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OUR YOUNG FOLKS.
An Illustrated Magazine
THE THREE LIGHTS.
WINDOW that looks down the west,
'ntered according to Act of Congress, in the year 1865, by TICK NOR AND FIELDS, in the Clerk's
Office of the District Court of the District of Massachusetts. VOL. II. — NO. I.
IT was a beautiful Christmas Eve. A light snow had fallen just before I night, and made the city streets look clean. Icicles hanging from the roofs glittered in the moonlight, and the trees on the Common looked as if they had put on white feathers for a festival.
Mrs. Rich's parlor was brighter than the moonlight splendor without. The folding-doors were open. A clear flame rose from the cannel-coal as it split and crackled in the grate; the gas burned brilliantly in the chandeliers; at the upper end of the room was an Evergreen Tree, with a sparkling crown of little lamps, and gay with festoons of ribbons and trinkets; the carpet was like a meadow enamelled with flowers; the crimson damask curtains glowed in the brilliant light; and the gilded paper on the walls gleamed here and there, like the bright edges of little sunset clouds. Mrs. Rich was just putting some finishing touches to the Tree, when the great clock on the staircase struck seven, and the pattering of feet was heard. The door opened, and Papa entered with a group of children. There was Frank, in all the dignity of his fourteen years ; earnest-looking Isabel, who was about twelve ; Ellen, not much over nine, whose honest face had an expression of thoughtfulness beyond her years; and little Alice, whom they named Pet Poodle, because she had such a quantity of soft, light curls falling about her face. In her first stammering of this name she called herself Petty Poo, and they all adopted her infantile abbreviation.
The Evergreen Tree and the treasures with which it was covered produced but slight excitement in the minds of the older children. As they approached it, they said, “How tastefully you have arranged it, mamma!” and they quietly awaited the distribution of the gifts, like well-trained young ladies and gentlemen. But little Alice, who opened her blue eyes on the world only four years before, had not done wondering yet. She capered u to the tree, and, pointing to one thing after another, said, " Is n't dat pooty ? ' A large doll had been sent to her last Christmas, and when she spied ones6 seated among the green boughs, she gave a little shout, and cried out, “ Dar24 is nudder dolly for Petty Poo !” She was told Aunt Jane had sent it to her i and she received it with unalloyed satisfaction. “Tank Aunt Jane," said she. “Dis dolly's eyes is b'oo, and tudder dolly's is b'ack.” Well please?d with this variety in her family, she hugged it up, and seated herself on the carpet to examine the little blue rosettes on the shoes.
; When Mr. Rich handed his son a handsomely illustrated copy of “ The Arabian Nights,” he received it with a bow, and, turning over the leaves carelessly, said, “I wonder what Uncle Joe sent me this for! I have one edition, and I don't want another.” Isabel took a gold bracelet that was offered her, and, slipping it on her wrist, remarked to her brother, “I don't think this bracelet Cousin Emma has sent me cost so much as the one I sent her last Christmas.” “And see this gutta-percha watch-chain that Cousin Joe has sent me,” rejoined Frank. “You know I sent him a gold one last year.” “ If you read what is written on the card,” said his father, "you will see that it was made in the Hospital, by his brave brother, Captain George.” Frank glanced over the writing, and replied, “ Yes, sir ; but I should rather have had a gold one.” Mary received a handsome French work-box, filled with elegant implements for sewing. She said, “ I am much obliged to Aunt Jane”; but she set it aside after a slight examination, and returned to the tree again. Many more presents were distributed, — beaded nets for the hair, books, photographs, bronze dogs, Parian images, and all sorts of things. But Petty Poo was the only one who seemed to take a very lively interest. She stood by the table hugging her doll, expressing her admiration of everything by little shouts, and holding out her hand now and then to receive a paper of sugared almonds, a china lamb, or a little horse on rollers. The last thing that was taken from the tree was a small basket, containing a doll's nightgown and nightcap. This furnished her with delightful employment. She seated herself on the carpet and undressed her doll, and when she had made her ready for the night, she said, “ Now Petty Poo will go to bed, and take all her tings wid her; and dolly wid de b'ack eyes may s'eep in de drawer.” When she had been kissed all round, she was carried up stairs, and mamma followed, to have another kiss from the little darling before her blue eyes closed for the night.
When Mrs. Rich returned to the parlor, Isabel said archly, “ Are you sure, mamma, that you took everything from the Christmas Tree ?" and mamma, who knew she was about to be surprised, replied, " I believe so; but I will go and look, dear.” Among the boughs she found a rustic watch-case, an embroidered ottoman-cover, and a pretty worsted shawl, on which Frank and Isabel and Ellen had each written their names, and added, “For my dear mother.” Mrs. Rich smiled lovingly, as she wrapped the shawl about her, and put her watch in the case, and spread the cover on the ottoman, and said the colors were beautifully arranged.
“We made them entirely ourselves," said the young folks ; “and we had such a job to keep you from finding out what we were doing!”
“ Thank you, my dear children,” replied the happy mother. She kissed them all, and they clung about her, and asked again and again if she really thought the things were pretty. “ Perhaps you have not found all yet,” said Ellen. “Please look again."
After diligent search, which was purposely prolonged a little, a box was found hidden away under the boughs. It contained a set of chessmen, a crocheted purse, and a worsted comforter for the neck, on which Frank and Isabel and Ellen had written, “ For my dear father," with the names of each appended; and again they said, exultingly, “We made them all ourselves, papa."
“ Thank you, my children,” replied Mr. Rich. “So, Frank, these chessmen are what you have so long been busy about at Uncle John's turning-lathe.” He smiled as he added, " I will not say I had rather have gold ones; for such neat workmanship done by my son is more valuable to me than gold could be. And Isabel, dear, I don't know whether this handsome purse cost so much as the skates I gave you for a Christmas present; but I certainly like it better than any purse I could buy." The brother and sister blushed a little, for they understood the rebuke conveyed in his words. But he patted their heads and kissed them, and, as they nestled close up to him, he folded them all in his arms. “So my little Ellen has made me a red, white, and blue comforter," said he. “How grand I shall feel walking down State Street with this round my neck !”
“Then you will wear it, papa ?” said Ellen, with a glad little jump.
“Wear it? Indeed I will,” replied her father ; “and proud I shall be of the loyal colors, and of my little daughter's work.”
“Ellen is very patriotic," said her mother. “I think papa would like to hear her play “The Star-Spangled Banner.'”
The little girl ran eagerly to the music-stool; for she had been practising the tune very diligently, in hopes she should be invited to play. Frank and Isabel kept their fingers moving to the music, and when it ceased, papa exclaimed, “Bravo !” He was really pleased with his little daughter's improvement, and that made her as light-hearted as a bird.
While they were deciding what Isabel should play, the door-bell rang, and one cousin after another came in to talk over the Christmas gifts. Isabel glanced shyly at her father, when she said, “I am much obliged to you, Cousin Emma, for the bracelet you sent me. It is very handsome.” And Frank was as red as a turkey's gills when he thanked Cousin Joe for the gutta-percha chain, and said it would be a valuable souvenir of his brave Cousin George. Cousin Max, who always thought whatever he had was better than other people could have, remarked that their presents were very handsome, but he did n't think they were equal to what they had on their tree at home.
“The worst of it is, I have so many duplicates,” said Cousin Emma. "Last year I had three bracelets, and this year I had two. When I put them all on, they reach almost up to my elbow."
“My aunts and cousins, and particular friends, all take to sending me books in blue and gold,” said Cousin Jane. "I get so tired of seeing those little volumes, all just alike! There they are always standing on my shelf, like 'four and twenty little dogs all in a row.'"
“But they are not all alike inside,” remarked Uncle Rich. " I suppose not,” she replied ; " but I am so tired of 'em, I never read 'em.”
“Here are some new charades,” said Mrs. Rich, who wished to change the conversation. They were soon laughing over the charades, and then they sang some funny catches, and bade each other “Good night.”
The next evening, when little Alice went away with her nurse, after kissing them all “Good night,” she peeped into the door again to say, “Dolly wid de b’oo eyes is going to s'eep in de drawer, and dolly wid de b’ack eyes is going to s'eep wid Petty Poo.” They smiled upon her, and threw her kisses, and when the door closed after her, Mr. Rich remarked, “Even with Petty Poo the novelty of Christmas gifts don't last long. What part of your Christmas evening did you enjoy most, my children ?”
“When I was playing to you, and you liked it,” replied Ellen.
“When you and mamma seemed so pleased with the things we made for you,” said Isabel.
* And you, my son ?” inquired Mr. Rich. Frank replied, that was the only part of the evening he cared much about.
“I thought so," rejoined his father. “Have any of you thought what might be the reason ?”
The young folks were silent, each one trying to think what their father expected them to say.
“I will tell you how I explain it,” continued Mr. Rich. “I learned long ago that it is not the having things, but the doing things, which makes people happy. You enjoyed the presents you gave us, because you had expended ingenuity and industry upon them. Nothing you could have bought for us would have given either you or us half the pleasure."