Baedeker! Have you ever heard that name before? Perhaps not. Ask those who have travelled abroad and they will say at once, ” Oh, yes, the guide book man!” Try it and see if they don’t. His name is so well known that it has almost become a common noun. People speak of taking their Baedeker with them, as they would speak of taking their umbrella or their purse.
Karl Baedeker was a German book-seller and publisher, and he brought out guide-books of different countries till he had described most of the civilised lands of the world. They were packed full of useful information and told you where to go and what to see and what to pay. They were printed in German and French and English and Baedeker thus became famous. His success was due to hard work: he was very careful and exact in all he wrote, and then too, he employed good scholars to help him.
But our story is about another Baedeker, not that one. The guide-book man had a cousin who sometimes W’I’ote for him, and he also became famous, in a different way. Karl was a guide to all parts of the earth and a very good one to: Frederick was to thousands of people a guide to heaven. He showed them the way to God; he taught them to put their trust in Jesus, who is the Way, the Truth and the Life.
Frederick became known as Doctor Baedeker, becauae of the letters Ph.D. after his name, which mean “doctor of philosophy ” not medicine. But the Russian peasants to whom he afterwards went called him “Dedouchka” or “Dear Grandfather!’ In this story I shall use all these names and you can pick out the one you like the best.
But first we must call him Frederick and begin with his boyhood for, of course, it was only long afterwards that he earned his other names.
The little town of Witten, where he was born, is near the river Rhine, which is very beautiful thereabouts. In the Baedeker home there were four boys and two girls, and Frederick was the youngest son but one. They called him Fritz for short. Their father was a naturalist; he studied animals and particularly birds. This was very jolly for the children, for he could tell them no end of interesting things and they could help him hunt for specimens.
Mr. Baedeker had a big collection of birds and their eggs, some of them very rare. There were eggs of different shades and colours, brown and blue and green, pearly white ones and pretty speckled ones. They were all sizes too, from the big eggs of the eagle and the stork down to the tiny ones of the little hedge wren. He knew them all, and the children learned to know them too. Mr. Baedeker was so famous that when people in far away parts of Europe found some egg that they could not name, they would pack it up and send it to him and he would tell them what it was. He wrote a book about birds’ eggs and painted the pictures himself. After he died his collection was taken to Berlin and placed in a natural history museum.
Fritz’s mother was rather strict, but I expect those four boys needed to be kept in order and perhaps even the girls too. Six children are quite a houseful, and I dare say they made plenty of noise. Fritz was specially fond of his elder sister Pauline, and when he was in trouble it was to her he went….Pages 5-6