MAMMA, do get up and look out of the window," called Archie Horton, as he pattered into his mother's bedroom one frosty November morning, in his white nightgown and bare feet.

"What is the matter? Who is coming?"

said Mrs. Horton sleepily.

"Why, mamma, the snow has come, and the ground is all covered with it, and it was piled so high against the hall door that when Ann opened it to go out to the milk-man's wagon, it just fell in on the floor. I've been out in the kitchen, and Ann told me it was most a foot deep, she guessed.

Say, mamma, can't I have my sled and go out to slide?"

"Not until you are dressed, I guess," said his mother, with an amused smile.

"But can I go then?" pleaded Archie.

"Well, you scamper away now and get dressed; and after breakfast we'll see what papa thinks about it."

The little boy had his clothes on so quickly that Ann said it was a "pity it wouldn't snow or something every night, if it would make that child so spry about getting dressed."

Archie felt like crying, though, when his papa came in to breakfast, and said the snow was not yet packed enough to make good sliding, and, besides, it was too cold and windy for him to go out anyway. So that settled it. But Archie spent most of the day looking out of the sitting-room window, watching the people passing to and fro through the snow, and the big boys throwing snowballs at one another.

Finally he spied a little bird hopping around under the window, so he got some crumbs and went out the door to feed it. Toward night the sky grew gray, and it began to snow again; but still the little bird did not fly away. Archie's mother said, maybe it was hurt in some way, and that he might go out and catch it if he could. As he came near to it, the birdie did not try to fly away, and Archie picked it up and carried it in to his mother. She looked at it, and said she thought its wing was hurt so that it could not fly. So she found a birdcage in the garret, and told Archie that he might keep it till it was well. The bird was of a greenish brown color, and Mrs. Horton said she thought it might be a tame linnet, which some one had lost.

The weeks went on very fast, and it was most Christmas, and still birdie stayed. His wing was well long ago, but when they let him go, he did not offer to fly away, but clung to the windowsill outside, and picked at the glass with his bill, as if teasing to come in. So Archie's mother brought him in, and they kept him. He seemed very happy in his new home, and sang sweet songs. Archie had no brothers or sisters, and he took a great deal of comfort with his birdie.

One cold afternoon a few days before Christmas Mrs. Horton came in from a walk, and though warmly bundled in cloak and furs, she sat down shivering by the fire. "It is bitterly cold," she said to her sister, who sat by the window sewing. "I have been to look up my washer-woman," she went on. "She did not come this week, and I never knew her to fail of coming on Monday before, so I thought something must be the matter, and went to see."

"What was the matter, mamma? " said Archie.

"Well, she has been sick; and it's no wonder.

Such a poor, cold little house, and not half enough wood to keep warm. And she has had no one to do anything for her but Eddie, her little cripple boy, who has to drag himself around by a chair.

If he had some crutches, he could do better. His little pale face haunts me; he don't look as if he had enough to eat, and his clothes are very thin for this cold weather. I think I must speak to your father about them, and we'll see if we cannot fix them up a few comforts in the way of a Christmas surprise. Mrs. Wilson has seen better days, I am sure. How stupid it has been of me never to find out how she lived before!"

And with this, Mrs. Horton got up and went to her room to put off her wraps. When she came back half an hour later, Archie was sitting on a hassock by the fire, with a very sober look on the little face, which he held in his hands.

"What could I give, mamma?" said he to his mother when she had sat down.

"Give to whom, my son?" asked the mother.

"Why, to the little lame boy."

Now Archie, like many an only child, was growing up selfish. His mother felt sad about it, and tried in every way she could to cure him of it.

So she said,— "I think you would better give something of your own, for if papa or I got something for you to give, it would not be really your gift."

"Well, what would you give, mamma?"

"Oh, whatever you like; but I know what I think would please him better than anything else. I do not think, though, that you would like to part with it."

"Tell me what it is, and see," said Archie.

"Well, then, I mean your bird; but you must do just as you like about it."

Archie's face grew very sober, and he had to wink hard to keep back the tears.

It would be too long a story to tell all that Archie and his mother said about it, and all that Archie thought. But when Christmas came, the linnet, for" that, it was, found its way, along with wood, flour, and a bundle of warm clothes, to brighten the home of the little lame boy.

And that Christmas night, as Archie sat in the twilight with his head in his mother's lap, she told him again that blessed Christmas story which every child knows so well,----about the angels and the shepherds, and the great Christmas gift which came to us all, that night, on the starry plains of Bethlehem.

"Mamma," said Archie, after a while, "I feel gladder all the time that I gave my birdie. I like to think he is singing and making poor little Eddie happy.

Don't you s'pose God sent him to me on purpose for a Christmas present?"

"Perhaps he sent him to teach my boy a Christmas lesson," said the mother, more to herself than to the child. Archie did not quite understand what.' she meant, but he went to sleep that night with his little heart full of the true Christmas joy of giving.




E. B. G.