« PreviousContinue »
every house, and wondered why folks made such a fuss at Christmas, when, while he was looking and wondering, the storm that had been threatening all day, began.
A cruel storm it was to beat so helpless and frail a wanderer. At last he ceased to fight against it, and flying from it, turned a corner into a handsome street, and crept down the area-way of a fine brown-stone house. As he crouched, shivering, a blast of wind blew open the basement door.. Cartwheels got up and peeped into the hall. He could hear music and laughing and dancing; but the doors were shut, and he crept softly on until he came to a room with the door open, which seemed to him so beautiful that he stood like one entranced.
A cheerful fire glowed in the grate. Lovely flowers made the air sweet with their fragrance. A child's bed stood in one corner, dressed in white; above it hung the picture of the Madonna with her lovely babe; beside it the child herself, a dear little girl with blue eyes and golden hair, was kneeling by her mother. The child was in her little white night-gown, and with folded hands and shining eyes was listening to her mother.
"And in some countries," said the lady, "they believe that at the holy Christmas-time, Christ, in the form of a little child, comes again to earth, and wanders about seeking for shelter; and so they leave the house-door open and a bright lamp hanging above the gate, for thrice blessed will be the dwelling in which he enters. And they entertain every poor, homeless beggar child they meet, hoping the Beloved One may be hidden beneath the rags; and knowing that if the little guest prove not to be Christ himself, still will his blessing descend upon those who befriend the sad and lonely little ones. For Christ has said, 'Whosoever shall receive of such
children in my name receiveth Me.'”
"And does Christ love all children ?" asked the brown-haired little girl, in a sweet and reverent voice; "ev'ry one-bad girls and boys, too?"
"Yes, my darling," answered the mother, bending to kiss the upturned face; "beautiful and sinless as our Saviour is, I think he loves bad girls and boys with even a greater love than he feels for good ones, for he is so sorry for them, and the more wretched they are the more he pities them."
"And if he came to this city to-night," continued the wee maid,
"would he go where the dirty beggar children and the naughty steal boys are, instead of coming to see me?"
"He would, my pet. He'd seek the starving, the deformed, those that say wicked words, those that lie, those that steal, and smile upon them with a smile like sunshine, and kiss them, and tell them the way to heaven."
"Bully!" shouted a shrill voice; and there, in the doorway, ragged and forlorn, his brimless hat tossed above his head, his gray eyes gleaming, a red spot burning on each thin cheek, stood Cartwheels.
The lady started to her feet, while the little daughter hastily rose from her knees, and clung to her skirts.
"Why, my boy," she asked gently, "who are you, and where did you come from ?"
Cartwheels hung his head for a moment, and while he hesitated, the lovely little girl came pattering over the carpet in her bare feet, and, taking his hand, looked wonderingly at him.
"He's got nice eyes, and pretty curly hair, if it was combed," she said.
"I'm Dan. Cartwheels they calls me, an' I cum in from the street, an' I did n't see nobody, an' I crep up-stairs, an' I heard you," looking shyly at the lady, "tell her about-about-" "The Christ child?" said the lady.
"Yes; an' how beautiful he was, an' how he'd love such chaps as me; an' if you think he'll come to-night I'd like to have him kiss me; an' please may I stay a little longer?
"Where are your friends?"
"Ha'n't got none. Nobody's got nothin' to do with me. sleep in the arey; an' if he comes along, he'll see me an' p'raps make me good, for I'm a bad un and no mistake."
The little girl, with tears in her sweet eyes, took both his dirty brown hands in her pure white ones.
"Mamma, the Christ-child must have sent him; and what was that verse- -Who-so-ever
"Whosoever shall receive,'" repeated the mother, "one of such children in My name, receiveth Me.' Dan," the boy looked up in wonder, for no one had ever spoken his name so sweetly before-" you will not see the dear Christ to-night, nor ever, I think, upon earth; why, I will tell you some other time. But he loves
and pities you, and sends you to me. You shall stay here as long as you are good."
"I'm so awfully happy," he said. "I can't tell you. Somethin's stickin' in my throat." And then, after a short pause, he went on, with sparkling eyes: "I'll run arrants for you, an' I'll shine your boots, an' I'll dance for the pooty little lady, an' I'll show you where you kin buy the cheapest pigs' feet in the hull market, an' apples, cent apiece."
The lady burst into a merry laugh, the brown-haired girl joined in, and then Dan lent a shrill treble to the chorus; and thus began for the little street-boy a new and happy life from that blessed Christmas night.
THE WRECK OF THE POCAHONTAS.
I lit the lamps in the light-house tower,
For the sun dropped down, and the day was dead;
Looking across, where the line of coast
Stretched darkly, shrinking away from the sea,
O warning lights! burn bright and clear.
Good-night! I called to the gulls that sailed
A mournful breeze began to blow,
Weird music it drew through the iron bars;
The sullen billows boiled below,
And dimly peered the stars;
Flung by a fitful gust, there beat
Against the window a dash of rain :-
When morning dawned, above the din
Answered with cries each one.
One glimpse of the black hull heaving slow, Then closed the mists o'er canvas torn And tangled ropes swept to and fro
From masts that raked forlorn.
And when at last from the distant shore
We told our tale, and the boatman cried,""Twas the Pocahontas-all were lost! For miles along the coast the tide
Her shattered timbers tossed."
Then I looked the whole horizon round,-
A child's grief struggling in my breast,-
"Oh, wherefore? Are we naught to Thee? Like senseless weeds that rise and fall
Upon thine awful sea, are we
No more, then, after all?”
Then I heard the far-off rote resound
Where the breakers slow and slumberous rolled,
Touched me with power untold.
And like a voice eternal spake
That wondrous rhythm, and "Peace, be still! "
It murmured, "Bow thy head and take
Jack was a Fairharbor boy. He was a happy-go-lucky fellow; told a good story; was generous with his money when he had any. But at nineteen he drank; at twenty-five he was a drunkard. When he was a little fellow he used to sing "Rock of Ages" with his mother: he loved his mother. His father was a drunkard: he never meant to be one.
One evening he happened to be sober. He met a sad-faced girl. She was a very pretty girl, with yellow, fluffy hair and tender black eyes. She told her story to Jack. He pitied her. Her name was Teen, and she told Jack she'd been baptized.
"I was n't," said Jack. "I roared so they dars n't do it! I
was an awful baby."
“I should think likely," said Teen. mother?"