How This Book Came To Be Written
"What a funny letter, Daddy," said Spen, as he looked at the narrow envelope which had just arrived, and listened to the crackle of the thin paper.
"Do you think so?" said Daddy. "It is from home."
"From home!" said Spen, laughing, "why, Daddy, this is home."
"I mean from the old country, Spen."
"The old country, Daddy?" said Veda, leaving her dolls and coming to lean against her father's knee, "the old country? What do you mean ?"
"I mean, 'the little island in the west' to which we belong, and where I used to live," said Daddy.
"But this is an island. a great big one, Mother says, so how can we belong to a little island?" asked Spen.
"Well, we do—at least, the big island and the little island belong to each other."
"Oh, Daddy, do 'splain yourself, you are not 'splaining yourself at all," said Veda.
"Well," said Daddy with a sigh, "long, long ago——"
[vi] "Oh!" said Spen, "it's a story," and he settled himself to listen.
"Yes," said Daddy, "it's a story, and a very long one, too. I think I must ask some one else to tell it to you."
And Daddy did ask some one else, and here is the story as it was told to Spen and Veda. I hope it will interest not only the children in this big island, but some of the children in "the little island in the west," too.
I must tell you, though, that this is not a history lesson, but a story-book. There are many facts in school histories, that seem to children to belong to lessons only. Some of these you will not find here. But you will find some stories that are not to be found in your school books,—stories which wise people say are only fairy tales and not history. But it seems to me that they are part of Our Island Story, and ought not to be forgotten, any more than those stories about which there is no doubt.
So, although I hope you will not put this book beside your school books, but quite at the other end of the shelf, beside Robinson Crusoe and A Noah's Ark Geography, I hope, too, that it will help you to like your school history books better than ever, and that, when you grow up, you will want to read for yourselves the beautiful big histories which have helped me to write this little book for little people.
Then, when you find out how much has been left untold [vii] in this little book, do not be cross, but remember that, when you were very small, you would not have been able to understand things that seem quite simple and very interesting to you as you grow older. Remember, too, that I was not trying to teach you, but only to tell a story.