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The Observer
Rockford, Illinois
December 22, 1961     The Observer
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December 22, 1961

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PAGE 8A, THE OBSERVER , FRIDAY, DECEMBER 22, 1961 I RETOLD BY ANNE HEAGNEY (Anne Heagne is the author of a number of books and short stories for children. Among her b.~oks are SIMON O' THE STOCK, THE MARYLANDERS and the just publishedCHARITY GOES TO WAR.) . . It was the night before Christ- mas many years ago in the great castle of a famous nobleman. No lights shone in the mansion and no fires burned on the hearths in the lofty rooms. All was dark and cold and desolate. The owner of the castle sat be- fore the empty fireplace in the dining hall, his head sunk in his hands. Upstairs, his three young daughters had gone supperless to bed. Despite the fine stone palace in which they lived and the high rank to which they belonged, the nobleman and his children were desperately poor. His entire for- tune had been swept away some time ago. The nobleman's thoughts were centered upon his children rather than himself. Future Hopeless "What will become of my three poor little girls? he said to himself sadly. And, indeed, the future seemed hopeless. Unable go work and with no means to support them, they had nothing to look forward to. HJs pride would not permit him to beg the help of the other nobles and he real- ized that the worldly lords and hdies of his station in society would consider his family dis- graced because they were no longer wealthy. Lost in his gloomy meditatious the nobleman remained in his chair while the hours slipped by, unheeded. Outside the streets grew deserted and silent. Every- body had gone home. Finally, his head sank on his chest and he fell asleep. Suddenly he was awakened at J midnight by a strange sound, as before. Again he remained be- Someone had hurled something fore the cheerless empty fire- down the chimney. The mysteri- place until sleep overcame him. ous package lay on the empty Then a remarkable thing took hearth before him. He jumped up place. Exactly at the stroke of and looked wildly around. When midnight another Chirstmas par- he discovered the parcel he was eel was thrown through the chim- afraid to open it at first. Who ney and landed on the hearth. could tell what it might contain The nobleman jumped up wide I t came his fright and he cau.iously still dreaming. But no, there could reached out and picked up the ob- be no mistake. Here was another ject. It was a large ball, securely fortune, coming to him out of tied. It was heavy and gave out a the sky on Christmas Eve. chinking sound when he handled Others Helped it. Quickly he untied the string "Who among all the people I and emptied the contents of the know can be such a real friend ball. Imagine his astonishment and delight when he saw a pile of gold pieces! For a long time the nobleman wondered who could have done such a kind deed to him and his daughters. But he was unable to discover the identity of the un- known benefactor. The months sped by and after a while the no- bleman gave up all hope of solv- ing the mystery. In the mean- time his eldest daughter had mar- ried and he had been able to pro- vide her with a suitable dowry from the ball of gold. in need?" he wondered. "Why does he perform this kind act at Christmas time end in such e se- cret way? Whoever he may be, Cod bless him and keep him!" This time the count made care- ful inquiries and discovered that he was not the only person who shared the charity of the unknown benefactor. Many other people who needed help, especially the received mysterious presents while they were asleep on Christ- mas Eve. But nobody knew who it was that remembered them so generously. He must be a saint or an angel from heaven!" they ex- claimed. The following Christmas the nobleman sat before the empty hearth in the castle dining hall but this timehe did not fall asleep. He was determined to discover who the mysterious bene- factor really was. When the mid- night hour drew near he was trembling with excitement. Chases Stranger He was not disappointed. With a loud thump another heavy ball of gold came down the chimney. He did not wait to pick it up but ran as fast as he could out into the street. He was just in time to see the shadowy figure climbing down the castle wall. "Stop, please stop," he called but the unknown dropped to the ground and hur- ried away through the rear gate. Down the street after him ran the nobleman, for he'd made up his mind be was not going to miss this chance to solve the mystery. In the moonlight he could see that the stranger wore a long black cloak and cape which covered him from head to foot. Mystery Solved "Wait for me, friend," he kept shouting but the other only sped the faster. Suddenly he darted around a corner and into a door- way. The count plunged after him and caught him by the heel. The mystery was solved. He had captured the unknown! "I hope you are not displeased with me, sir, but . . ." began the nobleman and then be stopped and fell to his knees with a rever- little children of the poor, had ent gasp. He was looking into the '1'11 Never Understand' By JACKIE WALLER l a room for everywhere he met iMary had just had the Child and Snowdrops are the very first with the same answer, given more he had no proper shelter for her; flowers to bloom, often under the I or less politely, "Sorry, we have]neither had he any present to give noble, kindly face of Bishop Nich- snow, and this has been the case lno rooms left--we are full-up.' I her to show his love. Yet even alas of M-ra I since that first Christmas so long lThe poor man did his best to ex-Ithe wife of the poorest peasant "So it~was "ou m'" lord Ilag ,when Jesus was born. ]plain about Mary who was wait-lwas given some gift when her son ' Y ' :~ " I I" ba"~'"ne"~ that ;u~t before ling for him, tired and cold and was born might have guessed it could be r~ r'P= UJ O nnn~ ,thor " ~nrl h~= h~aan Siam ]His Birth, Mary and Joseph had needing rest because of the Baby Gift of Heaven " about to be bern But as ev r I to leave Nazareth and go to Be g th e yoneHe leaned a ainst a tree and be mering out his thanks and grati- " . . " . . " rude. lehem to register there. It was a said, it was no concern of thews, gan to weep, then heard a voice "Say no more, my son," the very awkward moment for them, Finally, however, an innkeeper say: "Why are you crying?" saintly bishop told him in' his but no one could disobey the Re- more kindly than the rest said to Turning, Joseph saw a small an- gentle, fatherly way. "I ask only man Emperor's orders so they Joseph, "The town is crowded gel looking at him with much sym- pathy so he explained his grief had to go. with strangers--you will never and sorrow. "Wait for me here,' one thing. Promise me on your It was a long rough journey find a room here. We are all turn- said the angel, "I will bring you honor never to reveal what you with Mary riding on a donkey ing away travelers. Better to take a gift." He then flew back to have found out tonight." which Joseph led along the rocky your wife outside the town where heaven as fast as he could. Secret Revealed road. When they arrived in Beth- there are stables in which But he forgot all about his mis- The nobleman eagerly gave his leh,~m' the little town was crowd- shepherds and their flocks take sion playing with the other little angels while on earth Joseph word but curiosity made him ask ed ~,ith people who had also come shelter. At least you will be out waited with patience. Fortunate- Bishop Nicholas what prompted to register. It had been very cold of the wind and there will be ly, St. Peter saw Joseph and said: him to perform his secret acts of aq day, it was snowing and a bit- straw for her to lie on." So Joseph "What is that man doing down generosity. "Tomorrow is the birthday of the Lord Jesus," explained Nich- olas. "My gifts are made for His sweet sake Who made Himself poor for our sakes." For many years the Bishop con- tinued his Christmas Eve custom and only after his death was the secret revealed. Long before then people knew that he was a saint and his example has come down through the ages as the perfect model of Christmas giving. His special love for little chil- dren combined with his secret visits of good cheer on Christmas Eve has made him the patron of childhood. How sad that so many American boys and girls do not know he is a saint of the Catholic Church whose feast is celebrated on December the sixth every year. ~tcr wind blew from the moun- bought food and took Mary to a tains, sheepfold outside the walls of the No Room Anywhere town. Mary breath.ed a small sigh of No Gift For Mary relief when they came to the That night Jesus was bern and town; at last she would be able His mother used her veil for to rest and get warm. But they swaddling clothes to wrap Him in, were not wealthy people--Joseph and laid Him in the manger on was only a carpenter. The owner some clean straw. An ox and an of the first inn they came to ass shared the stable with them, looked them over scornfully. De- and to warm Him when He cried ciding they would not be able to they gently breathed on Him. pay much he said to them: All this time angels sang about "Sorry, no room, and shut the the stable and the shepherds, in- door in their faces, for this inn- formed by their song came to keeper had no manners at all. adore their newborn King, Saviour Joseph was rather shaken but of the world, bringing Him humble he said to Mary: "Do not worry, presents. When they were all gone I will soon find a place to shelter!Joseph came out of the stable for us tonight. Just stay here and a breath of fresh air and to be wait for me." alone. But he was not able to secure He was very upset because with his story. God said the moth- er of His Son should certainly re- ceive a gift for His Birth. Im- mediately the snow where Jo- seph's tears had fallen was pierced by scores of tiny white and green hell-shaped flowers. Com- forted, he picked them joyfully and brought them to Mary say- ing: "My dear, here are some snowdrops for you; "She smiled to thank him and because the Child was crying Joseph held out a flower to Him. As the tiny fin- gers closed on the stem Jesus stopped crying, knowing the snow- drop was a gift from heaven. He smiled and, closing His eyes, went to sleep comforted nd content. Joseph and Mary looked at each other, very happy while the an- gels sang and the earth rejoiced, And Mary gently stroked the frag- there?" Then, of course, the angel ile flowers which had bloomed remembered and went to God for the Birth of her Son. Anothor Christ=nag There I was on the top of a Jyoung man kneeling by a bed of Again-itwas-Chrisimaseve and white snowy hill, waiting for mYlhaY eWhb g od tan cease the nobleman had come once master to come. All at once I llit :.~ .7 raSZl~ll~llkll~" ' . . I tie uaoe wire sort blue eyes r : KI~I I~lll more to the end of his money. His lheard some strange voices a~ovel t hat s-arkled and a dimnle on hi~' daughter's marriage had taken m white wool head~ I looked ~" ' :.~:.~-~ ,~ ~ CUI' " c1rr . ] Y Y Irosy-red cheeks. All a dlrlwIg ~IlW !he. grea!er portion of the mys:lup' and to my surprise I sawlBabe men were kneeling and termus gitt ana now ne was mcea~beautifu1 fi ~es fl'-a"n" ^ver '~'^ ~ rropnetstown, minois ] 8ua,u S I,u~=/stanuing, anti glt~S were pueu on wire me same nopeJess prospects stable One was holding an odd .- - -- Ss ~ ~.'~11 ~ll~.'~1~ll~S==~'~ ~----------~Y I sha ecl stick m ~ts hand the I me near. )~=~=.~11~,'~ ~ ~ ~t~ ~,l P " " " ; I have often wondered sineel I/others were making beautifuilWho this Child was and where HeI And on earth peace among men. ~; Ip A. I lift ~ U I~ I~ I~ ~ / sounds. I decided to run down and [ went Being only a lamb, I guess [ ~1~ "~take a litle peek m the stable Ill never unders an o,:~=~ o ~,n " " ]' " t d, I ~ldoor. I Linda Gitzke I of good will at the - ~i What a surprise it was to see I Ss. Peter and Paul school1 ' ~ng out the songs 2. ~, . . ~,~ ,~ El a pretty lady and a handsome l Cary--Grade 8 I ,end " Joyous Christmas Season. ~j and clearl May your ~~4 l/ Cd holiday spirits be ~ ~]~ ~/I (~2t,~'~':- 7 :"." - I/ / high and happy. " m I/ Ye shall find the babe wrappedin i li swaddling clothes, lying in a manger. And suddenly there was with the angel I " . a heavenly host praising God and say- ing, "Glory to (Sod in the highest, and Roman s F,ne Foods =,:: 'AT ",1/ will.' n earth, peace among men of good 213 W.shington Street Prophetstown, Illinois . i1 Across the years echo the words of ] the Christmas story, on inspiration, a promise and o blessing to oil mankind. At this holy, joyous season, we wish to oii our friends and customers a holiday rich in the spiritual rewards of Christ- mas, and a full portion of oil the good things that a happy Yuletide holds. PAINT COMPANY To all of you from all of us-a Christmas as full of warmth as the fireplace that makes you cozy on a cold day. ERIE STATE BANK ERIE, ILLINOIS "A' Name That Grouts With the Years" Member of the F.D.I.C. Rockford, Illinois Serving the Rock/ord Diocese /or over 30 years Lumber Complete Building Service Mt. Morris Phone 4-471 P t