Jesus Christ

Mary and Baby Jesus
THE BABE IN BETHLEHEM.

The Little Lord Jesus

Away in a manger,
No crib for a bed,
The little Lord Jesus
Laid down his sweet head.
The stars in the sky
Looked down where he lay—
The little Lord Jesus
Asleep on the hay.
The cattle are lowing,
The poor baby wakes,
But little Lord Jesus
No crying he makes.
I love thee, Lord Jesus;
Look down from the sky,
And stay by my cradle
To watch Lullaby.
Luther's Cradle Hymn

Around the Throne

Around the throne of God in heaven,
Thousands of children stand,
Children whose sins are all forgiven,
A holy, happy band.

What brought them to that world above,
That heaven so bright and fair,
Where all is peace and joy and love?
How came those children there?

On earth they sought the Savior's grace,
On earth they loved his name;
So now they see his blessed face,
And stand before the Lamb.
Annie H. Shepherd.
A miracle

Water Changed to Wine

One of the first miracles performed by our Savior, was at Cana in Gallilee. There was a wedding there, and he and his disciples were among the guests. Mary, the mother of Jesus, was also one of the company. Before the wedding feast was over, the wine was all gone, and Mary said to her son, They have no wine. Then Jesus ordered the servants to fill six water-pots, which were standing near, with water; and they filled them up to the brim. He then said to them, Draw out now and bear some to the ruler of the feast. And they did so.

When the ruler of the feast, who knew nothing of all this, had drank of the water which was made wine, he said to the bridegroom, Most men serve out the best wine first, and after that the poorer; but you have kept the good wine till now.

John and Christ

John Baptizing Christ

When Jesus Christ was about thirty years old, he began to preach the glad tidings of salvation. About the same time, John the Baptist was also preaching to the people and baptizing them. He lived in the wilderness, and wore a garment of camel's hair, with a leathern girdle about his loins. He told of the coming of Christ, and warned all to repent of their sins. Many believed and were baptized.

Jesus also went to him to be baptized. John with great humility said, I have more need to be baptized by thee. But Jesus answered, Suffer it to be so this time. Then John baptized him in the river Jordan, and as he was coming out of the water, the Spirit of God descended upon him in the form of a dove, and a voice from heaven was heard, saying, This is my beloved Son in whom I am well pleased.

A child being blessed

Christ Blessing Children

Some mothers brought their little children to the Savior, that he might bless them. His disciples, however, told the women to go away and not trouble their master with children. Then Jesus, hearing this, reproved his disciples and said, Suffer little children to come unto me, and forbid them not, for of such is the kingdom of heaven. And he then took them in his arms and blessed them.

Should you not like the Lord Jesus to bless you, my dear little reader? Then pray to him and he will do so. He is the same kind friend to little children now that he was then, and he loves all who love and serve him. Try, then, to be good, and he will love and bless you. You will then be happy in this world, and when you come to die you will go to heaven and be happy with him in the world to come.

The Wise Men's Gifts

THE WISE MEN'S GIFTS.

The Wise Men's Gifts to Jesus

Boy Jesus in temple
WHEN the wise men went into the house they found Jesus there with Mary, his mother, and Joseph, her husband.

As soon as they saw him they knew it was Jesus, whom they had come so far to see. They fell down before him and worshiped him. They brought him rich gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh. These gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh were costly and useful; they must have been of great help to Mary and Joseph, who were very poor. These gifts from the wise men to Jesus showed their love for him. Those who truly love Jesus now will be glad to give of their money to help the poor and needy, and to teach those who do not know about him; and what we do for his sake he counts as done for him. But the greatest gift that we can give Jesus is the gift of our hearts.

While they were there worshiping Jesus, God was looking into the heart of Herod, reading his wicked thoughts. He knew that if the wise men went back and told Herod where Jesus was, he would come and kill him. So when the wise men were ready to go away, God warned them in a dream to go back another way and not to go near Jerusalem, where they would meet Herod. They believed God in this too, and did as he told them to.

The Great Commission

After the resurrection of our Savior, he appeared several times to his disciples. He strengthened them in the walk of faith; enlarged their power and commission; declaring to them, that all power was given to him in heaven and earth. Therefore he commanded them to go through all the world, and preach the Gospel to every creature, baptizing them in the name of the Father, of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost, and teaching them to observe all things that he had commanded them. Adding further—that he that believed and was baptized should be saved, but he that believed not should be damned. He promised them his continual protection—that he would be ever present with them, even to the end of the world.

Jesus and the disciples

On his last appearance to the apostles he particularly commanded them, that they should not depart from Jerusalem till they had received the promise of God, and were invested with power from above. That after the descent of the Holy Ghost upon them they should have sufficient power and knowledge, and have the honor of being his witnesses in Jerusalem, in all Judea, in Samaria, and in the farthest parts of the earth.

He then led them out of the city to that part of Mount Olivet which was near Bethany, where, lifting up his hands which showed the marks of his sufferings, he gave them his last benediction.

And while they were all in the posture of adoration, he was parted from them by degrees, taken up in a cloud, and carried triumphantly into the ineffable glories of heaven.

The Child Promised

manger scene, angel and shepherds
THERE was once a time when there was no Christmas at all. There were no beautiful Christmas trees and happy songs and stockings filled with presents. No one shouted "Merry Christmas!" or "Christmas Gift!" No one told the sweet story of Jesus, because Jesus had not come into the world and so there was no Christmas. You see Christmas is Jesus' birthday, and before he came, of course people could not keep his birthday. You have heard of how wicked and unhappy the people were long ago. Although God loved them and tried to make them do right, they forgot about him and did so many naughty, disobedient things that they were very miserable. Then God sent a wonderful message to them. He told them that some day he would send them his own Son, who should be their King and teach them how to do right. He said that his Son would come as a little child to grow up among them to love and help them. God even told them what they should call this baby who was to be their King. God said that Christ would be like a beautiful light showing them where to go. It would be as though some people stumbling sorrowfully along a dark street should suddenly see a bright light shining ahead of them, making everything cheerful and pleasant. They would be joyful like people who gather in the harvest. Jesus makes his children happy, and he wants them to shine out and make others happy. These people who were so unhappy before Jesus came, were very glad to know that some day he would come. They talked about him and waited a long, long time before he came and brought Christmas light into the world.
The world with God shining on it

The Wise Men Visit Jesus

wise men traveling

The Journey of the Wise Men

THERE were some very rich, wise men living away off in another country. God wanted them to know about his Son. He did not send angels to tell them; he took another way. He put a strange new star in the sky. These wise men spent a great deal of time studying about stars, so when they saw this they were very much interested in it. When they saw strange stars they thought strange things would happen. They had heard that the Jews were looking for Jesus to come and be their king, so they thought this star must mean that he had come. They thought very likely that he had come to Jerusalem, for that was the great city of the Jews. So they started on their long journey.
Wise men still traveling

They traveled on until they reached Jerusalem. Then they went at once to Herod the king and asked him where Jesus was who was born King of the Jews. Herod had not heard that Jesus was born, and when he heard this question he was troubled, for he was not born king—he had been made king. So he was very much afraid that Jesus, who was born King, would take his place.

He called in the Jews, who he thought ought to know, and asked them to find out where Jesus was to be born. They looked in the Bible and found that he was to be born in Bethlehem.

wise men following the star

When Herod heard this he told the wise men to go to Bethlehem and look for Jesus, and when they found him to bring him word so that he might go and worship him. He wanted to kill Jesus, but he did not tell the wise men so. They again started out, and they were very much pleased to see the same star still shining in the sky.

This star went before them to guide them to Bethlehem. They believed the star would guide them right, so they followed it until it stood over a house in the city.

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Shepherds visiting Jesus in stone building with bars on the window

The Shepherds Visit Jesus

WHAT would you do if you had been one of those shepherds to whom the angels brought the good news of Jesus' birth? I will tell you what they did. They left their sheep to take care of themselves, and hurried off to Bethlehem, for that was the city the angels meant.
Same picture as the last but as a drawing: Shepherds visiting Jesus in stone building with bars on the window

They went in the gate and at last found the right place. It was called a stable.

They soon found the dear little baby Jesus, just as the angels had said, lying in a manger, and Mary his mother and Joseph taking care of him.

The little manger was in the stable, and there the shepherds stood beside it and looked into the face of the babe.

Do you think the dear little baby had a nice bed to lie in? It looked like a block hollowed out. It was the box out of which the cows ate.

It was warm and soft, because his mother had put nice soft hay in it, and wrapped him all up with a long strip of cloth. They were in a stable because so many people were in the city that there was not a bit of room left. I think it must have been a clean place, with lots of nice, sweet new hay.

When the shepherds saw the baby they knew that he was really Jesus their Savior. They knelt at his feet and worshiped him. They were so happy that they could hardly say what they felt. They soon went away and told the good news to every one they met. They were very glad because Jesus had come. He came as a little baby so he would know how to love and help all other babies and little children, and be an examplefor them to follow as they grew older.

We are glad Jesus came, and we love to keep his birthday, because he gives us joy and peace, fills our hearts with love, and helps us to be good and happy here and to get ready to be happy in heaven.

God, our Father in heaven, sent to us this wonderful Christmas Gift. Think of the great love he must have for us, to give us his Son. Think of the great love Jesus had for us, that he could leave his beautiful home in heaven to come and help us and show us how to live. Let us thank him every day for his great love. "For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son" to be our Savior.

On the Way to Egypt

Traveling to Egypt

The Flight into Egypt

traveling to Egypt
WHEN the wise men were gone, God sent an angel to warn Joseph to take Jesus and Mary, his mother, and leave Bethlehem. He told him to take them to Egypt and stay there until he told them they might return. Why do you suppose God told Joseph to leave their home? He knew that Herod wanted to kill Jesus, and that it would be dangerous to stay there. If they went to Egypt they would be safe, for Herod had no power over Egypt. They would find friendsthere too, for a great many Jews were living in Egypt then.

Joseph loved God and believed him, so he proved that he loved and believed him by obeying at once. He did not wait until morning, but at once arose, got ready, and took Mary and Jesus and they started in the night for Egypt. They did not go to some other place instead. They went just when God told them to go, and went just where he told them to; and they were safe while they followed God's directions.

Jesus was soon safe in Egypt. Herod did not know this, and was still making his plans to kill him. He was a very wicked, cruel man. He was wicked enough to kill two of his own sons, so you see he did not care much about killing a baby.

He did not know just how old Jesus was, but thought he could not be over two years old. He did not know where he lived, for the wise men did not go back to tell him. But he was bound to kill Jesus, so hetold his cruel soldiers to go into every house in Bethlehem, even into the houses near Bethlehem, and kill every boy baby they could find two years old or less.

awful scene

So they went around killing all the baby boys. They would go into a house, snatch the baby out of its crib, or out of its mother's arms, and kill it right before her eyes. That was a sad time in Bethlehem; for many poor mothers were weeping for their children. It was very sad for the mothers, but the little boys were safe in heaven with God.

God was still watching over and taking care of his Son; so when at last Herod was dead, God again sent an angel to Joseph, telling him to take Jesus and Mary and go back to the land of Israel, or the land of the Jews. So Joseph again set out on a journey. But he heard that Herod's son was king, and he was afraid to go back to Bethlehem, so he went to Nazareth.

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The Coming of Jesus

LONG ago there lived a good man named Joseph, a carpenter of Nazareth, who built houses and made many useful things for people. He also loved to read God's Gift Book, and tried to obey its rules. One day the king of the land where Joseph lived ordered everyone to write his name in a book, and pay a tax, in his own city. So Joseph and Mary his wife got ready to take a long journey to their old home, Bethlehem. There were no cars for them to ride in, so they must either walk or ride a donkey. As the fashion was there, Mary wore a long, white veil which covered her beautiful face.

The streets were full of people, walking, or traveling on mules, donkeys, or camels—all going to be taxed. It was winter, but in a warm country, and they went through valleys of figs, olives, dates, oranges and other good things.

Traveling to  Bethlehem

They must have been very tired when they reached Bethlehem's gates, for they had come a long distance, and the dust of the road, the bustle of traveling, and the strangeness of it all, seemed to add to their trials. The people of Bethlehem had opened their homes and welcomed the strangers, until every house was full, and still the people kept coming. They could scarcely go up the steep hill, they were so weary, and Joseph tried to get a place to rest, but there was no kind invitation, no welcome in any house for them, and the inns were crowded. The inns were not like our hotels for travelers; they were flat-roofed stone buildings, without windows. There were no warm rooms with carpets, and soft beds for tired travelers to lie on. There were only bare floors, and everyone had to bring his own bed and food. The courtyard was full of animals—donkeys, mules, camels, sheep and cows.

After Joseph had tried and failed to get a resting place, as there was no room anywhere, some kind friend told him of a cave on the hillside which was used as a stable, and to this they gladly went. Sweet-smelling hay was all around, and the floor was covered with straw; possibly mild-eyed cows and gentle sheep were sleeping in their stalls. Along the walls were mangers, or boxes to hold the grain and hay when the animals were fed. Here Mary and Joseph found a shelter and a sleeping place; indeed, they were thankful to be led there to rest upon the hay. In the night a wonderful thing took place: God sent the baby Gift Child into the world. This gift had been promised long before to Adam and Eve, and now it had come—the most beautiful and dearest Baby ever held in a mother's arms. The night grew dark, the house-lights went out one by one, and the people in Bethlehem slept.

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Angel speaking to the shepherds
THE ANGELS' SONG

The Angels' Joy

THE happiest song that was ever sung was sung on the first and best Christmas of all. There was a time when there was no Christmas. Can you think how glad you would be if you had no Christmas, and then one day all at once you had the first and best one of all?

This song was sung and the first Christmas came one night long years ago, far over the sea, near a little town called Bethlehem. It did not come first to kings and great people, but to some shepherds who were sitting up all night watching their sheep.

Angels singing in front of the shepherds

Outside of the city were beautiful sloping green fields where the shepherds let their sheep run about and eat the grass. The weather there is very pleasant at Christmas time; not at all like our weather. The shepherds can sit out on the grass all night, watching their sheep.

Did you ever see a sheep or a lamb? Do you know that your mittens and jackets and nice warm dresses are made of the wool which the sheep have to spare for us? The shepherds have to stay out with the sheep all night because they are very gentle and timid animals. They cannot fight for themselves, and if they were left alone the wolves would catch them.

One night about 1900 years ago some shepherds were watching their sheep in those fields. Very likely the shepherds were some of the people who were hoping that Jesus would soon come; perhaps they were talking about him, and wondering how they would know if he did come.

Heavenly host before the shepherds

All at once a bright light shone about them, and they saw an angel and heard him speak to them. Very kind and beautiful the angel looked, but the shepherds were frightened.

The angel said to them, "Fear not; for behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people; for unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, which is Christ the Lord. And this shall be a sign unto you; Ye shall find the babe, wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger."

As the angel was speaking, the shepherds saw with him a great number of beautiful, shining angels. Then was sung for the first time this grand song, for Christmas had come. I do not know the tune, but the very words are in the Bible: "Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good-will toward men." Glory to God, for the greatest gift that ever came; peace on earth, for all who love this Savior.

As soon as the angels finished the song they went back to heaven, and left the shepherds alone.

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The Boy Jesus in His Home

Jesus in home

Jesus in His Home

Jesus in crowd
DO you like cold, dark, stormy days? How do you feel when you get up and find the sun shining in your window? You cannot help feeling good—some of it gets into your heart and makes you feel happy. You make us think of sunny days. Sometimes children are cross, and they make us think of stormy days. The gloomy, naughty, selfish child makes everything in the house seem sad. But how about the bright, happy, laughing, helpful child? When he comes into the room, it seems as if he brought some sunshine in. He is a sunshiny boy.

Do you know I am thinking of a boy who I believe was the sunshiniest one among all the sunshiny children in the world. Who was he? He was Jesus, the dear boy who was so ready to obey his parents. He started home with Mary and Joseph, perhaps telling Joseph all about how it happened that he was left behind them.

After their long, hard journey, how glad they were to get home! I am sure Jesus did all he could to get everything ready. First he helped Joseph bring in all the things they had with them, and Mary stood, at the door of the little house, looking at the boy she loved so much, and feeling so glad and thankful that he had not really been lost.

Boy Jesus working with Joseph in carpentry

Then when they were all settled and rested and Joseph had to go to his carpenter work, Jesus would do such little things as he could to help him, while Mary was doing her work. Joseph was a carpenter. What do you think he made? What tools did he use? Then I think Jesus must have learned to use them, too. Perhaps sometimes Mary was sick, and then I am sure he did all he could to help and comfort her and make her forget her pain. He would bring the jar of fresh water, bathe her head and give her a cool drink. If your mamma was sick, what could you do to be a blessing to her? I knew a little boy who was a real sunshine boy. When mamma was sick he would set the table for papa, and hand mamma a cup of tea, and give her a smile and a loving kiss. We can all do so much, and many other things. Think of some of them. You can pick up your toys and books and keep them tidy, without waiting for mamma to talk about it; you can always run to her with a loving kiss when you wake up and when you go to bed; you can be very gentle and kind to your little brothers and sisters; you can try every day in every way to make sunshine in your home—to make your home the most beautiful place in the world. Boys and girls who do that can make their homes next to heaven.

Boy Jesus working with Josheph in carpentry some more

Jesus did that even when he was very small. As he grew older he grew wiser and better. He helped Joseph more and more in his shop, and what he did not know, Joseph taught him.

He did not spend all his time in the shop, He perhaps went to school, for he loved to study. I think Mary loved to teach a boy who was so ready to learn. He would stand beside her while she read to him.

Boy Jesus reading scrolls in temple

He liked to play like other boys, but he always did the things that other children should do, so they would know just what was right. That is why I tell you so much about him. Perhaps children would not know just the right way, if Jesus had not been a boy and lived with his mother and loved and obeyed and helped her.

The Baby Jesus in the Temple

Baby Jesus before Simeon

The Child in the Temple

JOSEPH, and Mary the mother of Jesus, stayed in Bethlehem for a while. When Jesus was only eight days old he received his name; he was called "Jesus," as the angel had told Mary. It was the custom of the Jews to take their first son to the temple and present him to God, so Joseph and Mary went to Jerusalem to present Jesus to God in the temple.
Drawing of Jesus and family before Simeon and Anna

At the time when Jesus was born, there was an old man, named Simeon, living in Jerusalem. He was a good man and was looking and wishing for Jesus, the promised Messiah, to come. God's Holy Spirit had told him that he should not die until he had seen Jesus. Simeon went up to the temple to worship God every day. One day while he was in the temple Mary and Joseph brought the child to present him to God. When Simeon saw them he knew that the infant in Mary's arms was his Savior. He at once took Jesus in his arms, and with a heart full of joy he blessed God and said, "Lord, now lettest thou thy servant depart in peace." He had seen the Savior for whom he looked, and had nothing more to wish; he was perfectly satisfied to die, now that he had seen Jesus, the Savior of the world. When Jesus comes into our hearts we are satisfied, and not only ready to die, but we are ready to live and do with glad hearts all that God wishes us to do. The best way to praise God for his wonderful gift is to live for him  and lead others to praise him.

Different drawing of Jesus and family with Simeon

God's Spirit was upon Simeon, and he rejoiced to see Jesus his Savior, whom God had sent to his people. Do you wonder that Simeon's heart was full of joy at seeing God's greatest gift to man? Should not we praise him for it?

At the time of Jesus' birth, the world was very dark and sinful. People did not know much about God or what he wanted them to do. In Jesus, Simeon saw a great Light which would lighten the world.

Did you ever try to walk in a dark night where there were no lights to shine on the pathway? If so, you were sure to go the wrong road, or to stumble and fall. While you were walking in the darkness, did a great electric light suddenly shine out, making all light about you? So into the dark lives of the people Jesus came to be a Light. We are sure that Jesus is a Light to us and to all the world. He lived a holy life, so he made a right path for us to follow. He showed us how to live and how to die, so that we may live forever in heaven. If we take his love into our hearts and do as he tells us, we shall walk in the light. Just as a railway locomotive runs in the great light from the lamp that sends its bright rays along the track, so Jesus dwelling in our hearts shines his light just where we are to travel—that is, he tells us by his Spirit and by his Word how we are to act and what we are to do.

Simeon, Jesus, Mary and Anna

While Mary and Joseph and Jesus were yet in the temple, Anna, a prophetess, came in and saw Jesus. Then she, too, praised the Lord because Jesus had come to be a Light to the world. She told the people that Jesus was the Son of God who had come into this world to live in our hearts and be our Light. Jesus in our hearts is like a torchlight which we carry with us always, and which never goes out, but gives us light wherever we go. We follow this light when we do the things that Jesus taught us to do, and when we follow the example that he left us.

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Crucifixion of Our Savior

Our blessed Savior, having passed a life of piety and virtue, amply illustrated by the doctrines he had taught and practised, and the benefits rendered mankind, was at length betrayed by Judas Iscariot into the hands of the Jewish High Priest and Council, whose hatred and malice against him were without bounds, as the truths he had proclaimed were but faithful commentaries on the vice and wickedness of their own characters.

He was tried and condemned—though his judge declared that he found no fault in him,—his body mangled with whips, and a wreath of thorns pressed upon his head as a mock crown. They spit upon him, taunted him, smote him on the crown with staves, that it might wound the more deeply, till his head, face, and body were bathed in blood.

In this situation, condemned and abandoned by the world he came to save, the heavy cross was laid upon his shoulders, and he was conducted in public through the city.

The crucifixion

Passing the gates, he was brought to a place called Golgotha and Calvary, the place of execution for the city. His clothes were then stripped off, his body stretched out, and his hands and his feet nailed to the cross, which was then lifted up. Over his head the inscription was placed by Pilate, "Jesus of Nazareth the King of the Jews ," in three different languages, Hebrew, Greek, and Latin, in order that strangers might know for what he suffered. With this inscription the Jews were offended, and wished it altered. But Pilate replied that what he had written should stand good.

While our Savior hung thus languishing in torment on the cross, the multitude around strove to add to his misery by reviling speeches and horrid blasphemies. Some nodded their heads and cried, "If you be the Son of God, come down from the cross." The priests and rulers scoffed in like manner, "He saved others, but himself he cannot save." The blessed Savior replied not, but lifted up his eyes and prayed for his enemies, "Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do."

Nay, even one of the thieves who were crucified, one on each side of him, derided and urged him to save himself and them, if he was the Messiah. But his fellow criminal acknowledging the justice of their condemnation, and the entire innocence of Christ, seriously rebuked him, and looking upon Jesus with humble reliance, cried "Lord remember me when thou comest into thy kingdom." The Lord rewarded his great faith, embraced him with the arms of mercy, and assured him, that "that very day he should be with him in Paradise."

His mortal agonies became now unutterable. His enemies still mocked him with their bitter taunts and revilings; they gave him vinegar to allay his burning thirst. He tasted thereof, and feeling the pangs of death, he cried, "all is accomplished.—Father, into thy hands I commend my spirit;" and meekly bowing his head, he expired.

His death was accompanied by a terrible earthquake. Rocks were shattered, graves were opened, and the veil of the temple torn in two parts. In short, the whole face of nature seemed changed. The sun was so shadowed that the stars appeared. The eclipse was awful, and the miraculous darkness universal, having been recorded by many even of the Pagan writers. It continued for three hours, during which time all things were full of terror.—Many who saw and heard were converted, and cried "Truly this is the Son of God."

The body of our Savior having been buried, by one of his friends, in a new tomb hewn out of a rock, the Jews and rulers went to Pilate and told him, that this impostor having declared within his life time that he would rise again within three days, they wished the sepulchre kept under a strong guard until the third day, lest his disciples should come by night and steal the body, and then persuade the people that he had risen from the dead. They procured the desired guard, and secured the tomb, setting a seal upon the stone. Vain precaution!—The prophecy was fulfilled. The Savior burst from the tomb, and rose triumphant to the bosom of his Father which is in heaven.

The Boy Jesus in the Temple

Boy Jesus in temple

Jesus in the Temple

WHEN Jesus was a very little baby, his mother took him to the temple, their church, and gave him to the Lord. I suppose they wrote down his name, as we do our Cradle Roll babies. If they did, I think we may call Jesus a Cradle Roll baby. I am sure that Mary and Joseph did all they could to help the baby to grow up a good, wise, loving boy. The dear little babies do not stay babies long; then their toys go and they want books, for they must learn a great deal before they are grown-up men and women. So Jesus' toys were soon put away, and he began to study just as you do. He grew bigger and stronger every day. At last he was as big as you; then bigger, until he was as big as your brother or sister.
Family traveling

Do you know someone who is twelve years old? At last Jesus got to be so old. At that age a boy was no longer a Cradle Roll baby, nor even a child. Jesus' mother said that now he could go with her and Joseph and their friends when they went up to Jerusalem to church. Did you ever go on a journey? How did you go? On the cars. Were you glad to go? You got tired, I know. A picture of Joseph and Mary and Jesus on their way to Jerusalem would show you that they all walked. It was a long, hard journey, for they not only had to walk all the way, but they had to carry all their bundles. They went in a company, so they had a nice time talking with their friends as they walked. Then when tired or hungry, they would stop by the way in the shade of some great rocks—for in that land rocks are found oftener than shade trees.

You can make a picture of this journey in your mind. Think of the wall of the city of Jerusalem and the open gate; inside the wall is the church, or temple; there is a road of sand, and on both sides of the road are a few trees and a good many rocks.

At last they all reached the city, and slept and rested and ate their food, then bathed and dressed in their best clothes, and went to the temple to worship God and hear about his law out of the Bible.

All this was very wonderful and beautiful to Jesus. He began to understand that God was his Father, and that he had some very great work to do in the world. He was so interested that when it was time to start for home he stayed after all the rest left, and went back to the temple. Perhaps he had been allowed to go by himself and did not know they had started home.

Mary did not miss Jesus for some time. She thought he was with his young friends having a good time. At last she became frightened, for she found that he was not with any of these friends. Oh, how frightened she was! Her beautiful boy that she loved more than her own life, was lost! I once knew of a very lovely boy who was lost all night. How his mother cried, and how we looked for him all night! In the morning his mother was the one to find him, then her sorrow was changed to joy.

Jesus teaching in temple

Mary and Joseph left their friends and went back to the city. In her heart Jesus' mother knew where to look for him. Can you think where he was? They found him in the temple talking with the teachers. They were talking about God's law. They had their books, reading and studying together. These books were made of strips of parchment or paper fastened at both ends to round sticks and rolled up.

Jesus found in temple by his parents

When Jesus saw his mother and knew how she had grieved about him, he left the teachers at once and went back home with her and Joseph. He told them that he knew God was his Father, and that he must be about his work. But quickly and lovingly he obeyed his mother and went with her, even though he longed to stay.

Do you think Jesus was about his heavenly Father's business when he obeyed Mary and Joseph and went home so lovingly with them? He surely was, for some of his work that he came to earth to do was to show children how to treat their parents. One of the great laws of God is, "Children, obey your parents."

Jesus loved to be in the temple, but he quickly and cheerfully went home with his mother and Joseph. I think that as he and his parents were with many of their dear friends, he was allowed to go around among them and with them when they went to the temple, so when his parents left he perhaps did not really know when his mother started. Do you think she was careless to go off and leave him? No, I am sure she was not; she no doubt thought he was coming along with his aunts or cousins or his little friends in the company.

Early Life of the Savior

Nearly six thousand years ago the first man and the first woman were formed, out of the dust of the ground. Their names were Adam and Eve. They were placed in a very pleasant and beautiful garden, called Eden, where they had every thing they could wish; and were permitted by God to eat of the fruit of all the trees in the garden, except one.

"One tree that in the midst was placed,God bade them not to take;But ah! the fruit they dared to taste,And his commandment break."

In an evil hour they listened to the temptations of the serpent—the great enemy of mankind—and ate of the forbidden fruit. Then God was angry with them, and sent his Angel to drive them out of the garden, to a place where thorns and thistles covered the ground, and they were obliged to work hard for a living. God cursed the ground for their sake, but at the same time he promised that "the seed of the woman should bruise the serpent's head."

This promise was fulfilled by Jesus Christ, the Son of God, who came into the world and suffered and died to save men from the consequences of the first man's disobedience. I will now tell you something about this wonderful event.

A little more than eighteen hundred years ago, as some shepherds were taking care of their sheep by night on the hills of Palestine, an angel of the Lord came to them, and the glory of the Lord shone round about them: and they were very much afraid. But the angel told them not to fear, for he brought them good news: "For unto you is born this day, in the city of David, a Savior which is Christ the Lord."

And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host, praising God, and saying, "Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will towards men."

As soon as the angels were gone, the shepherds went to Bethlehem, to see the Savior that God had so wonderfully made known to them. They found his reputed father with his mother, Mary, and the babe lying in a manger: "because there was no room for him in the inn." The shepherds then went to their homes praising God, and telling every one they saw of the new-born Savior.

Sometime afterwards, a wonderful star was seen by some wise men in the country east of Judea; and they concluded that it must be a sign that the long expected Messiah was born. They therefore went at once to Jerusalem, where they inquired for the "king of the Jews," stating that they had seen his star in the east, and were come to worship him.

Herod was the king of Judea at this time: and when he heard of the new king, he was very much troubled, and the people were also troubled, not knowing what to expect. Herod made particular inquires about the place where it was expected Christ would be born: and when he found that it was at Bethlehem, he sent the wise men there, telling them to bring him word when they had found him, that he might go and worship him too.

So the wise men went to Bethlehem: and the star which they had seen in the east went before them till it came and stood over the place where the infant Savior was. They were glad when they saw this: and when they came into the house and found Jesus and his mother, they fell down on their faces and worshiped him. Then they made him many presents of money, and rich spices which were found in their country.

When the wise men were ready to return, the angel of the Lord appeared to them, and told them not to go back to Herod, as he had directed. So they went to their home by another way. The angel also appeared in a dream to Joseph, and told him to take the child and his mother, and flee into Egypt; and Joseph did as the angel had said.

Herod was a cruel, wicked man, and was afraid if Jesus grew up, he would be king of the Jews instead of him; so he intended to kill him while a little child. But when he found the wise men would not tell him where to find him, he sent his soldiers to Bethlehem, and ordered them to kill all the children under two years old, hoping in this way to come at Jesus: but the Lord had before provided for his safety, by sending him to Egypt.

When Herod was dead, Jesus returned with his parents from Egypt, and went to live in the city of Nazareth. Joseph was a carpenter, and we are told that when Jesus was old enough he worked with him at the same trade. The Bible tells us he grew in stature, and in favor both with God and man: and that he lived with his parents, and was subject to them, or did as they wished to have him. Thus he set an example of obedience to parents which every child should follow.

When he was twelve years old, he went with them to Jerusalem to the feast of the passover; and after the close of the ceremonies, when they were going home, they found Jesus was not with them. So they returned to look for him and found him in the temple sitting in the midst of the learned men, hearing them and asking them questions; so that they were astonished at his knowledge.

Jesus and his mother in a temple

When his mother told him they had been looking for him, sorrowing, he replied, "How is it that ye sought me? Knew ye not that I must be about my Father's business?"

There was a law among the Jews that no one should be a public teacher, or minister, till he was thirty years old. Jesus wished to show respect to the laws of his country, and therefore we may suppose he continued to work as a carpenter till he was of that age. He was then baptized in the river Jordan by his forerunner, John the Baptist, and commenced choosing his disciples and preaching the gospel.

The story of his life after this time,—how he went about teaching the people, though they often abused him; how he gave them food when they were hungry, though he had not where to lay his head, healed the sick, and in every way returned good for evil to his ungrateful countrymen, for three years, till they cruelly put him to death,—is told at large in the New Testament, where we hope all our young readers will read it again and again, with earnest attention. They will find it a very interesting narrative, and in it instructions capable of making them wise unto salvation.

When Jesus Christ Wandered on Earth

1

One day the Madonna was carrying the Bambino through a lupin-field, and the stalks of the lupins rustled so, that she thought it was a robber coming to kill the Santo Bambino.1  She turned, and sent a malediction over the lupin-field, and immediately the lupins all withered away and fell flat and dry on the ground, so that she could see there was no one hidden there. When she saw there was no one hidden there, she sent a benediction over the lupin-field, and the lupins all stood up straight again, fair and flourishing, and with tenfold greater produce than they had at the first.

2

One day when Jesus Christ was grown up, and went about preaching, He came to a certain village and knocked at the first door, and said, ‘Give me a lodging.'2  But the master of the house shut the door in his face, saying, ‘Here is nothing for you.' He came to the next house, and received the same answer; and the next, and the next, no one in all the village would take Him in. Weary and footsore, He came to the cottage of a poor little old woman, who lived all alone on the outskirts, and knocked there. ‘Who is there?'3  asked the old woman. ‘The Master with the Apostles,' answered Jesus Christ. The old woman opened the door, and let them all in. ‘Have you no fire?' asked Jesus Christ. ‘No fire have I,' answered the old woman. Then Jesus Christ blessed the hearth, and there came a pile of wood on it, and a fire was soon made. ‘Have you nothing to give us to eat?' asked Jesus Christ. ‘Nothing worth offering you,' answered the old woman; ‘here is a little fish' (it was a little fish, that, not so long as my hand) ‘and some crusts of bread, which they gave me at the eating-shop in charity just now, and that's all I have;' and she set both on the table. ‘Have you no wine?' again asked Jesus Christ. ‘Only this flask of wine and water they gave me there, too;' and she set it before Him.

Then Jesus Christ blessed all the things, and handed them round the table, and they all dined off them, and at the end there remained just the same as at the beginning. When they had finished, He said to the old woman, ‘This fire, with the bread, and the fish, and the wine, will always remain to you, and never diminish as long as you live. And now follow Me a little way.'

The Master went on before with His Apostles, and the old woman followed after, a little way behind. And behold, as they walked along, all the houses of that inhospitable village fell down one after the other, and all the inhabitants were buried under them. Only the cottage of the old woman was left standing. When the judgment was complete, Jesus Christ said to her, ‘Now, return home.'4

As she turned to go, St. Peter said to her, ‘Ask for the salvation of your soul.' And she went and asked it of Jesus Christ, and He replied, ‘Let it be granted you!'

3

One day as He was going into the Temple, He saw two men quarrelling before the door: a young man and an old man. The young man wanted to go in first, and the old man was vindicating the honour of his grey hairs.

‘What is the matter?' asked Jesus Christ; and they showed Him wherefore they strove.

Jesus Christ said to the young man, ‘If you are desirous to go in first, you must accept the state to which honour belongs,' and He touched him, and he became an old man, bowed in gait, feeble, and grey-haired, while to the old man He gave the compensation for the insult he had received, by investing him with the youth of the other.

4

In the days when Jesus Christ roamed the earth, He found Himself one day with His disciples in the Campagna, far from anything like home. The only shelter in sight was a cottage of wretched aspect. Jesus Christ knocked at the door.

‘Who is there?' said a tremulous voice from within.

‘The Master with the disciples,' answered Jesus Christ. The man didn't know what He meant; nevertheless, the tone was too gentle to inspire fear, so he opened, and let them all in.

‘Have you no fire to give us?' asked Jesus Christ.

‘I'm only a poor beggar. I never have any fire,' said the man.

‘But these poor things,' said Jesus Christ, ‘are stiff with cold and weariness; they must have a fire.'

Then Jesus Christ stood on the hearth, and blessed it, and there came a great blazing fire of heaped-up wood. When the beggar saw it, he fell on his knees in astonishment.

‘Have you no food to set before us?' asked Jesus Christ.

‘I have one loaf of Indian corn,5  which is at your service,' answered the beggar.

‘One loaf is not enough,' answered Jesus Christ; ‘have you nothing else at all?'

‘Nothing at all about the place that can be eaten,' answered the beggar. ‘Leastwise, I have one ewe, which is at your service.'

‘That will do,' answered Jesus Christ; and he sent St. Peter to help the man to prepare it for dressing.

‘Here is the mutton,' said the beggar; ‘but I cannot cook it, because I have no lard.'6

‘Look!' said Jesus Christ.

The beggar looked on the hearth, and saw everything that was necessary ready for use.

‘Now, then, bring the wine and the bread,' said Jesus Christ, when the meat was nearly ready.

‘There is the only loaf I have,' said the beggar, setting the polenta loaf on the table; ‘but, as for wine, I never see such a thing.'

‘Is there none in the cellar?' asked Jesus Christ.

‘In the cellar are only a dozen empty old broken wine-jars that have been there these hundred years; they are well covered with mould.' Jesus Christ told St. Peter to go down and see, and when he went down with the beggar, there was a whole ovenful of fresh-baked bread boiling hot,7  and beyond, in the cellar, the jars, instead of being broken and musty, were all standing whole and upright, and filled with excellent wine.

‘See how you told us falsely,' said St. Peter, to tease him.

‘Upon my word, it was even as I said, before you came.'

‘Then it is the Master who has done these wonderful things,' answered St. Peter. ‘Praise Him!'

Now the meat was cooked and ready, and they all sat down to table; but Jesus Christ took a bowl and placed it in the midst of the table and said, ‘Let all the bones be put into this bowl;' and when they had finished he took the bones and threw them out of the window, and said, ‘Behold, I give you an hundred for one.' After that they all laid them down and slept.

In the morning when they opened the door to go, behold there were an hundred sheep grazing before the door.

‘These sheep are yours,' said Jesus Christ; ‘moreover, as long as you live, neither the bread in the oven nor the wine in the cellar shall fail;' and He passed out and the disciples after Him.

But St. Peter remained behind, and said to the man who had entertained them, ‘The Master has rewarded you generously, but He has one greater gift yet which He will give you if you ask Him.'

‘What is it? tell me what is it?' said the beggar.

‘The salvation of your soul,' answered St. Peter.

‘Signore! Signore! add to all Thou hast given this further, the salvation of my soul,' cried the man.

‘Let it be granted thee,'8  answered the Lord, and passed on His way.

5

Another day Jesus Christ and His disciples dined at a tavern.9

‘What's to pay?' said Jesus Christ, when they had finished their meal.

‘Nothing at all,' answered the host.

But the host had a little hunchback son, who said to him, ‘I know some have found it answer to give these people food instead of making them pay for it; but suppose they forget to give us anything, we shall be worse off than if we had been paid in the regular way. I will tell you what I'll do now, so as to have a hold over them. I'll take one of our silver spoons and put it in the bag that one of them carries, and accuse them of stealing it.'

Now St. Peter was a great eater, and when anything was left over from a good meal he was wont to put it by in a bag against a day when they had nothing. Into this bag therefore the hunchback put the silver spoon.

When they had gone on a little way the young hunchback ran after them and said to Jesus Christ,—

‘Signore! one of these with you has stolen a spoon from us.'

‘You are mistaken, friend; there is not one of them who would do such a thing.'

‘Yes,' persevered the hunchback; ‘it is that  one who took it,' and he pointed to St. Peter.

‘I!!' said St. Peter, getting very angry. ‘How dare you to say such a thing of me!'

But Jesus Christ made him a sign that he should keep silence.

‘We will go back to your house and help you to look for what you have lost, for that none of us have taken the spoon is most certain,' He said; and He went back with the hunchback.

‘There is nowhere to search,' answered the hunchback, ‘but in that man's bag; I know it is there, because I saw him take it.'

‘Then there's my bag inside out,' said St. Peter, as he cast the contents upon the floor. Of course the silver spoon fell clattering upon the bricks.

‘There!' said the hunchback, insolently. ‘Didn't I tell you it was there? You said it wasn't!'

St. Peter was so angry he could not trust himself to speak; but Jesus Christ answered for him:

‘Nay, I said not it was not there, but that none of these had taken it. And now we will see who it was put it there.' With that He motioned to them all to stand back, while He, standing in the midst and raising his eyes to Heaven, said solemnly,

‘Let whoso put it in the bag be turned to stone!'

Even as He spoke the hunchback was turned into stone.

6

There was another tavern, however, where the host was a different sort of man, and not only said  he would take nothing when Jesus Christ and His disciples dined there, but really would never take anything; nor was it that by any miracle he had received advantages of another sort, but out of the respect and affection he bore the Master he deemed himself sufficiently paid by the honour of being allowed to minister to Him.

One day when Jesus Christ and His disciples were going away on a journey, St. Peter went to this host and said, ‘You have been very liberal to us all this time: if you were to ask for some gift, now, you would be sure to get it.'

‘I don't know that there is anything that I want,' said the host. ‘I have a thriving trade, which you see not only supplies all my wants, but leaves me the means of being liberal also; I have no wife to provide for, and no children to leave an inheritance to: so what should I ask for? There is one thing, to be sure, I should like. My only amusement is playing at cards: if He would give me the faculty of always winning, I should like that; it isn't that I care for what one wins, it is that it is nice to win. Do you think I might ask that ?'

‘I don't know,' said St. Peter, gravely. ‘Still you might ask; He is very kind.'

The host did ask, and Jesus Christ granted his desire. When St. Peter saw how easily He granted it, he said, ‘If I were you, I should ask something more.'

‘I really don't know what else I have to ask,' replied the host, ‘unless it be that I have a fig-tree which bears excellent figs, but I never can get one of them for myself; they are always stolen before I get them. I wish He would order that whoever goes up to steal them might get stuck to the tree till I tell him he may come down.'

‘Well,' said St. Peter, ‘it is an odd sort of thing to ask, but you might try; He is very kind.'

The host did ask, and Jesus Christ granted his request. When St. Peter saw that He granted it so easily, he said, ‘If I were you I should ask something more.'

‘Do you really think I might?' answered the host. ‘There is one thing I have wanted to ask all along, only I didn't dare. But you encourage me, and He seems to take a pleasure in giving. I have always had a great wish to live four hundred years.'

‘That is certainly a great deal to ask,' said St. Peter, ‘but you might try; He is very kind.'

The host did ask, and Jesus Christ granted his petition, and then went His way with His disciples. St. Peter remained last, and said to the host, ‘Now run after him, and ask for the salvation of your soul.' (‘St. Peter always told them all to ask that,' added the narrator in a confidential tone.)

‘Oh, I can't ask anything more, I have asked so much,' said the host.

‘But that is just the best thing of all, and what He grants the most willingly,' insisted St. Peter. ‘Really?' said the host; and he ran after Jesus Christ, and said, ‘Lord! who hast so largely shown me Thy bounty, grant me further the salvation of my soul.'

‘Let it be granted!' said Jesus Christ; and continued His journey.

All the things the host had asked he received, and life passed away very pleasantly, but still even four hundred years come to an end at last, and with the end of it came Death.

‘What! is that you, Mrs. Death,10  come already?' said the host.

‘Why, it's time I should come, I think; it's not often I leave people in peace for four hundred years.'

‘All right, but don't be in a hurry. I have such a fancy for the figs of that fig-tree of mine there. I wish you would just have the kindness to go up and pluck a good provision of them to take with me, and by that time I'll be ready to go with you.'

‘I've no objection to oblige you so far,' said Mrs. Death; ‘only you must mind and be quite ready by the time I do come back.'

‘Never fear,' said the host; and Mrs. Death climbed up the fig-tree.

‘Now stick there!' said the host, and for all her struggling Mrs. Death could by no means extricate herself any more.

‘I can't stay here, so take off your spell; I have my business to attend to,' said she.

‘So have I,' answered the host; ‘and if you want to go about your business, you must promise me, on your honour, you will leave me to attend to mine.'

‘I can't do it, my man! What are you asking? It's more than my place is worth. Every man alive has to pass through my hands. I can't let any of them off.'

‘Well, at all events, leave me alone another four hundred years, and then I'll come with you. If you'll promise that, I'll let you out of the fig-tree.'

‘I don't mind another four hundred years, if you so particularly wish for them; but mind you give me your word of honour you come then, without giving me all this trouble again.'

‘Yes! and here's my hand upon it,' said the host, as he handed Mrs. Death down from the fig-tree.

And so he went on to live another four hundred years. (‘For you know in those times men lived to a very great age,' was the running gloss of the narrator.)

The end of the second four hundred years came too, and then Mrs. Death appeared again. ‘Remember your promise,' she said, ‘and don't try any trick on me this time.'

‘Oh, yes! I always keep my word,' said the host, and without more ado he went along with her.

As she was carrying him up to Paradise, they passed the way which led down to Hell, and at the opening sat the Devil, receiving souls which his ministers brought to him from all parts. He was marshalling them into ranks, and ticketing them ready to send off in batches to the distinct place for each.

‘You seem to have got plenty of souls there, Mr. Devil,' said the host. ‘Suppose we sit down and play for them?'

‘I've no objection,' said the Devil. ‘Your soul against one of these. If I win, you go with them; if you win, one of them goes with you.'

‘That's it,' said the host, and picking out a nice-looking soul, he set him for the Devil's stake.

Of course the host won, and the nice-looking soul was passed round to his side of the table.

‘Shall we have another game?' said the host, quite cock-a-hoop.

The Devil hesitated for a moment, but finally he yielded. The host picked out a soul that took his fancy, for the Devil's stake, and they sat down to play again, with the same result.

So they went on and on till the host had won fifteen thousand souls of the Devil. ‘Come,' said Death when they had got as far as this, ‘I really can't wait any longer. I never had to do with anyone who took up so much time as you. Come along!'

So the host bowed excuses to the Devil for having had all the luck, and went cheerfully the way Mrs. Death led, with all his fifteen thousand souls behind him. Thus they arrived at the gate of Paradise. There wasn't so much business going on there as at the other place, and they had to ring before anyone appeared to open the door.

‘Who's there?' said St. Peter.

‘He of the four hundred years!'

‘And what is all that rabble behind?' asked St. Peter.

‘Souls that I have won of the Devil for Paradise,' answered the host.

‘Oh, that won't do at all, here!' said St. Peter.

‘Be kind enough to carry the message up to your Master,' responded the host.

St. Peter went up to Jesus Christ. ‘Here is he to whom you gave four hundred years of life,' he said; ‘and he has brought fifteen thousand other souls, who have no title at all to Paradise, with him.'

‘Tell him he may come in himself,' said Jesus Christ, ‘but he has nothing to do to meddle with the others.'

‘Tell Him to be pleased to remember that when He came to my eating-shop I never made any difficulty how many soever He brought with Him, and if He had brought an army I should have said nothing,' answered the host; and St. Peter took up that message too.

‘That is true! that is right!' answered Jesus Christ. ‘Let them all in! let them all in!'

7

Pret' Olivo.11

When Jesus Christ was on earth, He lodged one night at a priest's house, and when He went away in the morning He offered to give His host, in reward for his hospitality, whatever he asked. What Pret' Olivo (for that was his host's name) asked for was that he should live a hundred years, and that when Death came to fetch him he should be able to give her what orders he pleased, and that she must obey him.

‘Let it be granted!' said Jesus Christ.

A hundred years passed away, and then, one morning early, Death came.

‘Pret' Olivo! Pret ' Olivo!' cried Death, ‘are you ready? I'm come for you at last.'

‘Let me say my mass first,' said Pret' Olivo; ‘that's all.'

‘Well, I don't mind that,' answered Death; ‘only mind it isn't a long one, because I've got so many people to fetch to-day.'

‘A mass is a mass,' answered Pret' Olivo; ‘it will be neither longer nor shorter.'

As he went out, however, he told his servant to heap up a lot of wood on the hearth and set fire to it. Death went to sit down on a bench in the far corner of the chimney, and by-and-by the wood blazed up and she couldn't get away any more. In vain she called to the servant to come and moderate the fire. ‘Master told me to heap it up, not to moderate it,' answered the servant; and so there was no help. Death continued calling in desperation, and nobody came. It was impossible with her dry bones to pass the blaze, so there she had to stay.

‘Oh, dear! oh, dear! what can I do?' she kept saying; ‘all this time everybody is stopped dying! Pret' Olivo! Pret' Olivo! come here.'

At last Pret' Olivo came in.

‘What do you mean by keeping me here like this?' said Death; ‘I told you I had so much to do.'

‘Oh, you want to go, do you?' said Pret' Olivo, quietly.

‘Of course I do. Tell some one to clear away those burning logs, and let me out.'

‘Will you promise me to leave me alone for another hundred years if I do?'

‘Yes, yes; anything you like. I shall be very glad to keep away from this place for a hundred years.'

Then he let her go, and she set off running with those long thin legs of hers.

The second hundred years came to an end.

‘Are you ready, Pret' Olivo?' said Death one morning, putting her head in at the door.

‘Pretty nearly,' answered Pret' Olivo. ‘Meantime, just take that basket, and gather me a couple of figs to eat before I go.'

As she went away he said, ‘Stick to the tree' (but not so that she could hear it); for you remember he had power given him to make her do what he liked. She had therefore to stick to the tree.

‘Well, Lady Death, are you never going to bring those figs?' cried Pret' Olivo after a time.

‘How can I bring them, when you know I can't get down from this tree? Instead of making game of me, come and take me down.'

‘Will you leave me alone another hundred years if I do?'

‘Yes, yes; anything you like. Only make haste and let me go.'

The third hundred years came to an end, and Death appeared again. ‘Are you ready this time, Pret' Olivo?' she cried out as she approached.

‘Yes, this time I'll come with you,' answered Pret' Olivo. Then he vested himself in the Church vestments, and put a cope on, and took a pack of cards in his hand, and said to Death, ‘Now take me to the gate of Hell, for I want to play a game of cards with the Devil.'

‘Nonsense!' answered Death. ‘I'm not going to waste my time like that. I've got orders to take you to Paradise, and to Paradise you must go.'

‘You know you've got orders to obey whatever I tell you,' answered Pret' Olivo; and Death knew that was true, so she lost no more time in disputing, but took him all the way round by the gate of Hell.

At the gate of Hell they knocked.

‘Who's there?' said the Devil.

‘Pret' Olivo,' replied Death.

‘Out with you, ugly priest!' said the Devil. ‘I'm surprised at you, Death, making game of me like that; you know that's not the sort of ware for my market.'12

‘Silence, and open the door, ugly Pluto!13  I'm not come to stay. I only want to have a game of cards with you. Here's my soul for stake on my side, against the last comer on your side,' interposed Pret' Olivo.

Pret' Olivo won the game, and hung the soul on to his cope.

‘We must have another game,' said the Devil.

‘With all my heart!' replied Pret' Olivo; and he won another soul. Another and another he won, and his cope was covered all over with the souls clinging to it.

Meantime, Death thought it was going on rather too long, so she looked through the keyhole, and, finding they were just beginning another game, she cried out loudly;

‘It's no use playing any more, for I'm not going to be bothered to carry all those souls all the way up to Heaven—a likely matter, indeed!'

But Pret' Olivo went on playing without taking any notice of her; and he hung them on to his beretta, till at last you could hardly see him at all for the number of souls he had clinging to him. There was no place for any more, so at last he stopped playing.

‘I'm not going to take all those other souls,' said Death when he came out; ‘I've only got orders to take you.'

‘Then take me,' answered Pret' Olivo.

Death saw that the souls were all hung on so that she could not take him without taking all the rest; so away she went with the lot of them, without disputing any more.

At last they arrived at the Gate of Paradise. St. Peter opened the door when they knocked; but when he saw who was there he shut the door again.

‘Make haste!' said Death; ‘I've no time to waste.'

‘Why did you waste your time in bringing up souls that were not properly consigned to you?' answered St. Peter.

‘It wasn't I brought them, it was Pret' Olivo. And your Master charged me I was to do whatever he told me.'

‘My Master! Oh, then, I'm out of it,' said St. Peter. ‘Only wait a minute, while I just go and ask Him whether it is so.' St. Peter ran to ask; and receiving an affirmative answer, came back and opened the gate, and they all got in.

8

Domine Quo Vadis

‘You know, of course, about St. Peter, when they put him in the prisons here; he found a way of escaping through the “catacomboli,” and just as he had got out into the open road again he met Jesus Christ coming towards him carrying His cross. And St. Peter asked Him what he was doing going into the “catacomboli.” But Jesus Christ answered, “I am not going into the ‘catacomboli' to stay; I am going back by the way you came to be crucified over again, since you refuse to die for the flock.” Then St. Peter turned and went all the way back, and was crucified with his head downwards, for he said he was not worthy to die in the same way as his Master.'

[Counterparts of these stories abound in the collections of all countries; in the Norse, and Gaelic, and Russian, more of the pagan element seems to stick to them. In Grimm's are some with both much and little of it. From Tirol I have given two, which are literally free from it, in ‘Household Stories from the Land of Hofer;' and I have one or two picked up for me by a friend in Brittany, of which the same may be said. On the other hand, we meet them again in another form in that large group of strange compounds, of which ‘Il Rè Moro,' p. 97, &c., are the Roman representatives, and ‘Marienkind,' pp. 7–12, ‘Grimm Kinder und Hausmährchen,' ed. 1870, the link between them. In the minds of the Roman narrators, however, I am quite clear no such connexion exists. See also p. 207 infra.

One of the quaintest legends of this class is given in Scheible's ‘Schaltjahr.' It is meant for a charm to drive away wolves.]

‘Lord Jesus Christ and St. Peter went in the morning out.

As our Lady went on before she said (turning about),

“Ah, dear Lord! whither must we go in and out?

We must over hill and dale (roundabout).

May God guard the while my flock (devout).

Let not St. Peter go his keys without;

But take them and lock up the wild dogs'14  snout,

That they no bone of them all may flout.”'


1 The Holy Babe. 

2 Date mi un po' d'allogio;lit., Give me a small quantity of lodging—a humble mode of expression. 

3 Chi è?' (‘Who's there'); but the humour of the expression here lies in its being the invariable Roman custom to sing out ‘Chi è?' and wait till ‘Amici!' is answered, before any door is opened. 

4 Comp. with Legend of the Marmolata in ‘Household Stories from the land of Hofer.' 

5 ‘Un pagnotto di polenta' was the expression used, meaning a great coarse loaf of Indian corn. The Roman poor have much the same contempt for inferior bread that we meet with in the same class at home, none eat ‘seconds' who can possibly avoid it; but the pagnotto di polenta is only eaten by the poorest peasants. 

6 ‘Strutto,' lard, enters into the composition of almost every Roman popular dish. 

7 ‘Che bolliva,' constantly applied in Roman parlance to solids as well as liquids. 

8 The narrator was an admirable reciter, and as she uttered this ‘Vi sia concessa ,' in a solemn and majestic manner, she raised her hand and made the sign of the cross with a rapid and facile gesture, just as she might have seen the Pope do as he drove through Rome. 

9 ‘Trattoria,' can only be translated by ‘tavern,' but unfortunately the English word represents quite a different idea from the Roman. ‘Tavern' suggests noise and riot, but a ‘trattoria' is a place where a poor Roman will take his family to dine quietly with him on a festa as a treat. 

10 ‘Death,' being feminine in Italian, has to be personified as a woman. The same occurs in a Spanish counterpart of this story which I have given under the title of ‘Starving John the Doctor' in ‘Patrañas.' The Spanish counterpart of the rest of the story will be found in ‘Where one can dine two can dine' (‘Un Convidado invida a ciento ') in the same series. 

11 ‘Olive the priest.' ‘When we were children,' said the narrator, ‘my father used to tell us such a lot of stories of an evening, but of them all the two we used to ask for most, again and again, and the only two I remember, were “Mi butto,” and “Pret' Olivo.” Do you know “Mi butto”? We used to shudder at it, and yet we used to ask for it.' I incautiously admitted I did know it, instead of acquiring a fresh version. ‘Then here is “Pret' Olivo.” I don't suppose I was more than seven then, and now I am thirty-five, and I have never heard it since, but I'll make the best I can of it. Of course it is not a true story; we knew that it couldn't  be true, as anyone can see; but it used to interest us children.' 

12 ‘Vaene brutto prete! Questa non è roba per me.' 

13 ‘Brutto Plutone!' The traditional application of the name will not have escaped the reader. 

14 ‘Holzhund,' I suppose, is used for wild dog.