Newspaper Page Text
A Christmas Story
cf the City A o
r3y EBEN E. REXFORD.
AltGAIrET LEI'1TH stood
by the window, looking
out upon a street full of
comners anti goers. Gay
laugh and merry jest
made little ripples of
sound above the deeper
murmur of the tide of
life that seemned break
ing at her feet.
Suddenly she caught
sight of a form in the
crowd that stirred her pulses to a
swifter beat. Her eyes lost the list
less look that had been in themn while
she watched with a woman's mere
idle curiosity the tide of humanity
surging past. Ilere was some one
for her interest to center itself
about. With this person upon whom
to fasten her thoughts, she forgot
the throng of which lie was part.
"I wonder if there is any truth in
the theory of soul telegraphy?" she
thought, with a bright, soft light }
gathering in her eyes, as she watched 1
the man about whom her thoughts
had centered themselves. "lie said
he half believed it. I will put it to
She looked intently at the man who
had driven her idle mood away, and I
.S / \nntl/ n.
She Leeakd Intently at the Man. al
willed that he should look that way.
Her mind-her soul-call it what you
will, sent a message along the un- a
seen line which some persons tell
'us runs between human souls, and el
John Fosdyke's soul felt the subtle i1
and mysterious influence, for he D
paused, looked across the street and ot
up to her window, and bowed, with
a glad light in his face. m
"Who is that Fosdyke bowing to?",<
asked her Aunt Diana, from her po
sition by another window. "He may
have meant the bow for me. If he
did, I don't thank him for his trouble.
I don't like him. I don't care to culti
vate his acquaintance. He isn't my
style, and he can keep his bows for
those who appreciate them."
"He was not bowing to you," an
swered Margaret quietly, though a
brighter bit of color came into her
cheek as she said it. "lie knows very
well that you do not like him, and
he is not the man to give attentions
of any sort where they are unwel
"From which I am to infer, I sup
pose." said Aunt DI)iana, sharply. "that
hlie bows to you because he thinks his
atnltentions are not unwelcome. Is
that it ?"
"You are quite right in your con
clusion." answered Magagaret. '"I
do like hinm, and I think he knows it.
I have never taken any trouble to
conceal my friendshiip from him. Why
"I must say that you are the
strangest girl I ever saw." said her
aunt, with ill-concealed ulispleasutre.
"fon are all dignity and dtistance
to those in your own set, but you
unbend to this Fosdyke as if you
felt him your equal, if not your su- co
perior." And now there was a strong sh
suspicion of a sneer in Aunt iana s
voice. She was intolerant o! any e
likes or dislikes but her own. John
Fosdyke was one of her especial dis
likes, because she felt afraid that
his influence over her niece was, or
might become, stronger than her
own. That influence might possibly isF
interfere, in time to come, with the
carrying out of a pet plan. a
"1 do consider him my superior," co
answered Margaret. "Of all men I n
ever knew, I consider him the truest, r
the bravest, the manliest. Count sn
up all the men in what you are ha
pleased to call 'our set,' and find a
one among them. if you can, who ai
would do what John Fosdyke has
"That's precisely what makes me F
consider him a fool," said Aunt Di- cor
ana. "A man who will deliberately wo
give up the posilon he might have psi
had, and the chance to become fa- he
mous and wealthy and a leader of ad
men, for the sake of preaching to a
set of heathens, is a fool and noth- gle
ing more." m
"A fool when looked at from your "
standpoint, you forgot to say," said ns
Margaret. "You forget that all of wis
us do not look at these things vot
through your spectacles. Instead of for
being a fool because of his devotion
to principle rather than policy, I
have to admit that he seems to me
something of a hero. Quite as much
a hero, in fact, as the man who as
serts his bravery on the field of bat
tle. Don't you suppose that John
Fosdyke had a hard battle to fight,
in giving up what he has for the
sake of doing what he believes to be
Margaret spoke impetuously, and
her tone told how deeply she felt
uwhat she said.
ed Aunt Diana's lip curled.
ng "Margaret," she said, facing her
of niece indignantly and accusingly, "I
ay do believe you are more than half
st in love with this man! The idea of
of your persisting in your attempt to
er make a hero of him! It's absurd, to
of say the least!"
k- "It may seem so to you. but it does
not to nIne," was the girl's quiet re
ht pounse. Andl not another word could
he her aunt get from her about this
a m;an whoni the worldly-wise old lady
;t- looked upon as a fool or a fanatic.
le Presently Vaughan lierrick came in.
re Aunt Diana welcomed him effusive
ty 13. Margaret was quietly polite in
t'e her greeting, and her reserved man
If ner had the effect of keeping him at
m a distance socially. She did not like
at Mr. Hlerrick very well. She had never
done so, and after her aunt began
in to try her hand at matchmaking be
ie tween them, she liked him less than
it ever, because it was quite evident
d that he was perfectly willing to take
ts advantage of any victory that Aunt
id Diana might happen to win by force
:o of diplomacy or influence.
"In love, and in war, a man should
to control the campaign," Margaret told
.d herself. "lie isn't much of a man
who is willing to let a woman plan
and carry it on for him."
"Miss Leith does not seem very
socially inclined this morning," he
said to Aunt Diana, when Margaret
was out of the room for a moment.
"1 hope I have not offended her."
"It isn't that," was Aunt Diana's
reply. "She's peculiar. lie blind to
her peculiarities-and be patient."
"I could be as patient as--who was
it? - Jacob? - that the minister
preached about last Sunday, if I
thought I could win her at last," he
answered. Aunt Diana, vexed with
Margaret's peculiarities, resolved on
diplomacy. She was not going to
allow her piece, who was poor, to
throw herself away on John Fos
dyke. She was not going to let
her lose the chance of getting a
rich husband like Vaughan IIerrick,
if she could have her way about it.
Vaughan Herrick could give her an
elegant home, and a position in so
ciety that any girl in her senses
would covet. He would also be a kind
husband to her. The girl must be
mad to let such a chance go by. One
like it might never present itself
Aunt Diana, however, knowing with
whom she had to deal, felt that she
must move carefully. Margaret had
a way of having her own will at
I times, and when there was a differ
ence of opinion she often came out
best in the argument; and if Aunt
Diana were to urge the advisability
of the marriage she had so set her I
heart on, she felt quite sure it would 1
make her niece all the more stub
horn. Precipitancy might spoil all.
She must work carefully, and in an
indirect way, to bring about the ac
One Day . he Met John Fsdy #. fi
complishmcnt of her plans. One day
she met John Fosdyke at a friend's.
"I have not seen much of Miss
Leith, of late." he said. "She is well, a
"Oh, yes, quite well.," answered li
Aunt Diana. "She is so-so queer,
you know"-this quite confidential
ly. "She has seemed to lose all rel
ish for society, in the ordinary mean- P
ing of the word, since Mr. Herrick
has taken to calling so regularly. I
Sometimes a girl finds the society of i
one person pleasanter than that of it
mrany, you know," and here she e
smiled nimeaningly. "Of course, you ai
have heard of what rumor has been ci
saying about MIr. IHerrick and my sl
"I have heard that Mr. IHerric1, ad
mired her, if that is what you mean," .1
Fosdyke answered, in a somewhat be
constrained tone. To talk about the h
woman he loved in this manner was w
painful to him in the extreme. But ti
he wanted to know the truth, so he B
"If congratulations are in order, ce
rlease tender mine to Miss Leith. ca
Am I premature in offering them?" um
"I must not reveal state secrets," w;
answered Aunt Diana, looking very m
wise. "However, I will tell her what f
you hare haid, and let me thank you, sh
for her, for your kind wishes. Youa m
on will not say that I have told you any
I thing, will you? Really, I haven't,
me you know. They do not care to be
ch gossiped about as engaged lovers,
as- just yet."
at- "I shall say nothing," answered
hn John Fosdyke.
ht, Aunt Diana congratulated herself
he on the success of her diplomacy. She
be saw that he believed that Margaret
and Mr. Herrick were engaged, and,
nd L.elieving that, he would not be like
elt ly to say or do anything that would
interfere with the accomplishment
of her plans.
"I "Why doesn't your hero, Iosdyke,
fil call occasionally, as he used to?"
of asked Aunt Diana, one day. "Ile
"e "Mr. Fooer qtio She Called.
t. hasn't been here for a month has
he? I should like to know how he
+s it prospering in his missionary un
dertakings. I trust you have not
quarreled with him?"
"To your last question I can an
r wer 'no,' was Margaret's reply.
"Your other question Mr. Fosdyke Clld.
t hasn't been her for himsela monthf.", has
he? I should slikeen to know how he
o dery mtakiomngs. I trushert ayount' he notques
o tion came, and the impulse came to n
her to called th him?" in. She was vexed
S "To your alast question I can an
about him, and she wanted to enjoy
h.er 'ndiscomfiture at having him pre- ply.
Your osent himself for examination. And yke
Sshalle was vexed with him for having imself."
Sstreet. She hatd puseenish him for it in e
some way. So she threw open thes
window and leaned out.
"Mtonr. Fosdyke," she called.
He looked up and taw her, and a
pleased look came into his face.
Then it seemed to her that he looked
aboale, allhm at once and she wondered
t "Cai you spare time to come in for
- a little while?" she asked. "Aunt
t Diana wants to ask you some ques
"Why, Margaret Leith!" cried Aunt
r Diana, shocked and angry. "What
I possessed you to do such a thing?
What shall I say to him?"
"I'm sure I don't know," answered
Margaret, coolly. "I thought you
said you wanted to know how he
was getting along with his mission
ary work. Your desire for informa
tion ought to suggest tha questions
necessary to draw from him the in
formation you seemed pining for."
John Fosdyke came in.
Margaret gave him her hand with
outward quietness, but her heart was
in a tumult. She loved him. She
had been honest with herself, and
found out that what Aunght Dianahad
accused her of was true. No other
her as this man hlonad. ith his mieyesion
ture, if he chose to foxert his inforlu-m
tAunt Diana felt that she must dons
somethingssary to drawget herself out offrom him the in
dilemma in which Margaret gave him her hand with
placed quietness, but her heart was
chosen worka tumult. f she loved him. She
isfound out that what Autention, Margaret had
manwould had eve but little oppowertunity to move
hertalk withis man had. ith his eyes
upon her face, she felt that he was ti
quiet way,if he chose told her. te wahis infsow- h
ingce. iseed. It was not time to look
Aunfor the harvest yet. When it camedo I
swhmether it wasng to be thaerelf out or other- sI
wise, only God could tell. Allret head h
coulaced herdo was to do the best huite could, ir
isand wait patiend attently for results.argaret
would hMargaret stood but little opportunity to
listened, with a strange feeling ofhim. sl
pleasure was ding what he sound of his voice. aki
quiet wayof the room. hern shie was sow
foM argaret a t the window. it ame,
he"I hoped it woul have anot lost quite all
the inter est waI used to e thatink you hader- c
in my plans," he said. "Itell. helps andhi
ncould wrages me to (10know the aest frihe could, s
arrete looking on and by the wishindowg me suc- i
listncess, if they do not feel like putting ofs
shoulder toof the room. wheel in the was good
one, Fosde came and stood bykot
argarShe did not at nsther, simply becauset
s"I hope you haveuld not. Her hearlst quiprompte all dre
her to tell him that she wantused to think you had th
inhelp him; that, by his side, s"It helps would
willingly, gladly, dme to know that frishe ould;nds
wothat her heart was in his workk." to
But she could not tell heart prompted d
her to tell him that shblood leapnted to tli
cheeks at the thought. So no words as
came, and she felt that he wAs mis- o
understanding her silence, but she
was powerless to prevent him from
making the mistake. He wondered
I• he had been mistaken in her. If for
she had felt the interest in his work, at,
and in himself, that he had fancied an
y- she did, not so very long ago, sure
't, ly she would have some sympathetic
be word for him now.
Presently Aunt Diana came back,
and soon he went away with a grave
'd face, and a disappointed look in his
If Margaret saw the took and under
le stood what it meant.
et "IIe is blind. willfully blind," she
d, said to herself, as he went down the
e- street. She could hardly keep back
Id her tears. Surely he might see the
at truth-if he would.
"Yes, he is blind," she repeated,
this time aloud-she had forgotten
e, that Aunt Diana was in the room.
?"Did you speak to me?" asked her
"No, I was talking to myself," an
swered 'Margaret, feeling so miser
able that she cared very little if Aunt
D)iana knew what her thoughts were.
She got up and went out of the room,
I with suc(h a sorrowful look in her
face that the woman who was watch- I
ling her keenly knew the visit of
John Fosdyke had given her no pleas
ure. The wily matchmaker congratu
lated herself accordingly. She felt
sure that the paths of these two
persons had diverged so widely that
they would never run together again.
By and by Vaughan Hlerrick came
in. But Margaret had gone out.
"I shall never win her," he said to
Aunt Diana, after he had asked for
her niece. "I seem to know her less
and less each time I meet her."
"HIave pa:ience." counseled Aunt
Diana. "The world was not made in
a day, and such women as Margaret
are not to be non all at once."
"Or never," said Herrick, discour.
Aunt Diana had never been more
thoroughly disgusted and out of pa
tience with her niece than she was
when she found that she had taken
to visiting the poor.
She argued with her about the
s foolishness of the "whim," as she
e called it. What good would come of
i- it? What would "our set" say when
t this latest proof of Margaret's eccen
tricity was brought to its notice?
"As to that, I care very little, or
not at all," answered Margaret' "It
e may do but little good, but it will
certainly do no harm, and to do a
e little good is much better than to
a do none at all."
- So she kept on with the work she
a had undertaken. At first it was hard,
3 and almost repulsive, in many of its
3 features. But by and by she found
y that there was real pleasure in try- I
- ing to help others. Ana it was not 1
I long until she began to get more
F rleasure out of her life, because of
I what she was doing, than she had ever I
1 found in the idle round of fashion- 1
able existence. John Fosdyke's en- I
He Went Abay oith a Gravoe Face. w
thusiasm had taken possession of
her. She felt that she was not only T
helping those with whom she came m
in contact, but she was helping him. w
If she could not work by his side, t|
she could at least do something to
help him and his work in a way he' M
might know nothing about, but the hi
doing of it might make his own work I ki
lighter, in some indirect way. he
At first, perhaps, she did it for his h
sake, or because it was his work, andse
sharing it with him, even without his V
knowledge, seemed to establish a a!
commoni bond of interest between
them. But it was not long, as I have g
said, before she began to love the or
work for its own sake. When a man
cr a woman does something to help th
his or her fellowmen, life is broad
ened by it, and the world suddenly he
seems fuller of deeper, grander th
meanings and possibilities. A kin- lif
ship of interests brings us close to ki
the heart of things. We wake up to i
the fact that to lie means something so
more than mere existence. There are
others in the world quite as impor- he
tant as ourselves. They have sor- pr
rows and joys we can share with we
them. We can help them, and they Lu
can help us. lo
In her round of work she did not mi
meet John Fosdyke, but she heard ar
a goon deal about him. fe:
And what she heard was something ia
to make her gla.l and proud. He was er
indeed sowing good seed. She won- so:
dered if he knew as well as she did
the amount of good he was doing. lo
And he heard of her, but he did
not know who it was that came to ab
the homes of the poor and the sick to
with comforting words, and help in Jo
time of need; fc-r her work was done an
as quietly and unobtrusively as his chi
It was Christmas eve. of
The world was clad in white robes fox
for the birthday of its King. The hal
streets were full of sounds of mirth life
and melody. An echo of the Christ- tbt
e- mae gladness came floating in at the
ic window of a room high up in a poor
old tenement house, where two wom
k, en sat by a bed whereon a sick child
ve lay, tossing about restlessly, and
is moaning in the delirium of a fever
that was burning its little life away.
r- One of these women was the child's
mother. The other was Margaret
he "Poor little thing!" the mother
mk oaned, as she bent above the bed,
ne and her tears fell fast on the thin,
white face already bright with the
d, radiance shining out through the
'a open gates of the Other World. "I'm
afraid he isn't going to live the night
er out. I-I wish you'd stay with me,
ma'am. It's too much to ask of
n- you, I know, but-I never had any
r- thing to do with death, before, and
3t it seems as if I could bear it bet
,e. ter if you were here. You've 5been
n, so kind to me, ma'am, that you see
Ir I take liberties that I ought not to;
I- but you'll pardon me for it, I'm sure,
,f for it's, because of the trouble.
s Sometimes I think I'd go crazy if it
n- wasn't for your kind face and your
It comforting words, ma'am."
o i 'I will stay," answered Margaret.
it "But I must send word to my aunt,
e Norlaret Jas Doan by the 2ed of the
, Sidc Chlrd.
a or she will be worrying about me.
- Do you know of some boy I can get
t to carry a line to her?"
a The woman went to find a messen
e Maer, andre Sargaret wrote hed note.,
thinking, as she did so, how angry
- her aunt would be, for ryinaughan Her
rick had been invited to spend Christ
mas eve with them.
The letter was sent, and Margaret
sat down by the bed of the sick
By and by she saw that the child
had opened its eyes and was looking
at her very intently.
"I've been thinking about the an
gels," he said. "I saw one, and it
had a face just like yours. Are you
one of them? Mother said so, the
other day, whel you brought them
pretty posies." a
"I am very far from being an an
gel," answered Margaret, with a I
smile into the wan little face on the r
pillow. "Shall I sing to you?" c
"Oh, do!" cried the child. "When v
you sing, the pain don't hurt so." t
She sang an old-time song of v
Christmas that told of Christ's birth
in the lowly Bethlehem manger, and h
of the chorus in the sky, and the
Star that led the way to "where the
young child lay"-sang it so softly,
so tenderly, that the face of the child
who listened lost its look of pain,
and when the song was ended he
looked up and said:
"I think you must be an angel, for
when I dreamed about them they
sang like that."
There came a knock at the door.
The woman went and opened it. A
man came in. Margaret felt who it
was without looking up. Iier heart
John Fosdyke started when he saw
Margaret Leith there. Then a glad,
bright smile came into his face. He
I knew, now, who was his unknown
Shelper in the good work. She put
her hand in his silently. There
seemed to be little need of words.
When heart speaks to heart, words
are poor, weak things.
"How is the little lad?" he asked,
gently, and the mother answered
only with a sob.
Hie went to the bed and bent over
the sick boy.
"Ib will soon be well with him,"
he said, gravely, reverently, as if in ?
the actual presence of the Lord of
life and death. And the poor mother
knew that he meant that the little
life was almost ended, and sat crying of
softly in the shadow. us
"Let us pray," he said, and then l'
he knelt down and made a little
prayer. The prayer held but few
words, end they were simple ones. in
Lut the, were eloquent with human in
love, and made the heart of the ln
mother stronger to bear the loss that 3
was so near, for there is always com- Jo
fort and strength for the soul that hi
in in trouble in the thought that oth- w
ers sympathize with us and share our til
"Sing," the child said, presently, wI
looking at Margaret. i
And Margaret sang a little song
about the land the child was going an
to very soon. At the second verse,
John Fosdyke's voice joined hers, ju
and made it all the sweeter to the t(
child, for the man's heprt made itself
relt in the words. As he sang, he Wi
thought that here, on the threshold wi
of Heaven, almost, he was looking thi
forward, as if in a dream, to a great u
happiness that might come into his di
life. It seemed almost wrong to it
think of such a thing, at such a time; Ye
ie and yet, God put the thought into hiP
)r heart-and God knew!
n- The song ended just as the bells
Ld in a church tower near by began to
id ring in the joy of the Christmas
y. The child heard them. He half
's raised himself in bed, and cried out:
At "Oh, the bells! the bells! How glad
they sound!" Then he sank down on
>r the pillow and was still-very still.
a, "God is here," John Fosdyke said,
n, in a low, grave voice.
te Then the poor mother knew the
e truth, and flung herself upon the bed
tm -eside her dead child, and cried bit
it terly. Sorrow is the same to the
e, poor as to the rich, though some
,f seem to think otherwise.
. John Fosdyke went out and found
da woman who was willing to help her
t- poor neighbor in this time 'of need,
n and she came and began to prepare
e the child for the grave.
"There is nothing you can do,
now," he said to Margaret. "I think
it would be better for you to go
it home now. You can come again to
r morrow, if you like."
There was a step on the stair, and
t. a knock at the door.
t, Margaret opened it, and Vaughan
Herrick came in.
He started when he saw Fosdyke
there, and a look of disappointment
came into his face. Then he saw
that he was in the presence of
death, and he hared his head rev
erently, in that silent respect men
feel for the sorrows of others.
"Your aunt sent me for you." he
said. "The carriage is at the door.
Will you come?"
John Fosdyke came and stood by
Margaret. She feft his eyes upon her
face. and raised her own to meet them.
"Will you ride, or will you walk?"
The question was a simple one, but
it meant a great deal. It meant
that the time had come for her to
make her choice, or rather, to de
clare the choice she had already
She felt the full import of the
words, and so did Vaughan IHerrick,
and he waited for her answer as the
decision of his fate.
"I will walk-with you," she an
swered, and John Fosdyke knew that
she was thinking of the path through
life, and the words were the sweet
est ones he had ever listened to.
Vaughan Herrick said not a word,
but bowed silently and went out. He
knew that her decision was one from
t which there was no appeal. He ac
cepted it as such. His heart was
out of tune with the Christmas bells.
as he drove home alone along the
' white streets.
Side by side Margaret Leith and
- John Fosdyke went out into the
For some time neither spoke. At
last he said:
"You are sure of your heart, Mar
"Very sure, John," she answered,
"If you walk with me it may be
through rough places and up hill.
Have you thought of that?"
"I have thought of it all, John,"
she answered, softly. "I am not
afraid. Wxhere you go, I can."
Then he drew her face close to
his and kissed her, while the bells
rang out a glad peal from a steeple
overhead. They seemed to know
what joy had come to these two in
that blessed Christmas morning, and
were glad because of it.
"I am almost frightened at what I
have dared to do," he said. "My
Marfarei Lelib and John Fosdy.Ae Wteni
Ourt Into the ffght.
heart claims you, but our hearts are
ocften so selfish that they pr,'nmpt
uIs to lay claim to that to which we
have no, right."
"The king may always claim .hi
own, they say," she answered, Fsim
ing softly and half unconciuslyv
into his face, in the great. absoring
anppiness that was flooding her . :1.
"'ly heart was yours long g.,,
John," and :hen phe put her hand in
his as if it held her heart. :a :d s!.
was giving it into his keeping for all
time to come.
"Are you sure you will not regret
what you lose in casting your lot
"I think only of what I gain," she
answered. "There is no loss."
And then the bells rang out again,
jubilantly, tunefully, and they seemeud
"Peace, Good Will! Peace, Gooa
Will!" till all the night was filled
with the sound, and the two hearts
that were henceforth to be one took
up the refrain, and it has .ot vec
died away in them, and, pleaase sod,
it never will.-The Housewife, New