Archer sat by the rude hearth of his Big Rattle camp, brooding in a sort of tired contentment over the spitting fagots of var and glowing coals of birch. It was Christmas Eve. He had been out on his snowshoes all that day, and all the day before, springing his traps along the streams and putting his deadfalls out of commission—rather queer work for a trapper to be about.
The following story is one of many which has drifted down to us from the story-loving nurseries and hearthstones of Germany. I cannot recall when I first had it told to me as a child, varied, of course, by different tellers, but always leaving that sweet, tender impression of God's loving care for the least of his children.
The outside door swung open suddenly, letting a cloud of steam into the small, hot kitchen. Charlie Moore, a milk pail in one hand, a lantern in the other, closed the door behind him with a bang, set the pail on the table and stamped the snow from his feet.
It was getting very near to Christmas time, and all the boys at Miss Ware's school were talking about going home for the holidays. "I shall go to the Christmas festival," said Bertie Fellows, "and my mother will have a party, and my Aunt will give another. Oh! I shall have a splendid time at home."
There was just enough of December in the air and of May in the sky to make the Yuletide of the year of grace 1611 a time of pleasure and delight to every boy and girl in "Merrie England" from the princely children in stately Whitehall to the humblest pot-boy and scullery-girl in the hall of the country squire.
"I hate holidays," said Bachelor Bluff to me, with some little irritation, on a Christmas a few years ago. Then he paused an instant, after which he resumed: "I don't mean to say that I hate to see people enjoying themselves. But I hate holidays, nevertheless, because to me they are always the saddest and dreariest days of the year.
It was just before Christmas, and Mr. Barnes was starting for the nearest village. The family were out at the door to see him start, and give him the last charges. "Don't forget the Christmas dinner, papa," said Willie. '"Specially the chickens for the pie!" put in Nora.
Children, have any of you ever thought of what little people like you were doing in this country more than a hundred years ago, when the cruel tide of war swept over its bosom? From many homes the fathers were absent, fighting bravely for the liberty which we now enjoy, while the mothers no less valiantly struggled against hardships and discomforts in order to keep a home for their children,