“Well, my son,” said papa, “you did take care of mamma, and get up a dinner out of nothing, sure enough; and now we’ll eat the dinner, which I am sure is delicious.”
So it proved to be; even the cake, or pudding, which Tot christened snow pudding, was voted very nice, and the hickory nuts as good as raisins. When they had finished, Mr. Barnes brought in his packages, gave Tot and the rest some “sure-enough waisins,” and added his Christmas presents to Willie’s; but though all were overjoyed, nothing was quite so nice in their eyes as the two live birds.
After dinner the two men and Willie dug out passages from the doors, through the snow, which had wasted a good deal, uncovered the windows, and made a slanting way to his shed for old Tim. Then for two or three days Willie made tunnels and little rooms under the snow, and for two weeks, while the snow lasted, Nora and Tot had fine times in the little snow playhouses.
XXIX. MR. BLUFF’S EXPERIENCES OF HOLIDAYS*
* Reprinted by permission of Moffat, Yird & Co., from Christmas. R.H. Schauffler, Editor.
OLIVER BELL BUNCE
“I hate holidays,” said Bachelor Bluff to me, with some little irritation, on a Christmas a few years ago. Then he paused an instant, after which he resumed: “I don’t mean to say that I hate to see people enjoying themselves. But I hate holidays, nevertheless, because to me they are always the saddest and dreariest days of the year. I shudder at the name of holiday. I dread the approach of one, and thank heaven when it is over. I pass through, on a holiday, the most horrible sensations, the bitterest feelings, the most oppressive melancholy; in fact, I am not myself at holiday-times.”
“Very strange,” I ventured to interpose.
“A plague on it!” said he, almost with violence. “I’m not inhuman. I don’t wish anybody harm. I’m glad people can enjoy themselves. But I hate holidays all the same. You see, this is the reason: I am a bachelor; I am without kin; I am in a place that did not know me at birth. And so, when holidays come around, there is no place anywhere for me. I have friends, of course; I don’t think I’ve been a very sulky, shut-in, reticent fellow; and there is many a board that has a place for me—but not at Christmastime. At Christmas, the dinner is a family gathering; and I’ve no family. There is such a gathering of kindred on this occasion, such a reunion of family folk, that there is no place for a friend, even if the friend be liked. Christmas, with all its kindliness and charity and good-will, is, after all, deuced selfish. Each little set gathers within its own circle; and people like me, with no particular circle, are left in the lurch. So you see, on the day of all the days in the year that my heart pines for good cheer, I’m without an invitation.
“Oh, it’s because I pine for good cheer,” said the bachelor, sharply, interrupting my attempt to speak, “that I hate holidays. If I were an infernally selfish fellow, I wouldn’t hate holidays. I’d go off and have some fun all to myself, somewhere or somehow. But, you see, I hate to be in the dark when all the rest of the world is in light. I hate holidays because I ought to be merry and happy on holidays and can’t.