After a while, Maida threw her bird-crumbs all over Mr. Chumpleigh. Thereafter, the saucy little English sparrows ate from Mr. Chumpleigh’s hat-brim, his pipe-bowl, even his pockets.
“Perhaps the snow will last all winter,” Maida said hopefully one day. “If it does, Mr. Chumpleigh’s health will be perfect.”
“Well, perhaps, it’s just as well if he goes,” Rosie said sensibly; “we haven’t done a bit of work since he came.”
On Sunday the weather moderated a little. Mr. Chumpleigh bore a most melancholy look all the afternoon as if he feared what was to come. What was worse, he lost his nose.
Monday morning, Maida ran to the window dreading what she might see. But instead of the thaw she expected, a most beautiful sight spread out before her. The weather had turned cold in the night. Everything that had started to melt had frozen up again. The sidewalks were liked frosted cakes. Long icicles made pretty fringes around the roofs of the houses. The trees and bushes were glazed by a sheathing of crystal. The sunlight playing through all this turned the world into a heap of diamonds.
Mr. Chumpleigh had perked up under the influence of the cold. His manner had gained in solidity although his gaze was a little glassy. Hopefully Maida hunted about until she found his nose.
She replaced his old set with some new orange-peel teeth and stuck his pipe between them. He looked quite himself.
But, alas, the sun came out and melted the whole world. The sidewalks trickled streams. The icicles dripped away in showers of diamonds. The trees lost their crystal sheathing.
In the afternoon, Mr. Chumpleigh began to droop. By night his head was resting disconsolately on his own shoulder. When Maida looked out the next morning, there was nothing in the corner but a mound of snow. An old coat lay to one side. Strewn about were a hat, a pair of gloves, a pipe and a cane.
Mr. Chumpleigh had passed away in the night.
A CHRISTMAS FAIR
WILL BE HELD IN THIS SHOP
THE SATURDAY BEFORE
DELICIOUS CANDIES MADE BY
MISS ROSIE BRINE
PAPER GOODS DESIGNED AND
MASTER RICHARD DORE
WOOD CARVING DESIGNED AND
MASTER ARTHUR DUNCAN
DON’T MISS IT!
This sign hung in Maida’s window for a week. Billy made it. The lettering was red and gold. In one corner, he painted a picture of a little boy and girl in their nightgowns peeking up a chimney-place hung with stockings. In the other corner, the full-moon face of a Santa Claus popped like a jolly jack-in-the-box from a chimney-top. A troop of reindeer, dragging a sleigh full of toys, scurried through the printing. The whole thing was enclosed in a wreath of holly.
The sign attracted a great deal of attention. Children were always stopping to admire it and even grown-people paused now and then. There was such a falling-off of Maida’s trade that she guessed that the children were really saving their pennies for the fair. This delighted her.