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Christmas In Poganuc
by [?]

“Why, Dolly, how came you out o’ bed this time o’ night? Don’t ye know the nine o’clock bell’s jest rung?”

Dolly knew Hiel well enough–what child in the village did not? She reached up her little hands, saying in an apologetic fashion:

“They were all gone away, and I was so lonesome!”

Hiel took her up in his long arms and carried her home, and was just entering the house door with her as the sleigh drove up with Parson Cushing and his wife.

“Wal, Parson, your folks has all ben to the ‘lumination–Nabby and Bill and Tom and Dolly here; found her all rolled up in a heap like a rabbit under the cedars.”

“Why, Dolly Cushing!” exclaimed her mother. “What upon earth got you out of bed this time of night? You’ll catch your death o’ cold.”

“I was all alone,” said Dolly, with a piteous bleat.

“Oh, there, there, wife; don’t say a word,” put in the parson. “Get her off to bed. Never mind, Dolly, don’t you cry;” for Parson Cushing was a soft-hearted gentleman and couldn’t bear the sight of Dolly’s quivering under lip. So Dolly told her little story, how she had been promised a sugar dog by Nabby if she’d be a good girl and go to sleep, and how she couldn’t go to sleep, and how she just went down to look from the yard, and how the music drew her right over.

“There, there,” said Parson Cushing, “go to bed, Dolly; and if Nabby don’t give you a sugar dog, I will. This Christmas dressing is all nonsense,” he added, “but the child’s not to blame–it was natural.”

“After all,” he said to his wife the last thing after they were settled for the night, “our little Dolly is an unusual child. There were not many little girls that would have dared to do that. I shall preach a sermon right away that will set all this Christmas matter straight,” said the Doctor. “There is not a shadow of evidence that the first Christians kept Christmas. It wasn’t kept for the first three centuries, nor was Christ born anywhere near the 25th of December.”

* * * * *

The next morning found little Dolly’s blue eyes wide open with all the wondering eagerness of a new idea.

Dolly had her wise thoughts about Christmas. She had been terribly frightened at first, when she was brought home from the church; but when her papa kissed her and promised her a sugar dog she was quite sure that, whatever the unexplained mystery might be, he did not think the lovely scene of the night before a wicked one. And when Mrs. Cushing came and covered the little girl up warmly in bed, she only said to her, “Dolly, you must never get out of bed again at night after you are put there; you might have caught a dreadful cold and been sick and died, and then we should have lost our little Dolly.” So Dolly promised quite readily to be good and lie still ever after, no matter what attractions might be on foot in the community.

Much was gained, however, and it was all clear gain; and forthwith the little fanciful head proceeded to make the most of it, thinking over every feature of the wonder. The child had a vibrating, musical organization, and the sway and rush of the chanting still sounded in her ears and reminded her of that wonderful story in the “Pilgrim’s Progress”, where the gate of the celestial city swung open, and there were voices that sung, “Blessing and honor and glory and power be unto Him who sitteth on the throne.” And then that wonderful star, that shone just as if it were a real star–how could it be! For Miss Ida Lewis, being a young lady of native artistic genius, had cut a little hole in the centre of her gilt paper star, behind which was placed a candle, so that it gave real light, in a way most astonishing to untaught eyes. In Dolly’s simple view it verged on the supernatural–perhaps it was the very real star read about in the Gospel story. Why not? Dolly was at the happy age when anything bright and heavenly seemed credible, and had the child-faith to which all things were possible.