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A CHRISTMAS STAR

from The Children's Book Of Christmas Stories





"Come now, my dear little stars," said Mother Moon, "and I will tell
you the Christmas story."

Every morning for a week before Christmas, Mother Moon used to call all
the little stars around her and tell them a story.

It was always the same story, but the stars never wearied of it. It was
the story of the Christmas star--the Star of Bethlehem.

When Mother Moon had finished the story the little stars always said:
"And the star is shining still, isn't it, Mother Moon, even if we can't
see it?"

And Mother Moon would answer: "Yes, my dears, only now it shines for
men's hearts instead of their eyes."

Then the stars would bid the Mother Moon good-night and put on their
little blue nightcaps and go to bed in the sky chamber; for the stars'
bedtime is when people down on the earth are beginning to waken and see
that it is morning.

But that particular morning when the little stars said good-night and
went quietly away, one golden star still lingered beside Mother Moon.

"What is the matter, my little star?" asked the Mother Moon. "Why don't
you go with your little sisters?"

"Oh, Mother Moon," said the golden star. "I am so sad! I wish I could
shine for some one's heart like that star of wonder that you tell us
about."

"Why, aren't you happy up here in the sky country?" asked Mother Moon.

"Yes, I have been very happy," said the star; "but to-night it seems
just as if I must find some heart to shine for."

"Then if that is so," said Mother Moon, "the time has come, my little
star, for you to go through the Wonder Entry."

"The Wonder Entry? What is that?" asked the star. But the Mother Moon
made no answer.

Rising, she took the little star by the hand and led it to a door that
it had never seen before.

The Mother Moon opened the door, and there was a long dark entry; at
the far end was shining a little speck of light.

"What is this?" asked the star.

"It is the Wonder Entry; and it is through this that you must go to
find the heart where you belong," said the Mother Moon.

Then the little star was afraid.

It longed to go through the entry as it had never longed for anything
before; and yet it was afraid and clung to the Mother Moon.

But very gently, almost sadly, the Mother Moon drew her hand away. "Go,
my child," she said.

Then, wondering and trembling, the little star stepped into the Wonder
Entry, and the door of the sky house closed behind it.

The next thing the star knew it was hanging in a toy shop with a whole
row of other stars blue and red and silver. It itself was gold. The
shop smelled of evergreen, and was full of Christmas shoppers, men and
women and children; but of them all, the star looked at no one but a
little boy standing in front of the counter; for as soon as the star
saw the child it knew that he was the one to whom it belonged.

The little boy was standing beside a sweet-faced woman in a long black
veil and he was not looking at anything in particular.

The star shook and trembled on the string that held it, because it was
afraid lest the child would not see it, or lest, if he did, he would
not know it as his star.

The lady had a number of toys on the counter before her, and she was
saying: "Now I think we have presents for every one: There's the doll
for Lou, and the game for Ned, and the music box for May; and then the
rocking horse and the sled."

Suddenly the little boy caught her by the arm. "Oh, mother," he said.
He had seen the star.

"Well, what is it, darling?" asked the lady.

"Oh, mother, just see that star up there! I wish--oh, I do wish I had
it."

"Oh, my dear, we have so many things for the Christmas-tree," said the
mother.

"Yes, I know, but I do want the star," said the child.

"Very well," said the mother, smiling; "then we will take that, too."

So the star was taken down from the place where it hung and wrapped up
in a piece of paper, and all the while it thrilled with joy, for now it
belonged to the little boy.

It was not until the afternoon before Christmas, when the tree was
being decorated, that the golden star was unwrapped and taken out from
the paper.

"Here is something else," said the sweet-faced lady. "We must hang this
on the tree. Paul took such a fancy to it that I had to get it for him.
He will never be satisfied unless we hang it on too."

"Oh, yes," said some one else who was helping to decorate the tree; "we
will hang it here on the very top."

So the little star hung on the highest branch of the Christmas-tree.

That evening all the candles were lighted on the Christmas-tree, and
there were so many that they fairly dazzled the eyes; and the gold and
silver balls, the fairies and the glass fruits, shone and twinkled in
the light; and high above them all shone the golden star.

At seven o'clock a bell was rung, and then the folding doors of the
room where the Christmas-tree stood were thrown open, and a crowd of
children came trooping in.

They laughed and shouted and pointed, and all talked together, and
after a while there was music, and presents were taken from the tree
and given to the children.

How different it all was from the great wide, still sky house!

But the star had never been so happy in all its life; for the little
boy was there.

He stood apart from the other children, looking up at the star, with
his hands clasped behind him, and he did not seem to care for the toys
and the games.

At last it was all over. The lights were put out, the children went
home, and the house grew still.

Then the ornaments on the tree began to talk among themselves.

"So that is all over," said a silver ball. "It was very gay this
evening--the gayest Christmas I remember."

"Yes," said a glass bunch of grapes; "the best of it is over. Of course
people will come to look at us for several days yet, but it won't be
like this evening."

"And then I suppose we'll be laid away for another year," said a paper
fairy. "Really it seems hardly worth while. Such a few days out of the
year and then to be shut up in the dark box again. I almost wish I were
a paper doll."

The bunch of grapes was wrong in saying that people would come to look
at the Christmas-tree the next few days, for it stood neglected in the
library and nobody came near it. Everybody in the house went about very
quietly, with anxious faces; for the little boy was ill.

At last, one evening, a woman came into the room with a servant. The
woman wore the cap and apron of a nurse.

"That is it," she said, pointing to the golden star. The servant
climbed up on some steps and took down the star and put it in the
nurse's hand, and she carried it out into the hall and upstairs to a
room where the little boy lay.

The sweet-faced lady was sitting by the bed, and as the nurse came in
she held out her hand for the star.

"Is this what you wanted, my darling?" she asked, bending over the
little boy.

The child nodded and held out his hands for the star; and as he clasped
it a wonderful, shining smile came over his face.

The next morning the little boy's room was very still and dark.

The golden piece of paper that had been the star lay on a table beside
the bed, its five points very sharp and bright.

But it was not the real star, any more than a person's body is the real
person.

The real star was living and shining now in the little boy's heart, and
it had gone out with him into a new and more beautiful sky country than
it had ever known before--the sky country where the little child angels
live, each one carrying in its heart its own particular star.





Next: THE QUEEREST CHRISTMAS

Previous: CHRISTMAS IN THE ALLEY



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