Text of Plan #970
  WEEK 52  


The Birds' Christmas Carol  by Kate Douglas Wiggin

"When the Pie Was Opened, the Birds Began To Sing"

T HE children went out the back door quietly, and were presently lost to sight, Sarah Maud slipping and stumbling along absent-mindedly as she recited rapidly under her breath, "Itwassuchapleasantevenin'n'suchashortwalk, that wethoughtwe'dleaveourhatstohome. Itwassuchapleasantevenin'n'suchashortwalk, that wethoughtwe'dleaveourhatstohome."

Peter rang the door-bell, and presently a servant admitted them, and, whispering something in Sarah's ear, drew her downstairs into the kitchen. The other Ruggleses stood in horror-stricken groups as the door closed behind their commanding officer; but there was no time for reflection, for a voice from above was heard, saying, "Come right up stairs, please!"

"Theirs not to make reply,

Theirs not to reason why,

Theirs but to do or die."

Accordingly, they walked upstairs, and Elfrida, the nurse, ushered them into a room more splendid than anything they had ever seen. But, oh woe! where was Sarah Maud! and was it Fate that Mrs. Bird should say, at once, "Did you lay your hats in the hall?" Peter felt himself elected by circumstance the head of the family, and, casting one imploring look at tongue-tied Susan, standing next him, said huskily, "It was so very pleasant—that—that"— "That we had n't good hats enough to go 'round," put in little Susan, bravely, to help him out, and then froze with horror that the ill-fated words had slipped off her tongue.

However, Mrs. Bird said, pleasantly, "Of course you would n't wear hats such a short distance—I forgot when I asked. Now, will you come right in to Miss Carol's room? She is so anxious to see you."

Just then Sarah Maud came up the back stairs, so radiant with joy from her secret interview with the cook, that Peter could have pinched her with a clear conscience; and Carol gave them a joyful welcome. "But where is Baby Larry?" she cried, looking over the group with searching eye. "Did n't he come?"

"Larry! Larry!" Good gracious, where was Larry? They were all sure that he had come in with them, for Susan remembered scolding him for tripping over the door-mat. Uncle Jack went into convulsions of laughter. "Are you sure there were nine of you when you left home?" he asked, merrily.

"I think so, sir," said Peoria, timidly; "but, anyhow, there was Larry;" and she showed signs of weeping.

"Oh, well, cheer up!" cried Uncle Jack. "Probably he's not lost—only mislaid. I 'll go and find him before you can say Jack Robinson!"

"I 'll go, too, if you please, sir," said Sarah Maud, "for it was my place to mind him, an' if he 's lost I can't relish my vittles!"

The other Ruggleses stood rooted to the floor. Was this a dinner-party, forsooth; and, if so, why were such things ever spoken of as festive occasions?

Sarah Maud went out through the hall, calling, "Larry! Larry!" and without any interval of suspense a thin voice piped up from below, "Here I be!"

The truth was that Larry, being deserted by his natural guardian, dropped behind the rest, and wriggled into the hat-tree to wait for her, having no notion of walking unprotected into the jaws of a fashionable entertainment. Finding that she did not come, he tried to crawl from his refuge and call somebody, when—dark and dreadful ending to a tragic day, he found that he was too much intertwined with umbrellas and canes to move a single step. He was afraid to yell—when I have said this of Larry Ruggles I have pictured a state of helpless terror that ought to wring tears from every eye—and the sound of Sarah Maud's beloved voice, some seconds later, was like a strain of angel music in his ears. Uncle Jack dried his tears, carried him upstairs, and soon had him in breathless fits of laughter, while Carol so made the other Ruggleses forget themselves that they were presently talking like accomplished diners-out.

Carol's bed had been moved into the farthest corner of the room, and she was lying on the outside, dressed in a wonderful dressing-gown that looked like a fleecy cloud. Her golden hair fell in fluffy curls over her white forehead and neck, her cheeks flushed delicately, her eyes beamed with joy, and the children told their mother, afterwards, that she looked as beautiful as the angels in the picture books.

There was a great bustle behind a huge screen in another part of the room, and at half past five this was taken away, and the Christmas dinner-table stood revealed. What a wonderful sight it was to the poor little Ruggles children, who ate their sometimes scanty meals on the kitchen table! It blazed with tall colored candles, it gleamed with glass and silver, it blushed with flowers, it groaned with good things to eat; so it was not strange that the Ruggleses, forgetting altogether that their mother was a McGrill, shrieked in admiration of the fairy spectacle. But Larry's behavior was the most disgraceful, for he stood not upon the order of his going, but went at once for a high chair that pointed unmistakably to him, climbed up like a squirrel, gave a comprehensive look at the turkey, clapped his hands in ecstasy, rested his fat arms on the table, and cried with joy, "I beat the hull lot o' yer!" Carol laughed until she cried, giving orders, meanwhile: "Uncle Jack, please sit at the head, Sarah Maud at the foot, and that will leave four on each side; mother is going to help Elfrida, so that the children need not look after each other, but just have a good time."

A sprig of holly lay by each plate, and nothing would do but each little Ruggles must leave his seat and have it pinned on by Carol, and as each course was served, one of them pleaded to take something to her. There was hurrying to and fro, I can assure you, for it is quite a difficult matter to serve a Christmas dinner on the third floor of a great city house; but if it had been necessary to carry every dish up a rope ladder the servants would gladly have done so. There were turkey and chicken, with delicious gravy and stuffing, and there were half a dozen vegetables, with cranberry jelly, and celery, and pickles; and as for the way these delicacies were served, the Ruggleses never forgot it as long as they lived.

Peter nudged Kitty, who sat next him, and said, "Look, will yer, ev'ry feller 's got his own partic'lar butter; I s'pose that 's to show you can eat that 'n' no more. No, it ain't either, for that pig of a Peory 's just gettin' another helpin'!"

"Yes," whispered Kitty, "an' the napkins is marked with big red letters! I wonder if that 's so nobody 'll nip 'em; an' oh, Peter, look at the pictures stickin' right on ter the dishes. Did yer ever?"

"The plums is all took out o' my cramb'ry sarse, an' it 's friz to a stiff jell!" whispered Peoria, in wild excitement.

"Hi—yah! I got the wish-bone!" sang Larry, regardless of Sarah Maud's frown; after which she asked to have his seat changed, giving as excuse that he "gen'ally set beside her, an' would feel strange;" the true reason being that she desired to kick him gently, under the table, whenever he passed what might be termed "the McGrill line."

"I declare to goodness," murmured Susan, on the other side, "there 's so much to look at I can't scarcely eat nothin'!"

"Bet yer life I can!" said Peter, who had kept one servant busily employed ever since he sat down; for, luckily, no one was asked by Uncle Jack whether he would have a second helping, but the dishes were quietly passed under their noses, and not a single Ruggles refused anything that was offered him, even unto the seventh time.

Then, when Carol and Uncle Jack perceived that more turkey was a physical impossibility, the meats were taken off and the dessert was brought in, a dessert that would have frightened a strong man after such a dinner as had preceded it. Not so the Ruggleses, for a strong man is nothing to a small boy, and they kindled to the dessert as if the turkey had been a dream and the six vegetables an optical delusion. There were plum-pudding, mince-pie, and ice-cream; and there were nuts, and raisins, and oranges. Kitty chose ice-cream, explaining that she knew it "by sight, though she had n't never tasted none;" but all the rest took the entire variety, without any regard to consequences.



"My dear child," whispered Uncle Jack, as he took Carol an orange, "there is no doubt about the necessity of this feast, but I do advise you after this to have them twice a year, or quarterly, perhaps, for the way these children eat is positively dangerous; I assure you I tremble for that terrible Peoria. I'm going to run races with her after dinner."

"Never mind," laughed Carol, "let them have enough for once; it does my heart good to see them, and they shall come oftener next year."

The feast being over, the Ruggleses lay back in their chairs languidly, like little gorged boa-constrictors, and the table was cleared in a trice. Then a door was opened into the next room, and there, in a corner facing Carol's bed, which had been wheeled as close as possible, stood the brilliantly lighted Christmas tree, glittering with gilded walnuts and tiny silver balloons, and wreathed with snowy chains of pop-corn. The presents had been bought mostly with Carol's story-money, and were selected after long consultations with Mrs. Bird. Each girl had a blue knitted hood, and each boy a red crocheted comforter, all made by Mrs. Bird, Carol, and Elfrida. ("Because if you buy everything, it does n't show so much love," said Carol). Then every girl had a pretty plaid dress of a different color, and every boy a warm coat of the right size. Here the useful presents stopped, and they were quite enough; but Carol had pleaded to give them something "for fun." "I know they need the clothes," she had said, when they were talking over the matter just after Thanksgiving, "but they don't care much for them, after all. Now, Papa, won't you please  let me go without part of my presents this year, and give me the money they would cost, to buy something to amuse the Ruggleses?"

"You can have both," said Mr. Bird, promptly; "is there any need of my little girl's going without her own Christmas, I should like to know? Spend all the money you like."

"But that is n't the thing," objected Carol, nestling close to her father; "it would n't be mine. What is the use? Have n't I almost everything already, and am I not the happiest girl in the world this year, with Uncle Jack and Donald at home? You know very well it is more blessed to give than to receive; so why won't you let me do it? You never look half as happy when you are getting your presents as when you are giving us ours. Now, father, submit, or I shall have to be very firm and disagreeable with you!"

"Very well, your Highness, I surrender."

"That's a dear! Now, what were you going to give me? Confess!"

"A bronze figure of Santa Claus; and in the 'little round belly that shakes when he laughs like a bowlful of jelly,' is a wonderful clock—oh, you would never give it up if you could see it."

"Nonsense," laughed Carol; "as I never have to get up to breakfast, nor go to bed, nor catch trains, I think my old clock will do very well! Now, mother, what were you going to give me?"

"Oh, I had n't decided. A few more books, and a gold thimble, and a smelling-bottle, and a music-box, perhaps."

"Poor Carol," laughed the child, merrily, "she can afford to give up these lovely things, for there will still be left Uncle Jack, and Donald, and Paul, and Hugh, and Uncle Rob, and Aunt Elsie, and a dozen other people to fill her Christmas stocking!"

So Carol had her way, as she generally did; but it was usually a good way, which was fortunate, under the circumstances; and Sarah Maud had a set of Miss Alcott's books, and Peter a modest silver watch, Cornelius a tool-chest, Clement a dog-house for his lame puppy, Larry a magnificent Noah's ark, and each of the younger girls a beautiful doll.

You can well believe that everybody was very merry and very thankful. All the family, from Mr. Bird down to the cook, said they had never seen so much happiness in the space of three hours; but it had to end, as all things do. The candles flickered and went out, the tree was left alone with its gilded ornaments, and Mrs. Bird sent the children downstairs at half past eight, thinking that Carol looked tired.

"Now, my darling, you have done quite enough for one day," said Mrs. Bird, getting Carol into her nightgown. "I'm afraid you will feel worse to-morrow, and that would be a sad ending to such a charming evening."

"Oh, was n't it a lovely, lovely time," sighed Carol. "From first to last, everything was just right. I shall never forget Larry's face when he looked at the turkey; nor Peter's when he saw his watch; nor that sweet, sweet Kitty's smile when she kissed her dolly; nor the tears in poor, dull Sarah Maud's eyes when she thanked me for her books; nor—"

"But we must n't talk any longer about it to-night," said Mrs. Bird, anxiously; "you are too tired, dear."

"I am not tired, mother. I have felt well all day; not a bit of pain anywhere. Perhaps this has done me good."

"Perhaps; I hope so. There was no noise or confusion; it was just a merry time. Now, may I close the door and leave you alone, dear? Papa and I will steal in softly by and by to see if you are all right; but I think you need to be very quiet."

"Oh, I'm willing to stay by myself; but I am not sleepy yet, and I am going to hear the music, you know."

"Yes, I have opened the window a little, and put the screen in front of it, so that you won't feel the air."

"Can I have the shutters open? and won't you turn my bed, please? This morning I woke ever so early, and one bright beautiful star shone in that eastern window. I never noticed it before, and I thought of the Star in the East, that guided the wise men to the place where baby Jesus was. Good-night, mother. Such a happy, happy day!"

"Good night, my precious Christmas Carol—mother's blessed Christmas child."

"Bend your head a minute,before you go," whispered Carol. "Mother, dear, I do think that we have kept Christ's birthday this time just as He would like it. Don't you?"

"I am sure of it," said Mrs. Bird, softly.


Richard of Jamestown  by James Otis

Lord De la Warr's Arrival

At the mouth of the river, sailing toward us bravely as if having come from some glorious victory, were three ships laden with men, and, as we afterward came to know, an ample store of provisions.

It was Lord De la Warr who had come to take up his governorship, and verily he was arrived in the very point of time, for had he been delayed four and twenty hours, we would have been on the ocean, where was little likelihood of seeing him.

It needs not I should say that our ships were turned back, and before nightfall Master Hunt was sitting in Captain Smith's house, with Nathaniel Peacock and me cooking for him such a dinner as we three had not known these six months past.


I have finished my story of Jamestown, having set myself to tell only of what was done there while we were with Captain John Smith.

And it is well I should bring this story to an end here, for if I make any attempt at telling what came to Nathaniel Peacock and myself after that, then am I like to keep on until he who has begun to read will lay down the story because of weariness.

For the satisfaction of myself, and the better pleasing of Nathaniel Peacock, however, I will add, concerning our two selves, that we remained in the land of Virginia until our time of apprenticeship was ended, and then it was, that Master Hunt did for us as Captain Smith had promised to do.


Richard of Jamestown  by James Otis

The Young Planters

We found ourselves, in the year 1614, the owners of an hundred acres of land which Nathaniel and I had chosen some distance back from the river, so that we might stand in no danger of the shaking sickness, and built ourselves a house like unto the one we had helped make for Captain Smith.

With the coming of Lord De la Warr all things were changed. The governing of the people was done as my old master, who never saw Virginia again, I grieve to say, would have had it. We became a law-abiding people, save when a few hot-heads stirred up trouble and got the worst of it.

When Nathaniel Peacock and I settled down as planters on our own account, there were eleven villages in the land of Virginia, and, living in them, more than four thousand men, women, and children.

It was no longer a country over which the savages ruled without check, though sad to relate, the brown men of the land shed the blood of white men like water, ere they were driven out from among us.

It is well I set down here at the end, that but for Captain John Smith and Master Hunt, Nathaniel Peacock and I might have remained in London to become worthless vagabonds, whereas we stand to-day free men, planters who are fairly well respected among our fellows; and I hope, as well as believe, that no man within this land of Virginia can say that he was ever wronged or made sorrowful by Nathaniel Peacock or Richard of Jamestown.


Old Carol

I Saw Three Ships

I saw three ships come sailing in,

On Christmas day, on Christmas day;

I saw three ships come sailing in,

On Christmas day in the morning.

Pray whither sailed those ships all three

On Christmas day, on Christmas day?

Pray whither sailed those ships all three

On Christmas day in the morning?

Oh, they sailed into Bethlehem

On Christmas day, on Christmas day;

Oh, they sailed into Bethlehem

On Christmas day in the morning.

And all the bells on earth shall ring

On Christmas day, on Christmas day;

And all the bells on earth shall ring

On Christmas day in the morning.

And all the angels in heaven shall sing

On Christmas day, on Christmas day;

And all the angels in heaven shall sing

On Christmas day in the morning.

And all the souls on earth shall sing

On Christmas day, on Christmas day;

And all the souls on earth shall sing

On Christmas day in the morning.


  WEEK 52  


The Birds' Christmas Carol  by Kate Douglas Wiggin

The Birdling Flies Away

T HE Ruggleses had finished a last romp in the library with Paul and Hugh, and Uncle Jack had taken them home and stayed a while to chat with Mrs. Ruggles, who opened the door for them, her face all aglow with excitement and delight. When Kitty and Clem showed her the oranges and nuts they had kept for her, she astonished them by saying that at six o'clock Mrs. Bird had sent her in the finest dinner she had ever seen in her life; and not only that, but a piece of dress-goods that must have cost a dollar a yard if it cost a cent.

As Uncle Jack went down the rickety steps he looked back into the window for a last glimpse of the family, as the children gathered about their mother, showing their beautiful presents again and again, and then upward to a window in the great house yonder. "A little child shall lead them," he thought. "Well, if—if anything ever happens to Carol, I will take the Ruggleses under my wing."

"Softly, Uncle Jack," whispered the boys, as he walked into the library a little while later. "We are listening to the music in the church. The choir has sung 'Carol, brothers, carol,' and now we think the organist is beginning to play 'My ain countree' for Carol."

"I hope she hears it," said Mrs. Bird; "but they are very late to-night, and I dare not speak to her lest she should be asleep. It is almost ten o'clock."

The boy soprano, clad in white surplice, stood in the organ loft. The light shone full upon his crown of fair hair, and his pale face, with its serious blue eyes, looked paler than usual. Perhaps it was something in the tender thrill of the voice, or in the sweet words, but there were tears in many eyes, both in the church and in the great house next door.

"I am far frae my hame,

I am weary aften whiles

For the langed for hame-bringin',

An' my Faether's welcome smiles;

An' I 'll ne'er be fu' content,

Until my e'en do see

The gowden gates o' heaven

In my ain countree.

"The earth is decked wi' flow'rs,

Mony tinted, fresh an' gay,

An' the birdies warble blythely,

For my Faether made them sae;

But these sights an' these soun's

Will as naething be to me,

When I hear the angels singin'

In my ain countree.

"Like a bairn to its mither,

A wee birdie to its nest,

I fain would be gangin' noo

Unto my Faether's breast;

For He gathers in His arms

Helpless, worthless lambs like me,

An' carries them Himsel'

To His ain countree."



There were tears in many eyes, but not in Carol's. The loving heart had quietly ceased to beat and the "wee birdie" in the great house had flown to its "home nest." Carol had fallen asleep! But as to the song, I think perhaps, I cannot say, she heard it after all!

So sad an ending to a happy day! Perhaps—to those who were left; and yet Carol's mother, even in the freshness of her grief, was glad that her darling had slipped away on the loveliest day of her life, out of its glad content, into everlasting peace.

She was glad that she had gone, as she had come, on wings of song, when all the world was brimming over with joy; glad of every grateful smile, of every joyous burst of laughter, of every loving thought and word and deed the dear last day had brought.

Sadness reigned, it is true, in the little house behind the garden; and one day poor Sarah Maud, with a courage born of despair, threw on her hood and shawl, walked straight to a certain house a mile away, up the marble steps into good Dr. Bartol's office, falling at his feet as she cried, "Oh, sir, it was me an' our children that went to Miss Carol's last dinner-party, an' if we made her worse we can't never be happy again!" Then the kind old gentleman took her rough hand in his and told her to dry her tears, for neither she nor any of her flock had hastened Carol's flight; indeed, he said that had it not been for the strong hopes and wishes that filled her tired heart, she could not have stayed long enough to keep that last merry Christmas with her dear ones.

And so the old years, fraught with memories, die, one after another, and the new years, bright with hopes, are born to take their places; but Carol lives again in every chime of Christmas bells that peal glad tidings, and in every Christmas anthem sung by childish voices.


The Children's Book of Christmas Stories  by Asa Don Dickinson

Little Gretchen and the Wooden Shoe

T HE following story is one of many which has drifted down to us from the story-loving nurseries and hearthstones of Germany. I cannot recall when I first had it told to me as a child, varied, of course, by different tellers, but always leaving that sweet, tender impression of God's loving care for the least of his children. I have since read different versions of it in at least a half-dozen story books for children.

Once upon a time, a long time ago, far away across the great ocean, in a country called Germany, there could be seen a small log hut on the edge of a great forest, whose fir-trees extended for miles and miles to the north. This little house, made of heavy hewn logs, had but one room in it. A rough pine door gave entrance to this room, and a small square window admitted the light. At the back of the house was built an old-fashioned stone chimney, out of which in winter usually curled a thin, blue smoke, showing that there was not very much fire within.

Small as the house was, it was large enough for the two people who lived in it. I want to tell you a story to-day about these two people. One was an old, gray-haired woman, so old that the little children of the village, nearly half a mile away, often wondered whether she had come into the world with the huge mountains, and the great fir-trees, which stood like giants back of her small hut. Her face was wrinkled all over with deep lines, which, if the children could only have read aright, would have told them of many years of cheerful, happy, self-sacrifice, of loving, anxious watching beside sick-beds, of quiet endurance of pain, of many a day of hunger and cold, and of a thousand deeds of unselfish love for other people; but, of course, they could not read this strange handwriting. They only knew that she was old and wrinkled, and that she stooped as she walked. None of them seemed to fear her, for her smile was always cheerful, and she had a kindly word for each of them if they chanced to meet her on her way to and from the village. With this old, old woman lived a very little girl. So bright and happy was she that the travellers who passed by the lonesome little house on the edge of the forest often thought of a sunbeam as they saw her. These two people were known in the village as Granny Goodyear and Little Gretchen.

The winter had come and the frost had snapped off many of the smaller branches from the pine-trees in the forest. Gretchen and her Granny were up by daybreak each morning. After their simple breakfast of oatmeal, Gretchen would run to the little closet and fetch Granny's old woollen shawl, which seemed almost as old as Granny herself. Gretchen always claimed the right to put the shawl over her Granny's head, even though she had to climb onto the wooden bench to do it. After carefully pinning it under Granny's chin, she gave her a good-bye kiss, and Granny started out for her morning's work in the forest. This work was nothing more nor less than the gathering up of the twigs and branches which the autumn winds and winter frosts had thrown upon the ground. These were carefully gathered into a large bundle which Granny tied together with a strong linen band. She then managed to lift the bundle to her shoulder and trudged off to the village with it. Here she sold the fagots for kindling wood to the people of the village. Sometimes she would get only a few pence each day, and sometimes a dozen or more, but on this money little Gretchen and she managed to live; they had their home, and the forest kindly furnished the wood for the fire which kept them warm in cold weather.

In the summer time Granny had a little garden at the back of the hut where she raised, with little Gretchen's help, a few potatoes and turnips and onions. These she carefully stored away for winter use. To this meagre supply, the pennies, gained by selling the twigs from the forest, added the oatmeal for Gretchen and a little black coffee for Granny. Meat was a thing they never thought of having. It cost too much money. Still, Granny and Gretchen were very happy, because they loved each other dearly. Sometimes Gretchen would be left alone all day long in the hut, because Granny would have some work to do in the village after selling her bundle of sticks and twigs. It was during these long days that little Gretchen had taught herself to sing the song which the wind sang to the pine branches. In the summer time she learned the chirp and twitter of the birds, until her voice might almost be mistaken for a bird's voice; she learned to dance as the swaying shadows did, and even to talk to the stars which shone through the little square window when Granny came home too late or too tired to talk.

Sometimes, when the weather was fine, or her Granny had an extra bundle of newly knitted stockings to take to the village, she would let little Gretchen go along with her. It chanced that one of these trips to the town came just the week before Christmas, and Gretchen's eyes were delighted by the sight of the lovely Christmas-trees which stood in the window of the village store. It seemed to her that she would never tire of looking at the knit dolls, the woolly lambs, the little wooden shops with their odd, painted men and women in them, and all the other fine things. She had never owned a plaything in her whole life; therefore, toys which you and I would not think much of, seemed to her to be very beautiful.

That night, after their supper of baked potatoes was over, and little Gretchen had cleared away the dishes and swept up the hearth, because Granny dear was so tired, she brought her own small wooden stool and placed it very near Granny's feet and sat down upon it, folding her hands on her lap. Granny knew that this meant she wanted to talk about something, so she smilingly laid away the large Bible which she had been reading, and took up her knitting, which was as much as to say: "Well, Gretchen, dear, Granny is ready to listen."

"Granny," said Gretchen slowly, "it's almost Christmas time, isn't it?"

"Yes, dearie," said Granny, "only five more days now," and then she sighed, but little Gretchen was so happy that she did not notice Granny's sigh.

"What do you think, Granny, I'll get this Christmas?" said she, looking up eagerly into Granny's face.

"Ah, child, child," said Granny, shaking her head, "you'll have no Christmas this year. We are too poor for that."

"Oh, but, Granny," interrupted little Gretchen, "think of all the beautiful toys we saw in the village to-day. Surely Santa Claus has sent enough for every little child."

"Ah, dearie," said Granny, "those toys are for people who can pay money for them, and we have no money to spend for Christmas toys."

"Well, Granny," said Gretchen, "perhaps some of the little children who live in the great house on the hill at the other end of the village will be willing to share some of their toys with me. They will be so glad to give some to a little girl who has none."

"Dear child, dear child," said Granny, leaning forward and stroking the soft, shiny hair of the little girl, "your heart is full of love. You would be glad to bring a Christmas to every child; but their heads are so full of what they are going to get that they forget all about anybody else but themselves." Then she sighed and shook her head.

"Well, Granny," said Gretchen, her bright, happy tone of voice growing a little less joyous, "perhaps the dear Santa Claus will show some of the village children how to make presents that do not cost money, and some of them may surprise me Christmas morning with a present. And, Granny, dear," added she, springing up from her low stool, "can't I gather some of the pine branches and take them to the old sick man who lives in the house by the mill, so that he can have the sweet smell of our pine forest in his room all Christmas day?"

"Yes, dearie," said Granny, "you may do what you can to make the Christmas bright and happy, but you must not expect any present yourself."

"Oh, but, Granny," said little Gretchen, her face brightening, "you forget all about the shining Christmas angels, who came down to earth and sang their wonderful song the night the beautiful Christ-Child was born! They are so loving and good that they  will not forget any little child. I shall ask my dear stars to-night to tell them of us. You know," she added, with a look of relief, "the stars are so very high that they must know the angels quite well, as they come and go with their messages from the loving God."

Granny sighed, as she half whispered, "Poor child, poor child!" but Gretchen threw her arm around Granny's neck and gave her a hearty kiss, saying as she did so: "Oh, Granny, Granny, you don't talk to the stars often enough, else you wouldn't be sad at Christmas time." Then she danced all around the room, whirling her little skirts about her to show Granny how the wind had made the snow dance that day. She looked so droll and funny that Granny forgot her cares and worries and laughed with little Gretchen over her new snow-dance. The days passed on, and the morning before Christmas Eve came. Gretchen having tidied up the little room—for Granny had taught her to be a careful little housewife—was off to the forest, singing a birdlike song, almost as happy and free as the birds themselves. She was very busy that day, preparing a surprise for Granny. First, however, she gathered the most beautiful of the fir branches within her reach to take the next morning to the old sick man who lived by the mill.

The day was all too short for the happy little girl. When Granny came trudging wearily home that night, she found the frame of the doorway covered with green pine branches.

"It's to welcome you, Granny! It's to welcome you!" cried Gretchen; "our old dear home wanted to give you a Christmas welcome. Don't you see, the branches of evergreen make it look as if it were smiling all over, and it is trying to say, 'A happy Christmas' to you, Granny!"

Granny laughed and kissed the little girl, as they opened the door and went in together. Here was a new surprise for Granny. The four posts of the wooden bed, which stood in one corner of the room, had been trimmed by the busy little fingers, with smaller and more flexible branches of the pine-trees. A small bouquet of red mountain-ash berries stood at each side of the fireplace, and these, together with the trimmed posts of the bed, gave the plain old room quite a festival look. Gretchen laughed and clapped her hands and danced about until the house seemed full of music to poor, tired Granny, whose heart had been sad as she turned toward their home that night, thinking of the disappointment which must come to loving little Gretchen the next morning.

After supper was over little Gretchen drew her stool up to Granny's side, and laying her soft, little hands on Granny's knee, asked to be told once again the story of the coming of the Christ-Child; how the night that he was born the beautiful angels had sung their wonderful song, and how the whole sky had become bright with a strange and glorious light, never seen by the people of earth before. Gretchen had heard the story many, many times before, but she never grew tired of it, and now that Christmas Eve had come again, the happy little child wanted to hear it once more.

When Granny had finished telling it the two sat quiet and silent for a little while thinking it over; then Granny rose and said that it was time for them to go to bed. She slowly took off her heavy wooden shoes, such as are worn in that country, and placed them beside the hearth. Gretchen looked thoughtfully at them for a minute or two, and then she said, "Granny, don't you think that somebody in all this wide world will think of us to-night?"

"Nay, Gretchen," said Granny, "I don't think any one will."

"Well, then, Granny," said Gretchen, "the Christmas angels will, I know; so I am going to take one of your wooden shoes, and put it on the windowsill outside, so that they may see it as they pass by. I am sure the stars will tell the Christmas angels where the shoe is."

"Ah, you foolish, foolish child," said Granny, "you are only getting ready for a disappointment. To-morrow morning there will be nothing whatever in the shoe. I can tell you that now."

But little Gretchen would not listen. She only shook her head and cried out: "Ah, Granny, you don't talk enough to the stars." With this she seized the shoe, and, opening the door, hurried out to place it on the windowsill. It was very dark without, and something soft and cold seemed to gently kiss her hair and face. Gretchen knew by this that it was snowing, and she looked up to the sky, anxious to see if the stars were in sight, but a strong wind was tumbling the dark, heavy snow-clouds about and had shut away all else.

"Never mind," said Gretchen softly to herself, "the stars are up there, even if I can't see them, and the Christmas angels do not mind snowstorms."

Just then a rough wind went sweeping by the little girl, whispering something to her which she could not understand, and then it made a sudden rush up to the snow-clouds and parted them, so that the deep, mysterious sky appeared beyond, and shining down out of the midst of it was Gretchen's favourite star.

"Ah, little star, little star!" said the child, laughing aloud, "I knew you were there, though I couldn't see you. Will you whisper to the Christmas angels as they come by that little Gretchen wants so very much to have a Christmas gift to-morrow morning, if they have one to spare, and that she has put one of Granny's shoes upon the windowsill ready for it?"

A moment more and the little girl, standing on tiptoe, had reached the windowsill and placed the shoe upon it, and was back again in the house beside Granny and the warm fire.

The two went quietly to bed, and that night as little Gretchen knelt to pray to the Heavenly Father, she thanked him for having sent the Christ-Child into the world to teach all mankind how to be loving and unselfish, and in a few moments she was quietly sleeping, dreaming of the Christmas angels.

The next morning, very early, even before the sun was up, little Gretchen was awakened by the sound of sweet music coming from the village. She listened for a moment and then she knew that the choir-boys were singing the Christmas carols in the open air of the village street. She sprang up out of bed and began to dress herself as quickly as possible, singing as she dressed. While Granny was slowly putting on her clothes, little Gretchen, having finished dressing herself, unfastened the door and hurried out to see what the Christmas angels had left in the old wooden shoe.

The white snow covered everything—trees, stumps, roads, and pastures—until the whole world looked like fairyland. Gretchen climbed up on a large stone which was beneath the window and carefully lifted down the wooden shoe. The snow tumbled off of it in a shower over the little girl's hands, but she did not heed that; she ran hurriedly back into the house, putting her hand into the toe of the shoe as she ran.

"Oh, Granny! Oh, Granny!" she exclaimed, "you didn't believe the Christmas angels would think about us, but see, they have, they have! Here is a dear little bird nestled down in the toe of your shoe! Oh, isn't he beautiful?"

Granny came forward and looked at what the child was holding lovingly in her hand. There she saw a tiny chick-a-dee, whose wing was evidently broken by the rough and boisterous winds of the night before, and who had taken shelter in the safe, dry toe of the old wooden shoe. She gently took the little bird out of Gretchen's hands, and skilfully bound his broken wing to his side, so that he need not hurt himself by trying to fly with it. Then she showed Gretchen how to make a nice warm nest for the little stranger, close beside the fire, and when their breakfast was ready she let Gretchen feed the little bird with a few moist crumbs.

Later in the day Gretchen carried the fresh, green boughs to the old sick man by the mill, and on her way home stopped to see and enjoy the Christmas toys of some other children whom she knew, never once wishing that they were hers. When she reached home she found that the little bird had gone to sleep. Soon, however, he opened his eyes and stretched his head up, saying just as plain as a bird could say, "Now, my new friends, I want you to give me something more to eat." Gretchen gladly fed him again, and then, holding him in her lap, she softly and gently stroked his gray feathers until the little creature seemed to lose all fear of her. That evening Granny taught her a Christmas hymn and told her another beautiful Christmas story. Then Gretchen made up a funny little story to tell to the birdie. He winked his eyes and turned his head from side to side in such a droll fashion that Gretchen laughed until the tears came.

As Granny and she got ready for bed that night, Gretchen put her arms softly around Granny's neck, and whispered: "What a beautiful Christmas we have had to-day, Granny! Is there anything in the world more lovely than Christmas?"

"Nay, child, nay," said Granny, "not to such loving hearts as yours."

— Elizabeth Harrison


An Old English Carol

Sing high, sing low,

Sing to and fro,

Go tell it out with speed,

Cry out and shout,

All round about,

That Christ is born indeed!


  WEEK 52  


The Burgess Bird Book for Children  by Thornton Burgess

Peter Sees Two Terrible Feathered Hunters

W HILE it is true that Peter Rabbit likes winter, it is also true that life is anything but easy for him that season. In the first place he has to travel about a great deal to get sufficient food, and that means that he must run more risks. There isn't a minute of day or night that he is outside of the dear Old Briar-patch when he can afford not to watch and listen for danger. You see, at this season of the year, Reddy Fox often finds it difficult to get a good meal. He is hungry most of the time, and he is forever hunting for Peter Rabbit. With snow on the ground and no leaves on the bushes and young trees, it is not easy for Peter to hide. So, as he travels about, the thought of Reddy Fox is always in his mind.

But there are others whom Peter fears even more, and these wear feathers instead of fur coats. One of these is Terror the Goshawk. Peter is not alone in his fear of Terror. There is not one among his feathered friends who will not shiver at the mention of Terror's name. Peter will not soon forget the day he discovered that Terror had come down from the Far North, and was likely to stay for the rest of the winter. Peter went hungry all the rest of that day.

You see it was this way: Peter had gone over to the Green Forest very early that morning in the hope of getting breakfast in a certain swamp. He was hopping along, lipperty-lipperty-lip, with his thoughts chiefly on that breakfast he hoped to get, but at the same time with ears and eyes alert for possible danger, when a strange feeling swept over him. It was a feeling that great danger was very near, though he saw nothing and heard nothing to indicate it. It was just a feeling, that was all.

Now Peter has learned that the wise thing to do when one has such a feeling as that is to seek safety first and investigate afterwards. At the instant he felt that strange feeling of fear he was passing a certain big, hollow log. Without really knowing why he did it, because, you know, he didn't stop to do any thinking, he dived into that hollow log, and even as he did so there was the sharp swish of great wings. Terror the Goshawk had missed catching Peter by the fraction of a second.

With his heart thumping as if it were trying to pound its way through his ribs, Peter peeped out of that hollow log. Terror had alighted on a tall stump only a few feet away. To Peter in his fright he seemed the biggest bird he ever had seen. Of course he wasn't. Actually he was very near the same size as Redtail the Hawk, whom Peter knew well. He was handsome. There was no denying the fact that he was handsome.

His back was bluish. His head seemed almost black. Over and behind each eye was a white line. Underneath he was beautifully marked with wavy bars of gray and white. On his tail were four dark bands. Yes, he was handsome. But Peter had no thought for his beauty. He could see nothing but the fierceness of the eyes that were fixed on the entrance to that hollow log. Peter shivered as if with a cold chill. He knew that in Terror was no pity or gentleness.

"I hope," thought Peter, "that Mr. and Mrs. Grouse are nowhere about." You see he knew that there is no one that Terror would rather catch than a member of the Grouse family.

Terror did not sit on that stump long. He knew that Peter was not likely to come out in a hurry. Presently he flew away, and Peter suspected from the direction in which he was headed that Terror was going over to visit Farmer Brown's henyard. Of all the members of the Hawk family there is none more bold than Terror the Goshawk. He would not hesitate to seize a hen from almost beneath Farmer Brown's nose. He is well named, for the mere suspicion that he is anywhere about strikes terror to the heart of all the furred and feathered folks. He is so swift of wing that few can escape him, and he has no pity, but kills for the mere love of killing. In this respect he is like Shadow the Weasel. To kill for food is forgiven by the little people of the Green Forest and the Green Meadows, but to kill needlessly is unpardonable. This is why Terror the Goshawk is universally hated and has not a single friend.

All that day Peter remained hidden in that hollow log. He did not dare put foot outside until the Black Shadows began to creep through the Green Forest. Then he knew that there was nothing more to fear from Terror the Goshawk, for he hunts only by day. Once more Peter's thoughts were chiefly of his stomach, for it was very, very empty.

But it was not intended that Peter should fill his stomach at once. He had gone but a little way when from just ahead of him the silence of the early evening was broken by a terrifying sound—"Whooo-hoo-hoo, whooo-hoo!" It was so sudden and there was in it such a note of fierceness that Peter had all he could do to keep from jumping and running for dear life. But he knew that voice and he knew, too, that safety lay in keeping perfectly still. So with his heart thumping madly, as when he had escaped from Terror that morning, Peter sat as still as if he could not move.

It was the hunting call of Hooty the Great Horned Owl, and it had been intended to frighten some one into jumping and running, or at least into moving ever so little. Peter knew all about that trick of Hooty's. He knew that in all the Green Forest there are no ears so wonderful as those of Hooty the Owl, and that the instant he had uttered that fierce hunting call he had strained those wonderful ears to catch the faintest sound which some startled little sleeper of the night might make. The rustle of a leaf would be enough to bring Hooty to the spot on his great silent wings, and then his fierce yellow eyes, which are made for seeing in the dusk, would find the victim.

So Peter sat still, fearful that the very thumping of his heart might reach those wonderful ears. Again that terrible hunting cry rang out, and again Peter had all he could do to keep from jumping. But he didn't jump, and a few minutes later, as he sat staring at a certain tall, dead stub of a tree, wondering just where Hooty was, the top of that stub seemed to break off, and a great, broad-winged bird flew away soundlessly like a drifting shadow. It was Hooty himself. Sitting perfectly straight on the top of that tall, dead stub he had seemed a part of it. Peter waited some time before he ventured to move. Finally he heard Hooty's hunting call in a distant part of the Green Forest, and knew that it was safe for him to once more think of his empty stomach.

Later in the winter while the snow still lay in the Green Forest, and the ice still bound the Laughing Brook, Peter made a surprising discovery. He was over in a certain lonely part of the Green Forest when he happened to remember that near there was an old nest which had once belonged to Redtail the Hawk. Out of idle curiosity Peter ran over for a look at that old nest. Imagine how surprised he was when just as he came within sight of it, he saw a great bird just settling down on it. Peter's heart jumped right up in his throat. At least that is the way it seemed, for he recognized Mrs. Hooty.

Of course Peter stopped right where he was and took the greatest care not to move or make a sound. Presently Hooty himself appeared and perched in a tree near at hand. Peter has seen Hooty many times before, but always as a great, drifting shadow in the moonlight. Now he could see him clearly. As he sat bolt upright he seemed to be of the same height as Terror the Goshawk, but with a very much bigger body. If Peter had but known it, his appearance of great size was largely due to the fluffy feathers in which Hooty was clothed. Like his small cousin, Spooky the Screech Owl, Hooty seemed to have no neck at all. He looked as if his great head was set directly on his shoulders. From each side of his head two great tufts of feathers stood out like ears or horns. His bill was sharply hooked. He was dressed wholly in reddish-brown with little buff and black markings, and on his throat was a white patch. His legs were feathered, and so were his feet clear to the great claws

But it was on the great, round, fierce, yellow eyes that Peter kept his own eyes. He had always thought of Hooty as being able to see only in the dusk of evening or on moonlight nights, but somehow he had a feeling that even now in broad daylight Hooty could see perfectly well, and he was quite right.

For a long time Peter sat there without moving. He dared not do anything else. After he had recovered from his first fright he began to wonder what Hooty and Mrs. Hooty were doing at that old nest. His curiosity was aroused. He felt that he simply must find out. By and by Hooty flew away very carefully, so as not to attract the attention of Mrs. Hooty. Peter stole back the way he had come. When he was far enough away to feel reasonably safe, he scampered as fast as ever he could. He wanted to get away from that place, and he wanted to find some one of whom he could ask questions.

Presently he met his cousin, Jumper the Hare, and at once in a most excited manner told him all he had seen.

Jumper listened until Peter was through. "If you'll take my advice," said he, "you'll keep away from that part of the Green Forest, Cousin Peter. From what you tell me it is quite clear to me that the Hooties have begun nesting."

"Nesting!" exclaimed Peter. "Nesting! Why, gentle Mistress Spring will not get here for a month yet!"

"I said nesting,"  retorted Jumper, speaking rather crossly, for you see he did not like to have his word doubted. "Hooty the Great Horned Owl doesn't wait for Mistress Spring. He and Mrs. Hooty believe in getting household cares out of the way early. Along about this time of year they hunt up an old nest of Redtail the Hawk or Blacky the Crow or Chatterer the Red Squirrel, for they do not take the trouble to build a nest themselves. Then Mrs. Hooty lays her eggs while there is still snow and ice. Why their youngsters don't catch their death from cold when they hatch out is more than I can say. But they don't. I'm sorry to hear that the Hooties have a nest here this year. It means a bad time for a lot of little folks in feathers and fur. I certainly shall keep away from that part of the Green Forest, and I advise you to."

Peter said that he certainly should, and then started on for the dear Old Briar-patch to think things over. The discovery that already the nesting season of a new year had begun turned Peter's thoughts towards the coming of sweet Mistress Spring and the return of his many feathered friends who had left for the far-away South so long before. A great longing to hear the voices of Welcome Robin and Winsome Bluebird and Little Friend the Song Sparrow swept over him, and a still greater longing for a bit of friendly gossip with Jenny Wren. In the past year he had learned much about his feathered neighbors, but there were still many things he wanted to know, things which only Jenny Wren could tell him. He was only just beginning to find out that no one knows all there is to know, especially about the birds. And no one ever will.


The Christmas Porringer  by Evaleen Stein

Christmas Eve Again

A S Grandmother and Karen still sat in the firelight, dreaming their dreams and thinking of many things, not far away, along The Little Street Of The Holy Ghost, a man was walking rapidly. Of course there was nothing odd about that, but it was  curious that this man was the very same one who had hurried down that very street exactly a year before—and yet any one who had seen him then would never have believed that it could possibly be the same.

For instead of Hans the Robber, unkempt and ragged, walking stealthily and keeping a constant sharp lookout lest he be surprised in some of his evil doing, this man Hans was decently clad and bore himself fearlessly. He carried something in his hands, and he seemed to be looking for some place.

Presently he came to the corner where stood the little yellow house, and there he paused for a moment and a look of disappointment came into his face; for there seemed to be no light in the house and it looked as if no one were home. But as Hans came opposite to one of the little windows, he glanced in and could see Grandmother and Karen sitting hand in hand by the hearth. Then he looked carefully about him and noticed across the street a narrow passageway that lay in the shadow between two rambling old houses, and he gave a little smile of satisfaction.

The next thing he did was to place the objects he had been carrying in his hands in a row on the doorstep, close in front of the door, so that any one opening it could not help but see them—that is, if the room within had been light, for otherwise the deep, old-fashioned doorway was quite in shadow. There was no street lamp near, and, though the snow had ceased, the night was moonless and the stars partly hidden by clouds. A few lights shone faintly from some of the houses opposite, but these did not help any, as they did not touch the doorstep; and as Hans realized that the things he had placed there could thus scarcely be seen, he looked troubled for a moment, but suddenly he broke into a low laugh as he said to himself: "Lucky I thought to put in candles!"

And then, fumbling in his pockets, at last he found a bit of paper which had been wrapped around his tobacco; for his pipe was the one indulgence that Hans allowed himself, and this he seldom left behind if he could help it. Having found the bit of paper, he hastily twisted it into a tiny taper, and then he looked up and down the street to be sure it was quite deserted, for he wanted to have things to himself for a few minutes.

There was no one in sight, and he could hear no footfalls; so quickly thrusting the taper into the bowl of his pipe, he held his hand around it and blew softly on the glowing coals till in a moment the taper caught fire. Then, instantly, he stooped and laid it to the tips of two tall, shimmering white objects in the row he had set on the step, and which proved to be candles held in a pair of brass candlesticks. Hans had little trouble in lighting them, for the air was perfectly still and the space in front of the door deep enough to shelter the candles well. When the tiny golden flames sprang up, they showed that between them on the step was what seemed to be a little bowl with blue handles, only instead of being full of sweetmeats, as one might perhaps expect on Christmas eve, it was filled with something that glistened with a silvery light.

But Hans did not stop to look at these things, for the moment the candles began to burn he gave a knock on the door, and then, quick as a flash, he darted across the narrow street, and drew back in the dark shadow of the passageway he had noticed. For, while he did not wish to be seen, he wanted to watch and be sure that the things he had brought were safely received and not stolen by some night prowler such as he himself had been a year before.

Hans had scarcely hidden himself when he heard Karen tugging to unbar the door; and, in another moment, as she pulled it open, he saw her stand perfectly still in the golden candlelight, clasping her hands in utter amazement, while the startled wonder grew in her blue eyes as she stared down at the things at her feet.

Then presently, "Grandmother! Grandmother!" she cried excitedly in a high, sweet voice, "come quickly and see what the Christ-child has brought!"

Hans could see Grandmother hurry to Karen as the little girl knelt on the floor and lifting up the lighted candles exclaimed, "Look, Grandmother! Here are Christmas candles in our very own brass candlesticks!"

And then as Grandmother, speechless with amazement, took the candles from her and Karen lifted up the dish that had stood between them, "Why—why, it is full of silver money!"  she cried in bewilderment; and then, as she looked at the blue handles and the stripe of color around its edge, she exclaimed, "And oh, Grandmother, I do believe this is the very porringer I gave the Christ-child last Christmas!"

She rose to her feet and carried the porringer over to the table where Grandmother had already set the candles, and Hans heard no more.

Indeed, at that moment Hans was standing up very straight with a startled look growing on his own face, and with Karen's words still ringing in his ears.

"What?"  he repeated to himself. "The very porringer she gave the Christ-child?"  and he began to think very hard.

In a moment it all straightened itself out in his mind. Hans drew a deep breath, and then he said to himself slowly: "So that was why it was outside on the doorstep! And it was no gift some one had brought her—but a present from her to the Christ-child!—And—and—I  took it!" And Hans gasped and turned pale; for even in his worst robber days he would as soon have thought of stealing something from the cathedral as the Christ-child's porringer, had he known what it was.

"And to think," he went on to himself, with a horrified look in his face, "that I tried to break it, and to sell it at the thieves' market, and then kept it all this while—and what if I had not brought it back!"  Here Hans fairly shivered with fear; for he felt that he had been guilty of a particularly dreadful sin when he took that little porringer, and he began to wonder what punishment he would receive for it.

But all at once he heard Karen's happy laughter ring out from the little house, for in their excitement the door still stood partly open. And then a ray of light from a lamp in one of the brown houses beside him shone out through a window, and, crossing the narrow street, touched the front of the little yellow house, and wavered, and presently flitted for a moment into the little shrine up in the corner; and, as Hans looked, it beamed over the face of the Christ-child, who seemed to be gazing down right into the eyes of Hans and smiling happily. And at that moment, Hans could not have told why, but all his fear vanished and he began to smile happily himself.

As he came from his hiding-place and started off briskly down the street, and up in the beautiful belfry the chimes played sweetly through the frosty air, he found himself whistling softly a little tune keeping time with the bells; and he knew his heart had not been so light since he was a little boy in Quiberon.


Anna E. Skinner

Old King Winter

Old King Winter's on his throne

In robes of ermine white;

The crown of jewels on his head

Now glitters bright with light.

The little flakes of snow and hail,

And tiny pearls of sleet,

Are with the wild winds dancing

All round his magic feet.

His beard is white, his cheeks are red,

His heart is filled with cheer;

His season's best some people say;

The best  of all the year.

— Anna E. Skinner


  WEEK 52  


The Christmas Porringer  by Evaleen Stein

Karen Perplexed

W HILE Hans went thus whistling happily down the street, Grandmother and Karen were still breathless with excitement over the good fortune that had come to them.

With trembling hands Grandmother had emptied the contents of the porringer on the table, and as she looked at the little pile of shining silver coins that had filled it she knew it was enough to keep them for months—yes, with their simple wants, they might live on it for a year! And already she felt stronger and better able to work since the fear of the alms-house was thus gone—at least for a long while.

But where  had the money come from? She stood dazed before it, so bewildered trying to account for it that presently Karen asked her in surprise, "Why, Grandmother, wasn't it the Christ-child who brought everything?" And then she answered slowly and softly, with awe and wonder quivering through her voice, "Yes, little one, it must have been none other than the Christ-child!"

And, of course, it was; and that he had chosen Hans to be his messenger was quite his own affair. If the little silver coins could have spoken, they might have told Grandmother and Karen how Hans had saved them one by one. Indeed, it was less than a week after he had seen Karen selling the candlesticks in the rag-market that he had been offered a place as sailor on a large vessel about to start on a voyage to far-away China; and Captain Helmgar, though sorry to part with him, had been glad of his good luck, for Hans was really a fine sailor and he could earn better wages on the larger vessel. And so it was that the first silver pieces found themselves put into a little bag, and every month more and more coming to keep them company. They might have told, too, how on ship-board Hans was called a miser, because when the vessel anchored at strange cities he spent nothing for amusements and the things which sailors usually like to do when on land; and how Hans, though he hated to be thought stingy, had yet smiled to himself the larger his hoard grew; for he knew very well that he was really no miser and that he had his own reasons for saving the silver pieces.

And then, if the candlesticks could have talked, they might have taken up the story and told how, when a certain large vessel from China had moored at Ostend the week before, a sailor named Hans had come back to Bruges and had inquired if they were still in the shop of the dealer he had seen buying them in the rag-market. And how he had spent just enough from his bag-full of silver to buy them and take them away from the shelf where they had stood so long because the dealer, a grasping man, had set so high a price that no one would buy; and so at last when Hans offered him a fair sum he was glad enough to sell them. And then they could have told how he had gone to the Christmas market in the Grande Place and bought the two white candles.

And, last of all, the little porringer might have finished the tale by saying: "I was really the one, you know, that started it all; for Hans used often to look at me, and my little girl with the rose in her hand—he called her Emschen—used to smile at him, and always reminded him of Karen and how Karen needed some one to help her, and how I really belonged to her,—for he did not know then that she had bought me for the Christ-child. At any rate, he kept saving the silver just so he could fill my bowl with them and bring me back to Karen, and so here I am!"

But though, if they could have spoken, they might have told all these things to Grandmother and Karen, the Christmas candles contented themselves with filling their little flames with golden light, and the candlesticks just shone and twinkled, and the silver coins gleamed softly, and the little girl in the porringer seemed fairly to laugh with glee as Karen looked into her face.

As for Karen, she was so delighted with it all that she danced about the room like a little mad-cap sprite. But though her heart was brimming over with happiness, there was one thing that perplexed her: while she knew perfectly well that their good fortune had come from the Christ-child, she could not understand why he had brought back the porringer. With the other things it was different, for, of course, he knew how they had hated to part with the candlesticks and how much they needed the money; but the porringer had been meant all the while for him, and so why had he brought it back?

Grandmother, who had never seen it before, listened in bewilderment as Karen, standing beside the table, now told her about buying it for the Christ-child and leaving it on the doorstep the year before; and she scarcely knew what to say when, with a troubled look, the little girl asked: "Do you think he did not like it, Grandmother?"

Grandmother was silent a moment, and then, "No, child," she answered, "else why would he have filled it with silver and stood it between the lighted candles? No, he must have had some reason we do not understand, but I feel sure he was pleased with it."

Karen thought very hard for a few minutes, and at last she said: "I think he must have brought it back because he knew we had to sell my pewter mug, and that I have only the cup with the broken handle for my bread and milk."

Karen was very well satisfied with this explanation, but somehow she felt that having meant it as a present for the Christ-child she did not want to take the porringer back; and so she hardly knew what to do with it. But in a moment she looked up with a happy smile, and "Oh, Grandmother," she exclaimed, "I thought what to do with it! I will put it up in the little shrine, so if he wants it again he can find it!"

Grandmother thought that would be a very nice thing to do with the porringer; and as the Christmas candles slowly burned away, they sat there talking over the wonderful thing that had happened to them, till it seemed like some marvellous dream, and they would have to rub their eyes and look again and again at the little porringer, and the silver coins, and the white candles tipped with golden flame, to be quite sure that it was all really true.


The Christmas Porringer  by Evaleen Stein

The Porringer Finds a Resting-place

A ND if Grandmother and Karen were radiant with happiness that Christmas eve, not less so was Hans the sailor. And on Christmas morning, when all the bells of Bruges pealed out their glad carillons, instead of filling his heart with bitterness as they had done a year before when he sat by his desolate hearth in the forsaken hut, now they sounded sweet and joyous in his ears, and he thought the world a fine and pleasant place to live in after all. And above all he was glad and thankful that the porringer was safely back. But although he had restored it to Karen, he had become so interested in her that he did not mean to lose sight of her; nor did he.

He continued to be a sailor on the large ship, and voyaged to and fro over the sea, but whenever he was on shore he always looked up the little yellow house and tried to learn how life fared with Grandmother and Karen. Before long he found means to become acquainted with them, and in many ways, often unknown to themselves, he befriended them.

But as time went on, he wanted to do more. To be sure, the silver coins he had put in the porringer had brought to the two warmth and light and food and comfort, such as they had not known for many a month; and Grandmother had still been able to lay aside quite a sum of money against a rainy day; and the knowledge that they had this nest-egg to fall back on if either fell ill again brought relief and peace of mind that only those who have struggled for their bread can fully know. And it was with a lighter heart than she had had for years that Grandmother still kept on with her lace-making; and day, by day, sitting beside her, still Karen tried her best to master the beautiful art.

But whenever Sailor Hans came to see them it distressed him to find them toiling over the little black pillows, and to feel that he himself had no one to do for and yet was so much better able to work than they. For during those months that Hans had saved up the silver coins for the porringer he had made a discovery, and that was that it was very much pleasanter and happier to have some object in life and some one to work for.

But whenever he strove to help them, Grandmother's pride forbade, for, of course, she knew no reason why he should do so. So at last one day Hans quietly told her the story of his life; and, in so doing, to the surprise of both of them, they discovered that Grandmother had known and loved his own mother in their girlhood days in Bruges.

When Hans had finished, he begged Grandmother for the sake of this friendship, and most of all because of what Karen had unwittingly done for Hans himself, that she would let him care for them as if she were his own mother and Karen his own little long-lost sister Emschen; and he begged so earnestly that Grandmother, with all her pride, could no longer refuse, and when she gave her consent nothing had ever made Hans more proud and happy.

From his monthly earnings he began regularly to set aside a certain sum to go to the little yellow house. Often, too, from his voyages he brought back some foreign gift for Grandmother or pretty trinket for Karen; and once, oddly enough, it was a little string of coral beads, so much prettier than the blue ones she had so longed for that day she bought the porringer in the Christmas market that she laughed with delight, and flinging her arms around his neck, she kissed Hans and declared he was the best friend she had!

Sometimes when he was on shore in summer, he would come up to the little yellow house and Grandmother would sit in the open doorway with her lace-pillow in her lap—for he could not persuade her to give up her work entirely—while Karen and he sat on the doorstep, the little girl industriously working, too. And then Hans, soberly smoking his pipe, would tell Karen every little while that she must not hurt her eyes, as she must save them for the time when she went to school. For one of the first things that Hans had seen to was to arrange for Karen to go to the convent school where Grandmother had wished to send her. And then Karen would laugh and say: "I will just finish this one lace flower, Sailor Hans, and then I will stop."

And always from the little shrine up in the corner of the house the Christ-child nestling on his mother's breast seemed to smile down at them with a wise look in his baby eyes, while down at the edge of Mother Mary's blue robe gleamed the blue handles of the little porringer.

Sometimes, when Karen had a flower, she filled the porringer with fresh water and placed the flower within it. And one day the pigeons found it out, and, fluttering down from the steep roofs near by, came to drink from it. Karen, seeing this with delight, always after took pains every day to fill it freshly from the wonderful dragon pump, so that the pigeons might not be disappointed. And it was a pretty sight to see them one at a time poising at the edge of the shrine and bending their glossy necks to dip up the water.

When winter came and the icicles hung their rainbow fringe from the carved canopy above, and the white hoar-frost wreathed the little bowl and trailed from the blue handles like garlands of fairy flowers, then Karen filled it every day with crumbs. For Sailor Hans, for some reason she never knew, always took a great interest in the porringer, and always left a little piece of silver to supply it; and whenever Christmas time came he insisted that it must be kept heaped with barley, so that the birds might have a holiday feast.

And by and by, when Grandmother had come to take life more easily and sometimes folded the patient hands that had wrought so many exquisite things, when Karen had grown a tall girl, sweet and helpful, still filling the little house with happy laughter and with the dreams in her blue eyes growing deeper and deeper, when their staunch friend Hans was no longer sailor but grey-haired Captain Hans, honored and respected by all who knew him, still the little porringer stood in the shrine. And through summers and winters the birds ate and drank from it, and the Christ-child seemed quite content that it should stay there.

This was all many years ago; but unless he has taken it away, no doubt it is still standing in the spot chosen by Karen, close by the feet of Mother Mary and watched over by the Holy Babe she clasps so lovingly to her heart.


Mary Mapes Dodge

The Glad New Year

It's coming, boys,

It's almost here.

It's coming, girls,

The grand New Year.

A year to be glad in,

Not to be sad in;

A year to live in,

To gain and give in.

A year for trying,

And not for sighing;

A year for striving

And healthy thriving.

It's coming, boys,

It's almost here.

It's coming, girls,

The grand New Year.


  WEEK 52  


Gabriel and the Hour Book  by Evaleen Stein

The King's Messenger

dropcap image OW while all these things had been going on, poor Gabriel had been growing more wretchedly unhappy day by day. His people had become poorer and poorer, and the long, cold winter was upon them. They had almost given up hope of the release of peasant Viaud from prison, and did not know where they could get bread or fire to keep them alive through the bitter cold. Sometimes Gabriel thought with despair of how much he had hoped from his little prayer! For he was sure, by this time, that God was angry with him for daring to put it in the beautiful book.

And to add the last touch to his distress, he had been obliged to give up his work and lessons at the Abbey; for Brother Stephen had been ill for a time, and unable to paint, and all the other monks had colour-grinders of their own. So Gabriel, who could not afford to be idle even for a few days, had been forced to seek employment elsewhere.

The only work he could find was with a leather dresser in the village of St. Martin's, and though it was very hard and distasteful to him, he felt that he must keep at it, as he could thus earn a few pennies more each day than he could as colour-grinder at the Abbey. And yet, with all his hard toil, the little sum he brought home at night was far from enough to keep them all from want, to say nothing of paying the tax which still hung over them; and so every day they became more hopeless and discouraged.

Indeed, in those times, when a peasant family fell under the displeasure of their noble lord, it was a bitter misfortune, for there were few places to which they might turn for help.

And it seemed to Gabriel especially hard to bear all their troubles in the gracious Christmas season; for it was now past the middle of December. Always before they had had enough for their happy little Christmas feast, and some to spare. They had always had their sheaf of wheat put by for the birds; and for two seasons past Gabriel's father had let him climb up the tall ladder and fasten the holiday sheaf, bound with its garland of greens, to the roof of the little peaked and gabled dovecote that stood on top of a carved pole in the centre of the farmyard. For every Norman peasant always wishes the birds, too, to be happy at the joyous Christmas-tide.

And always, every Christmas eve, when Gabriel and his little brothers and sister had gone to bed, they had set their wooden shoes in a row on the hearthstone; and then in the morning when they wakened up, they always found that the blessed Christ-child had been there in the night, and filled all the little shoes with red apples and nuts.

But this Christmas-time everything was so sad and changed, they were sure even the Christ-child would forget them. And, day by day, the little supply of coarse meal for their black bread grew smaller and smaller, and the snow became deeper, and the wintry winds blew more cold and cruelly.

Meantime, King Louis's messenger was travelling as fast as he could, and three days before Christmas he arrived at St. Martin's Abbey. The Abbot was greatly surprised to see him, and still more so when he asked if he might speak privately with Brother Stephen. This the Abbot granted, though he was very anxious to know the messenger's errand; for he could think of no reason for it, unless there had been something wrong with King Louis's book. So he was quite uneasy as he saw the messenger enter Brother Stephen's cell and close the door.

Brother Stephen, too, was at first much surprised when his visitor told him he had come from King Louis to inquire about a peasant boy by the name of Gabriel Viaud; though in a moment it flashed through his mind that Gabriel's prayer had found its way to the palace, and that the answer was coming.

He said nothing of this, however, but when the messenger asked if he had such a boy for colour-grinder, he eagerly answered:

"Yes, and there lives no manlier and sweeter-spirited lad in all France!"

"Is it true," continued the messenger, "that Count Pierre de Bouchage hath imprisoned his father for failure to pay a tax, and that the family are now in sore distress?"

"Yes, that also is true," replied the monk very sadly. And then he said beseechingly: "But surely King Louis will help them? Surely our gracious sovereign will not allow such injustice and cruelty?"

Here the messenger answered:

"Nay, our sovereign is indeed a generous monarch! Else had he not been so touched by the little prayer which the peasant lad placed in the book thou madest for the Lady Anne. Though I dare say thou knewest naught of it" (here Brother Stephen smiled gently, but said nothing), "yet so the lad did. And 'twas because of that scrap of parchment falling under the eyes of King Louis, that I have journeyed all the way from Paris. And," he added, as he remembered the heavy snow through which he had ridden, "it takes a stout heart and a stouter horse to brave thy Norman roads in December!"

Then he asked Brother Stephen a great many more questions, and inquired what road to take in order to find Count Pierre's castle, and also the Viaud cottage. And then when he had satisfied himself about all these matters, he went back to the great hall of the Abbey, where the Abbot was slowly pacing the floor, telling his beads as he walked.

The Abbot, though very curious as to the reason of the messenger's visit, asked him no questions other than if the book for Lady Anne had been entirely satisfactory; and he felt relieved when the messenger assured him that so far as he knew both the king and Lady Anne had been greatly delighted with it. Then, after talking a little while about Brother Stephen's artistic work, the messenger briefly explained to the Abbot his errand, and told him that King Louis had ordered him to make his inquiries about Gabriel as quietly as possible.

As he heard, the Abbot raised his eyebrows and looked somewhat disapproving, when he realized that the peasant lad who had dared to put his page into the beautiful book was the same little colour-grinder who had had the boldness to speak to him, one day in the garden, and ask him to take off Brother Stephen's chain. However, whatever he may have thought, he kept it to himself; he treated the messenger with much courtesy, and, on bidding him good night, invited him to stay as a guest of the Abbey so long as he chose.

The next morning the messenger rode to the Viaud farm, and, though he did not go into the cottage, he looked it over carefully and the land about it; and then he took the highway that led to the castle of Count Pierre de Bouchage.

When he reached the castle, he asked to see Count Pierre, and so was taken into the great hall, where the count received him in a very haughty manner. He became somewhat more polite, however, when he learned that King Louis had sent the messenger to him; though he looked decidedly blank when the latter presented to him a letter written on parchment and fastened with a wax seal stamped with the king's emblem, which was the print of a little porcupine with the quills on his back standing up straight, and a crown on top of them.

On seeing this letter, Count Pierre looked blank because the truth was, that, like many other noble lords at that time, he could read only with great difficulty. But then the messenger rather expected this, and so he asked permission to read the parchment to him, and Count Pierre frowningly assented.

Indeed, though the messenger pretended not to notice his angry looks, he frowned blacker and blacker as the reading went on. For King Louis requested in the letter that Count Pierre at once release from prison in his castle one Jacques Viaud, peasant on his estate. And the King further said that he himself wished to buy the Viaud cottage and farm, together with a good-sized piece of ground that adjoined it (the messenger, in looking it over that morning, had selected a piece of land which was much better soil than the most of the Viaud farm), and he stated that for this purpose he had sent by his messenger a certain sum in gold pieces.

The king mentioned also that he would like to have the flock of sheep, with the addition of fifty more than had been taken from them, restored to the Viaud family. And, finally, he said that he desired Count Pierre to do these things in honour of his king's approaching marriage with the Lady Anne. For when kings and queens marry, it is generally customary for them, and for many of the loyal noblemen who are their subjects, to bestow gifts and benefits upon the poor people, so that every one may be as happy as possible on the royal wedding-day.

Now Count Pierre really did not care a fig to do honour to King Louis's marriage, and he was very angry to be asked to release a peasant whom he had imprisoned, and to restore flocks which he had seized; and especially was he furious at the request to buy the land, for he did not wish to sell it, and so to lose control over the peasant-folk who lived there.

But, nevertheless, in spite of his wrath, the count knew well enough that he had no real right to do as he had done, and that King Louis knew it also; and that therefore the very best thing he could do was to obey the king's wishes at once.

King Louis had made his letter a polite request rather than a command, because some of his unruly subjects, like Count Pierre, were proud and difficult to manage, and he wished to settle matters pleasantly and peaceably, if possible. And so, in asking him to honour the royal wedding, he gave the count an excuse to yield to the king's wishes, without hurting his pride so much as if he were obliged to obey a command.

Count Pierre began to see this, too; and, moreover, he knew that, notwithstanding the politeness of his letter, the king had plenty of soldiers, and that he would not hesitate to send them to the Castle de Bouchage, if necessary, to bring its lord to terms. And he very wisely reflected that to fight King Louis would be a much more dangerous and expensive undertaking than the private war with the Baron of Evreux, which he already had on his hands.

Before yielding to the requests in the letter, however, Count Pierre wished to satisfy himself that the messenger had correctly read it to him. And so, haughtily demanding it for a few minutes, he hurried out of the hall, and sent a page scampering off to bring him a troubadour; for one or more of these wandering singers were always to be found in every nobleman's castle, and the count knew that most of them could read.

When in a few minutes the page came back, followed, close at his heels, by a man in motley dress, with a viol hung over his shoulders, Count Pierre, without waiting to greet the latter, thrust the parchment into his hands with a gruff command:

"There, fellow! read this letter for me instantly! and if thou makest a single mistake, I will have thee strangled with the strings of thine own viol, and tumbled off the highest turret of this castle before set of sun!"

At this fierce threat, the troubadour began at once to read, taking care to make no mistakes. Count Pierre listened attentively to every word, and when the troubadour came to the end, having read it exactly as the messenger had done, the count angrily snatched it from his hands, and, swallowing his rage as best he could, went slowly back to the castle hall.

Then after a few moments' silence, he very ungraciously and ill-naturedly gave orders that peasant Viaud be released from prison, and the sheep sent back. He made a very wry face over the fifty extra ones, and did not look at all anxious to celebrate King Louis's approaching wedding.

And then he took the gold pieces which the messenger offered him, and reluctantly scrawled his name (it was all he could write, and that very badly) to a piece of parchment which the messenger had ready, and which, when Count Pierre had signed it, proved that he had sold to King Louis the land and cottage, and no longer held control over peasant Viaud or any of his family.

When this was done, the messenger, bidding the nobleman a courteous farewell, left the latter still very angry and scowling, and, above all, lost in amazement that King Louis should take all this trouble on account of a poor, unknown peasant, who had lived all his life on a tiny farm in Normandy! And as no one ever explained things to him, Count Pierre never did know how it had all come about, and that, however much against his will, he was doing his part toward helping answer Gabriel's little prayer.


The Pearl Story Book  by Eleanor L. Skinner

Sheltering Wings

I T was intensely cold. Heavy sleds creaked as they scraped over the jeweled sounding board of dry, unyielding snow; the signs above shop doors shrieked and groaned as they swung helplessly to and fro; and the clear, keen air seemed frozen into sharp little crystalline needles that stabbed every living thing that must be out in it. The streets were almost forsaken in mid-afternoon. Business men hurried from shelter to shelter; every dog remained at home; not a bird was to be seen or heard. The sparrows had been forced to hide themselves in crevices and holes; the doves found protected corners and huddled together as best they could; many birds were frozen to death.

A dozen or more doves were gathered close under the cornice of the piazza of a certain house, trying with little success to keep warm. Some small sparrows, disturbed and driven from the cozy place they had chosen, saw the doves and came flying across the piazza.

"Dear doves," chirped the sparrows, "won't you let us nestle near you? Your bodies look so large and warm."

"But your coats are frosted with cold. We cannot let you come near us, for we are almost frozen now," murmured the doves sadly.

"But we are perishing."

"So are we."

"It looks so warm near your broad wings, gentle doves. Oh, let us come! We are so little, and so very, very cold!"

"Come," cooed a dove at last, and a trembling little sparrow fluttered close and nestled under the broad white wing.

"Come," cooed another dove, and another little sparrow found comfort.

"Come! Come!" echoed another warm-hearted bird, and another, until at last more than half the doves were sheltering small, shivering sparrows beneath their own half-frozen wings.

"My sisters, you are very foolish," said the other doves. "You mean well, but why do you risk your own beautiful lives to give life to worthless sparrows?"

"Ah! they were so small, and so very, very cold," murmured the doves. "Many of us will perish this cruel night; while we have life let us share its meager warmth with those in bitter need."

Colder and colder grew the day. The sun went down behind the clouds suffused with soft and radiant beauty, but more fiercely and relentlessly swept the wind around the house where the doves and sparrows waited for death.

An hour after sunset a man came up to the house and strode across the piazza. As the door of the house closed heavily behind him, a little child watching from the window saw something jarred from the cornice fall heavily to the piazza floor.

"Oh, papa," she cried in surprise, "a poor frozen dove has fallen on our porch!"

When he stepped out to pick up the fallen dove the father saw the others under the cornice. They were no longer able to move or to utter a cry, so he brought them in and placed them in a room where they might slowly revive. Soon more than half of the doves could coo gratefully, and raise their stiffened wings. Then out from beneath the wing of each revived dove fluttered a living sparrow.

"Look, papa!" cried the child. "Each dove that has come to life was holding a poor little sparrow close to her heart."

They gently raised the wings of the doves that could not be revived. Not one had a sparrow beneath it.

Colder and fiercer swept the wind without, cutting and more piercing grew the frozen, crystalline needles of air, but each dove that had sheltered a frost-coated sparrow beneath her own shivering wings lived to rejoice in the glowing gladsome sunshine of the days to come.

— Harriet Louise Jerome


Who Loves the Trees Best?

Who loves trees best?

"I," said the spring,

"Their leaves so beautiful

To them I bring."

Who loves the trees best?

"I," summer said,

"I give them blossoms,

White, yellow, red."

Who loves the trees best?

"I," said the fall,

"I give luscious fruits,

Bright tints to all!"

Who loves the trees best?

"I love them best,"

Harsh winter answered,

"I give them rest."


  WEEK 52  


Gabriel and the Hour Book  by Evaleen Stein

Gabriel's Christmas

dropcap image HEN the messenger reached the courtyard of the castle, he found peasant Viaud awaiting him there. The poor man looked very pale and wan from his imprisonment, and his face pitifully showed what anxiety he had suffered in thinking about his family left with no one to help them. His clothes, too, were thin and worn, and he shivered in the cold December wind. Noticing this, the messenger at once sent word to Count Pierre that he was sure King Louis would be highly gratified, if, in further honour of his coming marriage, the count would supply peasant Viaud with a warm suit of clothes before leaving the castle.

This message was almost too much for Count Pierre to bear, but he did not dare to refuse. And the messenger smiled to himself when, by and by, a page came and called Gabriel's father into the castle, from which, in a little while, he came out, warmly clad, and quite bewildered at all that was happening to him.

As they set out together for the Viaud cottage, peasant Viaud walking, and the messenger riding very slowly, the latter explained to him all about Gabriel's little prayer in the beautiful book, and how Lady Anne had sent it to King Louis, to whom he owed his release from prison. But the messenger added that, aside from the lad's father and mother, the king did not wish any one, not even Gabriel himself, to know how it had all come about.

For King Louis declared that he himself did not deserve any thanks, but that the good God had only chosen the Lady Anne and himself and Count Pierre (though the latter did not know it) as the means of answering Gabriel's prayer, and of helping the Christ-child bring happiness at the blessed Christmas-time. For King Louis had not forgotten that the great day was near at hand.

Of the promised return of the sheep, and the buying of the farm by the king, the messenger said nothing then; and when they had nearly reached the cottage, he took leave of peasant Viaud and rode back to the Abbey. For, having finished the king's errand, before going away, he wanted to say good-bye to the Abbot and brothers of St. Martin's, and also to get some of his belongings which he had left at the Abbey.

A few minutes after the messenger had left him, peasant Viaud reached the cottage and raised the latch,—but then it is no use trying to tell how surprised and happy they all were! how they hugged and kissed each other, and laughed and cried!

And then, when the first excitement was over, they began soberly to wonder what they would do next; for they still feared the displeasure of Count Pierre, and still did not know where to turn to raise the tax, or to help their poverty.

"If only he had not taken the sheep," said Gabriel's mother, sadly, "at least I could have spun warm clothes for all of us!"

But even as she spoke, a loud "Baa! Baa!" sounded from up the road, and presently along came a large flock of sheep followed by one of Count Pierre's shepherds, who, without saying a word to any one, skilfully guided them into the Viaud sheepfold, and there safely penned them in; then, still without a word, he turned about and went off in the direction of the castle.

Gabriel's father and mother, who from the cottage window had watched all this in silent amazement, looked at each other, too bewildered to speak. Then they went out together to the sheepfold, and peasant Viaud, who began to realize that this, too, must be part of King Louis's orders, explained to his wife that which the messenger had told him. When he had finished, they went back, hand in hand, to the house, their eyes filled with happy tears, and in their hearts a great tenderness for the little son who had brought help to them.

Just before dark, that same afternoon, the king's messenger, having taken leave of the Abbey folk, once more passed along the highroad. On his way, he was particular to stop at the Viaud cottage, where he contrived to have a few minutes' talk alone with Gabriel's mother, and then wishing her a merry Christmas, he spurred his horse, and rode along on his journey back to Paris.

As he neared San Martin's village, he passed a little peasant boy, in a worn blouse, walking toward the country; and had he known that this sad lad was the Gabriel because of whom, at King Louis's order, he had ridden all the way from Paris, he would certainly have looked at the boy with keen interest.


"He passed a little peasant boy"

While for his part, had Gabriel known that the strange horseman was a messenger from the king, and that he had that day played a very important part in the affairs of the Viaud family,—he surely would have stood stock-still and opened his eyes wide with amazement!

But the messenger was absorbed in his own thoughts, and so rode swiftly on; while poor Gabriel was too sad and wretched to pay much attention to any one.

As the lad drew near home, however, all at once he fancied he heard the bleating of sheep. At this he pricked up his ears and began to run, his heart suddenly beating very fast with excitement!

When he reached the sheepfold, sure enough, there was no mistaking the sounds within. He opened the door and hurried through the thatched shed, noting with delight the rows of woolly backs glistening in the twilight, and then, bursting into the cottage, rushed up to his father and kissed and hugged him with all his might!

Indeed, Gabriel was so happy and excited that he did not realize that he was not at all surprised with their good fortune. For miserable as he had been for weeks, and though he had thought that he had quite despaired of his prayer being answered, yet deep down in his heart, without knowing it, all the while he had cherished a strong hope that it would be.

Nor was Brother Stephen surprised either, when, at barely daybreak the next morning, before going to his work, Gabriel hurried up to the Abbey and told him all about it. His face beamed with delight, however, and he seemed almost as happy over it all as Gabriel himself. He smiled, too, but said nothing, as the lad wondered over and over what God had done to Count Pierre, to make him willing to free his father and restore the sheep! He only said, as he gently patted Gabriel's hair:

"There, there, little one! the good God hath many ways of softening men's hearts, and never thou mind in what manner he hath chosen to manage the Count Pierre!"

Just then one of the monks went past the open door, his arms full of evergreens, and carrying in his hand a pot of the pretty white flowers that the Norman peasant folk call Christmas roses. Seeing him, Brother Stephen told Gabriel that he must go and help the brothers trim the Abbey church for the joyous service of the morrow; and so with another affectionate little pat, he went out to do his part in arranging the holiday greens and garlands and tall wax candles, while Gabriel hurried off to his work in the village.

The little boy was so happy, though, over the things that had happened at home, that he went about all day in a sort of wondering dream. And that evening as he went home from his work, very tired, but still dreaming, the early Christmas-eve stars shone and twinkled so radiantly over his head and the snow sparkled so brightly under his feet, that he fairly tingled through and through with the nameless, magic happiness of the blessed season!

And when he reached home, and sat down next to his father while they ate their scanty supper, they all felt so glad to be together again that nobody minded that the pieces of black bread were smaller than ever, and that when the cold wind blew through the crevices of the cottage walls, there was not enough fire on the hearth to keep them from shivering.

Indeed, they were all so much happier than they had been for many weeks, that when Gabriel and the younger children went to bed, the latter, with many little gurgles of laughter, arranged their little wooden shoes on the hearth, just as they had always done on Christmas eve.

For they said to each other, Jean, and Margot, and little Guillaume, that surely the good God had not forgotten them after all! Had he not brought back their father and the sheep? And surely he would tell the little Christ-child to bring them a few Christmas apples and nuts!

Gabriel, however, took no part in their talk, and he did not set his shoes on the hearth with the others; not that he feared they would be forgotten, but rather because he thought that he had already asked for so much and been so generously answered, that he had had his share of Christmas happiness.

His father was freed from prison, and the flock of sheep, with fifty more than they had had before, were back in the fold; and though they were not yet relieved from the tax, nor was their land restored to them, as he had prayed, yet he felt sure that these, too, would come about in some way.

And so, considering all these things, he did not quite like to set out his wooden shoes, and thus invite the Christ-child to give him more; for he knew the Christ-child had a great many shoes to attend to that night. So Gabriel, as he made himself ready for bed, pretended not to hear the chatter of his little brothers and sister, nor to notice what they were doing.

When peasant Viaud, however, saw them standing their little empty shoes in front of the meagre fire, he bowed his head on his hands, and the tears trickled through his fingers. But the mother smiled softly to herself, as she kissed each of the children and tucked them into their worn sheepskin covers.

Next morning, at the first peep of day, every one in the cottage was wide awake; and as soon as they opened their eyes, the children all jumped out of bed and ran to the hearth with little screams of delight. For there stood the little wooden shoes,—Gabriel's, too, though he had not put them there,—and even a larger one apiece for the father and mother, and the blessed Christ-child had not forgotten one!

Only instead of apples and nuts, they were filled with the most wonderful bonbons; strange sugar birds, and animals, and candied fruits such as no peasant child in Normandy had ever before seen; for they were sweetmeats that no one but the cooks of old Paris knew just how to make.

And then, as with eager fingers the children drew out these marvels, down in the toe of each shoe they found a little porcupine of white sugar with pink quills tipped with a tiny, gilded, candy crown; and last of all, after each little porcupine, out tumbled a shining yellow gold piece stamped with the likeness of King Louis.

Even the larger shoes were filled with bonbons, too, and from the toe of the mother's out dropped a gold piece, like the others, only larger. But when the father, with clumsy hands, emptied his shoe, instead of a gold piece, there fell out a small parchment roll fastened with a silken cord, and showing at one corner a wax seal bearing the print of the little royal porcupine and crown.

Peasant Viaud gazed at it for a few minutes, in utter bewilderment, and then handing it to Gabriel, who was standing by, he said:

"Here, child, 'tis a bit of writing, and thou art the only one of us who can read. See if Brother Stephen's lessons have taken thee far enough to make out the meaning of this!"

Gabriel took the roll and eagerly untied the cord, and then he carefully spelled out every word of the writing, which was signed by Count Pierre de Bouchage.

For it was the very same parchment which King Louis's messenger had made Count Pierre sign to prove that he had sold to the king, for a certain sum of gold, the old Viaud farm, together with a piece of good land adjoining it; and then, at the end of the deed, as the writing was called, there were a few lines from King Louis himself, which said that in honour of the blessed Christmas-time the king took pleasure in presenting to peasant Viaud, and his heirs for ever, everything that he had bought from Count Pierre.

When Gabriel had finished reading, no one spoke for a little while; it was so hard to realize the crowning good fortune that had befallen them. Peasant Viaud looked fairly dazed, and the mother laughed and cried as she snatched Gabriel to her and kissed him again and again. The younger children did not understand what it all meant, and so went on munching their sweetmeats without paying much attention to the little piece of parchment which Gabriel still held in his hand.

As for Gabriel, he really had had no idea that any one could possibly be so happy as he himself was at that moment! He had not the least notion of how it had all come about; he only knew that his heart was fairly bursting with gratitude to the dear God who had answered his little prayer so much more joyously and wonderfully than he had ever dared to dream of!

In his excitement he ran out of the house and hurried into the sheepfold, where he patted the soft woolly backs of each of the sheep, and then he raced around the snowy meadows trying to realize that all these belonged to his family for ever! And that Count Pierre could never again imprison his father or worry him with heavy taxes!

But the wonders of this wonderful day were not yet over; for presently, as Gabriel raised his eyes, he saw a strange horseman coming down the road and looking inquiringly in the direction of the Viaud cottage. Then seeing the boy standing in the meadow, the horseman called out:

"Ho, lad! Is this the farm of the peasant Viaud?"

"Yes, sir," answered Gabriel, coming up to the road; and then,

"Art thou Gabriel?" asked the rider, stopping and looking curiously at the little boy.

When again Gabriel wonderingly answered, "Yes, sir," the stranger dismounted, and, after tying his horse, began deliberately unfastening the two fat saddlebags hanging over the back of the latter; and loading himself with as much as he could carry, he gave Gabriel an armful, too, and walked toward the cottage.

To the surprised looks and questions of Gabriel's father and mother, he only said that the Christ-child had been in the castle of the Lady Anne of Bretagne, and had ordered him to bring certain things to the family of a Norman peasant boy named Gabriel Viaud.

And such delightful things as they were! There was a great roll of thick, soft blue cloth, so that they could all be warmly clad without waiting for the mother to spin the wool from sheep's backs. There were nice little squirrel-fur caps for all the children; there were more yellow gold pieces; and then there was a large package of the most enchanting sweetmeats, such as the Bretons make at Christmas-time; little "magi-cakes," as they were called, each cut in the shape of a star and covered with spices and sugar; curious old-fashioned candies and sugared chestnuts; and a pretty basket filled with small round loaves of the fine, white bread of Bretagne; only instead of the ordinary baking, these loaves were of a special holiday kind, with raisins, and nuts, and dried sweet-locust blossoms sprinkled over the top.

Indeed, perhaps never before had so marvelous a feast been spread under a peasant roof in Normandy! All were beside themselves with delight; and while the younger children were dancing round and round in happy bewilderment, Gabriel snatched up a basket, and hurriedly filling it with some of the choicest of the sweetmeats, started off at a brisk run for the Abbey; for he wanted to share some of his Christmas happiness with Brother Stephen.

When he reached the Abbey, his eyes bright with excitement, and his cheeks rosy from the crisp cold air, and poured out to Brother Stephen the story of their fresh good fortune, the monk laughed with delight, and felt that he, too, was having the happiest Christmas he had ever known.

And then, by and by, when he took Gabriel by the hand and led him into the Abbey church for the beautiful Christmas service, as the little boy knelt on the stone floor and gazed around at the lovely garlands of green, and the twinkling candles and white Christmas roses on the altar, half-hidden by the clouds of fragrant incense that floated up from the censers the little acolytes were swinging to and fro,—as he listened to the glorious music from the choir, and above all, as he thought of how the dear God had answered his prayer, the tears sprang to his eyes from very joy and gratitude! And perhaps that Christmas morning no one in all France, not even King Louis himself, was quite so happy as the little peasant boy, Gabriel Viaud.


Christmas in Legend and Story: A Book for Boys and Girls  by Elva S. Smith


Adelaide Skeel

If you were a Russian child you would not watch to see Santa Klaus come down the chimney; but you would stand by the windows to catch a peep at poor Babouscka as she hurries by.

Who is Babouscka? Is she Santa Klaus' wife?

No, indeed. She is only a poor little crooked wrinkled old woman, who comes at Christmas time into everybody's house, who peeps into every cradle, turns back every coverlid, drops a tear on the baby's white pillow, and goes away very sorrowful.

And not only at Christmas time, but through all the cold winter, and especially in March, when the wind blows loud, and whistles and howls and dies away like a sigh, the Russian children hear the rustling step of the Babouscka. She is always in a hurry. One hears her running fast along the crowded streets and over the quiet country fields. She seems to be out of breath and tired, yet she hurries on.

Whom is she trying to overtake?

She scarcely looks at the little children as they press their rosy faces against the window pane and whisper to each other, "Is the Babouscka looking for us?"

No, she will not stop; only on Christmas eve will she come up-stairs into the nursery and give each little one a present. You must not think she leaves handsome gifts such as Santa Klaus brings for you. She does not bring bicycles to the boys or French dolls to the girls. She does not come in a gay little sleigh drawn by reindeer, but hobbling along on foot, and she leans on a crutch. She has her old apron filled with candy and cheap toys, and the children all love her dearly. They watch to see her come, and when one hears a rustling, he cries, "Lo! the Babouscka!" then all others look, but one must turn one's head very quickly or she vanishes. I never saw her myself.

Best of all, she loves little babies, and often, when the tired mothers sleep, she bends over their cradles, puts her brown, wrinkled face close down to the pillow and looks very sharply.

What is she looking for?

Ah, that you can't guess unless you know her sad story.

Long, long ago, a great many yesterdays ago, the Babouscka, who was even then an old woman, was busy sweeping her little hut. She lived in the coldest corner of cold Russia, and she lived alone in a lonely place where four wide roads met. These roads were at this time white with snow, for it was winter time. In the summer, when the fields were full of flowers and the air full of sunshine and singing birds, Babouscka's home did not seem so very quiet; but in the winter, with only the snow-flakes and the shy snow-birds and the loud wind for company, the little old woman felt very cheerless. But she was a busy old woman, and as it was already twilight, and her home but half swept, she felt in a great hurry to finish her work before bed-time. You must know the Babouscka was poor and could not afford to do her work by candle-light.

Presently, down the widest and the lonesomest of the white roads, there appeared a long train of people coming. They were walking slowly, and seemed to be asking each other questions as to which way they should take. As the procession came nearer, and finally stopped outside the little hut, Babouscka was frightened at the splendor. There were Three Kings, with crowns on their heads, and the jewels on the Kings' breastplates sparkled like sunlight. Their heavy fur cloaks were white with the falling snow-flakes, and the queer humpy camels on which they rode looked white as milk in the snow-storm. The harness on the camels was decorated with gold, and plates of silver adorned the saddles. The saddlecloths were of the richest Eastern stuffs, and all the servants had the dark eyes and hair of an Eastern people.

The slaves carried heavy loads on their backs, and each of the Three Kings carried a present. One carried a beautiful transparent jar, and in the fading light Babouscka could see in it a golden liquid which she knew from its color must be myrrh. Another had in his hand a richly woven bag, and it seemed to be heavy, as indeed it was, for it was full of gold. The third had a stone vase in his hand, and from the rich perfume which filled the snowy air, one could guess the vase to have been filled with incense.

Babouscka was terribly frightened, so she hid herself in her hut, and let the servants knock a long time at her door before she dared open it and answer their questions as to the road they should take to a far-away town. You know she had never studied a geography lesson in her life, was old and stupid and scared. She knew the way across the fields to the nearest village, but she knew nothing else of all the wide world full of cities. The servants scolded, but the Three Kings spoke kindly to her, and asked her to accompany them on their journey that she might show them the way as far as she knew it. They told her, in words so simple that she could not fail to understand, that they had seen a Star in the sky and were following it to a little town where a young Child lay. The snow was in the sky now, and the Star was lost out of sight.

"Who is the Child?" asked the old woman.

"He is a King, and we go to worship him," they answered. "These presents of gold, frankincense and myrrh are for Him. When we find Him we will take the crowns off our heads and lay them at His feet. Come with us, Babouscka!"

What do you suppose? Shouldn't you have thought the poor little woman would have been glad to leave her desolate home on the plains to accompany these Kings on their journey?

But the foolish woman shook her head. No, the night was dark and cheerless, and her little home was warm and cosy. She looked up into the sky, and the Star was nowhere to be seen. Besides, she wanted to put her hut in order—perhaps she would be ready to go to-morrow. But the Three Kings could not wait; so when to-morrow's sun rose they were far ahead on their journey. It seemed like a dream to poor Babouscka, for even the tracks of the camels' feet were covered by the deep white snow. Everything was the same as usual; and to make sure that the night's visitors had not been a fancy, she found her old broom hanging on a peg behind the door, where she had put it when the servants knocked.

Now that the sun was shining, and she remembered the glitter of the gold and the smell of the sweet gums and myrrh, she wished she had gone with the travellers.

And she thought a great deal about the little Baby the Three Kings had gone to worship. She had no children of her own—nobody loved her—ah, if she had only gone! The more she brooded on the thought, the more miserable she grew, till the very sight of her home became hateful to her.

It is a dreadful feeling to realize that one has lost a chance of happiness. There is a feeling called remorse that can gnaw like a sharp little tooth. Babouscka felt this little tooth cut into her heart every time she remembered the visit of the Three Kings.

After a while the thought of the Little Child became her first thought at waking and her last at night. One day she shut the door of her house forever, and set out on a long journey. She had no hope of overtaking the Three Kings, but she longed to find the Child, that she too might love and worship Him. She asked every one she met, and some people thought her crazy, but others gave her kind answers. Have you perhaps guessed that the young Child whom the Three Kings sought was our Lord himself?

People told Babouscka how He was born in a manger, and many other things which you children have learned long ago. These answers puzzled the old dame mightily. She had but one idea in her ignorant head. The Three Kings had gone to seek a Baby. She would, if not too late, seek Him too.

She forgot, I am sure, how many long years had gone by. She looked in vain for the Christ-child in His manger-cradle. She spent all her little savings in toys and candy so as to make friends with little children, that they might not run away when she came hobbling into their nurseries.

Now you know for whom she is sadly seeking when she pushes back the bed-curtains and bends down over each baby's pillow. Sometimes, when the old grandmother sits nodding by the fire, and the bigger children sleep in their beds, old Babouscka comes hobbling into the room, and whispers softly, "Is the young Child here?"

Ah, no; she has come too late, too late. But the little children know her and love her. Two thousand years ago she lost the chance of finding Him. Crooked, wrinkled, old, sick and sorry, she yet lives on, looking into each baby's face—always disappointed, always seeking. Will she find Him at last?


Oliver Herford

I Heard a Bird Sing

I heard a bird sing

In the dark of December.

A magical thing

And sweet to remember.

"We are nearer to Spring

Than we were in September,"

I heard a bird sing

In the dark of December.


  WEEK 52  


Gabriel and the Hour Book  by Evaleen Stein

The King's Illuminator

dropcap image ND to say that he was happier than even King Louis, is saying a very great deal; for King Louis spent the day most delightfully in Bretagne, in the castle of his bride to be, the Lady Anne. And then, just after the holiday season had passed, early in January, he and Lady Anne were married with great ceremony and splendour.

After the wedding, for three months, the king and queen lingered in Bretagne; enjoying themselves by night with magnificent entertainments in the castle, and by day in riding over the frosty fields and in hunting, of which both of them were very fond. And then in April, when the first hawthorn buds were beginning to break, they journeyed down to Paris to live in the king's palace.

Before long, King Louis and Queen Anne decided to make a number of improvements in this palace; and as they both were great lovers of beautiful books, they determined, among other things, to build a large writing-room where they could have skilful illuminators always at work making lovely books for them.

When this room was finished, and they began to think of whom they would employ, the first one they spoke of was Brother Stephen, whose exquisite work on the book of hours had so delighted them. But then, much as they wished to have him in the palace, they did not think it possible to do so, as they knew he belonged to the brotherhood of St. Martin's Abbey, and so of course had taken vows to spend his whole life there.

It chanced, however, soon after this, that King Louis happened to have a little talk with the messenger he had sent to the Abbey at Christmas time to see about Gabriel. And this messenger told the king that while there the Abbot, in speaking to him of Brother Stephen's work, had said that the latter really wished to leave the brotherhood and go into the world to paint; and that, though he had refused his request to be freed from his vows, yet the monk had worked so faithfully at King Louis's book that he thought he had earned his freedom, and that perhaps he, the Abbot, had done wrong in forcing him to stay at the Abbey if he wished to study his art elsewhere.

In short, he had as much as said that if Brother Stephen ever again asked for his freedom, he would grant it; and this showed that the Abbot had relented and unbent a great deal more than any one could ever have believed possible.

When King Louis heard what the messenger told him, he was greatly pleased; and after talking it over with the queen, he decided to send the same messenger post-haste back to the Abbey to ask for the services of Brother Stephen before the Abbot might again change his mind.

Now King Louis was a very liberal monarch, and both he and Queen Anne liked nothing better than to encourage and help along real artists. And so they thought that they would supply Brother Stephen with money so that he could travel about and study and paint as he chose, even if he preferred always to paint larger pictures rather than to illuminate books; though they hoped that once in awhile he might spend a little time in their fine new writing-room.

When the messenger started, they told him to explain all this to Brother Stephen, and let the latter plan his work in whatever way best pleased him.

But the queen gave particular orders that, if possible, the messenger was to bring the peasant boy, Gabriel Viaud, back to the palace with him; for she thought the lad's work on the page where he had written his little prayer showed such promise that she wished to see him, and to have him continue his training in the beautiful art of illumination.

The messenger, having thus received his orders, at once set out again for Normandy; and he found this second journey much more pleasant than the one he had made before, through the winter snows. For this time he rode under tall poplar-trees and between green hedgerows, where the cuckoos and fieldfares sang all day long. And when, after several days' travelling, he drew near St. Martin's Abbey, the country on either side of the road was pink with wild roses and meadowsweet, just as it had been a year before, when Gabriel used to gather the clusters of field-flowers for Brother Stephen to paint in the beautiful book.

Indeed, Gabriel still gathered the wild flowers every day, but only because he loved them; for though, since their better fortunes, he was again studying and working with Brother Stephen, the latter was then busy on a long book of monastery rules, with only here and there a coloured initial letter, and which altogether was not nearly so interesting as had been the book of hours with its lovely painted borders.

And so when the messenger reached the Abbey, and made known his errand, they were both overjoyed at the prospect King Louis offered them.

After talking with the messenger, the Abbot, true to his word, in a solemn ceremony, freed Brother Stephen from his vows of obedience to the rules of St. Martin's brotherhood; and then he gave both him and Gabriel his blessing.

Brother Stephen, who had been too proud to ask a second time for his freedom, was now delighted that it had all come about in the way it did, and that he could devote his time to painting anything he chose.

Gabriel, too, was enchanted at the thought of all that he could do and learn in the king's palace; and though he felt it hard to leave his home, Queen Anne had kindly made it easier for him by promising that sometimes he might come back for a little visit.

So in a few days he and Brother Stephen had made all their preparations to leave; and they set out, Gabriel going with the messenger directly to King Louis's palace in Paris; while Brother Stephen, taking the bag of gold pieces which the king and queen had sent for him, travelled to many of the great cities of Europe, where he studied the wonderful paintings of the world's most famous masters, and where he himself made many beautiful pictures. In this way he spent a number of happy months.

And then, just as a great many other people do, who find out that as soon as they are not compelled to do a certain kind of work, they really like it very much better than they thought, so, Brother Stephen, being no longer obliged to illuminate books, all at once discovered that he really enjoyed painting them more than anything else in the world.

And so it was that, by and by, to the gratification of the king and queen, and above all to the great delight of Gabriel, he made his way to the great writing-room of the palace in Paris. And there, in the doing of his exquisite artistic work, he passed the rest of his long and happy life.

And through all the years the warm love and friendship between himself and Gabriel was as sweet and beautiful and as unchanging as any of the white and golden lilies that they painted in their rarest books. For Gabriel, too, became one of the finest illuminators of the time, and his work was much sought for by the great nobles of the land.

Indeed, to this day, many of the wonderful illuminations that were made in that writing-room are still carefully kept in the great libraries and museums of France and of Europe. And some time, if ever you have the happiness to visit one of these, and are there shown some of the painted books from the palace of King Louis XII. and Queen Anne, if the work is especially lovely, you may be quite certain that either Brother Stephen, or Gabriel, or perhaps both of them together, had a hand in its making.


The Sandman: His Sea Stories  by Willliam J. Hopkins

The Driftwood Story

O NCE upon a time there was a wide river that ran into the ocean, and beside it was a little city. And in that city was a wharf where great ships came from far countries. And a narrow road led down a very steep hill to that wharf, and anybody that wanted to go to the wharf had to go down the steep hill on the narrow road, for there wasn't any other way. And because ships had come there for a great many years and all the sailors and all the captains and all the men who had business with the ships had to go on that narrow road, the flagstones that made the sidewalks were much worn. That was a great many years ago.

The river and the ocean are there yet, as they always have been and always will be; and the city is there, but it is a different kind of a city from what it used to be. And the wharf is slowly falling down, for it is not used now; and the narrow road down the steep hill is all grown up with weeds and grass.

Many times, in the long ago, the brig Industry  had sailed from that wharf, on voyages to far countries, and had come back again to the wharf, bringing spices and tea and sets of china and pretty little tables inlaid with ivory and ebony, and camel's hair shawls, and cloth of goat's hair, and logs of teak-wood to make things of, and many another beautiful thing. And, when Captain Jonathan and Captain Jacob moved their office to Boston, she had sailed from a wharf in Boston to that far country. Captain Solomon was the captain of the Industry  then. And Captain Solomon married and had sons, and when those sons were beginning to get old enough to go to sea, Captain Solomon stopped being a captain and became a farmer. For he didn't want his sons to go to sea, and he thought that, if he had a farm, away from the salt ocean, they wouldn't go. So he bought the farm that it tells about in the Farm Stories. But little Sol ran away to sea, just the same; and he got to be the captain of the Industry.

And Captain Jonathan got to be an old man, and he died peacefully. And still the brig Industry  sailed to that far country and sailed back again. And the years passed, and Captain Jacob got to be a very old man, and he died, too; and Lois was an old woman, and little Jacob, her son, had grown to be a man, and little Lois, her daughter, had grown up and married. And still the brig Industry  sailed on her voyages and came back again, but she was getting to be old, too.

And, at last, after more years had passed, the Industry  was so old that she needed to have a lot done to her to make her safe. And her owners decided that it wasn't worth while to rebuild an old vessel, but they would build a new one instead; for they didn't build the kind of ship that the Industry  was any more, but they built a kind that they thought was better and faster. So, when she got in the next time from that far country, they told her captain what they had decided to do. That captain wasn't Captain Sol. He didn't go to sea any more, but he lived in Boston.

So, when she had been unloaded, the captain and some sailors sailed her down to the wide river that the little city was beside. It took them only about a half a day to go there from Boston, and the Industry  sailed into the river for the last time, and up to the wharf that was all falling down. And the men tied her to the wharf with great ropes. Many times had she been tied up at that wharf, and she had loaded there and had been unloaded there many times. But she now would never again go sailing out of the river into the great ocean.


Many times had she been tied up at that wharf.

And the captain went to the riggers of ships, and he had hard work to find them; but at last he found some riggers of ships that were left, and he told them to come to the wharf and take the sails and the yards off the Industry, and the masts out of her, because she was going to be broken up. And the riggers came, and they took the sails off the yards and they took the yards down; and they took down the topmasts, and they took off the bowsprit, and they took out the great masts that had felt the strain of the winds blowing on the sails for thousands and thousands of miles. And the Industry  was nothing but an old hulk lying at an old wharf that was falling down.

Then some junk men came, and they stripped off the copper sheets that were on her bottom, and they took the iron work out of her, and they carried the copper sheets and the iron to their shop. Then they untied the great ropes which held the hulk to the wharf, and they towed all that was left of the Industry  to a shallow place, up the wide river, and there they pulled it high up on the shore. And some more men came and began stripping off the sheathing of thin boards that had been put on outside of her planking, and they sawed this sheathing up until it was small enough to go in a fireplace, and they split it up into small sticks. For the sheathing, that has been next to the copper sheets and has gone in the salt water for so many years, would burn with pretty green and blue flames and little flashes of red. And then they began to take off her thick planking of oak.

Lois's son, that had been little Jacob, was Squire Jacob when he had grown up. And he heard of it, and he came to see the end of the Industry. And, when he saw the remains of the ship lying there on the shore, and saw where the men had taken the planks off, so that her great ribs showed, like a skeleton, the sight filled his heart with sadness. He thought of the voyage that he had made in her, when he was a little boy, and he thought of the many times that she had sailed to that far country and had always brought the sailors and the captains back safe; and he stood there, looking, for a long time. But, at last, he turned away, and he went to the men who had the sheathing all sawed and split into small sticks, and he bought that sheathing, every bit of it. And he told the men that he would like to have the rudder and one or two of the ribs. And the men said that they would be glad to give him the rudder and some of the ribs.

Then he went back to the little city, and he found an old sailor who had sailed in the Industry. That sailor was an old man and he didn't go to sea any more, he was so old; but he lived in a nice kind of a place that was for old sailors to live in, and he liked to whittle things with his knife. He could whittle pretty well, for sailors are great whittlers. And Lois's son, Squire Jacob, told this old sailor about the Industry, and how he had bought all the sheathing that there was, and that he would have the rudder and some of the ribs. And he asked the sailor if he could manage to make a model of the brig Industry  out of the rudder, and fit it with sails and everything just as the Industry  really had been. And the sailor was sorry when he heard about it, and he said he would like nothing better than to make the model, and it should be exactly like the Industry, down to the smallest block and the least rope. And he said that he would make the model for nothing if he might have the rest of the rudder to make a model for himself, too.

So Squire Jacob was glad, and he told the old sailor that he could have the rest of the rudder and welcome, and that he must come up sometimes and sit in front of his fire when the sheathing was burning; for he had a good deal of it, and it would be a long time before it was all burned up. And the old man thanked him and said that he would be glad to come.

Then Squire Jacob went to some cabinet makers, and he said that he would like to have them make a chair for him out of the ribs of the Industry. It would be an arm-chair and would have a picture of the brig carved in the wood up at the top of the back. And the cabinet makers understood, and they said that they would make him the arm-chair.

And at last the arm-chair was all done, and the model was almost done; but the arm-chair was done first. And, one evening, Squire Jacob was sitting in the arm-chair before the fire, and in his hand he held the little model of the Industry, that an old sailor had carved, with his jackknife, for his Christmas present when he went on that voyage to far countries as a little boy. The hull of that little model was made of ebony and the masts and spars were little ebony sticks; and the sails were of ivory, scraped thin, and the ropes were silk thread. And the sails were bulging, as if the wind was filling them and making them stand out from the yards. But the ivory sails were yellow with age, and the silk thread was all yellow and rotten.


That little model was only about three inches long, so that it rested easily on Squire Jacob's hand. He sat before the fire, looking at the little model, and his wife sat in another chair beside him. And their daughter, who was named Lois, was sitting in a low chair by her mother. That Lois was pretty nearly grown up. And Squire Jacob remembered, and he told his wife and his daughter Lois the things that it tells about in the Christmas Story.

When he had finished telling the Christmas Story, the door-bell rang; and Lois went to the door, and she came back and said that an old man was out in the hall, but he wouldn't come in. And Squire Jacob went out to the hall, and he came back with the old sailor who had carved the model of the brig Industry  out of the real rudder of the ship. He had that model in his arms. And he set the model that he had brought in the middle of the mantel, over the fire, and sat down in the arm-chair. And Squire Jacob didn't say anything, but he handed him the little model, made of ebony and ivory.

The old sailor took the little model, and it made him remember many things; and he remembered about the old man who had carved that model and about that very voyage, for he had been one of the crew of the Industry  when she went on that voyage to far countries and carried little Jacob and little Sol. And he told some stories about that sailor and that voyage that Squire Jacob was very glad to hear.

They all sat there for a long time, but they didn't say much. And the old sailor looked from the little model of the Industry, in his hand, to the big one, that was on the mantel before him; and Squire Jacob took some of the sheathing of the real Industry  and put it on the fire. And it blazed up with flames that were all green and blue, and red.

"A many miles o' ocean's in that flame," said the old sailor, "a many miles."

"And a good ship," said Squire Jacob.

"That she was," said the old sailor. "A good ship."

And they watched the sheathing burning, and Squire Jacob thought that he saw pictures in the flames. At first he saw a ship all alone on the great ocean, and nothing could be seen from the ship but miles of tossing water; and the flame died out. Then another flame blazed up, and Squire Jacob saw a great river with a city on the bank, and the brig Industry  was anchored in the river. And many little boats were rowed from the city to the ship and back again. The little boats were loaded with tea and spices and camel's-hair shawls and many other beautiful things. And he saw Captain Solomon on the ship and that flame died out. And another flame blazed up, and he saw the Industry  just coming up the river and tying up at the wharf that the narrow road led down to. And that flame died out quickly, and the piece of sheathing only glowed, for it was all burned to ashes, and the ashes dropped down where the other ashes were.

And that's all of this book.



Eugene Field

Christmas Song

Why do bells for Christmas ring?

Why do little children sing?

Once a lovely, shining star,

Seen by shepherds from afar,

Gently moved until its light

Made a manger's cradle bright.

There a darling baby lay,

Pillowed soft upon the hay;

And its mother sang and smiled,

"This is Christ, the holy Child."

Therefore bells for Christmas ring,

Therefore little children sing.