GRANDMOTHER AND KAREN
HEN Frau Radenour
and Karen came back
to The Little Street Of The Holy Ghost and
drew near the corner where Karen lived, Frau
Radenour, who had carefully carried the money for the
candlesticks, now gave it to the little girl and with
a cheery good-by went on to her own home.
Karen hurried up the steps and pushing open the door went
into the room where Grandmother lay
 in her bed. Bending over her patient old face, she
kissed her, and then laying the ten francs on the
counterpane said, "See, Grandmother! Frau Radenour says
this will keep us in bread for quite a long time! And
you know we did not need the candlesticks."
Then Grandmother stroked Karen's hand and said: "Thou
art a dear child, Karen, and thou hast done well.
Grandmother is better now and we will get along."
She told Karen to go to a little shop not far away and
buy them some food, of which they had but a scanty
After their humble little dinner Grandmother felt so
 that she was able, with Karen's help, to put on her
dress and sit by the open window for a while.
In a few days she had improved so much that she took
up the lace-pillow again, and began
work. Day by day, beneath her deft fingers, the
delicate threads grew into white flowers
and frosty tissues; and Karen, sitting by her side,
learned to make a flower shaped like a little
hyacinth bell, and Grandmother smiled proudly and said
she would be a fine lace-maker. And then Karen tried
harder than ever to learn how to use the tiny bobbins.
Sometimes, through the pleasant spring days, they
sat on the doorstep and worked. There was
 a convent not far away where the nuns taught the
children of the poorer folk of Bruges. And often, as
Grandmother looked at Karen working so hard over her
little black pillow, she grieved much that the little
girl could not go to this school at least a part of
every day, for she wanted her to have a chance to learn
something; but she could not spare her. For though
Grandmother was better, she was not strong and could
not work so steadily as she had done before. Karen had
to help as much as she could about the house and in
every way relieve her, which kept the little girl busy.
Early in the summer Madame Koerner, who had returned
 Ghent, had Karen come every afternoon to play with and
look after her little boy, and, in this
she earned a little money, till Madame Koerner was
called away again.
But yet, in spite of all their efforts,
Grandmother and Karen had hard work to keep themselves
from want. And from time to time Grandmother's
tired hands would tremble so she would have to stop
work for a little while. And then Karen would have to
go again to the rag-market with Frau Radenour and carry
with her some one of their few possessions. In this
way they parted with the little brass coffee-pot
which, next to the candlesticks, had been the pride of
Grand-  mother's heart; and then, later on, went a pitcher, and even Karen's
pewter mug, and one or two pieces of the precious linen which
Grandmother had tried to store up for the little girl against
the time when she grew up and would perhaps have a home of
So, gradually, the little house grew more and more bare within,
though Grandmother and Karen still bravely struggled on, and
in one way and another managed to keep from the almshouse.
But though the little girl had to work so hard, she had her
simple little pleasures, too. Sometimes Grandmother finished
her lace for some one of the ladies who had seen her work at
Madame Koerner's and who lived in that part of the city. And
then it was one of Karen's chief delights to take the work
home; for she loved to walk through their gardens where old-fashioned
roses and poppies and blue corn-flowers bloomed, and snapdragons and
larkspurs and many other gay blossoms splashed their bright color along
the box-bordered paths, for Bruges has always been famous for her
beautiful flowers. And often when the little girl came home it
would be with her hands full of posies that had been given her,
and these brightened up the bare little house and helped make them
forget the many things they had been obliged to part with.
Though not all the flowers stayed within, for Karen
al-  ways took pains to pick out the very prettiest one, and
then with this in her hand she would lean from the sill
of the window nearest the little shrine at the corner
of the house, and there she would tuck the flower
within the little hand of the Christ-child's image. For
it did not seem to her fitting that the house should be
decorated within and the shrine left bare.
Another thing Karen loved to do was to go with
Grandmother, sometimes on Sunday afternoons when they
had a holiday, out to the pretty little lake called the
Minne-Water, which lay just within the old city
walls. Here, where the great elm trees cast their
dappled shadows, many white swans were
 always to be found floating about. Karen always saved
part of her bread on Sundays that she might have the
delight of feeding the lovely great birds, who would
swim up as she leaned over the edge of the water and
eat the morsels from her rosy palm.
"MANY WHITE SWANS WERE ALWAYS TO BE FOUND FLOATING ABOUT."
Indeed, it takes but little to give pleasure when one
works hard all week long. And as Karen bent over her
lace-pillow day after day, she would
dream about the gardens and the swans on the
Minne-Water till sometimes she would drop her bobbins
and tangle her thread, and Grandmother would have to
bid her be more careful; and then she would set to
work again and her little fingers would fairly fly.
 Day by day, up in the wonderful belfry, the silvery chimes
rang out the hours, till the summer had passed away
and the autumn came. Soon the starlings and cuckoos
all flew away to warmer lands, and in the open
spaces of the city the green leaves of the chestnut
trees curled up and fluttered down to the ground, and the
great willows, that here and there overhung the old canals,
slowly dropped their golden foliage to float away on
the silvery water below.
In the little yellow house Grandmother and Karen now had to
burn some of their precious hoard of wood even after their
bit of cooking on the hearth was done; and Karen could no
longer put a flower for the Christ-child up in
 the little
shrine of the house.
Indeed, as winter drew on, bringing with it thoughts of the
Christmas time, Karen said to herself sadly that this year she
would have no money to spend for the little gifts she so loved
to make. She remembered how pleased she had been the Christmas
before to select and buy the green jug for Grandmother and the
pretty porringer for the Christ-child. Grandmother had liked
the jug as well as Karen had hoped she would; and she hoped, too,
that the Christ-child had been pleased with the porringer—she
was sure he had found it on the doorstep, because it was gone the
 She wished she might buy presents for both of them
again, but she knew that even if some of the ladies
Grandmother worked for should give her a silver piece
as had Madame Koerner the year before, she would
have to spend it for the food they must have and for
which it seemed so hard to get the money.
There was one thing though that, poor as they were,
Grandmother felt they must provide against the
Christmas time; they must have their wax candles to
take to the cathedral even if they had to do without
So when the time wore on and the day before Christmas
came, just as they had done as far back
 as Karen could remember, they set out for the ancient
cathedral, each carrying a white taper to be blessed
and lighted and add its tiny golden flame to the
hundreds twinkling through the dim, perfumed
When the vesper service was over, and again they walked
slowly back to the little house, its steep
roof was powdered over with light snowflakes that
were beginning to pile up in soft drifts on the points
of the gable and to flutter down to the street below.
As Karen looked up at the little shrine hung with its
wintry fringe of twinkling icicles, and
at the image of the Christ-child within, she wondered
if the real Christ-child would bring her
 something again at midnight. And she wondered, too, for
the thousandth time, how he could bring gifts to so
many children in a single night, and how it was that he
did not grow very tired and cold, as she was then, and
she had been no farther than the cathedral.
But Grandmother said he did not feel the cold nor grow
tired like other children so long as they kept him warm
with their love; but that if he found a child whose
heart was cold and who did not try to obey him, then
he shivered in the snow and his little feet grew so
weary! Karen could not see how any child could help
loving him when he was so good to them all; and she
 that she had some little gift to show him that she
thought about him, and cared for him.
She gave a little sigh as they went in, but soon she
was busy helping set out their supper, and
then when they had finished, and put the dishes back on
the dresser, she and Grandmother sat by the hearth
in the flickering light of the fire.
And as they looked into the embers, they both saw
visions and dreamed dreams. Grandmother's
dreams were of long ago, when Karen's mother was a
little girl like Karen herself; while Karen dreamed
of the time when she would be grown up and able to
do wonderful things for Grandmother.