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hYM' 1 I-
IT was just before Christmas---the fast coming night
Fell in darkness and storm; every object was white,
With the soft, drifting snow, falling steadily down
On the house-tops and streets of a New England town.
Underneath a stone archway, crouched in a small heap,
A little child nestled as though fast asleep;
But her dark eyes looked out through the pitiless storm,
And she held her shawl closer, to keep herself warm.
Thus for hours had she waited---cold, hungry, alone,
Sad at heart and forsaken---yet never a moan
Had escaped her pale lips, as her motionless form
Lay helpless, half-frozen, and drenched by the storm.
A kind watchman, at length, upon going his round,
Peering into the archway, the little one found;
Gently lifted her up in his strong arms, and said,
" Deary me, little Missy, why aren't you in bed ?"
The Baldwin Library
NELLIE'S CHRISTMAS EVE.
"Why, because," sobbed the child, "I've not got any bed,
For mamma, sir, you see, is what people call dead,
Though she told me herself, when she bade me good-bye,
She was going to Heaven, and said I must try
To be such a good girl, that perhaps by-and-by
The dear angels would take me up into the sky!
Two long nights I have, waited, and yet they don't come;
Do you think that their wrings with the cold are too numb
To fly down here and fetch me? Ah! then I must go,
All alone by myself, through the darkness and snow,
Till I find dear mamma, and her home, for you see
I'm afraid she is crying anid fretting for me!
And to-morrow, they say, will be Christmas Eve;
If I only could start right away, I believe
We might spend it together. So please put me down,
And show me the shortest way out of the town."
"But, my child," said the watchman, "I can't let you go
All alone on your errand through darkness and snow;
I will keep you to-night, safely sheltered, and warm,
And if in the morning it ceases to storm,
We will talk of this journey to lands far away
Which you never can reach in the course of a day."
So poor little Nellie consented, and soon the bright light
Of the station-house gleamed through the darkness of night;
And the little one slept (after being well fed),
'Till the daylight shone in on her tiny straw bed.
NELLIE'S C-RISTMAS EVE.
Then she sat up at once, and a look of surprise
Flitted over her face, while her beautiful eyes
Filled with tears for a moment, then out on the floor
Sprung the two childish feet.i Gently opening the door,
She noiselessly stobl through the hall to the street,
In the hope that somewhere 'she should certainly meet
With her good friend the watchman, who promised that day
He would start her for Heaven, and tell her the way!
But in vain did she gaze into each passing face---
He had disappeared .utterly, leaving no trace!
So she wandered, and wandered,'till weary and worn
With threading the streets since the earliest dawn.
On a door-step she sank; cold, exhausted, half dead;
"O! I wish," said, their child, "I'd a nice piece of bread!"
She had spoken aloud, and her words reached the ear
Of a little girl passing, who turbed'round,to hear.
She was dressed in rich velvet, and long golden hair
Fell about her sweet face, which, sh6ne loving arid fair
On the poor little outcast that sat at her feet.
" Is it true, little girl, that you've nothing to" eat?"
"Yes, indeed," answered Nellie, and looked at the child;
"Are you one of God's angels?" the little one smiled,
Shook her radiant tresses, and whispered, "Ah! no."
"Then I s'pose you can't tell me the way I must go
To get soonest to Heaven"? I wish that I knew
Why mamma went alone, without taking me too."
NELLIE'S CHRISTMAS EVE.
"And I wish I could show you," the stranger child said,
"The pathway that leads to the home of the dead;
But I don't know myself, and might lead you astray,
Though perhaps this may help you along by the way."
And poor Nellie beheld, with great joy and delight,
A purse filled with coppers, all shining and bright,
Which her new friend bestowed, as she bade her good-day
(Without waiting for thanks), and ran quickly away.
So the poor little wayfarer started once more,
Never stopping to rest till she came to a store,
Where the windows were full of such bread, cake, and pies,
SThat to see them was really a treat for the eyes!
First she counted her treasure and to her delight
Found she owned fifteen coppers, all shining and bright,
Five of these she invested in one loaf of bread,
"And the'others will help me to Heaven," she said;
"For perhaps if I ride but a part of the way,
I may still reach mamma by the close of the day."
When her bread was all eaten, she stopped a street car,
Crept up on to the platform, and said: Please how far
Shall I get if I ride till the end of the day ?"
"Well," the driver replied, "I should certainly say,
Quite as far as a child of your age ought to go."
"That will do," answered she, in a voice sweet and low.
Then she curled herself up in a soft little heap,
And worn out with her journey was soon fast asleep.
NELLIE'S CHRISTMAS EVE.
But a touch on her shoulder awoke her at last,
And a kindly voice said, "Little one, it is past
The right hour for return---will you go back with me ?
For it's time I was starting my horses, to see."
"Oh, no, thank you," said Nellie, I'd rather stay here---
*Can you tell me if Heaven is anywhere near?"
pThe old man shook his head in a queer puzzled way,,
And replied, "Well, I really don't know what to say---
;There's some nice folks around here, if that's what you mean.
,But I guess, little young-one, that you're pretty green',
And that some one's been fooling you---telling you lies."
Then the sweet childish face flushed with sudden surprise,
As she gently replied, "But I know it is true,
,For that's where mamma is---I'm going there too."
So without saying more the man lifted her down,
Then he whipped up his horses, and drove back to town.
Once again, little Nellie trudged onward alone,
As the pale wintry beams of the setting sun shone
On the snow, which extended for miles all around,
Clothing all things in white, from the sky to the ground.
Soon she came to a place, where the road branched in three,
Then she seated herself on a fallen oak tree.
"For," she said, "I'm so tired, I think I'll wait here,
And perhaps Santa Claus, with his tiny reindeer,
May soon.come into sight, take. me into his sleigh
And make sure of my getting to Heaven to-day."
NELLIE'S CHRISTMAS EVE.
With hope in her heart, but with feet cold and numb,
In the twilight she waited. "Oh, why don't he come?"
At last sobbed the child, in deep accents of woe;
Then flung herself hopelessly down in the snow.
There she lay all alone, while the fast coming night
Folded close in its shadow the pitiful sight.
When at length the poor wanderer lifted her head,
And uncovered her eyes, with a feeling of dread,
She espied a bright light from a house shining out.
Then she rose with an effort, and turning about,
With her dim tearful eyes scarcely heeding the way
She half consciously followed its welcoming ray.
Soon she found herself standing in front of a gate,
Which she opened and entered. The hour being late,
All the windows were curtained and dark, except one,
And from that streamed a light like a ray of the sun.
Then the child, in her wonder, forgot all her fright,
And her long weary tramp through the cold and the night,
Crept up close -to the window, and heard such a din
Of gay voices and laughter, she longed to peep in.
So she climbed up a trellis, and then such a sight
Was revealed to her eyes, that she shut them up tight,
Then unclosed them again. So unreal did it seem,
That she feared it would prove but a beautiful dream!
In the room she beheld a superb Christmas Tree,
All ablaze with bright tapers, while, laughing with glee,
NELLIE'S CHRISTMAS E VE.
A frolicsome circle of gay girls and boys,
Surveyed its rich treasures of candies and toys.
The dark eyes that looked in from the casement above,
On this bright blessed scene of contentment and love,
For a moment grew dim, the small hands lost their hold
(For the fingers were numb with the frost and the cold),
And the poor little child tumbled back in the snow,
With a sharp bitter cry full of desolate woe.
The door opened at once, and a broad cheerful ray
Fell across the wide path where thelittle one lay,
With her brown curls all tangled, her face cold and pale,
And a look so like death, that a pitiful wail
Rent the air, as the children, with sorrow profound,
Knelt about the poor wayfarer, low on the ground.
Then away from the darkness, the cold, and the night,
Little Nellie was borne to the warmth and the light,
Where the gay Christmas tapers shone bright overhead,
On what seemed like the face of the motionless dead,!
And the voices were hushed of the frolicsome band,
As they gathered round Nellie, while each little hand,
Held up some gay treasure from off the bright tree,
Saying, Look, little girl!. Oh! please wake and see
What the dear Santa Claus, who was passing this way,
And paid us a visit, brought here in his sleigh!
This sweet doll is for you, and this dear little cup,
And this book full of pictures---oh! please to wake up!"
NELLIE'S CHRISTMAS EVE.
At these words little Nellie unclosed her great eyes,
Gazed around her a moment, then said with surprise:
"So I'm really in Heaven at last! Do you know,
I have traveled so far through the darkness and snow,
And the way was so long, that I did n't believe
I could possibly get here to keep Christmas Eve!"
Kindly succor at last to the ophan had come;
Gentle hands chafed the limbs that were helpless and numb,
While a soft loving voice, whispered low in her ear.
"The dear Father in Heaven has guided you here;
You have come to our home on this blest Christmas Eve,
And you never again its protection shall leave!"
And the sweet Christmas bells bore these tidings afar,
Till the echoes passed in where the gates were ajar,
Bringing peace and great joy to one angel of light,
Who had watched, helped, and guided the footsteps aright,
Of the child she. had once fondly clasped to her breast;
And who now, thanks to God, had found shelter and rest!
From that day little Nellie was nurtured in love,
While her mother looked down from the mansions above,
Breathing blessings and peace on these children of earth,
Who had taken her child to their hearts and their hearth.