Short Stories »The Doll in Norway
The Doll in Norway
CHILDREN who have dolls and toys in abundance, supplied them by loving and indulgent parents, have no idea how few pleasures of the kind are enjoyed by those of their own age in far-away lands, among the poor class, who never own a home, a horse or a cow. I have had good women tell me many domestic stories that made me feel sorrowful for the poor in their country, especially for the little children, for it seems only natural and right that their early years should be blessed with happy hours of innocent enjoyments free from care.
One sister told me how in her childhood she had to help all she could, and that an hour once a week was a holiday for her. Dolls were very scarce where she lived. She had heard of fine ones at the house where her mother worked two days in the week, and one of her associates had a very plain doll, but dearly appreciated. One day a kind woman gave my friend a doll with head carved out of wood and painted with strong-smelling paint, but that did not matter in the least, she was overjoyed. Christine made a little house out of a box for her doll to sit in before her, out in the yard, while she picked over wool or did other tedious work. The sight of Hilma dressed so finely made her feel as though she had company, and beguiled the long hours of weary labor. If Christine sometimes carried on a conversation with Hilma, no one ridiculed her, for she was an only child, and a lonely one too, because she seldom had a chance to associate with other children, except on Sundays, going and coming from church, or on some grand festival-day. Her mother, grandmother and aunt would often pause, listening to her chatter to her doll, and smile because she was happy. Very often poorer children would look through the fence with wistful eyes and then go slowly on.
One afternoon, about sundown, Christine was called to go on an errand. She promptly obeyed, looking back, smiling at Hilma as she passed out of the gate. Christine was kept waiting a while, and when she reached home the doll was not thought of immediately. But before bed-time Christine ran out to her neglected darling to find it gone. Pitiful cries and calls for assistance, long and repeated search, were all in vain. Christine sobbed herself to sleep, and many a sorrowful day of lonely toil passed in the little yard thereafter.
" But did you not get another doll ? " I asked her. " No, we were too poor to spend money that way. I never had another doll in all my life, and I have no children to be excuse for me to buy one now." Christine finished her story so seriously that I could see well enough the great loss it fyad been to her.
Think of this, you little children who break toys and can get new ones in their places.
I know a little Norwegian girl who has not been long in Utah, and, so that her relatives at home might know how well she stood the journey, her auntie took her to have her photograph taken. Mary's aunt had given her a fine doll on the evening of her arrival, and the little one begged that she might have it in her arms, "For," said she, "they will see how rich you are, and how kind to me, when they see this beautiful doll in my arms." Mary's request was laughed at but granted, and she was more anxious to have justice done to the doll's features than her own ; but the relatives saw a very happy face, too, for Mary's pride and joy could not be concealed.
To ride behind uncle's own horses; to see milk skimmed and butter made from uncle's own cows, and drink all the milk she wanted; to drive up the ewes and their pretty frolicking lambs into the pen at night ; to feed the bewildering flock of chickens and pigeons of all sizes and kinds all this seemed like immense wealth to little Mary. She could never do too much for her kind relatives who had brought her and her widowed mother to this wonderful country.
There are just as rich persons in Norway as in other countries ; but I am telling you about the poorer ones, so that your own simple blessings may be better realized, for the poor in the Old World are almost certain to remain so all their lives, instead of rising to comfort and perhaps wealth, as the poor can do in our glorious America. A great man in England called America " God's gift to the poor." We should never forget this, but if there are those who do not know of the difference between this and other countries, and cannot go from home to see for themselves, just let them ask our foreign friends about it, and they will learn many valuable truths, and will then love more and more the country and their religion.