The Children's Book of Christmas Stories eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 303 pages of information about The Children's Book of Christmas Stories.

After tea, when they sat before the kitchen fire, as they always did, with only the firelight flickering and dancing on the walls while they knitted, or told stories, or talked, she told Hetty about her father:  that they had lived comfortably in this house, which he built, and that everybody supposed that he had plenty of money, and would leave enough to take care of his only child, but that when he died suddenly nothing had been found, and nothing ever had been, from that day to this.

“Part of the place I let to John Thompson, Hetty, and that rent is all I have to live on.  I don’t know what makes me think of old times so to-night.”

“I know,” said Hetty; “it’s that paper, and I know what it reminds me of,” she suddenly shouted, in a way very unusual with her.  “It’s that tile over there,” and she jumped up and ran to the side of the fireplace, and put her hand on the tile she meant.

On each side of the fireplace was a row of tiles.  They were Bible subjects, and Miss Bennett had often told Hetty the story of each one, and also the stories she used to make up about them when she was young.  The one Hetty had her hand on now bore the picture of a woman standing before a closed door, and below her the words of the yellow bit of paper:  “Look, and ye shall find.”

“I always felt there was something different about that,” said Hetty eagerly, “and you know you told me your father talked to you about it—­about what to seek in the world when he was gone away, and other things.”

“Yes, so he did,” said Miss Bennett thoughtfully; “come to think of it, he said a great deal about it, and in a meaning way.  I don’t understand it,” she said slowly, turning it over in her mind.

“I do!” cried Hetty, enthusiastically.  “I believe you are to seek here!  I believe it’s loose!” and she tried to shake it.  “It is loose!” she cried excitedly.  “Oh, Miss Bennett, may I take it out?”

Miss Bennett had turned deadly pale.  “Yes,” she gasped, hardly knowing what she expected, or dared to hope.

A sudden push from Hetty’s strong fingers, and the tile slipped out at one side and fell to the floor.  Behind it was an opening into the brickwork.  Hetty thrust in her hand.

“There’s something in there!” she said in an awed tone.

“A light!” said Miss Bennett hoarsely.

There was not a candle in the house, but Hetty seized a brand from the fire, and held it up and looked in.

“It looks like bags—­tied up,” she cried.  “Oh, come here yourself!”

The old woman hobbled over and thrust her hand into the hole, bringing out what was once a bag, but which crumpled to pieces in her hands, and with it—­oh, wonder!—­a handful of gold pieces, which fell with a jingle on the hearth, and rolled every way.

“My father’s money!  Oh, Hetty!” was all she could say, and she seized a chair to keep from falling, while Hetty was nearly wild, and talked like a crazy person.

Project Gutenberg
The Children's Book of Christmas Stories from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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