图书图片
PDF
ePub

as she lay in her soft bed, she heard the chiming of bells. She clapped her hands and said: "How glad I am! I know what the bells are saying. It is Christmas morning!

[ocr errors]

She was so eager that she forgot to say her prayers. She forgot to call good morning to the king, her father, and the queen, She slipped her mother. out of bed and ran barefooted down the marble stairs into the great palace drawing-rooms to find what gifts the Christmas had brought her.

As she pushed open the heavy door, she heard a sound like the rustling of wings. It frightened her for a minute, but the Christmas bells rang clearly outside and gave her courage again. Presently she went boldly in. Ah, what a beautiful sight! It was not yet broad day, but there was a soft light in the vast room that seemed to come from a great white pearl that hung from the center of the ceiling. "Ah!" thought Theodosia, "how I wish my presents might be pearls!"

Then she looked again, and saw around the hall tablets with golden letters, and on each was a name. There was the king's name, and the queen's name, and the name of every one of the royal household. Under each was a heap of beautiful gifts.

Her own name she could scarcely see, for it was at the other end of the long hall. She ran toward it, saying to herself, "I don't care what other folks are going to have. I want to see my pretty gifts." At last she came to the tablet on which her name appeared. Alas! there was nothing under it, only a black leather bag. Upon it were these words, "This is for the selfish Theodosia."

Still she thought that perhaps it might contain something beautiful for her, and she quickly raised it from the floor. But it was locked, and there was no key. All she found was another inscription engraved in small, fine letters, in the steel of the lock, "I am worth much to him who can open me!"

The poor little princess stamped her bare feet on the cold floor. She was ready to cry with vexation, only she was too proud. Suddenly she saw in one of the mirrors a dazzling and beautiful angel standing behind her. She was not frightened, for, even in the glass, she could see that he was gentle and kind. His garments were white as snow, and his face was fairer than the fairest picture ever thought of in a dream.

Little Theodosia began to grow calmer as she saw

his soft, clear eyes fixed upon her. She turned to him at once and said, "I know who you are. You are the Christmas Angel."

Strange to say, at that moment she perceived that the great pearl no longer hung from the center of the ceiling, but shone upon the angel's brow.

He smiled a smile like sunshine, and then grew very grave and sad.

"Poor child!" he said, "you do not know the secret that unlocks all treasures. But if you will come with me, we will find some one who can tell us."

Then he held out his hand, and Theodosia put her hand in it at once, for she had no fear of him. Out through the door they went, and out through the great archway of the palace into the wide, wide world. It seemed to Theodosia that her feet scarcely touched the ground. In one hand she grasped tightly the mysterious bag, and every little while she looked up at the beautiful face of the angel, upon whose brow the great pearl shone like a star.

As they passed through the quiet streets, they saw few people stirring. And as they walked, the angel began to tell her the old sweet story of the first Christmas Day, and of the Christmas gift of the child Jesus which the dear God made to the world

He loved. He told how the kings and wise men came from far countries with rich offerings in their hands, and how the angels sang for joy.

Theodosia looked up and said timidly, "And were you there?" The angel seemed to be looking at some fair vision a long way off, as he said, low and sweetly, "Yes, I was there."

Then the angel went on to tell how lovely was the child Jesus, so that all who looked upon Him, loved Him and began to love one another also. And then he said, "Little Theodosia, do you know the meaning of Christmas?" Theodosia was silent, for she knew she had forgotten all this in her eagerness for her own pleasure. Presently she took courage and said, "I know it means that Jesus is born into the world."

And the Christmas bells sounded, and sounded, and seemed to say, "Peace on earth and good will toward men."

By and by the angel stopped at a low cottage, and opened the door. They went into the poor, cheerless room, but they were not seen. One cannot see the spirits of heaven when they choose to be invisible. As for Theodosia, the angel covered her with a corner of his robe.

[graphic][merged small][merged small]
« 上一页继续 »