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Meenie's wooden shoes clattered upon it like a pair of castanets. Watching the star and their own footsteps by turns, they made their way through the wood to the highroad; there the wind, having no trees to break its force, came howling down upon them and made
Meenie whimper with cold. Otto chafed her fin
gers in his own cold little hands, and ran with her, to warm themselves; but the road was so slippery, packed hard by wagons and sleighs, that they were afraid of falling, and soon walked again. Whenever they looked up at the star, it beamed back at them, clear and steady.
“We are following it,” said Otto, and Meenie nodded hopefully.
It was a long, bleak, dark tramp for two little children; a wearisome walk, even for grown people. Sometimes a sleigh would go jingling by, and once a man, spying the two small figures in the gloom, offered them a ride, but they did not understand, and were only frightened, and he drove
Sometimes the road led through woods, sometimes it was uphill, sometimes downhill, and sometimes level; then came a sharp turn by an old quarry—oh, so dreary !
And then they saw the lights of a village sparkling in the hollow below them.
“ Here are houses !” cried Otto — “a great many houses — watch where the star stops !
They looked up at their guide, but a fleecy cloud, one of many drifting from the horizon, had hid
den it from sight. “It is gone !” said Meenie in dismay. “It has fallen to the ground,” said Otto; “let us see where it is shining.”
They looked eagerly at all the lights before them. One building seemed brighter than the rest; it was nearer to them, but that was not the rea
son,- it was really more full of light, which its many long windows let out in a Nood upon the snow. “It must be there,” said Otto; "come, Meenie.” Holding fast to each other, they half ran, half slid down the hill, until they reached the open gate. There were steps to mount, a long flagged walk between the evergreens, more steps, and then a
swinging door. Otto pushed this open, and they And while Meenie was “ understanding it,” he found themselves in a perfect sea of children. Just had an earnest talk, first with Belle, and then then the lights went down, down; there was a with an old lady, who came bustling up to them, burst of music, organ and childish voices singing: and the result was that the two children pres“Ring out the bells for Christmas !”
ently found themselves tucked under buffalo robes At the same moment, there blazed forth at the in a soft-cushioned sleigh, being whisked along farther end of the room a tree glorified to its top- over the icy road, and next in a big room before a most bough as with hundreds of stars.
blazing firc, where the old gentleman fed them Dazed by the light, the warmth, the music, and with all sorts of goodies, sweet and savory, until the tree with its stars, the two little Germans Belle and the old lady interfered out of regard for clung to each other, and stared at everything, the children's lives; then they were again put in half-frightened, all-bewildered. It was so strange the sleigh, with the old gentleman, the young and beautiful, the voices rising and falling softly, lady, the black driver, and quite a number of basthe air fragrant with the smell of pine and cedar, kets and bundles. and the wonderful tree gleaming in the distance. Here the little wanderers fell asleep, and so they
The music stopped, and some one began speak- never noticed the long dark road over which they ing near the tree; then there was a ripple in the had so wearily journeyed before, nor the big soft sea of children, and a wave of little girls went up star now disentangled from the cloud and shining the room to the speaker, returning to their places clearly upon them again. with various bright-colored parcels. This was The black driver, who knew the way by more repeated with wave after wave, until Otto and than one route, took a turn where there was a Meenie became used to it, and almost ceased clearing in the woods, and so drove the sleigh wondering at it; then they began to remember almost up to the door of the “little Dutch house,” why they had taken the journey, and Meenie as he called it. whispered: “Where is the Christ child ? "
The father had been dozing, waking, and dozing “I don't know. I am looking,” answered Oito, again, all unconscious of his children's absence; and peering anxiously about the room.
now he became suddenly wide-awake, to find the At the sound of their voices, an old gentleman, room aglow with fire-light and candles, and a numat whose heels they had been standing all the ber of people bustling about; after one “ach !” of time, looked down at them through his big gold- astonishment, he lay back, placidly staring at rimmed spectacles, and said: “Hallo! Where did them in that big baby sort of content so peculiarly you come from, you queer little people ? "
German, and at the loaves of bread, the plump Otto could not understand, but felt that he was hams, the pies, and the endless parcels that were being questioned about something, and so ex- being heaped on the table; at the old gentleman plained why they had come out that evening. who felt his pulse, and gave him a powder to swallow; The old gentleman, in his turn, could not under- at the black man who filled one corner of the room stand; he looked puzzled for a minute, then touched with a pile of wood nearly half as high as himself; the shoulder of a young lady who was just in front and finally at his own two little children, now fast of him, and said : “Belle, here's a chance for asleep beside him, under the thick soft blankets you to try your German."
which the young lady spread over them all, while The young lady turned with a rustle of silk. she spoke words of kindness in his own tongue.
“Oh, you dear little things !” she cried, kneel. Then his big blue eyes grew piteous instead of ing down by the children and looking at them with placid, and the tears came trickling down his holeyes as brown and soft as her own seal-skin muff; low cheeks, whereupon the old gentleman immedithen she said something to them in German, ately began to feed him with soup, and scold Belle in which there seemed to be a great many“ kins," for crying, as if the tears were not running down and Otto eagerly responded.
his own dear old face. “What is it, Belle ?" questioned the old gentle- It was not until everything was placed so that man. Belle in a few quick words told him of the Otto would have no trouble, the fire safely banked, sick father, the empty cupboard, and the long cold and the father sleeping soundly, that the old gentlejourney to find the Christ child.
man and his party left the "little Dutch house." “ Poor little things; poor little things !” said The stars were gleaming frostily in the Christthe old gentleman. “Here, Belle, I say, where 's mas morning sky as they drove home, and as Belle the candy or something? Here," seizing a looked up at the largest and brightest of them all, gilded horn that dangled from her hand, “now she promised herself that the little German boy little sloshkin, or whatever they call you, take and girl should never regret their long journey this; I think you can understand that.''
in search of the Christ child.
courts of justice; upon his right, the large brick
Pension Building. THE CITY OF WASHINGTON, AND THE CAPITOL.
Leaving the park, we walk but the length of The city of Washington, as the seat of our two short blocks, when we reach the marble Federal Government, is of interest to all patriotic headquarters of the Postmaster-General, occupyAmericans. It is styled the City of Palaces, and the term is just; yet its architectural features do not surpass in beauty its natural loveliness, and it is called also the City of Magnificent Distances. Let us not end our record until we have noted a few of its attractions.
I shall imagine that I have encountered a young and sturdy tourist standing in the center of Judiciary Square, with a guide-book in his hand, not knowing which is north or which is south, or in what direction he ought to go. The first thing I do is to turn his face toward the west, so that
get his bearings," as the saying is. ing an entire square, a building interesting from Upon his left is the City Hall, with its local the outside, and equally interesting within, because
Copyright, 1884, by Edmund Alton. All rights reserved.
of the curiosities collected in the Dead-letter divis- same side as the Treasury, is the Executive Manion, and the army of clerks busily at work in the sion, or “White House,” with its East-room, Redvarious rooms.
room, Blue-room, and other historic apartments. As we emerge through the northern door, we This is the place to find the President, and to are at once confronted by the splendid Patent apply to him for almost anything, from an office to Office, with massive columns, lengthy corridors, an autograph. expansive Model-room, and its array of glass cases Passing by the conservatory, and leaving the filled with the creations of American ingenuity. White House grounds by the western gate, and This building covers twice as much ground as its glancing, as we go, at the equestrian statue to the neighbor across the way, and is the official home north, we appear before the edifice dedicated to of the Secretary of the Interior, with a few of his the uses of the three Departments, — the State, subordinate officers, such as the Commissioners of the War, and the Navy. Patents, of the General Land-office, and of Indian This completes the tour of the Executive DeAffairs, and their hundreds of clerks. As the partments; so, if we wish, we may take our way, Secretary has not room here for all his immense like the course of empire, a few streets further force, the other bureaus, including those of Pen- westward, and visit the National Observatory, sions, the Geological Survey, and the Census, are where, by the wonderful telescope, we can get a located elsewhere.
good look at the Man in the Moon. Continuing onward toward the west, we soon Within full view of the White House, and but arrive at the Treasury Building, dingy and solemn five-minutes' walk to the south, is the Obelisk, or in its external appearance, as seen from the Fif- Washington Monument. Of course our young teenth street side, but very attractive when we reach tourist goes there, and perhaps enters the elevator the elegant Cash-room, and gaze from the gallery and takes a voyage up, up, up, for more than five upon the Eldorado of wealth below. As we can not hundred feet. When he is up there, of course, get any of it, however, without a law of Congress, there is nothing to do but to take a look at the there is no need to stop and trouble Secretary surrounding country through the “peep-holes," or Treasurer.
and then come down. Passing out upon the northern steps, we see on Having reached the bottom, the nearest buildthe opposite side of the street the Department of ing of consequence is the Bureau of Engraving
and Printing, where the Government makes its. paper money. Passing through the adjoining square, belonging to the Department of Agriculture, we cross a street, and enter the grounds. of the Smithsonian Institute,—the abode of mummies and stuffed boa-constrictors, and other queer creatures. Here our friend may revel in curiosities to his heart's content. He may enter either the Institute or the building on the other side, which goes by the name of the National Museum.
Leaving this, he soon reaches the Botanical Gardens, where he sees further curiosities in the shape of exotic plants and flowers. As he quits. this last inclosure, there looms up before his eyes. the Capitol. With a few steps he enters the sacred precincts of its grounds. I call them sacred, for they are. The building and its surrounding park are not under the control of the city authorities, but are governed immediately by the two Houses of Congress, with their special officers of police. By “city authorities,” I mean
the officers of the municipal government, which,
as I have told you, is entirely subject to the will Justice, – the brown-colored hiding-place of the of Congress. Attorney-General, and the Court of Claims. Of course, he has not seen all the offices in which
Within a stone's-throw, to the west, and on the the executive affairs of the Government are con
THE TREASURY DEPARTMENT.
ducted. Neither has he visited all the points of in- If I could persuade him, he would, upon recrossterest which he ought to visit. The outskirts of the ing the river, pursue his journey beyond the city, with their natural scenery, are a realm of Georgetown Heights, and look at the reservoir, delight. Far over upon the eastern hills of the the chain bridge, the still more wonderful Cabin Potomac is the beautiful Asylum for the Insane. John Bridge, and the great falls of the Potomac. At the extreme end of the city is the Government If he prefer the works of art to the works of Arsenal. Farther on, around the Eastern Branch, nature, he may find some entertainment in the is the Navy Yard; farther still is the Congres- city. The Executive Buildings contain portraits sional Cemetery. Due north of the Capitol is the of the presidents and cabinet officers of our hisdreary-looking building presided over by the pub- tory; and there is the Corcoran Gallery of Art, lic printer. On the hills above is the Soldiers' with choice paintings and sculpture. Home; and it would be well for the sight-seer to But we may as well assume that the fatigued take a jaunt into its woods, if for no other purpose young tourist has not taken my advice, but has than to gaze through the long vista of trees, and remained stubbornly at the Botanical Gardens.
see the Capitol perched in the little opening at Entering the Capitol walk, till recently shaded by the end — a lovely picture set in a velvet draperyarching trees, he comes upon the statue of Chiefof leaves.
Justice Marshall, at the foot of the terrace. If our young friend have a horse, I advise him Before he begins the ascent of the steps of not to return from the Home without taking a ride the Capitol, he should observe the grand colonalong the bridle-paths of Rock Creek on the west ; nades on the three porticoes; if he wishes to see if not a lover of nature, he may as well go a few more, he will find them on the northern, southern, miles in the other direction, and tramp over the and western balconies. And before entering the famous dueling-ground of Bladensburg. But he Rotunda, he may well pause to inspect the figures really ought to cross through the city and over the on the bronze doors. river to Arlington Heights, and go through the On the walls of the Rotunda are some large National Cemetery, with its thousands of white framed pictures, representing the “Pilgrim Fathers” slabs marking the resting-place of the heroes of on their way to this country, the “ Baptism of our war, and the pathetic monument reared to the Pocohontas,” the “Surrender of Cornwallis," and memory of “The Unknown Dead.”
other incidents in American history. Higher up