A Journey to the End of the World
by A. G.
Introductory Note: “A Journey To The End of The World” is a clever and heartwarming story about a boy who runs away to travel to the end of the world. Through his journey he runs into a couple of problems that cause him to learn lessons in charity and kindness. It is a story for children and has a decidedly didactic tone while reinforcing standard Victorian gender norms.
Advisory: This story depicts child abuse.
A Journey To The End of The World. Translated from the French.
I WAS nine years old, possessed of a stout pair of legs, an obstinate temper, and sixpence. I have forgotten now what crime I had committed, whether I had stolen my mother’s jam, or teased my little sister till she cried. Whatever it was, it must have been something bad, for my father tied me by one leg to the table and gave me a caning. 1The original has an apostrophe (’) here, but it is likely a printing error. A “caning” is a beating with a cane.
My punishment over, I burst away from him in a great rage, and said,—
‘I’ll go away, and never come back any more!’
‘Off with you!’ said my father: ‘you grow more mischievous every day. We shall be quite thankful to be rid of you.’
‘Good-bye!’ said I.
‘Good-bye!’ returned my father.
I fully expected that some one would try to prevent my going out. But no; my father made a sign to the servants, and the door was flung open. I went out, feeling rather silly. At the end of the street I turned round to see if any one was running after me. Not a creature! For a moment I was seized with a desire to retrace my steps, but shame prevented my doing so.
‘All right!’ I said to myself. ‘I shall see the world now. They’ll cry at home when they find I do not come back; perhaps they’ll be as angry with themselves as they are now with me. Well, it serves them right; they should learn not to punish me. Besides, it is pleasant to be quite at liberty. For a long time I have wished to see what there is on the other side of that mountain over there, where the sun goes to bed. I should be very glad to see the sun go to bed. I should like to see how he does it.’
At the end of the village stood my nurse’s cottage. I went in. There sat Fanny, my foster-sister, sewing away, mite that she was, beside the cradle of her baby brother. As soon as she saw me she threw down her work and ran to put her arms around my neck.
‘Will you come with me?’ I asked her.
‘Of course!’ she said. ‘But where to? Into the wood?’
‘Farther than that, Fanny.’
‘As far as the pool where the willows are?’
‘Much farther than that! I am going on a journey.’
‘All by yourself?’
‘Not if you come with me.’
‘But,’ said Fanny, ‘if I am to come with you, you must tell me where we are going.’
‘To the end of the world. I think,’ I answered, ‘that it must be over there, behind that mountain, where the sun goes to bed.’
‘And when we get there?’
‘When we get there we’ll stop, and never come back any more.’
Fanny looked at me very sorrowfully.
‘What will my mother do?’ asked she.
‘Oh, very well,’ I said, ‘if you love your mother better than you do me, stay at home! I am going. Good-bye.’
And off I went. Scarcely had I gone fifty yards when Fanny, as red as any cherry, overtook me. Poor little soul, how she had been running!
‘Well,’ said I, ‘you are coming, after all?’
‘Oh no,’ she answered, with tears in her eyes: ‘my mother would whip me; and, besides, my little brother is asleep, and I must not leave him. Suppose he were to awake and find nobody there? I love you very much, but I will not go with you.’
‘Then why did you run after me?’
She was silent a minute, and then, ‘See,’ she said, ‘take that;’ and she held out her hand, sobbing. ‘I thought,’ she said, ‘that perhaps you had not any money, so I’ve brought you all I had. It will be useful to you on your journey.’
I looked. It was a halfpenny. This proof of Fanny’s love touched me deeply. I took my sixpence out of my pocket.
‘Look here, good little sister,’ I said: ‘your mother is poor, and as for me, my parents are rich. Take this sixpence, and buy yourself a new frock with it.’
‘And your journey?’
‘Ah, to be sure, my journey! Do you know, I feel rather tired just now. Will you sit down here, on the grass?’
‘I should like to, very much, if you will promise to come home with me.’
I led the way to a clump of trees a little way back from the road.
‘You are crying,’ said Fanny to me, presently: ‘what is making you unhappy?’
‘I wished so to take you with me to the end of the world.’
‘We’ll go when we are quite, quite grown up,’ she replied.
When I reached home that evening my father caned me again, but I did not deserve it. You can ask Fanny if I did. A. G.
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How To Cite (MLA Format)
A. G.. "A Journey to the End of the World." The Chatterbox, vol. 28, 1883, pp. 222-. Edited by Emma Bradshaw. Victorian Short Fiction Project, 3 February 2023, https://vsfp.byu.edu/index.php/title/a-journey-to-the-end-of-the-world/.
26 May 2020
1 February 2023
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|↑1||The original has an apostrophe (’) here, but it is likely a printing error. A “caning” is a beating with a cane.|