THE STRANGER CHILD
BY COUNT FRANZ POCCI (TRANSLATED)
THERE once lived a laborer who earned his daily bread by
cutting wood. His wife and two children, a boy and girl,
helped him with his work. The boy's name was Valentine, and
 Marie. They were obedient and pious and the joy and comfort
of their poor parents.
One winter evening, this good family gathered about the
table to eat their small loaf of bread, while the father
read aloud from the Bible. Just as they sat down there came
a knock on the window, and a sweet voice called:—
"O let me in! I am a little child, and I have nothing to
eat, and no place to sleep in. I am so cold and hungry!
Please, good people, let me in!"
Valentine and Marie sprang from the table and ran to open
the door, saying:—
"Come in, poor child, we have but very little ourselves, not
much more than thou hast, but what we have we will share
The stranger Child entered, and going to the fire began to
warm his cold hands.
The children gave him a portion of their bread, and said:—
"Thou must be very tired; come, lie down in our bed, and we
will sleep on the bench here before the fire."
Then answered the stranger Child: "May God in Heaven reward
you for your kindness."
They led the little guest to their small room, laid him in
their bed, and covered him closely, thinking to themselves:—
"Oh! how much we have to be thankful for! We have our nice
warm room and comfortable
 bed, while this Child has nothing but the sky for a roof,
and the earth for a couch."
When the parents went to their bed, Valentine and Marie lay
down on the bench before the fire, and said one to the
"The stranger Child is happy now, because he is so warm!
Then they fell asleep.
They had not slept many hours, when little Marie awoke, and
touching her brother lightly, whispered:—
"Valentine, Valentine, wake up! wake up! Listen to the
beautiful music at the window."
Valentine rubbed his eyes and listened. He heard the most
wonderful singing and the sweet notes of many harps.
Thee we greet,
With sound of harp
And singing sweet.
"Sleep in peace,
Child so bright,
We have watched thee
All the night.
"Blest the home
That holdeth Thee,
Peace, and love,
Its guardians be."
The children listened to the beautiful singing, and it
seemed to fill them with unspeakable
happi-  ness. Then creeping to the window they looked out.
They saw a rosy light in the east, and, before the house in
the snow, stood a number of little children holding golden
harps and lutes in their hands, and dressed in sparkling,
Full of wonder at this sight, Valentine and Marie continued
to gaze out at the window, when they heard a sound behind
them, and turning saw the stranger Child standing near. He
was clad in a golden garment, and wore a glistening, golden
crown upon his soft hair. Sweetly he spoke to the children:—
"I am the Christ Child, who wanders about the world seeking
to bring joy and good things to loving children. Because you
have lodged me this night I will leave with you my
As the Christ Child spoke He stepped from the door, and
breaking off a bough from a fir tree that grew near, planted
it in the ground, saying:—
"This bough shall grow into a tree, and every year it shall
bear Christmas fruit for you."
Having said this He vanished from their sight, together with
the silver-clad, singing children—the angels.
And, as Valentine and Marie looked on in wonder, the fir
bough grew, and grew, and grew, into a stately Christmas
Tree laden with golden apples, silver nuts, and lovely toys.
 that, every year at Christmas time, the Tree bore the same
And you, dear boys and girls, when you gather around your
richly decorated trees, think of the two poor children who
shared their bread with a stranger child, and be thankful.
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