“Luke,” he whispered, “d’ye think I’d orta tell ’em?”
“Aw,” said Luke sleepily, “dry up, Jim! Gosh, ain’t the bed soft!”
Christmas came to the old farmhouse with the distant echo of village bells at midnight but, long before that, Christmas, in a fur cap and great-coat had swept up the driveway with a jingle of sleigh-bells, behind old Polly, the Doctor’s mare, his sleigh packed high with bundles. By the light of a late moon, flinging festal silver on the snow, it might be seen that Christmas resembled a somewhat guilty looking old gentleman with a grizzled beard.
“I’ll catch old Scratch!” he admitted, suddenly overcome by the bulbous appearance of the sleigh, “but Ellen may say what she will. She couldn’t have thought of everything!”
No call for pills came that night from Muggs, asleep in a crib that had seen much service. He was awake however long before daylight, trembling with excitement.
“Mike, oh Mike!” he called hoarsely. “Wake up. It’s Christmas mornin’.”
Mike, in a big bed with Marty Fay, sat up.
“Don’t you dare open your mouth to-day!” he cried in blood-thirsty accents, “or Mom Murphy’ll git ye surer’n scat. Ain’t I schemed enuff to git ye here? Huh? Wanta be sent home—huh?” Muggs ducked beneath the blankets with a shivering wail.
The Log at Dawn
In the still, cold corridors of a farmhouse, with frost-jungles clouding every window pane and a zero-dark outside, the cry of “Merry Christmas!” is most at home. Let noses be ever so cold and blanketed bodies ever so warm, the cry fills the dawn with electric energy. The Doctor began it. He knew by the instant response that he had started something that he could not stop. Almost in no time, it seemed, Roger was leading a wild, bare-footed scamper down the stairs—for Roger knew—and the Doctor, hastily bath-robed and slippered, was on behind with a lamp. But here was no cyclonic invasion of a dark, cold sitting-room. Old Annie and Asher knew boys! A log blazed brightly in the fireplace and the lamp was lit. If the room was over-warm, it proved simply that Annie had seen boys of another generation rushing down of a Christmas morning, scantily clad.
And the King of Christmas trees blazed in candle-glory from wall to wall, tinselled boughs sagging with the weight of its Christmas freight. It could not have been bigger—it could not have glittered more. It had as many arms as an Octopus and its shaggy evergreen head, starred gorgeously with iridescence, brushed the old-fashioned paper on the ceiling. A great, lovable Christmas giant guarding a cargo of Christmas gifts!
Muggs emitted one blood-curdling shriek of delight, clapped his hand over his mouth and began to swell about the cheeks. Then he stepped on the hem of his night-gown and fell sprawling at Annie’s feet.