Tag: Christmas

Merry Christmas

“MY DEAR Young Friend,” said Father Time, as he laid his hand gently upon my shoulder, “you are entirely wrong.”

Then I looked up over my shoulder from the table at which I was sitting and I saw him.

But I had known, or felt, for at least the last half-hour that he was standing somewhere near me.

You have had, I do not doubt, good reader, more than once that strange uncanny feeling that there is someone unseen standing beside you, in a darkened room, let us say, with a dying fire, when the night has grown late, and the October wind sounds low outside, and when, through the thin curtain that we call Reality, the Unseen World starts for a moment clear upon our dreaming sense.

Have you had it? Yes, I know you have. Never mind telling me about it. Stop. I don’t want to hear about that strange presentiment you had the night your Aunt Eliza broke her leg. Don’t let your experience bother you. I want to tell mine.

“You are quite mistaken, my dear young friend,” repeated Father Time, “quite wrong.”

“Young friend?” I said, my mind, as one’s mind is apt to in such a case, running to an unimportant detail. “Why do you call me young?”

“Your pardon,” he answered gently — he had a gentle way with him, had Father Time. “The fault is in my failing eyes. I took you at first sight for something under a hundred.”

“Under a hundred?” I expostulated. “Well, I should think so!”

“Your pardon again,” said Time, “the fault is in my failing memory. I forgot. You seldom pass that nowadays, do you? Your life is very short.”

I heard him breathe a wistful hollow sigh. Very ancient and dim he seemed as he stood beside me. But I did not turn to look upon him. I had no need to. I knew his form, in the inner and clearer sight of things, as well as every human being knows by innate instinct, the Unseen face and form of Father Time.

I could hear him murmuring beside me, “Short — short, your life is short”; till the sound of it seemed to mingle with the measured ticking of a clock somewhere in the silent house.

Then I remembered what he had said.

“How do you know that I am wrong?” I asked. “And how can you tell what I was thinking?”

“You said it out loud,” answered Father Time. “But it wouldn’t have mattered, anyway. You said that Christmas was all played out and done with.”

“Yes,” I admitted, “that’s what I said.”

“And what makes you think that?” he questioned, stooping, so it seemed to me, still further over my shoulder.

“Why,” I answered, “the trouble is this. I’ve been sitting here for hours, sitting till goodness only knows how far into the night, trying to think of something to write for a Christmas story. And it won’t go. It can’t be done — not in these awful days.”

“A Christmas Story?”

“Yes. You see, Father Time,” I explained, glad with a foolish little vanity of my trade to be able to tell him something that I thought enlightening, “all the Christmas stuff — stories and jokes and pictures — is all done, you know, in October.”

I thought it would have surprised him, but I was mistaken.

“Dear me,” he said, “not till October! What a rush! How well I remember in Ancient Egypt — as I think you call it — seeing them getting out their Christmas things, all cut in hieroglyphics, always two or three years ahead.”

“Two or three years!” I exclaimed.

“Pooh,” said Time, “that was nothing. Why in Babylon they used to get their Christmas jokes ready — all baked in clay — a whole Solar eclipse ahead of Christmas. They said, “I think that the public preferred them.”

“Egypt?” I said. “Babylon? But surely, Father Time, there was no Christmas in those days. I thought ——”

“My dear boy,” he interrupted gravely, “don’t you know that there has always been Christmas?”

I was silent. Father Time had moved across the room and stood beside the fireplace, leaning on the mantelpiece. The little wreaths of smoke from the fading fire seemed to mingle with his shadowy outline.

“Well,” he said presently, “what is it that is wrong with Christmas?”

“Why,” I answered, “all the romance, the joy, the beauty of it has gone, crushed and killed by the greed of commerce and the horrors of war. I am not, as you thought I was, a hundred years old, but I can conjure up, as anybody can, a picture of Christmas in the good old days of a hundred years ago: the quaint old-fashioned houses, standing deep among the evergreens, with the light twinkling from the windows on the snow; the warmth and comfort within; the great fire roaring on the hearth; the merry guests grouped about its blaze and the little children with their eyes dancing in the Christmas fire- light, waiting for Father Christmas in his fine mummery of red and white and cotton wool to hand the presents from the yule-tide tree. I can see it,” I added, “as if it were yesterday.”

“It was but yesterday,” said Father Time, and his voice seemed to soften with the memory of bygone years. “I remember it well.”

“Ah,” I continued, “that was Christmas indeed. Give me back such days as those, with the old good cheer, the old stage coaches and the gabled inns and the warm red wine, the snapdragon and the Christmas-tree, and I’ll believe again in Christmas, yes, in Father Christmas himself.”

“Believe in him?” said Time quietly. “You may well do that. He happens to be standing outside in the street at this moment.”

“Outside?” I exclaimed. “Why didn’t he come in?”

“He’s afraid to,” said Father Time. “He’s frightened and he won’t come in unless you ask him. May I call him in?”

I signified assent, and Father Time went to the window for a moment and beckoned into the darkened street. Then I heard footsteps, clumsy and hesitant they seemed, upon the stairs. And in a moment a figure stood framed in the doorway — the figure of Father Christmas. He stood shuffling his feet, a timid, apologetic look upon his face.

How changed he was!

I had known in my mind’s eye, from childhood up, the face and form of Father Christmas as well as that of Old Time himself. Everybody knows, or once knew him — a jolly little rounded man, with a great muffler wound about him, a packet of toys upon his back and with such merry, twinkling eyes and rosy cheeks as are only given by the touch of the driving snow and the rude fun of the North Wind. Why, there was once a time, not yet so long ago, when the very sound of his sleigh-bells sent the blood running warm to the heart.

But now how it has changed.

All draggled with the mud and rain he stood, as if no house had sheltered him these three years past. His old red Jersey was tattered in a dozen places, his muffler frayed and travelled.

The bundle of toys that he dragged with him in a net seemed wet and worn till the cardboard boxes gaped asunder. There were boxes among them, I vow, that he must have been carrying these three past years.

But most of all I noted the change that had come over the face of Father Christmas. The old brave look of cheery confidence was gone. The smile that had beamed responsive to the laughing eyes of countless children around unnumbered Christmas- trees was there no more. And in the place of it there showed a look of timid apology, of apprehensiveness, as of one who has asked in vain the warmth and shelter of a human home — such a look as the harsh cruelty of this world has stamped upon the faces of its outcasts.

So stood Father Christmas shuffling upon the threshold, fumbling his poor tattered hat in his hand.

“Shall I come in?” he said, his eyes appealingly on Father Time.

“Come,” said Time. He turned to speak to me, “Your room is dark. Turn up the lights. He’s used to light, bright light and plenty of it. The dark has frightened him these past three years.”

I turned up the lights and the bright glare revealed all the more cruelly the tattered figure before us.

Father Christmas advanced a timid step across the floor. Then he paused, as if in sudden fear.

“Is this floor mined?” he said.

“No, no,” said Time soothingly. And to me he added in a murmured whisper, “He’s afraid. He was blown up in a mine in No Man’s Land between the trenches at Christmas-time in 1914. It broke his nerve.”

“May I put my toys on that machine gun?” asked Father Christmas timidly. “It will help to keep them dry.”

“It is not a machine gun,” said Time gently. “See, it is only a pile of books upon the sofa.” And to me he whispered, “They turned a machine gun on him in the streets of Warsaw. He thinks he sees them everywhere since then.”

“It’s all right, Father Christmas,” I said, speaking as cheerily as I could, while I rose and stirred the fire into a blaze.

“There are no machine guns here and there are no mines. This is but the house of a poor writer.”

“Ah,” said Father Christmas, lowering his tattered hat still further and attempting something of a humble bow, “a writer? Are you Hans Andersen, perhaps?”

“Not quite,” I answered.

“But a great writer, I do not doubt,” said the old man, with a humble courtesy that he had learned, it well may be, centuries ago in the yule-tide season of his northern home. “The world owes much to its great books. I always carry some of the greatest with me. I have them here ——”

He began fumbling among the limp and tattered packages that he carried. “Look! The House that Jack Built — a marvellous, deep thing, sir — and this, The Babes in the Wood. Will you take it, sir? A poor present, but a present still — not so long ago I gave them in thousands every Christmas-time. None seem to want them now.”

He looked appealingly towards Father Time, as the weak may look towards the strong, for help and guidance.

“None want them now,” he repeated, and I could see the tears start in his eyes. “Why is it so? Has the world forgotten its sympathy with the lost children wandering in the woods?”

“All the world,” I heard Time murmur with a sigh, “is wandering in the woods.” But out loud he spoke to Father Christmas in cheery admonition, “Tut, tut, good Christmas,” he said, “you must cheer up. Here, sit in this chair, the biggest one; so — beside the fire. Let us stir it to a blaze; more wood, that’s better. And listen, good old Friend, to the wind outside — almost a Christmas wind, is it not? Merry and boisterous enough, for all the evil times it stirs among.”

Old Christmas seated himself beside the fire, his hands outstretched towards the flames. Something of his old-time cheeriness seemed to flicker across his features as he warmed himself at the blaze.

“That’s better,” he murmured. “I was cold, sir, cold, chilled to the bone. Of old I never felt it so; no matter what the wind, the world seemed warm to me. Why is it not so now?”

“You see,” said Time, speaking low in a whisper for my ear alone, “how sunk and broken he is? Will you not help?”

“Gladly,” I answered, “if I can.”

“All can,” said Father Time, “every one of us.”

Meantime Christmas had turned towards me a questioning eye, in which, however, there seemed to revive some little gleam of merriment.

“Have you, perhaps,” he asked half timidly, “schnapps?”

“Schnapps?” I repeated.

“Ay, schnapps. A glass of it to drink your health might warm my heart again, I think.”

“Ah,” I said, “something to drink?”

“His one failing,” whispered Time, “if it is one. Forgive him. He was used to it for centuries. Give it to him if you have it.”

“I keep a little in the house,” I said reluctantly perhaps, “in case of illness.”

“Tut, tut,” said Father Time, as something as near as could be to a smile passed over his shadowy face. “In case of illness! They used to say that in ancient Babylon. Here, let me pour it for him. Drink, Father Christmas, drink! “

Marvellous it was to see the old man smack his lips as he drank his glass of liquor neat after the fashion of old Norway.

Marvellous, too, to see the way in which, with the warmth of the fire and the generous glow of the spirits, his face changed and brightened till the old-time cheerfulness beamed again upon it. He looked about him, as it were, with a new and growing interest.

“A pleasant room,” he said. “And what better, sir, than the wind without and a brave fire within!”

Then his eye fell upon the mantelpiece, where lay among the litter of books and pipes a little toy horse.

“Ah,” said Father Christmas almost gleefully, “children in the house!”

“One,” I answered, “the sweetest boy in all the world.”

“I’ll be bound he is!” said Father Christmas and he broke now into a merry laugh that made one’s heart good to hear. “They all are! Lord bless me! The number that I have seen, and each and every one — and quite right too — the sweetest child in all the world. And how old are you? Two and a half all but two months except a week? The very sweetest age of all, I’ll bet you say, eh, what? They all do!”

And the old man broke again into such a jolly chuckling of laughter that his snow-white locks shook upon his head.

“But stop a bit,” he added. “This horse is broken. Tut, tut, a hind leg nearly off. This won’t do!”

He had the toy in his lap in a moment, mending it. It was wonderful to see, for all his age, how deft his fingers were.

“Time,” he said, and it was amusing to note that his voice had assumed almost an authoritative tone, “reach me that piece of string. That’s right. Here, hold your finger across the knot. There! Now, then, a bit of beeswax. What? No beeswax? Tut, tut, how ill-supplied your houses are to-day. How can you mend toys, sir, without beeswax? Still, it will stand up now.”

I tried to murmur my best thanks.

But Father Christmas waved my gratitude aside.

“Nonsense,” he said, “that’s nothing. That’s my life. Perhaps the little boy would like a book too. I have them here in the packet. Here, sir, Jack and the Beanstalk, the most profound thing. I still read it to myself often. How damp it is! Pray, sir, will you let me dry my books before your fire?”

“Only too willingly,” I said. “How wet and torn they are!”

Father Christmas had risen from his chair and was fumbling among his tattered packages, taking from them his children’s books, all limp and dragged from the rain and wind.

“All wet and torn!” he murmured, and his voice sank again into sadness. “I have carried them these past three years. Look! These were for little children in Belgium and in Serbia, Can I get them for them, think you?”

Time gently shook his head.

“But presently, perhaps,” said Father Christmas, “if I dry and mend them. Look, some of them were inscribed already! This one, see you, was written ‘With father’s love.’ Why has it never come to him? Is it rain or tears upon the page?”

He stood bowed over his little books, his hands trembling as he turned the pages. Then he looked up, the old fear upon his face again.

“That sound!” he said. “Listen I It is guns — I hear them.”

“No” no,” I said, “it is nothing. Only a car passing in the street below.”

“Listen,” he said. “Hear that again — voices crying!”

“No, no,” I answered, “not voices, only the night wind among the trees.”

“My children’s voices!” he exclaimed. “I hear them everywhere — they come to me in every wind — and I see them as I wander in the night and storm — my children — torn and dying in the trenches — beaten into the ground — I hear them crying from the hospitals — each one to me, still as I knew him once, a little child. Time, Time,” he cried, reaching out his arms in appeal, “give me back my children!”

“They do not die in vain,” Time murmured gently.

But Christmas only moaned in answer:

“Give me back my children! “

Then he sank down upon his pile of books and toys, his head buried in his arms.

“You see,” said Time, “his heart is breaking, and will you not help him if you can?”

“Only too gladly,” I replied. “But what is there to do?”

“This,” said Father Time, “listen.”

He stood before me grave and solemn, a shadowy figure but half seen though he was close beside me. The fire-light had died down, and through the curtained windows there came already the first dim brightening of dawn.

“The world that once you knew,” said Father Time, “seems broken and destroyed about you. You must not let them know — the children. The cruelty and the horror and the hate that racks the world to-day — keep it from them. Some day he will know” — here Time pointed to the prostrate form of Father Christmas — “that his children, that once were, have not died in vain: that from their sacrifice shall come a nobler, better world for all to live in, a world where countless happy children shall hold bright their memory for ever. But for the children of To-day, save and spare them all you can from the evil hate and horror of the war. Later they will know and understand. Not yet. Give them. back their Merry Christmas and its kind thoughts, and its Christmas charity, till later on there shall be with it again Peace upon Earth Good Will towards Men.”

His voice ceased. It seemed to vanish, as it were, in the sighing of the wind.

I looked up. Father Time and Christmas had vanished from the room. The fire was low and the day was breaking visibly outside.

“Let us begin,” I murmured. “I will mend this broken horse.”

The Night Before Christmas: A Morality

Mrs. Clarence Fountain, backing into the room, and closing the door noiselessly before looking round: “Oh, you poor thing! I can see that you are dead, at first glance. I’m dead myself, for that matter.” She is speaking to her husband, who clings with one hand to the chimney-piece, and supports his back with the other; from this hand a little girl’s long stocking lumpily dangles; Mrs. Fountain, turning round, observes it. “Not finished yet? But I don’t wonder! I wonder if you’ve even begun.

Well, now, I will take hold with you.” In token of the aid she is going to give, Mrs. Fountain sinks into a chair and rolls a distracted eye over the littered and tumbled room. “It’s worse than I thought it would be. You ought to have smoothed the papers out and laid them in a pile as fast as you unwrapped the things; that is the way I always do; and wound the strings up and put them one side.

Then you wouldn’t have had to wade around in them. I suppose I oughtn’t to have left it to you, but if I had let you put the children to bed you know you’d have told them stories and kept them all night over their prayers. And as it was each of them wanted to put in a special Christmas clause;

I know what kind of Christmas clause I should have put in if I’d been frank! I’m not sure it’s right to keep up the deception. One comfort, the oldest ones don’t believe in it any more than we do. Dear! I did think at one time this afternoon I should have been brought home in an ambulance; it would have been a convenience, with all the packages. I simply marvel at their delivery wagons getting them here.”

Fountain, coming to the table, where she sits, and taking up one of the toys with which it is strewn: “They haven’t all of them.”

Mrs. Fountain: “What do you mean by all of them?”

Fountain: “I mean half.” He takes up a mechanical locomotive and stuffs it into the stocking he holds.

Mrs. Fountain, holding his hand: “What are you doing? Putting Jimmy’s engine into Susy’s stocking! She’ll be perfectly insulted when she finds it, for she’ll know you weren’t paying the least attention, and you can’t blame Santa Claus for it with her. If that’s what you’ve been doing with the other stockings— But there aren’t any others. Don’t tell me you’ve just begun! Well, I could simply cry.”

Fountain, dropping into the chair on the other side of the table, under the shelter of a tall Christmas tree standing on it: “Do you call unwrapping a whole car-load of truck and getting it sorted, just beginning? I’ve been slaving here from the dawn of time, and I had to have some leisure for the ghosts of my own Christmases when I was little. I didn’t have to wade around in the wrappers of my presents in those days.

But it isn’t the sad memories that take it out of you; it’s the happy ones. I’ve never had a ghastlier half-hour than I’ve just spent in the humiliating multiplicity of these gifts. All the old birthdays and wedding-days and Fourth of Julys and home-comings and children’s christenings I’ve ever had came trooping back. There oughtn’t to be any gay anniversaries; they should be forbidden by law. If I could only have recalled a few dangerous fevers and funerals!”

Mrs. Fountain: “Clarence! Don’t say such a thing; you’ll be punished for it. I know how you suffer from those gloomy feelings, and I pity you. You ought to bear up against them. If I gave way! You must think about something cheerful in the future when the happiness of the past afflicts you, and set one against the other; life isn’t all a vale of tears. You must keep your mind fixed on the work before you.

I don’t believe it’s the number of the packages here that’s broken you down. It’s the shopping that’s worn you out; I’m sure I’m a mere thread. And I had been at it from immediately after breakfast; and I launched into one of the stores with ten thousand suburbanites who had come pouring in with the first of their unnatural trains: I did hope I should have some of the places to myself; but they were every one jammed. And you came up from your office about four, perfectly fresh.”

Fountain: “Fresh! Yes, quite dewy from a day’s fight with the beasts at Ephesus on the eve of Christmas week.”

Mrs. Fountain: “Well, don’t be cynical, Clarence, on this, of all nights of the year. You know how sorry I always am for what you have to go through down there, and I suppose it’s worse, as you say, at this season than any other time of year. It’s the terrible concentration of everything just before Christmas that makes it so killing.

I really don’t know which of the places was the worst; the big department stores or the separate places for jewellery and toys and books and stationery and antiques; they were all alike, and all maddening. And the rain outside, and everybody coming in reeking; though I don’t believe that sunshine would have been any better; there’d have been more of them.

I declare, it made my heart ache for those poor creatures behind the counters, and I don’t know whether I suffered most for them when they kept up a ghastly cheerfulness in their attention or were simply insulting in their indifference. I know they must be all dead by this time. ‘Going up?’ ‘Going down?’ ‘Ca-ish!’ ‘Here, boy!’

I believe it will ring in my ears as long as I live. And the whiz of those overhead wire things, and having to wait ages for your change, and then drag your tatters out of the stores into the streets! If I hadn’t had you with me at the last I would certainly have dropped.”

Fountain: “Yes, and what have become of your good resolutions about doing all your Christmas shopping in July?”

Mrs. Fountain: “My good resolutions? Really, Clarence, sometimes if it were not cruelty to animals I would like to hit you. My good— You know that you suggested that plan, and it wasn’t even original with you. The papers have been talking about it for years; but when you brought it up as such a new idea, I fell in with it to please you—”

Fountain: “Now, look out, Lucy!”

Mrs. Fountain: “Yes, to please you, and to help you forget the Christmas worry, just as I’ve been doing to-night. You never spare me.”

Fountain: “Stick to the record. Why didn’t you do your Christmas shopping in July?”

Mrs. Fountain: “Why didn’t I? Did you expect me to do my Christmas shopping down at Sculpin Beach, where I spent the whole time from the middle of June till the middle of September? Why didn’t you do the Christmas shopping in July? You had the stores under your nose here from the beginning till the end of summer, with nothing in the world to hinder you, and not a chick or a child to look after.”

Fountain: “Oh, I like that. You think I was leading a life of complete leisure here, with the thermometer in the nineties nine-tenths of the time?”

Mrs. Fountain: “I only know you were bragging in all your letters about your bath and your club, and the folly of any one going away from the cool, comfortable town in the summer. I suppose you’ll say that was to keep me from feeling badly at leaving you. When it was only for the children’s sake! I will let you take them next time.”

Fountain: “While you look after my office? And you think the stores are full of Christmas things in July, I suppose.”

Mrs. Fountain: “I never thought so; and now I hope you see the folly of that idea. No, Clarence. We must be logical in everything. You can’t get rid of Christmas shopping at Christmas-time.”

Fountain, shouting wrathfully: “Then I say get rid of Christmas!”



Watkins, opening the door for himself and struggling into the room with an armful of parcels: “I’m with you there, Clarence. Christmas is at the root of Christmas shopping, and Christmas giving, and all the rest of it. Oh, you needn’t be afraid, Lucy. I didn’t hear any epithets; just caught the drift of your argument through the keyhole. I’ve been kicking at the door ever since you began. Where shall I dump these things?”

Mrs. Fountain: “Oh, you poor boy! Here—anywhere—on the floor—on the sofa—on the table.” She clears several spaces and helps Watkins unload. “Clarence! I’m surprised at you. What are you thinking of?”

Fountain: “I’m thinking that if this goes on, I’ll let somebody else arrange the presents.”

Watkins: “If I saw a man coming into my house with a load like this to-night, I’d throw him into the street. But living in a ninth-story flat like you, it might hurt him.”

Mrs. Fountain, reading the inscriptions on the packages: “‘For Benny from his uncle Frank.’ Oh, how sweet of you, Frank! And here’s a kiss for his uncle Frank.” She embraces him with as little interruption as possible. “‘From Uncle Frank to Jim.’ Oh, I know what that is!” She feels the package over. “And this is for ‘Susy from her aunt Sue.’

Oh, I knew she would remember her namesake. ‘For Maggie. Merry Christmas from Mrs. Watkins.’ ‘Bridget, with Mrs. Watkins’s best wishes for a Merry Christmas.’ Both the girls! But it’s like Sue; she never forgets anybody. And what’s this for Clarence? I must know! Not a bath-gown?” Undoing it: “I simply must see it. Blue! His very colour!” Holding it up: “From you, Frank?” He nods. “Clarence!”

Watkins: “If Fountain tries to kiss me, I’ll—”

Fountain: “I wouldn’t kiss you for a dozen bath-gowns.” Lifting it up from the floor where Mrs. Fountain has dropped it: “It is rather nice.”

Watkins: “Don’t overwhelm me.”

Mrs. Fountain, dancing about with a long, soft roll in her hand: “Oh, oh, oh! She saw me gloating on it at Shumaker’s! I do wonder if it is.”

Fountain, reaching for it: “Why, open it—”

Mrs. Fountain: “You dare! No, it shall be opened the very last thing in the morning, now, to punish you! How is poor Sue? I saw her literally dropping by the way at Shumaker’s.”

Watkins, making for the door: “Well, she must have got up again. I left her registering a vow that if ever she lived to see another Christmas she would leave the country months before the shopping began. She called down maledictions on all the recipients of her gifts and wished them the worst harm that can befall the wicked.”

Mrs. Fountain: “Poor Sue! She simply lives to do people good, and I can understand exactly how she feels toward them. I’ll be around bright and early to-morrow to thank her. Why do you go?”

Watkins: “Well, I can’t stay here all night, and I’d better let you and Clarence finish up.” He escapes from her detaining embrace and runs out.



Mrs. Fountain, intent upon her role: “How funny he is! I wonder if he did hear anything but our scolding voices? Where were we?”

Fountain: “I had just called you a serpent.”

Mrs. Fountain, with amusement: “No, really?” Feeling the parcel: “If it’s that Spanish lace scarf I can tell her it was machine lace. I saw it at first glance. But poor Sue has no taste. I suppose I must stand it. But I can’t bear to think what she’s given the girls and children. She means well. Did you really say serpent, Clarence? You never called me just that before.”

Fountain: “No, but you called me a laughing hyena, and said I scoffed at everything sacred.”

Mrs. Fountain: “I can’t remember using the word hyena, exactly, though I do think the way you talk about Christmas is dreadful. But I take back the laughing hyena.”

Fountain: “And I take back the serpent. I meant dove, anyway. But it’s this Christmas-time when a man gets so tired he doesn’t know what he’s saying.”

Mrs. Fountain: “Well, you’re good, anyway, dearest, whatever you say; and now I’m going to help you arrange the things. I suppose there’ll be lots more to-morrow, but we must get rid of these now. Don’t you wish nobody would do anything for us? Just the children—dear little souls! I don’t believe but what we can make Jim and Susy believe in Santa Claus again; Benny is firm in the faith; he put him into his prayer. I declare, his sweetness almost broke my heart.” At a knock: “Who’s that, I wonder? Come in! Oh, it’s you, Maggie. Well?”



Maggie: “It’s Mr. Fountain’s sisters just telephoned up.”

Mrs. Fountain: “Have them come up at once, Maggie, of course.” As Maggie goes out: “Another interruption! If it’s going to keep on like this! Shouldn’t you have thought they might have sent their presents?”

Fountain: “I thought something like it in Frank’s case; but I didn’t say it.”

Mrs. Fountain: “And I don’t know why I say it, now. It’s because I’m so tired I don’t know what I am saying. Do forgive me! It’s this terrible Christmas spirit that gets into me. But now you’ll see how nice I can be to them.” At a tap on the door: “Come in! Come in! Don’t mind our being in all this mess.

So darling of you to come! You can help cheer Clarence up; you know his Christmas Eve dumps.” She runs to them and clasps them in her arms with several half-open packages dangling from her hands and contrasting their disarray with the neatness of their silk-ribboned and tissue-papered parcels which their embrace makes meet at her back. “Minnie! Aggie! To lug here, when you ought to be at home in bed dying of fatigue! But it’s just like you, both of you.

Did you ever see anything like the stores to-day? Do sit down, or swoon on the floor, or anything. Let me have those wretched bundles which are simply killing you.” She looks at the different packages. “‘For Benny from Grandpa.’ ‘For a good girl, from Susy’s grandmother.’ ‘Jim, from Aunt Minnie and Aunt Aggie.’ ‘Lucy, with love from Aggie and Minnie.’ And Clarence! What hearts you have got! Well, I always say there never were such thoughtful girls, and you always show such taste and such originality. I long to get at things.” She keeps fingering the large bundle marked with her husband’s name. “Not—not—a—”

Minnie: “Yes, a bath-robe. Unless you give him a cigar-case it’s about the only thing you can give a man.”

Aggie: “Minnie thought of it and I chose it. Blue, because it’s his color. Try it on, Clarence, and if it’s too long—”

Mrs. Fountain: “Yes, do, dear! Let’s see you with it on.” While the girls are fussily opening the robe, she manages to push her brother’s gift behind the door. Then, without looking round at her husband. “It isn’t a bit too long. Just the very—” Looking: “Well, it can easily be taken up at the hem. I can do it to-morrow.” She abandons him to his awkward isolation while she chatters on with his sisters. “Sit down; I insist! Don’t think of going. Did you see that frightful pack of people when the cab horse fell down in front of Shumaker’s?”

Minnie: “See it?”

Aggie: “We were in the midst of it! I wonder if we ever got out alive. It’s enough to make you wish never to see another Christmas as long as you live.”

Minnie: “A great many won’t live. There will be more grippe, and more pneumonia, and more appendicitis from those jams of people in the stores!”

Aggie: “The germs must have been swarming.”

Fountain: “Lucy was black with them when we got home.”

Mrs. Fountain: “Don’t pay the slightest attention to him, girls. He’ll probably be the first to sneeze himself.”

Minnie: “I don’t know about sneezing. I shall only be too glad if I don’t have nervous prostration from it.”

Aggie: “I’m glad we got our motor-car just in time. Any one that goes in the trolleys now will take their life in their hands.” The girls rise and move toward the door. “Well, we must go on now. We’re making a regular round; you can’t trust the delivery wagons at a time like this. Good-bye. Merry Christmas to the children. They’re fast asleep by this time, I suppose.”

Minnie: “I only wish I was!”

Mrs. Fountain: “I believe you, Minnie. Good-bye. Good night. Good night, Aggie. Clarence, go to the elevator with them! Or no, he can’t in that ridiculous bath-gown!” Turning to Fountain as the door closes: “Now I’ve done it.”



Fountain: “It isn’t a thing you could have wished to phrase that way, exactly.”

Mrs. Fountain: “And you made me do it. Never thanking them, or anything, and standing there like I don’t know what, and leaving the talk all to me. And now, making me lose my temper again, when I wanted to be so nice to you. Well, it is no use trying, and from this on I won’t. Clarence!” She has opened the parcel addressed to herself and now stands transfixed with joy and wonder. “See what the girls have given me! The very necklace I’ve been longing for at Planets’, and denying myself for the last fortnight! Well, never will I say your sisters are mean again.”

Fountain: “You ought to have said that to them.”

Mrs. Fountain: “It quite reconciles one to Christmas. What? Oh, that was rather nasty. You know I didn’t mean it. I was so excited I didn’t know what I was saying. I’m sure nobody ever got on better with sisters-in-law, and that shows my tact; if I do make a slip, now and then, I can always get out of it. They will understand. Do you think it was very nice of them to flaunt their new motor in my face? But of course anything your family does is perfect, and always was, though I must say this necklace is sweet of them. I wonder if they had the taste.” A tap on the door is heard. “Come in, Maggie!” Sotto voce. “Take it off.” She snatches his bath-robe and tosses it behind the door.



Hazard: “I suppose I can come in, even if I’m not Maggie. Catch, Fountain.” He tosses a large bundle to Fountain. “It’s huge, but it isn’t hefty.” He turns to go out again.

Mrs. Fountain: “Oh, oh, oh! Don’t go! Come in and help us. What have you brought Clarence! May I feel?”

Hazard: “You can look, if you like. I’m rather proud of it. There’s only one other thing you can give a man, and I said, ‘No, not a cigar-case. Fountain smokes enough already, but if a bath-robe can induce him to wash—'” He goes out.

Mrs. Fountain, screaming after him through the open door: “Oh, how good! Come back and see it for him.” She throws the bath-robe over Fountain’s shoulders.

Hazard, looking in again: “Perfect fit, just as the Jew said, and the very color for Fountain.” He vanishes, shutting the door behind him.



Mrs. Fountain: “How coarse! Well, my dear, I don’t know where you picked up your bachelor friends. I hope this is the last of them.”

Fountain: “Hazard’s the only one who has survived your rigorous treatment. But he always had a passion for the cold shoulder, poor fellow. As bath-robes go, this isn’t bad.” He gets his arms into it, and walks up and down. “Heigh?”

Mrs. Fountain: “Yes, it is pretty good. But the worst of Christmas is that it rouses all your old friends.”

Fountain: “They feel so abnormally good, confound them. I suppose poor old Hazard half killed himself looking this thing up and building the joke to go with it.”

Mrs. Fountain: “Well, take it off, now, and come help me with the children’s presents. You’re quite forgetting about them, and it’ll be morning and you’ll have the little wretches swarming in before you can turn round. Dear little souls! I can sympathise with their impatience, of course. But what are you going to do with these bath-robes? You can’t wear four bath-robes.”

Fountain: “I can change them every day. But there ought to be seven. This hood is rather a new wrinkle, though, isn’t it? I suppose it’s for a voyage, and you pull it up over your head when you come through the corridor back to your stateroom. We shall have to go to Europe, Lucy.”

Mrs. Fountain: “I would go to Asia, Africa, and Oceanica, to escape another Christmas. Now if there are any more bath-robes— Come in, Maggie.”



Maggie, bringing in a bundle: “Something a District Messenger brought. Will you sign for it, ma’am?”

Mrs. Fountain: “You sign, Clarence. If I know anything about the look and the feel of a bundle, this is another bath-robe, but I shall soon see.” While she is cutting the string and tearing the wrappings away, Fountain signs and Maggie goes. Mrs. Fountain shakes out the folds of the robe. “Well, upon my word, I should think there was a conspiracy to insult you, Clarence. I would like to know who has had the effrontery— What’s on it?”

Fountain, reading from the card which had fallen out of the garment to the floor: “‘With Christmas greetings from Mrs. Arthur J. Gibby.'”

Mrs. Fountain, dropping the robe and seizing the card: “Mrs. Arthur J. Gibby! Well, upon my word, this is impudence. It’s not only impudence, it’s indelicacy. And I had always thought she was the very embodiment of refinement, and I’ve gone about saying so.

Now I shall have to take it back. The idea of a lady sending a bath-robe to a gentleman! What next, I wonder! What right has Mrs. Gibby to send you a bath-robe? Don’t prevaricate! Remember that the truth is the only thing that can save you. Matters must have gone pretty far, when a woman could send you anything so—intimate. What are you staring at with that paper? You needn’t hope to divert my mind by—”

Fountain, giving her the paper in which the robe came: “Seems to be for Mrs. Clarence Fountain.”

Mrs. Fountain, snatching it from him: “What! It is, it is! Oh, poor dear Lilly! How can you ever forgive me? She saw me looking at it to-day at Shumaker’s, and it must have come into her head in despair at what else to get me. But it was a perfect inspiration—for it was just what I was longing for. Why”—laughing hysterically while she holds up the robe, and turns it this way and that—”

I might have seen at a glance that it wasn’t a man’s, with this lace on and this silk hood, and”—she hurries into it, and pulls it forward, looking down at either side—”it’s just the right length, and if it was made for me it couldn’t fit me better. What a joke I shall have with Lilly, when I tell her about it. I can’t spare a bit!”

Fountain: “Then I hope you’ll spare me. I have some little delicacy of feeling, and I don’t like the notion of a lady’s giving me a bath-robe. It’s—intimate. I don’t know where you picked up your girl friends.”

Mrs. Fountain, capering about joyfully: “Oh, how funny you are, darling! But go on. I don’t mind it, now. And you may be glad you’ve got off so easily. Only now if there are any more bath-robes—” A timid rap is heard at the door. “Come in, Maggie!” The door is slowly set ajar, then flung suddenly wide open, and Jim and Susy in their night-gowns rush dancing and exulting in.



Susy: “We’ve caught you, we’ve caught you.”

Jim: “I just bet it was you, and now I’ve won, haven’t I, mother?”

Susy: “And I’ve won, too, haven’t I, father?” Arrested at sight of her father in the hooded bath-gown: “He does look like Santa Claus, doesn’t he, Jimmy? But the real Santa Claus would be all over snow, and a long, white beard. You can’t fool us!”

Jim: “You can’t fool us! We know you, we know you! And my mother dressed up, too! There isn’t any Mrs. Santa Claus, and that proves it!”

Mrs. Fountain, severely: “Dreadful little things! Who said you might come here? Go straight back to bed, this minute, or— Will you send them back, Clarence, and not stand staring so? What are you thinking of?”

Fountain, dreamily: “Nothing. Merely wondering what we shall do when we’ve got rid of our superstitions. Shall we be the better for it, or even the wiser?”

Mrs. Fountain: “What put that question into your head? Christmas, I suppose; and that’s another reason for wishing there was no such thing. If I had my way, there wouldn’t be.”

Jim: “Oh, mother!”

Susy: “No Christmas?”

Mrs. Fountain: “Well, not for disobedient children who get out of bed and come in, spoiling everything. If you don’t go straight back, it will be the last time, Santa Claus or no Santa Claus.”

Jim: “And if we go right back?”

Susy: “And promise not to come in any more?”

Mrs. Fountain: “Well, we’ll see how you keep your promise. If you don’t, that’s the end of Christmas in this house.”

Jim: “It’s a bargain, then! Come on, Susy!”

Susy: “And we do it for you, mother. And for you, father. We just came in for fun, anyway.”

Jim: “We just came for a surprise.”

Mrs. Fountain, kissing them both: “Well, then, if it was only for fun, we’ll excuse you this time. Run along, now, that’s good children. Clarence!”



Fountain: “Well?” He looks up at her from where he has dropped into a chair beside the table strewn with opened and unopened gifts at the foot of the Christmas tree.

Mrs. Fountain: “What are you moaning about?”

Fountain: “What if it was all a fake? Those thousands and hundreds of thousands of churches that pierce the clouds with their spires; those millions of ministers and missionaries; those billions of worshipers, sitting and standing and kneeling, and singing and praying; those nuns and monks, and brotherhoods and sisterhoods, with their ideals of self-denial, and their duties to the sick and poor;

Those martyrs that died for the one true faith, and those other martyrs of the other true faiths whom the one true faith tortured and killed; those masses and sermons and ceremonies, what if they were all a delusion, a mistake, a misunderstanding? What if it were all as unlike the real thing, if there is any real thing, as this pagan Christmas of ours is as unlike a Christian Christmas?”

Mrs. Fountain, springing up: “I knew it! I knew that it was this Christmas giving that was making you morbid again. Can’t you shake it off and be cheerful—like me? I’m sure I have to bear twice as much of it as you have. I’ve been shopping the whole week, and you’ve been just this one afternoon.” She begins to catch her breath, and fails in searching for her handkerchief in the folds of her dress under the bath-robe.

Fountain, offering his handkerchief: “Take mine.”

Mrs. Fountain, catching it from him, and hiding her face in it on the table: “You ought to help me bear up, and instead of that you fling yourself on my sympathies and break me down.” Lifting her face: “And if it was all a fake, as you say, and an illusion, what would you do, what would you give people in place of it?”

Fountain: “I don’t know.”

Mrs. Fountain: “What would you have in place of Christmas itself?”

Fountain: “I don’t know.”

Mrs. Fountain: “Well, then, I wouldn’t set myself up to preach down everything—in a blue bath-gown. You’ve no idea how ridiculous you are.”

Fountain: “Oh, yes, I have. I can see you. You look like one of those blue nuns in Rome. But I don’t remember any place on them.”

Mrs. Fountain: “Well, you don’t look like a blue monk, you needn’t flatter yourself, for there are none. You look like— What are you thinking about?”

Fountain: “Oh, nothing. What do you suppose is in all these packages here? Useful things that we need, that we must have? You know without looking that it’s the superfluity of naughtiness in one form or another. And the givers of these gifts, they had to give them, just as we’ve had to give dozens of gifts ourselves. We ought to have put on our cards, ‘With the season’s bitterest grudges,’ ‘In hopes of a return,’ ‘With a hopeless sense of the folly,’ ‘To pay a hateful debt,’ ‘With impotent rage and despair.'”

Mrs. Fountain: “I don’t deny it, Clarence. You’re perfectly right; I almost wish we had put it. How it would have made them hop! But they’d have known it was just the way they felt themselves.”

Fountain, going on thoughtfully: “It’s the cap-sheaf of the social barbarism we live in, the hideous hypocrisy. It’s no use to put it on religion. The Jews keep Christmas, too, and we know what they think of Christianity as a belief. No, we’ve got to go further back, to the Pagan Saturnalia— Well, I renounce the whole affair, here and now. I’m going to spend the rest of the night bundling these things up, and to-morrow I’m going to spend the day in a taxi, going round and giving them back to the fools that sent them.”

Mrs. Fountain: “And I’m going with you. I hate it as much as you do— Come in, Maggie!”



Maggie: “Something the elevator-boy says he forgot. It came along with the last one.”

Mrs. Fountain, taking a bundle from her: “If this is another bath-robe, Clarence! It is, as I live. Now if it is a woman sending it—” She picks up a card which falls out of the robe as she unfolds it. “‘Love the Giver,’ indeed! Now, Clarence, I insist, I demand—”

Fountain: “Hold on, hold on, my dear. The last bath-robe that came from a woman was for you.”

Mrs. Fountain: “So it was. I don’t know what I was thinking about; and I do beg your par— But this is a men’s bath-robe!”

Fountain, taking the card which she mechanically stretches out to him: “And a man sends it—old Fellows. Can’t you read print? Ambrose J. Fellows, and a message in writing: ‘It was a toss-up between this and a cigar-case, and the bath-robe won. Hope you haven’t got any other thoughtful friends.'”

Mrs. Fountain: “Oh, very brilliant, giving me a start like this! I shall let Mr. Fellows know— What is it, Maggie? Open the door, please.”

Maggie, opening: “It’s just a District Messenger.”

Fountain, ironically: “Oh, only a District Messenger.” He signs the messenger’s slip, while his wife receives from Maggie a bundle which she regards with suspicion.



Mrs. Fountain: “‘From Uncle Philip to Clarence.’ Well, Uncle Philip, if you have sent Clarence— Clarence!” breaking into a whimper: “It is, it is! It’s another.”

Fountain: “Well, that only makes the seventh, and just enough for every day in the week. It’s quite my ideal. Now, if there’s nothing about a cigar-case— Hello!” He feels in the pocket of the robe and brings out a cigar-case, from which a slip of paper falls: “‘Couldn’t make up my mind [Pg 345] between them, so send both. Uncle Phil.’ Well, this is the last stroke of Christmas insanity.”

Mrs. Fountain: “His brain simply reeled under it, and gave way. It shows what Christmas really comes to with a man of strong intellect like Uncle Phil.”

Fountain, opening the case: “Oh, I don’t know! He’s put some cigars in here—in a lucid interval, probably. There’s hope yet.”

Mrs. Fountain, in despair: “No, Clarence, there’s no hope. Don’t flatter yourself. The only way is to bundle back all their presents and never, never, never give or receive another one. Come! Let’s begin tying them up at once; it will take us the rest of the night.” A knock at the door. “Come, Maggie.”



Jim and Susy, pushing in: “We can’t sleep, mother. May we have a pillow fight to keep us amused till we’re drowsy?”

Mrs. Fountain, desolately: “Yes, go and have your pillow fight. It doesn’t matter now. We’re sending the presents all back, anyway.” She begins frantically wrapping some of the things up.

Susy: “Oh, father, are you sending them back?”

Jim: “She’s just making believe. Isn’t she, father?”

Fountain: “Well, I’m not so sure of that. If she doesn’t do it, I will.”

Mrs. Fountain, desisting: “Will you go right back to bed?”

Jim and Susy: “Yes, we will.”

Mrs. Fountain: “And to sleep, instantly?”

Jim and Susy, in succession: “We won’t stay awake a minute longer.”

Mrs. Fountain: “Very well, then, we’ll see. Now be off with you.” As they put their heads together and go out laughing: “And remember, if you come here another single time, back go every one of the presents.”

Fountain: “As soon as ever Santa Claus can find a moment for it.”

Jim, derisively: “Oh, yes, Santa Claus!”

Susy: “I guess if you wait for Santa Claus to take them back!”



Mrs. Fountain: “Tiresome little wretches. Of course we can’t expect them to keep up the self-deception.”

Fountain: “They’ll grow to another. When they’re men and women they’ll pretend that Christmas is delightful, and go round giving people the presents that they’ve worn their lives out in buying and getting together. And they’ll work themselves up into the notion that they are really enjoying it, when they know at the bottom of their souls that they loathe the whole job.”

Mrs. Fountain: “There you are with your pessimism again! And I had just begun to feel cheerful about it!”

Fountain: “Since when? Since I proposed sending this rubbish back to the givers with our curse?”

Mrs. Fountain: “No, I was thinking what fun it would be if we could get up a sort of Christmas game, and do it just among relations and intimate friends.”

Fountain: “Ah, I wish you luck with it. Then the thing would begin to have some reality, and just as in proportion as people had the worst feelings in giving the presents, their best feeling would be hurt in getting them back.”

Mrs. Fountain: “Then why did you ever think of it?”

Fountain: “To keep from going mad. Come, let’s go on with this job of sorting the presents, and putting them in the stockings and hanging them up on the tree and laying them round the trunk of it. One thing: it’s for the last time. As soon as Christmas week is over, I shall inaugurate an educational campaign against the whole Christmas superstition.

It must be extirpated root and branch, and the extirpation must begin in the minds of the children; we old fools are hopeless; we must die in it; but the children can be saved. We must organize and make a house-to-house fight; and I’ll begin in our own house. To-morrow, as soon as the children have made themselves thoroughly sick with candy and cake and midday dinner, I will appeal to their reason, and get them to agree to drop it; to sign the Anti-Christmas pledge; to—”

Mrs. Fountain: “Clarence! I have an idea.”

Fountain: “Not a bright one?”

Mrs. Fountain: “Yes, a bright one, even if you didn’t originate it. Have Christmas confined entirely to children—to the very youngest—to children that believe firmly in Santa Claus.”

Fountain: “Oh, hello! Wouldn’t that leave Jim and Susy out? I couldn’t have left them out.”

Mrs. Fountain: “That’s true. I didn’t think of that. Well, say, to children that either believe or pretend to believe in him. What’s that?” She stops at a faint, soft sound on the door. “It’s Maggie with her hands so full she’s pushing with her elbow. Come in, Maggie, come in. Come in! Don’t you hear me? Come in, I say!

Oh, it isn’t Maggie, of course! It’s those worthless, worthless little wretches, again.” She runs to the door calling out, “Naughty, naughty, naughty!” as she runs. Then, flinging the door wide, with a final cry of “Naughty, I say!” she discovers a small figure on the threshold, nightgowned to its feet, and looking up with a frightened, wistful face.

“Why, Benny!” She stoops down and catches the child in her arms, and presses him tight to her neck, and bends over, covering his head with kisses. “What in the world are you doing here, you poor little lamb? Is mother’s darling walking in his sleep? What did you want, my pet? Tell mudda, do! Whisper it in mudda’s big ear!

Can’t you tell mudda? What? Whisper a little louder, love! We’re not angry with you, sweetness. Now, try to speak louder. Is that Santa Claus? No, dearest, that’s just dadda. Santa Claus hasn’t come yet, but he will soon. What? Say it again. Is there any Santa Claus? Why, who else could have brought all these presents?

Presents for Benny and Jim and Susy and mudda, and seven bath-gowns for dadda. Isn’t that funny? Seven! And one for mudda. What? I can’t quite hear you, pet. Are we going to send the presents back? Why, who ever heard of such a thing? Jim said so? And Susy? Well, I will settle with them, when I come to them. You don’t want me to?

Well, I won’t, then, if Benny doesn’t want mudda too. I’ll just give them a kiss apiece, pop in their big ears. What? You’ve got something for Santa Claus to give them? What? Where? In your crib? And shall we go and get it? For mudda too? And dadda? Oh, my little angel!”

She begins to cry over him, and to kiss him again. “You’ll break my heart with your loveliness. He wants to kiss you too, dadda.” She puts the boy into his father’s arms; then catches him back and runs from the room with him.

Fountain resumes the work of filling the long stocking he had begun with; then he takes up a very short sock. He has that in his hand when Mrs. Fountain comes back, wiping her eyes. “He’ll go to sleep now, I guess; he was half dreaming when he came in here. I should think, when you saw how Benny believed in it, you’d be ashamed of saying a word against Christmas.”

Fountain: “Who’s said anything against it? I’ve just been arguing for it, and trying to convince you that for the sake of little children like Benny it ought to be perpetuated to the end of the world. It began with the childhood of the race, in the rejuvenance of the spirit.”

Mrs. Fountain: “Didn’t you say that Christmas began with the pagans? How monstrously you prevaricate!”

Fountain: “That was merely a figure of speech. And besides, since you’ve been out with Benny, I’ve been thinking, and I take back everything I’ve said or thought against Christmas; I didn’t really think it. I’ve been going back in my mind to that first Christmas we had together, and it’s cheered me up wonderfully.”

Mrs. Fountain, tenderly: “Have you, dearest? I always think of it. If you could have seen Benny, how I left him, just now?”

Fountain: “I shouldn’t mind seeing him, and I shouldn’t care if I gave a glance at poor old Jim and Susy. I’d like to reassure them about not sending back the presents.” He puts his arm round her and presses her toward the door.

Mrs. Fountain: “How sweet you are! And how funny! And good!” She accentuates each sentiment with a kiss. “And don’t you suppose I felt sorry for you, making you go round with me the whole afternoon, and then leaving you to take the brunt of arranging the presents? Now I’ll tell you: next year, I will do my Christmas shopping in July. It’s the only way.”

Fountain: “No, there’s a better way. As you were saying, they don’t have the Christmas things out. The only way is to do our Christmas shopping the day after Christmas; everything will be round still, and dog-cheap. Come, we’ll begin the day after to-morrow.”

Mrs. Fountain: “We will, we will!”

Fountain: “Do you think we will?”

Mrs. Fountain: “Well, we’ll say we will.” They laugh together, and then he kisses her.

Fountain: “Even if it goes on in the same old way, as long as we have each other—”

Mrs. Fountain: “And the children.”

Fountain: “I forgot the children!”

Mrs. Fountain: “Oh, how delightful you are!”


The Elves and The Shoemaker

A shoemaker, by no fault of his own, had become so poor that at last he had nothing left but leather for one pair of shoes. So in the evening, he cut out the shoes which he wished to begin to make the next morning, and as he had a good conscience, he lay down quietly in his bed, commended himself to God, and fell asleep.


In the morning, after he had said his prayers, and was just going to sit down to work, the two shoes stood quite finished on his table. He was astounded, and knew not what to say to it. He took the shoes in his hands to observe them closer, and they were so neatly made that there was not one bad stitch in them, just as if they were intended as a masterpiece.


Soon after, a buyer came in, and as the shoes pleased him so well, he paid more for them than was customary, and, with the money, the shoemaker was able to purchase leather for two pairs of shoes. He cut them out at night, and next morning was about to set to work with fresh courage; but he had no need to do so, for, when he got up, they were already made, and buyers also were not wanting. Who gave him enough money to buy leather for four pairs of shoes.


The following morning, too, he found the four pairs made; and so it went on constantly, what he cut out in the evening was finished by the morning, so that he soon had his honest independence again, and at last became a wealthy man.


Now it befell that one evening not long before Christmas, when the man had been cutting out, he said to his wife, before going to bed, “What do you think if we were to stay up to-night to see who it is that lends us this helping hand?” The woman liked the idea, and lit a candle, and then they hid themselves in a corner of the room, behind some clothes which were hanging up there, and watched. When it was midnight, two pretty little naked men came, sat down by the shoemaker’s table, took all the work which was cut out before them and began to stitch, and sew, and hammer so skilfully and so quickly with their little fingers that the shoemaker could not turn away his eyes for astonishment. They did not stop until all was done, and stood finished on the table, and they ran quickly away.

Next morning the woman said, “The little men have made us rich, and we really must show that we are grateful for it. They run about so, and have nothing on, and must be cold. I’ll tell thee what I’ll do: I will make them little shirts, and coats, and vests, and trousers, and knit both of them a pair of stockings, and do thou, too, make them two little pairs of shoes.” The man said, “I shall be very glad to do it;” and one night, when everything was ready, they laid their presents all together on the table instead of the cut-out work, and then concealed themselves to see how the little men would behave. At midnight they came bounding in, and wanted to get to work at once, but as they did not find any leather cut out, but only the pretty little articles of clothing, they were at first astonished, and then they showed intense delight. They dressed themselves with the greatest rapidity, putting the pretty clothes on, and singing,

“Now we are boys so fine to see,

Why should we longer cobblers be?”

Then they danced and skipped and leapt over chairs and benches. At last they danced out of doors. From that time forth they came no more, but as long as the shoemaker lived all went well with him, and all his undertakings prospered.

A Day Before Christmas

A long time ago, a day before Christmas, this place was covered with snow. There were two boys who were looking at the Christmas tree inside the window. They were wearing old clothes and they looked sad. The younger brother said to the elder brother “We are poor so Santa Claus does not come to our house.

Will Santa Claus not come to our house like every year”. After listening to the younger brother, the elder hugged his brother tightly and said, “No, this year Santa will definitely come to our house. Let us go home and pray to God.”

Hearing this the younger brother smiled but his elder brother’s eyes filled with tears. After that, they went to their home. The younger brother was very happy because Santa was coming to his house. Stephen was feeling very sad after hearing all these things of elder and younger brother.

Stephen went to his house and started thinking that how can I make this year’s Christmas better for those two brothers, how can I help them. He ran to the market and bought some clothes and toys. Coming home, put him in Christmas stocking, and wait for the night to come.

As soon as the clock strikes 12, Stephen leaves the house with presents. There the younger brother goes to the fireplace of his house to find the gift given by Santa Claus. But there he did not get any gift. He starts going to his room sadly when Stephen knocks on the door and hides behind the wall.

Stephen put all the presents in Christmas stoking and placed them in front of the door. Seeing all those gifts, he called his elder brother. Both were very happy seeing the gift and hugged each other. They took all the gifts inside the house with enthusiasm.

The younger brother told his father, “This Christmas was the best Christmas I ever had.” Seeing those two brothers happy, Stephen became very happy. Stephen said to himself that there is more happiness in making others happy. MORAL: “The best gift we give to this world is Joy and Happiness.“

The Day Christmas Came To The Twindlers

Beth Twindler stared out the window as she stirred the cabbage-stew for dinner. She thought about Christmas, one day away, and how she and her sister, Hannah, would most likely get no presents. Only cabbage-stew, as always. But she was grateful for the fact that she had food to eat everyday.


Alice Springs red dirt whipped under the front door, shaking the bare Christmas tree. The blazing fire spat embers onto the hearth. Right beside it slept Beth’s older sister, Hannah. She was up late setting up the old pine tree, so she was now resting.


Their Mother, Flora Twindler, was very poor and could only afford a small shack with a pine tree for Christmas, a bunk-bed with a pullout trundle bed for her to sleep in, The Nativity Scene, and a fireplace with a cooking pot. The Nativity Scene was chipped and broken. The camel had lost his leg and one of the Three Wise men had lost his presents to Jesus. But the girls lived their happy lives just like anyone else. Just in the Australian desert.


Meanwhile, Flora Twindler was out searching for water. She had told the girls not to worry if she wasn’t back by dark. ‘Just go to bed and sleep tight.’, were the words she said. ‘I’ll be back by morning.’ Right now she was on her way back from the water pump. But suddenly she stopped dead, almost stepping on a King Brown snake. Quickly tacking a few paces back, she realised it was lashing its tongue out at a pregnant dingo.


Then it sunk its fangs into the dingos flesh. The dingo dropped dead and the snake slithered away. Flora watched it as it went away. Then she urned back to the dingo. Quick as lightning, she pulled out her red pocket knife, and gently cut open the dingos body open, and pulled out the last breathing pup out. Then she wrapped it up in her woollen jacket, giving it warmth. She grabbed her metal pail and walked home. She finally had a Christmas present for Hannah and Beth.


‘Morning Han,’ said Beth sleepily, hanging over the bunk. ‘Merry Christmas.’ ‘You too,’ yawned Hannah. Beth slid down the ladder from the bunk. She looked under the Christmas tree and, ‘look guys, oh, look, look, look!There is a present under the Christmas tree!’ And there, nestled in the jumper, under the pine tree, was the little dingo (now wide awake with all the shouting.) ‘Oh Mummy, she’s beautiful,’exclaimed Hannah, as she jumped out of bed and patted its soft velvety head. ‘Merry Christmas,’ said Flora.