The confusion thus made awakened Sinclair, who opened his eyes just in time to see a good-sized bundle carried into the room, securely bound with stout cords.
“There must be some mistake,” exclaimed the surprised woman to the mailman who had entered.
“No, mum,” he replied. “It’s yours all right. I found it at the shore where a freightin’ team left it. I don’t generally carry such things. But says I to myself, ‘That’s fer Widder Bean, and she’s goin’ to have it to-night if Tim Harking knows anything.’ So thar ’tis. I must be off now. A merry Christmas to ye all,” and with that the big-hearted man hurried away.
“Dear me!” cried Mrs. Bean. “What can it be, and who could have sent it?”
“Let’s open it, mother,” Steve suggested. “Mebbe we’ll find out then.”
Together they all set to work, and after much tugging and labour the knots were loosened and the bundle fell apart.
Then what a sight met their eyes. Clothes of various sizes and quality were neatly piled together; complete suits for the boys; dresses for Betty and Dora, and another for their mother, besides a good supply of underwear for the whole family.
“Well, bless my heart!” Mrs. Bean exclaimed. “Who in the world has done this? There must be some mis——”
“A doll!” shrieked Dora.
“A knife!” yelled Stephen, as he seized the precious treasure, felt its keen edge and examined the handle.
Then a paper fluttered out of the bundle and fell on the floor at Mrs. Bean’s feet. As she picked it up and read the contents, a light broke over her puzzled face, and her hand trembled.
“What’s the matter, Mother?” Jimmy asked, noting her agitation.
“Nothing, my boy,” she replied. “Only I’m so overcome at the good Lord giving us such kind friends on this Christmas Eve. This is such a lovely letter from Miss Sinclair, and she says that all these things are from the Helping Hand Society of St. Saviour’s Church. Isn’t it good of them?”
A groan from the sofa startled her.
“Is your ankle worse, sir?” she enquired, going to the side of the afflicted man.
“Y-y-es,” Sinclair replied; “but I feel better now. I didn’t mean to disturb you.”
“And look here!” Stephen cried, who had at length reached the bottom of the bundle. “Well, I declare! Two packages of Red Rose tea! Hurrah! Now we kin have some fer Christmas.”
“And you, poor man,” she said turning to Sinclair, “shall have a good strong cup just as soon as I can make it. It seems to me I must be dreaming,” and the excited woman bustled off to the kitchen.
“Fool! fool!” Sinclair mused to himself as he sipped the delicious beverage. “I thought such gifts went only to rogues and lazy rascals. I was wrong. And yet, some of that tea has reached one of the biggest fools and rogues in the whole country, and that is Peter Sinclair.”