“Why, Peter!” she ejaculated again, weakly. Then suddenly she turned, and laying her head on his shoulder, began to sob softly.
“There, there,” he said, patting her arm awkwardly.
“Don’t you go and cry now. Let’s just be thankful to the good Lord for puttin’ such fellers into the world as them fellers down the road. And now you run in and hurry up breakfast while I do up the chores. Then we’ll hitch up and get into town ’fore the stores close. Tell the young ’uns Santy didn’t get round last night with their things, but we’ve got word to meet him in town. Hey? Yes, I saw just the kind of sled Pete wants when I was up yesterday, and that china doll for Mollie. Yes, tell ’em anything you want. Twon’t be too big. Santy Claus has come to Roney’s ranch this year, sure!”
LITTLE GRETCHEN AND THE WOODEN SHOE*
* From “Christmastide,” published by the Chicago Kindergarten College, copyright 1902.
The following story is one of many which has drifted down to us from the story-loving nurseries and hearthstones of Germany. I cannot recall when I first had it told to me as a child, varied, of course, by different tellers, but always leaving that sweet, tender impression of God’s loving care for the least of his children. I have since read different versions of it in at least a half-dozen story books for children.
Once upon a time, a long time ago, far away across the great ocean, in a country called Germany, there could be seen a small log hut on the edge of a great forest, whose fir-trees extended for miles and miles to the north. This little house, made of heavy hewn logs, had but one room in it. A rough pine door gave entrance to this room, and a small square window admitted the light. At the back of the house was built an old-fashioned stone chimney, out of which in winter usually curled a thin, blue smoke, showing that there was not very much fire within.
Small as the house was, it was large enough for the two people who lived in it. I want to tell you a story to-day about these two people. One was an old, gray-haired woman, so old that the little children of the village, nearly half a mile away, often wondered whether she had come into the world with the huge mountains, and the great fir-trees, which stood like giants back of her small hut. Her face was wrinkled all over with deep lines, which, if the children could only have read aright, would have told them of many years of cheerful, happy, self-sacrifice, of loving, anxious watching beside sick-beds, of quiet endurance of pain, of many a day of hunger and cold, and of a thousand deeds of unselfish love for other people; but, of course, they could not read this strange handwriting. They only knew that she was old and wrinkled, and that she stooped as she walked. None of them seemed