“Sir,” said Mr C to Father Christmas, “do you have a room where we pilgrims can meet?”
Father Christmas slowly smiled, then winked. “Yes, by the street door,” he said. “I think you can find your own way…”
The pilgrims hurried out of his splendid dining hall, and past the door that led onto the main square of Vanity Fair. This door had been left open, and Godly Affection closed it with a strong hand against the howling wind and moonless darkness. They sought and found refuge in the small appointed room…
Sweet Remembrance was missing. No sooner had the pilgrims reached the private room than they noticed. Immediately Mr Christian and Godly Affection left to find her, while her mother, Blessed Fellowship, led the women in prayer.
After they had prayed, Fellowship said, “Remembrance has always been sensitive, dwelling too much on the past. And Father Christmas has made much of her, you see, and it’s difficult not to respond in a friendly way when friendship is offered by such a person.”
“I remember how she was as a little girl,” said Mrs C. “She couldn’t bear to see even a tiny flower crushed underfoot and cried over it.”
“That’s true!” Godly Joy exclaimed. “I often tried to comfort her.”
Fellowship sighed. “Recently she determined to remember only the good things. But this has made her cling to the kind of memories Father Christmas provides.”
True Need stirred in Mrs. C’s arms and Mrs C quieted her. “In this way the Cross of Christ will be forgotten.”
“The cross is an offense,” Fellowship replied. “But in the home of Father Christmas there is no offense.”
Joy seemed to consider this. “Here, there is happiness. But in the cross of Christ there is eternal bliss.”
Fellowship smiled at Joy. “Your sister knows all of this but finds it difficult to part with things.”
There was a sharp knock and the door was flung open. Father Christmas appeared, his face flushed more than usual. He was gripping Remembrance by the arm, and he pushed her towards them, saying, “She is harping on the past again – even weeping about ‘the massacre of the innocents’! Did a massacre even happen? And the men overstepped the bounds! Here they come, ranting like hypocrites!”
Mr C and Godly Affection entered behind him. “Ho!” Godly Affection cried. “What is happening here?”
“And you!” Father Christmas’s voice rose. “If you want to talk about death – which is all you do – do your talking elsewhere! This is a house of cheer. I’ve had enough – you were warned, all of you! Take your belongings and go!”
“At night in winter?” Mrs C cried. “Pity us, sir – please! At least think of the child.”
Father Christmas smiled briefly upon True Need whose head was resting on Mrs C’s shoulder. “You have till the cock-crow,” he said.
After reading in their Holy Book the following passage, they spent the night praying.
24 And when they heard that, they lifted up their voice to God with one accord, and said, Lord, thou art God, which hast made heaven, and earth, and the sea, and all that in them is: 25 who by the mouth of thy servant David hast said, Why did the heathen rage, and the people imagine vain things? 26 The kings of the earth stood up, and the rulers were gathered together against the Lord, and against his Christ. 27 For of a truth against thy holy child Jesus, whom thou hast anointed… (Acts 4)
The cock crowed, the child True Need stirred, and the pilgrims awoke, prayed, and went forth into a world of glittering hoarfrost under a low sky that promised a bit of relief from the penetrating cold, their way leading across difficult snowy hills.
Behind them, beneath a creeping fog, the city of Vanity Fair still lay sleeping. Before them, in the distance and aglow with light, the Celestial City stood, beautiful beyond imagining and beckoning to them. Mr and Mrs C were walking with the child True Need safely between them, holding her hands. True Need was now seeing the Celestial City for the first time.