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Dickens' Christmas Tales

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A NCJí upon a tituc, a good many year.s KlUH ago, there was a travcler, and hc f set out upon a journey. It was a Sföftp magie journey, and was to seem very long when he began it, and very .-hort when he got half' way through. Jle trayeled along a rather dark path f'or sonie little time, without meeting anything, until at last he carne to a beautiful child. So he said to the cbild, " What do you do here?" and the child said, " I ain always at ]lay. Come and play with me!" So he played with tliat child the whole day long, and they were very merry. The sky was so blue, the sun was so bright, the water was so sparkling, the leaves were so green, the flowers were so lovoly, and they heard t-uch singing-birds and saw so many butterflies, that everything was beautiful. This was in fiue weather. When it rained, they loved to watch the falling drops, and to sniell the fresh scents. When it blew, it was duligüttui to nsten to tne wind, and fancy what it s;iid, as it carne rushingfrom its home - where was that, they wondered ! - whistling and bowling, driving the clouds buíúre it, bending the trees, rumbling in the ehiuineys, shaking the house, and making the sea roar in fury. But, when it snowed, that was best of all ; flor they liked nothiDg so well as to look up at the white rlakes falliug f'ast and thick, like down from the breasts ot' millions of white birds ; and to see how smooth and deep the drift was ; and to listen to the hush upon the paths and roads. They had plenty ot' tbe finest toys in the world, and the most astonishiug picture books ; all about scimitars aud slippers and turbans, and dwarfs and giants and geuii and f'airies, and blue-beards and beanBtalks aud riches and caverns and foresta and Valentines and Orsons : and all new and all true. Uut, one day, ot a sudden, the traveler lost the child. He called to hini over and over again, but got no answer. iSo he went upon bis road, and went on for a little while without meeting anything, until at last he carne to a handsome boy. So he said to the boy, " VVhat do you do here?" And the boy said, " I am always learning. Come and learn with nio. " So he learned with tliat boy about Júpiter and Juno, and the Greeks and the Romans, and 1 don't know what, and loarned more than I could teil- or he either, fot he soon f'orgot a great deal ot'it. But, they were not always learning ; they liad the nierriest games that ever were played. They rowed upon the river in summer, and skated on the ice in winter ; they were active af'oot, and active on horseback; at cricket, and all games at ball ; at prisoners' base, hare and hounds, follow my leader, and more sports than Í can think of; nobody could beat them. They liad holidays too, and Twelfth cakes, and parties wherc they danced till midnight, and real theatres where they saw palaces of real gold and silver rise out of the real earth, and saw all of the wonder of the world at once. As to friends, they had hucIi dear friends and so many of them, that I want the time to reckon them up. They were all young, like the handsonie boy, and were never to be strange to one another all their lives through. Still, one day, in the midst of all these piouj-ures, the traveler lost the boy as he had lost the child, and, after calling to hiui in vain, went on upon his journey. So he wont on for a little while without secing anything, until at last he carne to a young man. So he said to the young man, " What do you do hore?" And thc young man said, "I am always iu love. Come and lovc with me." So he went away with that young man, und pro-cntly they carne to onu of tho prettiest girls that ever was seen- just liko Fanny in the corner there - and she had eyes like Fanny, and huir like Fanny, and dimples like Fanny's, and she laughed and colored just as Fanny does while I am talking about her. So the young man ibll in loye directly - just as Somebody I won't mention, the lirst timo he camo here did with Faimy. Wel!, he was teased sometimos- just as Somebody used to be by Fanny ; aud they quarreled sometiuies- just us Somebody aud Fanny used to quarrel ; and they made it up, aud sat in the dark, and wroto letters every day, and oever were happy asunder, and always wcre lookiug out f'or oue another and preteudiug not to, and wereengagedatChristmas time, and sat close to oue another by the fire, and were going to be marricd very soon- all exaotly like Somebody I won't montion, and Fanny 1 But, the travelcr lost them one day, as hc had lost the rost of his l'riends, atid alter ealling to them to come back, which they never did, went on upou hin journey. So he went on for a littie while without seeing anything, until at last he carne to a uiiddie aged gentleman. So he said to the gentleman, " What are you doiug here 't" And his auswer was, " I am alnn busy. Come and be busy with me I" .So he began to bj very buy with that ¦ gentleman, and thuy went on through the i wood together. The whole journey was , through a wood, only it had boen open and 1 green at first, like a wood in spring ; and I uow began to be thick and dark, like a 1 wood in KUiuiuer ; souie of' the littie trees tbat had come out earliest, were even turning brown. The gentleman was not I alone, but had a lady ot' about the same j age with him, who was his wit'e ; and they t had childrcn, who were with them too. j So, they all went on together through the Wüod, cutting down the treea, and making a pïth tbrough the branches and the f al 1 - ing lea ves, and cairying burdens, and working hard. Soinetimes, they carne to a long green avenue that opened into deeper woods. Thin they would hear a very little distant voice orying, "Father, father, I am another child !" Stop for mei" And presently they would eee a very little figure, growing larger as it came along, running to join thein. When it came up, they all crowded round it, and kissed and welcomed it ; and then they all went on together. Sometimes, they came to several avenues at once, and tbea they all stood still, and one of the children said, "Father, I am going to sea," and another said, 'l'ather I am going to India," and another, fcather, I am going to seek my fortune where I can," and auother, "Father, I ain going to Heaven!" tío with many tears at parting, they went, solitary, down those avenues, each child upon lts way ; and the child who went to Heaven, roïeinto the golden air and vanished. Whenever these partings happened, the traveler looked at the gentleman, and paw hitu glanee up at the sky above the trees where the day was bezinning to decline, and the sunset to come on. lie saw, too, that his hair was turning gray. But they never could re-t long, for they had their journey to perform, and it waa necossary for them to De always At last, there had been so many partings that there were no children left, and oüly the traveler, the gentleman and the lady, went upon their way in company. And now (he wood wasyellow ; and now brown ; and the leaves, evon of' the forcrf-trees.began to fall. So they carne to an avenue that was darker than the rest, and were pressing forward on their journey, without looking down it, when the lady stopped. " My husband," said the lady, " I am They listened, and thcy heard a voioe, a long way down the avenue, say, " Mother, i mother!" It was the voice of the first child, who had said, "lam going to Heaven !" and the father said, "I pray not yet. The sunset is very near. I pray not yet !" But, the voice cried, "Mother, mother!" without minding hira, though his hair was now quite white, and tears were on his face. Then, the mother, who was already drawn into the shade of the dark avenue and moving away with herarms still round his neck, kissed him, and said, " Mydearest, I am summoned, and Igol" And she was gono. And the traveler and ho were left alone together. And they went on and on together, until they catne to very near the end of the wood : so near that they could see the sunset shining red before them tbrough the trees. Yet once more, wbile hc broke his way amuug olie LlluuuIiiJB) hc Mmlui i„Oi i,ia friend. He called and called, but there was no reply, and when he passcd out of the wood, and saw the peaceful sun going down upon a wide purple prospect, he carne to an old man sitting on a fallen tree. 80 he said to the old man, " What do you do here?" And the old man said, with a calni stuile, "I am always remembering. Come and remember with me !" So the traveler sat down. by the side of that old man, face to face with the serene sunset ; and all bis friends carne softly back and stood around him. The beautiful child, the handsotne boy, the young man in love, the father, mother, and children : every one of them was there, and he had lost nothing. So he loved them all, and was kind and forbearing with them all, and was always pleased to watch them all, and they all honored and loved him. And I think the traveler must be yourself, dear grandfather, because this s what you do to us, and what we do to you.


Ann Arbor Courier
Old News