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Title: Mr. Bamboo and the Honorable Little God - A Christmas Story
Author: Little, Frances, [pseud.], 1863-1941
Language: English
As this book started as an ASCII text book there are no pictures available.
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.

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                                Mr. Bamboo
                                 _and the_
                           Honorable Little God

                             A Christmas Story

                           _Fannie C. Macaulay_
                 _Author of "The Lady of The Decoration"_

                             _By Courtesy of_
                     _The Century Publishing Company_
                  _Louisville Kindergarten Alumnae Club_


During sundry long and lonely evenings in a Japanese mission school,
a young native teacher sought to while away the hours for a homesick
exile. She was girlish and fair, with the soft voice and gentle,
indescribable charm characteristic of the women of her race. Her tales
were of the kindergarten, happenings in her life and the lives of
others, and I have sought to set them down as she told them to me in
her quaint, broken English. But they miss the earnest eyes and dramatic
gestures of the little story-teller as she sat in the glow of the
hibachi fire, with a background of paper doors, with shadow pictures
of pine-trees and bamboo etched by the moonlight, the far-off song of
a nightingale, and the air sweet with incense from nearby shrines.

He wear name of Tãke Nishimura, which in English say' Mr. Bamboo of the
West Village. He most funny little boy in my kindergarten class. But he
have such sweet heart. It all time speaking out nice thoughtfuls through
his big round eyes, which no seem like Japanese eyes of long and narrow.

His so much slim of body make him look like baby. But his mama say' he
been here four years. She nice lady and loving mother. One more thing
why that child's most funny small enfant. He have papa who is great
general of war, with big spirit. Tãke Chan fixed idea in his head he's
just same kind big warrior man. He use same walk and the same command
of speak.

This time I relate you about was most Christmas-time. I tell story to
children of long time ago, when big star say to all worlds Christ baby
lay in manger, and I say soon we celebrate joyful day in kindergarten.
That little Tãke Chan never hear 'bout it before, and he get look in
his face same as John boy in picture what always have crooked stick
in his hand, and he speak this word: "A new God? Will He be our guest
on feast-day?"

We learn song 'bout star and cradle and 'gain he speak his thought.
He say: "What is cradle, Sensei? I know 'bout star. Every night at my
honorable home I open shoji to see old priest strike bell and make him
sing. Then I see big star hang out light over topmost of mountain." One
more time he say, like thinking to himself: "Cradle. Maybe him shrine
for new God of foreign country."

I know English for long time, but Japanese childs never know cradle.
It have not come to this land.

Christmas-story was telled many times, for children like to hear about
it. When I say this time, on that day we get pine-tree and dress him
up with many gifts, Tãke Chan clap his hands and say: "Banzai! We make
offering of tree to new God."

Sometimes many troubles press my mind how I make childs know much
difference of real God, which he never see, and those wooden-stones we
see all time with burning of lights before them and leaves of bamboo
and pine.

We work very hard all days before morning of Christmas-tree, but not one
child in whole class could make things such fast as Tãke Chan. His hands
so small they look 'most like bird-foots hopping round quick in flower
garden when he construct ornaments of bright color. Sometimes he have
look of tired in his face, and bad coughs take his throat. For which,
if I did not know 'bout Christmas-story and all other many things like
that, I would have a thought that fox spirit was industrious to enter
his body.

Then I mention, "Go play in garden", for I know well how he have like
of play in lovely garden of his home, where, with body of bare, he race
big dragon-flies what paint the summer air all gold and blue. But Tãke
Chan makes the laughs for me when looks so firmly and say: "No. I have
the busy to make ready for honorable guest coming on feast-day of
Christman." All times he not singing he talk 'bout what big welcome we
give to new God.

Ah, that little boy! I can no' make him have the right understand';
but he walk right into my heart, and give me the joyful of love and
much sad.

No, I never forget that Christmas day. It makes of my mind a canvas and
paints pictures on it what will never wash away nor burn.

In morning, sun 'most so slow climbing over mountain as snail creeping
up Fuji. He get big surprise when his eye come into kindergarten window
and find me very busy for a long time.

All teachers have many works, and very soon they turn their playroom
into lovely feast-place. Paper flowers and ornaments which childrens
build with hands, and red berries they bring from forest, have
expression same as growing from walls and windows. Same thought as all
teachers to give the happy to glad Christmas-day. Many Japanese childs
is just getting news of this birthday.

Quick we put piano where it can sing best, chairs all in circle. Big
spot in middle for tree, which comes at very last from that other room.

While I work postman bring long box from foreign country, which one
teacher open. It had gift for kindergarten. It was such beautiful thing.
Many childrens never see same as this before. All teachers give quick
decide to make secret of present, and put on Christmas-tree as big

In very middle of most happy time by opening box, idea arrive in my
mind. Wonder if those coughs permission Tãke Chan to come kindergarten
that day? One desire knock very loud at my heart for that little Bamboo
boy to know rightly 'bout Christ-child. I know for surely. Once I go to
foreign country, and my life have experience of seventeen. But Japanese
child of now must see God and everything.

Then glad thought come. If Tãke Chan do not make absence this day, his
own eye will tell him trulier than stiff speech of tongue that cradle is
not shrine, and Christ child not blazon image of wooden stone, but great
spirit of invisible which have much love for childrens. I learn those
words out of book, but meaning come out my own heart, which I have the
difficult to give childs.

Beginning time for morning march grow very near. Him not come, and the
anxious so restless my body I run to big gate and view round and up.

Narrow street which walk by kindergarten house most lovely picture than
all other countries of universe. It have many trimmings of flags and
banners for greeting soon coming of New-Year. Even old plum-trees have
happy to break pink flowers out full, and lay on gray roof to look at
bright sun. The big love of my heart for this Japanese country make me
so delightful I have little forget 'bout late of Tãke Chan till I hear
spank of many feet on hard earth. I look, and see one of those pictures
which never melt off my mind. That sound of feet belong' to soldiers
company, and so quick they stop in long line and hold all hands to hat
for salute, I think maybe Oyama San coming. I give piercing look, and my
eyes see marching straight by those big mens a speck of blue all trimmed
with gold braid. It was Tãke Chan. Same war clothes as his papa, even
same number stripes on his sleeve, and twelve inch' of sword on his
side, which make song on heel of shoe when they walk. Father's two
soldiers servants walk close behind Tãke Chan, and in smiles. Everybody
know that little boy, and everybody love his earnest. I have several
feelings when he walk up to me and say: "New guest have he come? I make
ready to welcome with new clothes."

Ah, me! I have the yearn to convey the right understand'; but he look so
glad to give the welcome, and his war clothes so grand, the feeble fell
on my heart. I not give correction.

One servant say: "Last night Tãke Chan very sick with evil spirit cough.
Mama say rest at home, but he say this great feast-day for new God.
He must for certain come and offer pine-tree and have song and march."
I hurry away with Tãke Chan, and take seat on circle of kindergarten room.
A feel of anxious press' hard. First we have grand parade, and that
little soldier boy in blue in front of all children have atmosphere same
he was marching before emperor. My keen of eye see all time he have
fight with swallow in his throat. After march come song 'bout cradle and
star, but big cough catch Tãke Chan in middle, and when the strangle had
left and tears of hot had wipe way, he heard childrens saying amen to
prayer. His red lip have little shake, for he have great pride to say
that prayer faster than any childs. He have hospitable of soul, too.
But Tãke Chan son of great general of war, and he never cry, even though
much disappoint' come to his mind. I was hunting speech to give him the
comfort of heart when children give sound with mouth like storm breeze
hurrying through leaves. I look. Where door of other room always lived
was most beautiful Christmas-tree of any world, all light with flaming
candles and gold and silver balls. On very tip-most top the lovely big
surprise from foreign country. It wore dress of spangly stars and white.
Big brown eyes and hair like rice-straw when sun shines through it.
It held out welcome arms. Every move of tree give sway to body. I know
trulier, but surely, it have look of real life. Teacher rolled tree
to middle of room in bare spot, which made glad to have it. Children
laughed and clapped hands happy of that day, and call' many funny
sayings. I forget the anxious in my happy of that day, and turn with
glad eye on Tãke Chan. Bamboo boy. Never I see such wonderful thing
as the glory. First he see only it, and give low tight whisper, "The
Offering." His eye fly to tip of top. He lean' way over like his body
break with eager. Joyful speech come with long sigh, "Ah--the guest
he is come!" For one minute room very still, and just same as fairy
give him enchantment Tãke Chan rose from floor till he come right under
tree. Other childrens make such merries. They have thought it play.
But all sounds and peoples passes away from my vision. Nothing left
but picture of one small blue soldier looking up through blazon flames
of Christmas-tree to shining thing above. His cheeks so full of red with
fighting cough, eyes so bright with wet of tears, he fold his hands
for prayer, and soft like pigeon talking with mate he speak: "O most
Honorable Little God! How splendid! You are real; come live with me. In
my garden I am a soldier; I'll show you the dragon-flies and the river.
Please will you come?" My heart have pause of beat. I think fever give
Tãke Chan's mind delirious. Quick I uncement my feet from floor to go to
him. "Tahke Chan," I say with lovely voice, "that is not a God nor even
image. Listen: it's only a big foreign doll which postman bring this
morning as great surprise from America. Teacher put it up high so all
childs could see it. Look what kindergarten give you--most beautiful
kite, like dragon-fly you love more better. Come rest in your chair.
We sing."

Ah, that little play soldier! Door of his ear all shut to my every speak
of love. He just stand with eyes uplift' and plead: "Please come play
with me. I know your song 'bout cradle and star. And I can march. See."
But his body rock from each side to other. Then I press my arms round
and whisper with much tender: "I bring doll home with you." He look 'way
up high on Christmas-tree, then he leave his conscious in kindergarten

Me and two soldier servants convey Tãke Chan and foreign doll to his
home. I stay in honorable house with them. One day go by, and 'nother
night come. Sick boy's mama have look of ivory lady as she rest her
tired, and maid girl make tea. I watch by side of bed on floor. Big ache
in heart clutch' me when I look round room and see blue soldier's suit
hang' near. It have look of empty and lonely, dragon-fly kite in corner
have broken wing. But when I bring gaze back Tãke Chan, loveliest sight
of all visit me. That little child reach out and find hand of foreign
doll. He hold very tight, and give it look of love. Such heaven light
come on his face! I suspend my breath and listen to his low speech which
come in broken pieces: "You are my Tomidachi. Do not go; I soon be well
I come play in your garden. Dragon-flies--cradle--star--Ah, Little
God--you grow so big!"

Something made me open shoji quick. Old priest make bell sing. Lovely
star hangs its light over mountain. All things have great stillness. Not
even leaf tremble in white moonlight. Strange feel hold me. Then I know
Tãke Chan have gone to play in Christ-child's garden.

Ah, me! Tears of my heart are many for that little Bamboo. But I have
the joyful too; Now he have the right understand'.

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