December 18, ig^}^
“Why is Christmas so wonderful and
yet so sad, to you, our dear, dear Angel
of the Choir?”
This came from the slender lad, a chor
ister in All Saints Cathedral on a sunny
sloj^e in Southern France.
“Ah, my blessed boy, come and let me
hold you near my heart and I will tell
you about my love for the Christmas
flower—the glorious Poinsettia ! Have
you not noticed me as I decorated this
altar and the aisles and wreathed the
feet of our Baby Jesus, that I was lav
ish with the Poinsettia?”
Yes, he had.
“When the World War thrust its cold
steel into my wmrld, it took the love of
my youth, my first love. We had been
students together—he became a great
doctor. We were married and lived in
Lille. Those joy days—joy days! Seems
like the very angels smiled and sang for
us alone, when, on Christmas eve, God
gave us a son. My very heart sang,
‘Peace on earth.’ I recall our pretty
home (we always had been blessed with
more than our share of worldly goods)
was averitable hot house of Poinsettia.
So since then this magic Christmas flow'er
has seemed to be a part of my life.”
Clasping the slender little hands of the
choir boy, she stopped, seeming to for
get she was talking.
“Do, dear Choir Angel, tell me more of
Looking into his fine, big eyes, she
said, “Oh yes, my son, I was trying to
shut out your eyes from my heart.”
“Do go on,” said youth’s eagerness for
“As I was telling you, the baby came
into a beautiful love—a beautiful home—
on Christmas eve into a bower of Poin
settia. The sweetest memories of my
baby cling around his morning bath. I
left it to no French maid. I seized upon
this hour to love and fondle my darling.
Upon the back of his little neck there
was a bright, red spot. I kissed it a
million times, calling it my Christmas
Poinsettia. Ah, that little white neck—
that bright red spot! My heart dies
within me when I see a Poinsettia. But
I would decorate the wide world with
them, if I could. The cruel war reigned
and all France was to arms. The doc
tors were called—my life seemed to ebb
out at every pore. My first beloved an
swered—leaving my baby. I worked day
in and day out at the Red Cross head
quarters. Oh, how madly I worked!
Coming home at night to kiss my bless
ed baby’s neck—my Poinsettia !
“A year dragged by, and God had
been kind; my husband had leave of ab
sence, and on Christmas Eve would be
home. The world fairly reeled with the
joy in my heart. Christmas Eve and
all the Poinsettias I could find made a
crimson welcome that warmed his soul.
“ ‘Farewell, ma cherie, another six
months and the war will cease.’ Oh, how
my soul said these words over to me.
But still another six months, and Christ
mas Eve again. No news from the
trenches. My beloved was behind the
fighting line, hoping, hoping, hoping for
a leave home for Christmas Eve. Did I
wait for assurance? Not I! Praying
for his coming, I decorated our home as
never, never had I done before, in Poin
settias. The hours dragged by. No voice.
No call. No sound on the terrace. And
at the bedtime hour my baby and I were
standing by the portrait of our beloved,
when suddenly, like a sword in my heart,
I heard my maid exclaim: ‘Monsieur, it
will kill her—it will—oh. Monsieur, it
will kill her!’ I hear my baby; walk
ing to the door I saw a stretcher, cov
ered with the flag of France. Looking,
I saw our friend and great surgeon fac
ing me as he said, ‘Wounded, my dear
child.’ In a few hours my first love,
my only love, closed his eyes. I looked
up at the crimson Poinsettia. This time
they seemed great drops from my heart.
“This was my baby’s second Christ
mas. The war consumed the world by
this time, and Lille was falling. Gath
ering my baby and my maid, I pre
pared for flight. Being obliged to go
to the Red Cross headquarters, I went
for my last time. Coming back for my
escape with my baby—lo, I found my
baby gone—my maid gone! I cannot
tell you more tonight, dear.”
“Please, please! I could not sing in
our Christmas carols, if I could not hear
you found your baby—your little Poin
Closing her eyes to his view, she said,
“No, I never found my baby. This is
why, when I came back to Lille, I gave
by life and my money all to work among
you children—you orphans of the war.
This is why I sing for you and with
you. This is why I buy every Poinsettia
in the street. This is why I love you
little boys. Christmas Eve, this is, and
near the hour my baby was sent on
Christmas Eve—this is Poinsettia night
The little face filled with love and
sorrow for his Angel of the Choir. He
looked up, saying: “How long since the
war—I was a bahy boy, I guess. I lost
my whole family in the war—or they lost
me. I guess I was a poor family’s child
—because I am not anybody—but I am
some day going to be, the good priest of
All Saints tells me. I lost every one—
or they lost me.”
The organ rang out the carols, and,
at the feet of the lovely lady and little
boy there fell a large wreath of Poin
settia, having been insecurely hung at
the feet of Jesus. Stooi)ing to pick up
the flowers, the collar of the surplice
turned back on the little boy—then she
speaks: “Ah, what is that? What’s that
I see?” As if mad the lady cried, “Wha
—wha—what is tha—tha—that I see—”
and she fainted.
* * * *
The Priest was heard saying to the
boy,“My child, tell me what happened.”
The boy told his conversation with his
angel of the choir. Slowly the truth
burst upon the mind of the Saint of the
church. “Proof—still I must have more
proof.” Summoning to him the officer
in charge of the orphans of the district,
he questioned him.
“Father, I know not his name; I know
that six years ago he was brought to
me by a Red Cross worker, saying the
enemy had stolen him, intending to place
the child in a hospital filled with their
own wounded in order to keep our
French guns from being turned upon
their wounded. In some way they got
them out. This worker rescued the
“He was about two years old?”
“Come with me.”
As they walked towards the ante-room
of the choir, the officer added, “There
is a brown, round birthmark between
the wrist and elbow of the left arm, sir.”
Entering the room, the beautiful lady
turned upon her couch and smiled.
“You fainted, my child, at the Christ
“Yes, Holy Father. You see, my grief
is finally killing me. I see things, I see
things. I—I—Oh, I thought I saw my
baby’s neck, even the little “beauty spot”
I used to call my Poinsettia! I had
worked hard all day with my flower I
loved, and I think it was too much for
me. Then, too, it was Christmas Eve.”
“Could you bear a great joy on Christ
mas Eve, even as you have borne great
sorrow—could you? Tell me, my poor
child, could you bear a great joy?”
“I have borne much; I can bear any
thing now, but I guess there isn’t much
joy for me at Christmas Eve.”
Calling the little boy and his church
guardian, they came to the side of her
couch, and gently the happy, knowing
Father of All Saints bent down the head
of the boy, and slipping back the sur
plice band, she saw the red “beauty
spot.” Wild eyed and trembling, she
cried aloud once more. Tearing the
sleeve of his left arm, she wildly threw
it apart, exclaiming, “My lost baby—my
The scene was too difficult, even for
the church men. Bowing his head, the
father said, “God be praised for Christ
mas Eve—and a Poinsettia !”
Art thou not an angel pure.
Sent disguised from heaven, sure?
Dear, thou art too good for true.
Kind and tender, loving too.
Thou art loved by one and all;
Small hearts gladden at thy call:
God Himself looks from above.
And admires thy heart of love.
A face was' pressed close against the
cold window pane; it was a face old
and wrinkled, and seamed with Time’s
furrows. The eyes were sunken, but,
withal, bright, greedily—even hungrily—
drinking in tlie beauty of the scene with
in the ranch-house.
If outside the house the wind vented
its rage in one of its blackest moods,
inside w'as the other extreme; all was a
blaze of riotous red and green color. A
huge tree stood in the center of the room,
glittering with candles and festooned
wdth ornaments. Gifts—numberless—were
piled around its base. The room was
filled with laughing, joyous people, who
had no thought for the black night with
out. One of these was a girl of fifteen,
who was surrounded by several others
“O girls, we mustn’t forget all about
Daddy Jim tonight! He ought to have
been invited. He is just like a child
about Christmas. I feel sorry for him,
all alone there in his little cabin. Poor
old fellow! He probably would be too
shy, however, to come among so many
people,” she said.
“But Mary Jane—” began another girl.
“Look!” the oldest interrupted. “There
he is now !” And she pointed towards the
window. All of them gazed where she
pointed. The old man was wdstfully
gazing at the box of candy a tiny tot
held, and consequently, did not see at
once the battery of eyes focussed upon
him. When his gaze shifted, he started
and cringed, shame-facedly. All at once
he disappeared. The four looked at each
other and nodded. Then they put their
heads together for a conference, which
ended by their slipping out of the room
When Daddy Jim’s lagging feet final
ly brought him to the door of his mea
ger little cabin, he paused on the step
and sighed. Pushing the door inward,
he stopped aghast. Tears began to
stream down his cheeks. The sight be
fore him was overwhelming that his
strength began to give out and he col
lapsed weakly into a chair, staring wild
A minute replica of the ranch-house
scene was before him. A tree with gay
red, green and silver balls, threw its
shadow across the room, the fire in the
grate catching the various colorful tints
and timidly pointing them out. Boxes,
baskets and books were heaped around
the bottom of the tree.
Daddy Jim awoke from his stupor in
stantly when he caught sight of one ob
ject—a picture of the Madonna. Sob
bing piteously, the old man clasped it to
him. Finally, he stumbled across the
room and picked up a miniature and a
Bible and then returned to the fire.
He opened the Bible to the family rec
ord and sought out these entries: Grace
Barnes—died Christmas day, 19—; Jim
mie Barnes, Jr.—died Christmas day,
“Grace! Grace!” he cried. Oh, that
I might see your face again !”
Placing the miniature and the picture
side by side, he seemed to find some
similarity by his eyes of love and long
“Oh, the bitterness of this life! Grace,
Grace, come back to me for one moment!
How well I can remember those three
short years we had together with our
little Jimmie. And it was one Christmas,
that gives so much, yet takes so much!
Oh God! Is it all for naught?”
Daddy Jim fell into a reverie over
these things. It must have been Mary
Jane, he mused, who loved Grace’s mem
ory though she had never seen her. Yes,
it must have been she who did all this.
Thus musing, he fell asleep.
With the first light of day, Mary Jane
was up and slipped away to the little
cabin. Ihe weather had changed over
night; the sky had become calm and se
rene. Azure blue was tinted with the
gold of the sun, flecked with the white
of the clouds.
“Just like so many brave and tender
spirits gone to their reward,” said Mary
Jane to herself as she sped along.
Coming to the hut, she saw the door
open and went in, thinking perhaps Dad
dy was eating breakfast. But she soon
saw her mistake. A figure was seated
by the ashes of the fire, asleep. Asleep?
If so, very unnatural, it seemed. Mary
Jane stopped in awe. No; she was in
the presence of death; not of a grim.
forbidding death, but a peaceful, con
tented and patient death. Daddy Jim
wore a smile on his face, which, curious
ly, seemed to have lost years. In his
hands were clasped the Bible and the
Mary Jane wept softly; her mother
had told her of the sorrow of Daddy
Jim’s youth,—the death of Grace and lit
tle Jimmie. She understood and sympa
thized. Christmas had been kind to him;
it had united him with his loved ones.
Christmas Eve! In a big armchair, in
front of a blazing Yule log, sat a girl,
gazing pensively into the flame. She was
a beautiful girl; her delicatet brunette
coloring and regular features would have
delighted any artist.
Suddenly, she rose from her chair, and
stood, for a moment, as if poised in
indecision. A look of mingled expec
tancy, apprehension, fear and disgust
crossed her lovely countenance. She be
gan to feel madly in all her pockets, in
the folds of her dress, and even in her
sleeves; her face constantly twitching,
as if she were struggling with some emo
tion mightier than she! Then she dashed
across the room to her coat, and fumbled
in its pockets; desperation was apparent
in her every movement. Franticalhq she
ran to her muff, and hastilj^ drew from
it something soft and white, just as a
mighty tremor shook her whole body—
“Darn that hay fever!” she cried. “I
found my handkerchief just in time!”
Gray clouds—flurrying snowflakes—
cutting winds—it is the day before
Christmas. The crowds hurry by, wrap
ped in warm furs, calling gay greetings
to one another as they pass—out of this
shop into that one, alw^ays hurrying
gazing with shining, sparkling eyes at
the dainty gifts. Dusk falls silently on
the snowy street, as above the noise and
clatter is heard the clear, sw'eet sound
of a bell, half-heartedly rung by a tired
shivering, hungry little Salvation Army
laddie. He stands huddled beside a red
iron pot, the bottom of w'hich is hardly
covered by the few^ small pieces of silver
carelessly tossed into it by the hurry
ing shoppers as they rush past on their
way home to hot suppers and a gay,
Minutes of High Life Meeting
Helen seemed to be surrounded on
every side by a sheer cliff, impossible to
be scaled. All around her was black
darkness, impenetrable, terrifying. In
her hand she held a new^spaper, but this
W'as blank. Harrassed, she w'as attempt
ing the apparently impossible thing—to
fill that paper w'ith material. Every-
w'here she w'ent, faces appeared to her
out of the darkness, only to vanish again.
These faces w'ere those of her w'ill-o’-the-
wisp fellow'-staff members, wdiom she w'as
vainly endeavoring to persuade to help
her. She moaned over and over as she
assigned innumerable articles to invis
ible people, not know'ing wdiether they
could hear her. Growing frantic, she
shouted and called them and moaned
w'hen she received no answ'er. Walking
around the abyss in w'hich she was situ
ated, she stumbled and fell—down, dow'n.
With a dull thud she hit a hard sub
“Helen, Helen! MJiat on earth is the
matter?” called Mrs. Forbis. Helen w'as
lying on the floor by the bed.
ONE NIGHT A LONG, LONG TIME
One night, a long, long time ago.
While shepherds kept their sheep,
A light shone dow'n from heav’n, and lo!
They heard a song of peace
A long, long time ago.
One night a long, long time ago.
The w'ise men traveled far;
They brought their gifts of myrrh and
L’^nder a brilliant star,
A long, long time ago.
One night a long, long time ago.
In a small Judea tow'n.
Upon a stable-manger low'
They laid the young Child down,
A long, long time ago.
THE TIME OF THE PINE
Covered w'ith a coat of w'hite
J hat sparkles star-like in the night.
Stands the lonely little pine;
Wrry not, for soon his time
Shall come w'hen he shall be
The center of all joy and glee.
Christmas with its colors bright.
Candy, toy's, my', w'hat a sight!
A happy day for us is born.
But, ah, the pine! His day is gone!
THE OAK TREE
The old oak tree stood lone and bare,
Protected only by God’s care.
Its branches grew in every'^ way.
And touched the ground one rainy day.
Now in the wdnter see it stand.
All ridged in pearl by Nature’s hand.
“God bless you, merry gentlemen,
Let nothing you dismay—”
The children circle around the brightly-
lighted Christmas tree, dancing and sing
ing, with dolls, books and toys in their
chubby' arms, their little mouths crammed
and stuffed with sweet-meats. Their
cheeks are flushed and their big ey'es
shine w'ith the excitement of the occasion,
for has not Santa paid them a most mys
terious visit, leaving them every'thing
heart could w'ish? From the tiniest tod
dler to the largest child, everyone is
happy—so happy that they' cannot tear
themselves aw'ay from the animated
scene; and over all shines the soft light
from the great, glowing star on the
topmost bough of the dull green Christ
THE CHRISTMAS CHIMES
Hark to the sounds that break upon the
still and frosty' air.
The melodies that waken slumbering
They' are the songs of Christmas-time,
to every heart so dear.
Now' sw'eetly played upon the bells, chim
ing far and near.
How' silently' the w'hole w'orld lies, and
listens to the bells!
And W'ith w'hat sw'eet harmony' their joy
ous music sw'ells!
A purer re-aw'akening has come down to
The old w'orld leaves its w'retched past
to greet a wondrous birth!
A silver-pealing chime rings out its miel-
And then they' ring w'ith one accord, all
blended into one.
From every' evied belfry they' ring out,
clear and sw'eet;
I hey' peal and chime the whole night
long, and then the morn they' greet.
Oh, God, MJio shaped w'ith master hand
the earth, and sky', and sea,
Ihe full hearts of Thy children all, in
love, are praising Thee!
Oh, help us (o begin anew', at holy' Christ
A life as sw'eet, as pure, as true, as that
which sw'ells each chime!
SANTA CLAUS -
Clap-clap, clap-clap—over the snowy
roofs in his sleigh, draw'n by prancing,
pawdng reindeer, comes our old friend
Santa Claus, a fat, red-faced, jolly old
fellow with a huge pack of toys on his
back, filled nigh to bursting. Leaping
merrily' out of his sleigh, w'hich is cov
ered with little jingling hells, dow'n the
chimney he goes. In a trice he is stand
ing before the crackling fire, w'arming
his hands at its cheery blaze. He puffs
and blow's, his cheeks become rosier, his
eyes brighter, and his fat sicles shake
with mirth as he thinks of the merry day
Taking off the heavy pack, with a
groan for its W'eight, he proceeds to fill
the long row' of stockings hung on the
mantle, from the biggest, largest one to
the tiniest, and daintiest of little pink
socks. Then he turns and loads the
boughs of the sw'eet-smelling Christmas
tree with toys, books and candy. After
hungrily eating the cake left for him on
the table, he takes one last survey of his
handiw'ork, smiles, and vanishes up the
chimney. Again the household is quiet
and sleeping, and soon even the silvery-
ringing of the sleighbells has died away
in the cold, frosty- air.