* Reprinted with the permission of the Henry Altemus Company.
It was getting very near to Christmas time, and all the boys at Miss Ware’s school were talking about going home for the holidays.
“I shall go to the Christmas festival,” said Bertie Fellows,” and my mother will have a party, and my Aunt will give another. Oh! I shall have a splendid time at home.”
“My Uncle Bob is going to give me a pair of skates,” remarked Harry Wadham.
“My father is going to give me a bicycle,” put in George Alderson.
“Will you bring it back to school with you?” asked Harry.
“Oh! yes, if Miss Ware doesn’t say no.”
“Well, Tom,” cried Bertie, “where are you going to spend your holidays?”
“I am going to stay here,” answered Tom in a very forlorn voice.
“Here—at school—oh, dear! Why can’t you go home?”
“I can’t go home to India,” answered Tom.
“Nobody said you could. But haven’t you any relatives anywhere?”
Tom shook his head. “Only in India,” he said sadly.
“Poor fellow! That’s hard luck for you. I’ll tell you what it is, boys, if I couldn’t go home for the holidays, especially at Christmas—I think I would just sit down and die.”
“Oh, no, you wouldn’t,” said Tom. “You would get ever so homesick, but you wouldn’t die. You would just get through somehow, and hope something would happen before next year, or that some kind fairy would—”
“There are no fairies nowadays,” said Bertie.
“See here, Tom, I’ll write and ask my mother to invite you to go home with me for the holidays.”
“Will you really?”
“Yes, I will. And if she says yes, we shall have such a splendid time. We live in London, you know, and have lots of parties and fun.”
“Perhaps she will say no?” suggested poor little Tom.
“My mother isn’t the kind that says no,” Bertie declared loudly.
In a few days’ time a letter arrived from Bertie’s mother. The boy opened it eagerly. It said:
My own dear Bertie:
I am very sorry to tell you that little Alice is ill with scarlet fever. And so you cannot come for your holidays. I would have been glad to have you bring your little friend with you if all had been well here.
Your father and I have decided that the best thing that you can do is to stay at Miss Ware’s. We shall send your Christmas present to you as well as we can.
It will not be like coming home, but I am sure you will try to be happy, and make me feel that you are helping me in this sad time.
Dear little Alice is very ill, very ill indeed. Tell Tom that I am sending you a box for both of you, with two of everything. And tell him that it makes me so much happier to know that you will not be alone.