“No, my dears; and if you are only good and obedient, and make the best use of what I have provided, I shall never regret any thing of what I have done for you.
“See here, Gracie.”
He opened an inner door as he spoke, and showed a playroom as completely fitted up for its intended use as the room they were in. It was about the same size as the workroom, the two occupying the whole of the small building.
A pretty carpet covered the floor, a few pictures hung on the delicately tinted walls; there were chairs and a sofa of suitable size for the comfort of the intended occupants, and smaller ones on which Gracie’s numerous dolls were seated; a cupboard with glass doors showed sets of toy china dishes, and all the accessories for dinner and tea table; there were also a bureau, wash-stand, and table corresponding in size with the rest of the furniture; and the captain, pulling open the drawers of the first named, showed them well stocked with material of various kinds, suitable for making into new garments for the dolls, and with all the necessary implements,—needles, thread, thimbles, scissors, etc.
The two little girls were almost breathless with astonishment and delight.
“Papa!” cried Gracie, “you haven’t left one single thing for Santa Claus to bring us on Christmas!”
“Haven’t I?” he returned, laughing, and pinching her round, rosy cheek. “Ah, well wouldn’t you as soon have them as presents from your own papa?”
“Oh, yes, papa! I know he’s just pretend, and it would be you or some of the folks that love me,” she said, laying her cheek against his hand; “but I like to pretend it, ’cause it’s such fun.”
“There are a good many weeks yet to Christmas-time,” remarked Lulu; “and perhaps our Santa Claus folks will think up something else for you, Gracie.”
“Perhaps they may,” said the captain, “if she is good: good children are not apt to be forgotten or neglected, and I hope mine are all going to be such.”
“I’m quite sure we all intend to try hard, papa,” Max said, “not hoping to gain more presents by it, but because you’ve been so good to us already.”
“Indeed we do!” added his sisters.
“Then all was jollity, Feasting and mirth, light wantonness and laughter.”
“It seems nice and warm here,” remarked Lulu; “but,” glancing about, “I don’t see any fire.”
Her father pointed to a register. “There is a cellar underneath, and a furnace in it,” he said. “I thought that the safest way to heat these rooms for the use of very little people. I do not want to expose you to any danger of setting yourselves on fire.”
“It’s getting a little dark,” remarked Grace.
“Yes,” he said. “We will go in now. It is time for you to be dressed for the evening.”
“Papa, who is to tell us what to wear,—you, or mamma Vi?” asked Lulu, as they pursued their way back to the house.