fredag 17 december 2010

The Song of the Star

by Rev. C. H. Mead

"Oh, boys; you can count me out on that—all I can get goes to my mother and sisters for Christmas."
The speaker was a manly little newsboy, with good features, a clean face and bright eyes. His clothes looked neat, though they were adorned with numerous patches.
"But see here, Will. Christmas only comes once a year, and why shouldn't we fellers have our banquet as well as the silk-stockings? What would they know about things going on in the world anyway, if we newsboys didn't supply 'em with papers? All in favor of having a banquet, hold up yer hands!"
Up went a score of hands—some dirty, some clean and some speckled, but Will's hand remained down. "See here, Will, what's the reason you won't stay by us?"
The boy hesitated a moment and then said: "Boys, it's mighty close times up at our house; fried chicken and pound cake don't come our way, turkeys roost too high for us, and, and—well, boys, if you must know it, about the only good thing we kids have up there is our mother's love. See these patches! My mother put them on. See these stockings! My mother has been mending this same pair of stockings for more than a year, and she washes and irons them after I've gone to bed at night. Every stitch of mother's needle and thread is a stitch of love, and one night not long ago, I opened my eyes and saw my mother's tears dropping on the sleeve of my coat at the same time she was putting the patch on this elbow. I tell you, boys, the best thing I've got in the world is my mother, and the best Christmas gift I ever had is my mother's love. If I had a million dollars, I'd give them all to my mother in return for her love. No, no, boys; no banquet for me, as long as I know my mother is starving herself that we children may have more to eat."
"Well," replied one of the boys, "if I had a mother like that, maybe I'd feel the same way; but all we get at our house is a good licking from a drunken mother, and I'm going in for a square meal at Christmas, if I never has another."
The boys, gathered on the sidewalk by one of the parks, were suddenly startled by a cry "Look out there!" and the next moment a runaway horse dashed into their midst; little Will was knocked over, and was soon carried into a neighboring drug store, all unconscious of what had happened. It was soon discovered that his arm was broken, and his body bruised in a number of places. The moment he regained consciousness and found what had occurred, he said:
"Take me to my mother; she will take care of me somehow, though this isn't exactly the kind of a Christmas gift I meant she should have. Say, boys, one of you go up to our house, and tell her easy about this; don't burst in sudden and scare her, but tell her it isn't dangerous, and—well, just tell her I love her."
The boys wiped their eyes and one of them said, "This busts up our banquet, fellers; I'll go and tell Will's mother, and, say, fellers, shan't I tell her we will give our banquet money to help her out at Christmas?"
A hearty "You bet we will," was the response, as big Tom sped away to carry the news to Will's mother, while kind hands helped carry the injured boy to his home. It was a poor home into which he was borne, but everything was as neat and tidy as could be. A woman stood at the door, and it needed but one glance to know that she was the mother of Will. Poverty and hunger had failed to rob her of her beauty, and there was an air of refinement about her that told of better days and happier surroundings.
"Christmas hasn't come yet, mother," said Will, "but I have. Don't you worry; I'll come out of this all right, and we will have a good Christmas yet."
The mother kissed him tenderly as she said, "No, I will not worry, so long as I have God, and you, and Josie, and Maggie, and Tot. When Christmas comes round, Will, it will be a good day whatever it brings."
"It will bring yer heaps of things, Mrs. Sandford," blurted out big Tom, "for we fellers has given up havin' a banquet, and are going to bring yer something that Will can't bring now. Don't yer worry a bit," and here the rough fellow burst into tears, and rushed out of the house.
A few more days, and then Christmas Eve came round, and a bright night it was. Will lay sleeping on the bed, his mother near by, pretending to read, but in reality using the dear old Bible as a shield to hide the tears that trickled down her cheeks. The mother was thinking, and thinking fast, too. It was only a little over thirteen years since her father had closed the door in her face and told her never to return. The man she loved was not the fashionable fop her father had selected for her as a husband, and secretly she had given her hand to the man to whom long before she had given her heart. All went well, until three years ago, when her husband died suddenly, and she found herself with no means and four children to take care of. Too proud to apply to her father for help, she struggled on as best she could, leaning hard on the God whom her mother had taught her to love.
Her children were a comfort to her, for they had inherited the natural goodness of both their parents. Her tears now fell fast, for as she thought, she also listened to the voices of her two youngest children who were standing over by the window together.
"Say, Maggie, does yer see dat bright star up dere? I wonder if dat is de star what de shepherds seen! If it is, it seems to be looking right down at us. Maybe Jesus is in dat star, and if He is, He won't forget us, will He?"
And Tot looked at Maggie as the latter said: "Jesus loved little children, Tot, when He was on the earth, and I guess He loves them yet. That's a very bright star—it must be the one that was seen by the shepherds at Bethlehem."
"I think so, too," said Tot, "and may be Josie will hear some of dem 'good tidings' while she is out. Oh! Maggie, Jesus must love mother; she is so good, and I think He has sent that star to tell us to look out for good news."
And where was Josie all this time? The mother thought she had gone into a neighbor's, where she frequently went, and so felt no anxiety.
Out in the streets of the big city, side by side walked plenty and poverty, wealth and wretchedness, happiness and hunger, gladness and grief. Some carried bundles in their arms, while others carried burdens in their hearts. Over all, the good God watched, and down upon all the bright star shone. But what is that? Suddenly on one of the streets the people stopped and listened. On the steps of a stoop leading up to a lighted mansion stood a little girl who looked like a bright angel from heaven. Far above, overhead, shone the bright star that Maggie and Tot had seen; it was their star and it was her star, for Josie, too, had discovered it, and somehow felt that the star that had brought "good tidings of great joy" to the shepherds on Bethlehem's plains, had come again and to bring once more "good tidings." She had mounted the steps to get nearer the star, and then all unconscious of the people, in a rich, sweet voice, she sang:—
I think, when I read that sweet story of old,
When Jesus was here among men;
How He called little children, as lambs to His fold;
I should like to have been with Him then.
I wish that His hands had been placed on my head,
hat His arms had been thrown around me;
That I might have seen His kind look, when He said,
"Let the little ones come unto Me."
As she sang, her gaze was fixed on the star, and even her hands were lifted toward it. The people looked at her; an angel had appeared in their midst—her face, her voice, her upturned eyes, her uplifted hands, held them spell-bound, until some one looking up in the direction she pointed, cried out: "See that star!" Heavenward went the gaze of the multitude, and once more there seemed to come to them a voice, saying: "Fear not, for behold I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people." The face of Josie was illumined and even the multitude that had gathered, failed to alarm her. The star with its "good tidings" was over her head and in her heart as well. "Who are you, my child?" said a gentleman who had come up on the steps where she stood. "Please, sir, I am Josie Sandford." The gentleman gave a start and said, "Sandford, Josie Sandford? Pray where do you live, Josie?" She told him, and in response to other questions, told of mother, brother and sisters.
"Oh, sir; do you see the star? I am sure it has some 'good tidings' for us at our house, and I must hurry home and tell mother all about it. Good-bye."
Away sped the child until she reached her home, and then entering the room quietly, she went up to her mother and said: "Have you seen the star, mother?" Maggie and Tot cried out, "We've seen it; come, mother, and look quick." The mother went quietly to the window, and there beheld a star of wonderful brightness, and as she gazed, her face took on a new light and into her heart came a great peace. The sleeping boy was awakened by the voices, and he, too, made his way to the window and looked at the star. "At evening time it shall be light."
It had come, and—something else had come, too, for steps were heard on the stairs, followed by a knock on the door, on opening which, in came a company of newsboys headed by big Tom. They bore bundles and baskets, provisions and poultry, sunshine and sugar, toys and turnips, good-will and grapes, cheer and celery, and things that no one but those who had lacked for them, would ever have thought of. Big Tom was the spokesman for the happy company.
"If yer please, Mrs. Sandford," he said, "there's our banquet. We wasn't going to come until to-morrow morning, but when we got the things all together, we just couldn't wait any longer, so we've brought 'em to-night, and if it isn't too soon, ma'am, we wishes you, and Will, and Josie, and Maggie, and Tot a 'Merry Christmas,' doesn't we, boys?"
"Indeed we does!" responded the boys. The faces of that mother and her children were a sight to behold. Smiles and tears greeted the boys, and the mother and her three girls had a kiss for each of them. Then Tot said: "I knowed it. I knowed it! De star had Jesus in it, and I knowed He see Maggie and me looking up at it."
"Well, boys," said Mrs. Sandford, "you shall have your banquet, for I want you all to take Christmas dinner with us to-morrow."
"Yes, boys, you shall all take dinner with Mrs. Sandford and her children to-morrow, but it must be at the home of her parents and not here," said a gentleman who had not been noticed as he stood in the hallway.
Mrs. Sandford started as the owner of the voice entered the room, and little Josie sprang toward him at the same moment. She resembled her mother and was her namesake as well. The gentleman stretched out his arms toward Mrs. Sandford as he said to her:
"Josie, can you forgive me for the harshness with which I drove you years ago from my door? God only knows how I have suffered, and for years I have hunted high and low for you, and have advertised time and again. But all was in vain, until to-night I saw your face and heard your voice once more, as my grandchild, Josie, stood singing on the steps and gazing at the star. In her I found you again, and oh, how your mother and I have prayed for this time to come."
Long before he had finished, the daughter was in her father's arms once more, and the children were clinging to their new-found grandparent. The newsboys looked on in wonder, and suddenly little Tot ran to the window and then cried out—"Oh, grandpa, the star is here yet, and it shines brighter than before," and she threw a kiss up to the star.
Christmas morning came and found them all in a home of plenty. A chair that had long stood vacant at that table, was once more filled, and near it were four other chairs for the new-found grand-children. Was it a "Merry Christmas," did you inquire? Just ask those newsboys who came at two o'clock if they ever had such a banquet before or since, or whether they ever saw a home in which the "Star of Bethlehem" shone with greater splendor. And over the earth the star still shines, and will continue to shine until all mankind shall yet have a "Merry Christmas."

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