"Shall you be dining out asked the girl. "I oh, no! I have none to dine with. I know no one here. And this evening. Shall you be going anywhere? "I oh, no! I have nowhere er to go. &rgdaczj&xF EN WILL Bthe alighted from the east flyer at the Mich roach of Central depot. There was an absent look In his clear blue eyes, usually so keen In observation of his surroundings, and he was Impatient at the slow progress of the crowd Altering through the gate. He paid no attention to (Ik haripy reunions of friends and rol.ilnw at the station; the exclama Uons of delight at the meetings fell on deadened ears. Pushing through the crowd, he hur ried to a car and soon alighted at the eld familiar corner. The street looked juat the same. The house, however, waa changed; It no louger looked like home. The old fashioned shutters were missing, the quiet, sedate front was altered, and hay windows protruded above as well as on the ground floor "Mrs. Flabhins don't live here no wore, said the untidy young woman who answered his ring. With saddened eyes he retraced his steps to the corner. Entering the drug store he satisfied the proprietor that he was a stranger by buying a cigar and then rather diffidently requesting the privilege of looking at the dlrec tory. The only Flabhins he could find was Edward, who was credited with being In the saloon business. Is Mr. Flabhins here?" asked Will at the number indicated. "Thats me," replied a short, thick set man, with cold, gray eyes, and a roll of fat hiding the back of his collar. As he answered the stranger the "Mother!" color left his face. He recognized his Ben saw that this was the cause, and smiled rather bitterly. Where la mother?" he asked of the man behind the bar. "I I dont know, stammered Flab-blnstep-brothe- You lie, as you always did, said Ben, his jaw coming together like a steel trap and his blue eyes flashing. Flabhins moved toward the cash register. You need not trouble yourself," exclaimed Ben, contemptuously, noting I have no time to the movement. talk to you now, but I may return and If I have cause your revolver won't save you. Where Is your fa- ther? "Dead," sulkily answered the sa- loon keeper. "How long?" 'Four years. "And mother?" Ben's voice was low, hut there was a menace In It that caused Flabhins to draw a little closer to the register. "I liain't seen her in tluee years SIri left the house after a row wid Hess. You know what Bess is." The next morning the following item was insetted in the lcnlm; papers of the eltv. WANTED Information as to tlie hereabouts of Mrs. Daniel Flabhins. Box X, 21." Eddying flakes formed a curtain of whirling w lute, shutting out the dreary landscape, and coveriug the frozen, jagged earth with a soft mantle of snow as. shaking himself like a great Newiminldand dog, Ben Will waited impatiently tor the opening of the toor of the great institution for the housing of the poor. When admitted, ho paced the plainly but comfortably furnished reception room, hungry for a sight of his mothers face. The opening of the door caused him to turn with outstretched arms. His eyes, blinded by tears, saw a bent form moving slowly toward him; one hand, toil worn and brown, the blue veins standing out upon it. grasped a cane with which to steady the tottering footsteps; above the bent frame in which beat a mothers heart, crowning it with a glory all its own, was a sweet old face. "Mother!" "Ben, my owm Ben! Oh! exclaimed Ben, quivering with anger, to think they would allow you to go to the poor house. They shall suffer. They " Hush, Ben, said his mother, softly, placing her hand over the lips of her son. This Is Christmas, and I am going home with you. Ah. such a happy Christmas. Well may we ta.' Peace on earth and good will to UuSOL ALONE AT CHRISTMASTIME S. By BARING-GOUL- Is there can there be a man more lonely than one returned from a far country, who has been out of his home land for 20 years, and comes back when his parents are dead, his old friends dispersed, and the old nest has passed to other occupants? And can his loneliness be more emphasized than when his return syncronlzes with Christmas? That was my condition when I revisited the mother country. With a beating heart and straining eyes I had looked for the first sight of dear old America after having left it as a lad, hardly a man, some 20 years ago. I was back not to home I had no home now My heart began to fall me, my spirits decline, when I reached the Uttle country town near which I had been born, and where I had fleeted the golden hours of childhood. No one knew me. In the churchyard I laid a wreath on the graves where 17 dear old father and mother. I looked at our house. It had been rebuilt and was occupied by strangers. D So we parted, and I ascended to my room. I made up the fire, and sat down and reread the newspaper. There was much in It about the approaching feast. I had the Illustrated papers. They had issued Christmas supplements, with pictures of happy family gatherings, of Old Father Christmas, of waits and carol singers. I might perhaps hear the waits and singers. I should certainly hear the Christmas bells. That would be all. I had done with my papers. I sat before the Are In a brown study, and my spirits sank lower and ever lower. I recalled the old Christmases I had spent at home with my parents. I remembered how I had looked Into my stockings on the morning to see If Old Father Christmas had visited me In the night and had left there some presents for the Good Boy. Alas! No Father Christmas would visit me now. All that was of the past the utterly and Irrevocably HE Bachelor Bred in boarding house. He was 55 years old, and his hair was growing thin at the top and gray at the temples. He had recently Invested in a cane because of the gout which he had stopped calling rheumatism. After he had bought the cane he had grimly stalked to an oculists. The new eyeglasses were in his pocket now, and he was on his way to the boarding house (he disdained to call It home) to test them on the Rubai-- 1 yat that a New York friend had sent him for Christmas. All these things (including the coming of Omar Khayyam) had made the Bachelor a pessimist or so, at least, he thought It was Christmas eve. The Christmas spirit! he growled, past. Huh! The ChristI did not light my candles. I could under his breath. read no more. I needed no light for mas greed, I call It. Everybody seems to be rushing around like mad, and my thoughts, they were too dark to everybody is Ailed to bursting with a be Illumined thus. I As stood thus musing, I heard a lively Bense of favors to come. Will confounded car ever show up? I tap at my door, and shouted: "Come that In! There ensued delay, and I called cant stand this chattering rabble much longer. again: "Come In! The car came at last and the BachThen the door opened and I saw some little heads outside, with golden elor heaved a sigh that was almost curls and hushed cheeks, and a child's satisfaction as he sank into the only vacant seat voice said: "Please, Mr. The Bachelor found himself on the will you come to our tree down- clung all my sweetest and holiest thoughts; to buy there a little land, to tread the old paths, ramble in the same woods, look upon the same scenes, dwell among the same people, a home In the same place. But now? Could It be? As I walked back to my lodgings, through the street and by the market place, folk were hurrying In all directions, some with bunches of holly In their hands, a girl or two with a sprig of mistletoe slyly hid In her muff, a man wheeling a Christmas tree on a barrow, butchers boys carrying Joints for the morrow's dinner. Plum puddings and mince pies were displayed In the confectioners The shops. chemist, the hairdresser, the seedsman, the draper had stuffed their windows with toys, toys, toys. He who had come to earth as a little child had filled every heart with thought of the little ones, and desire to make Christmas a day of joy to them. I had no tiny ones of my own, no little nieces and nephews, no small cousins for whom to provide anything. I was alone utterly, desolately alone. As I pursued my way I saw a tall, slim girl walking before me with a basket on her arm, and I noticed that stairs? the bottom had come out, and that 1! j;" the contents fell on the pavement. As I hesitated, the child said: Of this she was unaware. I stooped "Please Annie told us to ask you. and picked up a little woolly lamb, And then I saw the tall girl whom then a something wrapped in paper I had assisted draw back Into the then a silver match box breaking dark behind them. out of Its covering. Most certainly I will, as you are Gathering them together, I ran after so kind as to Invite me." the girl and stopped her. So I descended, and there were my Excuse me, said I. "Are you a landlord and landlady, radiant with female Hop o my Thumb, dropping and the Ave children happiness, tokens whereby your track my be danced before me and said: He Is known? come; Is It not nice! Behind, presI showed her what I had collected. ently, entered Annie, somewhat shyShe colored and thanked me. Then ly, and pretending she had come from I recognized her as the daughter of the kitchen. my landlady. I was witness of the delight of the "You must allow me, said I, to tie little ones over their presents the my handkerchief round the basket and to carry it for you. I believe that we go the same way." "You are very good, she replied "We are about to have a Christmas tree for the children this evening, and I have been making some trifling purchases as presents for my brothers and sisters, and for papa and mamma, You Are Very Good. who must not be forgotten." There go the candles! I exI went through the village. The little claimed, as a cataract of red, yellow shops had fresh names over them. and green tapers shot out of the basThe old rector who had baptized me ket. was dead. The old school was gone. And theres an orange!" said she7 The ancient church had been reno- as one of these fruit bounced forth vated. The village Inn was In new and fell, and- - rolled away into the bands. The old Christmas was no gutter. more. No frost, no snow, no Icicles; We were forced to stoop and colonly sludge and a drizzling rain. lect the scattered wax lights, and I returned from my visit to the vilthen to tie my large handkerchief I would about the basket. lage In deep depression. haste to the rooms I had taken in a "What a fortunate thing, said 1, house In the town, and spend my. "that I Have got a good sized 'kerchief Christmas Eve with my pipe and glass in place of one of the miserable little alone, with not even an old dog to rags that do service nowadays. That lie at my feet and look up with speak- is, because I cling to old customs, ing eyes into my face and sympathize and when I wa a boy my mother alwith me In my solitude. I would pass ways gave me something like a dishthe evening before the fire, looking cloth In my pocket. Into the red coals, not building castles Then we proceeded on our way, and among them, hut watching the tum- when we went Into the house, she re- bling down of old cottages, old farms, j reived the basket from me, and again old reminiscences, Into ash. thanked me. "You must not remove I had done well in the other land. the 'kerchief till all Is unpacked, I I Saw the Tall Girl. and had returned, not a rich man. but said, "or there will be another disi with a competence. of the contents, and then the woolly lamb, a small cart, a cannon, charge It had been my wish, my ambition, children will see what you have d a doll the father over a pair of warm to settle in the pillage about which for them stockings of Annie's knitting, the mother over a shawl, also of her work; and I stood smiling and happy, when up sprang one of the children THE TRUE CHRISTMAS SPIRIT and plucked from the tree the silver match box. This." said the child, "i3 for Mr. Whats-hi- s name. Sister Annie said it was for him. I was moved moie than I can say. So some had been thinking of me, 'hough I was only a lodger. Look here, sir! said the father, $ H'? "youre a stranger in the country, and ,c' V-at such a time as this there must be .,, - M k if lOv'rV. L'i- Jr no strangers. You must really sup I . ,.--a with us, and dme also with us to. -L- j ' morrow. I can promise you a good jTR dinner, for it is of Annie's making. All was changed. I was a stranger and they took me in: I was lonely and they made of me a friend. e jEULS wheth- Whats-your-nam- ' pro-xide- bt . , . - -- Christmas flay, I returned to my 10-"- p. in room upstairs, made up the fire, and seated myself before It. 1 had spent a very pleasant day, and a pleasant evening before hat. I did not now feel so discour aged, so hopeless. That was a nice family, very friendly and considerate. nd I began to build in the Are. I no longer sajv only ruins. I saw. as it were, a pleasant home rise out of the coals, and a pleasing face looked up at me out of them very much like that of Annie. Ah! if the old home was gone, might I not build one that would he new. I need no longer live in the past, but look to the future, and next Christmas, please God I would not be alone, that is if Annie but I cannot say will consent to put an end to my loneliness and help la building up a future. Of Interest to Stockholders. Jaspar I hear that Santa Claus has given up his yearly rouuds. Jnmpuppe You don't fell me! Jaspar Yes. He lias acfted a regular position on the "Salaries Committees of various big corporations. Town Topics. Threw Down the Book in a Rage. same seat with a little woman who held many bundles and a baby. The baby was asleep. The woman looked fagged and tired, but when her eyes chanced to rest on the infant In her tense arms, they grew soft with maternal tenderness. She apologized in Aushing haste to the Bachelor when the babys restless movements set a paper box squarely on his knee, but the pessimist only grunted. She tried to recover the box, but this, as she had only two arms, and both were full, proved diAicult. Let the box stay, madam, snapped the Bachelor. He had not thought to help her. "It does not inconvenience me in the least. So the box stayed. The Bachelor looked sedulously the other way, and tried to forget that it was there. The babys pudgy pink hand was Aung on his coat sleeve, and the Bachelor tried to forget that, too. "I get off at the next corner, sir, said the woman. "Could you would you She rose in hurried anxiety to her feet, and more bundles rained down on the Bachelor. I could help you out, if that is what you mean, said the Bachelor souily. Oh, no, sir thank you, sir! For the Bachelor, red with irritation, had gathered up the scattered parcels. The conductor grinned as he jerked the bellcord, and the perspiring Bachelor could have beaten him with his cane. "I'll carry these bundles home for you, madam. he announced gruffly and reluctantly, when they reached the sidewalk. "My car has left me, any-waand he smiled grimly after the rapidly receding lights. "Yes. sir, said the woman, meekly. "Tain't far," she added, "just a block. When he at last reached his cheerless room, he adjusted his new glasses with a scowl and picked up Omar Khav yam with a feeling of sudden distaste. "The Christmas spirit! he growled. "Pshaw! But he did not see the printed page, though his eyes were screwed intently upon it for many minutes. Suddenly he threw down the vellum-coverebook in a rage and tore off the pince nez. Hang it all! said he furiously, these glasses are no good. That driveling idiot of ah oculist ought to be drawn and quartered! Im going d down-town.- " So he jammed his hat on his head and went down town, and when he came back his overcoat- pockets were bulging with a flaxen-hairedoll war rauted to say "mamma without much pressure and a red jumping-jacof startling agility. For the Christmas spirit had cast its sweet and potent spell over the pessimistic Bachelor, and he had suddenly remembered what he . had so often tried to forget that his landlady was the mother of two riotous children. God bless em' said the Bachelor. d k T WAS so cold thkt that snow looked blue under' the dark sky when the Bells ran swiftly down the hard road. There were Ave of them Mary and Jimmie and the twins and baby Bell, and they were orphans and very poor, and It was the day before Christmas. The Ave Bells stopped in front of a big house. Now sing, said Mary Bell, and the Ave sweet voices were upraised: Merry, merry Christmas everywhere. Cheerily it rlngeth through the air.' sang all the little Bells, with red noses and blue fingers, as they stamped their feet and shivered in the snow. The door of the big house opened and a pompous servant came out and shook his finger at them. 'Go away, he said, go away! We dont want you howling around here. Oh! gasped the little Bells, and away they flew,' with Mary Bell bringing np the rear, as she wiped the tears from her eyes, for she was the oldest, and at home there was nothing to eat and no fire, and she didnt know what they would do. They sang before other places until their throats were sore, but everyone was too busy or too selfish to listen; and the night was coming on when at last they limped into the grounds of a dark old mansion that stood far back from the lonely road. In this mansion lived a bachelor, which isnt an ogre, although It is something like one, for bachelors havent any children, and they are apt to forget that they wore ever young, and sometimes they are very fierce. The bachelor was all alone. He had sent his servants away to keep their Christmas at their homes, and he was in the loneliest room in the lonely house. The Bells sang two songs before he moved. He drew back the curtain. Go away, he motioned. They turned to go out of the gate, but when they reached It Baby Bell stumbled and sat down and then she cried, and the other four cried a for- lorn little group, for they were all so tired and cold and hungry that they n didnt care what happened. O, by George, said the bachelor, watching them. By George, they are nothing but babies!" and he ran downstairs and out into the snowy path. Whats the matter? he demanded. No one wants to hear us sing,' sobbed baby Bell. Huh! said the bachelor, gruffly. I do. But Mary just looked at the bachelor with eyes that reminded him of days of long ago, and suddenly he found himself holding her hand and talking eagerly. Come in, he urged, where it is warm, and sing to me there. The lonely room was not lonely any more when the five little Bells stood in a row In front of the fire, which the bachelor poked Into blazing brightness. They sang with a will, and the bachelor clapped his hands, and then took out his purse. Here, he said to Mary, and handed her a dollar. But Mary shook her head. It is too much, she said. You must give us a penny apiece for each song, for that is all that it is worth. We cant sing very well. We are not beggars. By George, said the bachelor. By George! I believe you are half-starve- d. Then he looked at Alary. Can you cook? he asked. Yes, indeed, cried all the little Bells. I need a cook, said the bachelor, with twinkling smiles. I havent anyone to cook my Christmas dinner, and if you dont take pity on me I shall have nothing." Shall I begin now? asked Mary, I should love it. eagerly. I haven't anything in the house, said the bachelor. But there is the telephone. Is a telephone good to eat? asked baby Bell. but its No, said the bachelor, fine to talk into. Now take off your things and stay with me. O, Im afraid we will be a trouble, said Mary, uncertainly. Will your mother worry? asked the bachelor. We haven't any mother, said We are orphans, and we are Mary. all alone. That settles it. said the bachelor. You are to stay. And he went to the telephone and ordered everything from turkey to tarts and from plum pudding to pies. It was the jolliest Christmas eve, and the jolliest person of all was the lonely bachelor, because he wasn't lonely any more, and there were children In the house to make Christmas what it should be. You must stay with me always, he said, as they sat warm and well fed and rosy around the fire. The house is so big and I am awav half the time, and you could sing for mo-y- es, you shall come here, and he tossed baby Bell high in the air. O, how happy we will be, sang How happy you have the children. made us, dear bachelor. But the bachelor shook his head. It is you who have made the hapith your music, dear piness. you little Christmas Bells." Detroit Freu Press. n .