kick the child to whose arm it was clinging, or begin to fight with others of its own kind.
Marjorie glanced about and noticed now, that nearly all of the children who were plodding through the swamp, carried one or two, or sometimes even more, of these ugly little fellows; so that, in some cases, they were so hampered that they could scarcely step. It seemed as if the dwarfs could not walk alone; but when a child would shake one off, which was not very often, for they clung most obstinately; it would crouch down in the long grass, out of sight; and then, when some other child would pass along, it would spring out and catch her hand, almost before she knew it; and then it was very hard indeed to shake it off.
Marjorie was about to ask the Dream concerning these queer little fellows, when she noticed a little girl who was just stepping up on to the island. She was the very prettiest child that Marjorie had ever seen, and her hair was much longer than Marjorie’s, and of a brighter brown. Just as Marjorie observed this, one of the little dwarfs sprang up from the ground at her own feet, and caught hold of her arm.
For a moment she scarcely noticed him, so intent was she upon getting nearer to the lovely girl; but, presently, as a slight breeze tossed the bright hair so that it looked as if it were full of sunbeams, the dwarf set his teeth in one of her fingers and bit it quite hard.
“Oh!” exclaimed Marjorie, trying to shake him off. “You ugly little thing! What did you do that for?”
The dwarf made no answer, but the Dream giggled his unpleasant little giggle. Marjorie turned upon him angrily.
“What made you bring me to such a horrid place?” she exclaimed, “and what makes these abominable dwarfs act this way? Why don’t you help me get it off?” and she tried in vain to shake the little fellow from her arm.
“I can’t take it off for you,” said the Dream. “You’ll have to get rid of it for yourself.”
“But what is it?” cried Marjorie, “and what does it hold on to me for, and bite me, too?”
“It holds on to you because it can’t get around by itself. It has to attach itself to somebody. It has no power of its own.”
“But what is it?” repeated Marjorie.
“It’s an Error,” said the Dream, looking at her with a broad grin.
“An Error!” echoed Marjorie, in surprise.
“Yes,” said the Dream, “that’s what it is.”
“And are all of those Errors?” asked Marjorie, pointing to the multitude of little dwarfs scattered about among the children. “Yes,” said the Dream.
“But they are not all alike,” said Marjorie. “Some are larger than others, and some are uglier.”
“Why, of course they are not all alike,” said the Dream. “They only belong to the same family. They have any number of different names.”
“Have they, really?” asked Marjorie, growing interested. “Well, what is the name of this one?” and she held up her arm to which the ugly little fellow was still clinging.
“Don’t you know?” asked the Dream, with a funny grin.
“Of course I don’t know, how should I?” cried Marjorie impatiently. “Well,” said the Dream slowly, and still grinning, “His name is Envy.” “Oh-h-h!” said Marjorie.
“Yes,” said the Dream, nodding his head several times, “that is his name. Do you like him?”
“No,” said Marjorie, “I don’t. But how did he happen to catch hold of me just then?”
The Dream glanced toward the very pretty little girl, and Marjorie followed his gaze.
“Oh-h-h!” she said again, her face flushing. Just then the wind fluttered the bright hair once more and the dwarf bit her sharply upon the hand.
Marjorie stood silently for some minutes and then she began anew to try to dislodge the little pest; but she could not pull him off nor shake him off, and at last she gave up in despair. “Can’t you really help me?” she asked the Dream, pleadingly.
The Dream shook his head. “No,” he said; “you may be able to shake him off if you shake hard enough, but it will hurt you. “Or, “he added, consolingly, “he may drop off, of himself, in time, though he isn’t likely to.”
Marjorie looked about her miserably; and just then she noticed that the little girl with the bright hair, was surrounded by a whole swarm of the little dwarfs, all bent upon making her as wretched as possible. As Marjorie saw and half started forward, as if to go to the rescue, the dwarf which had been holding her own arm, suddenly dropped off and hid in the grass at her feet.
“There!” she exclaimed, delightedly, “He’s gone! How glad I am!”
The Dream looked amused. “Of course you are,” he said grinning, “but you are probably not thinking of the hundreds of his brothers of the same name, who are hiding in the tall grass all about you; and this one is just waiting for some other child to happen along.”
“Oh, dear!” cried Marjorie, “what shall I do?”
“There’s just one way to get entirely rid of these fellows,” said the Dream.” “And what is it?” asked Marjorie, eagerly,
“Wait a while,” said the Dream. “Perhaps you’ll find it out for yourself. Shall we go on now?”
“Yes,” said Marjorie, and they started on plodding through the mud and long, tangled grass, and going out of their way to avoid great black-looking pools, or clumps of tall rushes and other water plants. Many times Marjorie stumbled, and sometimes even fell over logs or stones lying buried in the soft mud and ooze.
At last she stopped short in desperation, and turned upon the Dream. “You abominable Dream!” she cried. “What on earth did you bring me here for?”
Just at that moment a particularly ugly little dwarf sprang out of a clump of rushes and alighted on her shoulder.
Marjorie started, with an exclamation of disgust and tried to shake him off. The Dream chuckled.
“Oh, dear!” cried Marjorie. “What is it?”
“Anger,” said the Dream, grinning.
“Well, I don’t care,” sobbed Marjorie; “it is dreadful here, and I know I shall never get through this awful swamp.”
Here another dwarf sprang out and landed beside the first. “Discouragement,” remarked the Dream.
Marjorie began to look frightened. “Why, what shall I do–” she began, glancing hurriedly about for a way of escape, and instantly up sprang another little fellow and took possession of the other shoulder.
Fear,” chanted the Dream, monotonously, as if he were repeating a roll call.
“Oh, dear, I can’t bear it!” cried Marjorie, trying to fight them off. “And they bite so! Oh, what shall I do?”
“Pain,” called the Dream, as a fourth little fellow clutched one of her arms.
The Dream’s dry, teasing little voice was most aggravating to Marjorie’s suffering, and she turned upon him in a perfect passion of anger. “I’ll get even with you!” she cried. “I hate you. I didn’t want to come with you, anyway, and you know it!”
Here, three more of the ugly little fellows threw themselves upon her, while the Dream called out, in his monotonous tones: “Revenge, Hatred, Falsehood.”
Poor Marjorie was nearly overwhelmed. She could scarcely take a step, and the dwarfs kept fighting among themselves, and now and then here another dwarf sprang out and landed beside biting her viciously.
“Oh, dear,” she cried, “what shall I do? What shall I do?”
Just then she became conscious of a sweet childish voice calling to her. In fact, she suddenly remembered that she had been hearing the voice for a long time; but she had been too much occupied with her own interests and troubles to pay any attention to it. Now she listened.
“Little girl, little girl,” it called, “don’t be afraid! God is taking care of you.”
Marjorie looked all about. At first she could see no one to whom the voice could belong; but presently she turned toward the tall hedge; and there, above its top, she saw, peering through the branches, the sweet face of a woman.
“Don’t be afraid,” called the loving voice again. “Nothing can hurt you. Just come through the hedge. There is a fine, dry highway here, which leads clear across the swamp to the beautiful city where you wish to go.”
Marjorie hesitated and looked around over the great, dismal morass where she stood. She noticed now, that there were many painted signs sticking up out of the mud all about. Just in front of her lay a broad pool of dingy water, at the side which stood one of the signs, which read: “DANGER! The Pool of Ill Health.” A little farther on was another, marked: “BEWARE! Pool of Accidents,” and one of the small islands near by was marked: “The Island of Bad Company,” and just to one side was a pool marked: “DANGER! Pool of Death.” It seemed as if she were so surrounded by dangers that she could not hope to get through them alive, and meanwhile, the little dwarfs were weighing her down, as well as tormenting her almost beyond endurance.
Marjorie looked back at the bright, loving face above the hedge. “How do I know that there is a high-road there?” she asked, doubtfully.
“Come closer and see,” said the woman; and Marjorie, with her heavy load of Errors, staggered nearer until she could look between the leaves and branches of the hedge; and there, sure enough, she saw an embankment with a smooth road running along the top of it, upon which were passing many happy-faced children. “Children,” she called, “is that truly a smooth, dry road? and does it really lead to the beautiful city where I am trying to go?
“Yes,” called the children; “yes, it does. Come up out of the mud.”
Marjorie turned again toward the sweet, smiling face which she had first seen, and took a step forward. Then she stopped. “It isn’t any use!” she cried, woefully. “These dreadful dwarfs! They won’t let me come! I can never get through the hedge and up the bank with them.”
“No, you cannot,” said the woman, gently; “but you do not wish to, do you? You do not wish to take them with you?”
“No, no!” cried Marjorie; “but I can’t get rid of them. I’ve tried and tried.”
“You haven’t tried the right way, Dear,” said the woman. “Do you know what they are?”
“Yes, they are Errors,” said Marjorie, sorrowfully.
“Do you know what they are made of?” asked the woman, smiling.
“No,” said Marjorie.
“Of just the same stuff as the Dream,” said the her friend, smiling. “What!” exclaimed Marjorie, in astonishment.
“Just the same,” said the woman, nodding and smiling again. “But-but-the Dream isn’t really anything,” said Marjorie.
“No, and neither are the Errors,” said the woman, nodding and smiling again. “They are no more real than you let them be, by believing in them.”
“Oh-h-h-h,” said Marjorie. “But how shall I get rid of them, then?”
“Only by knowing that they are not anything. Just hold one up to the light and look through it.”
Marjorie did so. At first it looked pretty solid; but as she kept on looking, she could see that it appeared to be only a sort of a misty and dusty shape, and here and there she could see the light through it; and the longer she looked, the mistier it grew, until at last there was nothing but a little wavering, smoky column, which faded away into the air as she gazed.
“Oh, how strange!” cried Marjorie, delightedly. “Now I know that they really are not anything. I can see it plainly. How glad I am!” and she tried to shake the rest of them off. However, to her surprise, they clung as tightly as ever.
The woman smiled. “What are you trying to do?” she asked. “Why, I’m trying to shake them off, because they’re not anything.”
“If they are not anything, how can you shake them off?” asked her friend. “You are making them seem to be something when you try to shake them off.”
“Oh!” said Marjorie. “Then what must I do?” “See through them,” said the woman, confidently.
“But I can’t see through them all at once, they squirm so,” said Marjorie, “and I’m in a hurry.”
Her friend smiled again. “You must not try to do too much at once,” she said, gently, “or you may not do it thoroughly. If you leave even a whiff of the little last column of mist, as soon as your back is turned, it will seem to get solid once more.”
“And if I get rid of them this way, won’t they ever attack any one any more?”
“No, they are blown out like the flame of a candle, and can never come back. Of course there are ever so many of their brothers, bearing the same names, left; but there will never be so many again, when you have disposed of these; and if every one did it, there would soon be no Errors left at all.”
“Oh, why don’t they?” cried Marjorie. “Well, I’m going to do my part anyway.”
And so she went to work, very carefully, to see through every one of the Errors that had attacked her; and even sooner than she had expected, they seemed all gone, and she and the Dream crept through the hedge to the side where lay the high road.
As she stood up straight, beyond the hedge, Marjorie stretched her arms in delight at her freedom. “Oh, I’m so glad to be rid of them!” she cried. “I think that I did finely to manage it so quickly, don’t you?” just here the Dream giggled, and Marjorie felt a sharp nip on the back of her neck.
“Oh, what is it?” she cried, reaching back to knock it off. “Self-conceit,” called the Dream, in a teasing voice.
Marjorie’s face was flushed. “And I never even knew it was there!” she exclaimed.
“I did,” said the Dream; “I’ve been watching it for a long time.”
“Well, it’s hour has come now, anyway,” said Marjorie, taking a firmer grasp upon the small torment, and, after a short tussle, breaking its grip and holding it up to the light. “You little no account nothing!” she said, laughing and shaking the little monster; and then, with a puff of her breath, blowing the last tiny, smoky column that remained, away into the air. “Are there any more on me?” she asked, turning around to show her back, just as one asks if there are burrs sticking to one’s dress.
“No,” laughed the woman, holding out her hand; “now come up where it is high and dry.”
The bank was somewhat steep; but with the help of the gentle hand, she soon stood upon the broad, white road, beside her new friend.
“Oh, how good!” she cried, drawing a deep breath. “Why doesn’t everybody come up here? There is room for all.”
The woman shook her head, sadly. “They don’t believe me when I tell them that the road is here,” she said.
“But if they would come and look, they could see for themselves,” said Marjorie.
“Yes,” said her friend, “But they are too busy, plodding along in the mud, and dancing on the islands, and fighting with the dwarfs. They do not wish to take the trouble to look.”
As the three walked along the road, they could see, through the thin top of the hedge, much that was going on in the swamp; and again and again the loving woman stopped to call to some one who had fallen into one of the pools of Ill Health or Sorrow, or was being tormented by the dwarfs. Sometimes those called to, would pay no attention at all, or would argue that there was no road there, and would even laugh, jeeringly. Others would listen, and ask questions, but would make no effort; but some would follow directions of the sweet, earnest voice, see through the Errors, and come creeping through the hedge to the high road.
Once a crowd of children, who chanced to look up and see the woman helping one of their number on to the road, grew angry, and a shower of stones came flying from their direction; but the stones all fell short of their mark, and the Errors soon swarmed about so thickly so as to put a stop to the throwing.
“Why did they throw stones at you?” asked Marjorie, her eyes full of tears.
Her friend looked back at the angry group, compassionately. “They didn’t do it, “she said. “The Errors did it.”
“Why,” cried Marjorie, “it looked as if the children began it, and then as if the Errors crowded in and stopped them; but there were so many Errors around them all the time, that I couldn’t be very sure.”
“The Errors did stop the throwing, but they began it, too. Errors always get to fighting among themselves, and destroy everything that they try to do. They are nothing, and they can do nothing.”
And so Marjorie and the Dream and the loving woman walked on, along the high road, and more and more happy children joined them on the way.
“Who built the beautiful city in front of us?” asked Marjorie, as they drew near its gates.
“The king,” said the woman, reverently.
“And who built the high road? asked Marjorie.
“A very great and good man who knew how hard it is to cross the swamp. He spent his whole life and all that he had, planning and building this wonderful roadway, and made it free for every one to use. He did it a long, long time ago,” added the woman, glancing down, lovingly, at the smooth, white road.
“But why doesn’t every one know about it? Has it always been used?”
The woman shook her head. “No, people forgot that it was here, for a long time. Some never knew about it, and some began going through the swamp again just for the excitement of fighting the dwarfs, and wading in the muddy pools, and playing on the islands; and the hedge grew up between, and it was lost sight of, and no one knew where it was. We are breaking down the hedge now, though,” she added, happily. “See, each of us breaks off a branch wherever he can, and it is growing thinner and thinner, and by-and-by it will be all broken down and then everyone can see the high road and will come up out of the swamp.” The woman’s face was very beautiful as she said this.
“And did you find the road when it was lost?” asked Marjorie. “Yes.
“But how did you happen to?” Marjorie’s eyes were eager.
“It was this way,” said the woman, earnestly: “I knew that there used to be such a road, and so I knew that it must be somewhere, still. I had read about it in a book that I knew told the truth, and, too, I felt in my heart that it was so: and so I began to search, and search, and study the book, and search again-and at last I found it-and oh, I was so glad! So many children were struggling out there in the swamp, who were sure that there was a road, and who wanted, so much, to know where it was.”
“And ever since then, you have been telling people, and helping them?” “Yes, said her friend; “ever since.”
Marjorie patted her hand softly. “And did you show every one of all these, the way?”
“And don’t you ever get tired?”
The woman let her eyes sweep up and down the lines of many, many happy children, trooping along the road. “Should you think that I would ever get tired?” she asked, smilingly.
“No!” cried Marjorie, eagerly. “No, no!”
Here her friend stopped to help another child who was calling to her from over the hedge, and Marjorie and the Dream walked slowly on. Marjorie looked out over the wide, dreary swamp, and then up at the beautiful city. “Oh,” she said at last, with a great sigh, “I’m so thankful!”
“Thankful for what?” said the Dream.
“For the beautiful city, and for the smooth white high road leading to it,” said Marjorie.
“Thankful to whom?” said the Dream.
“Thankful to the king who built the city; and to the great, good man who built the road; and to the loving woman who showed me the way.”
“I don’t see why you should be thankful to the woman,” said the Dream. “The city and the road were here all the time. She didn’t build either of them. I think that it shows lack of respect to the king and to the great man, who both did such wonderful things, to speak of the woman in the same breath.”
“Why, I don’t think so at all!” exclaimed Marjorie, earnestly. “Of course the woman didn’t do anything nearly so big as to build the city or the high road, and I’m not pretending that she did, or that she could; but she searched and searched until she found the road, when it was lost; and she showed me, and all the rest of us, the way, and helped us up here out of the swamp; and she’s just working and helping all the time, and I think I’d be pretty ungrateful if I couldn’t say ‘thank you’ to the dear, loving woman who showed me the way, and Marjorie, strong in her sense of justice, stood up bravely to meet any objection which might come from the Dream.
But the Dream was gone.