In a small cottage in the deep, deep woods, lived a very, very poor woman who was a lace maker.
For many years, she had worked in a dark room making lace. Fine lace must be made in a dark place, because
sunlight changes its color from white to a muddy yellow.
One day, the Queen sent for the poor woman. "Samantha", she said, "your lace is the most beautiful that is made. I want you to make a lace dress for my daughter. She is only a baby, but if you begin it now, it will be
ready to wear when she is twenty-one years old. You will have a long time in which to work, but I wish the lace to be very fine. I will pay you very well, so that you will want for nothing. Will you work for me?"
"Good Queen, I shall be glad to make the lace for your daughter," said Samantha. "May the princess grow up to be as good and kind as you are."
Samantha then left the Queen and began to work on the lace dress for the little princess.
Almost twenty years passed.
The poor woman had worked so much in the dark that her eyes became weaker and weaker. Samantha decided to call upon Cindy, her daughter, to come and live with her.
As Samantha's eyes became weaker, she had to teach Cindy to make the fine lace. Finally, she could no
longer see the light of day.
The Princess Grows Up
The twenty years had passed and the lace was almost finished.
Samantha and her daughter Cindy were in great poverty. The Queen had died, and they no longer received pay for their work. Cindy's youngest son was sick, and she did not have enough money even to buy food for him.
One evening, Cindy put the last of the wood on the fire and then she started off to the doctor with the little boy. Samantha was left alone in the cottage.
Soon after, she heard a knock at the front door. She opened it, but she could not see who was at the door.
"Are you Samantha, the lace maker?"
"I am Samantha," answered the old woman, "but I am blind. Is there anything I can do for you?"
"I am the princess", answered the voice outside the door, "and I have come to see the lace dress which my mother asked you to make."
"Oh, Good Princess, how I wish I could see you!", said Samantha. "You are like your own good mother, I am sure!"
"I have come to see the lace", said the princess in a cross voice.
"I am sorry, but I cannot show it to you until my daughter comes home, for I cannot see to open the box.", said the old woman.
The princess became very angry. She walked away from the door and stood outside. At last, Cindy came home. She took out the lace and showed it to the princess.
"How wonderful!", cried the princess.
"I must have this dress for Easter!"
"But it will not be finished by Easter", said Cindy sadly. "If I were to work all day and all night, I could not have it finished by that time. Besides, my child is sick, and I must take care of him."
"I must have the dress by Easter", said the princess, "and you shall finish it. I will pay you well for your work."
"When you are twenty-one years old you will have the dress", the old blind woman said, "that is the promise we made to your mother, the Queen."
"That is too late", said the princess. "I will give you one hundred pieces of gold for the lace at Easter. If it is not finished at that time, you can keep the lace dress. I shall not want it."
Then the princess turned and walked away.
"Oh, Mother", cried Cindy, "if only the princess would wait. That money would mean so much to us, but now I'm afraid that we shall die. We have no wood, and there is little food left."
"Do your best, my child", said Samantha.
Night came. They ate no supper because there was only one piece of bread left in the house. Cindy lit one small candle and went on with her work, while the blind old woman put the child to bed.
At last, Samantha herself fell asleep. Cindy looked at the statue of Our Blessed Mother and prayed,
"Blessed Mary, we are in great trouble. Pray for us and help us!"
Around midnight, there was a light sound at the door. Cindy asked, "Who is there?"
"Only a poor woman who wishes to have a bite to eat and a warm place to sleep", came the answer.
Cindy opened the door and a tall poorly dressed woman walked inside.
"Oh, my poor friend", said Cindy, "Sit here by the fire and get warm."
Cindy hurried to give the last piece of bread to the stranger. She did not say that they themselves had not eaten anything that night.
"Why do you work so late?", asked the stranger. "You should have your rest."
The stranger rose from her place by the fire. As she did so, the room was filled with a golden light. She was no longer a poor woman, but Our Blessed Mary herself.
"Come, beautiful angels", she said. "I have work for you here."
At her words, many of the angels came into the room.
One angel filled the bread box. Another placed milk and cheese on the table. They put wood on the fire. Then they finished the lace which Cindy had been making.
Our Blessed Mary took the little sick boy in her arms, and at that very minute he was made well again.
She looked upon the blind woman and prayed to her Son, to give sight to her, and the woman's eyese were made well.
"May you always be as kind to the poor as you have been tonight.", said Our Blessed Mary, as she and the angels left the room where the three were sleeping.