Well, of course it was a great day in the house on the alley, and the guests sat long into the twilight before the warm fire, talking of their old homes in the fatherland, the hard winter, and prospects for work in the spring.
When at last they returned to the chilly discomfort of their own rooms, each family found a package containing a new warm dress and pair of shoes for every woman and child in the family.
“And I have enough left,"’ said Ann the washerwoman, to herself, when she was reckoning up the expenses of the day, “to buy my coal and pay my rent till spring, so I can save my old bones a bit. And sure John can’t grumble at their staying now, for it’s all along of keeping them that I had such a blessed Christmas day at all.”
XVII. A CHRISTMAS STAR*
* Published by permission of the American Book Co.
“Come now, my dear little stars,” said Mother Moon, “and I will tell you the Christmas story.”
Every morning for a week before Christmas, Mother Moon used to call all the little stars around her and tell them a story.
It was always the same story, but the stars never wearied of it. It was the story of the Christmas star—the Star of Bethlehem.
When Mother Moon had finished the story the little stars always said: “And the star is shining still, isn’t it, Mother Moon, even if we can’t see it?”
And Mother Moon would answer: “Yes, my dears, only now it shines for men’s hearts instead of their eyes.”
Then the stars would bid the Mother Moon good-night and put on their little blue nightcaps and go to bed in the sky chamber; for the stars’ bedtime is when people down on the earth are beginning to waken and see that it is morning.
But that particular morning when the little stars said good-night and went quietly away, one golden star still lingered beside Mother Moon.
“What is the matter, my little star?” asked the Mother Moon. “Why don’t you go with your little sisters?”
“Oh, Mother Moon,” said the golden star. “I am so sad! I wish I could shine for some one’s heart like that star of wonder that you tell us about.”
“Why, aren’t you happy up here in the sky country?” asked Mother Moon.
“Yes, I have been very happy,” said the star; “but to-night it seems just as if I must find some heart to shine for.”
“Then if that is so,” said Mother Moon, “the time has come, my little star, for you to go through the Wonder Entry.”
“The Wonder Entry? What is that?” asked the star. But the Mother Moon made no answer.
Rising, she took the little star by the hand and led it to a door that it had never seen before.
The Mother Moon opened the door, and there was a long dark entry; at the far end was shining a little speck of light.