In a small cottage, on the borders of a forest, lived a poor couple with a son named Valentine and a daughter named Mary. One winter evening, there was a gentle tap at the family’s window, and a childish voice cried out, “Oh, let me in, pray! I am a poor little child, and I shall die of cold and hunger unless you let me in.”
Valentine and Mary ran to the door, saying, “Come in, poor little child! We have not much to give you, but whatever we have we will share with you.”
The stranger-child came in and warmed his frozen hands and feet at the fire, and the children gave him the best they had to eat. Then Mary and Valentine took their guest into their sleeping-room, laid him on the bed, covered him over, and said to each other, “How thankful we ought to be!” before laying down quite contentedly on the bench near the fire.
Several hours later, Mary and Valentine awoke to the sounds of sweet music. They stepped softly to the window, where outside stood a group of children, clothed in silver garments, holding golden harps in their hands. A light tap caused Mary and Valentine to turn round. There stood the stranger-child before them, clad in a golden dress, with a gleaming radiance round his curling hair.
“I am the little Christ-child,” he said, “who wanders through the world bringing peace and happiness to good children. You took me in and cared for me when you thought
me a poor child, and now you shall have my blessing for what you have done.”
He broke a branch from the fir tree that grew near the door, planted it in the ground, and disappeared. But the branch grew into a great tree, and every year it bore wonderful golden fruit for the kind children.