The Mansion

A Short Story

Cover image for


Author: Henry van Dyke
Language: English
Wordcount: 8,458 / 30 pg
Flesch-Kincaid Reading Ease: 80.7
LoC Category: PS
Downloads: 1,690 2412

ur money. There are no rumors about your father. He has kept the laws of God and of man. He has never made any mistakes." Harold got up from his chair and poked the fire. Then he came back to the ample, well-gowned, firm-looking lady, and sat beside her on the sofa. He took her hand gently and looked at the two rings--a thin band of yellow gold, and a small solitaire diamond--which kept their place on her third finger in modest dignity, as if not shamed, but rather justified, by the splendor of the emerald which glittered beside them.

"Mother," he said, "you have a wonderful hand. And father made no mistake when he won you. But are you sure he has always been so inerrant?"

"Harold," she exclaimed, a little stiffly, "what do you mean? His life is an open book."

"Oh," he answered, "I don't mean anything bad, mother dear. I know the governor's life is an open book--a ledger, if you like, kept in the best bookkeeping hand, and always ready for inspection--every page correct, and showing a han


Average Rating of 4 from 1 reviews: ****
C. Alan Loewen

Henry Jackson van Dyke (1852-1933) at­tend­ed Prince­ton Un­i­ver­si­ty, then served as pas­tor of the Brick Pres­by­ter­i­an Church in New York City. Se­ven­teen years lat­er, he re­turned to Prince­ton as a pro­fes­sor of En­glish lit­er­a­ture. Af­ter­ward, he held a num­ber of em­i­nent posts: Amer­i­can am­bas­sa­dor to the Netherlands and Luxembourg, mod­er­a­tor of the General Assembly of the Pres­by­ter­i­an Church, Com­mand­er of the Legion of Honor, and Pres­i­dent of the Na­tion­al In­sti­tute of Arts and Let­ters. He is also author of the well-known hymn Joyful, Joyful, We Adore Thee as well as several others.

The Mansion (c. 1901) is a morality tale little respected in today's secular atmosphere, but in the time it was written it served as a cautionary fable about the balance between living in the secular world and being spiritual. Though the plot is obviously modeled on Dicken's A Christmas Carol, The Mansion is more like a sermon illustration. However, it also serves as a window to the world of New York and the Victorian mores of 1901.

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