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Title: A Little Book for Christmas
Author: Brady, Cyrus Townsend, 1861-1920
Language: English
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Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

*** Start of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "A Little Book for Christmas" ***

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[Illustration: The author making his book, as pictured by his friend,
Will Crawford.]

A Little Book for Christmas

Containing a Greeting, a Word of Advice, Some Personal Adventures, a
Carol, a Meditation, and Three Christmas Stories for All Ages

By
Cyrus Townsend Brady

Author of
"And Thus He Came, A Christmas Fantasy," "Christmas When the West Was
Young," etc., etc.

With Illustrations and Decorations by
Will Crawford


G.P. Putnam's Sons
New York and London
The Knickerbocker Press
1917



DEDICATED
TO
MRS. LEONARD L. HILL
AND HER CHARMING COMPANIONS OF THE AMERICAN CRITERION SOCIETY OF NEW
YORK BY THEIR CHAPLAIN

[Illustration]



PREFACE


Christmas is one of the great days of obligation and observance in the
Church of which I am a Priest; but it is much more than that, it is one
of the great days of obligation and observance in the world. Furthermore
it is one of the evidences of the power of Him Whose birth we
commemorate that its observation is not limited by conditions of race
and creed. Those who fail to see in Him what we see nevertheless see
something and even by imperfect visions are moved to joy. The world
transmutes that joy into blessing, not merely by giving of its substance
but of its soul because men perceive that it is for the soul's good and
because they hope to receive its benefits although they well know that
giving is far better than receiving, in the very words of Him Who gave
us the greatest of all gifts--Himself.

As a Priest of the Church, as a Missionary in the Far West, as the
Rector of large and important parishes I have been brought in touch with
varied life. Christmas in all its phases is familiar to me. The author
of many books and stories as well as the preacher of many sermons, it is
natural that Christmas should have engaged a large part of my attention.
Out of the abundance of material which I have accumulated in the course
of a long ministry and a longer life I have gathered here a sheaf of
things I have written about Christmas; personal adventures, stories
suggested by the old yet ever-new theme; meditations, words of advice
which I am old enough to be entitled to give; and last but not least
good wishes and good will. I might even call this little volume _A Book
of Good Will toward Men_. And so fit it not only for Christmas but for
all other seasons as well.

If it shall add to your joy in Christmas, dear reader, and better still,
if it shall move you to add to the joy of some one else at
Christmas-tide or in any other season, I shall be well repaid for my
efforts and incidentally you will also be repaid for your purchase.

CYRUS TOWNSEND BRADY.

THE HEMLOCKS, PARK HILL,
YONKERS, N.Y.
1917



NOTE OF ACKNOWLEDGEMENT

The author is in debt to his long-time and greatly beloved friend the
Rev. Alsop Leffingwell for the beautiful musical setting of the little
carol which this book contains.



TABLE OF CONTENTS

                                 PAGE
I.--A CHRISTMAS GREETING      1
      "_Peace on Earth, Good Will toward Men_"

II.--FROM A FAR COUNTRY      13
      A story for grown-ups
      _Being a new variation of an ancient theme_

III.--ON CHRISTMAS GIVING      59
      _Being a word of much needed advice_

IV.--IT WAS THE SAME CHRISTMAS MORNING      69
      A story for girls
      _In which it is shown how different the same thing may be_

V.--A CHRISTMAS CAROL      81
      _To be sung to the music accompanying it_

VI.--THE LONE SCOUT'S CHRISTMAS      85
      A story for boys
      _Wherein is set forth the courage of youth_

VII.--LOOKING INTO THE MANGER      115
      _A Christmas meditation_

VIII.--CHRISTMAS IN THE SNOWS      141
      _Being some personal adventures in the Far West_

IX.--A CHRISTMAS WISH      173
      _For everybody everywhere_

[Illustration]

[Illustration]



ILLUSTRATIONS

                                     PAGE
THE AUTHOR MAKING HIS BOOK      _Frontispiece_

"I SOUGHT DAT SANTY CLAUS TAME DOWN DE CHIMNEY," SAID THE YOUNGER OF THE
TWAIN 46

"I AM SURE, MISS, THAT THEY DO WISH YOU A MERRY CHRISTMAS" 76

"THE STARS LOOK DOWN"      84

"THRUSTING HIS TOES INTO THE STRAPS HE STRUCK OUT BOLDLY" 96

"THE WORLD BOWS DOWN TO A MOTHER AND HER CHILD--AND THE MOTHER HERSELF
IS AT THE FEET OF THE CHILD" 124

[Illustration]



A CHRISTMAS GREETING

"_Good Will Toward Men"--St. Luke 11-14._


There was a time when the spirit of Christmas was of the present. There
is a period when most of it is of the past. There shall come a day
perhaps when all of it will be of the future. The child time, the
present; the middle years, the past; old age, the future.

Come to my mind Christmas Days of long ago. As a boy again I enter into
the spirit of the Christmas stockings hanging before my fire. I know
what the children think to-day. I recall what they feel.

Passes childhood, and I look down the nearer years. There rise before
me remembrances of Christmas Days on storm-tossed seas, where waves beat
upon the ice-bound ship. I recall again the bitter touch of
water-warping winter, of drifts of snow, of wind-swept plains. In the
gamut of my remembrance I am once more in the poor, mean, lonely little
sanctuary out on the prairie, with a handful of Christians, mostly
women, gathered together in the freezing, draughty building. In later
years I worship in the great cathedral church, ablaze with lights,
verdant and fragrant with the evergreen pines, echoing with joyful
carols and celestial harmonies. My recollections are of contrasts like
those of life--joy and sadness, poverty and ease.

And the pictures are full of faces, many of which may be seen no more by
earthly vision. I miss the clasp of vanished hands, I crave the sound
of voices stilled. As we old and older grow, there is a note of sadness
in our glee. Whether we will or not we must twine the cypress with the
holly. The recollection of each passing year brings deeper regret. How
many have gone from those circles that we recall when we were children?
How many little feet that pattered upon the stair on Christmas morning
now tread softer paths and walk in broader ways; sisters and brothers
who used to come back from the far countries to the old home--alas, they
cannot come from the farther country in which they now are, and perhaps,
saddest thought of all, we would not wish them to come again. How many,
with whom we joined hands around the Christmas tree, have gone?

Circles are broken, families are separated, loved ones are lost, but the
old world sweeps on. Others come to take our places. As we stood at the
knee of some unforgotten mother, so other children stand. As we
listened to the story of the Christ Child from the lips of some grey old
father, so other children listen and we ourselves perchance are fathers
or mothers too. Other groups come to us for the deathless story. Little
heads which recall vanished halcyon days of youth bend around another
younger mother. Smaller hands than ours write letters to Santa Claus and
hear the story, the sweetest story ever told, of the Baby who came to
Mary and through her to all the daughters and sons of women on that
winter night on the Bethlehem hills.

And we thank God for the children who take us out of the past, out of
ourselves, away from recollections that weigh us down; the children that
weave in the woof and warp of life when our own youth has passed, some
of the buoyancy, the joy, the happiness of the present; the children in
whose opening lives we turn hopefully to the future. We thank God at
this Christmas season that it pleased Him to send His beloved Son to
come to us as a little child, like any other child. We thank God that in
the lesser sense we may see in every child who comes to-day another
incarnation of divinity. We thank God for the portion of His Spirit with
which He dowers every child of man, just as we thank Him for pouring it
all upon the Infant in the Manger.

There is no age that has not had its prophet. No country, no people, but
that has produced its leader. But did any of them ever before come as a
little child? Did any of them begin to lead while yet in arms? Lodges
there upon any other baby brow "the round and top of sovereignty?" What
distinguished Christ and His Christian followers from all the world?
Behold! no mighty monarch, but "a little child shall lead them!"

You may see through the glass darkly, you may not know or understand
the blessedness of faith in Him as He would have you know it, but there
is nothing that can dim the light that radiates from that birth in the
rude cave back of the inn. Ah, it pierces through the darkness of that
shrouding night. It shines to-day. Still sparkles the Star in the East.
He is that Star.

There is nothing that can take from mankind--even doubting mankind--the
spirit of Christ and the Christmas season. Our celebrations do not rest
upon the conclusions of logic, or the demonstrations of philosophy; I
would not even argue that they depend inevitably or absolutely upon the
possession of a certain faith in Jesus, but we accept Christmas,
nevertheless; we endeavour to apply the Christmas spirit, for just once
in the year; it may be because we cannot, try as we may, crush out
utterly and entirely the divinity that is in us that makes for God. The
stories and tales for Christmas which have for their theme the hard
heart softened are not mere fictions of the imagination. They rest upon
an instinctive consciousness of a profound philosophic truth.

What is the unpardonable sin, I wonder? Is it to be persistently and
forever unkind? Does it mean perhaps the absolute refusal to accept the
principle of love which is indeed creation's final law? The lessons of
the Christmastide are so many; the appeals that now may be made to
humanity crowd to the lips from full minds and fuller hearts. Might we
not reduce them all to the explication of the underlying principle of
God's purpose to us, as expressed in those themic words of love with
which angels and men greeted the advent of the Child on the first
Christmas morning, "Good will toward men?"

Let us then show our good will toward men by doing good and bringing
happiness to someone--if not to everyone--at this Christmas season. Put
aside the memories of disappointments, of sorrows that have not
vanished, of cares that still burden, and do good in spite of them
because you would not dim the brightness of the present for any human
heart with the shadows of old regrets. Do good because of a future which
opens possibilities before you, for others, if not for yourselves.

Brethren, friends, all, let us make up our minds that we will be kindly
affectioned one to another in our homes and out of them, on this
approaching Christmas day. That the old debate, the ancient strife, the
rankling recollection, the sharp contention, shall be put aside, that
"envy, hatred, and malice, and all uncharitableness" shall be done away
with. Let us forgive and forget; but if we cannot forget let us at least
forgive. And so let there be peace between man and man at Christmas--a
truce of God.

Let us pray that Love shall come as a little child to our households.
That He shall be in our hearts and shall find His expression in all that
we do or say on this birthday of goodness and cheer for the world. Then
let us resolve that the spirit of the day shall be carried out through
our lives, that as Christ did not come for an hour, but for a lifetime,
we would fain become as little children on this day of days that we may
begin a new life of good will to men.

Let us make this a new birthday of kindness and love that shall endure.
That is a Christmas hope, a Christmas wish. Let us give to it the
gracious expression of life among men.

[Illustration]



FROM A FAR COUNTRY

[Illustration]

_Being a New Variation of an Ancient Theme_

A STORY FOR GROWN-UPS

I


"_A certain man had two sons_"--so begins the best and most famous story
in the world's literature. Use of the absolute superlative is always
dangerous, but none will gainsay that statement, I am sure. This story,
which follows that familiar tale afar off, indeed, begins in the same
way. And the parallelism between the two is exact up to a certain point.
What difference a little point doth make; like the little fire, behold,
how great a matter it kindleth! Indeed, lacking that one detail the
older story would have had no value; it would not have been told;
without its addition this would have been a repetition of the other.

When the modern young prodigal came to himself, when he found himself no
longer able to endure the husks of the swine like his ancient exemplar,
when he rose and returned to his father because of that distaste, he
found no father watching and waiting for him at the end of the road!
Upon that change the action of this story hangs. It was a pity, too,
because the elder brother was there and in a mood not unlike that of his
famous prototype.

Indeed, there was added to that elder brother's natural resentment at
the younger's course the blinding power of a great sorrow, for the
father of the two sons was dead. He had died of a broken heart.
Possessed of no omniscience of mind or vision, he had been unable to
foresee the long delayed turning point in the career of his younger son
and death came too swiftly to enable them to meet again. So long as he
had strength, that father had stood, as it were, at the top of the hill
looking down the road watching and hoping.

And but the day before the tardy prodigal's return he had been laid away
with his own fathers in the God's acre around the village church in the
Pennsylvania hills. Therefore there was no fatted calf ready for the
disillusioned youth whose waywardness had killed his father. It will be
remembered that the original elder brother objected seriously to fatted
calves on such occasions. Indeed, the funeral baked meats would coldly
furnish forth a welcoming meal if any such were called for.

For all his waywardness, for all his self-will, the younger son had
loved his father well, and it was a terrible shock to him (having come
to his senses) to find that he had returned too late. And for all his
hardness and narrowness the eldest son also had loved his father
well--strong tribute to the quality of the dead parent--and when he
found himself bereft he naturally visited wrath upon the head of him who
he believed rightly was the cause of the untimely death of the old man.

As he sat in the study, if such it might be called, of the departed,
before the old-fashioned desk with its household and farm and business
accounts, which in their order and method and long use were eloquent of
his provident and farseeing father, his heart was hot within his breast.
Grief and resentment alike gnawed at his vitals. They had received vivid
reports, even in the little town in which they dwelt, of the wild doings
of the wanderer, but they had enjoyed no direct communication with him.
After a while even rumour ceased to busy itself with the doings of the
youth. He had dropped out of their lives utterly after he passed over
the hills and far away.

The father had failed slowly for a time, only to break suddenly and
swiftly in the end. And the hurried frantic search for the missing had
brought no results. Ironically the god of chance had led the young man's
repentant footsteps to the door too late.

"Where's father?" cried John Carstairs to the startled woman who stared
at him as if she had seen a ghost as, at his knock, she opened the door
which he had found locked, not against him, but the hour was late and it
was the usual nightly precaution:

"Your brother is in your father's study, sir," faltered the servant at
last.

"Umph! Will," said the man, his face changing. "I'd rather see father
first."

"I think you had better see Mr. William, sir."

"What's the matter, Janet?" asked young Carstairs anxiously. "Is father
ill?"

"Yes, sir! indeed I think you had bettor see Mr. William at once, Mr.
John."

Strangely moved by the obvious agitation of the ancient servitor of the
house who had known him from childhood, John Carstairs hurried down the
long hall to the door of his father's study. Always a scapegrace,
generally in difficulties, full of mischief, he had approached that door
many times in fear of well merited punishment which was sure to be meted
out to him. And he came to it with the old familiar apprehension that
night, if from a different cause. He never dreamed that his father was
anything but ill. He must see his brother. He stood in no little awe of
that brother, who was his exact antithesis in almost everything. They
had not got along particularly well. If his father had been inside the
door he would have hesitated with his hand on the knob. If his father
had not been ill he would not have attempted to face his brother. But
his anxiety, which was increased by a sudden foreboding, for Janet, the
maid, had looked at him so strangely, moved him to quick action. He
threw the door open instantly. What he saw did not reassure him. William
was clad in funeral black. He wore a long frock coat instead of the
usual knockabout suit he affected on the farm. His face was white and
haggard. There was an instant interchange of names.

"John!"

"William!"

And then--

"Is father ill?" burst out the younger.

"Janet said--"

"Dead!" interposed William harshly, all his indignation flaming into
speech and action as he confronted the cause of the disaster.

"Dead! Good God!"

"God had nothing to do with it."

"You mean?"

"You did it."

"I?"

"Yes. Your drunken revelry, your reckless extravagance, your dissipation
with women, your unfeeling silence, your--"

"Stop!" cried the younger. "I have come to my senses, I can't bear it."

"I'll say it if it kills you. You did it, I repeat. He longed and prayed
and waited and you didn't come. You didn't write. We could hear nothing.
The best father on earth."

The younger man sank down in a chair and covered his face with his
hands.

"When?" he gasped out finally.

"Three days ago."

"And have you--"

"He is buried beside mother in the churchyard yonder. Now that you are
here I thank God that he didn't live to see what you have become."

The respectable elder brother's glance took in the disreputable younger,
his once handsome face marred--one doesn't foregather with swine in the
sty without acquiring marks of the association--his clothing in rags.
Thus errant youth, that was youth no longer, came back from that far
country. Under such circumstances one generally has to walk most of the
way. He had often heard the chimes at midnight, sleeping coldly in the
straw stack of the fields, and the dust of the road clung to his person.
Through his broken shoes his bare feet showed, and he trembled visibly
as the other confronted him, partly from hunger and weakness and
shattered nerves, and partly from shame and horror and for what reason
God only knew.

The tall, handsome man in the long black coat, who towered over him so
grimly stern, was two years older than he, yet to the casual observer
the balance of time was against the prodigal by at least a dozen years.
However, he was but faintly conscious of his older brother. One word and
one sentence rang in his ear. Indeed, they beat upon his consciousness
until he blanched and quivered beneath their onslaught.

"Dead--you did it!"

Yes, it was just. No mercy seasoned that justice in the heart of either
man. The weaker, self-accusing, sat silent with bowed head, his
conscience seconding the words of the stronger. The voice of the elder
ran on with growing, terrifying intensity.

"Please stop," interposed the younger. He rose to his feet. "You are
right, Will. You were always right and I was always wrong. I did kill
him. But you need not have told me with such bitterness. I realized it
the minute you said he was dead. It's true. And yet I was honestly
sorry. I came back to tell him so, to ask his forgiveness."

"When your money was gone."

"You can say that, too," answered the other, wincing under the savage
thrust. "It's as true as the rest probably, but sometimes a man has to
get down very low before he looks up. It was that way with me. Well,
I've had my share and I've had my fling. I've no business here.
Good-bye." He turned abruptly away.

"Don't add more folly to what you have already done," returned William
Carstairs, and with the beginnings of a belated pity, he added, "stay
here with me, there will be enough for us both and--"

"I can't."

"Well, then," he drew out of his pocket a roll of bills, "take these and
when you want more--"

"Damn your money," burst out John Carstairs, passionately. He struck
the other's outstretched hand, and in his surprise, William Carstairs
let the bills scatter upon the floor. "I don't want it--blood money.
Father is dead. I've had mine. I'll trouble you no more."

He turned and staggered out of the room. Now William Carstairs was a
proud man and John Carstairs had offended him deeply. He believed all
that he had said to his brother, yet there had been developing a feeling
of pity for him in his heart, and in his cold way he had sought to
express it. His magnanimity had been rejected with scorn. He looked down
at the scattered bills on the floor. Characteristically--for he
inherited his father's business ability without his heart--he stooped
over and picked them slowly up, thinking hard the while. He finally
decided that he would give his brother yet another chance for his
father's sake. After all, they were brethren. But the decision came too
late. John Carstairs had stood not on the order of his going, but had
gone at once, none staying him.

William Carstairs stood in the outer door, the light from the hall
behind him streaming out into the night. He could see nothing. He called
aloud, but there was no answer. He had no idea where his younger brother
had gone. If he had been a man of finer feeling or quicker perception,
perhaps if the positions of the two had been reversed and he had been
his younger brother, he might have guessed that John might have been
found beside the newest mound in the churchyard, had one sought him
there. But that idea did not come to William, and after staring into the
blackness for a long time, he reluctantly closed the door. Perhaps the
vagrant could be found in the morning.

No, there had been no father waiting for the prodigal at the end of the
road, and what a difference it had made to that wanderer and vagabond!


II


We leave a blank line on the page and denote thereby that ten years have
passed. It was Christmas Eve, that is, it had been Christmas Eve when
the little children had gone to bed. Now midnight had passed and it was
already Christmas morning. In one of the greatest and most splendid
houses on the avenue two little children were nestled all snug in their
beds in a nursery. In an adjoining room sound sleep had quieted the
nerves of the usually vigilant and watchful nurse. But the little
children were wakeful. As always, visions of Santa Claus danced in their
heads.

They were fearless children by nature and had been trained without the
use of bugaboos to keep them in the paths wherein they should go. On
this night of nights they had left the doors of their nursery open. The
older, a little girl of six, was startled, but not alarmed, as she lay
watchfully waiting, by a creaking sound as of an opened door in the
library below. She listened with a beating heart under the coverlet;
cause of agitation not fear, but hope. It might be, it must be Santa
Claus, she decided. Brother, aged four, was close at hand in his own
small crib. She got out of her bed softly so as not to disturb Santa
Claus, or--more important at the time--the nurse. She had an idea that
Saint Nicholas might not welcome a nurse, but she had no fear at all
that he would not be glad to see her.

Need for a decision confronted her. Should she reserve the pleasure she
expected to derive from the interview for herself or should she share it
with little brother? There was a certain risk in arousing brother. He
was apt to awaken clamant, vociferous. Still, she resolved to try it.
For one thing, it seemed so selfish to see Santa Claus alone, and for
another the adventure would be a little less timorous taken together.

Slipping her feet into her bedroom slippers and covering her nightgown
with a little blanket wrap, she tip-toed over to brother's bed.
Fortunately, he too was sleeping lightly, and for a like reason. For a
wonder she succeeded in arousing him without any outcry on his part. He
was instantly keenly, if quietly, alive to the situation and its
fascinating possibilities.

"You must be very quiet, John," she whispered. "But I think Santa Claus
is down in the library. We'll go down and catch him."

Brother, as became the hardier male, disdained further protection of his
small but valiant person. Clad only in his pajamas and his slippers, he
followed sister out the door and down the stair. They went hand in hand,
greatly excited by the desperate adventure.

What proportion of the millions who dwelt in the great city were
children of tender years only statisticians can say, but doubtless there
were thousands of little hearts beating with anticipation as the hearts
of those children beat, and perhaps there may have been others who were
softly creeping downstairs to catch Santa Claus unawares at that very
moment.

One man at least was keenly conscious of one little soul who, with
absolutely nothing to warrant the expectation, nothing reasonable on
which to base joyous anticipation, had gone to bed thinking of Santa
Claus and hoping that, amidst equally deserving hundreds of thousands of
obscure children, this little mite in her cold, cheerless garret might
not be overlooked by the generous dispenser of joy. With the sublime
trust of childhood she had insisted upon hanging up her ragged stocking.
Santa Claus would have to be very careful indeed lest things should drop
through and clatter upon the floor. Her heart had beaten, too, although
she descended no stair in the great house. She, too, lay wakeful,
uneasy, watching, sleeping, drowsing, hoping. We may have some doubts
about the eternal springing of hope in the human breast save in the case
of childhood--thank God it is always verdant there!


III


Now few people get so low that they do not love somebody, and I dare say
that no people get so low that somebody does not love them.

"Crackerjack," so called because of his super-excellence in his chosen
profession, was, or had been, a burglar and thief; a very ancient and
highly placed calling indeed. You doubtless remember that two thieves
comprised the sole companions and attendants of the Greatest King upon
the most famous throne in history. His sole court at the culmination of
His career. "Crackerjack" was no exception to the general rule about
loving and being beloved set forth above.

He loved the little lady whose tattered stocking swung in the breeze
from the cracked window. Also he loved the wretched woman who with
himself shared the honours of parentage to the poor but hopeful mite
who was also dreaming of Christmas and the morning. And his love
inspired him to action. Singular into what devious courses, utterly
unjustifiable, even so exalted and holy an emotion may lead fallible
man. Love--burglary! They do not belong naturally in association, yet
slip cold, need, and hunger in between and we may have explanation even
if there be no justification. Oh, Love, how many crimes are committed in
thy name!

"Crackerjack" would hardly have chosen Christmas eve for a thieving
expedition if there had been any other recourse. Unfortunately there was
none. The burglar's profession, so far as he had practised it, was
undergoing a timely eclipse. Time was when it had been lucrative, its
rewards great. Then the law, which is no respecter of professions of
that kind, had got him. "Crackerjack" had but recently returned from a
protracted sojourn at an institution arranged by the State in its
paternalism for the reception and harbouring of such as he. The pitiful
dole with which the discharged prisoner had been unloaded upon a world
which had no welcome for him had been soon spent; even the hideous
prison-made clothes had been pawned, and some rags, which were yet the
rags of a free man, which had been preserved through the long period of
separation by his wife, gave him a poor shelter from the winter's cold.

That wife had been faithful to him. She had done the best she could for
herself and baby during the five years of the absence of the bread
winner, or in his case the bread taker would be the better phrase. She
had eagerly waited the hour of his release; her joy had been soon turned
to bitterness. The fact that he had been in prison had shut every door
against him and even closed the few that had been open to her. The
three pieces of human flotsam had been driven by the wind of adversity
and tossed. They knew not where to turn when jettisoned by society.

Came Christmas Eve. They had no money and no food and no fire. Stop! The
fire of love burned in the woman's heart, the fire of hate in the man's.
Prison life usually completes the education in shame of the unfortunate
men who are thrust there. This was before the days in which humane men
interested themselves in prisons and prisoners and strove to awaken the
world to its responsibilities to, as well as the possibilities of, the
convict.

But "Crackerjack" was a man of unusual character. Poverty, remorse,
drink, all the things that go to wreck men by forcing them into evil
courses had laid him low, and because he was a man originally of
education and ability, he had shone as a criminal. The same force of
character which made him super-burglar could change him from criminal to
man if by chance they could be enlisted in the endeavour.

He had involved the wife he had married in his misfortunes. She had been
a good woman, weaker than he, yet she stuck to him. God chose the weak
thing to rejuvenate the strong. In the prison he had enjoyed abundant
leisure for reflection. After he learned of the birth of his daughter he
determined to do differently when he was freed. Many men determine,
especially in the case of an ex-convict, but society usually determines
better--no, not better, but more strongly. Society had different ideas.
It was Brahministic in its religion. Caste? Yes, once a criminal always
a criminal.

"Old girl," said the broken man, "it's no use. I've tried to be decent
for your sake and the kid's, but it can't be done. I can't get honest
work. They've put the mark of Cain on me. They can take the
consequences. The kid's got to have some Christmas; you've got to have
food and drink and clothes and fire. God, how cold it is! I'll go out
and get some."

"Isn't there something else we can pawn?"

"Nothing."

"Isn't there any work?"

"Work?" laughed the man bitterly. "I've tramped the city over seeking
it, and you, too. Now, I'm going to get money--elsewhere."

"Where?"

"Where it's to be had."

"Oh, Jack, think."

"If I thought, I'd kill you and the kid and myself."

"Perhaps that would be better," said the woman simply. "There doesn't
seem to be any place left for us."

"We haven't come to that yet," said the man. "Society owes me a living
and, by God, it's got to pay it to me."

It was an oft-repeated, widely held assertion, whether fallacious or not
each may determine for himself.

"I'm afraid," said the woman.

"You needn't be; nothing can be worse than this hell."

He kissed her fiercely. Albeit she was thin and haggard she was
beautiful to him. Then he bent over his little girl. He had not yet had
sufficient time since his release to get very well acquainted with her.
She had been born while he was in prison, but it had not taken any time
at all for him to learn to love her. He stared at her a moment. He bent
to kiss her and then stopped. He might awaken her. It is always best for
the children of the very poor to sleep. He who sleeps dines, runs the
Spanish proverb. He turned and kissed the little ragged stockings
instead, and then he went out. He was going to play--was it Santa Claus,
indeed?


IV


The strange, illogical, ironical god of chance, or was it Providence
acting through some careless maid, had left an area window unlocked in
the biggest and newest house on the avenue. Any house would have been
easy for "Crackerjack" if he had possessed the open sesame of his kit of
burglar's tools, but he had not had a jimmy in his hand since he was
caught with one and sent to Sing Sing. He had examined house after
house, trusting to luck as he wandered on, and, lo! fortune favoured
him.

The clock in a nearby church struck the hour of two. The areaway was
dark. No one was abroad. He plunged down the steps, opened the window
and disappeared. No man could move more noiselessly than he. In the
still night he knew how the slightest sounds are magnified. He had made
none as he groped his way through the back of the house, arriving at
last in a room which he judged to be the library. Then, after listening
and hearing nothing, he ventured to turn the button of a side light in a
far corner of the room.

He was in a large apartment, beautifully furnished. Books and pictures
abounded, but these did not interest him, although if he had made
further examination he might have found things worthy of his attention
even there. It so happened that the light bracket to which he had
blundered, or had been led, was immediately over a large wall safe.
Evidently it had been placed there for the purpose of illuminating the
safe door. His eyes told him that instantly. This was greater fortune
than he expected. A wall safe in a house like that must contain things
of value.

Marking the position of the combination knob, he turned out the light
and waited again. The quiet of the night continued unbroken. A swift
inspection convinced him that the lock was only an ordinary combination.
With proper--or improper--tools he could have opened it easily. Even
without tools, such were his delicately trained ear and his wonderfully
trained fingers that he thought he could feel and hear the combination.
He knelt down by the knob and began to turn it slowly, listening and
feeling for the fall of the tumblers. Several times he almost got it,
only to fail at the end, but by repeated trials and unexampled patience,
his heart beating like a trip-hammer the while, he finally mastered the
combination and opened the safe door.

In his excitement when he felt the door move he swung it outward
sharply. It had not been used for some time evidently and the hinges
creaked. He checked the door and listened again. Was he to be balked
after so much success? He was greatly relieved at the absence of sound.
It was quite dark in the room. He could see nothing but the safe. He
reached his hand in and discovered it was filled with bulky articles
covered with some kind of cloth, silver evidently.

He decided that he must have a look and again he switched on the light.
Yes, his surmise had been correct. The safe was filled with silver.
There was a small steel drawer in the middle of it. He had a broad
bladed jack-knife in his pocket and at the risk of snapping the blade he
forced the lock and drew out the drawer. It was filled with papers. He
lifted the first one and stood staring at it in astonishment, for it
was an envelope which bore his name, written by a hand which had long
since mouldered away in the dust of a grave.


V


Before he could open the envelope, there broke on his ear a still small
voice, not that of conscience, not that of God; the voice of a
child--but does not God speak perhaps as often through the lips of
childhood as in any other way--and conscience, too?

"Are you Santa Claus?" the voice whispered in his ear.

"Crackerjack" dropped the paper and turned like a flash, knife upraised
in his clenched hand, to confront a very little girl and a still smaller
boy staring at him in open-eyed astonishment, an astonishment which was
without any vestige of alarm. He looked down at the two and they looked
up at him, equal bewilderment on both sides.

"I sought dat Santy Claus tame down de chimney," said the younger of the
twain, whose pajamas bespoke the nascent man.

"In all the books he has a long white beard. Where's yours?" asked the
coming woman.

This innocent question no less than the unaffected simplicity and
sincerity of the questioner overpowered "Crackerjack." He sank back into
a convenient chair and stared at the imperturbable pair. There was a
strange and wonderful likeness in the sweet-faced golden-haired little
girl before him to the worn, haggard, and ill-clad little girl who lay
shivering in the mean bed in the upper room where God was not--or so he
fancied.

"You're a little girl, aren't you?" he whispered.

No voice had been or was raised above a whisper. It was a witching hour
and its spell was upon them all.

"Yes."

"What is your name?"

"Helen."

Now Helen had been "Crackerjack's" mother's name and it was the name of
his own little girl, and although everybody else called her Nell, to him
she was always Helen.

"And my name's John," volunteered the other child.

"John!" That was extraordinary!

"What's your other name?"

"John William."

The man stared again. Could this be coincidence merely? John was his own
name and William that of his brother.

"I mean what is your last name?"

"Carstairs," answered the little girl. "Now you tell us who you are. You
aren't Santa Claus, are you? I don't hear any reindeers outside, or
bells, and you haven't any pack, and you're not by the fireplace where
our stockings are."

[Illustration: "I sought dat Santy Claus tame down de chimney," said the
younger of the twain.]

"No," said the man, "I'm not exactly Santa Claus, I'm his friend--I--"

What should he say to these children? In his bewilderment for the moment
he actually forgot the letter which he still held tightly in his hand.

"Dat's muvver's safe," continued the little boy. "She keeps lots o'
things in it. It's all hers but dat drawer. Dat's papa's and--"

"I think I hear some one on the stairs," broke in the little girl
suddenly in great excitement. "Maybe that's Santa Claus."

"Perhaps it is," said the man, who had also heard. "You wait and watch
for him. I'll go outside and attend to his reindeer."

He made a movement to withdraw, but the girl caught him tightly by the
hand.

"If you are his friend," she said, "you can introduce us. You know our
names and--"

The golden opportunity was gone.

"Don't say a word," whispered the man quickly. "We'll surprise him. Be
very still."

He reached his hand up and turned out the light. He half hoped he might
be mistaken, or that in the darkness they would not be seen, but no.
They all heard the footsteps on the stair. They came down slowly, and it
was evident that whoever was approaching was using every precaution not
to be heard. "Crackerjack" was in a frightful situation. He did not know
whether to jerk himself away from the two children, for the boy had
clasped him around the leg and the girl still held his hand, or whether
to wait.

The power of decision suddenly left him, for the steps stopped before
the door. There was a little click as a hand pressed a button on the
wall and the whole room was flooded with light from the great
electrolier in the centre. Well, the game was up. "Crackerjack" had been
crouching low with the children. He rose to his feet and looked
straightly enough into the barrel of a pistol held by a tall, severe
looking man in a rich silk dressing robe, who confronted him in the
doorway. Two words broke from the lips of the two men, the same words
that had fallen from their lips when they met ten years before.

"John!" cried the elder man, laying the weapon on a nearby table.

"Will!" answered "Crackerjack" in the same breath.

As if to mark the eternal difference as before, the one was clothed in
habiliments of wealth and luxury, the other in the rags and tatters of
poverty and shame.

"Why, that isn't Santa Claus," instantly burst out the little girl,
"that's papa."

"Dis is Santy Claus's friend, papa," said the little boy. "We were doin'
to su'prise him. He said be very still and we minded."

"So this is what you have come to, John," said the elder man, but there
was an unwonted gentleness in his voice.

"I swear to God I didn't know it was your house. I just came in here
because the window was open."

The other pointed to the safe.

"But you were--"

"Of course I was. You don't suppose I wandered in for fun, do you? I've
got a little girl of my own, and her name's Helen, too; our mother's
name."

The other brother nodded.

"She's hungry and cold and there's no Christmas for her or her mother."

"Oh, Santy has been here already," cried Master John Williams, running
toward the great fireplace, having just that moment discovered the
bulging stockings and piles of gifts. His sister made a move in the same
direction, for at the other corner hung her stocking and beneath it her
pile, but the man's hand unconsciously tightened upon her hand and she
stopped.

"I'll stay with you," she said, after a moment of hesitation. "Tell me
more about your Helen."

"There's nothing to tell." He released her hand roughly. "You musn't
touch me," he added harshly. "Go."

"You needn't go, my dear," said her father quickly. "Indeed, I think,
perhaps--"

"Is your Helen very poor?" quietly asked the little girl, possessing
herself of his hand again, "because if she is she can have"--she looked
over at the pile of toys--"Well, I'll see. I'll give her lots of things,
and--"

"What's this?" broke out the younger man harshly, extending his hand
with the letter in it toward the other.

"It is a letter to you from our father."

"And you kept it from me?" cried the other.

"Read it," said William Carstairs.

With trembling hands "Crackerjack" tore it open. It was a message of
love and forgiveness penned by a dying hand.

"If I had had this then I might have been a different man," said the
poor wretch.

"There is another paper under it, or there should be, in the same
drawer," went on William Carstairs, imperturbably. "Perhaps you would
better read that."

John Carstairs needed no second invitation. He turned to the open
drawer and took out the next paper. It was a copy of a will. The farm
and business had been left to William, but one half of it was to be held
in trust for his brother. The man read it and then he crushed the paper
in his hand.

"And that, too, might have saved me. My God!" he cried, "I've been a
drunken blackguard. I've gone down to the very depths. I have been in
State's prison. I was, I am, a thief, but I never would have withheld a
dying man's forgiveness from his son. I never would have kept a poor
wretch who was crazy with shame and who drank himself into crime out of
his share of the property."

Animated by a certain fell purpose, he leaped across the room and seized
the pistol.

"Yes, and I have you now!" he cried. "I'll make you pay."

He levelled the weapon at his brother with a steady hand.

"What are you doin' to do wif that pistol?" said young John William,
curiously looking up from his stocking, while Helen cried out. The
little woman acted the better part. With rare intuition she came quickly
and took the left hand of the man and patted it gently. For one thing,
her father was not afraid, and that reassured her. John Carstairs threw
the pistol down again. William Carstairs had never moved.

"Now," he said, "let me explain."

"Can you explain away this?"

"I can. Father's will was not opened until the day after you left. As
God is my judge I did not know he had written to you. I did not know he
had left anything to you. I left no stone unturned in an endeavour to
find you. I employed the best detectives in the land, but we found no
trace of you whatever. Why, John, I have only been sorry once that I
let you go that night, that I spoke those words to you, and that has
been all the time."

"And where does this come from?" said the man, flinging his arm up and
confronting the magnificent room.

"It came from the old farm. There was oil on it and I sold it for a
great price. I was happily married. I came here and have been successful
in business. Half of it all is yours."

"I won't take it."

"John," said William Carstairs, "I offered you money once and you struck
it out of my hand. You remember?"

"Yes."

"What I am offering you now is your own. You can't strike it out of my
hand. It is not mine, but yours."

"I won't have it," protested the man. "It's too late. You don't know
what I've been, a common thief. 'Crackerjack' is my name. Every
policeman and detective in New York knows me."

"But you've got a little Helen, too, haven't you?" interposed the little
girl with wisdom and tact beyond her years.

"Yes."

"And you said she was very poor and had no Christmas."

"Yes."

"For her sake, John," said William Carstairs. "Indeed you must not think
you have been punished alone. I have been punished, too. I'll help you
begin again. Here"--he stepped closer to his brother--"is my hand."

The other stared at it uncomprehendingly.

"There is nothing in it now but affection. Won't you take it?"

Slowly John Carstairs lifted his hand. His palm met that of his elder
brother. He was so hungry and so weak and so overcome that he swayed a
little. His head bowed, his body shook and the elder brother put his arm
around him and drew him close.

Into the room came William Carstairs' wife. She, too, had at last been
aroused by the conversation, and, missing her husband, she had thrown a
wrapper about her and had come down to seek him.

"We tame down to find Santy Claus," burst out young John William, at the
sight of her, "and he's been here, look muvver."

Yes, Santa Claus had indeed been there. The boy spoke better than he
knew.

"And this," said little Helen eagerly, pointing proudly to her new
acquaintance, "is a friend of his, and he knows papa and he's got a
little Helen and we're going to give her a Merry Christmas."

William Carstairs had no secrets from his wife. With a flash of womanly
intuition, although she could not understand how he came to be there,
she divined who this strange guest was who looked a pale, weak picture
of her strong and splendid husband, and yet she must have final
assurance.

"Who is this gentleman, William?" she asked quietly, and John Carstairs
was forever grateful to her for her word that night.

"This," said William Carstairs, "is my father's son, my brother, who was
dead and is alive again, and was lost and is found."

And so, as it began with the beginning, this story ends with the ending
of the best and most famous of all the stories that were ever told.

[Illustration]



ON CHRISTMAS GIVING

[Illustration]

_Being a Word of Much Needed Advice_


Christmas is the birthday of our Lord, upon which we celebrate God's
ineffable gift of Himself to His children. No human soul has ever been
able to realize the full significance of that gift, no heart has ever
been glad enough to contain the joy of it, and no mind has ever been
wise enough to express it. Nevertheless we powerfully appreciate the
blessing and would fain convey it fitly. Therefore to commemorate that
great gift the custom of exchanging tokens of love and remembrance has
grown until it has become well nigh universal. This is a day in which we
ourselves crave, as never at any other time, happiness and peace for
those we love and that ought to include everybody, for with the angelic
message in our ears it should be impossible to hate any one on Christmas
day however we may feel before or after.

But despite the best of wills almost inevitably Christmas in many
instances has created a burdensome demand. Perhaps by the method of
exclusion we shall find out what Christmas should be. It is not a time
for extravagance, for ostentation, for vulgar display, it is possible to
purchase pleasure for someone else at too high a price to ourselves. To
paraphrase Polonius, "Costly thy gift as thy purse can buy, rich but not
expressed in fancy, for the gift oft proclaims the man." In making
presents observe three principal facts; the length of your purse, the
character of your friend, and the universal rule of good taste. Do not
plunge into extravagance from which you will scarcely recover except in
months of nervous strain and desperate financial struggle. On the other
hand do not be mean and niggardly in your gifts. Oh, not that; avoid
selfishness at Christmas, if at no other time. Rather no gift at all
than a grudging one. Let your offerings represent yourselves and your
affections. Indeed if they do not represent you, they are not gifts at
all. "The gift without the giver is bare."

And above all banish from your mind the principle of reciprocity. The
_lex talionis_ has no place in Christmas giving. Do not think or feel
that you must give to someone because someone gave to you. There is no
barter about it. You give because you love and without a thought of
return. Credit others with the same feeling and be governed thereby. I
know one upon whose Christmas list there are over one hundred and fifty
people, rich and poor, high and low, able and not able. That man would
be dismayed beyond measure if everyone of those people felt obliged to
make a return for the Christmas remembrances he so gladly sends them.

In giving remember after all the cardinal principle of the day. Let your
gift be an expression of your kindly remembrance, your gentle
consideration, your joyful spirit, your spontaneous gratitude, your
abiding desire for peace and goodwill toward men. Hunt up somebody who
needs and who without you may lack and suffer heart hunger, loneliness,
and disappointment.

Nor is Christmas a time for gluttonous eating and drinking. To gorge
one's self with quantities of rich and indigestible food is not the
noblest method of commemorating the day. The rules and laws of digestion
are not abrogated upon the Holy day. These are material cautions, the
day has a spiritual significance of which material manifestations are,
or ought to be, outward and visible expressions only.

Christmas is one of the great days of obligation in the Church year,
then as at Easter if at no other time, Christians should gather around
the table of the Lord, kneeling before God's altar in the ministering of
that Holy Communion which unites them with the past, the present, and
the future--the communion of the saints of God's Holy Church with His
Beloved Son. Then and thus in body, soul, and spirit we do truly
participate in the privilege and blessing of the Incarnation, then and
there we receive that strength which enables everyone of us to become
factors in the great extension of that marvellous occurrence throughout
the ages and throughout the world.

Let us therefore on this Holy Natal Day, from which the whole world
dates its time, begin on our knees before that altar which is at once
manger, cross, throne. Let us join thereafter in holy cheer of praise
and prayer and exhortation and Christmas carol, and then let us go forth
with a Christmas spirit in our hearts resolved to communicate it to the
children of men, and not merely for the day but for the future. To make
the right use of these our privileges, this it is to save the world.

In this spirit, therefore, so far as poor, fallible human nature permits
him to realize it and exhibit it, the author wishes all his readers
which at present comprise his only flock--

A MERRY CHRISTMAS AND A HAPPY NEW YEAR.

[Illustration]



IT WAS THE SAME CHRISTMAS MORNING

[Illustration]

[Illustration]

_In Which it is Shown how Different the Same Things may Be_

_A Story for Girls_


In Philadelphia the rich and the poor live cheek by jowl--or rather,
back to back. Between the streets of the rich and parallel to them, run
the alleys of the poor. The rich man's garage jostles elbows with the
poor man's dwelling.

In a big house fronting on one of the most fashionable streets lived a
little girl named Ethel. Other people lived in the big house also, a
father, a mother, a butler, a French maid, and a host of other servants.
Back of the big house was the garage. Facing the garage on the other
side of the alley was a little, old one-story-and-a-half brick house.
In this house dwelt a little girl named Maggie. With her lived her
father who was a labourer; her mother, who took in washing; and half a
dozen brothers, four of whom worked at something or other, while the two
littlest went to school.

Ethel and Maggie never played together. Their acquaintance was simply a
bowing one--better perhaps, a smiling one. From one window in the big
playroom which was so far to one side of the house that Ethel could see
past the garage and get a glimpse of the window of the living-room in
Maggie's house, the two little girls at first stared at each other. One
day Maggie nodded and smiled, then Ethel, feeling very much frightened,
for she had been cautioned against playing with or noticing the children
in the alley, nodded and smiled back. Now neither of the children felt
happy unless they had held a pantomimic conversation from window to
window at some time during the day.

It was Christmas morning. Ethel awoke very early, as all properly
organized children do on that day at least. She had a beautiful room in
which she slept alone. Adjacent to it, in another room almost as
beautiful, slept Celeste, her mamma's French maid. Ethel had been
exquisitely trained. She lay awake a long time before making a sound or
movement, wishing it were time to arise. But Christmas was strong upon
her, the infection of the season was in her blood. Presently she slipped
softly out of bed, pattered across the room, paused at the door which
gave entrance to the hall which led to her mother's apartments, then
turned and plumped down upon Celeste.

"Merry Christmas," she cried shaking the maid.

To awaken Celeste was a task of some difficulty. Ordinarily the French
woman would have been indignant at being thus summarily routed out
before the appointed hour but something of the spirit of Christmas had
touched her as well. She answered the salutation of the little girl
kindly enough, but as she sat up in bed she lifted a reproving finger.

"But," she said, "you mus' keep ze silence, Mademoiselle Ethel. Madame,
vôtre maman, she say she mus' not be disturb' in ze morning. She haf
been out ver' late in ze night and she haf go to ze bed ver' early. She
say you mus' be ver' quiet on ze Matin de Noël!"

"I will be quiet, Celeste," answered the little girl, her lip quivering
at the injunction.

It was so hard to be repressed all the time but especially on Christmas
Day of all others.

"Zen I will help you to dress immediatement, and zen Villiam, he vill
call us to see ze tree."

Never had the captious little girl been more docile, more obedient.
Dressing Ethel that morning was a pleasure to Celeste. Scarcely had she
completed the task and put on her own clothing when there was a tap on
the door.

"Vat is it?"

"Mornin', Miss Celeste," spoke a heavy voice outside, a voice subdued to
a decorous softness of tone, "if you an' Miss Ethel are ready, the tree
is lit, an'--"

"Ve air ready, Monsieur Villiam," answered Celeste, throwing open the
door dramatically.

Ethel opened her mouth to welcome the butler--for if that solemn and
portentous individual ever unbent it was to Miss Ethel, whom in his
heart of hearts he adored--but he placed a warning finger to his lip
and whispered in an awestruck voice:

"The master, your father, came in late last night, Miss, an' he said
there must be no noise or racket this morning."

Ethel nodded sadly, her eyes filling at her disappointment; William then
marched down the hall with a stately magnificence peculiar to butlers,
and opened the door into the playroom. He flung it wide and stood to one
side like a grenadier, as Celeste and Ethel entered. There was a
gorgeous tree, beautifully trimmed. William had bought the tree and
Celeste's French taste had adorned it. It was a sight to delight any
child's eyes and the things strewn around it on the floor were even more
attractive. Everything that money could buy, that Celeste and William
could think of was there. Ethel's mother had given her maid carte
blanche to buy the child whatever she liked, and Ethel's father had
done the same with William. The two had pooled their issue and the
result was a toyshop dream. Ethel looked at the things in silence.

"How do you like it, Miss?" asked William at last rather anxiously.

"Mademoiselle is not pleased?" questioned the French woman.

"It--it--is lovely," faltered the little girl.

"We haf selected zem ourselves."

"Yes, Miss."

"Didn't mamma--buy anything--or papa--or Santa?"

"Zey tell us to get vatever you vould like and nevair mind ze money."

"It was so good of you, I am sure," said Ethel struggling valiantly
against disappointment almost too great to bear. "Everything is
beautiful but--I--wish mamma or papa had--I wish they were here--I'd
like them to wish me a Merry Christmas."

The little lip trembled but the upper teeth came down on it firmly. The
child had courage. William looked at Celeste and Celeste shrugged her
shoulders, both knowing what was lacking.

"I am sure, Miss, that they do wish you a Merry Christmas, an'"--the
butler began bravely, but the situation was too much for him. "There
goes the master's bell," he said quickly and turned and stalked out of
the room gravely, although no bell had summoned him.

"You may go, Celeste," said Ethel with a dignity not unlike her mother's
manner.

[Illustration: "I am sure, Miss, that they do wish you a Merry
Christmas."]

The maid shrugged her shoulders again, left the room and closed the
door. Everything was lovely, everything was there except that personal
touch which means so much even to the littlest girl. Ethel was used
to being cared for by others than her parents but it came especially
hard on her this morning. She turned, leaving the beautiful things as
they were placed about the tree, and walked to the end window whence she
could get a view of the little house beyond the garage over the back
wall.

There was a Christmas tree in Maggie's house too. It wouldn't have made
a respectable branch for Ethel's tree, and the trimmings were so cheap
and poor that Celeste would have thrown them into the waste basket
immediately. There were a few common, cheap, perishable little toys
around the tree on the floor but to Maggie it was a glimpse of heaven.
She stood in her little white night-gown--no such thing as dressing for
her on Christmas morning--staring around her. The whole family was
grouped about her, even the littlest brothers, who went to school
because they were not big enough to work, forgot their own joy in
watching their little sister. Her father, her mother, the big boys all
in a state of more or less dishevelled undress stood around her,
pointing out first one thing and then another which they had been able
to get for her by denying themselves some of the necessities of life.
Maggie was so happy that her eyes brimmed, yet she did not cry. She
laughed, she clapped her hands, and kissed them all round and finally
found herself, a big orange in one hand, a tin trumpet in the other,
perched upon her father's broad shoulders leading a frantic march around
the narrow confines of the living-room. As she passed by the one window
she caught a glimpse of the alley. It had been snowing throughout the
night and the ground was white.

"Oh," she screamed with delight, "let me see the snow on Christmas
morning."

Her father walked over to the window, parted the cheap lace curtains,
while Maggie clapped her hands gleefully at the prospect. Presently she
lifted her eyes and looked toward the other window high up in the air,
where Ethel stood, a mournful little figure. Maggie's papa looked too.
He knew how cheap and poor were the little gifts he had bought for his
daughter.

"I wish," he thought, "that she could have some of the things that child
up there has."

Maggie however was quite content. She smiled, flourished her trumpet,
waved her orange, but there was no answering smile on Ethel's face now.
Finally the wistful little girl in the big house languidly waved her
hand, and then Maggie was taken away to be dressed lest she should catch
cold after the mischief was done.

"I hope that she's having a nice Christmas," said Maggie, referring to
Ethel.

"I hope so too," answered her mother, wishing that her little girl
might have some of the beautiful gifts she knew must be in the great
house.

"Whatever she has," said Maggie, gleefully, "she can't have any nicer
Christmas than I have, that you and papa and the boys gave me. I'm just
as happy as I can be."

Over in the big house, Ethel was also wishing. She was so unhappy since
she had seen Maggie in the arms of her big, bearded father, standing by
the window, that she could control herself no longer. She turned away
and threw herself down on the floor in front of the tree and buried her
face in her hands bursting into tears.

It was Christmas morning and she was all alone.

[Illustration]



A CHRISTMAS CAROL

[Illustration]

"_Christmas Then and Now_"


      The Stars look down
      On David's town,
  While angels sing in Winter night;
      The Shepherds pray,
      And far away
  The Wise Men follow guiding light.

      Little Christ Child
      By Mary Mild
  In Manger lies without the Inn;
      Of Man the Son,
      Yet God in One,
  To save the lost in World of Sin.

      Still stars look down
      On David's town
  And still the Christ Child dwells with men,
      What thought give we
      To such as He,
  Or souls who live in Sin as then?

      Show we our love
      To Him above
  By offering others' grief to share;
      And Christmas cheer
      For all the year
  Bestow to lighten pain and care.

"The Stars Look Down."

CHRISTMAS CAROL.

Words by                       Music by
CYRUS TOWNSEND BRADY.       ALSOP LEFFINGWELL.

_Moderato_.

[Illustration: [Music]

  The Stars look down
  On David's town,
  While angels sing in Winter night;
  The shepherds pray,
  And far away,
  The Wise Men follow Guiding light.
  Little Christ Child,
  By Mary Mild,
  In manger lies without the inn;
  Of Man the Son,
  Yet God in One,
  To save the lost in
  world of sin.

  Still stars look down
  on David's town
  And still the Christ Child dwells with men.
  What thought give we
  To such as He,
  Or souls who live in Sin, as then?
  Show we our love
  To Him above
  By off'ring others' grief to share,
  And Christmas cheer
  For all the year
  Bestow to lighten Pain and Care.]



THE LONE SCOUT'S CHRISTMAS

_Wherein is Set Forth the Courage and Resourcefulness of Youth_

_A Story for Boys_


Every boy likes snow on Christmas Day, but there is such a thing as too
much of it. Henry Ives, alone in the long railroad coach, stared out of
the clouded windows at the whirling mass of snow with feelings of
dismay. It was the day before Christmas, almost Christmas Eve. Henry did
not feel any too happy, indeed he had hard work to keep down a sob. His
mother had died but a few weeks before and his father, the captain of a
freighter on the Great Lakes, had decided, very reluctantly, to send him
to his brother who had a big ranch in western Nebraska.

Henry had never seen his uncle or his aunt. He did not know what kind
of people they were. The loss of his mother had been a terrible blow to
him and to be separated from his father had filled his cup of sorrow to
the brim. His father's work did not end with the close of navigation on
the lakes, and he could not get away then although he promised to come
and see Henry before the ice broke and traffic was resumed in the
spring.

The long journey from the little Ohio town on Lake Erie to western
Nebraska had been without mishap. His uncle's ranch lay far away from
the main line of the railroad on the end of the branch. There was but
one train a day upon it, and that was a mixed train. The coach in which
Henry sat was attached to the end of a long string of freight cars.
Travel was infrequent in that section of the country. On this day Henry
was the only passenger.

The train had been going up-grade for many miles and had just about
reached the crest of the divide. Bucking the snow had become more and
more difficult; several times the train had stopped. Sometimes the
engine backed the train some distance to get headway to burst through
the drift. So Henry thought nothing of it when the car came to a gentle
stop.

The all-day storm blew from the west and the front windows of the car
were covered with snow so he could not see ahead. Some time before the
conductor and rear brakeman had gone forward to help dig the engine out
of the drift and they had not come back.

Henry sat in silence for some time watching the whirling snow. He was
sad; even the thought of the gifts of his father and friends in his
trunk which stood in the baggage compartment of the car did not cheer
him. More than all the Christmas gifts in the world, he wanted at that
time his mother and father and friends.

"It doesn't look as though it was going to be a very merry Christmas for
me," he said aloud at last, and then feeling a little stiff from having
sat still so long he got up and walked to the front of the car.

It was warm and pleasant in the coach. The Baker heater was going at
full blast and Henry noticed that there was plenty of coal. He tried to
see out from the front door; but as he was too prudent to open it and
let in the snow and cold he could make out nothing. The silence rather
alarmed him. The train had never waited so long before.

Then, suddenly, came the thought that something very unusual was wrong.
He must get a look at the train ahead. He ran back to the rear door,
opened it and standing on the leeward side, peered forward. The engine
and freight cars were not there! All he saw was the deep cut filled
nearly to the height of the car with snow.

Henry was of a mechanical turn of mind and he realized that doubtless
the coupling had broken. That was what had happened. The trainmen had
not noticed it and the train had gone on and left the coach. The break
had occurred at the crest of the divide and the train had gone rapidly
down hill on the other side. The amount of snow told the boy that it
would not be possible for the train to back up and pick up the car. He
was alone in the wilderness of rolling hills in far western Nebraska.
And this was Christmas Eve!

It was enough to bring despair to any boy's heart. But Henry Ives was
made of good stuff, he was a first-class Boy Scout and on his scout coat
in the trunk were four Merit Badges. He had the spirit of his father,
who had often bucked the November storms on Lake Superior in his great
six-hundred-foot freighter, and danger inspired him.

He went back into the car, closed the door, and sat down to think it
over. He had very vague ideas as to how long such a storm would last and
how long he might be kept prisoner. He did not even know just where he
was or how far it was to the end of the road and the town where his
uncle's ranch lay.

It was growing dark so he lighted one of the lamps close to the heater
and had plenty of light. In doing so he noticed in the baggage rack a
dinner pail. He remembered that the conductor had told him that his wife
had packed that dinner pail and although it did not belong to the boy he
felt justified in appropriating it in such circumstances. It was full of
food--eggs, sandwiches, and a bottle of coffee. He was not very hungry
but he ate a sandwich. He was even getting cheerful about the situation
because he had something to do. It was an adventure.

While he had been eating, the storm had died away. Now he discovered
that it had stopped snowing. All around him the country was a hilly,
rolling prairie. The cut ran through a hill which seemed to be higher
than others in the neighbourhood. If he could get on top of it he might
see where he was. Although day was ending it was not yet dark and Henry
decided upon an exploration.

Now he could not walk on foot in that deep and drifted snow without
sinking over his head under ordinary conditions, but his troop had done
a great deal of winter work, and strapped alongside of his big,
telescope grip were a pair of snow-shoes which he himself had made, and
with the use of which he was thoroughly familiar.

"I mustn't spoil this new suit," he told himself, so he ran to the
baggage-room of the car, opened his trunk, got out his Scout uniform and
slipped into it in a jiffy. "Glad I ran in that 'antelope dressing
race,'" he muttered, "but I'll beat my former record now." Over his
khaki coat he put on his heavy sweater, then donned his wool cap and
gloves, and with his snow-shoes under his arm hurried back to the rear
platform. The snow was on a level with the platform. It rose higher as
the coach reached into the cut. He saw that he would have to go down
some distance before he could turn and attempt the hill.

He had used his snow-shoes many times in play but this was the first
time they had ever been of real service to him. Thrusting his toes into
the straps he struck out boldly.

[Illustration: "Thrusting his toes into the straps he struck out
boldly."]

To his delight he got along without the slightest difficulty although
he strode with great care. He gained the level and in ten minutes found
himself on the top of the hill, where he could see miles and miles of
rolling prairie. He turned himself slowly about, to get a view of the
country.

As his glance swept the horizon, at first it did not fall upon a single,
solitary thing except a vast expanse of snow. There was not a tree even.
The awful loneliness filled him with dismay. He had about given up when,
in the last quarter of the horizon he saw, perhaps a quarter of a mile
away, what looked like a fine trickle of blackish smoke that appeared to
rise from a shapeless mound that bulged above the monotonous level.

"Smoke means fire, and fire means man," he said, excitedly.

The sky was rapidly clearing. A few stars had already appeared.
Remembering what he had learned on camp and trail, he took his bearing
by the stars; he did not mean to get lost if he left that hill. Looking
back, he could see the car, the lamp of which sent broad beams of light
through the windows across the snow.

Then he plunged down the hill, thanking God in his boyish heart for the
snow-shoes and his knowledge of them.

It did not take him long to reach the mound whence the smoke rose. It
was a sod house, he found, built against a sharp knoll, which no doubt
formed its rear wall. The wind had drifted the snow, leaving a half-open
way to the door. Noiselessly the boy slipped down to it, drew his feet
from the snow-shoes and knocked. There was a burst of sound inside. It
made his heart jump, but he was reassured by the fact that the voices
were those of children. What they said he could not make out; but,
without further ado, he opened the door and entered.

It was a fairly large room. There were two beds in it, a stove, a table,
a chest of drawers and a few chairs. From one of the beds three heads
stared at him. As each head was covered with a wool cap, drawn down over
the ears, like his own, he could not make out who they were. There were
dishes on the table, but they were empty. The room was cold, although it
was evident that there was still a little fire in the stove.

"Oh!" came from one of the heads in the bed. "I thought you were my
father. What is your name?"

"My name," answered the boy, "is Henry Ives. I was left behind alone in
the railroad car about a mile back, and saw the smoke from your house
and here I am."

"Have you brought us anything to burn?" asked the second head.

"Or anything to eat?" questioned the third.

"My name is Mary Wright," said the first speaker, "and these are my
brothers George and Philip. Father went away yesterday morning with the
team, to get some coal and some food. He went to Kiowa."

"That's where I am going," interrupted Henry.

"Yes," continued Mary, "I suppose he can't get back because of the snow.
It's an awful storm."

"We haven't anything to eat, and I don't know when father will be back,"
said George.

"And it's Christmas Eve," wailed Philip, who appeared to be about seven.

He set up a howl about this which his brother George, who was about
nine, had great difficulty in quieting.

"We put the last shovelful of coal in the stove," said Mary Wright,
"and got into bed to keep warm."

"I'll go outside while you get up and dress," said Henry considerately,
"and then we will try and get to the car. It is warm there, and there is
something to eat."

"You needn't go," said the girl; "we are all dressed." She threw back
the covers and sprang out of bed. She was very pretty and about Henry's
own age, he discovered, although she was pale and haggard with cold and
hunger.

"Goody, goody!" exclaimed little Philip, as his feet landed on the
floor. "Maybe we'll have some Christmas, too."

"Maybe we will," said Henry, smiling at him. "At least we will have
something to eat."

"Well, let's start right away then," urged George.

This brought Henry face to face with a dilemma. "I have only one pair
of snow-shoes," he said at last, "and you probably don't know how to use
them anyway, and you can't walk on the snow."

"I have a sled," suggested George.

"That won't do," said Henry. "I've got to have something that won't sink
in the snow--that will lie flat, so I can draw you along."

"How about that table?" said the girl.

"Good suggestion," cried Henry.

It was nothing but a common kitchen table. He turned it upside down,
took his Scout axe from its sheath, knocked the legs off, fastened a
piece of clothesline to the butts of two of them.

"Now if I could have something to turn up along the front, so as not to
dig into the snow," he said, "it would be fine." He thought a moment.
"Where is that sled of yours, George?"

"Here," said George, dragging it forth. The runners curved upwards.
Henry cut them off, in spite of Philip's protests. He nailed these
runners to the front of the table and stretched rope tightly across them
so that he had four up-curves in front of the table.

"Now I want something to stretch on these things, so as to let the sled
ride over the snow, instead of digging into it," he said to the girl.

She brought him her father's old "slicker." Henry cut it into suitable
shape and nailed and lashed it securely to the runners and to the table
top. Now he had a flat-bottomed sled with a rising front to it that
would serve. He smiled as he looked at the queer contrivance and said
aloud: "I wish Mr. Lesher could see that!"

"Who is Mr. Lesher?" asked George.

"Oh, he's my Scoutmaster back in Ohio. Now come on!"

He opened the door, drew the sled outside, pushed it up on the snow and
stepped on it. It bore his weight perfectly.

"It's all right," he cried. "But it won't take all three of you at
once."

"I'll wait," said Mary, "you take the two boys."

"Very well," said Henry.

"You'll surely come back for me?"

"Surely, and I think it's mighty brave of you to stay behind. Now come
on, boys," he said.

Leaving Mary filled with pleasure at such praise, he put the two boys
carefully into the sled, stepped into his snow-shoes and dragged them
rapidly across the prairie. It was quite dark now, but the sky was clear
and the stars were bright. The storm had completely stopped. He
remembered the bearings he had taken by the stars, and reached the high
hill without difficulty. Below him lay the car.

Presently he drew up before the platform. He put the boys in the car,
told them to go up to the fire and warm themselves and not to touch
anything. Then he went back for the girl.

"Did you think I was not coming?" he asked as he re-entered the cabin.

"I knew you would come back," said the girl and it was Henry's turn to
tingle with pride.

He wrapped her up carefully, and fairly ran back to the car. They found
the boys warm and comfortable and greatly excited.

"If we just had a Christmas tree and Santa Claus and something to eat
and a drink of water and a place to sleep," said the youngest boy, "it
would be great fun."

"I am afraid we can't manage the Christmas tree," said Henry, "but we
can have everything else."

"Do you mean Santy?"

"Santy too," answered the boy. "First of all, we will get something to
eat."

"We haven't had anything since morning," said the girl. Henry divided
the sandwiches into three portions. As it happened, there were three
hard-boiled eggs. He gave one portion to each of his guests.

"You haven't left any for yourself," said Mary.

"I ate before I looked for you," answered Henry, although the one
sandwich had by no means satisfied his hunger.

"My, but this is good!" said George.

"Our mother is dead," said Mary Wright after a pause, "and our father is
awful poor. He has taken out a homestead and we are trying to live on it
until he gets it proved up. We have had a very hard time since mother
died."

"Yes, I know," said Henry, gravely; "my mother died, too."

"I wonder what time it is?" asked the girl at last.

Henry pulled out his watch. "It is after six o'clock," he said.

"Say," broke in George, "that's a funny kind of a uniform you've got
on."

"It is a Boy Scout uniform."

"Oh, is it?" exclaimed George. "I never saw one before. I wish I could
be a Scout!"

"Maybe you can," answered Henry. "I am going to organize a troop when I
get to Kiowa. But now I'm going to fix beds for you. Of course we are
all sleepy after such a hard day."

He had seen the trainmen lift up the bottoms of the seats and lay them
lengthwise of the car. He did this, and soon made four fairly
comfortable beds. The two nearest the stove he gave to the boys. He
indicated the next one was for Mary, and the one further down toward the
middle of the car was for himself.

"You can all go to bed right away," he said when he had made his
preparations. The two boys decided to accept this advice. Mary said she
would stay up a little longer and talk with Henry.

"You can't undress," she said to the two boys. "You'll have to sleep as
you are." She sat down in one of the car seats; Philip knelt down at one
knee and George at the other. The girl, who was barely fifteen had
already taken her mother's place. She laid her hand on each bent head
and listened while one after the other the boys said their prayers. She
kissed them good-night, saw them comfortably laid out on the big
cushions with their overcoats for pillows and turned away.

"Say," began Philip, "you forgot something, Mary."

"What have I forgotten, dear?"

"Why, it's Christmas Eve and we must hang up our stockings."

Mary threw up her hands. "I am afraid this is too far away for Santa
Claus. He won't know that we are out here," she said.

"Oh, I don't know," said Henry, thinking rapidly, "let them hang them
up."

Mary looked at him in surprise. "They haven't any to hang up," she said.
"We can't take those they're wearing."

"You should have thought of that," wailed Philip, "before you brought us
here."

"I have some extra ones in my bag," said Henry. "We will hang them up."

He opened the bag and brought out three stockings, one for each of his
guests. He fastened them to the baggage racks above the seats and
watched the two boys contentedly close their eyes and go to sleep.

"They will be awfully disappointed when they wake up in the morning and
do not find anything in them," said Mary.

"They're going to find something in them," said Henry confidently.

He went to the end of the car, opened his trunk and lifted out various
packages which had been designed for him. Of course he was going on
sixteen, but there were some things that would do for Philip and plenty
of things for George and some good books that he had selected himself
that would do for Mary. Then there were candy and nuts and cakes and
oranges galore. Mary was even more excited than he was as they filled
the boys' stockings and arranged things that were too big to go in them.

"These are your own Christmas gifts, I know," said the girl, "and you
haven't hung up your stocking."

"I don't need to. I have had my Christmas present."

"And what is that?"

"A chance to make a merry Christmas for you and your little brothers,"
answered Henry, and his heart was light.

"How long do you suppose we will have to stay here?" asked the girl.

"I don't know. I suppose they will try to dig us out to-morrow.
Meanwhile we have nuts, oranges, crackers, and little cakes, to say
nothing of the candy, to live on. Now you go to bed and have a good
sleep."

"And what will you do?"

"I'll stay up for a while and read one of these books and keep the fire
going."

"You are awfully good to us," said Mary, turning away. "You are just
like a real Santa Claus."

"We have to help other people--especially people in trouble," answered
the boy. "It is one of the first Scout rules. I am really glad I got
left behind and found you. Good-night."

The girl, whose experience that day had been hard, soon fell asleep with
her brothers. Henry did not feel sleepy at all; he was bright and happy
and rejoiced. This certainly _was_ an adventure. He wondered what Dick
and Joe and Spike and the other fellows of his troop would think when he
wrote them about it. He did not realize that he had saved the lives of
the children, who would assuredly have frozen to death in the cabin.

When he was satisfied that Mary was sound asleep, he put some things in
her stocking and then piled in the rack over her head two books he
thought the girl would like. It was late when he went to sleep himself,
happier than he had dreamed he could be.

He awoke once in the night to replenish the fire, but he was sleeping
soundly at seven o'clock in the morning when the door of the car opened
and half a dozen men filed in. They had not made any noise. Even the big
snow-plough tearing open the way from Kiowa had not disturbed the four
sleepers.

The first man in was the conductor. After the trainmen had discovered
that the coach had been left behind they had managed to get into Kiowa
and had started back at once with the rotary plough to open the road and
to rescue the boy. Henry's uncle had been in town to meet Henry, and of
course the trainmen let him go back with them on the plough. The third
man was Mr. Wright. He had been caught by the storm and, as he said, the
abandoned coach must be near his claim, he asked to be taken along
because he was afraid his children would be freezing to death.

The men stopped and surveyed the sleeping boys and girl. Their glances
ranged from the children to the bulging stockings and the pile of
Christmas presents in the racks.

"Well, can you beat that?" said the conductor.

"By George!" exclaimed Rancher Ives, "a regular Christmas layout!"

"These are my children safe and well, thank God!" cried Mr. Wright.

"Boy," said the conductor, laying his hand on Henry's shoulder, "we came
to wish you a Merry Christmas."

"Father!" cried Mary Wright, awakened by the voice, and the next minute
she was in his arms, while she told him rapidly what Henry had done for
them all.

The boys were awake, too, but humanity had no attraction for them.

"Santa has come!" shouted Philip making a dive for his stocking.

"This is your uncle, Jim Ives," said the conductor to Henry.

"And this is my father," said Mary in turn.

"I am awfully sorry," said Henry to the conductor, "but we had to eat
your dinner. And I had to chop up your kitchen table," he added, turning
to Mr. Wright.

"I am glad there was something to eat in the pail," said one.

"You could have chopped the cabin down," said the other.

"By George!" said the ranchman proudly. "I wrote to your father to send
you out here and we'd make a man of you, but it seems to me you are a
man already," he continued as Mary Wright poured forth the story of
their rescue.

"No, I am not a man," said Henry to his uncle, as he flushed with pride
at the hearty praise of these men. "I am just a--"

"Just a what?" asked the conductor as the boy hesitated.

"Why, just a Boy Scout," answered Henry.



LOOKING INTO THE MANGER

_A Christmas Meditation_


Christmas morning, the day we celebrate as the anniversary of the birth
of our Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ, in the obscure, little hill town
of Bethlehem in the far-off Judæan land, over nineteen hundred years
ago!

It is said:

  "When beggars die, there are no comets seen:
  The heavens themselves blaze forth the death of princes."

What is true of the passing of kings is perhaps more true of their
coming; yet in this birth are singular contradictions. The Child was
born a beggar. There lacks no touch which even imagination could supply
to indicate the meanness of His earthly condition. Homeless, His
mother, save for the stable of the public inn--and words can hardly
describe any place more unsuited--was shelterless, unprotected, in that
hour of travail pain.

I love to let my imagination dwell upon that scene. Sometimes I think
wayfarers may have gathered in the tavern hard by and with music and
play sought to while away the hours as travellers have from time
immemorial. Perhaps in some pause in their merriment, a strange cry of
anguish, borne by the night wind from the rude shelter without, may have
stopped their revelry for a moment and one may have asked of another:

"What is that?"

The servant of the house who stood obsequious to promote their pleasure
may have answered apologetically:

"It is the cry of a woman of the people in travail in the inn yard."

I can fancy their indifference to the answer, or I can hear perhaps the
rude jest, or the vulgar quip, with which such an announcement may have
been received, as the play or the music went on again.

Oh, yes, the world in solemn stillness lay, doubtless, that winter
night, but not the people in it. They pursued their several vocations as
usual. They loved or they hated, they worked or they played, they hoped
or they despaired, they dreamed or they achieved, just as they had done
throughout the centuries, just as they have done since that day, just as
they will do far into the future; although their little God came to
them, as never He came before, in the stable in the Bethlehem hills that
night.

And yet, had they but cast their eyes upward like the wise men--it is
always your wise man who casts his eyes upward--they, too, might have
seen the star that blazed overhead. It was placed so high above the
earth that all men everywhere could see to which spot on the surface it
pointed. Or, had they been devout men, they would have listened for
heavenly voices--it is always your devout man who tries to hear other
things than the babble of the Babel in which he lives--they, too, could
have heard the angelic chorus like the shepherds in the fields and on
the hillsides that frosty night.

For the heavens did blaze forth the birth of the Child. Not with the
thunder of guns, not with the blare of trumpets, not with the beating of
drums, not with the lighting of castle, village, and town, the kindling
of beacons upon the far-flung hills, the cry of fast-riding messengers
through the night, and the loud acclaim of thousands which greet the
coming of an earthly king, was He welcomed; but by the still shining of
a silent star and by the ineffable and transcendent voices of an Angel
Choir.

How long did the Shepherds listen to that chorus? How long did it ring
over the hills and far away? Whither went the Wise Men? Into what dim
distance vanished the star?

  "Where are the roses of yesterday?
  What has become of last year's snow?"


And the residuum of it all was a little Baby held to a woman's breast in
a miserable hovel in the most forlorn and detested corner of the world.
And yet to-day and at this hour, and at every hour during the
twenty-four, men are looking into that chamber; men are bowing to that
Child and His mother, and even that mother is at the feet of the Child.

From the snow peaks of the North land, "from Greenland's icy mountains
to India's coral strand," and on and on through all the burning tropics
to the companion ice of the other pole, the antarctic, and girdling the
world from east to west as well, the adoration continues. It comes alike
from the world's noblest, from the world's highest, from the world's
truest, from the world's kindest, from the world's poorest, from the
world's humblest, from the world's best.

Do not even the soldiers in the trenches upon the far-flung battle lines
pause to listen, look to see as for a moment dies away the cannonade? Do
not even the sailors of war and trade peer across the tossing waters of
the great deep, longing for a truce of God if only for an hour upon this
winter morning?

[Illustration: "The world bows down to a Mother and her Child--and the
Mother herself is at the feet of the Child."]

Yes, they all look into the manger as they look upon the cross and if
only for an instant this war reddened planet comes to "_see and
believe_." What keen vision saw in the Baby the Son of God and the Son
of Man? What simple faith can see these things in Him now? "_Let us now
go even unto Bethlehem and see this thing which is come to pass_."

That birth is known as the Incarnation. Ye know not "_how the bones do
grow in the womb of her that is with child_." Life itself is
insusceptible of any definition which satisfies, but we know that we
live, nevertheless. Science points out a common origin in protoplasmic
cells and is quite unable to explain so common a fact as sex
differentiation. I care not what methods of accounting for life you
propose, you yet have to refer it to the Author of all life "_in whom we
live and move and have our being_." Why, therefore, should the
Incarnation be thought incredible or impossible because it does not come
within the limitations of our present understanding and it is not
taught by our limited human experience. The sweet reasonableness of the
Incarnation, this conception by Divine power, this birth from the Virgin
mother, should appeal to all who think deeply on these subjects.

And yet perhaps the manner, place, and circumstance of this birth may
awaken wonder. Possibly you would have the King come as other kings
come, in pomp and circumstance, glory and majesty, with heralds
preceding, music playing, blossoms strewn, and people cheering. Oh, no,
that way did not seem the best way to the wisdom of God--a young girl,
an old man, in the stable, no other tendance, no luxury, no
comfort--poverty, humility, absolute.

Let us forget the Angel Chorus and the blazing star and go now even unto
Bethlehem and look into the manger at that Child, while the
uncomprehending cattle stare resentful perhaps at their displacement.
The King comes as a Child, as weak, as helpless, as vocal of its pains
as any other child. Not a Child of luxury, not a Child of consequence,
not a Child of comfort, but a Child of poverty; and in the eyes of the
blind world, if they had been privy to it, without the glorious vision
of the good man, Joseph, a Child of shame! If the world had known that
the Babe was not the Child of Joseph and Mary how it would have mocked.
What laughter, what jeers, what contempt, what obloquy, what scorn would
have been heaped upon the woman's head! Why the world would heap them
there now were it not that that portion of it which disbelieves in the
Incarnation, says that Joseph was after all the father of the Child.

Nor shall we go down to Bethlehem alone. The poor, ignorant shepherds
came to the cradle that night. They could understand. It did not seem
strange to them that their God was poor, for they themselves were poor.
I wonder how much the shepherds reflected. Theirs is a profession which
gives rise to thought; they are much alone in the waste places with the
gentlest of God's creatures. Their paths lead by green pastures and
still waters; they enjoy long, lonely hours for meditation. Did they
say:

"Ah! God has come to us as a poor man, not because there is anything
particularly noble or desirable in poverty, but because so many of us
are so very poor, and because the most of us have been poor all the
time, and because it is probable that most of us will be poor in the
future!"

Many a poor man has looked up into the silent heavens and wondered
sometimes whether God understood or cared about his wretched lot. Of
course God always knew and cared, we cannot gainsay that, but in order
to make men know that He knew and to make them believe that He cared,
He let them see that He did not disdain to be a poor man and humble;
that He sought His followers and supporters in the great majority. _My
God was a Carpenter_! That is why He came to the stable; that is why He
came to the manger. And that is why the poor come to Him.

And there came to that same cradle, a little while after, the Wise Men.
They were professional wise men; they belonged to the learned, the
cultured, the thoughtful class; but they were wise men as well in the
sense in which we use wisdom to-day. That is, they looked beyond earthly
conditions and saw Divinity where the casual glance does not see it. How
many a seamed, rugged face, how many a burden-bent back, how many a
faltering footstep, how many a knotted, calloused hand is perhaps more
nearly in the image of God than the fairer face, the straighter figure,
the softer palm!

The shepherds were not only poor, but they laboured in their poverty;
they were working men and they worshipped Him, the Working Man. The wise
men were not only wise, but they were rich. They brought the treasures
of the earth from the ends thereof and laid them before the Babe and the
mother. How fragrant the perfume of the frankincense and the myrrh, and
how rich the lustre of the gold and silver in the mean surroundings of
the hovel. They took no thought of their costly apparel, they had no
fear of contamination from their surroundings, no question of relative
degree entered their heads. As simply and as truly as the shepherds they
worshipped the Christ. The rich and the poor met together there, and the
Lord was the maker of them all.

Was that baby-hand the shaper of destiny? Was that working-hand the
director of events? Even so. The Lord's power is not less the Lord's
power though it be not exhibited in the stretched out arm of majesty.

Some of you who read this and many more who can not are poor, perhaps
very poor, but you can stand beside that manger and look at that Baby's
face, you can reflect upon the Child, how He grew, what He said, what He
did, until a cross casts its black shadow across your vision--the war is
raising many crosses and many there be that walk the _via dolorosa_ to
them to-day. You shall be counted blessed if you can gaze at that cross
until it is transformed by the glory of the resurrection. And in it all
you can see your God--the poor man's God!--the rich man's
God!--everybody's God!

You can know that your God was poor, that He was humble, that He
struggled under adverse conditions, that He laboured, that He was
hungry, thirsty, tired, cold, that He was homeless, that He was denied
many of the joys of human society and the solace of affection, that His
best friends went back on Him, that everybody deserted Him, and that the
whole world finally rose up and crushed Him down. That he suffered all
things. Only a very great God could so endure. Only one who was truly
God could so manifest Himself in pain.

You can understand how He can comprehend what your trouble is. Oh, yes,
the poor and the bereaved have as great a right to look into that manger
and see their God there as have the rich and the care free.

Now there is a kind of pernicious socialism which condemns riches as
things unholy and exalts poverty as a thing acceptable to God. That Baby
came as well to the rich as to the poor. Do not forget that. It is not
generally understood, but it is true. He accepted gladly the
hospitality, the alms, the gifts, priceless in value, of those who had
great possessions and He loved them even as He loved those who had
nothing. The rich and wise also have a right to look into that cradle to
see their God, too. When we say He is the God of all classes we do not
mean that He is only the God of the poor any more than we mean He is
only the God of the rich.

He came to all the children of men and they can all stand by that cradle
this morning and claim Him as their own; ask, receive, and share in His
blessing. The light that shone in the darkness lighted impartially the
world. Some of you are blessed with competences and some of the
competences are greater than others. What of it? The poor man may serve
God acceptably in his poverty and the rich man may serve God acceptably
in his wealth. There is one God and though He is King of Kings and Lord
of Lords, even though He may lie lowly in a manger, yet the kingdom of
Heaven is like a republic--it is a democracy in which all are equal, or
if there be distinctions they are based on righteousness alone--saving
only the distinctions Divine.

Now there is one other condition into which all men inevitably fall.
Whether they be rich or whether they be poor, they are all bound to be
sorrowful. Sooner or later, we are certain to be troubled. And that is
more true today, doubtless, than in any other period in the long history
of this old world.

These sorrowful ones can go unto Bethlehem and look into the cradle and
claim the Child as their God. For every sorrow that has been yours, He
experienced; every grief that you have bowed before, He was forced to
struggle with. Very tender and compassionate is our Lord. I am quite
sure that He notices your bowed head, that He puts His arms across your
shoulders, that He whispers words of comfort into your ear, or that He
gives you the silent sympathy of His presence, that He takes you by the
hand; that whatever action most appeals to you and is best for you He
takes if you wish Him to.

There are many people belonging to you or your family who are far away,
whom you would fain have with you this Christmas morning. Many of them
are fighting manfully in His cause, too. Do not forget that our Lord
came to the family! that He made a family by coming. These far-off loved
ones are doing what we are doing this morning. And there are some you
love who are still farther away. The sound of their earthly voices is
stilled, we may not clasp their hands, we cannot see them any more.
They are gone from the world, but not from our hearts. If they are not
here I think they are with Him. And we may be sure that it is very
pleasant to them where He is. They are not unmindful of our human
regrets and longings, but I think we ought not to be unmindful of their
peaceful joy in His presence.

And so everybody has a right to come to that cradle, the poor, the
humble, the hard workers, the toilers, the wise, the learned, the easy,
the rich, the joyous, the sad, the sorrowful, the bereaved. They may all
look into the manger and see their God.

He came to a family; He made a family. We are all in that family, the
children of the selfsame Father, the sons of the selfsame God, the
brethren of Him of the manger--German and French, English and Austrian,
Italian and Bulgar, Russian and Turk! Ay, and above all and with all
American and Belgian. Sirs, we be, not twelve, but many brethren! What
does that mean?

There is one musical word with, I think, perhaps the ugliest meaning in
the language. It is _rancour_. Let us do away with it, let us put it
aside. If we are poor let us be brethren to the other poor, if we are
rich let us be brethren to the other rich, if we are wise let us be
brethren to the other wise, if we are foolish let us be brethren to the
other foolish. Ah, that is not difficult; it is an easy task. But that
is not enough. Brotherhood is broader, thank God! Let the poor be
brethren to the rich and the rich to the poor, the wise to the ignorant,
the misguided to the well-directed, the ignorant to the wise, the
foolish to the discreet, the discreet to the foolish, the glad to the
sorrowful, the sorrowful to the glad, the servants of the Lord to the
sinners against Him!

  "Then none was for a party;
    Then all were for the state;
  Then the great man helped the poor,
    And the poor man loved the great:
  Then lands were fairly portioned;
    Then spoils were fairly sold:
  The Romans were like brothers,
    In the brave days of old."


Let us make out of the old pagan ideals present-day realities in our
hearts as we go even unto Bethlehem and look into the cradle of the
King; realities in His own nobler and better words:

     "_Jesus answered and said unto them, Go and shew John again those
     things which ye do hear and see: the blind receive their sight, and
     the lame walk, the lepers are cleansed, and the deaf hear, the dead
     are raised up, and the poor have the gospel preached to them. And
     blessed is he whosoever shall not be offended in Me_."


Peace, goodwill toward men! Peace to men of goodwill! That is what the
angels sang. But there is nothing on earth to prevent us from making it
our human song as well. As we stand by the cradle of the Master and peer
into the manger at that which every human being loves, a baby, our
earthly differences of nationality, of rank, power, station, and
influence--things that are but the guinea's stamp upon the gold of
character and personality--fade into insignificance and become as
nothing. The little child in life notices none of these distinctions, he
marks nothing of them. Let us come as little children before Him. We may
be war-battered, sin-marked, toil-stained, care-burdened. Let us forget
it all this Christmas morning.

It was a poor place, that manger--the poorest place on earth--but it was
a place. It was somewhere. Let us give humanity even as little as a
manger. Let us not take up the Christ Child as we see Him and throw Him
out into the streets, or into no man's land. That is what we do when we
mock Him, when we deny Him, when we laugh Him to scorn. Let us not shut
Him out of His home place in our souls. Let us not refuse to open when
His hand knocks upon the door. That is what we do when we are
indifferent to Him. Let us take him out of the manger cradle, each one
of us, and enthrone Him in the most precious place we have, our inmost
hearts.

It all happened a very long time ago and much water has run in the
brooks of the world under the bridges thereof since that time, but the
mangers of the world are never empty. They are always full. In one
sense, Christ is being born everywhere at this very hour and at all
hours.

Let us give the Child the best we have, the best we can. Let us even now
go down unto Bethlehem, laden with what we have for the use of the
King, and let us see in every child of man that lacks anything this
Christmas morning the image of Him who in that manger lay in Bethlehem
and let us minister to their needs in love.


  "The little Christ is coming down[1]
    Across the fields of snow;
  The pine trees greet Him where they stand,
  The willows bend to kiss His hand,
  The mountain laurel is ablush
  In hidden nooks; the wind, ahush
  And tiptoe, lest the violets wake
  Before their time for His sweet sake;
  The stars, down dropping, form a crown
    Upon the waiting hills below---
  The little Christ is coming down
    Across the fields of snow.

  "The little Christ is coming down
    Across the city streets;
  The wind blows coldly from the north,
  His dimpled hands are stretching forth,
  And no one knows and no one cares,
  The priests are busy with their prayers,
  The jostling crowd hastes on apace,
  And no one sees the pleading face,
  None hears the cry as through the town
    He wanders with His small cold feet--
  The little Christ is coming down
    Across the city streets."

What welcome shall we have for Him, my friends?

[Illustration]



CHRISTMAS IN THE SNOWS

_Being Some Personal Adventures in the Far West_[2]


The love of Christmas is as strong in the West as it is in any section
of the country--perhaps, indeed, stronger, for people who have few
pleasures cherish holidays more highly than those for whom many cheap
amusements are provided. But when the manifestation of the Christmas
spirit is considered, there is a great difference between the West and
the East. There are vast sections of country in which evergreens do not
grow and to which it would not pay to ship them; consequently Christmas
trees are not common, and therefore they are the more prized when they
may be had. There are no great rows nor small clusters of inviting shops
filled with suggestive and fascinating contents at attractive prices.
The distances from centres of trade are so great that the things which
may be purchased even in the smallest towns in more favourable
localities for a few cents have there almost a prohibitive price put
upon them. The efforts of the people to give their children a merry
Christmas in the popular sense, however, are strong and sometimes
pitiful.

It must not be forgotten that the West is settled by Eastern people, and
that no very great difference exists between them save for the
advantages presented by life in the West for the higher development of
character. Western people are usually brighter, quicker, more
progressive and less conservative, and more liberal than those from whom
they came. The survival of the fittest is the rule out there and the
qualities of character necessary to that end are brought to the top by
the strenuous life necessitated by the hardships of the frontier. If the
people are not any better than they were, it is because they are still
clinging to the obsolete ideas of the East.

The Eastern point of view always reminds me of the reply of the bishop
to the layman who was deploring the poor quality of the clergy. "Yes,"
said the bishop, "some of them are poor; but consider the stock from
which they come. You see, we have nothing but laymen out of which to
make them."

The East never understands the West--the real West that is, which lies
beyond the Mississippi, the Missouri, and the Rocky Mountains. They know
nothing of its ideas, its capacities, its possibilities, its
educational facilities, its culture, its real power, in the East. And
they do not wish to learn, apparently. The Easterners fatuously think,
like Job, that they are the people, and wisdom will die with them. Some
years since an article in the "Forum" on the theme, "Kansas more
civilized than New York" conclusively proved the proposition to the
satisfaction of the present writer at least.

Yet I know numberless dwellers in Gotham whose shibboleth is "nothing
outside of New York City but scenery," and they are a little dubious
about admitting that. When one describes the Grand Canyon or the Royal
Gorge they point to Nassau or Wall Street, and the Woolworth tower
challenges Pike's Peak!

I sat at a dinner table one day when the salted almonds were handed me
with the remark: "I suppose you never saw anything like these out West.
Try some." And my wife has been quite gravely asked if we feared any
raids by the Indians and if they troubled us by their marauding in
Kansas. I have found it necessary to inform the curious that we did not
live in tepees or wigwams when in Nebraska or Colorado.

Shortly after I came East to live I was talking with a man and a very
stupid man at that, who informed me that he graduated from Harvard; to
which surprising statement he added the startling information, for the
benefit of my presumably untutored occidental mind, that it was a
college near Boston! They have everything in the West that the East has
so far as their sometimes limited means will provide them and when they
have no money they have patience, endurance, grim determination, and
courage, which are better than money in the long run.

The cities and smaller towns especially as a rule are cleaner, better
governed, more progressive, better provided with improvements and
comforts than corresponding places in the East. Scarcely a community
exists without its water works, electric light plant, telephone system,
trolleys, paved streets, etc. Of course, this does not apply to the
extreme frontier in which my field of work largely lay so many years
ago. The conditions were different there--the people too in that now
far-distant time.

But to return to Christmas. One Christmas day I left my family at one
o'clock in the morning. Christmas salutations were exchanged at that
very sleepy hour and I took the fast express to a certain station whence
I could drive up country to a little church in a farming country in
which there had never been a Christmas service. It was a bitter cold
morning, deep snow on the ground, and a furious north wind raging.

The climate is variable indeed out West. I have spent Christmas days on
which it rained all day and of all days in the year on which to have it
rain, Christmas is the worst. Still, the farmers would be thankful. It
was usually safe to be thankful out there whenever it rained. I knew a
man once who said you could make a fortune by always betting two to one
that it would not rain, no matter what the present promise of the
weather was. You were bound to win nine times out of ten.

I hired a good sleigh and two horses, and drove to my destination. The
church was a little old brick building right out in the prairie. There
was a smouldering fire in a miserable, worn-out stove which hardly
raised the temperature of the room a degree although it filled the place
with smoke. The wind had free entrance through the ill-fitting window
and door frames and a little pile of snow formed on the altar during
the service. I think there were twelve people who had braved the fury of
the storm. There was not an evergreen within a hundred miles of the
place and the only decoration was sage-brush. To wear vestments was
impossible, and I conducted the service in a buffalo overcoat and a fur
cap and gloves as I have often done. It was short and the sermon was
shorter. Mem.: If you want short sermons give your Rector a cold church
or a hot one!

After service I went to dinner at the nearest farm-house. Such a
Christmas dinner it was! There was no turkey, and they did not even have
a chicken. The menu was corn-bread, ham, and potatoes, and mighty few
potatoes at that. There were two children in the family, a girl of six
and a boy of five. They were glad enough to get the ham. Their usual
bill of fare was composed of potatoes and corn-bread, and sometimes
corn-bread alone. My wife had put up a lunch for me, fearing that I
might not be able to get anything to eat, in which there was a small
mince-pie turnover; and the children had slipped a small box of candy in
my bag as a Christmas gift. I produced the turnover which by common
consent was divided between the astonished children. Such a glistening
of eyes and smacking of small lips you never saw!

"This pie makes it seem like Christmas, after all," said the little
girl, with her mouth full.

"Yes," said the boy, ditto, "that and the ham."

"We didn't have any Christmas this year," continued the small maiden.
"Last year mother made us some potato men" (_i.e._, little animal and
semi-human figures made out of potatoes and matches with buttons for
eyes; they went into many stockings among the very poor out West then).

"But this year," interrupted the boy, "potatoes are so scarce that we
couldn't have 'em. Mother says that next year perhaps we will have some
real Christmas."

They were so brave about it that my heart went out to them. Children and
no Christmas gifts! Only the chill, bare room, the wretched, meagre
meal. I ransacked my brain. Finally something occurred to me. After
dinner I excused myself and hurried back to the church. There were two
small wicker baskets there which were used for the collection--old but
rather pretty. I selected the best one. Fortunately I had in my grip a
neat little "housewife" which contained a pair of scissors, a huge
thimble, needles, thread, a tiny little pin-cushion, an emery bag,
buttons, etc. I am, like most ex-sailors, something of a needleman
myself. I emptied the contents into the collection basket and garnished
the dull little affair with the bright ribbon ties ripped off the
"housewife" and went back to the house.

To the boy I gave my penknife which happened to be nearly new, and to
the girl the church basket with the sewing things for a work-basket. The
joy of those children was one of the finest things I have ever
witnessed. The face of the little girl was positively filled with awe as
she lifted from the basket, one by one, the pretty and useful articles
the "housewife" had supplied and when I added the small box of candy
that my children had provided me, they looked at me with feelings of
reverence, as a visible incarnation of Santa Claus. They were the
cheapest and most effective Christmas presents it was ever my pleasure
to bestow. I hope to be forgiven for putting the church furniture to
such a secular use.

Another Christmas day I had a funeral. There was no snow, no rain. The
day was warm. The woman who died had been the wife of one of the largest
farmers in the diocese. He actually owned a continuous body of several
thousands of acres of fine land, much of it under cultivation. She had
been a fruitful mother and five stalwart sons, all married, and several
daughters likewise, with numerous grandchildren represented her
contribution to the world's population. They were the people of the most
consideration in the little community in which they lived. We had the
services in the morning in the Methodist church, which was big enough to
hold about six hundred people. As it was a holiday, it was filled to the
very doors. One of my farmer friends remarked as we stood on the front
steps watching the crowd assembling:

"My, doc, all of them wagons gatherin' here makes it seem more like
circus day than a funeral."

I had been asked to preach a sermon, which I essayed to do. The
confusion was terrific. In order to be present themselves the mothers in
Israel had been obliged to bring their children, and the most domestic
of attentions were being bestowed upon them freely. They cried and
wailed and expostulated with their parents in audible tones until I was
nearly frantic. I found myself shouting consoling platitudes to a
sobbing, grief-stricken band of relatives and endeavouring to drown the
noise of the children by roaring--the lion's part à la Bottom. It was
distracting. I was a very young minister at the time and the
perspiration fairly rained from me. That's what makes me remember it was
a warm day.

When we got through the services after every one of the six hundred had,
in the language of the local undertaker, "viewed the remains," we went
to the cemetery. I rode behind a horse which was thirty-eight years old.
I do not know what his original colour had been but at present he was
white and hoary with age.

"I always use him for funerals," said the undertaker, "because he
naturally sets the proper pace for a funeral procession."

"Mercy," said I, "I hope he won't die on the road."

"Well, if he does," continued the undertaker, "your services will come
in handy. We can bury him proper. I am awful fond of that horse. I
shouldn't wonder if he hadn't been at as many as a thousand funerals in
his life."

I thought that he had all the gravity of his grewsome experiences,
especially in his gait. The Christmas dinners were all late on account
of the funeral but they were bountiful and good nevertheless and I much
enjoyed mine.

Another Christmas I was snow-bound on one of the obscure branches of a
Western railroad. If the train had been on time I would have made a
connection and have reached home by Christmas Eve, but it was very
evident, as the day wore on, that it was not going to be on time. Indeed
it was problematical whether it would get anywhere at all. It was
snowing hard outside. Our progress had become slower and slower. Finally
in a deep cut we stopped. There were four men, one woman, and two little
children in the car--no other passengers in the train. The train was of
that variety known out West as a "plug" consisting of a combination
baggage and smoker and one coach.

One of the trainmen started on a lonely and somewhat dangerous tramp of
several miles up the road to the next station to call for the
snow-plough, and the rest of us settled down to spend the night.
Certainly we could not hope to be extricated before the next evening,
especially as the storm then gave no signs of abating. We all went up to
the front of the car and sat around the stove in which we kept up a
bright fire,--fortunately we had plenty of fuel--and in such
circumstances we speedily got acquainted with each other. One of the men
was a "drummer," a travelling man for a notion house; another was a
cow-boy; the third was a big cattle-man; and I was the last. We soon
found that the woman was a widow who had maintained herself and the
children precariously since the death of her husband by sewing and other
feminine odd jobs but had at last given up the unequal struggle and was
going back to live with her mother, also a widow who had some little
property.

The poor little threadbare children had cherished anticipations of a
joyous Christmas with their grandmother. From their talk we could hear
that a Christmas tree had been promised them and all sorts of things.
They were intensely disappointed at the blockade. They cried and sobbed
and would not be comforted. Fortunately the woman had a great basket
filled with substantial provisions which, by the way, she generously
shared with the rest of us, so we were none of us hungry. As the night
fell, we tipped up two of the seats, placed the bottoms sideways, and
with our overcoats made two good beds for the little folks. Just before
they went to sleep the drummer said to me:

"Say, parson, we've got to give those children some Christmas."

"That's what," said the cow-boy.

"I'm agreed," added the cattle-man.

"Madam," said the drummer, addressing the woman with the easy assurance
of his class, after a brief consultation between us, "we are going to
give your kids some Christmas."

The woman beamed at him gratefully.

"Yes, children," said the now enthused drummer, as he turned to the
open-mouthed children, "Santa Claus is coming round to-night sure. We
want you to hang up your stockings."

"We ain't got none," quivered the little girl, "'ceptin' those we've got
on and ma says it's too cold to take 'em off."

"I've got two new pair of woollen socks," said the cattle-man eagerly,
"which I ain't never wore, and you are welcome to 'em."

There was a clapping of little hands in childish glee, and then the two
faces fell as the elder remarked.

"But Santa Claus will know they are not our stockings and he will fill
them with things for you instead."

"Lord love you," said the burly cattle-man, roaring with infectious
laughter, "he wont bring me nothin'. One of us will sit up anyway and
tell him it's for you. You've got to hustle to bed right away because he
may be here any time now."

Then came one of those spectacles which we sometimes meet once or twice
in a lifetime. The children knelt down on the rough floor of the car
beside their improvised beds. Instinctively the hands of the men went to
their heads and at the first words of "Now I lay me down to sleep," four
hats came off. The cow-boy stood twirling his hat and looking at the
little kneeling figures; the cattle-man's vision seemed dimmed; while in
the eyes of the travelling man there shone a distant look--a look across
snow-filled prairies to a warmly lighted home.

The children were soon asleep. Then the rest of us engaged in earnest
conversation. What should we give them? was the question.

"It don't seem to me that I've got anything to give 'em," said the
cow-boy mournfully, "unless the little kid might like my spurs, an' I
would give my gun to the little girl, though on general principles I
don't like to give up a gun. You never know when you're goin' to need
it, 'specially with strangers," he added with a rather suspicious glance
at me. I would not have harmed him for the world.

"I'm in much the same fix," said the cattle-man. "I've got a flask of
prime old whiskey here, but it don't seem like it's very appropriate for
the occasion, though it's at the service of any of you gents."

"Never seen no occasion in which whiskey wasn't appropriate," said the
cow-boy, mellowing at the sight of the flask.

"I mean 'taint fit for kids," explained the cattle-man handing it over.

"I begun on't rather early," remarked the puncher, taking a long drink,
"an' I always use it when my feelin's is onsettled, like now." He handed
it back with a sigh.

"Never mind, boys," said the drummer. "You all come along with me to the
baggage car."

So off we trooped. He opened his trunks, and spread before us such a
glittering array of trash and trinkets as almost took away our breath.

"There," he said, "look at that. We'll just pick out the best things
from the lot, and I'll donate them all."

"No, you don't," said the cow-boy. "My ante's in on this game, an' I'm
goin' to buy what chips I want, an' pay fer 'em too, else there ain't
going to be no Christmas around here."

"That's my judgment, too," said the cattle-man.

"I think that will be fair," said I. "The travelling man can donate what
he pleases, and we can each of us buy what we please, as well."

I think we spent hours looking over the stock which the obliging man
spread out all over the car for us. He was going home, he said, and
everything was at our service. The trainmen caught the infection, too,
and all hands finally went back to the coach with such a load of stuff
as you never saw before. We filled the socks and two seats besides with
it. The grateful mother was simply dazed.

As we all stood about, gleefully surveying our handiwork including the
bulging socks, the engineer remarked:

"We've got to get some kind of a Christmas tree."

So two of us ploughed off on the prairie--it had stopped snowing and
was bright moon-light--and wandered around until we found a good-sized
piece of sage-brush, which we brought back and solemnly installed and
the woman decorated it with bunches of tissue paper from the notion
stock and clean waste from the engine. We hung the train lanterns around
it.

We were so excited that we actually could not sleep. The contagion of
the season was strong upon us, and I know not which were the more
delighted the next morning, the children or the amateur Santa Clauses,
when they saw what the cow-boy called the "layout."

Great goodness! Those children never did have, and probably never will
have, such a Christmas again. And to see the thin face of that mother
flush with unusual colour when we handed her one of those monstrous red
plush albums which we had purchased jointly and in which we had all
written our names in lieu of our photographs, and between the leaves of
which the cattle-man had generously slipped a hundred dollar bill, was
worth being blockaded for a dozen Christmases. Her eyes filled with
tears and she fairly sobbed before us.

During the morning we had a little service in the car, in accordance
with the custom of the Church, and I am sure no more heartfelt body of
worshippers ever poured forth their thanks for the Incarnation than
those men, that woman, and the little children. The woman sang "Jesus
Lover of my Soul" from memory in her poor little voice and that small
but reverent congregation--cow-boy, drummer, cattle-man, trainmen, and
parson--solemnly joined in.

"It feels just like church," said the cow-boy gravely to the cattle-man.
"Say I'm all broke up; let's go in the other car and try your flask
ag'in." It was his unfailing resource for "onsettled feelin's."

The train-hand who had gone on to division headquarters returned with
the snow-plough early in the afternoon, but what was more to the purpose
he brought a whole cooked turkey with him, so the children had turkey, a
Christmas tree, and Santa Claus to their heart's content! I did not get
home until the day after Christmas.

But, after all, what a Christmas I had enjoyed!

During a season of great privation we were much assisted by barrels of
clothing which were sent to us from the East. One day just before
Christmas, I was distributing the contents of several barrels of wearing
apparel and other necessities to the women and children at a little
mission. The delight of the women, as the good warm articles of clothing
for themselves and their children which they so sadly needed were
handed out to them was touching; but the children themselves did not
enter into the joy of the occasion with the same spontaneity. Finally
just as I got to the bottom of one box and before I had opened the other
one, a little boy sniffling to himself in the corner remarked, _sotto
voce_:

"Ain't there no real Chris'mus gif's in there for us little fellers,
too?"

I could quite enter into his feelings, for I could remember in my
youthful days when careful relatives had provided me with a "cardigan"
jacket, three handkerchiefs, and a half-dozen pairs of socks for
Christmas, that the season seemed to me like a hollow mockery and the
attempt to palm off necessities as Christmas gifts filled my childish
heart with disapproval. I am older now and can face a Christmas
remembrance of a cookbook, a silver cake-basket, or an ice-cream freezer
(some of which I have actually received) with philosophical equanimity,
if not gratitude.

I opened the second box, therefore, with a great longing, though but
little hope. Heaven bless the woman who had packed that box, for, in
addition to the usual necessary articles, there were dolls, knives,
books, games galore, so the small fry had some "real Chris'mus gif's" as
well as the others.

After one of the blizzards a young ranchman who had gone into the
nearest town some twenty miles away to get some Christmas things for his
wife and little ones, was found frozen to death on Christmas morning,
his poor little packages of petty Christmas gifts tightly clasped in his
cold hands lying by his side. His horse was frozen too and when they
found it, hanging to the horn of the saddle was a little piece of an
evergreen tree--you would throw it away in contempt in the East, it was
so puny. There it meant something. The love of Christmas? It was there
in his dead hands. The spirit of Christmas? It showed itself in that bit
of verdant pine over the lariat at the saddle-bow of the poor bronco.

Do they have Christmas out West? Well, they have it in their hearts if
no place else, and, after all, that is the place above all others where
it should be.



A CHRISTMAS WISH

_For Everybody, Everywhere_


MAY peace and goodwill, prosperity and plenty, joy and satisfaction
abound in your homes and in your hearts this day and all days. May
opportunities for good work be many, and may you avail yourselves of
them all. May your sorrows be lightened, may your griefs be assuaged.
May your souls be fitted for what they must endure; may your backs be
strengthened for your burdens; may your responsibilities be met; may
your obligations be discharged; may your duties be performed. May love
abound more and more until the perfect day breaks in your lives. In
short, every wish that would be helpful, uplifting, and comforting, I
wish you at this hour and in all hours.

In the words of Tiny Tim.

"_God Bless us every one!_"

CYRUS TOWNSEND BRADY.



FOOTNOTES:

[Footnote 1: These loving and appealing verses were written by Harriet
F. Blodgett, of whom unfortunately I know absolutely nothing but her
name. I am sure, however, that if they had been written today another
verse, even more touching than those I have quoted, would have been
inspired by present conditions. And we should have seen "The Little
Christ" coming down between the lines in Flanders, on the Balkan
Frontier, amid the snows of Russia and the deserts of Mesopotamia, and
perhaps, as of old, even walking on the waters in the midst of the sea.]

[Footnote 2: This bit of personal history is reprinted from my book
_Recollections of a Missionary in the Great West_ by the courtesy of
Messrs. Charles Scribner's Sons, the publishers thereof. Incidentally
the reader will find much interesting matter in the way of reminiscence
and anecdote in that little volume, should he chance upon it.

There are some amusing things connected with the publication in serial
form of these episodes. The great magazine in which it appeared has very
strong views on certain subjects. Following out a policy which has
deservedly won them perhaps the largest circulation of any magazine in
the world it seemed to the editors necessary and desirable to make some
changes in the story as originally written and as it appears hereafter.

For instance the revised serial version made the cowboy lift the flask
of whiskey to his lips and then it declared that after a long look at
the sleeping children he put it down! I was quite agreeable to the
change. I remember remarking that the cowboy certainly did "put it
down." It was a way cowboys had in those bygone days; so the editor and
the author were both satisfied.

Another amusing thing I recall in connection with the serial publication
was this: The art editor of the magazine wrote to the officials of the
railroad, the name of which I gave in the first version but which I now
withhold, saying that the magazine had a story of a snow-bound train on
the railroad in question and asking for pictures of snow-bound trains to
help the artist illustrate it. By return mail came an indignant
remonstrance almost threatening a lawsuit because the railroad in
question, one of the southerly transcontinental roads, made a point in
its appeal to travellers that its trains were never snow-bound! The art
editor who was not without a vein of humour wrote back and asked if they
could furnish him with pictures of snow-bound trains on competing roads
and they sent him a box full! C.T.B.]





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