The Legend Of Babouscka





ADAPTED FROM THE RUSSIAN





IT WAS the night the dear Christ-Child came to Bethlehem. In a country

far away from Him, an old, old woman named Babouscka sat in her snug

little house by her warm fire. The wind was drifting the snow outside

and howling down the chimney, but it only made Babouscka's fire burn

more brightly.



"How glad I am that I may stay indoors," said Babouscka, holding her

hands out to the bright blaze.



But suddenly she heard a loud rap at her door. She opened it and her

candle shone on three old men standing outside in the snow. Their beards

were as white as the snow, and so long that they reached the ground.

Their eyes shone kindly in the light of Babouscka's candle, and their

arms were full of precious things--boxes of jewels, and sweet-smelling

oils, and ointments.



"We have travelled far, Babouscka," they said, "and we stop to tell you

of the Baby Prince born this night in Bethlehem. He comes to rule the

world and teach all men to be loving and true. We carry Him gifts. Come

with us, Babouscka."



But Babouscka looked at the drifting snow, and then inside at her cozy

room and the crackling fire. "It is too late for me to go with you, good

sirs," she said, "the weather is too cold." She went inside again and

shut the door, and the old men journeyed on to Bethlehem without her.

But as Babouscka sat by her fire, rocking, she began to think about the

little Christ-Child, for she loved all babies.



"To-morrow I will go to find Him," she said; "to-morrow, when it is

light, and I will carry Him some toys."



So when it was morning Babouscka put on her long cloak and took her

staff, and filled her basket with the pretty things a baby would

like--gold balls, and wooden toys, and strings of silver cobwebs--and

she set out to find the Christ-Child.



But, oh, Babouscka had forgotten to ask the three old men the road to

Bethlehem, and they travelled so far through the night that she could

not overtake them. Up and down the road she hurried, through woods and

fields and towns, saying to whomsoever she met: "I go to find the

Christ-Child. Where does He lie? I bring some pretty toys for His sake."



But no one could tell her the way to go, and they all said: "Farther on,

Babouscka, farther on." So she travelled on and on and on for years and

years--but she never found the little Christ-Child.



They say that old Babouscka is travelling still, looking for Him. When

it comes Christmas Eve, and the children are lying fast asleep,

Babouscka comes softly through the snowy fields and towns, wrapped in

her long cloak and carrying her basket on her arm. With her staff she

raps gently at the doors and goes inside and holds her candle close to

the little children's faces.



"Is He here?" she asks. "Is the little Christ-Child here?" And then she

turns sorrowfully away again, crying: "Farther on, farther on!" But

before she leaves she takes a toy from her basket and lays it beside the

pillow for a Christmas gift. "For His sake," she says softly, and then

hurries on through the years and forever in search of the little

Christ-Child.





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