Ella Rodman Church.

A Christmas wreath, for little people online

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" Oh ! my kitten," sobbed Allie." Page 124.

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Entered according to Act of Congress, in the year 1855, by


in the Clerk's Office of the District Court of the United States, for the
Eastern District of Pennsylvania.


Printed ty T. K. & P. G. Collins.









shall it be, Bright-eyes? What would
make a suitable Wreath for Christmas-
time ?

There are bright red berries, and dark
green leaves, that flourish even through
frost and snow, and they twine these into
garlands, and hang the hall with them on
Christmas-eve; and there are Christmas-
greens that they wind around the pillars in
the church, and they put large branches in
the corners ; but it is not this that I mean;
we are talking now of another wreath.

And Bright-eyes looks up, and says that
she knows what is meant, and that it would
make a pretty wreath to write all the good


things that people have done since last
Christmas ; and her little brother, remem-
bering the bunch of rods that he has been
promised, thinks it would be a good plan to
write all the bad things that have been done ;
but this would be a wreath of withered
leaves for Christmas-time. And another little
boy thinks that a Christmas- Wreath should
be made very large, and of all sorts of good
things, but this wreath would not last very
long, if hung where he could reach it.

Carrie looks thoughtful, and wishes that
she could see Santa Claus himself, and hear
him describe the different places he has
visited. How much he would have to tell !
And how charming it would be to gather
around the little man, as he sits in a com-
fortable arm-chair, with his pack of goods
lying beside him, and troops of his little
friends crowding close to hear the wonderful


tales he must have to relate !

Little children far and near good chil-


dren and bad rich and poor he knows
them all ; and how he could talk of the dif-
ferent stockings he has filled, and the dif-
ferent things that each child wished for, and
the many rooms he has entered! Some-
times there were heavy curtains, and beau-
tifully-carved little cribs with white coun-
terpanes, and pictures on the walls; some-
times there was plainer furniture, with neat,
patchwork quilts, and lower ceilings; and
sometimes there would be hardly any furni-
ture at all, although little stockings were
hung about the fire-place, and little heads
were busy, in dreams, w T ith thoughts of
Santa Glaus, and all the attendant delights
of Christmas-day.

Sometimes there were houses which he
passed without entering at all: sometimes
it was poverty sometimes grief some-
times the absence of little children, that
kept him away; but the history of these
firesides should be twined into the wreath,


too ; for even on Christmas which brings
to most houses gladness and rejoicing in
some is darkness and the shadow of death.
So the Christmas- Wreath shall tell of the
rich and the poor the gay and the sad;
and may it find, this year, but few who
cannot laugh and be merry at the Festival









IT was the afternoon of Christmas Eve, a
great many years ago ; and in a poor part of
the city, where the dingy houses were closely
huddled together, a heavy fall of snow had
mingled with the dirt, and in some places it
looked white no longer, but like a kind of
light-coloured mud.

There were a great many little children,
on that Christmas Eve, who looked out from
their pleasant windows on the snow where
it had not been soiled and darkened, and
thought of Santa Claus, in his little sleigh,
and what a pleasant evening it was for him
to come down. Though down from where,
they could scarcely have told.

At the door of one of those dingy-looking



houses stood a little girl, about eight years
old, whose thin, ragged dress looked any
thing but comfortable, such cold weather.
She looked neither smiling nor angry ; but
her face wore an expression as if she had not
seen much happiness in the world, and she
seemed to be hardly thinking about any
thing. She never expected any pleasure; and
she did not feel disappointed when one day
passed on after another, and brought nothing
but work and cold, and sometimes hunger.
She might have hoped just a little, though:
how did she know but that something plea-
sant was on its way to her then ?

But if you had said this to Hetty, she
would have put back the tangled hair that
straggled over her face, and looked up to
see who could be talking so strangely ; and
then she would have shaken her head sadly,
and thought no more about it. There she
stood, and watched the little ragged children
who were paddling in the snow; and she
looked up to the blue sky, and thought it a
pity that any thing so beautiful should come
to so dismal a place.

In the one room of the house sat Hettv's


old grandmother, who was both cross and
sick; and Hetty would not have been sur-
prised, nor would she have cared much, to
be called in at any moment. She was not
looking out there because she enjoyed it, but
because she did not know what else to do,
just then. She heard one of the children
talking about Christmas, and she remember-
ed that this was a time when people who
did'nt live in their dingy court got handsome
presents, and had a great deal of pleasure ;
but of the birth of the Saviour poor Hetty
was wofully ignorant.

She stood digging her toeless shoe into
the dirt, and something was turned over that
looked a little strange. She examined it
closely, and found that it was a bright copper
penny. Hetty read u one cent," and felt
almost as rich as a great many people would
to find a large gold-piece. Many children
would laugh at this; to them the idea of
picking up a penny would seem ridiculous ;
but this poor child lived where even the
bright sun seldom came, and where money,
and the pleasant things that money brings,
were almost unknown.


Hetty stood polishing her newly-found
treasure with a corner of the rag that served
her for an apron ; and while she examined
it carefully, and counted the thirteen stars
on one side, she began to think about spend-
ing it. At first, she meant to have put it
carefully away ; but then she reflected that it
would do no one any good in a corner of that
old cupboard ; and although a great many
tempting things that she remembered to
have seen in a shop-window danced before
her eyes, she looked in the door at her grand-
mother, who sat by the stove, almost bent
double w T ith age and rheumatism, and she
thought that as the poor old woman had so
very little comfort in the world, she would
give her a treat on Christmas Eve.

There is, to be sure, not much that is nice
that is, what little girls would think nice
to be bought with a penny ; but the old wo-
man was very fond of snuff, and Hetty knew
that she could get quite a paper of that for a
penny. So she walked slowly out of the
court, thinking as she went; and then she
turned the corner, and ran swiftly down three
or four streets.


There was the shop, at last ; and oh ! how
beautiful to Hetty's eyes looked that window
as it had been arranged for Christmas ! There
were white-sugar doves, with blue ribbons
around their necks, and glittering straw-
berries, made of candy, and long candy
horns innumerable. Hetty stood feasting
her eyes, and wishing that the penny had
been more.

She knew that the woman kept snuff, and
a great many other things, in the back part
of the store ; and she went in and asked for
w^hat she wanted. But there were a great
many other customers in the shop, who had
more money to spend than Hetty ; so she
w r as pushed one side, and stood watching the
woman, while she tied up parcels of good
things, and wandered where all the money
came from.

Hetty had walked back, to make room for
the people who thronged in, close to a door
that opened into a small room ; and as it
was not quite shut, she looked in. There
was a bed in the room, and a comfortable
stove ; and far off in a corner sat a beautiful
little boy, who was sobbing bitterly. Hetty


thought him the loveliest creature she had
ever seen ; he had long, light curls, and great
black eyes, and a beautiful colour in his
plump cheeks.

Hetty pushed the door open carefully and
walked into the room.

" What is the matter ?" said she, very softly. '

"I want to go home!" sobbed the child,
"I want my mamma !"

"Where is your home?" asked Hetty;
but the child only cried afresh, and said, " I
want my mamma !"

Hetty felt puzzled, and scarcely knew what
to do. She had never liked the looks of the
woman who kept the shop ; and now she
was afraid that she would hurt the little boy.
She stooped down to smooth his long curls,
and saw that one had been cut off close, just
in the middle.

"Who did this?" she whispered.

"She did," replied the child, pointing
toward the shop : " she cut it off when she
brought me in here, though I told her not
to, and that my mamma would be veiy

Hetty sat down by the child, and asked


him a great many questions ; and, at last,
he seemed to feel quite at home with her,
and told her that he had gone out with his
nurse, and, while she stood talking to an
acquaintance, he slipped away from her and
ran around the corner ; and then this woman
seized him and carried him into the store.
She cut off* one of his curls, and told him
that he must be her little boy now ; but he
said that it was not a pretty place, and he
didn't want to stay there. He told Hetty
about the large house he lived in, a great
way oft', and the fine things that were in it ;
and he talked a great deal about "his mam-
ma," who, Hetty was quite sure, must be a
very beautiful lady.

The child wore a handsome plaid blouse,
with little plaid stockings to match, and a
rich collar, deeply worked; and a beautiful
little hat, with a feather in it, was lying on
the table. But he cried nearly all the time,
although he seemed to be afraid to cry out
loud; and asked for " his mamma" so often,
that Hetty felt quite sorrowful.

She looked into the store the woman was


busy yet ; and she asked the little boy if he
would like to go with her.

"Yes," he replied, "if you will take me
to my mamma."

Hetty promised that she would try to find
his mother, and then she looked around to
see how they were to get out, They could
not go through the shop, because the woman
was there ; but at last she saw a door, and
having opened it, she found that it led into
another street. She put the little boy's hat
on his head, and taking his hand, they went
out very softly.

Hetty did not know what to do with her
charge. It was now almost night, and too
late to think of finding his own home ; so
she walked on with him, until they came to
the poor little street where her grandmother

But the child was disappointed, and began
to cry bitterly ; he had never been accustom-
ed to such dismal-looking places, and felt
afraid that he would not see his mother ao-ain.


Hetty soothed him as well as she was able,
and promised so faithfully to take him home
in the morning, that he dried his tears, and

r * i '



. !


ET ."

' Taking his band, they went out softly." Faye 16.


began to look about him wonderingly.
The children of the neighbourhood crowded
around, and touched his hair and his clothes,
as if he had been some curious animal that
they had never seen before ; and the little
fellow seemed to enjoy their surprise, and
assumed quite lordly airs.

When Hetty entered the room, leading; in

t/ O

a beautiful little boy, her old grandmother
started up so suddenly and glared at the
child in so much surprise, that the boy was
frightened, and burst out into a fresh crying

" Hetty Dobbs !" exclaimed the old woman
angrily, "what have you been doing?
Where did this child come from?"

Hetty told her how she had found him,
and that she would take him back to his
mother in the morning ; but her grandmo-
ther muttered to herself fora long time, and
wondered how the boy was to be fed, when
they could scarcely get bread to put in their
own mouths.

Hetty placed the child on a little stool;
and then taking a broken mug, ran out to
buy him some milk with the penny she had


found. While she was gone, little Harry
(for that, he told Hetty, was his name) sat
there so much frightened that he didn't dare
to move, for the old woman stared at him,
with her elbows resting on her knees, until
he felt afraid that she would eat him.

But Hetty came back with the milk ; and
then she crumbled a very little piece of bread
in it, for the poor thing hadn't much, and
made Harry what she thought a very nice
supper ; and the old grandmother thought so
too, for she looked just ready to snatch it
away from him. Hetty wished that she could
find another penny to buy the old woman
some snuff; but the wonder was that she
had found that in so miserable a place.

Harry seemed to her almost like a little
canary bird, that had flown in from some
beautiful region ; and she handled him as
tenderly as though she had been afraid of
his dropping to pieces, and folded his beauti-
ful clothes very carefully, and hung his little
hat quite out of reach on a high peg.

Harry looked at her wonderingly while
she walked about the small room, putting
things in order; and it seemed to him so


strange to be in such a poor place, that he
thought he must be dreaming. Hetty brought
out her treasures to amuse him, and shewed
him some bits of coloured glass, and a few
gaudy beads, that she considered quite
splendid ; but Harry soon grew sleepy, and
the little girl made him a sort of nest in one
corner of the room, and covered him up as
warmly as she could with nearly all her own

And the little boy went to sleep on that
Christmas Eve in a strange place ; while in
his own beautiful home, his mother was
wringing; her hands and walking the floor

o o o

in agony ; for, like Rachel in the Bible, she
was mourning for her child, and would not
be comforted. There were beautiful toys
lying by the place where little Harry's stock-
ing should have been hung, but his crib was
empty; and his mother wept, and feared
that she would never see his long curls rest-
ing on the pillow again.

And while Harry's mother was crying,
other parents were filling their children's
stockings with presents, and looking at them
as they slept in their comfortable little beds


smiling to think of the shouts and laughter
with which they would dive down to the very
bottom of those stockings in the morning.

Hetty looked upon her little bo}^ as a
Christmas gift : he seemed to have been sent
there to light up that dull place ; and she
watched him as he slept, and touched his
soft cheek, and wished that she could keep
him always, as children love to keep and pet
a little bird. But Harry would not have
liked to stay any better than little birds like
to be shut up in cages ; and all Hetty's kind-
ness could not make him forget his beautiful
home and loving mother.

As Hetty lay shivering in her hard bed,
she felt glad to think that Harry was warm
and comfortable ; and then she began to
wonder why it was that she was so lonely
no one in the world but her old grandmother,
and she didn't seem to care much about her ;
why did she not live in a beautiful house,
like the one Harry had told her about, and
have him for her little brother?

A beautiful star seemed to have crept into
the sky while Hetty was thinking, and it
shone right in through the window, for, as


they had no shutters or curtains, she could
see it quite plainly; and the star seemed to
have come out to cheer her up, and tell her
that there were some pleasant things which
she could enjoy as well as those who were
rich and lived in fine houses. So, after
taking another look at Harry to see that he
was well covered up, Hetty fell asleep, and
did not awake until the bright winter sun


was streaming in through their little window.

o o

She got up softly, and kindled a fire with
some shavings and sticks that she had picked
up, and then she put an old, bent-up kettle
on the stove, and brought out a few cold
potatoes and part of a small loaf of bread.
Harry still slept; and as she had no milk
this morning, and nothing that he would be
likely to eat, she did not wake him until she


and her grandmother had finished their
breakfast, and she had cleared up the room.

Then she took Harry up very gently, and
dressed him as nicely as possible ; and having
put on her own little hood, and made her
grandmother comfortable, she asked Harry
if they should go and look for his mother ?

The little fellow screamed for joy at the


idea of going home again ; and seemed so
delighted to get away from that dull place,
that Hetty felt like crying to see how glad
he was to leave her. Harry would have
been glad to keep her with him always ; but
it was very natural that he should wish to
get back to his mother and his own home.

Hetty lifted the little boy carefully over
all the puddles, and would stand and wait to
cross the streets until there was scarcely a
horse to be seen in the distance ; but after
walking a little while, she stopped and won-
dered which way they were to go. Harry
would know the house when they came to it,
but he could not tell her how to get there,
and he had said that it was a long distance

So she walked on until they came to a
row of handsome houses, and she took Harry
past them all, and asked him if he lived in
one of those ; but the little boy did not
remember ever to have seen them before.
They could not find the right place ; and
Hetty almost despaired of ever taking Harry
to his mother.

But while she walked along very slowly,


looking at the houses, she felt a sudden jerk;
and, looking around, she saw that a girl very
much dressed had snatched Harry up in her
arms, and was kissing him rapturously.
Harry seemed so glad to see her, that Hetty
thought this must be the nurse who had lost
him the day before ; but the girl ran off
with him, and soon turning a corner, was
quite out of sight leaving poor Hetty stand-
ing there in the street, and feeling as if every
gleam of sunshine had been taken away
from her.

A kind-hearted storekeeper, noticing her
dismal face, asked what was the matter;
and Hetty bursting into tears, told him the
whole story : how she had found the penny,
and meant to buy some snuff for her grand-
mother with it, and then she had spent it in
milk for her little boy, and loved him so
dearly ; and now he had been snatched away
from, her, without even bidding her good-by.

The storekeeper was a fat, good-natured
looking man, and he hated to see any little
girl so unhappy on Christmas morning ; so,
as he felt quite prosperous and comfortable,
he took 'Hetty into the store, and gave her


some snuff for her grandmother, and then
made up a nice Christmas-box for herself, in
which he put raisins, and figs, and rock-candy,
and a great many good things that Hetty had
scarcely seen before.

She thanked him very much, and was going
out of the door, but the man called her back.

"Did you tell me that you were very
poor?" he asked.

Hetty replied, "Yes, sir," and hung her
head very low, for she felt ashamed of their

" My own children will be none the poorer
for it," said the storekeeper to himself; and
having found a small basket, he put a loaf
of bread in it, and some sugar, and tea, and
rice, and a salt fish ; and on top of the whole
he placed a small chicken.

" There," said he, as he handed the basket
to the grateful and astonished Hetty " there
is a Christmas dinner to make up for the
loss of your little boy ; and you must stop
crying this minute, and go home and cook
the chicken, so that the old lady, your grand-
mother, may have some meat to eat, for once
in a while.'


He then told Hetty very particularly how
to draw the chicken, and how to roast it ;
and then he gave her a little paper of thyme
to put in the dressing, and told her to use
some of their old crusts for this, and, when
that loaf of bread was gone, to come to him
for another. Then, finding that there was
a little room left in the basket, he crowded
in six nice potatoes ; and sent Hetty off with
her arms quite full of gifts.

This was. Hetty's first Christmas that had
ever been distinguished by anything like a
present ; and she wondered if the kind store-
keeper was not the very Santa Glaus him-
self, that she had heard the children talk

about. Little Harry, too, seemed like some

/ /

good angel ; for if she had not found him,
and passed the store to look for his home,
she did not believe that the man would have
seen her at all.

The old grandmother was even more
pleased than Hetty at the sight of the good
things she had brought home ; and they
made quite a large fire in the old stove, and
roasted the chicken nicely. Their Christmas
dinner was very much enjoyed; and the


storekeeper thought that even his tasted
better, when he remembered Hetty's happy
look as she trudged off with her basket.

Little Harry's mother cried again for joy,
as she folded him in her arms ; and he sat
on her lap and told her about the queer place
he had slept in, and the little girl who had
been so kind to him ; but when his mother
heard this, she rang the bell for the nurse,
and inquired very particularly about Hetty,
for she wished to make her a handsome
present for having taken such good care of
her little boy. But the girl said that she had
not particularly noticed her, and was quite
sure that she should not know her again, if
she saw her, she was so much taken up
with seeing Master Harry. Mrs. Rogers,
Harry's mother, felt very sorry that she could
not thank Hetty for having been so kind.

Harry was soon busy with his Christmas
toys ; and in a short time he had almost
forgotten Hetty and his having been lost
at all.

It was now two years since Hetty found
her little boy, and a great many changes had


taken place in that time. Her old grand-
mother died ; and some kind ladies who had
called to see them had the little girl put in
the Orphan Asylum, where she was fed, and
taken care of, and taught to work, so that,
when she was old enough, she could support
herself by going out to work for other people.

There were a great many children in this
place, and Hetty liked it very much ; she
thought it very pleasant to go to church and
Sunday-school on Sunday, when they all
wore the same kind of bonnets and dresses,
and walked two and two together.

One morning, the day before Christmas,
Hetty was scrubbing the floor in one of the
halls, and she was taking pains to do it very
nicely, so that the superintendent would
praise her work.

She was so busy in getting out all the
spots, and bearing on the brush with all her
strength, that she had not heard any foot-
steps near her; but some one exclaimed

"Take care, little girl! Don't spoil my
nice shoes !" and Hetty looked suddenly up.

A little boy, a few years younger than
herself, very prettily dressed, with a little


cane in his hand, stood close by her, and
seemed trying to get past the place where
she was scrubbing. Hetty looked at him
very hard, and then exclaimed "Harry!"
and let her brush fall in surprise.

"How did you know my name?" asked
the little boy, as much surprised as herself.

A beautiful lady, w r ho looked very much

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Online LibraryElla Rodman ChurchA Christmas wreath, for little people → online text (page 1 of 9)