From The Night Before Christmas, and other Popular Stories for Children ©1903
On Christmas day there is a great feast in Dublin. This, you know, is the chief city of Ireland. The feast is made for the children. There are in that city a great many little ones who are very [pg 58] very poor. There are kind people there, also, who look after these poor children. They have what they call “ragged schools,” where many of them are taught to read, and to sew, and other useful things.
Dr. Nelaton is a famous minister in Dublin, and every year he, with other good people, gets up this great feast for the children. About eight hundred of them came last year. Some of these were only half-clad, and all were very ragged. They were seated at long, narrow tables, which were covered with a white cloth, The children from the ragged schools wore aprons in bright colors, to hide their rags. Each school had a color of its own. These aprons were only lent them for the day, and the children felt very fine in them. But there were two long rows without any aprons. These were little ones who had been picked up along the streets. Each ragged scholar had permission to bring all the children he could find. And, oh, how ragged and dirty these two rows were!
But they brightened up, just like the children with aprons, when they saw the feast. A huge mug of steaming tea and an immense bun to each child! Rarely did they have such a treat as this. And how they did eat! Each child had all he wanted. It would have done you good to see their poor, pinched faces beam with delight. During the meal a large throng of orphan children in the gallery sung some sweet songs. Then, after the feast, there were small gifts, and little speeches and prayers, and more songs. The little ragged ones seemed like new beings in this atmosphere of love. Such a glad day as that Christmas was a rare event in their sad lives. Children who live in happy homes know little about the sufferings of the poor. Perhaps, if they knew more, such little ones would try harder, by gifts and kind acts, to carry sunshine to sorrowful hearts.
Re-posted from Apples4TheTeacher.com