Books Should Be Free
Loyal Books
Free Public Domain Audiobooks & eBook Downloads
Search by: Title, Author or Keyword

The Soul of a Child   By: (1866-1951)

Book cover

First Page:









The oldest part of Stockholm is a little rocky island. Once it was the whole city. Popularly it is still spoken of as "The City." At one end of it stands the huge square cut pile of the Royal Palace, looking with solemn indifference toward the more modern quarters across the ever hurried waters of the North River. Nearer the centre, and at the very top of the island, lies an open place called Great Square, which used to play a most important part in Swedish history, but which now serves no better purpose than to house the open air toy market that operates the last week before Christmas.

Long narrow streets loop concentrically about Great Square. They are lined with massive structures of stone and brick, four and five stories high, that used to be the homes of court and government officials, of army and navy officers, of burghers made prosperous by an extensive domestic and foreign trade, while on the ground floors were located the choicest shops of the country's capital. The shops are still there, but they have grown dingy and cheap, and they administer only to the casual needs of the humble middle class people crowded into the old fashioned, gloomy apartments above.

From the square to the water fronts radiate a number of still more narrow and squalid lanes, harbouring a population which is held inferior to that of the streets in social rank without yet being willing to have itself classed with the manual toilers of the suburbs. Halfway down the slope of such a lane, and almost within the shadow of the palace, stood the house where Keith first arrived at some sort of consciousness of himself and the surrounding world.

On the fourth floor his parents occupied a three room flat. The parlour and the living room had two windows each, looking into the lane. The kitchen in the rear opened a single window on the narrowest, barest, darkest courtyard you ever saw, its one redeeming feature being a glimpse of sky above the red tiled roof of the building opposite.

In such surroundings Keith spent the better part of his first sixteen years.

He was an only son, much loved, and one of his first conscious realizations was a sharp sense of restraint, as if he had been tied to a string by which he was pulled back as soon as anything promised to become interesting.

At first he thought the world made up entirely of those three rooms, where he, his parents, Granny his maternal grandmother and a more or less transient servant girl had lived for ever. Visitors drifted in, of course, but he seemed to think that they had come from nowhere and would return to the same place. What instilled the first idea of a wider outside world in his mind was leaning out through one of the windows, with his mother's arm clutched tightly about his waist.

There was something symbolic in that clutch, for his mother was always full of fear that dire things befall him. She was afraid of many other things besides, and the need of being constantly worried was probably his second clear realization.

But the clasp of his mother's arm was soft and tender for all that. Her inclination to humour him in sundry respects not implying too much freedom of movement contrasted favourably with the sterner restraint exercised by his father. And so it was only natural that, to begin with, he should cling no less closely to her than she to him.

Leaning out of the front windows was one of the favorite pursuits of his earliest childhood, and during the summer it could be indulged to a reasonable extent.

Across the lane, not more than twenty five feet distant, was another building, the upper parts of which he could see even when the windows were closed. It was much darker of aspect than their own house, and he knew that no people lived in it. He called it the distillery, just as he heard his parents do, without knowing what the word meant... Continue reading book >>

eBook Downloads
ePUB eBook
• iBooks for iPhone and iPad
• Nook
• Sony Reader
Kindle eBook
• Mobi file format for Kindle
Read eBook
• Load eBook in browser
Text File eBook
• Computers
• Windows
• Mac

Review this book

Popular Genres
More Genres
Paid Books