Hundreds of additional titles available for
online reading when you join Gateway to the Classics
THERE was once a king of Prussia whose name was
On a fine morning in June he went out alone to walk in the
green woods. He was tired of the
 noise of the city, and he was glad to get away from it.
So, as he walked among the trees, he often stopped to listen
to the singing birds, or to look at the wild flowers that
grew on every side. Now and then he stooped to pluck a
violet, or a primrose, or a yellow
buttercup. Soon his hands were full of pretty blossoms.
After a while he came to a little meadow in the midst of
the wood. Some children were playing there. They were
running here and there, and gathering the
cowslips that were blooming among the grass.
It made the king glad to see the happy children, and hear
their merry voices. He stood still for some time, and
watched them as they played.
Then he called them around him, and all sat down
together in the pleasant shade. The children did not know who the
strange gentleman was; but they liked his kind face and
"Now, my little folks," said the king, "I want to ask you
some questions, and the child who gives the best answer
shall have a prize."
Then he held up an orange so that all the
children could see.
"You know that we all live in the kingdom of
 Prussia," he said; "but tell me, to what
kingdom does this orange belong?"
The children were puzzled. They looked at one
 another, and sat very still for a little while. Then a
brave, bright boy spoke up and said,—
"It belongs to the
vegetable kingdom, sir."
"Why so, my lad?" asked the king.
"It is the fruit of a plant, and all plants belong to that
kingdom," said the boy.
The king was pleased. "You are quite right," he said; "and
you shall have the orange for your prize."
He tossed it gayly to the boy. "Catch it if you can!" he
Then he took a yellow gold piece from his pocket, and held
it up so that it glittered in the sunlight.
"Now to what kingdom does this belong?" he asked.
Another bright boy answered
quickly, "To the mineral kingdom, sir! All metals belong to that kingdom."
"That is a good answer," said the king. "The gold piece is
The children were delighted. With eager faces they waited
to hear what the stranger would say next.
"I will ask you only one more question," said the king,
"and it is an easy one." Then he stood up, and said, "Tell
me, my little folks, to what kingdom do I belong?"
 The bright boys were puzzled now. Some thought of saying, "To the kingdom of Prussia."
Some wanted to say, "To the
animal kingdom." But they were a little afraid, and all kept
At last a tiny blue-eyed child looked up into the king's
smiling face, and said in her simple way,—
"I think to the
kingdom of heaven."
King Frederick William stooped down and lifted the little
maiden in his arms. Tears were in his eyes as he kissed
her, and said, "So be it, my child! So be it."