|Newspaper Title||Nepean Times (Penrith, NSW : 1882 - 1962)|
|Trove Title||A Christmas Angel|
It wm OhriatraM Bra; a oold, quiet niffkt. Y#f lardajr it had answed atoadily «]1 day j nowHatur#, htJlflf dulymadeand
fitted her new robe, was wearing it in lovely piece. The kitchen ak tlio Green leaf farmhouse was warm and snug. If the floor was bare, and the ceiling but big oaken beams, a great fireplace piled high with blazing logs was cheery enough, and the apples and cider were rather pleasing
—so Sammy thought. Grandpa, silent and sorrowful, Bat on one side of the fire—a bronzed old man with wiry white hair and beard. Grandma, with a neat cap over her silvery hair, knitted briskly on the other side ; between them was a fat dog, an old cat, and tow-headed Sammy on a stool,
" Goin'to write all night 1" said Sam my, in a melancholy tone.
The captain looked up. Ho was writ ing, to a ship-owner ho knew, for a place even as second mnte. That very morning he had been discharged from Captain Perry's employ for ever, besides receiving a cruel letter accusing him of all manner of baseness and ingratitude.
" I'll come now," said the captain, put ing up his writing ; then he took Sammy
on his kneo and told him stories of Obrist mas-tide—how God sent his angels down on earth to spread good cheer and hap piness all over the world to rich and
"Is Santy Olaus a angel ?" said Sammy, practically.
" A sort of one," said the captain.
" Which is the bost, him or the angels ?" said Sammy, thoughtfully.
"Well, I guess I'll pray tor the angels, then, ter bring me a sled," said Sammy, with some rolief ; " an' I'll toll 'em ter git yer a new ship, Uncle John. I'm a pitcher, yer know," ho went on gravely. "Grandma alius Bays littlo pitchers has big ours, when she's (ellin' what she don't want mo to know."
" You'd better go to bed now," laughed
tne captain, and when tlie tow iioacl was I quiet on a pillow and the blue eyes closed Ho fifcole into the little room off tne kitchen whepe Sammy slept, and laid, .wii.h other offering*, the lookecj-for sled at the foot of the bed. Than be went back to his writ ing ; later on, worn and weary with sor row, he sought his bed in tho attio, and fell into a troubled steep.
There was a wiphtv, rakish-sort of a moon that Christmas Eve ; it did not come out at all till midnight, but it shone brightly then, with a mellow, chenrful radiance. Jn fact, it was so brilliant in Sammy's rooiyi, that he plainly saw tho name on his oie4t " The Boss/' in largo, gilt letters. Sammy dreamed of the angels, with some vague memories of n Santa Glaus, but most of beautiful angels in white, flying everywhere. He thought that he met one, suon a lovely one, with real gold hair, and he asked her for the sled, and then for a ship for Uncle John— a great big ship.
Tap—tap—tap. Sammy turned rest lessly on Jiis pillow. Tap—tap. " For Uncle John," he murmured, drowsily. Tap—tap—tap. Hesprangup, wideawake. The moon was shining ; at the foot of his bed was a fine, blue sled. Tap—tap. Why, there at his little window was an angel—a real, live angel, with long, yellow hair, and all in white, too. The angel beckoned to him ; he started up, and ran to the window ; the angel was gd'ing down
thrt bath to tho harbor.
• " I've got tho »Icd," thought Sammy ; " but I never told her that I wanted a ship for Uncle John, I'll run after her,"
he said, talking to himself. " I will, nn'' git that ship for jUncle John's Ohris'mus, from Kpjr*"'/ 1 1 ' ' •'
He tugged his boot* qn oyer h>* bare, feet, and put his overooat on oVer'his nightgown. He must waste no time, for
Grandma might stop his going, for fear ho would get the croup. Then Uncle John had said angels seldom came to big folks, but always to little children like him,
Sammy crept out of the house, then away ho sped after the white figure that was wandering down to the river. He saw the angel quite plainly now, even the soft white fur on her dress; but, to his disappointment, he could see no wings.
"Angel 1 Angel5" he panted, coming up to her ; " I like you for the sled, thank yer; but Uncle John, he wants a ship. I furgntthat."
" Yes, yes," said the arigel, looking at him with wide, vacant cyes; " yes, aBhip. Dear John, it was so cruel. He shall have the ship. Gome 1 come I " she cried, piteously, seizing the child's hand. "Hurry; before they come we will get John the ship ; he will not blame me then
—not leave me to die."
" I'll go ! " panted Sammy, running through the soft, light snow, his bare legs almost frozen. " It's awful cold, though. I'm nigh froze, Why, there ain't no ship there 1 " he cried, in dismay, when they came to the brink of tho bay, whore the sullen, black waves, with shining tips of foam, beatagainstthorocks. " See 1 there's our cove; that's Uncle John's boat, he rows ter town—it's a mile an' a lmrf I That's our old dory there ; it's leaky —Grandpa hauled her up last Summer —full er cracks. Ain't no ship I can see
Tho angel looked out on the wild waters
with tho same vacant look that was on her
face all the way. Tho fierce wind coming up now against the tide boded a storm Where had that wind come from so sud denly ? Her long hair blew about her ; her snow-laden garments waved and flapped like a sail.
"Come! oome I" she cried, clutching the child's arm, " into John's boat See I
1 can push it oil' 1 It danuu* like u sea pull on the waves—it is a free, happy boat. Now J'll raw j I can iw, I oan fly j I am free now 1 Wo'U go there, away, nway away out!—never to come back. Never
She laughed, 4 strange, wild laugh, that echoed over the groat, lonely liavbor. Sammy, holding tight to the gunwales of the boat, looked at her with wide, frightened eyes. " But the ship—Uncle .John's ship I" he repeated, miserably.
•'"There!" she oried, tossing the flying hair from her face; "ahead, away out, ' bovond that yellow light; fhoro is the
" That's the ocean." said Sammy, j terror-stricken. ''Uncle John says there's I fearful broakors there—only one little
nnrrer channel where vessels come in. That's the lighthouse, Oh, Angel, I want to go bnoic, I'm so cold, and all the water is comin' in tor the boat 1"
His only answer was that mad laugh, singularly swo.'t, echoing above all the ronr of the water,' arid the wild moaning
of the wind.
Oaptnin John waked up from a troubled sleep. Some ono was pounding at the door. Ho had thrown Jiiniaolfdressed on his bod,
so in a second he was in tho kitchen. The door had been broken open, and Oopfain Porry, May, and a crowd of nun were in
" He has stolon my daughter I" yelled tho captain. " Scarch tho house I"
A crowd of inun rushed through tho rooms. John, troinbling and dazed, turned to the mnn that he knew best in tho throng, tho kind old village doctor: " For God's sako, what does this mean ?" he naked, I10 ralov.
' Afiss Mona!'" panted tho doctor, who ?eetqefc} to have run'all tfie way from town. " Slie was tak£n <Jeliriou» yesterdA^—
raved of you, I gave her a sleeping powder last niglifc to calm her. The nurse and I left the room a moment for medi ciries 5 when wo got back—wo had left her quiet, and, wo thought, asleep—she was gone," -
" Gone 1" cried John,
" The windows were open; Bhe must have climbed down the balcony ; she was barefooted, buthad thrown over liera white, fur-lined cloak. We traced her here— her baro foot-prints in the snow—bloody ones at the lost—to that window 1" (Pointing to Sammy's room.)
"Sammy ain't there 1" shrieked old Grandma Greenleaf ; " lie's gone, an* his little coat an' boots ; but the rest of hia
clothes is there 1"
" Was she delirious still ?" asked a by
"I can't tell," said the doctor, "I think so; her escape seemed like the
cunning of insanity,
John rushed out of the house. Pi*rry was close at his heels.
" For God's sake," monned the old mm. " tell me where she is—my Muiia! You shall have your ship again !"
"Fool!" cried John, a horrible fear choking him; " nee—see the double tracks, the child's and hers 1 They nre going to the river—to the river, man 1"
Oh, that half-mile 1 lb seemed ns long as twenty miles, and each mile a mountain
" The boat's gone—gone 1" shouted John. " They can't have gone in that on the awful sea. My dory that was hero is gone, Captain Porry 1"
Just thon a child's cry floated over the water, and they saw, rising on the crest of a wave, nearing the frightful breakers, that fretted the entrance to tbo harbor, a boat ; in it two figures ; then another j wnv; buried it from sight. While they | talked and wrung their hands, and the
crazed, stricken fat
her cried and pray ed, John Greenleaf worked with a sense
and purpose. Sumo
ran around theshoro to the t ow n for boats
well knowing their
race would bo use less.
" Two thousand
pounds to the man that rescues her !" cried May. 'Four thousand!" sobbed her father.
"Don't go 'n that . boat, John," said
the doctor, laying a restraining hand.
" For your poor old father's sake," cried the old man, hobbling to his son and clinging to his aim ; "you're all I've got in this world, John, my noble son, my brave lad. They treated ye mean—yo owe 'em nuMiin'.1'
In his quiet way John freed himself. "Perry will take care of you," lie s:iid, briefly. be fore they realized, In; wns olF. lie launched that frail dory 011 tho wild water, lie seized tho battered oars and r.iwed out to sea. Every eearn in the troiidioroiis boat let in a si ream of wat er, every wavo dashed its spray over the sinking sides.
"They never could have reached her from tho town," a lid tho doit ir. " See,' thoy arc not \ half way there. It's ^ a fearfully icy road
' and the snow is
deep, and it will take time to Ret a boat in town, as . most are laid up for i. the season. If he
: reaches her beforo <• they are at that 1 point, they're saved;
if ho don't, the breakers will bent tho boat to atoms."
'em,' said tho old ? man, brokenly. "If ii a man can, he can 'i God'll help him."
f This touched
Perry. Ho turned !/ and pressed the
(j trembling hand of
f his old-time sailor, v who whispered :
" An' God help ye, Gap'eu."
"She's rowin' straight for them breakers." said a
" By Jove, he's a magnifioenfc rower, though,"said youngMay. " What strength he has, what a grtat, strong sweep t I J never saw courage like his, in that boat I with the wind and sea ; but it's mad and
useless, if it is sublime."
Perry looked at the young man, daintily bred and effeminate, a child o£ wealth and position ; then he looked out to sea, at that black speck, hurled onward with a force that he himself or this young aris tocrat hardly realized, The strength of a man who has been bred to toil, the mighty strength of patient labor enlisted now to rescue and urged on by love—the woman ho loved was in peril. Thon it was Perry remembered how happy she was when John was with them ; how bright her smile when John told them stories of the sea ; how silent and grave she became I when he waB away; bo anxious for news
of tho Othello when there were Btorms. He recalled liow honorable John was when his child had tempted him as man never was tempted beforo.
"Fool! fool that I have been! " he moaned, olitnbing up tho steep cliff that walled in the little cave from the sea. He saw in the moonlight that the boats were near together, he Baw tho dory a mere lino above the water, and knew it was almost gone.
" He's thrown off his coat," cried the doctor j " see, he's swimming—swimming in that icy wator!"
" Ho never can do it," said May.
" lie can ! " Bhouted the captain, stung into fury ; "he can, for ho loves my girl, that's why, sir. He will save her !"
They watched' breathlessly, seoing so little, fearing much; Those few moments were an eternity, a lifetime to the waiting father. At last a fisherman, noareat to the edge of tlie Cliff, shoutecj : ' ''
" The boat's puttin' back, sir—comin' this way 1." t ; i «. , • \ i i ; t
Oh I that joyful about. It echoed out over the harbor where, drenched with icy water, worn and half frozen, Captain John was rowing back against the tide, battling every inch of the way. She lay, white and still like a broken lily, in the bow of the boat. He dared not look to see if she were dead, and shivering littln Sammy
screamed from the bitter cold
The moment the doctor hntl own the boat returning he rushed up to the house ; ho knew what would bo needed. At last the speck grow into outline, and shape, nnd then they saw the oarsman rowing Iris tireless stroke with steady nerve, with dauntless courage. Willing hands drew the boat to land, nnd carried Sammy to tho house, but the oarsman heeded them not. He lifted his white burden and strode over the fit Ids to his home. He left her only when the doctor said that sha was alive and might rccovor ; then he stag gered to tho door and fell in a dead faint,
* * • *
" It's a funny Christmus,'- said Sammy, dolefully, the u :-xt morning. I've got t> r stay in bed an' take modercine. I hate angels."
" But hero's lots of things that Capbrin Perry sunt you," said the doctor, who had heard tho angel story from his young patient, " aud you can got up this after
" Wliere's Uncle John ? ' said Sammy, relenting a little ; "rowed in that leaky boat, he did, an' lie told mo not tor, that it would sink, an' it did, but heswimmed,
"He's with tho angelI" said the doctor, smiling.
" I've got ter see him," said Sammy, firmly ; so lie was wrapped up and carried to Iub grandmother's room. Ho saw the angel, white and still on tho bed j near her was his Uncle John, looking at her with a faco that did not seoin to belong to his Uncle John at all, it was so passionate, so radiant with liopo and fear. Captain Perry stood near the door; he waved tlieni back, but the angel opened her eyes
at tiio noise.
" Father," she aaid, softly.
How still they all were 1 Her reason was coming back.
"Is John lioro ?"
"Yes," answered her father; "he is near you, close beside you."
• John went to her then and knelt bj> tho bed, Sho raised her golden head te his
" Dear John."
"You must not talk, love," ho said, gently; "lie quiet and get well."
" You will never leave mo ?"
" Nover, Mona," said hor fathor; " you will ba happy to hear your father say that; John is tlio only man in tko world I would give you to, l'.d is tho noblest and the bravest. The Prince didn't, come, Mona ; 1 was blind, and didn't seo that ho was
with us all tho timo."
41 Will Undo John git his ship?" put in S/immy's shi ill voice,
" Indeed lie will," s'lid tho enptain. following thorn out, "andall old Captain Perry has to give."
v.j " I guess," said Sammy, whon ho was retucked in bed wilh an orange and a picture book, " L guess she wasn't a Cliris'nuis angel at all, an' I guess she's Undo John's girl, an' I guess "
" You'd better not pieas any more right away," laughed llio doctor. " You'll find out'when slio gets well she's better thmi all this Christinas unguis your uncle John ijnulij toll you about till you get to bo a
" Alobbe," snid Sammy, sleepily ; "but I'd like ter know who brought nie that sled, though."