WHAT THE WHOLE FAMILY SAID
WHAT did the whole family say？Well，listen first to what little Mary said．
It was little Mary's birthday，the loveliest of all days，she thought．All her little friends came to play with her，and she wore the most beautiful dress；she had got itfrom her Grandmother，who was now with the good God，but Grandmother herself had cut and sewed it before she went up into the bright，beautiful heaven．
The table in Mary's room shone with presents；there was the neatest little kitchen，with all that belongs to akitchen， and a doll which could roll its eyes and say"Au"，when one pressed its stomach；there was also a picture book with the loveliest stories to read，if one could read！But it was nicer even than all the stories to live through many birthdays．
"Yes，it is lovely to live，"said little Mary．
Godfather added that it was the loveliest fairy tale．
In the room close by were Mary's two brothers；they were big boys，the one nine years old，the other eleven．They also thought it was lovely to be alive，to live in their way，not to be a child like Mary，but to be smart school-boys，to have "excellent" in the character book，and to be able to enjoy a fight with their companions，to skate in winter，and to ride velocipedes in summer，to read about castles，drawbridges，and prisons，and to hear about discoveries in the heart of Africa．One of the boys had，how-ever，one anxiety，that everything would be discovered before he grew up；he wanted to go in quest of adventures then．Life is the most lovely story of adventure，Godfathersaid，and one takes part in it oneself．
It was on the ground floor that these children livedand played；up above lived another branch of the family，also with children，but these were grown up：the one sonwas seventeen years old，the second twenty，but the thirdwas very old，little Mary said—he was twenty－five andengaged．
They were all happily situated，had good parents，good clothes，good abilities，and they knew what they wanted．"Forward！away with all the old barricades！a freeview into all the world；that is the most lovely thing weknow．Godfather is right：life is the loveliest fairy tale！"
Father and Mother，both elderly people—naturallythey must be older than the children—said with a smile ontheir lips，with a smile in their eyes and hearts："Howyoung they are，the young people！things do not go quite asthey think in the world，but they do go．Life is a strange，lovely fairy tale．"
Overhead，a little nearer heaven，as one says，whenpeople live in the garret，lived Godfather．He was old，butso young in spirit，always in good humour，and he couldalso tell stories，many and long．He had travelled widely inthe world，and lovely things from all the countries in theworld stood in his room．There were pictures from floor toceiling，and some of the window-panes were of red andsome of yellow glass：if one looked through them，thewhole world lay in sunshine，however grey the weather wasoutside．In a big glass case grew green plants，and in apart of it gold－fish swam about：they looked as if they knewso much that they would not talk about it．It always smeltof flowers here，even in winter，and then a big fire burnedin the stove；it was so nice to sit and look into it and hearhow it crackled and sputtered．
"It repeats old memories to me，"said Godfather，andto little Mary it seemed as if many pictures showed them－selves in the fire．
But in the big bookcase close by，stood the realbooks：one of these Godfather read very often，and hecalled it the Book of books；it was the Bible．There，inpictures was shown the whole history of man and of theworld，the creation，the flood，the kings and the King ofkings．
"All that has happened and will happen stands in thisbook！"said Godfather．"So infinitely much in a littlebook！think of it！Everything that a man has to pray for，is said and put in few words in the Lord's Prayer．It is adrop of grace，a pearl of comfort from God．It is laid as agift on the cradle ot the child，at the child's heart．Littlechild，keep it carefully！never lose it，however big yougrow，and then you will not be left alone on the changingpaths！it will shine in on you and you will not be lost．"
Godfather's eyes shone at that；they beamed withjoy．Once in earlier days they had wept，"and that wasalso good，"he said，"it was a time of trial when thingslooked grey．Now I have sunshine about me and in me．The older one grows，the better one sees both in prosperi-ty and adversity，that our Father is always with us，thatlife is the loveliest fairy tale，and only He can give usthat，and it lasts into eternity．"
"It is lovely to live，"said little Mary．
The little and the big boys said so too；Father andMother and the whole family said it，but above all Godfa－ther，and he had experience，he was the oldest of themall，he knew all the stories，all the fairy tales，and hesaid，and that right out of his heart．，"Life is the loveli－est fairy tale！”