NY PUBLIC LIBRARY THE BRANCH LIBRARIES
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THE NEW YORK PUBLIC LIBRARY
Who Ate the Pink Sweetmeat?
By SUSAN COOLIDGE
AND OTHER CHRISTMAS STORIES
WHO ATE THE PINK SWEETMEAT?
MARY HARTWELL CATHERWOOD
THE PATRONCITO'S CHRISTMAS,
F. L. STEALEY
KATE UPSON CLARK
ASAPH SHEAFE'S CHRISTMAS,
E. E. HALK
Illustrations from Original Drawings by Smedley, Lungren,
and other artists
D LOTHROP COMPANY
FRANKLIN AND HAWLEY STREETS
D. LOTHROP AND COMPANY
CITY OF NEW YORK
WHO ATE THE PINK
ONLY three pairs of stockings were left in
the shop. It was a very little shop indeed,
scarcely larger than a stall. Job Tuke, to whom it
belonged, was not rich enough to indulge in the
buying of any superfluous wares. Every spring he
laid in a dozen dozen of thin stockings, a bale of
cheap handkerchiefs, a gross of black buttons, a
gross of white, a little stationery, and a few other
small commodities. In the autumn he added
a dozen dozen of thick stockings, and a box full
of mittens and knitted comforters. Beside these
he sold penny papers, and home-made yeast made
by Mrs. Tuke. If the stock of wearables grew
scant toward midwinter, Job rejoiced in his heart,
but by no means made haste to replenish it. He
just laid aside the money needed for the spring
8 WHO ATE THE PINK SWEETMEAT ?
outfit, and lived on what remained. Thus it went
year after year. Trade was sometimes a little
better, sometimes a little worse, but whichever
way it was, Job grew no richer. He and his old
wife lived along somehow without coming on the
parish for support, and with this very moderate
amount of prosperity they were content.
This year of which I write, the supply of winter
stockings had given out earlier than usual. The
weather had been uncommonly cold since October,
which may have been the reason. Certain it is,
that here at Michaelmas, with December not yet
come in, only three pairs of stockings were left in
the little shop. Job Tuke had told his wife
only the week before that he almost thought
he should be forced to lay in a few dozen
more, folks seemed so eager to get 'em. But
since he said that, no one had asked for stockings,
as it happened, and Job thinking that trade was,
after all, pretty well over for the season, had given
up the idea of replenishing his stock.
One of the three pairs of stockings was a big
pair of dark mixed gray. One pair, a little
WHO ATE THE PINK SWEETMEAT? II
smaller, was white, and the third, smaller still
and dark blue in color, was about the size for
a child of seven or eight years old.
Job Tuke had put up the shutters for the night
and had gone to bed. The stockings were talking
together in the quiet darkness, as stockings will
when left alone. One pair had been hung in the
It had got down from its nail, and was
now straddling carelessly with one leg on either
side of the edge of the box in which the others
lay, as a boy might on the top of a stile. This
was the big gray pair.
" Our chances seem to be getting slim," he said
" That is more than you seem," replied the
White Stockings, in a tart voice. " Your ankles
are as thick as ever, and your mesh looks to
me coarser than usual to-night."
" There are worse things in the world than
thickness," retorted the Gray Stockings angrily.
" I'm useful, at any rate, I am, while you have
no wear in you. I should say that you would
12 WHO ATE THE PINK SWEETMEAT?
come to darning about the second wash, if not
" Is that my fault ? " said the White Pair, begin-
ning to cry.
" No ; it's your misfortune. But people as unfor-
tunate as you are should mind their P's and Q's,
and not say disagreeable things to those who are
" Pray don't quarrel," put in the Little Blues, who
were always peacemakers. " Think of our situa-
tion, the last survivors of twelve dozen ! we ought
to be friends. But, as you say, matters are getting
serious with us. Of course we are all thinking
about the same thing."
" Yes ; about the Christmas, and the chimney
corner," sighed the White Pair. " What a dreadful
thing it would be if we went to the rag-bag never
having held a Christmas gift. I could not get
over such a disgrace. My father, my grandfather
all my relations had their chance some of
them were even hung a second time ! "
" Yes ; Christmas is woven into our very sub-
stance," said the Gray Stockings. " The old
WHO ATE THE PINK SWEETMEAT? 13
skeins and the ravellings tell the story to the new
wool, the story of the Christmas time. The very
sheep in the fields know it. For my part," he
added proudly, " I should blush to lie in the same
ash-heap even with an odd stocking who had died
under the disgrace of never being L'ing up for
Christmas, and I will never believe that my life-
long dream is to be disappointed ! '
" Why will you use such inflated language ? "
snapped the White Pair. " You were only woven
last July. As late as May you were running
round the meadow on a sheep's back."
" Very well ; I don't dispute it. I may not be
as old as Methuselah, but long or short, my life is
my life, and my dream is my dream, and you have
no call to criticize my expressions, Miss ! " thun-
ders the Big Pair.
" There you are again," said the Little Blues.
" I do wish you wouldn't dispute. Now let us
talk about our chances. What day of the month
is it ? "
"The twenty-seventh of November," said the
Gray Stockings, who, because they hung over the
14 WHO ATE THE PINK SWEETMEAT?
penny papers in the window, always knew the
" Little more than four weeks to the holidays,"
said the White Pair dolorously. " How I wish
some one would come along and put us out of
" Being bought mightn't do that," suggested the
Little Blues. " You might be taken by a person
who had two pairs of stockings, and the others
might be chosen to be hung up. Such things do
" Oh, they wouldn't happen to me, I think,"
said the White Pair vain-gloriously.
As it happened, the three pairs of stockings were
all sold the very clay after this conversation, and
all to one and the same person. This was Mrs.
Wenclte, an Englishwoman married to a Dutch
shipwright. She had lived in Holland for some
years after her marriage, but now she and her
husband lived in London. They had three chil-
The stockings were very much pleased to be
bought. When Job Tuke rolled them up in paper
WHO ATE THE PINK SWEETMEAT? 15
and tied a stout packthread round them, they
nestled close, and squeezed each other with satis-
faction. Beside, the joy of being sold, was the
joy of keeping together and knowing about each
The first of these adventures was not very
exciting. It consisted in being laid away in the
back part of a bureau drawer, and carefully
" Now what is this for ? " questioned the White
Stockings. " Are we to stay here always ? '
" Yes; that is just what I should like to know,"
grumbled the Big Gray ones.
" Why, of course not ! Who ever heard of
stockings being put away for always?' said the
very wise Little Blues. " Wait patiently and
we shall see. I think it is some sort of a
" But clay after day passed and nothing hap-
pened, surprising or otherwise, till even the philo-
sophical Little Blue Stockings began to lose heart
and hope. At last, one evening they heard the
key click in the lock of the drawer, a stream
l6 WHO ATE THE PINK SWEETMEAT?
of light flashed into their darkness, and they were
seized and drawn forth.
" Well, mother, let us see thy purchase. Truly
fine hosen they are," said Jacob Wendte, whose
English was rather foreign.
'* Yes," replied his wife. " Good, handsome
stockings they are, and the children will be glad,
for their old ones are about worn out. The big
pair is for Wilhelm, as thou knowest. Those
must hang to the right of the stove."
The Big Gray Pair cast a triumphant glance at
his companions as he found himself suspended on
a stout nail. This was something like life!
" The white are for Greta, and these small ones
for little Jan. Ah, they are nice gifts indeed ! '
said Mrs. Wendte, rubbing her hands. " A fine
Christmas they will be for the children."
The stockings glowed with pleasure. Not only
\vere they hung up to contain presents, but they
themselves were Christmas gifts ! This was pro-
"Hast thou naught else ? " demanded Jacob
Wendte of his wife.
WHO ATE THE PINK SWEETMEAT? 17
" No great things ; a kerchief for Greta, this
comforter for Wilhelm, for the little one, mittens.
That is all."
But it was not quite all, for after her husband
had gone to bed, Mrs. Wendte, a tender look on
her motherly face, sought out a small, screwed-up
paper, and with the air of one who is a little
ashamed of what she is doing, dropped into each
stocking a something made of sugar. They were
not sugar almonds, they were not Salem Gibraltars
which delightful confections are unfamiliar to
London shops but irregular lumps of a nonde-
script character, which were crumbly and sweet,
and would be sure to please those who did not often
get a taste of candy. It was of little Jan that his
mother had thought when she bought the sweet-
meats, and for his sake she had yielded to the
temptation, though she looked upon it as an
extravagance. There were three of the sweet-
meats two white, one pink and the pink one
went into Jan's stockings. Mrs. Wendte had not
said anything about them to her husband.
" Well, this is satisfactory," said the Gray
l8 WHO ATE THE PINK SWEETMEAT?
Pair, when Mrs. Wendte had left the room, and he
was sure of not being overheard. " Here we are
all hanging together on Christmas Eve. My
dream is accomplished."
" Mine isn't," said the White Pair plaintively.
"I always hoped that I should hold something
valuable, like a watch, or a pair of earrings. It
is rather a come-down to have nothing but a bit
of candy inside, and a pocket handkerchief pinned
to my leg. I don't half like it. It gives me
an uncomfortable pricking sensation, like a stitch
in the side."
" It's just as well for you to get used to it," put
in the Gray. " It doesn't prick as much as a
darning needle, I fancy, and you'll have to get
accustomed to that before long, as I've remarked
" I'm the only one who has a pink sweetmeat,"
said the Little Blues, who couldn't help being
pleased. "And I'm for a real child. Wilhelm
ai^d Greta are more than half grown up."
" Real children are very hard on their stock-
ings, I've always heard," retorted the White Pair,
WHO ATE THE PINK SWEETMEAT? 19
who never could resist the temptation to say a
'* That may be, but it is all in the future. This
one night is my own, and I mean to enjoy it,"
replied the contented Little Blue.
So the night went, and now it was the dawn
of Christinas. With the first ligbt the door
opened softly and a little boy crept into the room.
This was Jan. When he saw the three pairs
of stockings hanging by the stove, he clapped his
hands together, but softly, lest the noise should
wake the others. Then he crossed the room
on tiptoe and looked hard at the stockings. He
soon made sure which pair was for himself, but he
did not take them clown immediately ; only stood
with his hands behind his back and gazed at them
with two large, pleased eyes.
At last he put his hand up and gently touched the
three, felt the little blue pair, gave it a pat, and
finally unhooked it from its nail. Then he sat
down on the floor, and began to put them on. His
toe encountering an obstacle, he pulled the stock-
ing off again, put his hand in, and extracted the
20 WHO ATE THE PINK SWEETMEAT?
pink sweetmeat, with which he was so pleased that
he laughed aloud. That woke up the others, who
presently came in.
" Ah, little rogue that thou art ! Always the
first to waken," said his mother, pleased at his
"See, mother! see what I found !" he cried. "It
is good --sweet! I have tasted a crumb already.
Take some of it, mother."
But Mrs. Wendte shook her head.
" No," she said. " I do not care for sugar.
That is for little folks like thee. Eat it thyself,
It was her saying this, perhaps, which prevented
Wilhelm and Greta from making the same offer
at least, I hope so. Certain it is that neither of
them made it. Greta ate hers up on the spot, with
the frank greediness of a girl of twelve who does
not often get candy. Wilhelm buttoned his up in
his trousers pocket. All three made haste to put
on the new stockings. The three pairs had only
time to hastily whisper as they were separated :
" To-night perhaps we may meet again."
WHO ATE THE PINK SWEETMEAT? 23
The pink sweetmeat went into the pocket of
Jan's jacket, and he carried it about with him all
the morning. He did not eat it, because once
eaten it would be gone, and it was a greater pleas-
ure to have it to look forward to, than to enjoy it
at the moment. Jan was a thrifty little boy, as
Being Christmas, it was of course an idle day.
Jacob Wendte never knew what to do with such.
There was his pipe, and there was beer to be had,
so in default of other occupation, he amused him-
self with these. Mrs. Wendte had her hands full
with the dinner, and was frying sausages and mix-
ing Yorkshire pudding all the morning. Only
Greta went to church. She belonged to a parish-
school where they gave Christmas prizes, and by
no means intended to lose her chance ; but, apart
from that, she really loved church-going, for she
spoke English and understood it better than either
of the other children. Wiihelm went off on errands
of his own.
Little Jan spent the morning in admiring his
stockings, and in wrapping and unwrapping his
24 WHO ATE THE PINK SWEETMEAT?
precious sweetmeat, and taking it out of his pocket
and putting it in again.
" Why dost thou not eat it, dear ? ' asked his
mother, as she lifted the frying-pan from the stove.
But he answered : " Oh ! not yet. When once it
is eaten, it is over. I will wait."
" How long wilt thou wait ? " she asked.
Jan said bashfully : " I don't know,"
In truth, he had not made up his mind about the
sweetmeat, only he felt instinctively that he did
not want to hurry and shorten his pleasure.
Dinner over, he went out for a walk. Every
now and then, as he marched along, his hand
would steal into his pocket to finger his precious
candy and make sure that it was safe.
It was a gray afternoon, but not snowing or
raining. Hyde Park was not too far away for a
walk, and Jan went there. The Serpentine was
skimmed over with ice just strong enough to bear
boys, and quite a little crowd was sliding or skat-
ing upon it. Jan could skate very well. He had
learned in Holland, but he made no attempt to
join the crowd. He was rather shy of English
WHO ATE THE PINK SWEETMEAT ? 25
boys, for they sometimes laughed at his Hollander
clothes or his Dutch accent, and he did not like to
be laughed at.
So he strolled away, past the Serpentine and the
skaters, and watched the riders in the Row for
awhile. There were not a great many, for people
who ride are apt to be out of London at the Christ-
mas time ; but there were some pretty horses, and
one fair little girl on a pony who took Jan's fancy
very much. He stood for a long time watching
her trot up and clown, and the idea occurred to
him that he would like to give her his sweetmeat.
He even put his hand into his pocket and half
pulled it out, but the little girl did not look his
way, and presently her father, with whom she was
riding, spoke to her, and she turned her horse's
head and trotted off through the marble arch. Jan
dropped the sugar-plum again into his pocket, and
felt as if his sudden fancy had been absurd ; and
indeed I think the little girl would have been sur-
prised and puzzled what to do had he carried out
After the pony and his little mistress had de-
26 WHO ATE THE PINK SWEETMEAT?
parted, Jan lost his interest in the riders, and
walked away across the park. Once he stopped
to look at a dear little dog with a blue collar, who
seemed to have lost his master, for he was wander-
ing about by himself, and smelling everybody and
everything he met, as if to recover a lost trail.
Jan called him. He came up in a very friendly
way and allowed himself to be patted, and once
more the sweetmeat was in danger, for Jan had
taken it out with the intention of dividing it with
this new friend, when a \vhistle was heard which
the little dog evidently recognized, and he darted
off at once to join his master. So again the pink
sweetmeat was put back into Jan's pocket, and he
He had gone quite a distance when he saw a
number of people collected round the foot of a
tree. A ladder was set against one of the lower
branches, and a man had climbed up nearly to the
top of the tree. Jan, like a true boy, lost no time
in joining the crowd, but at first he could not
make out what was going on. The boughs were
thick. All that he could see was the man's back
WHO ATE THE PINK SWEETMEAT? 2\
high up overhead, and what he was doing he coulr
A benevolent-looking old gentleman stood near
and Jan heard him exclaim with great excitement .
" There, he's got him ! No, he's not ; but it wa-'
a close shave ! '
" Got what, sir? " he ventured to ask.
" Why, the rook, to be sure."
Then, seeing that Jan still looked puzzled, he
took the trouble to explain.
" You see that rook up there, my lad, don'l
you ? ' Jan had not seen any rook at all ! " Well,
it is caught in some way, how, I can't tell you, buf
it can't get away from the tree. It has been there
three days, they say, and all that time the othei
rooks have brought food to it, and kept it from
starving. Now some one has gone up to see what
is the difficulty, and, if possible, to set the poor
" Thank you, sir," said Jan.
And the old gentleman looked at him kindly, and
said to himself :
" A very civil, tidy little lad ! I like his face."
28 WHO ATE THE PINK SWEETMEAT ?
Jan had now become deeply interested in what
was going on. He stood on tiptoe, and stretched
his neck ; but all he could see was the man's back
and one of his feet, and now and then the move-
ment of a stick with which the man seemed to be
trying to hit something. At last there was a great
plunge and a rustling of branches, and people be-
gan to hurrah. Jan hurrahed too, though he still
saw nothing very clearly ; but it is easier to shout
when other boys shout, if you happen to be a boy,
than it is to keep still.
Slowly the man in the tree began to come down.
He had only one hand to help himself with now,
for the other held the heavy rook. We in America
do not know what rooks are like, but in England
they are common enough. They are large black
birds, something like our crows, but they look
wiser, and are a good deal bigger.
As the man neared the ground every one in the
crowd could see what had been the matter with
the rook. A kite-string caught among the tree
branches, had tangled his legs and held him fast.
He had pulled so hard in his efforts to escape that
WHO ATE THE PINK SWEETMEAT? 29
the string had cut into one of his legs and half
broken it. It was stiff and bleeding, and the rook
could neither fly nor hop. People searched in their
pockets, and one little girl, who had a half biscuit,
fed the rook, who, for all the kindly efforts of his
friends, seemed to be half-famished. The poor thing
was too weak to struggle or be frightened, and
took the crumbs eagerly from the girl's hand.
Jan thought of his sweetmeat, and took it out
for the third time. Everybody was crowding round
the man who held the rook, and he could not get
near. A tall policeman stood in front of him. Jan
pulled his arm, and when he turned, handed him the
sweetmeat, and said in his soft, foreign English :
"For the bird, sir."
"Thank you my dear," said the policeman.
He had not understood what Jan said, and in an
abstracted way, with his eyes still fixed on the rook,
he bit the pink sweetmeat in two, and swallowed
half of it at a mouthful. Fortunately Jan did
not see this, for the policeman's back was turned
to him ; but observing that the man made no at-
tempt to go forward, he pulled his sleeve for the
WHO ATE THE PINK SWEETMEAT?
second time, and
again said :
" For the bird, I
This time the
and taking one
step forward, he
held the remain-
ing half of the
sweetmeat out to
the rook, who,
having by this
time grown used
to being fed, took the offered dainty greedily.
Jan saw the last pink crumb vanish into the long
WHO ATE THE PINK SWEETMEAT? 31
beak, but he felt no regret. His heart had been
touched by the suffering of the poor bird, and he
was glad to give what he could to make it forget
those painful days in the tree.
So that was the end of the pink sweetmeat, or
not quite the end. The kind old gentleman to
whom Jan had spoken, had noticed the little trans-
action with the policeman. He was shrewd as well
He guessed by Jan's clothes that he was a
working-man's son, to whom sweets were not an
everyday affair, and the generous act pleased him.
So he put his hand into his pocket, pulled out a
half-crown, and watching his opportunity, dropped
it into Jan's pocket, quite empty now that the
sweetmeat was gone. Then, with a little chuckle,
he walked away, and Jan had no suspicion of what
had been done to him.
Gradually the crowd dispersed, Jan among the
rest walking briskly, for he wanted to get home
and tell his mother the story. It was not till after
supper that he discovered the half-crown, and then
it seemed to him like a sort of dream, as if fairies
32 WHO ATE THE PINK SWEETMEAT ?
had been at work, and turned the pink sweetmeat
into a bit of silver.
That night the three pairs of stockings had an-
other chance for conversation. The blue ones and
the green ones lay close together on the floor of
the room where Jan slept with his brother, and the
white ones which Greta had carelessly dropped as
she jumped into bed, were near enough the half-
opened door to talk across the sill.
" It has been an exciting clay," said the White
Pair. " My girl got a Keble's Christian Year at
her school. It was the second-best prize. It is a
good thing to belong to respectable people who
take prizes. Only one thing was painful to me, she
wriggled her toes so with pleasure that I feel as if
I were coining to an end in one of my points."
" You probably are," remarked the Big Gray.
" Yes, now that I examine, I can see the place.
One stitch has parted already, and there is quite a
thin spot. You know I always predicted that you
would be in the rag-bag before you knew it."
" Oh, don't say such dreadful things," pleaded
the Little Blues. Mrs. Wendte will mend her, I am
WHO ATE THE PINK SWEETMEAT? 33
sure, and make her last. What did your girl do
with her sweetmeat? "
" Ate it up directly, of course. What else should
one do with a sweetmeat ? ' snapped the White
Pair crossly. " Oh, dear ! my toe feels dreadfully
ever since you said that; quite neuralgic ! '
" My boy was not so foolish as to eat his sweet-
meat," said the Big Gray stockings. " Only girls
act in that way, without regard to anything but their
greedy appetites. He traded his with another boy,
and he got a pocket-knife for it, three screws, and
a harmonica. There ! ' :
"Was the knife new? " asked the Blue.
" Could the harmonica play any music ? '' de-
manded the White.
" No ; the harmonica is out of order inside
somehow, but perhaps my boy can mend it. And
the knife isn't new quite old, in fact and its
blade is broken at the end ; still it's a knife, and
Wilhelm thinks he can trade it off for something
else. And now for your adventures. What did
your boy do with his sweetmeat, Little Blues ?
Did he eat it, or trade it ? "
34 WHO ATE THE PINK SWEETMEAT?
It is eaten," replied the Blue Stockings cau-
" Eaten ! Then of course he ate it. Why don't
you speak out ? If he ate it, say so. If he didn't,
who did ? '
" Well, nobody ate the whole of it, and my boy
didn't eat any. It was divided between two per-
sons or rather, between one person and and
a thing that is not a person."
" Bless me ! What are you talking about ? I
never heard anything so absurd in my life. Per-
sons, and things that are not persons," said the
White Pair, " what do you mean ? '
" Yes ; what do you mean ? What is the use of
beating about the bush in this way? " remonstrated
the Big Gray Pair. " Who did eat the sweetmeat ?
" Half of it was eaten by a policeman, and the
other half b) a rook," replied the Little Blues, in a
" Ho, ho ! " roared the Gray Stockings, while
the White Pair joined in with a shrill giggle.
" That beats all ! Half by a policeman, and half
WHO ATE THE PINK SWEETMEAT? 35
by a rook ! A fine way to dispose of a Christmas
sweetmeat ! Your boy must be a fool, Little
"Not a fool at all," said the Blue Pair indig-
nantly. " Now just listen to me. Your girl ate
hers up at once, and forgot it. Your boy traded
his away ; and what has he got ? A broken knife,
and a harmonica that can't play music. I don't
call those worth having. My boy enjoyed his
sweetmeat all day. He had more pleasure in giv-
ing it away than if he had eaten it ten times over !
Beside he got half a crown for it. An old gentle-
man slipped it into his pocket because he was
pleased with his kind heart. I saw him do it."
" Half a crown ! ' ejaculated the White Pair,
"That/J something like," admitted the Big Gray
Stockings. " Your boy did the best of the three,
The Little Blues said no more.
Presently the others fell asleep, but she lay and
watched Jan as he rested peacefully beside his
brother, with his wonderful treasure - - the silver
36 WHO ATE THE PINK SWEETMEAT?
coin clasped tight in his hand. He smiled in
his sleep as though his dreams were pleasant.
"Even if he had no half-crown, still he would
have done the best," she whispered to herself at
Then the clock struck twelve, and the day after
Christmas was begun.
HAT was a cold evening. The snow was
just as dry as flour, and had been beat
down till the road looked slick as a ribbon far
up and far down, and squeaked every step. I
pulled Mrar on our sled. All the boys went home
by the crick to skate, but I was 'fraid Mrar would
get cold, she's such a little thing. I like to play
with the girls if the boys do laugh, for some of the
big ones might push Mrar down and hurt her. She
misses her mother so I babies her more than I
We's almost out of sight of the schoolhouse,
and just where the road elbows by the Widow
Briggs's place, when something passed us like
whiz! I'd been pulling along with the sled rope
over my arm, and my hands in my pockets, and
didn't hear a team or anything, but it made me
shy off the side of the road, and pretty near upset
Mrar. School lets out at four o'clock, and dusk
comes soon after that, but it was woolly gray yet,
so you could see plain except in the fence corners,
and the thing that passed us was a man riding on
nothing but one big wheel.
; 'O, see there !" says Mrar, scared as could be.
I felt glad on her account we's close to Widow
Briggs's place. It would be easy to hustle her
over Briggs's fence ; but the thing run so still and
fast it might take fences as well as a straight road.
The man turned round after he passed us, and
came rearing back, away up on that wheel, and I
stood as close before the sled as I could. He sat
high up in the air, and wiggled his feet on each
side of the wheel, and I never saw a camel or ele-
phant, or any kind of wild thing at a show that
made me feel so funny. But just when I thought
he's going to cut through us, he turned short, and
stopped. He had on an overcoat to his ears, and
a fur cap down to his nose, and hairy gloves on,
and a little satchel strapped over his shoulder, and
I saw there was a real small wheel behind the big
THE WHIZZER. 39
one that balanced him up. He wasn't sitting on
the tire neither, but on a saddle place, and the big
wheel had lots of silver spokes crossing back and
" Whose children are you ? " says the man.
" Nobody's," says I.
" But who owns and switches you ? " says he.
" The schoolmaster switches me," says I ; "but
we ain't owned since mother died."
Mrar begun to cry.
" We live at uncle Mozy's," says she. " They
don't want to give us away."
The man laughed, and says : " Are you right
sure ? ' But I hated to have her scared, so I told
her the wheel couldn't hurt her, nor him neither.
" I've seen the cars many a time," I says, " and
I've seen balloons, and read in the paper about
things that went on three wheels, but this "
"It's a bicycle," says he. " I'm a wheel-man."
" That's what I thought," says I.
Then he wanted to know our names.
"Mine's Steele Pedicord," I says, "and this is
inv little sister Mrar."
40 THE WHIZZER.
His eyes looked sharp at us and he says :
" Your mother died about six weeks ago ? ' :
" Yes, sir," says I.
"To-morrow won't be a very nice Christmas for
you," says he.
" Xo, sir," says I, digging my heel in the snow,
for he had no business to talk that way, and make
Mrar feel bad, when I had a little wagon all whit-
tled out in my pocket to give her, and she cried
most every night, anyhow, until aunt Ibby threat-
ened to switch her if she waked the family any
more. I slept with the boys, but when I heard
Mrar sniffling in the big bed, a good many nights
I slipped out and sat by her and whispered stories
to take her attention as long as my jaws worked
limber ; but when they chattered too much with
the cold, I'd lay down on the cover, with my arm
across her till she went to sleep. I like Mrar.
" They said we might go up to cousin Andy
Sanders's to stay over," says I. " We don't have
to be at uncle Moze's a Christmas."
" That's some consolation, is it? " says he.
I was not groins: to let him know what the rela-
THE VVHIZZER. 4 1
tions did, but I never liked relations outside of
our place. At aunt Ibby and uncle Moze's the
children fight like cats. And they always act poor
at Christmas, and make fun of hanging your stock-
ing or setting your plate ; for you'd only get ashes
or corn-cobs. Aunt Ibby keeps her sleeves rolled
up so she can slap real handy, and uncle Moze has
yellow streaks in his eyes, and he shivers over the
stove, and keeps everybody else back. At cousin
Andy Sanders' they have no children, and don't
want them. You durse hardly come in out of the
snow, and all the best things on the table will
make you sick. If there is a piece in the paper
that is hard to read, and ugly as it can be, they
will make you sit still and read it; and if you get
done too quick, they will say you skipped, and you
have to read it out loud while they find fault. I
knew cousin Andy Sanders never had any candy
or taffy for Christmas, but Mrar and me could be
peaceable there, for they don't push her around so
" Well, hand me your rope," says the man,
" and I'll give you a ride."
I liked that notion ; so I handed him the rope,
and he waited till I got on the sled in front of
" That's Widow Briggs's homestead ; isn't it ? ' :
he said, just before he started.
I told him it was, and asked if he ever lived
down our way. He laughed, and said he knew
something about every place ; and then he set the
wheel a-going. Mrar held tight to me, and I braced
my heels against the front round of the sled. The
fence corners went faster and faster, and the wind
whistled through our ears, while you could not see
one dry blade in the fodder shocks move.
"Ain't he a Whizzer ? v says I to Mrar.
We turned another jog, and the spokes in the
wheel looked all smeared together. It did beat
horse-racing. I got excited, and hollered for him
to " Go it, old \Vhizzer ! ' and he went it till we's
past cousin Andy Sanclers's before I knew the
place was nigh.
"Cast loose, now, Mister, we're much obliged,"
But he kept right on like he never heard me.
THE WHIZZER. 43
So I yelled up louder and told him we's there, and
he turned around his head a minute, and laughed.
" Please let go, Mister," I says. " That's cousin
Andy Sanders's away back there. We're obliged,
but we'll have to go back."
The Whizzer never let on. He whizzed ahead
as fast as ever. I thought it was a mean trick for
him to play on Mrar, and wished I could trip up
his wheel. It would be dark long before I got her
back to cousin Andy Sanders's ; and the Whizzer
whizzed ahead like he was running off with us.
I had a notion to cut the rope, but there was no
telling when I'd get another, and it was new. I
made up my mind to do it, though, when we come
along by our old place ; but there the Whizzer
turned round and jumped off in the road.
I picked up the end of my rope, and shook my
head, because I was mad.
" Why didn't you let go ? " says I.
" Haven't I brought you home ? " he says.
I looked at the shut-up house, and felt a good
deal worse than when I thought he was running off
44 THE WHIZZER.
" O Steeley," says Mrar, " le's go in and stay. I
want to come home so bad ! '
"Now you see what you done ! " says I to the
Whizzer. He was man grown, and 1's only ten
years old, but he ought to knowed better than to
made Mrar cry till the tears run clown her chin.
I'd been to look at the house myself, but never
said a word to her about it. Once at noon I
slipped up there by the cornfields roundabout, and
sat on the fence and thought about mother till I
could hardly stand it. The house looked lone-
somer than an old cabin about to fall; because an
old cabin about to fall has forgot its folks, but a!:
our things were locked up here, except what aunt
Ibby and cousin Andy Sanders had carried off.
Our sale was to be in January. The snow was
knee-deep in the yard, and drifted even on the
porch, but tracks showed where aunt Ibby walked
when she got out a load of provisions and bed-
clothes. She had the front door key, and took
even the blue-and-white coverlid with birds wove
in, that I heard mother say was to be Mrar's, and
the canned fruit for fear it would freeze, when cur
cellar is warmer than their stove. She said to
uncle Moze, when I was by unbeknown, that Mrar
and me would have ten times as much property as
her children, anyhow, and she ought to be paid
more for keeping us. She might had our money,
for all I cared, but I did not know how to stand
her robbing things out of mother's house, and
wished the sale would come quick, and scatter them
The Whizzer leant his chin on his breast and
looked pitiful out of his eyes at Mrar, for seemed
like the tears had a notion to freeze on her face,
only she kept them running down too fast ; and he
" Let's go into the house."
" Oh, do, Steeley ! ' says Mrar, hugging my
knee, for I was alongside the sled. " And I'll
cook all your dinners. And we'll hang up our
Christmas stockings every Sunday," says she, "and
aunt Ibby's boys won't durse to take away my
lead pencil mother give me, and if you see them
coming here, you'll set Bounce on them."
" Mrar," says I, " we will go in and make a fire
46 THE WHIZZER.
and act like mother's just gone out to a neigh-
Then she begun to laugh, and one of her tears
stuck to an in-spot that comes and goes in her face
like it was dented with your finger.
"But now you mind," I says, "if aunt Ibby or
uncle Moze goes to whip us for this, you tell them
I put you up to it and made you go along with
Mrar looked scared.
" And you tell them," says the Whizzer, lifting
his wheel across the snow toward the sate, "that
I put you both up to it and made you go along
I pulled Mrar over the drifts, and we went to
the side door.
"Aunt Ibby's got the big key," I says, "and Til
have to. raise a window while you wait here."
The windows were all locked down, but we went
round and round till the one in the shed give way,
and I crawled through and bursted the latch ofif
the kitchen door. I breathed so fast it made my
heart thump when I unlocked the side door and let
THE WHIZZER. 47
the Whizzer and Mrar into the sitting-room. I no-
ticed then he'd hung his wheel on the limb of a
tree, for it glittered.
"Bounce ain't here to jump on us, is he, Mrar? "
" No ; and he hates to stay at cousin Andy
Sanders's," says she.
Bounce would come to the schoolhouse and kind
of cry till I asked the master, " Please may I go
out?' And then Bounce and me'd have a talk
behind the schoolhouse, and I'd tell him I could
not help it, and he'd own that he might live at aunt
Ibby's with us if he could only keep from chawing
up their miserable yellow dogs ; and we'd both
But I did miss him that minute I opened the
door, when here he come like a house a-fire, and
lit down on the floor panting and pounding his
tail and laughing ; and then he jumped up and
pawed us in the dark till Mrar had to hold him
round the neck to keep him still while I got
a light. He must snuffed our tracks when we
whizzed past cousin Andy Sanders's.
48 THE WHIZZER.
I felt to the pantry and put my hand in the can-
dle box, but aunt Ibby never left one. I knew
there's a piece in a candlestick in the shed cup-
board, though. It burnt half out the night mother
died. So I got it, and the Whizzer scraped a
match, and lit the wick. The Whizzer and me set
to, then, and brought in loads from the woodhouse.
We built a fire clear up into the chimney, and
Mrar took the broom, and swept all the dust into
it. Bounce laid on the carpet and licked at us,
and whacked his tail till we's in a broad laugh.
The fire got me warmer than I'd been since
mother died. The Whizzer took out a thick gold
watch, and wound our clock and set it. Then he
" Let's go over the house."
And we did. I carried the candle, and Mrar
and the dog went along.
The Whizzer looked in all the up-stairs presses,
and opened the bureau drawers. I staid outside
of the parlor, and Mrar and Bounce did too. I did
not want to think of the sheet stretched in the
corner, for it was not like mother under the sheet.
THE VVHIZZER. 49
But her picture hung up in the.re, and so did my
The Whizzer staid in with the candle a good
while. I heard him going from one thing to an-
other, and wondered what he was about. I'd
rather gone out to the graveyard, though, and set
on the fence watching mother's and father's graves,
and heard the dry sumac bushes scrape together,
than to stepped into the parlor. Father died a
year before mother, but I didn't like him the same
as I did her.
Then we looked down cellar ; and I thought I
ought to tell the Whizzer about the provisions and
bedclothes being taken out of the house, or he'd
suppose mother never kept us nice. He smiled
under his cap ; and I found one jar of cand'ed
honey behind some bar'ls where aunt Ibby over-
looked it. We carried that up to the sitting-room.
Mrar likes cand'ed honey better than anything.
Just as we come into the sitting-room, I neard
somebody pound on the front door.
" They're after us ! " says Mrar.
" Let me see to it," says the Whizzer.
50 THE VVHIZZER.
So he stepped around the house, and came back
with his wheel on his arm, and held the door open.
The snow made out-doors light ; and we saw a lit-
tle fellow lead a horse and buggy through the yard
into the barn lot, and he came right in, carrying a
couple of baskets.
" All right, Sam," says the Whizzer. " Put your
horse in the stable, and then build a fire in the
The man he called Sam stopped to warm him-
self at our hearth, and I never saw such a looking
creature before. He had a cap with a button on
top of his head, and his hair was braided in a long
tail behind. He laughed, and his eyes glittered ;
and they sloped up like a ladder set against the
house. He was just as yellow as brass, and wore
a cloth circular with big sleeves, but the rest of
him looked like other folks. Mrar went back into
the corner, and I noticed the Whizzer set his
wheel against the wall, and I wondered if he'd left
it out for a sign so the little yellow man would
know where to stop.
The yellow man went out to his horse, and the
THE WHIZZER. 51
Whizzer took off his cap and gloves and coat, and
hung them in the sitting-room closet. He looked
nice. His eyes snapped, and his hair was cut off
close, except a brush right along the middle of his
head. We set our chairs up to the rire, and I
watched him and watched him.
" If you and that fellow travel together," I says,
" what makes him go in a buggy, and you on a
wheel ? "
"Oh, I like the bicycle," says he. ''I've run
thousands of miles on it. I sent Sam out from
San Francisco by the railroad, but I came through
on the wheel. It took me three months."
I thought he was a funny man, but I liked him,
When Sam came in from the stable, Mtar and I
went to the kitchen and saw him cook supper.
For one of the baskets was jam-full of vittles. He
heated a roasted turkey, and made oyster soup and
mashed potatoes and chopped cabbage. There
were preserves the Whizzer called Scotch, and hot
rolls, and jelly, and cold chicken, and little round
cakes that melted in your mouth, and pickles, and
J2 THE WHIZZER.
nuts, and oranges ; and we put the cand'ed honey
on the table. The coffee smelt like Thanksgiving.
Sam waited on us, and I eat till I's ashamed. We
never expected to have such a dinner in mother's
house any more.
When Mrar and I got down and begun to toss
our oranges, the Whizzer told Sam to clear the
things away and have his supper in the kitchen,
and then to fix the beds as comfortable as he
could. Td made up my mind even if the Whizzer
did travel ahead that Mrar and m'd stay there all
night. Aunt Ibby's would think we were at
cousin Andy Sanders's, and cousin Andy Sanders's
would think we were at aunt Ibby's.
He sat in mother's big chair before the fire and
I felt willing. If it had been uncle Moze in
the chair I wouldn't felt willing. When a stick
broke on the dog-irons we piled on more wood, and
the clock ticked and struck nine, and I wished
we's never going away from there again. Mrar
and I played and jumped, and he was blind man,
and we had solid fun till we's tired out. I showed
him my books, for I never took one to uncle
THE WHIZZER. 53
Moze's. The boys there make you give up every-
thing, and they lick their dirty thumbs to turn
Mrar and I stood and looked into the glass
doors of the bookcase like we used to when the
tire made them like a looking-glass, and there
were our faces, hers round and wide between the
eyes, and curly-headed ; and mine long, and nar-
row between the eyes, and my hair in a black
I told the Whizzer she better have a bed
made down by the fire, considering the blankets
and comforts were most all out a-visiting, and he
guessed so, too ; and Sam helped me bring lots of
quilts and a feather tick from my old room to fix
up the lounge with. Sam went into the kitchen
and slept by the stove.
Then I undressed Mrar, and heard her prayers
after I tucked her in. She's six years old, and
dressed herself before mother died, all but hooking
up. I hooked her up, and sometimes she'd swell
out for mischief when she ought to swell in. But
now I tended to her entirely because she missed
54 THE WHIZZER.
her mother. The Whizzer acted like he saw
something in the fire, but when Mrar was asleep
and I sat down by him, he pushed up my roach,
and he says :
" You're a very fatherly little fellow, Steele
It put me in mind to ask him if he's Sam's
father, but he laughed out loud at the notion.
" Sam's smaller than you and he minds so
well," says I. " And I never saw a man that was
so handy at girl's work."
" Sam is an excellent fellow," says the Whizzer,
" but I don't deserve to have a Chinaman called
"Oh!" I says. "Is he a Chinaman? Well,
I've read about them, but I never saw one be-
Then I concluded to ask the Whizzer what his
own name was. But just then he got up from his
chair and brought the other basket to the fire.
" Do you know who Santa Claus is ? " he says,
" I found that out two years ' ago," says I.
THE WHIZZER. 55
" Well, get her little stockings, then," he says.
" I thought you'd like to do this yourself," says
the Whizzer. He acted just like mother.
We took the things out of the basket. There
were toy sheep and dogs, and dolls and tubs and
dishes, and underneath them all kinds of candies,
enough to treat a school. I felt like the Whizzer
was Santa Glaus. We stuffed her little stockings
till they stood alone, like kegs, and tied bundles
to them, and fastened them together and hung
them on the mantel-piece. Bounce'd wake up
and watch us, and then he'd doze off, for Bounce
was fuller of turkey-bones than he ever expected
to be again ; and Mrar slept away, looking like
a doll in the fireshine.
But all at once Bounce gave a jump and a
bark. Back went the door like the wind had tore
it open, and there stood uncle Moze, and aunt
Ibby, and cousin Andy Sanders, and the Widow
Briggs's grown son, and two or three men behind
them. They all looked scared or mad, arid aunt
Ibby's face was so white that her moles all
56 THE WHIZZER.
"This is a pretty how-to-do," says she, speaking
up loud like she did on wash-days, or times she
took a stick and drove the boys to the wood-pile.
" What's going on in this house to-night ? fires,
and candles burning, and travellers putting up,
and children running away when they're let go
some place else to stay all night ! You little
sneak," says she, " you'll get one such a whipping
as you ached for when your mother was alive."
"Stop, stop," says the Whizzer peaceably.
" What are you doing in this house ? ' says
cousin Andy Sanders. " Are you the man I saw
go past my place to-night on that wheel, pulling
the children ? "
" I am," says the Whizzer, " and I've been
making notes of the personal property that has
been carried out of the house."
"Well," says uncle Moze, "I'm the constable
and this is my posse."
The Whizzer laughed, and he says, " This thorn-
bush is my thornbush, and this dog my dog."
I did not know what he meant and they acted
as if they did not either.
THE WHIZZER. 57
" I arrest you," says uncle Moze, " for breaking
into a house and disturbing the peace."
" You can't do it," says the Whizzer.
" Go in and take him," says uncle Moze to the
" Because this is my house," says the Whizzer.
I swallowed my breath when he said that.
" I wish you'd shut the door," he says ; " and
since to-morrow is Christmas, and I don't want to
harbor any ill-will, you can shut it behind instead
of in front of you. I'm Steele Pedicord, this boy's
father as you might all know by looking at me."
Even cousin Andy Sanders didn't jump any
more than I did, but I jumped for gladness, and
seemed like he jumped for something else.
" I'm appointed guerdeen to the children," he
says, " and I don't want any impudent talk from a
" You pretend you don't know me, Andy San-
ders," says the Whizzer, " but I always knew you.
You expected to settle on their land, while Moze
and his wife pillaged their goods. I didn't grow
up with you for nothing."
58 THE VVHIZZER.
" Steele Pedicord died when that boy was a
year old/' says aunt Ibby, and she looked so
awful and so big I could hardly bear to watch her.
"He was killed by the Indians on his way from
Californy, after he sent his money home."
" He was only kept prisoner by the Indians,"
says my father, " and sick and ill-used. But
he had no notion he was dead till he got away
after a few years, and heard his widow was mar-
ried again, and even mother to another child."
" It's a likely story," says cousin Andy Sanders,
"that a man wouldn't come forward and claim his
own in such a case."
"Your notion of a man and mine never did
agree, Andy Sanders," says my father. " She
w-asn't to blame, and her second husband was my
best friend. The boy and girl are mine now."
"It's some robbing scheme," says aunt Ibby,
but she looked as if she knew him well enough.
" I've more to give them than you could have
taken from them," he says, "and you may begin to
investigate to-night. Is that the Widow Briggs's
boy?" he says.
THE WHIZZER. 59
The Briggs boy came up and shook hands with
him, and the other men stepped in and shook
hands, too. They all begun to talk. But uncle
Moze, and aunt Ibby, and cousin Andy Sanders
left the door, and I heard them slam the gate.
Mrar slept right along, though the neighbors
talked so loud and fast ; and I sat down on the
lounge at her feet, wondering what she would say
Christmas morning when she found out the Whiz-
zer was my own father, that mother thought was
dead since I's a year old !
I felt so queer and glad that something in
me whizzed like the wheel, and while my father
was not looking, and everybody sat up to the fire
asking questions, I slipped over and tried to hug
it around the cranks that he wiggled with his feet.
You can read pieces about Santa Claus coming
on a sledge, but that's nothing to having your
own father that you think is dead and gone
ride up like a regular Whizzer and open the
house for Christmas !
DRIVEN downwards by the storm which had
raged incessantly for two clays about the
lofty red ramparts of the Sierra Roja, the black-
tail deer, in broken bands, sought refuge in the
lower foot hills. Here, also, a light " tracking
snow ' had fallen, and their trails lay fresh for
Cherokee Sam had been early abroad, long
rifle on shoulder, and lank deer hound at heels.
Not all for pleasure did the gaunt half-breed slip
like a shadow in his hunting moccasons through
the canons clad in pine. Meat was needed in the
dirt-roofed cabin in the gulch. And for that mat-
ter, bread also, and this, too, despite the fact that
the stubble sticking up through the snow in the
bottom, marked the site of a harvested corn patch.
THE PATRONCITO'S CHRISTMAS. 6l
The swarthy hunter had indeed planted there ;
but other hands had gathered the harvest.
Mixed, like his blood, were the half-breed's
occupations, and his sinewy hands as often swung
the pick and shook the pan, as pointed the rifle.
When his company of gold-hunters from the
Nacoochee had struck the Sierra, they had scat-
tered through it to prospect for placer, and he had
then first come upon the gulch, and though it had
never panned out even " a color," the charm of
its virgin solitude had smitten the half-savage
heart of this wanderer after the will-o'-wisp of
fortune. Too tangled for trail lay the storm-felled
trees, and no man's foot but his own ever trod
the gramma grass or brushed the wild cypress
bending by the stream. By this, just where the
beavers had built their dam, Cherokee Sam had
pitched his cabin. Standing by the margin of the
silent pool, in close proximity to the uncouth
beaver huts, at the first glance its mud-be-daubed
exterior might have been taken for the mud palace
of the king beaver himself, but for the thin smoke
that slowly melting into air marked the abode of
62 THE PATRONCITO'S CHRISTMAS.
fire-making man. In the rich "bottom " near, the
half-breed, with provident mind for "ash-cakes,"
and "fatty bread," had planted a corn patch, and
at evening as he came over the hill above, return-
ing from his clay's hunting, and saw the cabin, and
the corn greenly waving, he hailed the spot as
But one day as he sat idly before his open door,
a little gray burro came ambling agilely through
the fallen trees, his rider, a dwarfish man of
haughty aspect, whose cheeks were wrinkled, and
beard grizzled, but whose eyes were as piercing
and elf-locks as black as the half-breed's own.
Seated on his little long-eared palfrey, he accosted
the half-breed and gravely inquired, in tolerable
English, if he knew that he was trespassing on the
lands of \hz patron , who lived at the plaza, on the
" No ; I don't know nothing about no patron"
said Cherokee Sam shortly, as he arose and stood
towering in giant height above the dwarfish rjder
of the burro.
Bieu, then he was sorry to have to tell him, said
THE PATRONCITO'S CHRISTMAS. 63
the Spanish stranger in suave reply. He was the
mayordomo, and this was theflatrvn's land, and the
coyote (half-breed) that killed all the deer must
seek some other spot. Far he must go, too,
for the patron's land was far-reaching, and he
pointed with his willow wand to the Sierra rising
above, and the plain rolling far away below.
On all sides far as the eye could see was the
patron's land. His it was by virtue of a Spanish
The coyote giant laughed in scorn. " I've
heerd of them thar grants. What good are they?
Squatters' rights and squatters' rifles rules in this
here free country, I reckon. Go back, little Mr.
Mexican, to your /<//;'<?;/, and tell him that here I've
took up my homestead, and here I'll stay, and
you uns may do your do ! ' :
As he spoke he threw his rifle on his hollowed
arm, and looked black thunder from his beetling
brow upon the burro-rider. Perhaps had he been
less haughty in his defiance, he would have fared
better at the mayordomo's hands. For when the
corn was yellow, and he returned from one of his
6 A THE 1'ATRONCITO'S CHRISTMAx
periodical prospects to gather it, he found only
the bare stubble field awaiting him.
Thus it was that Cherokee Sam, hunter, pro-
spector and squatter, despite his triad of trades,
was now at Christmas without a "corn-pone," and
this state was likely to continue through the winter.
Returning home at sunset with the legs of a doe
tied across his breast, and her slender head, with
its big ears trailing behind against the muzzle of
the eager hound, the hunter strode from the tim-
ber on the slope, and struck the snow from his
frozen leggins and moccasons as he paused on the
Shut-in. A lofty upheaved ledge of red sandstone
was this, which arose from the slopes on either
hand, and shut in the gulch fiom the plain below,
leaving only a narrow portal for the passage of the
Above him, as he stood, were the foot-hills, and
his wild home all snow-covered and cold in the
shadow of the Sierra. But below the snow had
not fallen, and the plain shone brown and warm in
the lingering light of the setting sun. There, soft-
ened by the distance, with a saffron shimmer
THE PATRONCITO'S CHRISTMAS. 65
about its dark outlines, lay the gray adobe plaza,
sleeping by the silver stream.
There were gathered corn and oil, the fat of the
land ; and he would have nothing but the deer on
his shoulders for Christmas cheer. A bad gleam
came in the half-breed's eyes as he thought of his
harried corn-patch, and gazed at the abode of his
As if in sympathy with his master, the hound put
up his bristles, and growled savagely. Looking
down, the hunter was astonished to see a small
figure standing motionless at the foot of the Shut-
in, and gazing up at him.
The stranger was a young boy. He was very
richly and somewhat fantastically dressed in a
silken jacket, and silken pantalones, much be-but-
toned about the outer seams, and confined at the
waist by a silken sash. On his feet were
buckskin zapatos, soled with raw-hide, and tied
with drawstrings of ribbon, and over his long
and flowing hair a white sombrero with gay silk
This he reverentially removed as the hunter de-
66 THE PATRONCITO'S CHRISTMAS.
scencled, and resting on him his soft black eyes,
" Good evening, Senor don San Nicolas. To-
night is Noche Buena (Christmas eve), and Padre
Luis told me you would pass through the Shut-in
on your way to the plaza. So I've come to meet
His manner was eager and full of trusiful confi-
dence. The half-breed was taken aback.
" I don't go by no such name as that," he re-
plied gruffly. " I'm Cherokee Sam, and I live
down thar ; ' and he pointed to the dirt-roofed
cabin in the gulch.
" I wanted badly to see the saint," said the
stranger, as his face fell ; " and I never could
when he comes to the plaza, because I'm then
always asleep. I'm the patroncito, senor."
He had replaced his sombrero, and his air as he
declared himself was princely.
Cherokee Sam's face darkened. The youno-
patron the son of his enemy the despoiler of
the corn-patch. Even now they must be seeking
him, and here he was in his hands. And there
THE BOY REVERENTIALLY REMOVED HIS SOMBRERO.
THE PATRONCITO'S CHRISTMAS. 69
was no snow below, and they could find no trail to
" What did you do that for?" asked l\\e patron-
cito, in a tone of authority, as he laid his hand on
the ragged bullet-hole behind the doe's shoulder.
" I had to have meat for my Christmas dinner,"
said Sam. " Come with me, and I will show you
that thar Spanish Santy Claus you're huntin' for,"
he added, and held out his hand.
The patronrito placed his own in it promptly.
For a moment the giant stayed his stride to the
other's puny steps. Then the patroncito stopped
and said commandingly :
" The snow is deep ; take me up ! '
Never had the wild hunter known a master ;
but now, without a word, he stooped and, like an-
other giant St. Christopher, set the child upon his
shoulder, and plunged through the drifts for the
In a moment he had the doe gambrelled to
a pine in front of the cabin. Then he pushed
open the slab door, and entering, blew up the cov-
ered embers in the rough fireplace, and piled on
jo THE PATRONCITO'S CHRISTMAS.
the pitch pine. As it blazed up, he drew a couple
of deerskins from his bed in the corner and Hung
them down before the fire and bade the patronrito
He obeyed ; and the half-breed looked at him
with stern satisfaction. Many a long day should
it be ere the patron saw again his son and heir.
But these reflections were disturbed. His guest
pointed to his gay zapatos.
" Will you please take them off, Don Cherokee
Sam ? " he said. " My feet are wet and my fingers
The half-breed knelt and undid the ribbons, and
drew them off, and also his long silk stockings.
" Muchas grarias, Don" said the patroncito, as he
reclined at ease and toasted his bare toes before
His fearlessness pleased his hunter host well.
His manner, too, was patronizing, and the half-
breed entered into the jest with savage humor.
"If you'll 'scuse me, Mister Patronrito, I'll git
He spoke as if this were an operation requiring
THE PATRONCITo's CHRISTMAS. 71
great culinary skill and much previous prepara-
tion. It consisted in cutting three steaks, with his
sheath-knife, from the deer's ham, and placing
them with a lump of fat in the frying-pan over the
fire. These turned and browned, two tin cups
filled with water, and the supper was ready.
The guest took kindlv enough to the venison.
O j O
He tasted the water and paused. " I'll thank you
for a cup of hot coffee, Don Cherokee Sam, with
plenty of sugar in it, if you please."
Don Cherokee Sam was embarrassed at this po-
lite but luxurious request.
" Coffee's bad," he said, shaking his head. " It
spiles my nerve so 's I can't draw a stiddy bead.
Water 's best, patroncito"
The guest was truly polite. He emptied his cup
with the best of grace. But presently he paused
again in his consumption of venison.
" Pardon me, but you have forgotten the
The host arose; What could he set before this
youthful sybarite from the plaza ?
Bread 's been mighty scarce with me this \vin-
72 THE PATRONCITO'S CHRISTMAS.
ter," he muttered. " And I planted a good plenty
of corn out thar too."
The recollection roused his rankling resentment,
and he paused.
" Why didn't you gather it, then, like the peones
do ?" asked the patroncito placidly.
" It was stole,'" muttered the host ; but he
checked himself, and added in a softer tone, " by
b'ars and other varmints, I reckon."
And with this compromise between anger and
truth, Cherokee Sam reached up and took down a
small sack hanging to the great centre roof-log. It
contained a few nubbins found on the harried field,
his seed for next spring.
" Patroncito" he remarked in a tone of concili-
ating confidence, as he shelled an ear in the frying-
pan, " thar's nothing like deer meat, and running
water, and the free air of heaven, and maybe
parched corn oncet in a while, to make a man a
Under this encomium the parched corn was par-
taken of with gravity. And supper being over, the
host cleaned up, a simple process, performed by
THE PATRONCITO S CHRISTMAS. 73
dashing cold water in the red-hot frying-pan, and
hanging it on a nail.
" San Nicolas, you said you'd show him to me,"
then politely hinted fas patroncito.
"It's early yet for him," said Cherokee Sam.
" He's jist about taking the trail in the Sierra, and
the drifts is mighty deep, too. But he'll be here."
" My stockings, Don they should be ready ;
and they're wet. Will you oblige me by holding
them to the fire ?" said the princely patrondto.
Cherokee Sam held the damp stockings to the
blaze. The patrondto watched him sleepily.
" He's a long time coming, Don Cherokee Sam,"
he murmured, as he nodded nodded yet again,
and slipped clown upon the deerskin, fast asleep.
The half-breed lifted him like a feather, and laid
him on his bed and drew the covering softly over
him. Noiselessly he replenished the fire, and
squatted before it, resuming the stocking-drying
The resinous boughs burst into flame, and a
pungent perfume and a red glow pervaded the
smoke-blackened cabin. The light fell on
74 THE PATRONCITC'S CHRISTMAS.
troncito as he lay on the couch of skins, caressed
the slender foot he had thrust from out the cover-
ing, and danced on the silver buttons strung on
his gay pantahmes. Over him, like an ogre,
hovered the wavering shadow of the giant's head,
rendered more grotesque by his towering cap of
badger-skin, plumed with a flaunting tail.
As he sat on his heels in the brilliant light, this
savage head-covering lent additional fierceness to
the half-breed's hatchet-face. Wild-eyed, too, was
he as any denizen of his chosen haunts. But
stolid in its composure as his saturnine counte-
nance was, it was free from all trace of the petty
passions that cramp the souls of his civilized half-
brothers. And as he looked at the soft stockings,
now dry in his hands, a smile parted his thin lips.
Just then the firelight flared up and went sud-
denly out, and the threatening shadow on the wall
was lost. And though the door never opened, and
even the hunter's vigilant ears caught no sound,
he felt a presence in the cabin. Looking up, he
dreamily beheld, shadowed forth dimly in the
gloom, the form of San Nicolas, long belated by
THE PATRONCITO S CHRISTMAS. 75
the drifts. But how that Spanish Christinas saint
looked, or what he said to remind the half-breed
of that hallowed time when all should be peace on
earth and good will towards men, must ever remain
a secret between him and his lawless host.
The patroncito awoke, and through the open
doorway saw the snow sparkling in the sun of
Christmas morning. Over the fire Cherokee Sam
was frying venison, and on either side hung the
long silk stockings, filled.
" And I never saw him ! ' : said the patrondto
reproachfully, as he looked at them. "Oh, why
didn't you wake me, Don Cherokee Sam ? "
" I didn't dar to do it, patroncito" explained
Sam. " 'Twasn't safe when he told me not to."
He watched the patroncito anxiously as he took
the stockings down. But he need have had no
fear. As their contents rolled out on the deerskin
the patroncito uttered a cry of delight.
A handful of garnets, bits of broken agate, a
shivered topaz, shining cubes of iron pyrites,
picked up on otherwise fruitless prospects by San
Nicolas ; a tanned white weasel-skin purse, and
76 THE PATRONCITO'S CHRISTMAS.
ornaments of young bucks' prongs, patiently carved
by that good saint on winter evenings. Certainly,
never before, with all his silk and silver, had the
petted patroncito received gifts so prized as these.
"Never mind about breakfast," he said imperi-
ously, as he gathered them up. " Take me to the
plaza right away."
The half-breed humbly complied. But scarcely
had they emerged from the granite gateway of the
Shut-in when they were met by a party from the
plaza, headed by the patron himself, searching, in
great trouble, for the wanderer. They had been
abroad all night. Happily, Cherokee Sam remem-
bered the admonitions of San Nicolas over night.
"Patron" he said, haughtily, as he led the
patroncito forward, " I bring you a Christmas gift."
Then, as Cherokee Sam afterwards described
it, "there was a jabbering and a waving of hands
by them thar Mexicans." And he, turning, strode
back to his cabin, and his unfinished breakfast.
Still his resentment rankled. But it vanished
later on that day.
Once more the gray burro ambled up the gulch
THE PATRONCITO'S CHRISTMAS. 77
bearing the dwarfish mayordomo^ but this time on
a mission of peace. After him came a burrada
(pack-train) well laden, and drew up before the
door of the astonished Cherokee Sam. With un-
covered head and courtesy profound, the mayor-
domo stood before him and asked would Don
Cherokee Sam indicate where he would have the
Christmas gifts, sent by \hepatroncito, stored.
" In the cabin," replied Sam, glancing at the
loaded burros in dismay, " if it will hold 'em. I
ain't got nowhars else."
The mayordomo waved his wand to the attend-
ant packers, and in a moment the cabin was
filled with box, bag, and bale, closely piled. As-
suredly Don Cherokee Sam had luxuries of life to
last until Christmas came again.
YET it isn't such a bad house," said little
Elsie Perch to herself, as she looked up-
ward at the tall tenement-house in which she lived ;
"to be sure, there's a good many folks in it
Grandpa 'n Grandma Perch, 'n Grandpa : n Grandma
Finney, 'ri uncle John's folks, 'n us 'n her
house hasn't got anybody in it but them but it's
a good enough house. I ain't going to cry because
that little girl that goes to Sunday-school with me
has nicer clothes 'n lives in a nicer house. She
hasn't got any cherry-tree, anyway!"
Elsie spoke these last words with an air of great
triumph, for, sure enough, right in the back yard
of Elsie's home stood a great, generous cherry-
tree; and though as she looked at it now, in the
gray solemnity of a December twilight, she had to
use considerable imagination to recall the luscious
CHERRY PIE. 79
red fruit it had borne last summer, and the glossy
richness, of the green leaves, under whose shade
she had been cool and happy when many of her
neighbors were sweltering in the August heats ;
still Elsie was quite equal to it, especially as to-
morrow was Christmas day. For there was to be
a splendid Christmas dinner at Grandma Perch's,
on the lower floor, and uncle John and his family,
and Elsie's father and mother, and Grandma and
Grandpa Finney were all to be at the dinner. The
cherry-pie was always the crowning glory of Christ-
mas dinner with the Perch family. To be sure, it
was made of canned cherries ; but then, couldn't
Grandma Perch can cherries so they tasted just as
nice in winter as in summer? And nobody else
knew so well just how much sugar to put in, nor
how to make such flaky, delicious pie-crust.
All these things occurred pleasantly to Elsie as
she ran up and down the walk in her warm hood,
and cloak, and mittens. There was a shade of
repining, to be sure, as she th jught of the velvet
clothes, and various other privileges belonging to
the "girl who went to Sunday-school;'' but this
80 CHKRKY PIE.
grew less as she ran, and especially as she looked
down to the square below and saw how much more
squalid and miserable the houses looked down
there, she felt a thankful glow that her home was
better, and that her papa and uncle John never
came home in a cruel, drunken fury like the fathers
of the children down there.
" Pretty good times come Christmas ! ' said
Elsi^ aloud, in a burst of joy, hopping merrily up
and down, and forgetting her discontent. " Why,
there's Millie ! ' ' and she ran across the street to
a little girl who had just come out of the tall
house opposite. Millie looked very forlorn.
"What's the matter?" asked Elsie.
" Mamma says I can't have any Christmas pres-
ent," said Millie, beginning to sob wretchedly;
" she was expecting some work, but it didn't come,
and the rent's overdue, and and I can't have a
thing ! "
"That's too bad," said Elsie; "I'm going to
have lots and we are going to have cherry-pie
"Oh, my!"' cried Millie, drying her tears to
CHERRY PIE. 8l
contemplate Elsie's future ; "cherry-pie! It must
be so good ! It sounds good."
" Didn't you ever have any cherry-pie ?"
Millie shook her head.
"Oh, it's splendid !"
Millie's eyes shone.
Just then some of the blue, pinched, half-
dressed little children, who lived below, came run-
ning up the walk. There were two boys whom
the children knew to be a certain Sammie and
Luke, and two girls whose names were Lizy and
Sally. They were shouting and racing, but they
stopped to listen to the conversation. The word
" Christmas ' loosened their tongues at once.
" I'm going to our Sunday-school to a Christmas-
tree," said Sammie.
"I can't go to Sunday-school," said Lizy, ready
to cry, " I hain't got no clo'es."
Elsie's heart reproached her anew for her cove-
tous, ungrateful thoughts of a few moments before.
Her self-reproaches grew stronger still when
Millie remarked to the little crowd of listeners,
as though proud of the acquaintance of so distin-
82 CHKRRY PIE.
guished an individual, that Elsie Perch was going
to have cherry-pie for her Christmas dinner.
"Oh, my!" "Is she?" "Ain't that tine!"
cried one and all, with enthusiasm.
"Yes," rejoined Elsie, her heart swelling with
pride, " my grandma always has a cherry-pie for
Silence fell on the little group, and in the midst
of this silence, a light footfall was heard patter-
ing along the side street, and there burst into view
a little girl little Maude from the street above
the very little girl of whom Elsie had been envious.
She wore a broad gray hat, with a lovely Titian red
feather, and a Titian red velvet Mother Hubbard
cloak, and velvet leggings to match, and carried a
lovely muff, while by a silken cord she led a dear
little white dog, in a buff-and-silver blanket.
"Oh, "cried this beautiful little creature, bound-
ing toward Elsie, " there you are ! I saw you come
around here after Sunday-school, and I've been
hunting for you. See my little new clog ! It's a
Christmas present, only it came yesterday. Is
this where you live?'' She looked shrinkingly up
CHERRY PIE. 83
down the narrow street, and at the squalid
buildings in the distance. " And are these your
brothers and sisters? 11
Elsie laughed, and said no.
"What do you think?' began Lizy seriously,
her large, wistful eyes, and chalk-white face, lend-
ing a strange pathos to her funny little speech,
" this girl here," and she pointed to Elsie, " is
going to have cherry-pie."
"Is she?' said Maude; "that is nice. I like
cherry-pie, but we don't have any in winter."
" We do," said Elsie proudly. "My grandma
puts up lots of cans of cherries, when our cherry-
tree bears, and Christmas-time we have cherry-pie,
and sometimes, when we have company, we have
cherry-sauce for tea."
" I'd like some cherry-pie," said Maude im-
periously. " Little girl, give us some of your
cherry-pie ? "
The hungry group of ragged boys and girls
gathered about with Maude. She was beginning
some sort of an explanation, that the cherry-pie
was her grandma's, and not hers, when a bell
84 CHERRY PIE.
rang in the distance, and Maude darted away.
"That's for me," she cried, hastening away, and
pulling the buff-and-silver-coated doggie after her.
" Good-by, little girl ! I wish I could have some
of that cherry-pie."
She tripped daintily away down the side street,
and the children watched her until she was out of
sight. " I 'spose," said Luke, with a sigh, " I
'spose she has dinner every day."
"/have dinner every day," cried Elsie.
" Do you ? ' said Lizy, devouring this favored
child of fortune with her great, wistful eyes. " I
don't. Oh ! I'd like some of that cherry-pie."
Just then Elsie saw her father coming up the
street and ran to meet him, while the other
children started for their homes in the square
The next morning there was so much excitement
that Elsie never thought of the poor children on
the next square, nor of Millie, nor of Maude, until
the Christmas dinner was nearly over and the
cherry-pie came on.
"Oh!" she cried, "you don't know, grandma,
CHERRY PIE. 85
how nice everybody thinks it is that we can have
"Do they?" said grandma kindly. "Well, I
do hope the pie's turned out well."
Elsie noticed that some of the pie was left after
all had been served. A bright idea darted into
her head, and she was out of the room in a trice.
On went cloak and hood, and she dashed around
the corner to see if she could find Maude. Yes,
there she was, playing with her blanketed doggie
on the broad sidewalk.
"Come!" cried Elsie, catching hold of Maude's
hand. "Come quick! There's lots of cherry-
pie ! Come and have some ! ' :
As they neared Millie's house they met that lit-
tle girl on the walk, and she was easily persuaded
to join the party.
" Now," said Elsie, running on in advance,
" let's get Sammie and Lizy, and those other
They flew down the street, and soon found the
objects of their search. The watchword, "cherry-
pie," was sufficient, and in the twinkling of an eye,
86 CHERRY PIE.
they were at Grandma Perch's door. Then, for
the first time, Elsie felt a little misgiving. Per-
haps there wasn't pie enough to go round. And
what would grandma say?
But she marched bravely in, her eager little
crowd of companions at her heels.
" See here, grandma,' 1 she said, "here are a lot
of children who want some cherry-pie."
"Dear heart!' exclaimed grandma, in dismay,
looking down at the motley group with lifted
hands. "Why, Elsie! there isn't pie enough for
more'n three little pieces, but, bless 'em ! "' for the
look on some of those pinched, hungry faces went
to grandma's heart, in the abundance and mirth
of her own Christmas day, " I'll have a cherry-pie
made for 'em in less'n no time. There's pie-crust
in my pan, and the oven is hot ; just go out and
play, children, and I'll call you in presently."
And " presently " they were called in to behold
a mammoth cherry-pie, baked in a tin pan, and
they had just as much as was good for them, even
to Maude's doggie. Maude left first, for she
wasn't hungry, and, besides, she knew that her
CHERRY PIE. 87
mamma would worry about her long absence ; but
the little starved boys and girls from "the square
below," didn't go for a long time. To tell the
truth, grandma didn't stop at giving them cherry-
pie. They had some turkey, and some mashed
potato, and turnip, and some hot coffee, besides.
" Tain't often I can give," said grandma after-
ward. "But we've been prospered, and I can't
bear to see anybody hungry on Christinas day."
After they had all gone, Elsie sat with her heart
full of quiet happiness, rocking in her little rock-
ing-chair. She was meditating vaguely on the
envy she had felt toward Maude, and her general
feeling of discontent. At last she spoke to grand-
ma, who happened to be sitting beside her.
" Most everybody has things some other folks
don't have," she remarked, rather vaguely.
Grandma understood her.
"Dear heart!" she cried again, for that was her
pet name for Elsie. " That's right ! There's mer-
cies for everybody, if they'd only reckon 'em
up and Christmas day's a first-rate time to re-
member it ! "
T FARE'S a nice state of things ! We have
"* * run short of candles for the Tree, and
of course the shops will be shut to-morrow, and
the day after. What is to be done ? Almost
anything else might have been managed in some
way, but a Christmas Tree in semi-darkness
can anything more dismal be imagined ? ' And
Alice Chetwynd's usually bright face looks nearly
as gloomy as the picture she has called up.
" What's the row ? ' : cries schoolboy Bertie,
planting two good-natured, if somewhat grubby
hands on his sister's shoulders. " Alice in the
clumps ? That is something quite new. Can't you
cut some big candles in two and stick them about ?
Here's Cousin Mildred ask her. She'll be sure
to hit upon something."
" No, don't bother her," whispers Alice, giving
BERTIE'S RIDE. 89
him a warning pat, as a pretty girl some years
older than themselves, enters the room. " She is
so disappointed at getting no letter again to-day
I am so sorry, for it has quite spoiled her Christ-
mas. Hush ! don't say I told you anything about
" What mischief are you two children plotting ? ' :
Cousin Mildred tries to speak cheerily, and to
turn her face so that they may not see any traces
of tears about her pretty blue eyes, but there is a
little quiver in her voice which betrays her.
In a moment Alice's arm is round her neck and
Bertie is consoling her after his rough and ready
" Cheer up, Cousin Milly ! I'll bet anything
you'll get a letter to-morrow."
" I can't do that, Bertie, I'm afraid, for the post-
man doesn't come on Christmas Day."
" Doesn't he ? What a beastly shame ! I
declare I'll speak to Father "
" No, no your father knows all about it it's
quite right, and I'm so glad the poor old man has
one day to spend comfortably with his wife and
9 BERTIE'S RIDE.
children. I don't quite know why Cecil has no'
written but worrying about it won't do am
good. Now let us talk about something else
Alice, when you can be spared from the tree
Mother wants all the help she can get for the
" Is she down at the Church now ? All right
darling I'll come in two minutes. Isn't it a
plague about these candles ? The shops are sure
to be shut in Appleton the day after Christmas,
and the poor children will be so disappointed if we
have to put off the tree."
" The poor, dear school-children ! Oh, that is a
pity. But candles oh, clear ! 1 don't know ho\\
we can do without them. Is it quite impossible to
send to Appleton to-day ? "
" Why, to say the truth I asked Father this
morning, and he said there was no one to go.
You see Coachman is away for a holiday, and Sam
is as busy as he can be and there is no one else
who can be trusted with a horse and one cannot
ask anybody to trudge five miles and back through
the snow, though it is not at all deep."
BERTIE'S RIDE. 91
" And there is more snow coming, I fear,'' says
Mildred looking out at the grey, thick wintry sky
it is awfully cold. Ah ! there is a feeble little ray
of sunshine struggling out ! Well, I must go back
to my occupation of measuring flannel for the old
women's petticoats it is nice and warm for one's
fingers at any rate. And, Ally dear, tell Mother
I'll join her at the church as soon as ever 1 can.
The keepers have brought us such lovely holly out
of the woods you never saw such wealth of ber-
ries. The wreaths will be splendid this year."
And Mildred goes away humming a little Christ-
mas carol, and bravely trying to forget the sore
anxiety that is pressing on her heart, for the far-
away soldier lover whose Christmas greeting she
had so hoped to receive to-day.
"Isn't she a trump?' cries Bertie, who caif
see and appreciate the effort his cousin is making.
;< I know she has half cried her eyes out when she
was by herself, but she didn't mean us to find it
out. i say, Alice, I'll have another try for that
letter of hers, and get your candles too. Grey
Plover has been roughed, and he's as sure-footed
92 BERTIE S RIDE.
as a goat the snow is nothing to hurt now, and
I'll trot over to Appleton and be back in no time
"Oh, Bertie, don't ! Cousin Mildred said there
was a snow-storm coming, and you might get lost
like the people in the Swiss mountains "
" Or the babes in the wood, eh ? You little
silly, don't you think I'm man enough to take care
of myself ? "
And Master Bertie who is fifteen, and a regular
sturdy specimen of a blue-eyed, sunburnt curly-
haired English lad, draws himself up with great
dignity and looks down patronizingly at his little
Alice, of course, subsides, vanquished by this
appeal, but she cannot help feeling some very un-
comfortable qualms of conscience when it appears
that she is to be the only person admitted into the
young gentleman's confidence.
" Don't go bothering poor Mother about it she
always gets into such a funk, as if no one knew
how to take care of themselves. And be sure not
to say a word to Cousin Mildred I want to sur-
BERTIE'S RIDE. 93
prise her by bringing her letter by the second post
And if Father asks where I am oh ! but that will
be all p'ght. I shall get back before he comes
home from shooting " and Bertie is gone before
his sister has time to put into words the remon-
s'/ance she has been struggling to frame.
" He'll miss his dinner poor clear " she thinks
compassionately, but is consoled by the remem-
brance of an admirable pastry-cook's shop in
Appleton where the ginger-bread is sure to be
e. tra plentiful on Christmas Eve of all days in the
"A real old-fashioned Christmas, Father calls
it ! " thinks Alice as she goes to the window and
looks out at the whitened landscape, amongst which
the leafless branches of the trees stand out like the
limbs of blackened giants. The snow which has
been falling at intervals for some days is not deep,
but there is a heavy lowering appearance about the
sky betokening that the worst is yet to come. The
little birds, which Alice has been befriending ever
since the winter set in, come hopping familiarly
round the window, and one saucy robin gives a
94 BERTIE'S RIDE.
peck to the glass, as if to intimate that a fresh sup-
ply of crumbs would be acceptable.
Alice feels in her pocket for a bit of bread and
finding some fragments hastily scatters them on
the window-ledge, promising a better repast by-
and-bye. Then she gives a last look at the half-
dressed Christmas Tree, shakes her head over the
insufficient candles, and murmuring that Bertie
really is the dearest boy in. the world, runs off to
aid her mother in decorating the old village Church.
Meanwhile Grey Plover is swiftly and resolutely
bearing his rider over the half frozen snow in a
manner worthy of his name. He is a handsome,
strong-built pony, Squire Chetwynd's gift to his
son on his last birthday, and a right goodly pair
they make, at least in the fond father's eyes.
Perhaps if either Mr. Chetwynd, or his steady
old coachman had been at home, Master Bertie
would not have found it quite so easy to get his
steed saddled for that ten miles' ride, with the
ground already covered with snow, and the heavi-
est fall that has been known for many a year, visi-
BERTIE'S RIDE. 95
There is a keen north-easter blowing, but Apple-
ton lies to the west, so that for the present it only
comes on the back of his neck, and Bertie turns up
his collar to keep out the flakes which seem scat-
tered about here and there in the air, and trots
bravely along, whistling and talking by turns to his
pony, and to a wiry little terrier, which is really
Cousin Mildred's property, but in common with
most other animals, is deeply devoted to Bertie.
" Steady, lad, steady," and Bertie checks his steed
as they descend a somewhat steep incline, bordered
by high hedges, of which the one to the north is
half concealed by a bank of snow.
" I declare I never thought it could have grown
so deep in the time," mutters Bertie to himself.
"I hope it won't snow again before to-night, or I
shall have some work to get home. What's the
time ? Just two all right two hours more day-
light at any rate more if a fog doesn't come on.
Good-day, John, Merry Christmas to you," as the
village carrier, his cart heavily laden with Christ-
mas boxes and parcels, passes him leading his old
horse carefully up the hill.
96 BERTIE'S RIDE.
" The same to you. Master Bertie, and many of
them. How be the Squire and Mrs. Chetwynd,
"All well, thank you, John, but I can't stop to go
through the list now. I've to get to Appleton and
back as soon as I can."
"To Appleton ! Laws now, Master Bertie, don't
'ee do nothing of the kind. As sure as I'm alive
there's awful weather coming, and you and that
little pony will never get back it you don't
" Little pony indeed, John ! Grey Plover is
nearly fourteen hands and do you suppose I
care for a snow-storm ? ' :
Old John points to the wall of gray cloud ad-
vancing steadily from the north-east.
"You just look yonder, Master. If that don't
mean the worst storm that we have known for
many a long year, my name's not John Salter."
" Well, then, I must make all the more haste. If
I don't turn up by church-time to-morrow, you and
old Moss will have to come and dig me out ! Come
along, Nettle ! " and whistling to the terrier which
BERTIE'S RIDE. 97
has been exchanging salutations with the carrier's
old half-bred-colly, Bertie canters on.
"I don't think I can find time to go home to
luncheon," says Mrs. Chetwynd casting an anxious
eye round the half-decorated church, which pre-
sents a one-sided appearance, two columns being
beautifully wreathed with glossy dark leaves and
coral berries, shining laurel and graceful ivy, and
the third as yet untouched.
" Mildred, when you come back, will you and
Alice bring me some biscuits, and I can eat them
in the vestry. The daylight now is so short, and I
think to-day is even darker than usual. We shall
have to work very hard to get finished in time."
"I'll stay with you," replies her cousin, "and
Alice shall bring provisions for us both," and by
this means the secret of Bertie's absence from the
early dinner remains unobserved.
It is snowing heavily as Alice, in fur cloak and
snow-boots, trips back to the church some quarter
of a mile distant from her home.
The girl is beginning to be very anxious about
98 BERTIE'S RIDE.
her brother, and sorely repents her extorted pro-
mise of secrecy as to his intentions.
"We are getting on," says Mrs. Chetwynd glanc-
ing round, " I wonder if your father will look in on
his way back from shooting. I suppose Bertie
must have gone to join him, as we have seen noth-
ing of the boy. I hope they won't be late; the
snow is getting quite deep."
A hasty knocking at the Church-door makes
Alice start and turn so pale that her cousin laughs
at her for setting up nerves. Before however they
can open it the intruder makes his own way in, and
proves to be the stable-helper, with a face so white
and scared that the alarm is communicated to
"Milly," she says faintly, " there has been some
accident ask him quick Herbert's gun "
" No, no," says her cousin bent only on re-assur-
ing her, " speak out, James don't you see how
you are frightening your mistress ? '
" If you please ma'am, Gray Plover has come
home alone, and "
" The pony ! Master Bertie wasn't riding ? "
BERTIE S RIDE. 99
" Yes, ma'am he started to ride to Appleton
about half-past one o'clock "
" To ride in such weather ! '
" Yes, ma'am he would go and the Squire
not being at home I could not hinder him and
now the pony's just galloped into the yard, and"
" Mary, dearest, don't look so frightened ! '
cries Mildred, fearing her cousin is going to faint.
" I daresay he got off to walk and warm himself,
and the pony broke away Bertie rides so well,
he would not be likely to have a fall "
" But the snow ! Isn't it quite deep in some
places, James ? '
" Yes, ma'am six or seven feet they say in the
drifts, though most part of the road was pretty
clear this morning. But it's been snowing heavily
these two hours and more, and nearly as dark as
night and Grey Plover must have been down
some time or other, for when he came in the saddle
was all over snow / "
Mrs. Chetwynd gives a gasp, and for a moment
her cousin thinks her senses are going, but with a
brave struggle she rallied her powers.
ioo BERTIE'S RIDE.
" James, you and the gardeners had better go
off at once, two of you try each road to Appleton,
to meet Master Bertie. Alice dear, run up to the
house, and fill father's flask with a cordial and
see that they take it, and and a blanket and
tell some one to go and meet your father he will
know best what to do I must go myself to look
for my boy God help me what shall I do if
he has come to harm ? '
" You cannot walk, darling," and Mildred ten-
derly leads her to one of the open seats, and
strokes her hands in loving but vain efforts at en-
couragement "don't imagine anything bad till
it comes Bertie is sure to have taken some of
the dogs with him, and they would have come
home to tell us if anything were wrong! '
" There was only little Nettle at home," Mrs.
Chetwynd answers with a sigh "Jerry and Nell
are out shooting with Herbert, and the new dog is
no use. Oh Milly, my bright bonny boy, where
can he be ? See how dreadfully dark it has grown
and the cold think if he should be lying helpless
in the snow ! "
BERTIE'S RIDE. 101
About the same time on this December afternoon
a young man is getting out of the one-horse omni-
bus which the George Hotel (a small third rate inn,
albeit the best in Appleton) usually sends down
to meet the afternoon train from London.. He is a
tall soldierly looking person, with bright dark eyes,
and a brisk imperative manner which ensures a
certain amount of attention even from the surly
But when, instead of demanding luncheon, or
any creature comforts for himself, the traveller
orders a " dog-cart, or any sort of trap with a good
horse," to take him to Mr. Chetwynd's house, five
miles distant, the host demurs.
" Impossible ! The omnibus horse is the only
one roughed, and he has been out twice to-day
already. Besides there is likely to be a heavy fall
of snow before night : even if a horse and trap
could get to Edenhurst there would be no possi-
bility of getting back before night-fall mine host
is very sorry to disoblige the gentleman, but it is
quite out of the question."
The young man, who is evidently not accustomed
102 BERTIE'S RIDE.
to stolid opposition, begins to chafe, and his dark
eyes give an angry flash. However he forces him-
self to speak quietly and persuasively, and even
descends to bribery, in his anxiety to spend his
Christmas at Edenhurst.
Still the landlord remains obdurate, the fact that
he has a big commercial dinner impending at five
o'clock making him the less inclined to spare any
of his men.
" Well, hang it all ! " cries the young man impa-
tiently, " then I declare I'll get there on my own
legs. I can carry my bag," swinging it stoutly
over his shoulder as he speaks, " and you must
find some means of sending the other things over
to-morrow morning at latest. It would be too
tantalizing," he adds to himself, " after coming two
thousand miles to see the little woman, if we could
not spend our Christmas Eve together after all."
And turning a deaf ear to the landlord's remon-
strances and prophesies of evil, he sets forth briskly
on the road, well-known to him although untrodden
for two long years. " Dear little soul," he is saying
to himself as he strides through the snow, " what a
BERTIE S RIDE. 103
surprise it'll be to her ! I am half sorry now I did
not write perhaps she'll be startled but I
don't believe in sudden joy hurting anyone. I
wonder if she'll be altered I hope not the lit-
tle face couldn't be sweeter than it was. And
Herbert Chetwynd is a rare good fellow what a
welcome I shall get from him and his kindhearted
wife it's almost worth toiling and broiling for
two years in India to come home for such a Christ-
mas. I wonder if that jolly pickle Bertie is much
grown ! Capital little companion he used to be
I remember. How far have I come ? Oh ! just
past the second milestone the snow is getting
plaguy deep and I can hardly see ten yards ahead
I can't say it is pleasant travelling howl
shall appreciate the splendid fire in the big hall
fire-place at Edenhurst. They will be burning the
Yule-log for Christmas. How I shall enjoy taking
up all the old home customs once more. I won-
der if the Waits go round now ? What a brute I
used to feel, lying snug in bed and listening to the
poor little shivering mortals singing outside in the
frosty morning air, almost before it was light
104 BERTIE'S RIDE.
but I believe Herbert's wife and Milly always took
care that they had a warm breakfast and a toast
at the kitchen fire afterwards but hulloa ! I say,
what little dog are you, out alone in the snow in
this lonely part of the road ? Lost your master,
have you, poor little beggar? Never mind you
had better follow me home to Edenhurst for to-
night they wouldn't refuse a welcome even to a
stray dog on Christmas Eve. I say, you are very
pressing in your attentions my friend I'm afraid
you are on a wrong tack, sniffing and prancing
around me I'm not your master nor have I the
honor of that gentleman's acquaintance, unless
by Jove, if it isn't little Nettle the dog I gave
Mildred when I went to India. What can she be
doing out here alone ? And what does she want
me to do I wonder?" as the terrier, delighted at
the sudden recognition dances round him more
energetically than ever, catches his hand and the
skirts of his coat gently in her teeth, then runs on
a little way ahead, looking back to see if he is fol-
lowing. " Lead on I'll follow thee that seems
to be what you want me to say, eh, little Net-
BERTIES RIDE. 105
tie ? All right there ! " and the traveller's two long
legs contrive to make quite as rapid progress along
the road as the terrier's four short ones especially
as the poor little animal occasionally lights on a
snowy heap softer and deeper than the rest and is
nearly lost to sight altogether for some seconds.
Presently however, in spite of all obstacles she
scurries on ahead, and stops short with a joyful
self-satisfied bark, in front of a dark object which
is half sitting, half lying in a bed of partially
melted snow under the hedge an object which
upon closer inspection proves to be a slight curly-
headed boy, clad in heather-colored jacket and
knicker-bockers. His cap has fallen off, and his
eyes are nearly closed, as he leans back on his
cold couch, with an expression of half-conscious
suffering on his young face.
" Come, this won't do ! " exclaims the traveller
in a tone of no small surprise and concern. " I
say, young sir, have you forgotten that this is
December, and not exactly the season for enjoying
life in gypsy fashion ? "
The boy's eyes open dreamily and scan the keen
106 BERTIE'S RIDE.
brown moustached face which is bending over him,
but he neither moves nor makes any response. The
traveller lays a hand on his shoulder and speaks
again, somewhat more peremptorily.
" I say, young one, get up do you hear? Do
you want to get frozen to death ? "
If there is some roughness in the tone, there is
none in the manner and gesture with which drop-
ping on one knee in the snow, the traveller pro-
ceeds to chafe the cold nerveless hand, which, in
answer to this appeal, the boy slowly tries to lift.
He points to his left foot which is stretched out
in an uncomfortable twisted attitude, and his new
friend is not long in discovering that a sprained
ankle is the cause of the mischief.
A serviceable many-bladed knife is quickly pro-
duced, and the boot dexterously slit open, to the
instant relief of the injured limb, which is much
The boy gives a gasp of satisfaction, and mur-
murs " Thank you," as he makes a still unsuccess-
ful effort to scramble to his feet.
"Take care let me give you a hand. Poor
y #ffi II *fe& -' ; -- ^
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IT IS SNOWING HEAVILY AS ALICE TRIPS BACK TO THE CHURCH.
BERTIE'S RIDE. 109
little chap " as the patient collapses again, " here,
have a pull at this," taking a restorative from a
medicine case in an inner pocket; ''that's right
you'll be able to tell me all about it presently.
Nettle, little lass, it's a pity you can't speak, isn't
it ? "
" How do you know the dog's name ? " the boy
inquires, now almost roused into curiosity.
" How do I know it ? Why because she belonged
to me for six months before I went to India, and
then I gave her to the lady who I hope is to be my
wife now I've come back."
" What are you Cecil Gordon ? ;:
" The same at your service ' Cousin Cis,' as
your little sister used to call me, if, as I suppose,
you are my old playfellow Bertie. Two years have
made a difference in your size, my lad and this
snow gave your face a blue sort of look which pre-
vented my knowing you at first. And now tell
me what pranks have you been playing to get into
such a plight?''
" I rode Grey Plover to Appleton this afternoon
to get some things the girls wanted and the
no BERTIE'S RIDE.
snow-storm came on heavily and it got horribly
dark as you see and somehow we stumbled into
a snow-drift I'd marked the bad places as I came
and thought I could keep clear of them but the
darkness misled me, and the snow got into my
eyes. We rolled over together and my foot
caught in the stirrup and came out with an awful
wrench but it's ever so much better since you
cut the boot open."
"And then I suppose, the pony made off? ' :
"Yes, I believe so. I felt awfully sick when I
got up, but I managed to crawl out of the drift, for
I'd just sense enough left to mind being smothered.
I don't suppose I could have lain here very long
when you came, or I should have been frozen."
" Well the great thing will be to get you home
as soon as may be but the snow is getting so
deep that it won't be very pleasant travelling. Can
you bear to put that foot to the ground? No?
Then don't try my legs must do duty for two."
" Oh ! I'm too heavy you'll never be able to
carry me, especially through the snow."
" Nonsense ! If you begin making difficulties I
BERTIE'S RIDE. in
shall have to treat you as one of our fellows (so the
story goes) did the wounded sergeant in Zulu-
"Oh what was that?"
"Why the enemy were close upon them, and
B (that was the officer) was bent upon rescuing
the sergeant of his troops who was wounded and
helpless, and whose own horse had been killed.
So he told him to get up behind on his horse
and the sergeant refused, and told B to save
himself and leave him to perish, and B an-
swered in peremptory fashion, ' If you don't obey
orders at once, I shall punch your head ! '
11 Don't punch mine to-day," says Bertie with a
rather feeble laugh. " It feels so queer and top-
heavy. I'll give you leave to try as soon as I'm
all right again."
" All right. But now about this getting home ?
Here ! you take the bag, and I'll carry you. Will
you ride in ordinary pick-a-back fashion, or as I've
seen soldiers do at what they call 'chummy races'
lengthwise across their bearer's shoulders ? "
Bertie prefers the former method, and with some
little difficulty is hoisted into the required posi-
" How are they all at home ? " asks Captain
Gordon, after they have advanced some little way
" Very well and very jolly only to-day Cousin
Milly was out of spirits, because "
" Well what ? ' The tone is sharp and impa-
"Because you hadn't written, and she did so
want a letter for Christmas. And I thought there
might be one by the afternoon post they do
come then sometimes."
" And that was the reason for your taking that
crazy ride through the snow ? My dear little fel-
low," and the brisk voice is very kind and gentle
now, " I am sorry to have been the cause of all
"Oh! never mind it was partly too to get
Alice the candles she was bothering about for the
Christmas Tree. By-the-bye, I hope they've not
fallen out of my pocket no, here they are, all
" I'm afraid you found no letter at the post-office
after all. You see the orders for home came to us
rather suddenly, and when I found I could be in
England as soon as a letter could reach, I didn't
write. I am so sorry it happened so! "
" You had lots of real fighting among the
Afghans, hadn't you ? "
"Yes I'll tell you about it some day. Just
now I want my breath for something more than
talking. How deep the snow is between these
high hedges ! "
"Yes if only we could get over into the fields
it would be better and there is a short cut too."
"Can we find it?"
" I'll try but my head is so stupid somehow
don't I hear some one whistling behind us?"
As Bertie speaks a young laboring man comes
up to them, looks with some surprise at the pair,
and answers with a surly grunt to Captain Gor-
don's inquiry as to the nearest way to Edenhurst.
" Why Jack, you can show us ! " cries Bertie
" There's a stile somewhere that leads right past
- *4 BERTIE'S RIDE.
your mother's cottage, and then we can get across
" If there is a cottage I shall be glad of five
minutes' rest by the fire-side," says Cecil who is
beginning to get decidedly "blown."
" I was just thinking what an awfully lonely road
" Jack Brown is a surly fellow," whispers
Bertie in his ear, but not so low but that the man
catches the last words.
" Surly! And who wouldn't be, young master,
I'd like to know, in my place ? Didn't the Squire
have me up for poaching, and didn't I get three
weeks in jail along of snaring a few worthless pheas-
ants ? Much he or anyone would have cared if
my old mother had starved the while ! '
" For shame ! " Bertie's wrath is making him quite
energetic. "As if mother and Mildred didn't go
to see the old woman nearly every day, and make
sure she wanted for nothing."
"Well, well," interrupts Cecil, "don't rake up
bye-gones on Christinas Eve of all clays in the year.
Forgive and forget - -peace and goodwill that's
BERTIE'S RIDE. 115
what the bells always seem to me to be saying. I
say, my friend, I'm sure your Mother would be wil-
ling to let the young master sit by her fire for five
minutes, after he's nearly got himself killed and
buried too riding to Appleton to do his sister
and cousin a good turn."
A shadow of a smile lurks on Jack's grim vis-
age at this appeal, and he proceeds to lead the
way across a difficult " hog-backed ' stile, over
which he helps to lift Bertie with more gentleness
than might be expected. Then striding before
them through the snow, which is more even, and
easy to wade through in the open field, he pres-
ently stops at the door of a little thatched cottage
which is opened by a tidy old woman.
Bertie is soon established in her own high-
backed wooden chair by the fire, drinking hot if
somewhat hay-scented tea, and obtaining great
relief from the attentions his friend is now better
able to bestow upon the injured foot. Meanwhile
this is becoming a very sad Christmas Eve to the
anxious watchers at Edenhurst. The Squire has
returned home, puzzled and half incredulous at
"6 BERTIE'S RIDE.
the confused report of Master Bertie's disappear-
ance which has reached him, but when the snow-
soaked saddle and the riderless pony have been
shown him, he too grows seriously alarmed, and
without waiting to change his wet things sets off
in the direction of Appleton.
Other messengers have already been despatched
but the hours pass by and no news is obtained, no
one happening to think of the short cut and old
Mrs. Brown's cottage. Even the bells are mute
the villagers cannot bear to ring them when their
dear lady is in such trouble. She is trying hard
to force herself to believe that nothing can be so
very wrong it is foolish to be so over-anxious.
No one has any heart to carry on the joyous
preparations for Christmas in which Bertie usually
bears an active part, but Mrs. Chetwynd will not
let the poor people suffer, and their gifts of warm
clothing and tea and sugar are all looked over
and carefully ticketed by Mildred and Alice.
Poor girls ! they have little spirit for the work,
but it is better for them than the dreary waiting
which follows. At last Alice can bear it no longer,
BERTIE'S RIDE. 117
She throws a cloak round her and steals out into
the avenue. The air is clearer now and the snow
has ceased to fall. The earth is covered with a
brilliant white sheet, and overhead the wintry
stars are shining out one by one in the deep
blue vault. The girl begins to feel more hopeful,
as the still frosty air cools her hot cheek, and the
stars look down upon her with their silent greeting
"Glad tidings of great joy" the Christmas
message of nearly nineteen centuries ago surely
it cannot be that a heart-breaking grief is to come
on them on this, of all nights in the year ! A
prayer is in her heart on her lips and even in
that moment, as if in answer, there burst forth the
most joyous of all sounds to Alice's ear their
own village bells ringing a Merry Christmas peal !
It had been understood that this was to be the
signal of Bertie's being found and safe. Louder
and louder it comes, and eager congratulations are
exchanged by the anxious watchers. Mrs. Chet-
wynd wants to fly to meet her boy, but is gently
restrained by Mildred, who reminds her that his
n8 BERTIE'S RIDE.
father must be with him. Nor is it long before a
happy group are seen approaching.
There is Bertie (who has insisted on putting his
injured foot to the ground lest his mother should
be frightened by seeing him carried) bravely hop-
ping along with the aid of his father's strong arm
faithful little Nettle trotting close at his side and
Jack Brown, with whom the Squire has shaken
hands and exchanged a " Merry Christmas '
slouching behind but whose is the tall figure on
Bertie's other side ? Ah ! cousin Mildred knows,
and well is it perhaps that the growing darkness
throws a friendly veil over the joyous blushes and
the happy thankful tears that mark that meeting.
ASAPH SHEAFE'S CHRIST-
ASAPH had just the Christmas presents he
wanted. "Wanted" is hardly the word : he
had not supposed that a boy like him could have
such things for his own. His father and mother
gave him one present, it was a camera obscura, and
thirty glass plates all ready to take photographic
views. They were made to work by the new dry
process, so that, without over-nice manipulation of
chemicals, Asaph could go where he pleased and
make his own photographs.
What the children gave him I must not tell, we
have so little room. But, of all the children in
Boston who had their Christmas presents at break-
fast, none was better pleased than Asaph as he
opened his parcels.
120 ASAPH SHEAFE'S CHRISTMAS.
It was afterwards that his grief and sorrow came
When his mother's turn came, and she opened the
parcels on her table, for in the Sheafe house each
of them had a separate present-table, after she
had passed the little children's she came to Asaph's
present to her. It was in quite a large box done up
in a German newspaper. She opened it carefully, and
lifted out a Bohemian coffee-pot, which Asaph had
bought at the German woman's shop in Shawmut
avenue. Mrs. Sheafe eagerly expressed her delight,
and her wonder that Asaph knew she wanted it.
But alas ! all her love could not hide the fact that
the nose of the coffee-pot was broken at the end,
and what was left was all in splinters.
Poor Asaph saw it as soon as she. And the great
big tears would come to his manly eyes. He bent
his head down on his mother's shoulder, and the
hot drops fell on her cheek. She kissed the poor
boy, and told him she should never mind. It would
pour quite as well, and she should use it every
morning. She knew how many months of his allow-
ance had gone for this coffee-pot. She remembered
how much she had been pleased with Mrs. Henry's ;
ASAPH SHEAFE'S CHRISTMAS. 121
and she praised Asaph for remembering that so
"This is the joy of the present," she said, "that
my boy watches his mother's wishes, and that he
thinks of her. A chip more or less off the nose of
the coffee-pot is nothing."
And Asaph would not cheat the others out of
their " good time." And he pretended to be soothed.
But, all the same, there was a great lump in his
throat almost all that day.
When the children were going to church he
walked with Isabel, and he told her how it all
happened. He would not tell his mother, and he
made Isabel promise not to tell. He had spent
every cent of his money in buying his presents. He
had them all in that big basket which they bought
at the Pier. He was coming home after dark, on
foot, because he could not pay his fare in the horse-
car. All of a sudden a little German boy with a
tall woman by him, stopped him, and said with a very
droll accent, which Asaph imitated, " East Canton
street," and poked out a card on which was written,
" Karl Shoninger, 723 East Canton street."
122 ASAPH SHEAFE'S CHRISTMAS.
" Belle, I was in despair. It was late; I was on
Dwight street, and I led them to Shawmut avenue
and tried to explain. Belle, they did not know one
word of English except ' East Canton street.' They
kept saying, ' East Canton street,' as a clog says
' Bow-wow.' I looked for an officer and could not
find one. It snowed harder and harder. I was
coward enough to think of shirking. But then I said,
' Lie and cheat on Christmas eve, that you may lug
home your Christmas presents ; that is too mean.'
And I said very loud, l Kom hier.' I guess that's
good German any way. And I dragged them to
their old 723 East Canton street. It is a mile if it is
an inch. I climbed up the snowy steps to read the
number. But I slipped as I came down, and knocked
my own basket off the step where it stood. That is
how mamma's coffee-pot came broken, I suppose ; but
all looked so steady in the basket that I never
thought of it then. That's how I came late to
supper. But, Belle, don't you ever tell mamma as
long as you live."
And Belle never did. She told me.
IN EAST CANTON STREET.
ASAPH SHEAFE S CHRISTMAS. 125
When the Christmas dances were half over ; when
they had acted Lochinvar and Lord T7llin's Daughter,
but before they acted ViUekens and Johnny the
Miller, supper was served in Mrs. Sheafe's dining-
room. All the best china was out. Grandmamma's
"Spode" was out, and the silver pitcher the hands
gave papa on his fiftieth birthday ; and Mrs. Sheafe's
wedding breakfast-set all that was left of it ; and
Asaph's coffee-pot held the place of honor. One
wretched bit of broken ware had consented to be
cemented in its place. But yet it was but a misera-
ble nose, and the lump came into Asaph's throat
again as he looked at it. And he almost wished his
mother had put it away so that he need not hear her
tell uncle Eliakim the hateful story.
The lump was in his throat when he went to bed.
But he fell asleep soon after. I must confess that
there were a few wet spots on his pillow. His last
thought was the memory that all his hoarded monthly
allowances had gone for the purchase of a broken-
The two angels who watch his bedside saw this,
and one of them said to the other, " Would you not
126 ASAPH SHEAFE'S CHRISTMAS.
tell him ? " But the other said, ' ; Wait a little
What the angels would not tell him I will tell
you. For it happened that I was driving round in
my sleigh that Christmas night, on the very snow which
was falling, while Asaph was fumbling up the steps
in East Canton street, and I stopped at a house not
far from Boylston station as you turn into Lamartine
street, and found myself in the midst of the drollest
The father was sitting with two babies on his
knee. The other children were delving in a trunk to
find something which would stay in the bottom. The
house-mother clearly did not know where anything
was in the trunk or anywhere else. But a broad grin
was on every face, and whatever was said was broken
by ejaculations and occasional kisses.
At last the lost parcel revealed itself, and opened
out into some balls for a Christmas-tree, which
these honest people had brought all the way from
Linz on the Danube, quite sure that no such won-
ders would be known in that far-off America.
ASAPH SHEAFE'S CHRISTMAS. 127
There are many other tales to be printed in this
volume, so that I must not tell you, as I should be
glad to do, all the adventures that that house-mother
and her three boys and her two girls and the twin
babies had encountered as they came from Linz to
join Hans Bergmann, the father of the seven and the
husband of their mother.
He had come the year before. They had come
now by the way of Antwerp, and had landed in Phil-
adelphia. But the Schiller had made so short a run
that, when they arrived, Hans Bergmann was not in
Philadelphia to meet them. Of course -the Fran
Bergmann should have waited in Philadelphia as
Hans Bergmann had bidden her. But, on the hint
of a voluble woman who spoke pure Bohemian,
whom she met on the pier who knew just where he
boarded in New York she took her charge to New
York, to find that he had left that boarding-house
three months before. Still, eager to spend Christmas
with him, she had hurried to Boston to ask his
uncle where he was. She had arrived in Boston,
with the snow-storm, the day before Christmas itself,
having made an accidental detour by Bridgeport and
128 ASAPH SHEAFE'S CHRISTMAS.
Westfield. Happily for her, the boy Asaph had led
her to uncle Karl's lodgings just as uncle Karl was
leaving them forever on his way to Chicago.
Happily for Hans Bergmann, uncle Karl had the
wit to pile them all into a carriage and to send them
to a friend of his at the Boylston station, bidding
him keep them under lock and key.
Then to Hans Bergmann uncle Karl telegraphed :
' ; Find your wife at Burr street, number 40, Boylston
Then Hans Bergmann, who had been bullying
every police station in New York to know where his
family was, had taken the early train and had spent
his Christmas in ploughing through snow-drifts to
And so it \vas, that, at nine on Christmas night, I
saw the children in a Christmas party, not quite as \vell
arranged, but quite as happy, as any I saw that day.
And all this came about because a kind Asaph
Sheafe forgot himself on Christmas eve, and showed
Frau Bergmann the way to East Canton street.
As it happened, I saw the diamond necklace that
John Gilder gave his bride that night.
ASAPH SHEAFE'S CHRISTMAS. 120
But it did not give so much pleasure as Asaph
Sheafe's Christmas present to the Bergmanns did.
And yet he never knew he gave it.