Willie Wee by Mrs. A. M. Diaz

 

TWO lads were conversing as happy as kings,

Of the coming of Christmas and all that it

brings,

Of the Christmas-tree and its many delights,

Of the city shop-windows and other fine sights,

When out spake wee Will, sometimes called "Willie

wee,"

Though often "sweet William," or "little Willee,"

—Four years and a half or three-quarters was he—

"Say! What kind of a tree is a Chrissermus-tree?"

And the while they discoursed, as his wonder grew',

With questions like these he followed them through:

"Does it have big branches that spread all around?

Do its roots stay deep down in the dark ground?

Does it grow, grow, grow, way up very high?

If you climb to the top will your head bump the sky?

Do any plums grow on it, or apples, or cherries?

Or any good nuts, or pretty red berries?

Does it bloom out all over with flowers white as

snow,

As that tree does down there in our garden below?

Do robins and king-birds build nests in that tree?

And other birdies too?" asked little Willee.

 

"Yes," answered Ned, wise, school-boy Ned:

"A Christmas-tree, young curly-head,

Has branches, sure, but has no roots,

And on its branches grow no fruits;

Yet bright red apples there you'll see,

And oranges of high degree—

Apples and oranges on one tree!"

"That sounds very strange," quoth little Willee.

"No flowers bloom there, snowy white,

Yet with these fruits—a curious sight—

Are oft seen flowers both red and white!

Should you climb to the top without a fall,

Your head might bump against the wall,

But not against the sky, you see,

For indoors-stands the Christmas-tree!"

"You tell very big stories," quoth little Willee.

"No birdie there doth build its nest,

No king-bird, blue-bird, robin redbreast,

Yet eggs thereon are often seen.

Of beautiful colors, pink, and green,

And purple, and lavender, fit for a queen.

Even eggs with pictures on them are found.

And with golden bands which circle around.

But from all these eggs so fair to see

Are hatched no birds in that Christmas-tree;

Instead, are hatched candy and gumdrops!" said he.

"Are you telling the truth?" asked little Willee.


"I've not told half, I do declare,

Of all those wondrous branches bear.

Bear? They bear dolls and whips and drums,

Tops, whistles, taffy, sugar-plums,

And candy sheep, and candy cats,

And candy birds, and candy rats,

And India-rubber girls and boys,

Bear trumpets and all kinds of toys,

Bear books, and jumping-jacks, and mittens,

And little cotton-flannel kittens;

And over the whole of this Christmas-tree

Candles are burning right merrily!

What think you of this? my sweet Willie-wee?"

"I think you are fooling!" said little Willee.


Next morning young Willie, with serious air,

Put earth in a flower-pot, and buried up there

A seed of an apple with very great care.

"Pray, what are you doing, you rogue Willie-wee?"

"I am planting a seed for a Chrissermas tree!

Is not that good to do?" asked little Willee.

—There came from that seed a green little shoot

Which put out its leaves and firmly took root,

And so finely did thrive that at last it was found

Too large for the house and was set in the ground,

Where it grew up, a tree, one scarcely knew how.

Look down by the wall; it is standing there now.

It blossoms in springtime, and many a nest

Has been built there by king-bird and robin redbreast;

And other birdies too oft come to the tree

And sing there and swing there, oh, so merrily;

They make it all summer our joy and delight;

And in fall of the year 'tis a beautiful sight

When the clustering wealth of its apples is seen—

Its ruby red apples all set in their green!


—And Willie? Yes, he grew up, too, young Willie-

wee,

And went as a sailor-boy over the sea.

He sailed in a ship to some far distant shore;

A storm came—and—and—we saw him no more.

It was long, long ago that deep sorrow we bore!

The lads who were talking, as happy as kings,

Of the coming of Christmas and all that it brings,

Are fathers now, so stately and tall.

Their children play by the garden wall,

And swing on the boughs of the apple tree,

Or climb to the top, the world to see;

(Some have gone from the home the world to see!)

And when autumn comes, and leaves turn brown,

And the ripened fruits are shaken down,

And here and there, on the orchard ground,

The red and the golden are heaped around—

'Tis the children who gather that tree by the wall,

And the apples from off its boughs that fall,

With kindly care are stored away,

Sure to appear on Christmas Day

In platter or basket for all to admire,

Or hung on strings before the fire,

There to swing and sputter and roast,

While many an one of the merry host

Gives a tender thought to that first Willie-wee

Who went as a sailor-boy over the sea.

The youngest of all; a new Willie-wee,

—A curly-haired rogue, and our darling is he!—

Now claims for his own uncle Will's Christmas-tree.

"Because," says the child, "he was named for me!"