Santa Claus's Partner eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 95 pages of information about Santa Claus's Partner.

The room was a small front parlor.

The furniture was old and worn, but it was not mean.  A few old pieces gave the room, small as it was, almost an air of distinction.  Several old prints hung on the walls, a couple of portraits in pink crayon, such as St. Mimin used to paint, and a few photographs in frames, most of them of children,—­but among them one of Livingstone himself.

All this Livingstone took in as he entered.  The room was in a state of confusion, and a lounge on one side, with its pillows still bearing the imprint of an occupant, showed that the house held an invalid.  In one corner a Christmas-tree, half dressed, explained the litter.  It was not a very large tree; certainly it was not very richly dressed.  The things that hung on it were very simple.  Many of them evidently were of home-manufacture—­knots of ribbon, little garments, second-hand books, even home-made toys.

A small pile of similar articles lay on the floor, where they had been placed ready for service and had been left by the tree-dressers on their hasty departure.

Clark’s eye followed instinctively that of the visitor.

“My wife has been dressing a tree for the children,” he said simply.

He faced Livingstone and offered him a chair.  He stiffened as he did so.  He was evidently prepared for the worst.

Livingstone sat down.  It was an awkward moment.  Livingstone broke the ice.

“Mr. Clark, I have come to ask you a favor—­a great favor—­”

Clark’s eyes opened wide and his lips even parted slightly in his astonishment.

“—­I want you to lend me your little girl—­the little girl I saw in the office this afternoon.”

Clark’s expression was so puzzled that Livingstone thought he had not understood him.

“‘The Princess with the Golden Locks,’” he explained.

“Mr. Livingstone!—­I—­I don’t understand.”  He looked dazed.

Livingstone broke out suddenly:  “Clark, I have been a brute, a cursed brute!”

“Oh!  Mr. Liv—!”

With a gesture of sharp dissent Livingstone cut him short.

“It is no use to deny it, Clark,—­I have—­I have!—­I have been a brute for years and I have just awakened to the fact!” He spoke in bitter, impatient accusation.  “I have been a brute for years and I have just realized it.”

The face of the other had softened.

“Oh, no, Mr. Livingstone, not that.  You have always been just—­and—­just;” he protested kindly.  “You have always—­”

—­“Been a brute,” insisted Livingstone, “a blind, cursed, selfish, thoughtless—­”

“You are not well, Mr. Livingstone,” urged Clark, looking greatly disturbed.  “Your servant, James, said you were not well this evening when I called.  I wanted to go in to see you, but he would not permit me.  He said that you had given positive orders that you would not see—­”

“I was not well,” assented Livingstone.  “I was suffering from blindness.  But I am better, Clark, better.  I can see now—­a little.”

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Santa Claus's Partner from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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