When the Yule Log Burns eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 31 pages of information about When the Yule Log Burns.

It seemed that Mister Muggs would.  He began to swell.  He began to drum.  He carried his point and crammed himself and his drum into his chair at the table.  He did not speak.  Neither, from that time on, did he permit any lapse in his industry.  What Muggs did, from drum to drum-sticks, he did well.

Muggs ate turkey and mashed turnips.  Muggs ate potatoes, cranberry sauce, boiled onions, and quite a little celery.  He glinted ahead at a pie on the sideboard, seemed to make hurried structural calculations, and pushed his plate again toward the turkey.  Aunt Ellen looked at the Doctor and the Doctor looked at Muggs.

“If the child eats any more,” said Annie bluntly from the kitchen door, “he must have a pill.  ’Tis enough for him to drum away the peace of the Christmas day without stuffin’ himself that hard and round ye fear for his buttons.  An’ to my mind, if he’d talk more and eat less, he’d not be in such danger o’ burstin’.”

Mike looked slightly agitated.

“Muggs,” said the Doctor firmly, “it comes to this.  More turkey—­one pill.  No turkey—­no pill.”

Muggs exhibited a capacity for instant decision.  With stubby forefinger rigid, he shoved his plate a little closer to the turkey.

IV

The Log at Twilight

There was a straw-ride in the farm sleigh after dinner, a story or two by the Yule log when the twilight closed in and Annie had lit the Christmas candles on the tree, and then as the boys were romping in a game of Roger’s the Doctor slipped away to his study for a quiet hour with a book.  His lamp was barely lighted and the book upon his knee when the door opened and Jim stood before him, his face so white and strained that the Doctor laid aside his book, thinking instantly, of course, that here again was too much turkey.

Jim hung his head, one toe burrowing in the carpet.

“Doctor John!” he burst forth hoarsely.

“Yes?”

Jim gulped.

“I—­I been in jail!”

The Doctor looked once at Jim’s face, quivering in an agony of shame, and hastily wiped his glasses.  In the quiet came the laughter of romping boys.

“Why,” said the Doctor very gently, “did you tell me?”

Something in the kindly voice opened the flood-gates of a boy’s sore heart.  Jim’s mouth quivered piteously, then he broke down and hid his face behind his elbow, sobbing wildly.

“I wanta be square,” he cried passionately, “I wanta be square like you’ve been to us, an’—­an Luke said ye might not want a jail-bird here for Christmas.  I—­stole—­coal—­for mom—­”

It was the old tale, one boy caught, paying for the petty thievery of the score who ran away.  The Doctor heard the mumbled tale to the end and cleared his throat.

“And so,” he said slowly, “you wanted to be square.  That’s the finest thing I’ve heard this Christmas day.  Wanted to be square.  Well, well!” His hand was on Jim’s shoulder now.  “Jim, I wonder if you could come back to me next Christmas and tell me you’d been absolutely straight—­”

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When the Yule Log Burns from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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