Charles Dickens’s Short Story: ‘The Child’s Story’

Charles Dickens’s Short Story: ‘The Child’s Story’
"Travelers Resting," by William Shayer. (Public Domain)
Kate Vidimos
As we journey through our busy schedules, we can easily forget to contemplate life. In his short story, “The Child’s Story,“ Charles Dickens shows that, rather than just passing through life, we should contemplate it, for life is ”a magic journey” filled with lessons and treasures we cannot find elsewhere.

A traveler sets out on a magic journey through a forest. As he travels along, he meets a child and asks what he does in the forest. “I am always at play,” the child replies, “Come and play with me!”

So the traveler and child play together throughout the forest. They play in sunny weather and watch in the rainy and windy weather, marveling at all creation. Until, one day, the traveler cannot find the child, no matter how much he calls to him.

Saddened by the child’s departure, the traveler continues his magic journey through the forest. Soon he meets with a handsome boy in the forest and asks what he does. “I am always learning,” the boy responds, “Come and learn with me.”

More Meetings in the Forest

The traveler agrees and learns all sorts of things with the boy. They study Jupiter, Juno, Greeks, and Romans and yet never forget to play. But again, the handsome boy disappears and cannot be found.

Sorrowful to see another friend leave, the traveler resumes his way through the forest. This time, as he journeys, he runs into a young man. Upon asking what the young man does, the young man replies: “I am always in love. Come and love with me.”

The traveler follows the young man as he falls in love with a beautiful girl. He sees the young man laugh, quarrel, and love her. It is a joyful time, until the young man and his love disappear.

Sad, but undeterred, the traveler keeps walking through the forest. The next person he runs into is a middle-aged gentleman with a wife and children. “What are you doing here?” asks the traveler. “I am always busy,” replies the gentleman, “Come be busy with me!”

As he joins this gentleman, the traveler gets to see the children come and go. He sees the gentleman’s hair slowly turn to grey as his children leave. Soon after his wife leaves, the middle-aged gentleman disappears and the traveler is left alone.

Finally, as he reaches the end of the wood, the traveler runs into an old man sitting on a fallen tree. He asks the old man: “What do you do here?” And the old man replies: “I am always remembering. Come and remember with me!”

As we journey through this story with Dickens, we can see the many sorrows and joys of life. Yet, by presenting all of life’s stages, Dickens grants us the ability to join the old man in remembering.

As Aristotle says, “The ultimate value of life depends upon awareness and the power of contemplation rather than upon mere survival.”

Remembrance and reflection provide a new perspective that gives us the chance to step outside of our busy schedules and see the places we have traveled and the beauty of our own lives, despite the sorrows and hardships.

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Kate Vidimos is a 2020 graduate from the liberal arts college at the University of Dallas, where she received her bachelor’s degree in English. She plans on pursuing all forms of storytelling (specifically film) and is currently working on finishing and illustrating a children’s book.
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