Into my remembrance, by what suggestion I know not, came that March evening when I had gone to Holder Chapel at Harvard to listen to a preacher, a personality whose fame and influence had since spread throughout the land. Some dim fear had possessed me then. I recalled vividly the man, and the face of Hermann Krebs as I drew back from the doorway....
When I awoke my disquieting, retrospective mood had disappeared, and yet there clung to me, minus the sanction of fear or reward or revealed truth, a certain determination to behave, on this day at least, more like a father and a husband: to make an effort to enter into the spirit of the festival, and see what happened. I dressed in cheerful haste, took the sapphire pendant from its velvet box, tiptoed into the still silent schoolroom and hung it on the tree, flooding on the electric light that set the tinsel and globes ablaze. No sooner had I done this than I heard the patter of feet in the hallway, and a high-pitched voice—Biddy’s —crying out:—“It’s Santa Claus!”
Three small, flannel-wrappered figures stood in the doorway.
“Why, it’s father!” exclaimed Moreton.
“And he’s all dressed!” said Matthew.
“Oh-h-h!” cried Biddy, staring at the blazing tree, “isn’t it beautiful!”
Maude was close behind them. She gave an exclamation of delighted surprise when she saw me, and then stood gazing with shining eyes at the children, especially at Biddy, who stood dazzled by the glory of the constellation confronting her.... Matthew, too, wished to prolong the moment of mystery. It was the practical Moreton who cried:—“Let’s see what we’ve got!”
The assault and the sacking began. I couldn’t help thinking as I watched them of my own wildly riotous, Christmas-morning sensations, when all the gifts had worn the aura of the supernatural; but the arrival of these toys was looked upon by my children as a part of the natural order of the universe. At Maude’s suggestion the night before we had placed my presents, pieces de resistance, at a distance from the tree, in the hope that they would not be spied at once, that they would be in some sort a climax. It was Matthew who first perceived the ship, and identified it, by the card, as his property. To him it was clearly wonderful, but no miracle. He did not cry out, or call the attention of the others to it, but stood with his feet apart, examining it, his first remark being a query as to why it didn’t fly the American flag. It’s ensign was British. Then Moreton saw the locomotive, was told that it was his, and took possession of it violently. Why wasn’t there more track? Wouldn’t I get more track? I explained that it would go by steam, and he began unscrewing the cap on the little boiler until he was distracted by the man-of-war, and with natural acquisitiveness started to take possession of that. Biddy was bewildered by the doll, which Maude had taken up and was holding in her lap.