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The Christmas Tree at Fairleigh School.
A STORY FOR THE YOUNG.
T wanted two weeks of Christmas, and anybody might have seen that something uncommon was the matter in our usually quiet going school. Such fluttering about; such whisperings and buzzings at playtime; such mystic nods and motionings even during school hours, were out of the common, and could not possibly be called for by the prosy lessons in arithmetic, grammar, or writing. Now and then could be heard, in a sort of suppressed treble, such exclamations as these, "You ask him," "I don't like,-you," ""No, you ask, Polly; the master likes you," &c., &c., &c.
At length matters reached a crisis, and one noontime, when morning lessons were over, two young girls left a group of their companions and timidly came up to the teacher's desk, with a request that they might be allowed to have a Christmas Tree upon the approaching Christmas Eve. "It would be so nice, and they all wanted it. And if the Master would kindly agree, they would be sure not to miss any lessons indeed they would all try to do them better."
The little pair of flossy-headed maidens were not long left alone; for soon those who were watching afar off, were emboldened to draw nearer, and in a minute the master was completely hemmed in by a circle of blushing faces, and his ears filled with the beseechings of a hundred prattling tongues.
Promises and arguments were uttered with such rapidity and good effect, that it is no wonder the citadel of the teacher's heart was taken, and that in very self-defence he was obliged to say that he would think over the matter and
let them know another time. So it was finally decided that there might be a Christmas-Tree at Fairleigh School. It was a new thing, but it should be allowed. Need I say that from then till Christmas was a busy, happy time? The lessons were certainly well-learned-indeed the teachers never gave such high marks as now; but yet it was clear that something else than rules of grammar, and names of mountains, &c., was in the children's minds. Sometimes a skein of bright-coloured silk, or a gay piece of ribbon peeped out from under the girls' desks; but the master was good-naturedly blind (pro. tem.) and the contraband articles were not seized and confiscated as in former times.
And so the time sped by; and the eventful day arrived. During the morning, one of the assistant teachers was stationed in the Class-room to receive the parcels and packages as they were brought in, and label each with the name of the pupil to whom it was to be given for it had been arranged that each scholar who was able, should bring one or more presents for another-but, no names were to be revealed until the Christmas Eve. Now it so happened that many of the presents bore the name of Alice Ray. Alice was a little girl of some ten summers, with a fair face, and eyes as blue as a July sky; her hair, golden, glossy, and ringletty, seemed like locks of sunbeams escaping from their mesh of ribbon. None could help loving the little fairy, for besides her good looks, her gentle winning ways made every heart her home. She was a general favourite in the school, and no wonder that so many little gifts of love should bear the name of Alice. Ray. The teacher was busy at her work of arranging, when two little boys came into the room, each with a package in his hand. One stepped boldly up, and as he laid his gift on the table, said, "This is for Alice Ray."
Very well," was the reply.
"And yours, Harry?"
Harry hesitated; a puzzled look overspread his face.
There was evidently a struggle going on in his mind. At last his face cleared, and he spoke up. "Please ma'am, I brought it for Alice, but I have this minute thought that she will be sure to get so many presents-here take mine and put Susy Price's name on it, please."
Susy Price!" repeated his companion scornfully," Why Harry, before I'd give that pretty basket to a little dirty girl like that, I'd," he left this sentence in an unfinished state as he turned on his heel in disdain.
Harry's face turned red. He could bear almost anything better than to be laughed at. The teacher looked anxiously on, waiting with the small ticket in her hand, and a prayer in her heart, but she spoke never a word. Silence prevailed for a few seconds. There was another little struggle visible in his face, but his noble spirit bore him out, and when he spoke again his voice never faltered.
Susy won't have anything nice on the tree, and Alice will be sure to have lots of things, and so Susy shall have my basket." Harry had won the victory!
Now who was Susy Price? A poor little girl who came to school with a little faded dress, worn shoes, and her crisp hair braided in a very old-fashioned style. She was a poor, neglected, motherless child, whom not one of the other children had thought of remembering by a Christmas gift. Yet let me say she was not a bad girl, and was quick to learn, and had a heart warm and loving toward everybody who would let her show it. This was Susy Price. The teachers themselves had provided a present for her, as well as for any of those not otherwise remembered; still their present was nothing near so pretty as this beautiful little basket filled with sweets.
The teacher took the basket from Harry, and though she fully appreciated the feelings of the boy, she only said, as a tear stood in her eye, "I am very glad, Harry."
That evening there was a merry gathering at the school. A fine tree, of the fir kind, had been begged from the wood.
It reached from the floor nearly to the top of the ceiling, and such a tree, I suppose, was seldom seen before or since. It bore all manner of fruit, not only pleasant to the taste, but equally pleasing to the eye. There were wreaths of flowers; China dolls; gay scarfs and sashes; beautifully bound books; packets of candy-indeed almost everything in which children are wont to lose their hearts. Sweet photographed faces peeped out from the framework of leaves, while, nestled here and there, were dainty notes, like white-winged doves, ready to fly away and bear their Christmas greeting of love and joy, to waiting hearts and hands.
7 -di •/1
Itwas a beautiful sight that tree; with its heavily laden boughs and dark foliage glistening in the light of a hundred burning tapers. It looked as if Father Christmas had poured a lap-full of toys upon it.
I don't think there was one sad heart in the room that night. Everyone had something. Alice Ray's name was frequently called out as the gifts were distributed. She received them gracefully, but still with a little queenly air, as if she quite expected them and they were her's by due.
Now many a sparkling eye had looked at the handsome basket which hung from a little branch, and I am not sure if some little tongues had not said, "I hope that is for me." But as yet it had not been touched. But see; the teacher is just going to unhang it and read out the name! Everyone is still! Who will get it?
"Miss Susan Price,” called out the teacher. Poor Susy looked scared; for she had not remotely expected. anything. She did not-I think she could not-rise from her place as the others did; her surprise was so great; but when one of the others came to her with the beautiful present, and she took it and realized that it was her's indeed, she uttered a cry of joy, which drew all eyes upon her; her face beamed, her eyes sparkled, and her whole features glowed with delight! Not often had her eyes seen,
and still less often had her hands touched, anything so beautiful. And this was her's-her own.
There were many happy hearts that night; not only in that room, but in thousands of laughter-ringing rooms throughout a hemisphere of Christmas-keepers, but among them all, not one happier than Susy's. When the party was over her feet hardly touched the crusted-snow as she bounded homeward through the moonlight to show her
And what of Harry? was he not happy too? One look at his joyous face told you that he felt it was more blessed to give than to receive." And Harry gave more Christmas gifts that night than he was aware of. All who witnessed that kind act of his, felt that the pleasure they received from it was a far richer gift than anything the tree bore for them.
The tree is gone; many, perhaps all, of the toys are broken and valueless, but that pleasant memory will never fade-never grow old but will remain to each beholder, a possession for ever.
E. B. J.
15,0 1 54
we sailed into the nearest to Rome. and I suppose we
E had a stormy voyage in reaching the Italian coast, and were glad enough, when we saw the blue peaks of the Albanian mountains in the dim distance, one beautiful May morning. Our vessel approached closer and closer toward the shore, though a thick mist concealed the country very much from our vision. A few hours passed on and harbour of Civita Vecchia, the seaport We tried to see the dome of St. Peter's, might have been able to do so, if it had