There was an old country-house which belonged to young, wealthy people. They had riches and blessings, they liked to enjoy themselves, but they did good as well, they wished to make everybody as happy as they were themselves.
On Christmas Eve a beautifully decorated Christmas-tree stood in the old hall, where the fire burned in the chimney, and fir branches were hung round the old pictures. Here were assembled the family and their guests, and there was dancing and singing.
Earlier in the evening there had been Christmas gaiety in the servants' hall. Here also was a great fir-tree with red and white candles, small Danish flags, swans and fishing-nets, cut out of coloured paper, and filled with ' goodies \ The poor children from the neighbourhood were invited, every one had his mother with him. The mothers did not look much at the Christmas-tree, but at the Christmas table, where there lay linen and woollen cloth—stuff for gowns and stuff for trousers. They and the bigger children looked there, only the very little ones stretched out their hands to the candles, and the tinsel and flags.
The whole party came early in the afternoon and got Christmas porridge and roast goose with red cabbage. Then when the Christmas-tree was seen and the gifts distributed, each got a little glass of punch with apple fritters. Then they went back to their own poor homes and talked of the good living, that is to say good things to eat; and the gifts were once more inspected. There were now Garden Kirsten and Garden Ole. They were married, and had their house and daily bread for weeding and digging in the garden of the big house. Every Christmas festival they got a good share of the gifts ; they had five children, and all of them were clothed by the family.
1 They are generous people, our master and mistress ! ' said they, ' but they have the means to be so, and they have pleasure in doing it.'
* Here are good clothes for the four children to wear,'