Madelaine was going to explain, but the little girl had joined her companions. She felt much grieved, and longed to be able to tell all to her teacher; she looked up anxiously at the high windows which were now lighting up brilliantly. Numbers of people were arriving on foot, and in carriages, hastening in to witness the happy scene. She only, with her poor blind brother, was rudely pushed back by the guards. Poor Raphael began to feel the cold painfully, and Madelaine perceiving that his hands were benumbed, untied her apron, and rolled them up in it.
Seeing this, a poor fruit woman, whose stall was near, said, “You are almost frozen, my poor children; why are you not at the school fete? This poor boy has no warm socks; come here, my child, warm yourself at my stove.”
Madelaine thanked her, and led her brother to the stall. The woman was struck by this, and asked, “Can he not see plainly?”
“He cannot see at all,” answered Madelaine, sighing, “he is blind.”
“Unfortunate child,” said the fruit-woman, and looking around her for something to please him, (for the compassion of the poor is often active and thoughtful,) she put a hot baked apple into each of his hands, “this is good both for cold and hunger,” she added, “may God give you a happy Christmas.” Madelaine received a similar present, and the two children went away, after having thanked the kind woman cordially.
The numerous lights suspended across the windows of the school, continued to illuminate the dark street. Presently the sound of several hundred young voices was heard, at first very softly, then swelling louder and louder, as they joined in singing the praises of their Heavenly Father, who, by the gift of his Son, has offered salvation to the children of men. Then the eyes of the blind boy filled with tears of joy, and he raised his heart in gratitude and praise to the Saviour of sinners. “Listen,” said he, in a low voice, as if afraid of disturbing the sound, “listen, Madelaine, is it not like angels singing their hallelujahs around the throne of God? Oh, that I could fly to heaven, far, far, above this earth!”
“And leave mother and me here below,” replied Madelaine, reproachfully.
“No, no,” said Raphael, quickly, “I should come back very often to see you and mother.”
“But she will be uneasy about us now,” said Madelaine, “so come, let us return home, and think no more of flying. The children have done singing.” They returned home, and related to their mother all that had passed. Raphael dreamed only of angels singing, and being in heaven. Thus he was happy at least in his sleep.
Early the following morning, which was the day before Christmas-day, Madelaine went to Master Teuzer’s to assist in carrying his wares to the fair. She had already made several turns from the warehouse to the marketplace, when Teuzer’s apprentice said to her, with a malignant joy which he could ill conceal, “Hark, a policeman is coming to seek you.” Madelaine was greatly frightened, she thought of her absence from school, and of what her school-fellow had said to her. “To ask for me?” she stammered, turning pale.