Then there was a great confusion in the forest. There was a sound of rude voices, and a clashing of swords and staves. Strange men appeared, uttering loud oaths and cruel threats, and the tree was filled with terror. It called aloud for the angel, but the angel came not.
"Alas," cried the vine, "they have come to destroy the tree, the pride and glory of the forest!"
The forest was sorely agitated, but it was in vain. The strange men plied their axes with cruel vigor, and the tree was hewn to the ground. Its beautiful branches were cut away and cast aside, and its soft, thick foliage was strewn to the tenderer mercies of the winds.
"They are killing me!" cried the tree; "why is not the angel here to protect me?"
But no one heard the piteous cry,--none but the other trees of the forest; and they wept, and the little vine wept too.
Then the cruel men dragged the despoiled and hewn tree from the forest, and the forest saw that beauteous thing no more.
But the night wind that swept down from the City of the Great King that night to ruffle the bosom of distant Galilee, tarried in the forest awhile to say that it had seen that day a cross upraised on Calvary,--the tree on which was stretched the body of the dying Master.
STAR OF THE EAST
Star of the East, that long ago Brought wise men on their way Where, angels singing to and fro, The Child of Bethlehem lay-- Above that Syrian hill afar Thou shinest out to-night, O Star!
[Illustration: To seek that manger out and lay Our gifts before the child-- To bring our hearts and offer them Unto our King in Bethlehem!
Star of the East, the night were drear But for the tender grace That with thy glory comes to cheer Earth's loneliest, darkest place; For by that charity we see Where there is hope for all and me.
Star of the East! show us the way In wisdom undefiled To seek that manger out and lay Our gifts before the child-- To bring our hearts and offer them Unto our King in Bethlehem!