Fairy Tales from Gold Lands_ Second Series
A. ROMAN & Co̠̤ PUBLISHERS.
John Andres Bay
By MAY WENTWORTH.
NEW EDITION, WITH ILLUSTRATIONS.
A. ROMAN & CO., PUBLISHERS.
417 & 419 MONTGOMERY STREET.
Entered according to Act of Congress, in the year 1868, by
A. ROMAN & CO.,
In the Clerk’s Office of the District Court of the United States for the
Southern District of New York.
CHILDREN OF CALIFORNIA,
WITH GOLDEN WISHES FOR THE CHRISTMAS-TIME,
I DEDICATE THIS LITTLE BOOK.
In the pleasant Christmas-time I greet thechildren everywhere.
To some I shall not be a stranger, for we havemet before, not face to face, but in the pages ofthe last year’s little book. In the sunny days ofchildhood, a year is so long a time, that when thesummer and winter have passed it seems like anage gone by; yet as again I bring my Christmasoffering, I hope to be remembered and welcomedas the friend who loves the children well.
They are the true critics, generous and fearless.For their warm hearts and keen appreciation, Iwrite these stories of the Golden Clime.
May the joy and blessedness of the holy Christmasrest upon them, and follow them through allthe sunshine and rain of the coming year.
San Francisco, 1868.
TABLE OF CONTENTS.
|The Little Lace-Maker||9|
|Gracia and Catrina||63|
|The Dancing Sunbeam||104|
|The Young Gold-Seeker||115|
|The Wishing Cap||129|
|Snowdrop and Rosebud||209|
|Lazarus and Bummer||230|
THE LITTLE LACE-MAKER.
It was the happy Christmas Eve, yet itwas very cold and dark. Over the quaintold town of Bruges hung the heavy snow-clouds,and the air was filled with snow-flakes,which fell so thick and fast thatvery soon the ground was covered with awhite mantle, quickly hiding the foot-printsof the few who were still out buying thelast gifts for beautiful Christmas trees.Through the narrow streets rushed thewind, shrieking round the comers in itsshrill whistle, and seeming to say:—
It was really strange what curious thingsthe wind whistled that night, yet throughall ran the refrain of the holy ChristmasEve.
Near the great belfry of Bruges was astately mansion, where the fires burnedbrightly in the polished grates with awarm, rosy glow, making upon the wallgrotesque shadows of a little boy and girlwho were joyous with expectant happiness.
It was early, and the lamps were notyet lighted. The children danced up anddown the warm, pleasant room, where they[Pg 11]were to remain until the mother calledthem.
The dear, loving mother had been sobusy in the great parlor, doing somethingfull of mystery, yet the children were quitesure it was a delightful mystery, that wouldbring them a great store of happiness, andthey were luxuriating in their own pleasantimaginings. The door was still locked, butthe time was fast approaching for the grandopening.
“I can’t wait! I can’t wait much longer,”said the boy, impatiently. “What a lazyold thing Santa Claus is!”
“For shame, brother, to speak so of thegood Santa Claus, who brings us suchbeautiful gifts. I will watch for him, thekind old Santa Claus, to come from thegift land for us in all the wind and snow,”and the little girl ran to the window anddrew aside the rich, heavy curtain.
[Pg 12]“But Santa Claus always comes downthe chimney, little Miss Wisdom,” said theboy, joining her. “How it snows! I’m soglad. ’Twill be such fun for us boys to-morrow.”
“’Tis the old woman up in the clouds,picking her goose for Christmas dinner,”said the little girl, laughing and singing,—
Just then the mother was heard calling,and the children ran into the great parlor,all ablaze with light and beauty. In thecenter of all rose the beautiful Christmastree, luminous with shining toys and many-huedcandles.
Oh, it was delightful! To the little onesnothing could compare with the long-dreamed-of[Pg 13]Christmas tree full of beautifulpresents, just what they had been wanting,and hoped that wonderful old diviner,Santa Claus, would think of; and, of thewhole year to them, no time was like theglorious Christmas season.
In quite another part of the town, verypoor and squalid, lived the lace weavers.
In quaint old buildings, falling to ruins,they were huddled together, many wretchedhomes under one roof, yet even therethey were trying to celebrate the birth ofthe blessed Christ child.
In the dingy rooms burned cheap tallowcandles, and the little ones, with their poorwee gifts, were as happy as the brotherand sister with the beautiful Christmastree in the stately mansion.
One room only, a very small one, up inan attic in the lace-weavers’ quarters, wasin darkness. By the window stood a little,[Pg 14]sorrowful girl, very pale-faced, all alone,watching the snow-flakes.
It was very cold, and her clothes werethin and ragged. She shivered, for shewas quite chilled through. She was anorphan. The father had died, oh! longago, one whole year, an age in the life of achild. Only the week before, the motherwas driven away to her last home in thepaupers’ grave-yard, to rest in the plaindeal coffin, till beautiful white wings shouldwaft her up to Heaven the Golden.
It was very sad to see the little pale-facedchild looking after the paupers’ cart,driven so roughly over the frozen ground,and the kind-hearted neighbors had pitiedher, and, though they were poor lace-makerslike the mother, they had given her foodwith their sympathy, and promised to helpher on with the trade.
They were true-hearted, honest folk, but[Pg 15]somehow in this joyous Christmas seasonthey had all forgotten her, and, far up inthe dreary attic-chamber of the old tenement-house,she looked out into the nightand storm alone.
It was so dark in the room that shecould not bear to leave the window, thoughthe wind whistled in at the loose casement,making quite a clatter, and causing herlittle teeth to chatter with cold.
She was very hungry. She had eatenthe last crust the night before, and everybodyhad been so busy. It was not strange,she thought, that they had forgotten her.
She could remember the last Christmasthey were all together. How busy themother was making the Christmas pie,and how the father brought home a woodendoll, saying, “’Tis for my good littledaughter,” and kissed her. Then, takingher on his shoulder, he danced all about[Pg 16]the room, and how the dear motherlaughed.
She was so happy then, and now sodesolate and wretched. Everybody elsewas happy; she heard the children shouting,and she was so faint and hungry.
Just then a man, in an oil-cloth coat andcap, came along, and lighted the street lampopposite the window. That made it morecheerful; still, the child was so cold andhungry, she could bear it no longer.
“I will go out,” she thought, “into thelight. Perhaps I shall dare to go in somewhere.The neighbors have been so kindto me, but I’m not used to them as I wasto the dear mother. I will wish them a‘Merry Christmas,’ and they will give mesomething to eat. Then, perhaps, I cansleep, and go away in my dreams to thebeautiful land where it is warm with God’spleasant sunshine.”
[Pg 17]Taking from the shelf a faded shawl andtorn bonnet, which had been the mother’s,she fastened them on as well as she could.But they were too large; it was all of nouse, they would slip off again.
As she opened the door of her chamber,a great draught of wind rushed in fromthe street. Some one was coming in at thecommon staircase. She heard merry voicesand footsteps on the stairs. She drewback into the darkness of her own roomwith shrinking timidity.
Very strange it was to her the cheerylaughing, yet she had been as light-heartedonce, but it seemed a great whileago.
When the sound of voices died away,she stole softly down the stairs to the doorof the great front room, which had alwaysbeen the grand place to her. Of all theneighbors, the woman in this best room[Pg 18]had been most kind to her and the poormother in her sickness.
The little cold fingers gave a timidknock, but, within, the father and motherwere talking, and the little ones laughingso loud, that no one said the welcome“Come in,” or came to open the door.
The cold winds whistled through theuncovered halls of the tenement house,and the child stood waiting with chatteringteeth, and feet and hands so benumbedthat she thought it would be better out inthe street. There she could run and warmherself.
It was snowing fast, and the featheryflakes fell all over the worn shawl, coveringits faded colors with soft white down;over the great bonnet that would fall backupon her neck; and over the rich, golden-browncurls, that were left bare to thestorm.
[Pg 19]As she ran on, the streets grew lighter,and on each side of the way were gayshops, with great windows filled with athousand beautiful things. How much betterit was than staying in the dark attic-roomalone; and she thought, if she werenot so cold and hungry, she could havequite enjoyed it.
There was a great jolly man walking onbefore her, humming a song. Presently hestopped to look in at a shop window, andshe read in his broad, pleasant face that hisheart was kind and loving. So, withoutstopping to dread it, she ran up to him,saying, “Please, sir, I wish you a merryChristmas.”
“Ah, ha! little one,” he said kindly,“you’ve caught a Christmas gift, but it istoo stormy a night for little things likeyou to be out.” Drawing from his pocketone of many small packages, he said, “My[Pg 20]babies will never miss this. Now runhome, like a good child; no doubt themother is calling you now.”
Then he hurried on, and the child, withtrembling fingers, untied the parcel. Howshe hoped it was a piece of bread; butno! It was a pretty toy lamb, with a fleeceas white as the snow that was coveringher.
She was so much disappointed that thetears ran down her face very fast, and inthe storm and cold this was uncomfortable.
Just then the beautiful chimes soundedfrom the great belfry of Bruges. ThisChristmas Eve they were played by afamous musician, who sat in the chamberbelow the belfry, and struck upon an immensekey-board like that of a piano.These keys connect with hammers thatstrike the bells, so that in all the world[Pg 21]there are no chimes like those of the belfryof Bruges.
There the grand musician sat and played,throwing the whole harmony of his soulinto the music, and all the town of Brugesstopped to listen, and, clasping each other’shands, whispered softly, “How beautiful!”for the divine music thrilled them.
Above all, it went to the heart of thelittle hungry child, out alone in the pitilessnight and storm. The voices of the matchlesschimes led her, and she hurried on tothe great belfry, clasping the pretty whitelamb closely in her little chilled hand.
Somehow she did not feel so hungrynow, and that was a blessing. There wasthe stately mansion all ablaze with light.She could look in through the rich crimsoncurtains of the