The Legend of the Christmas Rose
by Selma Lagerlof
Robber Mother, who lived in Robbers' Cave up in Göinge forest, went down
to the village one day on a begging tour. Robber Father, who was an
outlawed man, did not dare to leave the forest, but had to content himself
with lying in wait for the wayfarers who ventured within its borders. But
at that time travellers were not very plentiful in Southern Skåne. If it
so happened that the man had had a few weeks of ill luck with his hunt,
his wife would take to the road. She took with her five youngsters, and
each youngster wore a ragged leathern suit and birch-bark shoes and bore a
sack on his back as long as himself. When Robber Mother stepped inside the
door of a cabin, no one dared refuse to give her whatever she demanded;
for she was not above coming back the following night and setting fire to
the house if she had not been well received. Robber Mother and her brood
were worse than a pack of wolves, and many a man felt like running a spear
through them; but it was never done, because they all knew that the man
stayed up in the forest, and he would have known how to wreak vengeance if
anything had happened to the children or the old woman.
Now that Robber Mother went from house to house and begged, she came one
day to Övid, which at that time was a cloister. She rang the bell of the
cloister gate and asked for food. The watchman let down a small wicket in
the gate and handed her six round bread cakes—one for herself and one for
each of the five children.
While the mother was standing quietly at the gate, her youngsters were
running about. And now one of them came and pulled at her skirt, as a
signal that he had discovered something which she ought to come and see,
and Robber Mother followed him promptly.
The entire cloister was surrounded by a high and strong wall, but the
youngster had managed to find a little back gate which stood ajar. When
Robber Mother got there, she pushed the gate open and walked inside
without asking leave, as it was her custom to do.
Övid Cloister was managed at that time by Abbot Hans, who knew all about
herbs. Just within the cloister wall he had planted a little herb garden,
and it was into this that the old woman had forced her way.
At first glance Robber Mother was so astonished that she paused at the
gate. It was high summertide, and Abbot Hans' garden was so full of
flowers that the eyes were fairly dazzled by the blues, reds, and yellows,
as one looked into it. But presently an indulgent smile spread over her
features, and she started to walk up a narrow path that lay between many
In the garden a lay brother walked about, pulling up weeds. It was he who
had left the door in the wall open, that he might throw the weeds and
tares on the rubbish heap outside.
When he saw Robber Mother coming in, with all five youngsters in tow, he
ran toward her at once and ordered them away. But the beggar woman walked
right on as before. She cast her eyes up and down, looking now at the
stiff white lilies which spread near the ground, then on the ivy climbing
high upon the cloister wall, and took no notice whatever of the lay
He thought she had not understood him, and wanted to take her by the arm
and turn her toward the gate. But when the robber woman saw his purpose,
she gave him a look that sent him reeling backward. She had been walking
with back bent under her beggar's pack, but now she straightened herself
to her full height. "I am Robber Mother from Göinge forest; so touch me if
you dare!" And it was obvious that she was as certain she would be left in
peace as if she had announced that she was the Queen of Denmark.
And yet the lay brother dared to oppose her, although now, when he knew
who she was, he spoke reasonably to her. "You must know, Robber Mother,
that this is a monks' cloister, and no woman in the land is allowed within
these walls. If you do not go away, the monks will be angry with me
because I forgot to close the gate, and perhaps they will drive me away
from the cloister and the herb garden."
But such prayers were wasted on Robber Mother. She walked straight ahead
among the little flower-beds and looked at the hyssop with its magenta
blossoms, and at the honeysuckles, which were full of deep orange-colored
Then the lay brother knew of no other remedy than to run into the cloister
and call for help.
He returned with two stalwart monks, and Robber Mother saw that now it
meant business! With feet firmly planted she stood in the path and began
shrieking in strident tones all the awful vengeance she would wreak on the
cloister if she couldn't remain in the herb garden as long as she wished.
But the monks did not see why they need fear her and thought only of
driving her out. Then Robber Mother let out a perfect volley of shrieks,
and, throwing herself upon the monks, clawed and bit at them; so did all
the youngsters. The men soon learned that she could overpower them, and
all they could do was to go back into the cloister for reinforcements.
As they ran through the passage-way which led to the cloister, they met
Abbot Hans, who came rushing out to learn what all this noise was about.
Then they had to confess that Robber Mother from Göinge forest had come
into the cloister and that they were unable to drive her out and must call
But Abbot Hans upbraided them for using force and forbade their calling
for help. He sent both monks back to their work, and although he was an
old and fragile man, he took with him only the lay brother.
When Abbot Hans came out in the garden, Robber Mother was still wandering
among the flower-beds. He regarded her with astonishment. He was certain
that Robber Mother had never before seen an herb garden; yet she sauntered
leisurely between all the small patches, each of which had been planted
with its own species of rare flower, and looked at them as if they were
old acquaintances. At some she smiled, at others she shook her head.
Abbot Hans loved his herb garden as much as it was possible for him to
love anything earthly and perishable. Wild and terrible as the old woman
looked, he couldn't help liking that she had fought with three monks for
the privilege of viewing the garden in peace. He came up to her and asked
in a mild tone if the garden pleased her.
Robber Mother turned defiantly toward Abbot Hans, for she expected only to
be trapped and overpowered. But when she noticed his white hair and bent
form, she answered peaceably, "First, when I saw this, I thought I had
never seen a prettier garden; but now I see that it can't be compared with
one I know of."
Abbot Hans had certainly expected a different answer. When he heard that
Robber Mother had seen a garden more beautiful than his, a faint flush
spread over his withered cheek. The lay brother, who was standing close
by, immediately began to censure the old woman. "This is Abbot Hans," said
he, "who with much care and diligence has gathered the flowers from far
and near for his herb garden. We all know that there is not a more
beautiful garden to be found in all Skåne, and it is not befitting that
you, who live in the wild forest all the year around, should find fault
with his work."
"I don't wish to make myself the judge of either him or you," said Robber
Mother. "I'm only saying that if you could see the garden of which I am
thinking you would uproot all the flowers planted here and cast them away
But the Abbot's assistant was hardly less proud of the flowers than the
Abbot himself, and after hearing her remarks he laughed derisively. "I can
understand that you only talk like this to tease us. It must be a pretty
garden that you have made for yourself amongst the pines in Göinge forest!
I'd be willing to wager my soul's salvation that you have never before
been within the walls of an herb garden."
Robber Mother grew crimson with rage to think that her word was doubted,
and she cried out: "It may be true that until to-day I had never been
within the walls of an herb garden; but you monks, who are holy men,
certainly must know that on every Christmas Eve the great Göinge forest is
transformed into a beautiful garden, to commemorate the hour of our Lord's
birth. We who live in the forest have seen this happen every year. And in
that garden I have seen flowers so lovely that I dared not lift my hand to
The lay brother wanted to continue the argument, but Abbot Hans gave him a
sign to be silent. For, ever since his childhood, Abbot Hans had heard it
said that on every Christmas Eve the forest was dressed in holiday glory.
He had often longed to see it, but he had never had the good fortune.
Eagerly he begged and implored Robber Mother that he might come up to the
Robbers' Cave on Christmas Eve. If she would only send one of her children
to show him the way, he could ride up there alone, and he would never
betray them—on the contrary, he would reward them, in so far as it lay
in his power.
Robber Mother said no at first, for she was thinking of Robber Father and
of the peril which might befall him should she permit Abbot Hans to ride
up to their cave. At the same time the desire to prove to the monk that
the garden which she knew was more beautiful than his got the better of
her, and she gave in.
"But more than one follower you cannot take with you," said she, "and you
are not to waylay us or trap us, as sure as you are a holy man."
This Abbot Hans promised, and then Robber Mother went her way. Abbot Hans
commanded the lay brother not to reveal to a soul that which had been
agreed upon. He feared that the monks, should they learn of his purpose,
would not allow a man of his years to go up to the Robbers' Cave.
Nor did he himself intend to reveal his project to a human being. And then
it happened that Archbishop Absalon from Lund came to Övid and remained
through the night. When Abbot Hans was showing him the herb garden, he got
to thinking of Robber Mother's visit, and the lay brother, who was at work
in the garden, heard Abbot Hans telling the Bishop about Robber Father,
who these many years had lived as an outlaw in the forest, and asking him
for a letter of ransom for the man, that he might lead an honest life
among respectable folk. "As things are now," said Abbot Hans, "his
children are growing up into worse malefactors than himself, and you will
soon have a whole gang of robbers to deal with up there in the forest."
But the Archbishop replied that he did not care to let the robber loose
among honest folk in the villages. It would be best for all that he remain
in the forest.
Then Abbot Hans grew zealous and told the Bishop all about Göinge forest,
which, every year at Yuletide, clothed itself in summer bloom around the
Robbers' Cave. "If these bandits are not so bad but that God's glories can
be made manifest to them, surely we cannot be too wicked to experience the
The Archbishop knew how to answer Abbot Hans. "This much I will promise
you, Abbot Hans," he said, smiling, "that any day you send me a blossom
from the garden in Göinge forest, I will give you letters of ransom for
all the outlaws you may choose to plead for."
The lay brother apprehended that Bishop Absalon believed as little in this
story of Robber Mother's as he himself; but Abbot Hans perceived nothing
of the sort, but thanked Absalon for his good promise and said that he
would surely send him the flower.
Abbot Hans had his way. And the following Christmas Eve he did not sit at
home with his monks in Övid Cloister, but was on his way to Göinge forest.
One of Robber Mother's wild youngsters ran ahead of him, and close behind
him was the lay brother who had talked with Robber Mother in the herb
Abbot Hans had been longing to make this journey, and he was very happy
now that it had come to pass. But it was a different matter with the lay
brother who accompanied him. Abbot Hans was very dear to him, and he would
not willingly have allowed another to attend him and watch over him; but
he didn't believe that he should see any Christmas Eve garden. He thought
the whole thing a snare which Robber Mother had, with great cunning, laid
for Abbot Hans, that he might fall into her husband's clutches.
While Abbot Hans was riding toward the forest, he saw that everywhere they
were preparing to celebrate Christmas. In every peasant settlement fires
were lighted in the bathhouse to warm it for the afternoon bathing. Great
hunks of meat and bread were being carried from the larders into the
cabins, and from the barns came the men with big sheaves of straw to be
strewn over the floors.
As he rode by the little country churches, he observed that each parson,
with his sexton, was busily engaged in decorating his church; and when he
came to the road which leads to Bösjo Cloister, he observed that all the
poor of the parish were coming with armfuls of bread and long candles,
which they had received at the cloister gate.
When Abbot Hans saw all these Christmas preparations, his haste increased.
He was thinking of the festivities that awaited him, which were greater
than any the others would be privileged to enjoy.
But the lay brother whined and fretted when he saw how they were preparing
to celebrate Christmas in every humble cottage. He grew more and more
anxious, and begged and implored Abbot Hans to turn back and not to throw
himself deliberately into the robber's hands.
Abbot Hans went straight ahead, paying no heed to his lamentations. He
left the plain behind him and came up into desolate and wild forest
regions. Here the road was bad, almost like a stony and burr-strewn path,
with neither bridge nor plank to help them over brooklet and rivulet. The
farther they rode, the colder it grew, and after a while they came upon
It turned out to be a long and hazardous ride through the forest. They
climbed steep and slippery side paths, crawled over swamp and marsh, and
pushed through windfall and bramble. Just as daylight was waning, the
robber boy guided them across a forest meadow, skirted by tall, naked leaf
trees and green fir trees. Back of the meadow loomed a mountain wall, and
in this wall they saw a door of thick boards. Now Abbot Hans understood
that they had arrived, and dismounted. The child opened the heavy door for
him, and he looked into a poor mountain grotto, with bare stone walls.
Robber Mother was seated before a log fire that burned in the middle of
the floor. Alongside the walls were beds of virgin pine and moss, and on
one of these beds lay Robber Father asleep.
"Come in, you out there!" shouted Robber Mother without rising, "and fetch
the horses in with you, so they won't be destroyed by the night cold."
Abbot Hans walked boldly into the cave, and the lay brother followed. Here
were wretchedness and poverty! and nothing was done to celebrate
Christmas. Robber Mother had neither brewed nor baked; she had neither
washed nor scoured. The youngsters were lying on the floor around a
kettle, eating; but no better food was provided for them than a watery
Robber Mother spoke in a tone as haughty and dictatorial as any well-to-do
peasant woman. "Sit down by the fire and warm yourself, Abbot Hans," said
she; "and if you have food with you, eat, for the food which we in the
forest prepare you wouldn't care to taste. And if you are tired after the
long journey, you can lie down on one of these beds to sleep. You needn't
be afraid of oversleeping, for I'm sitting here by the fire keeping watch.
I shall awaken you in time to see that which you have come up here to
Abbot Hans obeyed Robber Mother and brought forth his food sack; but he
was so fatigued after the journey he was hardly able to eat, and as soon
as he could stretch himself on the bed, he fell asleep.
The lay brother was also assigned a bed to rest upon, but he didn't dare
sleep, as he thought he had better keep his eye on Robber Father to
prevent his getting up and capturing Abbot Hans. But gradually fatigue got
the better of him, too, and he dropped into a doze.
When he woke up, he saw that Abbot Hans had left his bed and was sitting
by the fire talking with Robber Mother. The outlawed robber sat also by
the fire. He was a tall, raw-boned man with a dull, sluggish appearance.
His back was turned to Abbot Hans, as though he would have it appear that
he was not listening to the conversation.
Abbot Hans was telling Robber Mother all about the Christmas preparations
he had seen on the journey, reminding her of Christmas feasts and games
which she must have known in her youth, when she lived at peace with
mankind. "I'm sorry for your children, who can never run on the village
street in holiday dress or tumble in the Christmas straw," said he.
At first Robber Mother answered in short, gruff sentences, but by degrees
she became more subdued and listened more intently. Suddenly Robber Father
turned toward Abbot Hans and shook his clenched fist in his face. "You
miserable monk! did you come here to coax from me my wife and children?
Don't you know that I am an outlaw and may not leave the forest?"
Abbot Hans looked him fearlessly in the eyes. "It is my purpose to get a
letter of ransom for you from Archbishop Absalon," said he. He had hardly
finished speaking when the robber and his wife burst out laughing. They
knew well enough the kind of mercy a forest robber could expect from
"Oh, if I get a letter of ransom from Absalon," said Robber Father, "then
I'll promise you that never again will I steal so much as a goose."
The lay brother was annoyed with the robber folk for daring to laugh at
Abbot Hans, but on his own account he was well pleased. He had seldom seen
the Abbot sitting more peaceful and meek with his monks at Övid than he
now sat with this wild robber folk.
Suddenly Robber Mother rose. "You sit here and talk, Abbot Hans," she
said, "so that we are forgetting to look at the forest. Now I can hear,
even in this cave, how the Christmas bells are ringing."
The words were barely uttered when they all sprang up and rushed out. But
in the forest it was still dark night and bleak winter. The only thing
they marked was a distant clang borne on a light south wind.
"How can this bell ringing ever awaken the dead forest?" thought Abbot
Hans. For now, as he stood out in the winter darkness, he thought it far
more impossible that a summer garden could spring up here than it had
seemed to him before.
When the bells had been ringing a few moments, a sudden illumination
penetrated the forest; the next moment it was dark again, and then the
light came back. It pushed its way forward between the stark trees, like a
shimmering mist. This much it effected: The darkness merged into a faint
daybreak. Then Abbot Hans saw that the snow had vanished from the ground,
as if some one had removed a carpet, and the earth began to take on a
green covering. Then the ferns shot up their fronds, rolled like a
bishop's staff. The heather that grew on the stony hills and the
bog-myrtle rooted in the ground moss dressed themselves quickly in new
bloom. The moss-tufts thickened and raised themselves, and the spring
blossoms shot upward their swelling buds, which already had a touch of
Abbot Hans' heart beat fast as he marked the first signs of the forest's
awakening. "Old man that I am, shall I behold such a miracle?" thought he,
and the tears wanted to spring to his eyes. Again it grew so hazy that he
feared the darkness would once more cover the earth; but almost
immediately there came a new wave of light. It brought with it the splash
of rivulet and the rush of cataract. Then the leaves of the trees burst
into bloom, as if a swarm of green butterflies came flying and clustered
on the branches. It was not only trees and plants that awoke, but
crossbeaks hopped from branch to branch, and the woodpeckers hammered on
the limbs until the splinters fairly flew around them. A flock of
starlings from up country lighted in a fir top to rest. They were paradise
starlings. The tips of each tiny feather shone in brilliant reds, and, as
the birds moved, they glittered like so many jewels.
Again, all was dark for an instant, but soon there came a new light wave.
A fresh, warm south wind blew and scattered over the forest meadow all the
little seeds that had been brought here from southern lands by birds and
ships and winds, and which could not thrive elsewhere because of this
country's cruel cold. These took root and sprang up the instant they
touched the ground.
When the next warm wind came along, the blueberries and lignon ripened.
Cranes and wild geese shrieked in the air, the bullfinches built nests,
and the baby squirrels began playing on the branches of the trees.
Everything came so fast now that Abbot Hans could not stop to reflect on
how immeasurably great was the miracle that was taking place. He had time
only to use his eyes and ears. The next light wave that came rushing in
brought with it the scent of newly ploughed acres, and far off in the
distance the milkmaids were heard coaxing the cows—and the tinkle of the
sheep's bells. Pine and spruce trees were so thickly clothed with red
cones that they shone like crimson mantles. The juniper berries changed
color every second, and forest flowers covered the ground till it was all
red, blue, and yellow.
Abbot Hans bent down to the earth and broke off a wild strawberry blossom,
and, as he straightened up, the berry ripened in his hand.
The mother fox came out of her lair with a big litter of black-legged
young. She went up to Robber Mother and scratched at her skirt, and Robber
Mother bent down to her and praised her young. The horned owl, who had
just begun his night chase, was astonished at the light and went back to
his ravine to perch for the night. The male cuckoo crowed, and his mate
stole up to the nests of the little birds with her egg in her mouth.
Robber Mother's youngsters let out perfect shrieks of delight. They
stuffed themselves with wild strawberries that hung on the bushes, large
as pine cones. One of them played with a litter of young hares; another
ran a race with some young crows, which had hopped from their nest before
they were really ready; a third caught up an adder from the ground and
wound it around his neck and arm.
Robber Father was standing out on a marsh eating raspberries. When he
glanced up, a big black bear stood beside him. Robber Father broke off an
osier twig and struck the bear on the nose. "Keep to your own ground,
you!" he said; "this is my turf." Then the huge bear turned around and
lumbered off in another direction.
New waves of warmth and light kept coming, and now they brought with them
seeds from the star-flower. Golden pollen from rye fields fairly flew in
the air. Then came butterflies, so big that they looked like flying
lilies. The bee-hive in a hollow oak was already so full of honey that it
dripped down on the trunk of the tree. Then all the flowers whose seeds
had been brought from foreign lands began to blossom. The loveliest roses
climbed up the mountain wall in a race with the blackberry vines, and from
the forest meadow sprang flowers as large as human faces.
Abbot Hans thought of the flower he was to pluck for Bishop Absalon; but
each new flower that appeared was more beautiful than the others, and he
wanted to choose the most beautiful of all.
Wave upon wave kept coming until the air was so filled with light that it
glittered. All the life and beauty and joy of summer smiled on Abbot Hans.
He felt that earth could bring no greater happiness than that which welled
up about him, and he said to himself, "I do not know what new beauties the
next wave that comes can bring with it."
But the light kept streaming in, and now it seemed to Abbot Hans that it
carried with it something from an infinite distance. He felt a celestial
atmosphere enfolding him, and tremblingly he began to anticipate, now that
earth's joys had come, the glories of heaven were approaching.
Then Abbot Hans marked how all grew still; the birds hushed their songs,
the flowers ceased growing, and the young foxes played no more. The glory
now nearing was such that the heart wanted to stop beating; the eyes wept
without one's knowing it; the soul longed to soar away into the Eternal.
From far in the distance faint harp tones were heard, and celestial song,
like a soft murmur, reached him.
Abbot Hans clasped his hands and dropped to his knees. His face was
radiant with bliss. Never had he dreamed that even in this life it should
be granted him to taste the joys of heaven, and to hear angels sing
But beside Abbot Hans stood the lay brother who had accompanied him. In
his mind there were dark thoughts. "This cannot be a true miracle," he
thought, "since it is revealed to malefactors. This does not come from
God, but has its origin in witchcraft and is sent hither by Satan. It is
the Evil One's power that is tempting us and compelling us to see that
which has no real existence."
From afar were heard the sound of angel harps and the tones of a Miserere.
But the lay brother thought it was the evil spirits of hell coming closer.
"They would enchant and seduce us," sighed he, "and we shall be sold into
The angel throng was so near now that Abbot Hans saw their bright forms
through the forest branches. The lay brother saw them, too; but back of
all this wondrous beauty he saw only some dread evil. For him it was the
devil who performed these wonders on the anniversary of our Saviour's
birth. It was done simply for the purpose of more effectually deluding
poor human beings.
All the while the birds had been circling around the head of Abbot Hans,
and they let him take them in his hands. But all the animals were afraid
of the lay brother; no bird perched on his shoulder, no snake played at
his feet. Then there came a little forest dove. When she marked that the
angels were nearing, she plucked up courage and flew down on the lay
brother's shoulder and laid her head against his cheek.
Then it appeared to him as if sorcery were come right upon him, to tempt
and corrupt him. He struck with his hand at the forest dove and cried in
such a loud voice that it rang throughout the forest, "Go thou back to
hell, whence thou art come!"
Just then the angels were so near that Abbot Hans felt the feathery touch
of their great wings, and he bowed down to earth in reverent greeting.
But when the lay brother's words sounded, their song was hushed and the
holy guests turned in flight. At the same time the light and the mild
warmth vanished in unspeakable terror for the darkness and cold in a human
heart. Darkness sank over the earth, like a coverlet; frost came, all the
growths shrivelled up; the animals and birds hastened away; the rushing of
streams was hushed; the leaves dropped from the trees, rustling like rain.
Abbot Hans felt how his heart, which had but lately swelled with bliss,
was now contracting with insufferable agony. "I can never outlive this,"
thought he, "that the angels from heaven had been so close to me and were
driven away; that they wanted to sing Christmas carols for me and were
driven to flight."
Then he remembered the flower he had promised Bishop Absalon, and at the
last moment he fumbled among the leaves and moss to try and find a
blossom. But he sensed how the ground under his fingers froze and how the
white snow came gliding over the ground. Then his heart caused him ever
greater anguish. He could not rise, but fell prostrate on the ground and
When the robber folk and the lay brother had groped their way back to the
cave, they missed Abbot Hans. They took brands with them and went out to
search for him. They found him dead upon the coverlet of snow.
Then the lay brother began weeping and lamenting, for he understood that
it was he who had killed Abbot Hans because he had dashed from him the cup
of happiness which he had been thirsting to drain to its last drop.
When Abbot Hans had been carried down to Övid, those who took charge of
the dead saw that he held his right hand locked tight around something
which he must have grasped at the moment of death. When they finally got
his hand open, they found that the thing which he had held in such an iron
grip was a pair of white root bulbs, which he had torn from among the moss
When the lay brother who had accompanied Abbot Hans saw the bulbs, he took
them and planted them in Abbot Hans' herb garden.
He guarded them the whole year to see if any flower would spring from
them. But in vain he waited through the spring, the summer, and the
autumn. Finally, when winter had set in and all the leaves, and the
flowers were dead, he ceased caring for them.
But when Christmas Eve came again, he was so strongly reminded of Abbot
Hans that he wandered out into the garden to think of him. And look! as he
came to the spot where he had planted the bare root bulbs, he saw that
from them had sprung flourishing green stalks, which bore beautiful
flowers with silver white leaves.
He called out all the monks at Övid, and when they saw that this plant
bloomed on Christmas Eve, when all the other growths were as if dead, they
understood that this flower had in truth been plucked by Abbot Hans from
the Christmas garden in Göinge forest. Then the lay brother asked the
monks if he might take a few blossoms to Bishop Absalon.
And when he appeared before Bishop Absalon, he gave him the flowers and
said: "Abbot Hans sends you these. They are the flowers he promised to
pick for you from the garden in Göinge forest."
When Bishop Absalon beheld the flowers, which had sprung from the earth in
darkest winter, and heard the words, he turned as pale as if he had met a
ghost. He sat in silence a moment; thereupon he said, "Abbot Hans has
faithfully kept his word and I shall also keep mine." And he ordered that
a letter of ransom be drawn up for the wild robber who was outlawed and
had been forced to live in the forest ever since his youth.
He handed the letter to the lay brother, who departed at once for the
Robbers' Cave. When he stepped in there on Christmas Day, the robber came
toward him with axe uplifted. "I'd like to hack you monks into bits, as
many as you are!" said he. "It must be your fault that Göinge forest did
not last night dress itself in Christmas bloom."
"The fault is mine alone," said the lay brother, "and I will gladly die
for it; but first I must deliver a message from Abbot Hans." And he drew
forth the Bishop's letter and told the man that he was free. "Hereafter
you and your children shall play in the Christmas straw and celebrate your
Christmas among people, just as Abbot Hans wished to have it," said he.
Then Robber Father stood there pale and speechless, but Robber Mother said
in his name, "Abbot Hans has indeed kept his word, and Robber Father will
When the robber and his wife left the cave, the lay brother moved in and
lived all alone in the forest, in constant meditation and prayer that his
hard-heartedness might be forgiven him.
But Göinge forest never again celebrated the hour of our Saviour's birth;
and of all its glory, there lives to-day only the plant which Abbot Hans
had plucked. It has been named CHRISTMAS ROSE. And each year at
Christmastide she sends forth from the earth her green stalks and white
blossoms, as if she never could forget that she had once grown in the
great Christmas garden at Göinge forest.