The Little Pilgrim in the Seen and Unseen


Short Fiction

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In The Land of Darkness    or second source:  Further Exp.   

The Story

This story continues the experiences of the Little Pilgrim. She feels happy and blessed in the Afterlife, but cannot forget those she loves on Earth; and does not understand why there should be people in pain and trouble when God could so easily mend everything. A "sage" accompanies her back to Earth for one last visit, that she might better understand God's plan. They visit many people in great trouble, some of them dear friends of the Little Pilgrim.

This story is the third story in the Little Pilgrim series. (See the link below for more information.)

Biographical and other notes

The first people they visit, a mother and father with their dying son, were based on Frank and Sara Tarver, Margaret Oliphant's dear friends in Windsor, whose son Wladimir died in 1883 at age ten. Sara was the daughter of Mrs Oliphant's very close friends John and Jane Tulloch of Saint Andrews.

The second person they visit, a troubled woman walking down to the beach, is Margaret Oliphant herself; and the epiphany described in this story really happened to her while staying at Saint Andrews in 1884. (Per The Autobiography of Margaret Oliphant - the Complete Text, 1990, edited by Elisabeth Jay, pages 52-53 and 157.) There is a markedly similar scene in the novel Lady Car (1889).

It is likely that the third person they visit, a man who has been out drinking and carousing all night, is based on Margaret Oliphant's son Cyril, who was an alcoholic.

The story's first paragraph, as published in The Scottish Church magazine, was omitted from the book version.

When this story was collected with two others in the book entitled The Land of Darkness, the stories were not presented in their chronological order. See the "Little Pilgrim series" entry below for the correct order of the three stories. This issue also applies to the American collection, entitled The Little Pilgrim: Further Experiences.

British publishing information

Periodical:   The Scottish Church   July 1885

First edition:   Blackwood and Sons (collected in The Land of Darkness) 1888

Series and Themes

The Little Pilgrim series
Stories of the Seen and Unseen

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