Honorable Little God
A Christmas Story
Fannie C. Macaulay
Author of "The Lady of The Decoration"
By Courtesy of
The Century Publishing Company
Louisville Kindergarten Alumnae Club
AND THE HONORABLE LITTLE GOD
During sundry long and lonely evenings in a
Japanese mission school, a young native teacher
sought to while away the hours for a homesick
exile. She was girlish and fair, with the soft voice
and gentle, indescribable charm characteristic of the
women of her race. Her tales were of the kinder-
garten, happenings in her life and the lives of others,
and I have sought to set them down as she told
them to me in her quaint, broken English. But
they miss the earnest eyes and dramatic gestures of
the little story-teller as she sat in the glow of the
hibachi fire, with a background of paper doors, with
shadow pictures of pine-trees and bamboo etched
by the moonlight, the far-off song of a nightingale,
and the air sweet with incense from nearby shrines.
He wear name of Take Nishimura, which in
English say' Mr. Bamboo of the West Village. He
most funny little boy in my kindergarten class. But
he have such sweet heart. It all time speaking out
nice thoughtfuls through his big round eyes, which
no seem like Japanese eyes of long and narrow.
His so much slim of body make him look like
baby. But his mama say' he been here four years.
She nice lady and loving mother. One more thing
why that child's most funny small enf ant. He
have papa who is great general of war, with big
spirit. Take Chan fixed idea in his head he's
just same kind big warrior man. He use same
walk and the same command of speak.
This time I relate you about was most Christmas-
time. I tell story to children of long time ago,
when big star say to all worlds Christ baby lay in
manger, and I say soon we celebrate joyful day
in kindergarten. That little Take Chan never
hear 'bout it before, and he get look in his face
same as John boy in picture what always have
crooked stick in his hand, and he speak this word:
"A new God Will He be our guest on feast-day'"
We learn song 'bout star and cradle and 'gain
he speak his thought. He say: "What is cradle,
Sensei I know 'bout star. -Every night at my
honorable home I open shoji to see old priest strike
bell and make him sing. Then I see big star hang
out light over topmost of mountain." One more
time he say, like thinking to himself: "Cradle. May-
be him shrine for new God of foreign country."
I know English for long time, but Japanese
childs never know cradle. It have not come to
Christmas-story was telled many times, for child-
ren like to hear about it. When I say this time, on
that day we get pine-tree and dress him up with
many gifts, Take Chan clap his hands and say:
"Banzai! We make offering of tree to new God."
Sometimes many troubles press my mind how I
make childs know much difference of real God,
which he never see, and those wooden-stones we see
all time with burning of lights before them and
leaves of bamboo and pine.
We work very hard all days before morning of
Christmas-tree, but not one child in whole class
could make things such fast as Take Chan. His
hands so small they look 'most like bird-foots hop-
ping round quick in flower garden when he con-
struct ornaments of bright color. Sometimes he
have look of tired in his face, and bad coughs take
his throat. For which, if I did not know 'bout
Christmas-story and all other many things like that,
I would have a thought that fox spirit was indus-
trious to enter his body.
Then I mention, "Go play in garden", for I
know well how he have like of play in lovely garden
of his home, where, with body of bare, he race
big dragon-flies what paint the summer air all gold
and blue. But Take Chan makes the laughs for
me when looks so firmly and say: "No. I have the
busy to make ready for honorable guest coming on
feast-day of Christman." All times he not singing
he talk 'bout what big welcome we give to new
Ah, that little boy! I can no' make him have
the right understand'; but he walk right into my
heart, and give me the joyful of love and much sad.
No, I never forget that Christmas day. It makes
of my mind a canvas and paints pictures on it what
will never wash away nor burn.
In morning, sun 'most so slow climbing over
mountain as snail creeping up Fuji. He get big
surprise when his eye come into kindergarten win-
dow and find me very busy for a long time.
All teachers have many works, and very soon
they turn their playroom into lovely feast-place.
Paper flowers and ornaments which childrens build
with hands, and red berries they bring from forest,
have expression same as growing from walls and
windows. Same thought as all teachers to give the
happy to glad Christmas-day. Many Japanese childs
is just getting news of this birthday.
Quick we put piano where it can sing best, chairs
all in circle. Big spot in middle for tree, which
comes at very last from that other room.
While I work postman bring long box from
foreign country, which one teacher open. It had
gift for kindergarten. It was such beautiful thing.
Many childrens never see same as this before. All
teachers give quick decide to make secret of present,
and put on Christmas-tree as big surprise.
In very middle of most happy time by opening
box, idea arrive in my mind. Wonder if those
coughs permission Take Chan to come kinder-
garten that day One desire knock very loud at
my heart for that little Bamboo boy to know rightly
'bout Christ-child. I know for surely. Once I
go to foreign country, and my life have experience
of seventeen. But Japanese child of now must see
God and everything.
Then glad thought come. If Take Chan do
not make absence this day, his own eye will tell him
trulier than stiff speech of tongue that cradle is not
shrine, and Christ child not blazon image of wooden
stone, but great spirit of invisible which have
much love for childrens. I learn those words out
of book, but meaning come out my own heart,
which I have the difficult to give childs.
Beginning time for morning march grow very
near. Him not come, and the anxious so restless my
body I run to big gate and view round and up.
Narrow street which walk by kindergarten house
most lovely picture than all other countries of uni-
verse. It have many trimmings of flags and ban-
ners for greeting soon coming of New-Year. Even
old plum-trees have happy to break pink flowers
out full, and lay on gray roof to look at bright sun.
The big love of my heart for this Japanese country
make me so delightful I have little forget 'bout late
of Take Chan till I hear spank of many feet on
hard earth. I look, and see one of those pictures
which never melt off my mind. That sound of
feet belong' to soldiers company, and so quick they
stop in long line and hold all hands to hat for salute,
I think maybe Oyama San coming. I give piercing
look, and my eyes see marching straight by those
big mens a speck of blue all trimmed with gold
braid. It was Take Chan. Same war clothes as
his papa, even same number stripes on his sleeve,
and twelve inch' of sword on his side, which make
song on heel of shoe when they walk. Father's two
soldiers servants walk close behind Take Chan,
and in smiles. Everybody know that little boy, and
everybody love his earnest. I have several feelings
when he walk up to me and say: "New guest have
he come I make ready to welcome with new
Ah, me! I have the yearn to convey the right
understand'; but he look so glad to give the wel-
come, and his war clothes so grand, the feeble fell
on my heart. I not give correction.
One servant say: "Last night Take Chan very
sick with evil spirit cough. Mama say rest at home,
but he say this great feast-day for new God. He
must for certain come and offer pine-tree and have
song and march." I hurry away with Take
Chan, and take seat on circle of kindergarten room.
A feel of anxious press' hard. First we have grand
parade, and that little soldier boy in blue in front
of all children have atmosphere same he was march-
ing before emperor. My keen of eye see all time
he have fight with swallow in his throat. After
march come song 'bout cradle and star, but big
cough catch Take Chan in middle, and when the
strangle had left and tears of hot had wipe way,
he heard childrens saying amen to prayer. His
red lip have little shake, for he have great pride to
say that prayer faster than any childs. He have
hospitable of soul, too. But Take Chan son of
great general of war, and he never cry, even
though much disappoint' come to his mind. I was
hunting speech to give him the comfort of heart
when children give sound with mouth like storm
breeze hurrying through leaves. I look. Where
door of other room always lived was most beautiful
Christmas-tree of any world, all light with flaming
candles and gold and silver balls. On very tip-
most top the lovely big surprise from foreign coun-
try. It wore dress of spangly stars and white. Big
brown eyes and hair like rice-straw when sun shines
through it. It held out welcome arms. Every
move of tree give sway to body. I know trulier,
but surely, it have look of real life. Teacher rolled
tree to middle of room in bare spot, which made
glad to have it. Children laughed and clapped
hands happy of that day, and call' many funny
sayings. I forget the anxious in my happy of that
day, and turn with glad eye on Take Chan.
Bamboo boy. Never I see such wonderful thing as
the glory. First he see only it, and give low tight
whisper, "The Offering." His eye fly to tip of
top. He lean' way over like his body break with
eager. Joyful speech come with long sigh, "Ah-
the guest he is come! " For one minute room very
still, and- just same as fairy give him enchantment
Take Chan rose from floor till he come right
under tree. Other childrens make such merries.
They have thought it play. But all sounds and
peoples passes away from my vision. Nothing left
but picture of one small blue soldier looking up
through blazon flames of Christmas-tree to shining
thing above. His cheeks so full of red with fighting
cough, eyes so bright with wet of tears, he fold his
hands for prayer, and soft like pigeon talking with
mate he speak: " 0 most Honorable Little God!
How splendid! You are real; come live with me.
In my garden I am a sodier; I'll show you the
dragon-flies and the river. Please will you come "
My heart have pause of beat. I think fever give
Take Chan's mind delirious. Quick I uncement
my feet from floor to go to him. "Tahke Chan,"
I say with lovely voice, "that is not a God nor even
image. Listen: it's only a big foreign doll
which postman bring this morning as great sur-
prise from America. Teacher put it up high so all
childs could see it. Look what kindergarten give
you-most beautiful kite, like dragon-fly you love
more better. Come rest in your chair. We sing."
Ah, that little play soldier! Door of his ear all
shut to my every speak of love. He just stand with
eyes uplift' and plead: "Please come play with me.
I know your song 'bout cradle and star. And I
can march. See." But his body rock from each
side to other. Then I press my arms round and
whisper with much tender: "I bring doll home with
you." He look 'way up high on Christmas-tree,
then he leave his conscious in kindergarten room.
Me and two soldier servants convey Take Chan
and foreign doll to his home. I stay in honorable
house with them. One day go by, and 'nother
night come. Sick boy's mama have look of ivory
lady as she rest her tired, and maid girl make tea.
I watch by side of bed on floor. Big ache in heart
clutch' me when I look round room and see blue
soldier's suit hang' near. It have look of empty
and lonely, dragon-fly kite in corner have broken
wing. But when I bring gaze back Take Chan,
loveliest sight of all visit me. That little child
reach out and find hand of foreign doll. He hold
very tight, and give it look of love. Such heaven
light come on his face! I suspend my breath and
listen to his low speech which come in broken
pieces: "You are my Tomidachi. Do not go; I
soon be well I come play in your garden. Dragon-
flies-cradle star-Ah, Little God-you grow so
Something made me open shoji quick. Old priest
make bell sing. Lovely star hangs its light over
mountain. All things have great stillness. Not
even leaf tremble in white moonlight. Strange
feel hold me. Then I know Take Chan have
gone to play in Christ-child's garden.
Ah, me! Tears of my heart are many for that
little Bamboo. But I have the joyful too; Now he
have the right understand'.