The great church was a wonderful place that night. Every one said that it had never looked so bright and beautiful before. When the organ played and the thousands of people sang, the walls shook with the sound, and little Pedro, away outside the city wall, felt the earth tremble around them.
At the close of the service came the procession with the offerings to be laid on the altar. Rich men and great men marched proudly up to lay down their gifts to the Christ-Child. Some brought wonderful jewels, some baskets of gold so heavy that they could scarcely carry them down the aisle. A great writer laid down a book that he had been making for years and years. And last of all walked the king of the country, hoping with all the rest to win for himself the chime of the Christmas bells. There went a great murmur through the church as the people saw the king take from his head the royal crown, all set with precious stones, and lay it gleaming on the altar, as his offering to the Holy Child. “Surely,” every one said, “we shall hear the bells now, for nothing like this has ever happened before.”
But still only the cold old wind was heard in the tower and the people shook their heads; and some of them said, as they had before, that they never really believed the story of the chimes, and doubted if they ever rang at all.
The procession was over, and the choir began the closing hymn. Suddenly the organist stopped playing; and every one looked at the old minister, who was standing by the altar, holding up his hand for silence. Not a sound could be heard from any one in the church, but as all the people strained their ears to listen, there came softly, but distinctly, swinging through the air, the sound of the chimes in the tower. So far away, and yet so clear the music seemed—so much sweeter were the notes than anything that had been heard before, rising and falling away up there in the sky, that the people in the church sat for a moment as still as though something held each of them by the shoulders. Then they all stood up together and stared straight at the altar, to see what great gift had awakened the long silent bells.
But all that the nearest of them saw was the childish figure of Little Brother, who had crept softly down the aisle when no one was looking, and had laid Pedro’s little piece of silver on the altar.
XIII. THE BIRDS’ CHRISTMAS
“From “In the Child’s World,” by Emilie Poulssen, Milton Bradley Co. Publishers. Used by permission.
F. E. MANN
Founded on fact.
“Chickadee-dee-dee-dee! Chickadee-dee-dee-dee! Chicka—” “Cheerup, cheerup, chee-chee! Cheerup, cheerup, chee-chee!” “Ter-ra-lee, ter-ra-lee, ter-ra-lee!”
“Rap-atap-atap-atap!” went the woodpecker; “Mrs. Chickadee may speak first.”
“Friends,” began Mrs. Chickadee, “why do you suppose I called you together?”