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The Christmas Present
Once upon a time there lived a stocking
weaver called Paul Nicholas, with his wife and six children, three boys
and three girls. He did not have enough work to do and the family was very
poor. But, they were a happy family because they all loved one another and
helped each other. They never complained for money. Winter was the worst
time of the year for the weaver and his family. Everything cost more and
work was scarcer to find.
One winter, just before Christmas, the weaver
had set his heart on giving some little treat to his wife and children on
the merry occasion of Christmas. Perhaps you can imagine his relief and
joy when, just two weeks before Christmas, a merchant gave him an order
for as many stockings as he could weave by Christmas Eve. He hurried home
with the good news. How happy his children were! It meant that they would
have a delicious Christmas dinner and a Christmas tree hung with presents
for all of them.
Paul worked for long, hard hours the next
week and weaved a huge sackful of stockings to take to the merchant in the
town. When the time came for him to set out, he told the boys to fetch a
big fir branch from the forest for their Christmas tree and promised that
he would bring back presents for them all and goose for their dinner. They
watched him trudge off with the bulging sack over his shoulder.
It was a lovely winter day. Paul walked on
with his happy thoughts, hardly feeling the weight on his shoulders. He
stopped only once in his way at a farm where he saw a fine fat goose and
asked the farmer how much it would cost. He made plans to buy it on his
way back home for their Christmas dinner. When he reached town, he went
straight to the merchantís house. There he found to his grief and horror
that the merchant was not at home. He had left only an hour earlier and
his clerk told Paul that he must come back for his money three days later
when the merchant would have returned home.
The poor weaver was numb with dismay. He
begged the clerk for a small part of the money, but the clerk said he had
no money. Paulís heart sank as he thought of his hungry children waiting
eagerly for him. He took his empty sack and started back. How the day had
changed! The bright morning had given way to a gloomy late afternoon.
Clouds had covered the sun. He plodded along wearily with sad thoughts.
Night fell and the forest grew dark. Suddenly, some bright little lights
shining through the trees caught his attention.