Merry Christmas to all today. May the Lord bless and keep you as you celebrate this day with your friends and family.
Here's part two of our little tale. As I mentioned yesterday, it is based on a short story I read... and by short, I mean it was three lines long. I obviously used creative license.
The house looked asleep when he trudged up the front walkway. Save for the flicker of candle light he could see through the window, all else was dark. He wondered why the fire hadn’t been stoked—surely it was cold in the house. When he opened the door he saw why. There before him were his three girls, sitting silently around the table, staring at two spilled sacks. The sight of the contents of the sacks made his very insides still and silent. He was astonished. Gold. Gold enough to pay debts, buy food… enough for a dowry for his daughters—more than enough! He was without words. What is this? his eyes demanded as he looked at each of his daughters in turn, searching their face for an answer to the question he was too dumbfounded to utter aloud. They gave no answer in response to his silent, questioning gaze. They had none to give; his own astonishment was mirrored in their shiny eyes.
He turned out the door and looked down the street, both ways. It was empty. There was no one in sight, nor had there been for hours—there were no marks in the snow, other than his and those of the…. The old man turned back into the house, years younger with hope, and sat down with his daughters at the table. The family sat and looked at the treasure that spilled out of the sacks on the table before them. Mostly they looked at each other. They were at ease, at ease with themselves and their future for the first time in many years.
The next morning, the youngest daughter awoke early. Her feet were cold, despite the several quilted blankets she and her sisters shared. She slipped out of bed, wrapped herself in the top blanket, and hurried over to the hearth to stoke the fire and retrieve the stockings she had hung there to dry the night before. She poked around in the ashes and clumsily tossed on a couple of logs, trying not to let the blanket slip from her shoulders as she shifted back and forth on the stone floor in an effort to stay warm. She grabbed her stockings without looking and turned to race back to the warmth of her bed. The stockings tugged in her hand and then lightened suddenly. At the same moment she heard a small thud and then the sound of metal sliding over metal and the stone floor. She halted and looked down and there was a small bag spilling gold coins from its open mouth. She looked over to the table. The two sacks of gold they had marveled at in silence still lay there, tied neatly shut. Whoever threw the coins in through the window must have thrown a third in through the chimney. In their astonishment, they hadn’t noticed the bulging stocking when they stoked the fire to make supper the night before.
To this day it is unknown for certain who tossed the money bags through the window and chimney of that decrepit cottage. The whip of the wind had rattled the glass open for but a few moments, but it had been time enough and distraction enough for two sacks of money to find mark on the workbench that doubled as the family table and a third to get tangled in wet stockings by the fire. The widower thought it was the young priest, Pere Nichols, who had given the gold, as did everyone in the town. When asked of the matter, the priest would faintly smile and say nothing more, as he had done that night when he passed Lord Grimdon in the wind and cold of a late season snow. In truth, it could be that knowing who gave is not as important as the gesture, for it saved an early aging man from his misery and his three daughters from a life of poverty and shame and lonely old age. Perhaps, for those of us who take time to remember, it will, in some small way, save still.