SUSIE! Susie!"

But Susie didn't answer; she was sitting on a low footstool, looking earnestly at the coals in the grate, and did not hear.

"I say, Susie!" said her brother Ben, going up to her and laying his hand on her shoulder.

"Well, what?" said she at last, looking up.

"Do you know it's only two weeks till Christmas?" he said, throwing himself down on the rug beside her.

"Yes; and I was just trying to think what we would have, and what we could do."

"Can't have anything," he said crossly. "You know father's been sick this winter, and mother says it is all we can do not to run in debt now. What chance is there for Christmas presents?"

"I have a little money in my bank," Susie replied, "and you boys have some too, and Grace.

Now I was thinking how nice it would be if we could give something instead of always getting all the things ourselves."

"Capital!" cried Ben, "Let's tell the rest about it.''

So they went out to the wood_ house, where Rob and Will were piling up the wood, and told them their plan. The boys thought it would be just the thing, and when the evening's work was done, and their mother was in the bedroom with their father, they gathered in a knot beside the grate to decide what they would give.

"I haven't got much money,' said Rob. "I have only twenty-five cents."

"Neither have I," said Ben.

"Why not make something?" said Susie,

"Good," they all cried.

"You remember that piece of black walnut in the shop? I'll saw out a bracket for mother from that. Won't she be pleased though?" And Will gave a low whistle at the thought.

"Just the thing," said Susie. "What will you make, Ben?"

"I don't know. I've got some boards that I might make a workbox out of. Do you suppose she'd want that?"

"To, be sure," his sister replied. "Why, I heard her say just yesterday that she did wish she had a new work basket, for her old one was all worn out."

Will and Ben had a bench and a few tools up in the loft of the barn, and this they called "the shop." They had become quite skillful in using these tools, and there was hardly a boy in the neighborhood who did not have a windmill or something of the sort that had been made in this shop.

 "I'm sure," said Rob, who was the youngest of the boys, "I can't think of a single thing that I can do. I don't know how to use the tools, and what would I make if I did?"

"I'll try to think," said Susie. "And now Grace—"

"I know," said Grace; "I've been a-thinking.

Don't you see mother's kitchen apron has most got a hole in it? I know how to hem, and I can make another. I've got money enough in my bank to buy the gingham."

"Capital! Little sis," cried Ben. "Who s’posed you could do anything?"

"And I," said Susie, "I will make some slippers for father to wear when he gets up again, and I'll work a tidy for mamma's chair."

"I've got it, Rob," said Ben, who had been looking into the fire.

"Got what?" asked Rob.

"Why, thought of something for you to make.

Don't you remember how mother burned her hand the other day stirring the pudding with a spoon? 'Spose you whittle out a long-handled pudding stick for her."

"She'll like it so well, Rob," said Susie.

And at last they had decided just what each one was to give, and all how it was to be made.

Then, bidding their father and mother good night, they went to bed, eager to set to work on the morrow. Those were very busy days. There was much whispering and talking to be done, and many sly meetings were held in Susie's room, where they often went to show each other their work. They made things for one another, too. Ben was hard at work on a box for Susie, just like the one his mother was to have, only a little smaller. And Susie was also busy making wristlets, mittens, pen wigers, and such things for the boys.

It lacked but two days of Christmas, when Ben rushed in one day, and said, "O mother, mayn't we have a Christmas tree?"

"I have no objection if your father is willing; but there'll not be very much to put on it," she added, rather sadly.

Ben was out of hearing before his mother had hardly finished talking; and as his father was willing, he ran up stairs to find Susie.

"Susie, Susie," he cried, "we're going to have a tree!"

"Oh!" said Susie, stuffing a mitten in her pocket, and tipping over the workbasket in her haste.

"And I've thought of another thing, Ben, if mother will only let us do it."

"Well?" said Ben.

"To have Mrs. Bennett, our washer-woman, and her little girl and boy come up here to the tree. You can make him a top, and—"

"I'll mend our old sled and paint it up for him, too," said Ben.

And away they both ran to ask mother, who very gladly gave her consent.

Next day they all went to the woods to get the tree, stopping on their way to ask Mrs. Bennett to come up to their house. They brought home some dark trailing vines with red berries on them, and evergreens, to trim the parlor.

After they had set the tree up, they popped and strung corn for their mother to hang in festoons on the branches, and made little cornucopias of bright-colored paper and filled them with popcorn and molasses candy. Then Susie sent them all out of the room while she hung the presents on the tree.

In the evening their father was lifted into the easy chair and wheeled into the parlor to see the tree. It looked very pretty as their mother set the lamps behind it. Mrs. Bennett had not been forgotten, for their mother had put many useful things on the tree for her; and Grace, after several crying spells, had given her best doll to the little girl.

They spent a very happy evening looking at their presents and playing games. When their company had gone, and they were sitting around the fire, Ben said, "It's a good thing father was sick, anyway."

"Why, Ben!" said Susie.

"Well, I don't mean just that," Ben said; "only if he hadn't been, we would have had more money to spend, and wouldn't have known how nice it is to make things ourselves."

"I think," said Will, "it is the happiest Christmas we ever had."

"That," said their mother, "is because you have tried to make others happy instead of thinking only of yourselves."

The children were quite surprised when their father and mother said that they should prize the things that they had made for them much more than anything they could have bought.

And with the soft snow that was falling silently to the earth, came into their hearts a double portion of that "peace on earth and good will toward men" which the Christmas-time was meant to bring.




W. E. L.




“And she shall bring forth a son, and thou shalt call his name JESUS: for he shall save his people from their sins.

Now all this was done, that it might be fulfilled which was spoken of the Lord by the prophet, saying,

Behold, a virgin shall be with child, and shall bring forth a son, and they shall call his name Emmanuel, which being interpreted is, God with us.

Then Joseph being raised from sleep did as the angel of the Lord had bidden him, and took unto him his wife:

And knew her not till she had brought forth her firstborn son: and he called his name JESUS.”

Matthew 1:21-25