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THE LEGEND OF BABOUSCKA

*From "The Children's Hour," published by the Milton Bradley Co.

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.

*Christmas in the Barn.

HOME Teresa Thomas Bohannon
Author of the
FairyTales for Grown-Ups
Shadows In A Timeless Myth
A Very Merry Chase.

Myths      Legends     Beowulf
StudyWeb Award