Democratic watchman. (Bellefonte, Pa.) 1855-1940, December 19, 1919, Image 2

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Demorealic; Lad
Bellefonte, Pa., December 19, 1919.
By Edgar A. Guest.
Home for Christmas! There's a joy
For the weary, grown up boy
Or the little girl who now
Feels the years upon her brow!
Home for Christmas! Back once more
To the mother at the door
And the old hearth with its blaze
And those happy yesterdays.
Home for Christmas! There's a thrill
For the toiler up the hill,
For the trudger on the road
Heart sick with his heavy load.
Home for Christmas! Back. to be
Once again at mother’s knee
And to feel her fond caress
In that spell of happiness.
Home for Christmas! Girl and lad
Going to the kindly dad
‘Who has waited through the year
For his loved ones to appear.
Home for Christmas! Back again
To the simple joys and plain,
To the refuge sweet with rest,
Where is love made manifest.
Home for Christmas! Oh, that I
Could recall the years gone by,
And could know once more the bliss
Of that glorious welcome kiss.
Home for Christmas! Girl and man
Claim that gladness while you can.
Swift must come those years of pain
‘When you'll long for home in vain.
A Story that Proves a Lot of Things.
“This Christmas,” proclaimed Mec-
Ritchie proudly, “we shall have a
He looked into the depths of a fril-
ly basket, to meet the calm gaze of
his daughter, six weeks old.”
“Yes, old lady,” he continued, “it
will be some tree. And you shall hang
up your stocking, and Mother shall
hang hers, and even your broken-
down old dad may take a chance that
Santa will not forget him. You have
a wonderful grip upon my finger,
daughter. Mary”’—with a glance at
the baby’s mother, who was listening
amusedly to his conversation,—‘“isn’t
this baby unusually husky?”
“Of course!” laughed Mary. Then
her eyes grew wistful as she rose and
stood beside him. “Mae,” she said,
“you don’t really mind because she’s
not a boy?”
McRitchie looked at her reproach-
fully. ]
“My dear, this is the fourteenth
time you have asked that question,
and each time I have replied emphat-
ically that I prefer a daughter. I
love little girls. I like their frills and
ruffles. But,” McRitchie sighed, “I
wish she were twins! I am forty-
three years old, Mary; and it takes so
long to accumulate a family.”
Mary rubbed her cheek against his
coat sleeve. “A family of three is
not so bad,” she replied. “Last year
there were only two of us; and we
thought that was pretty good—if I
remember rightly. But now, Mac, I
can hardly wait for Christmas morn-
the people who live in them, you
know. Your house is lovely, Mrs.
Fisher, especially since you got that
pretty paper for the living-room.”
“You didn’t mind my getting it like
yours?” asked the girl shyly.
“Indeed, no cried Mary. “I felt
quite flattered. Now I must go. Just
look outside and see the Christmas
tree. Mac’s going to set it up
She stooped to drop a kiss on the
girl’s cheek. It was a cheek which
six months before had held a touch of
rouge. It didn’t need rouge now,
thought Mary, as she walked briskly
toward the station. Country air had
whipped color into the pale face; and
there were other changes. In her
mind Mary compared the trim serge
dress Mrs. Fisher wore today with the
flimsy, transparent shirtwaist she
would have worn before, and smiled
tenderly at the girl’s efforts to copy
everything she did herself.
She was a nice little thing, thought
Mary. ;
It was a pity that Fisher’s sisters
considered her beneath their notice.
But it was really hardest on the sis-
ters. They had none but Fisher; and
Mrs. Fisher had her husband and the
baby, too. A baby was so adorable at
Christmas, thought Mary happily;
and it would be a glorious Christmas
this year; a long, blissful day with
just Mac and the baby. For once,
McRitchie hadn’t suggested inviting
anybody else.
This last fact Mary hugged jealous-
ly to herself. Mac was so dear! He
always wanted to share everything he
had with everyone who hadn’t quite
as much, especially the people in the
office, whose happiness he considered
his special care.
was nice to be alone.
One by one, Mary had entertained
the whole office force, from Mr. Cor-
ey, the dignified head of the firm, to
Thomas, the elevator boy. Mary her-
self had worked in the same office be-
fore their marriage, so most of the
guests, including Thomas, were old
friends. There were new ones now
in some of the departments. And Ma-
ry’s own desk was occupeid by Fish-
er’s younger sister. She had recent-
ly lost money, and Fisher had asked
Mac to take her on, in spite of the
coolness between himself and his fam-
ily, who had never ceased to show
their disapproval of his marriage.
She did her work, Mac said, as if she
were conferring a favor upon the
firm; but it was work she needed,
which was the main thing, he added,
with true McRitchie reasoning. It
hurt McRitchie a little that Fisher
rarely spoke to his sister in the office.
“Not that I really blame him,” he
said to Mary, “after the snappy way
she treats his wife, and taking no no-
tice whatever of the baby.”
McRitchie met her at the station,
and together they finished the pur-
chases for the tree. Her husband was
like a boy, hesitating over each shin-
ing ornament as if the fate of a na-
tion rested on the decision between a
sparkling icicle and a Christmas rose.
He ended by purchasing a wonderful
Christmas star for the top of the tree,
and a red-clothed Santa Claus for the
baby. ;
“Now, don’t you dare get anything
for me!” she scolded.
“All right,” said McRitchie, grin-
ing! I—I'm so glad you want a tree. ning joyfully. “I won’t bother about
We'll get a little one and have it on
the dining table.”
you. Of course, being the whole show
yourself, doesn’t matter whether any-
McRitchie turned, looking down on | one remembers you or not. Say, I've
his wife soberly. Then he exploded:
“A little one! On the dining table!
Well, I guess not! Mary” (his voice
lowered), “I—I never had a Christ-
mas tree.
was no one who cared enough to fix
one for me, not in my memory, you
know. All my life I’ve looked upon
them longingly. Maybe I never quite
grew up. Anyway—we’re going to
have a big one. It must reach within
six inches of the ceiling and have all
the fixings: miles of tinsel, bushels of
pop corn, dozens of lights—every-
thing, just like the pictures you see in
magazines. I brought the pop corn
home tonight, and all the dinky little
electric lights. I—I’ve just got to
have it, Mary.”
“Oh, Mac!” said Mary, tenderly.
She was continually finding out new
things abeut her husband that made
her ache for the lonely little boy he
had once been. If she had only
knewn, she would have had a tree for
him the year before—the first Christ-
mas after they were married.
But this time! Of course it was ab-
surd to have a great big tree for a ba-
by who would only blink at it; but it
wasn’t absurd to have a tree for Mac!
It should be the tree of his dreams, to
every minutest detail. Mary caught
his hand and squeezed it.
“Mac, I'd love it! I haven’t had a
tree for years and years. It'll be a
real family Christmas this year—
just for the three of us. Oh, Mac!
isn’t it nice to be a family at Christ-
mas time?”
There followed busy and exciting
days. And as the time passed, Mary
wondered if her husband spent his
entire noon hour in an orgy of shop-
ping at the ten-cent store. Each night
he appeared with some new trinkets,
which he opened mysteriously and
held proudly before Mary’s eyes.
These treasures he hid carefully on
the top shelf of the china closet, as if
he feared the baby might get an un-
timely glimpse of them. For the first
time in his life McRitchie was revel-
ing in the mysteries of Christmas.
But the most important purchases
were made on that day when Mary
went to town. Mrs. Fisher, whose
husband worked under McRitchie at
the office and who owed the older man
a debt of gratitude, appeared bright
and early to care for the baby in Ma-
ry’s absence. She brought her own
baby, a year old and a “perfect treas-
ure,” cried Mary, as the child laugh-
ed and held up her little arms.
“I won’t be gone long, Mrs. Fisher,
and Baby will sleep ‘most all the time.
If you're hungry there’s sponge cake |
in the box, and we'll’ have luncheon
when I get back.”
“Now, don’t*you hurry,” said -Mrs.
Fisher cheerfully. “I love it here.
It’s a treat to have a change.” She
glanced about. “Somehow I can’t
make my house look just like yours,”
she added wistfully.
Mary smiled. “But you wouldn’t
want it to look just like mine,” she
answered. “Houses should look like
When I was a kid there !
got to get back to the office now. Do
you think the crowd would notice if I
kissed you?”
“Yes, I do,” laughed Mary. “Don’t
you dare!”
McRitchie was rather quiet that
night at supper, but his spirits rose
during the process of putting up the
tree. It was a lovely tree, and sym-
metrical as one could wish, reaching, |
as Mac had stipulated,
from the ceiling.
“I'm dying to trim it, Mary!” he
said boyishly. “Can’t I put a few
things on and take ’em off again?”
“No” Mary replied severely; “you
must string the pop corn. And why
you bought all those cornucopias for
candy, when there’s no one to eat it
but you and me—"
“But—but they always have ’em on
Chrstmas trees in pictures,” began
McRitchie uneasily. “And—well it’s
a pretty big tree for just one little
baby, Mary.”
“It isn’t ‘just for a baby,” said Ma-
ry gently. .“It’s for a little boy who
never had a Christmas tree years ago.
As for the cornucopias—” She stop-
ped abruptly as a sudden suspicion of
the truth flashed into her mind.
“Mac—it isn’t possible—"
just six inches
The dreadful certainty which was |
creeping over Mary was confirmed by
the guilty look in her husband’s face.
For a moment she couldn’t find her
and McRitchie also became |
strangely dumb. It was the most un-
comfortable moment of their married
life. Then Mary’s sense of humor
came to the rescue, and she said
“You might as well confess, Mac.
How many people have you invited
for Christmas dinner?”
His face brightened suddenly, like
“Not one! On my honor, Mary, not
one! Do you think I’m such a beast
as to ask you to get dinner for a
crowd, when you haven't got half
your strength back? But I thought
in—in the afternoon, you know—some
of ’em might like to see the tree and
—and—the baby. We could have
some hot chocolate, maybe. I'll make
it, Mary and wash all the dishes. You
see, dear, that little Miss Spencer,
from Vermont, is homesick. I caught
her crying the other day; and before
I thought what I was up to, I asked
her to come out Christmas afternoon.
I—I think she’s had a quarrel with
Billy Hall, the bookkeeper. I asked
him, too. I thought maybe they'd
make it up on the train, or something.
And then—"
“Yes?” said Mary as he hesitated.
“Well,” plunged McRitchie desper-
ately, “there’s Miss Knowlton. It’s
the first Christmas without her moth-
er. She was wild to come. And Mrs.
Thompson’s just back from the sani-
tarium and I thought that if—if they
dropped in a while it would do her
ood. Their boy would love the tree,
ary, and we could have a package
for him. The Taylors can’t come be-
cause they're going to her mother’s;
But on Christmas it
but Thomas almost shot the elevator
: through the roof, he was so pleased
‘when I asked him. And Mr. Cor-
| “Mr. Corey!” exploded Mary.
| “You don’t mean you asked Mr. Cor-
‘ey, Mac? To our Ittle house—on
| Christmas?”
“Why not?” answered McRitchie
innocently. “I—I’m sorrier for him
than for anybody! Living with a
tragedy the way he does. Why, he
just ate the invitation right up, Ma-
ry. He said Christmas was the hard-
est day in the whole year.”
“Did—did you ask the janitor?”
asked Mary weakly.
“Of course,” Mac answered soberly,
“but he said he always spent the day
with his in-laws.” McRitchie’s eyes
twinkled. “He didn’t seem very en-
thusiastic about the in-law Christ-
mases, either. But the Fishers will
come, and—oh, look here! Are you
‘awfully disappointed, darling?
' you only knew—"
| “Knew what?” asked Mary, hoping
i her consternation was absent from
| her voice.
| “How—how awfully lonesome a
| lonesome Christmas is, dear. Do you
i know, all the years I lived in a hall
bedroom no one ever asked me to
| Christmas dinner, or to have a
' glimpse of a tree, or—or anything. I
i suppose because I didn’t talk about it
i they thought I had somewhere to go.
Once I spent the whole day in the of-
fice. It was more like home than any
i place I knew. Sometimes I'd wander
around the streets at night, hoping
some one would leave a shade up so I
. could steal a look at all the fun. And
now, when I have so much, Mary:
you—and the baby—and a home—!”
McRitchie swallowed something as
he felt Mary’s warm cheek against
his own.
“It will be splendid!” she said gen-
erously. “I'll ask Mrs. Fisher to help
me make some doughnuts. No one
will want much supper Christmas
night. And there should be a little
| package for everybody on the tree,
jokes—or something to make them
laugh. I guess you’ll have to do some
more shopping, Mac. I can’t get to
town again, to save my life. We'll
make a list now and plan out every-
thing. We can sing carols; and we’ll
borrow the Fishers’ phonograph and
have a Virginia Reel. It’s lucky we
made these two rooms into one! I
“Are you?” cried McRitchie happi-
(ly. “You know—I was sort of afraid
“And I've got two little candy
canes. We’ll put those in for looks.
There, Mary! Who dares to tell me
that dreams don’t come true?”
“Not I,” said Mary as McRitchie
kissed her. “Now, shall I fill your
stocking while you turn your back,
“You'll fill it while I fix the furnace,
and then you'll scoot up stairs. This
is a new job to me. I want the whole
place to myself. Do you know, Ma-
ry, I feel just like a kid!”
“You won’t peek at things when
I'm gone then?” asked Mary sternly.
“Cross my heart!” laughed Me-
Ritchie as he descended cellarward.
It was a glorious Christmas morn-
ing. A snow storm the night before
had frosted everything. Miss Mec-
Ritchie awoke her parents with a de-
mand for breakfast, and ten seconds
later her dad was wishing her a Mer-
ry Christmas.
Afterward (Mac hadn’t allowed
Mary even to start the coffee), they
sat on the floor before the fireplace,
, the baby cuddled in her father’s arms.
shan’t sleep a wink tonight, I'm so |
' dignantly.
. you might be disappointed—or some-
| thing.”
| If Mary was disappointed she dis- |
| guised it well; yet there were mo-
| ments when it vaguely hurt her to
think that Mac had asked outsiders on
this first Christmas with the baby,
well as she understood his impulsive
| generosity. But these moments were
few and far between. This was Mac’s
i first Christmas tree, and she was de-
i termined to make it a success.’ On
| Christmas Eve, when the last shining
. bauble was in place, they fairly hug-
' ged each other in delight.
“And now,” said Mary, “we must be
| sure we've forgotten no one. Here's
| the list of names, Mae, and what we
have got for them. I couldn’t con-
. trive jokes for every one, but there
i are enough to ‘make some fun. I
haven’t forgotten anybody, have 1?”
McRitchie took the list, smiling de-
| lightedly as he read Mary’s jokes.
{ Then, suddenly he exclaimed. “Good
| land, Mary! I ’most forgot to tel
cyou! I invited Fisher's sisters.”
Mary stared. “But—but what shail
{we do? They hardly speak to Mrs.
' Fisher, and—"
i “I had to, Mary, truly,” explained
. McRitchie. “When I got into the out-
i er hall tonight one of ’em was wait-
ing for me—the one with the long
! nose.”
Mary giggled, and McRitchie add-
led: “You needn’t laugh. It’s awful-
I ly long and pointed. It always seems
‘to get there ahead of her. Well, I
| saw she wanted to say something,
| and after a lot of beating about the
| bush she lugged out a package done
up in ribbons and tissue paper. She
| asked if I'd leave it at her brother's
| on my way home. It was for the ba-
| .
{ “Mercy!” gasped Mary in surprise.
| “That’s what I thought,” said Mec-
| Ritchie. “She said not to tell her sis-
ter—the one that works in the office,
| you know. And just then that one
| burst out of the door and I tucked the
! package under my coat. Sister had
. evidently been crying, and Fisher was
: just behind her. He started when he
| saw who was talking with me, and
nodded like an icicle and went down-
| stairs. He didn’t wait for the eleva-
tor. I wanted to punch him; but I
was - sorry for him, too. He didn’t
know about the package. And he
loves that little wife of his a good
sight more than he did before he
‘married her. But—those girls looked
kind of pitiful to me. They're older
| than Fisher, and they adore him. So
i—well, I invited them; and they
{ jumped at the chance. I guess they
| were feeling lonely. Can’t you scare
| up something to give ’em, honey ?”
“I may have some new handker-
| chiefs,” said Mary dazedly.
“That’ll do for Caroline,” said Mc-
| Ritchie, “but I shouldn’t want to give
| anything to Lydia that might draw
| attention to her nose.”
| His kindly meaning was so genu-
line that Mary rocked with mirth.
“A sachet would be almost worse,”
| she laughed. “Well—I’ve a new crepe
tie I'll sacrifice, though I'd planned to
| wear it. Oh, Mac, you are the fun-
niest! I only hope your impulsive in-
vitation won’t spoil the party.”
“It can’t—on Christmas,” replied
McRitchie optimistically. “Come Ma-
ry, let’s fill the stockings and go to
bed. T’ll never forgive myself if you
get tired. My dear—I’m afraid your
stocking will be pretty empty.”
The sparkle in his eyes belied his
words, and Mary smiled.
“Don’t worry. There won't be
much in yours. We'll fill the baby’s
there between our two big ones?”
McRitchie lifted the ‘tiny pink silk
stocking tenderly. “To think, Mary,
that such a thing belongs to us! It
seems incredible. This—won’t hold
much, honey.”
“It'll hold this rubber doll and
worsted ball. Somehow, I don’t think
i Miss McRitchie will know the differ-
Doesn’t it look darling, Mac,
' breathlessly.
me my stunning wife.
“Don’t try to tell me this kd’s too
young to enjoy Christmas!” exclaim-
ed McRitchie. “She’s trying to eat
up all her presents.”
“If you let her eat those candy
canes you may regret it,” replied the
baby’s mother. “Open your stocking,
Mac. I can’t wait another moment to
look at mine. There’s only one thing
in yours, except the oranges to make
it bulky, so don’t be disappointed.”
“And there’s nothing in yours ex-
cept the bulky things. Your present
is in that box beside the fender. . . .
Oh, Mary! The idea of your getting
me those fur-lined gloves! Is it pos-
sible my thrifty wife is turning out a
spendthrift? I love ’em dear. Come
nearer so I can hug you.”
“Wait!” said Mary. She was unty-
ing her box as excitedly as a child.
“Oh, Mac! Mac!” Her eyes swam
with tears as she buried her face in
the soft furs, furs she had wanted for
so long. “Don’t you talk about ex-
travagance,” she said shakily. “I
know now why you wouldn’t get an
overcoat. And your old one’s so—so
“It is not. And even if it was,
think how the other men will envy
Put ’em on,
dear—quick! Are they what you
want? You can change them if—”
“Change them?” echoed Mary in-
] “Mac, I feel like a duch-
ess. I shall want to wear them every
I shall go to bed in them!
Oh, Mac!”
The first of McRitchie’s guests, the
Fishers, arrived at three o’clock,
armed with a baby, a blossoming
azalea plant for Mary, and what Mc-
Ritchie called a monument of dough-
nuts, since Mrs. Fisher had insisted
on making every one. Mary had made
sugar cookies and gingerbread; a
huge caldron of chocolate was on the
stove, and there was grape juice and
lemonade for those who wanted to
cool cff. Mary, seeing the Fishers
turn in at the gate, hoped devoutly
that Fisher's sisters would be the last
arrivals. In a crowd things would be
less awkward.
- “Merry Christmas!” welcomed Mec-
Ritchie, throwing wide the door.
“Fisher, you dump those doughnuts
in the kitchen. Mary’s up stairs, Mrs.
Fisher. I. believe she wants you.
She’s going to rope you into pouring
cmocolate when the guests arrive.”
This had been an inspiration on
Mary’s part. She was going to show
those haughty sisters that Mrs. Fish-
er could do things gracefully. She
had telephoned that morning to ask
as a favor that Mrs. Fisher wear her
dark blue taffeta. It was her most
becoming dress, and Mary was bound
that she should look her best.
“Come up!” she called over the ban-
ister. “Baby’s asleep. I hope she’ll
sleep an hour longer, for Mac’s sure
to keep her up outrageously. Iknow
her habits will be in ruins by night;
but we can’t help it. Christmas comes
but once a year and—Oh, Mrs. Fish-
er, how sweet your baby looks in that
little jacket! And her hair is curling!
I told you it would curl. Oh, I wish
the Taylors were coming with all
their children! This is an awfully
grown-up Christmas party; just your
baby and ours, and little Harold
Thompson. Thomas is only fourteen,
but I suppose he'd resent being called
a child.
“Mr. Fisher's sister Lydia made the
little jacket,” said Mrs. Fisher proud-
ly, “and Caroline sent that cunning
pin. She gave it to Mr. Fisher in the
office. I thought I'd let her wear
them both. It—it made Mr. Fisher so
happy to have them do it.”
“Of course it did!” said Mary gent-
ly. “Here—let me carry the baby
down for you. I can’t keep away
from her, she looks so dear.”
Inwardly Mary was exulting. Fish-
er’s sisters could not resist that ba-
by! For the first time she felt glad
of Mac’s impulsive invitation.
“Merry Christmas’ Mrs. McRitch-
ie!” cried Fisher joyously. “Say—
that’s some tree! And look, honey”
(turning to his wife), “at that little
stocking. Mac left it up for the
crowd to see.”
Mary smiled. “It broke his heart
to take it down this morning, so I
told him to leave it there, though it
looks rather limp without the dolly.
Open the door, Mac, here comes Miss
Knowlton and the Thompsons; and—
yes, there’s Mr. Corey’s car! He's
got Thomas with him, and Miss Spen-
cer and Billy Hall.
picked them up on the way. And—
why, Mac! There are the .Taylors!
Every one of them! Isn’t that too
good to be true? And—and—"
Mary didn’t mention the last two
figures turning in at the gate. She
was dimly conscious that Mrs. Fisher
had darted toward the kitchen with
her baby; but amid all the confusion
she saw with joy that Fisher went
forward and kissed both his sisters,
and she knew suddenly that every-
thing would be all right.
“I don’t know what you’ll think of
us,” Mrs, Taylor was explaining
“To say. we weren't
coming, and then to come! But Moth-
er was really too sick to have us; just
a grippy cold, but she was afraid we'd
all take it. So after dinner George
said to come along, he knew the Mc-
Ritchies wouldn’t care. We tried to
telephone, but the wires were down.
The children were crazy to see the ba-
by, and— :
He must have
“Oh, I'm so glad!” said Mary. “The gracefully, but was too late.
one thing this party lacked was chil-
dren. Merry Christmas, Thomas!
You know where to find the ginger-
bread. Hello, Miss Knowlton! Ill |
kiss you when I get near enough. !
Merry Christmas, Miss Spencer! You
don’t know how glad we are to see
you. And this is Billy Hall, of course. ,
You see, I’ve heard about you even if |
we’ve never met. And you two are |
Mr. Fisher’s sisters. It’s splendid |
that you could come. Mr. Fisher, will
you find your wife and ask her to look |
after things while I show these people |
where to leave their wraps? Merry |
Christmas, Mr. Corey! Can you steer !
a double-runner? Those who want to |
coast may keep their things on, and !
the rest of you may come up stairs.”
Two hours later, when the coast-
ing party was over and the whole
crowd had made the acquaintance of
Miss McRitchie, liac turned on the
lights and proudly displayed his tree.
“There’s not a thing on it for any
of you Taylors,” mourned Mary, “but
there’s pop corn galore, and candy—”"
“Don’t you worry,” said Mrs. Tay-
lor cheerfully. “The children have
had one tree already, and Junior
dosen’t want anything but the three
bright pennies that were in his stock-
ing. He's been hanging onto them all
day. I believe he thinks they’re gold.
As for George and me—"’
“Mary,” interrupted McRitchie,
“where’s some tissue paper? I've a
present here for Taylor, and nothing
to do it up in.” |
“You see!” laughed Mrs. Taylor. |
“Junior!”—with a dash for her young- |
est—“don’t eat the pop corn off the |
tree. It’s for decoration.”
“No, it isn’t,” contradicted Mec-
Ritchie. “You can have a whole
string in a moment, sonny. Thanks,
Mary. Is everybody here? We
might as well distribute these costly
“Present,” called Fisher from the
corner. “Fire ahead, Mac.”
Yes, everyone was there, thought
Mary, as she looked round upon the
group. In Mac's big chair sat Lydia
Fisher, the Fisher baby on her lap.
Fisher himself was sitting between
his wife and his younger sister, bra-
zenly holding a hand of each, and
looking, somehow, more manly than
of old. Mac had been right when he
urged Fisher to buy a place in the
country and settle down. Responsi-
bility, and perhaps the trouble he had
been through, were obliterating the
weak lines about his mouth. Billy
Hall stood just where he could look
down on Miss Spencer’s smooth brown
hair, without appearing to; and Mr.
Corey was holding Mary’s baby with
all the ease of a veteran grandfath-
er. The three Thompsons sat very
close together on the davenport, as if
they could bear no further separation
after the year Mrs. Thompson had
spent in a sanitarium. Miss Knowl-
ton’s plain, good-natured face was
wreathed in smiles; and Thomas-of- |
the-elevator was fairly beaming. It |
was a happy crowd, thought Mary, as |
she sat down on the floor among the |
four young Taylors. |
‘the fun began when McRitchie pre- |
sented Taylor with a pencil attached |
to a phenomenally long string. This |
brougnt laughter, because Taylor was
always losing pencils in the office and |
borrowing of someone else. Thomas |
blushed with pleasure and embarrass- !
ment at the gift of a safety razor, |
while Fisher immediately offered to |
show him how to use it. Miss Knowl-
ton received a cake of scented soap, |
because she was constantly regretting |
the lack of that article in the office |
coat room. And Mr. Corey, who was
an inveterate smoker, but who always
advised everybody else to leave the!
weed alone, was presented with a box
of chocolate cigars, marked “War- .
ranted harmless.”
But it was Fisher who, after the
gifts were all distributed, brought |
down the house by presenting Me- |
Ritchie with a beribboned package |
which proved to be a copy of “How
to be Happy Though Married.” |
Everyone shouted, and there was re- |
newed rejoicing when Mac declared |
he didn’t need it, and passed it on to !
Billy Hall, which for some obscure '
reason brought the color into Miss |
Spencer’s face. |
Afterward, Mrs. Fisher presided at |
the chocolate pot, and everybody |
squeezed into the dining room; that |
is, everyone but Mr. Corey. Miss |
McRitchie had dropped asleep in Mr.
Corey’s arms, so he refused to move;
and Mary, seeing that the baby was |
filling a long-felt want, did not insist. !
Later, Jerry Thompson, who could
really sing, started some carols, the
dear old carols that everybody knows,
and they all joined in. But the crown-
ing fun of the day was the Virginia
Reel. None knew that it was a whis-
pered word from Mary which caused
Mr. Corey to invite Mrs. Fisher to
head the reel with him. Mary her-
self was at the other end with Thom-
as, whose past life had not included
dancing, but whose Irish feet and wit
were to cause him no uneasiness.
It was a glorious reel. Everyone
danced but Fisher’s sister Lydia, who
refused to lay down her precious bur-
den to join the fun. Then came a
stampede for lemonade; and when
every tumbler and teacup in the
house was filled, it was Mr. Corey
who raised his glass (it was a jelly |
tumbler!) and cried: “Here's to the
hicRitchies—God bless ’em!” The
cheer that followed threatened to
wake the sleeping babies.
They were alone at last—the Me-
Ritchies. They stood looking down
upon their daughter, slumbering
sweetly in a corner of the davenport,
unmindful that her first party was
just over.
“It was a wonderful Christmas tree,
daughter,” said McRitchie, “and I
was proud of you. I only hope that
Mother isn’t all worn out.”
“I'm not,” said Mary. “And even
if I were, Mac, I shouldn't care, after
seeing Mrs. Fisher's face when Fish-
er. told her his sisters would spend
the night in her little guest-room.
That wouldn’t have happened if we |
hadn’t had the party.” |
“And when I cpened the door to the !
‘coat closet, Mary, and’ discovered Bil-
ly Hall with his arms around the lit-
tle Spencer girl—"
“You did?” cried Mary. “What a
strange place for them to be!”
“I imagine it was the only spot not
occupied by someone else,” laughed
her husband. “I tried to vanish
' rel, muskrat,
| Symptoms:
Spencer was the color of the red, red
rose, my dear, but Billy was very
bold. He said, ‘Close the door, please.
We don’t require a light.’ ”
“That’s lovely,” said Mary. “Mac
dear, we must go up to bed. Take
down the baby’s stocking and—why,
look! There’s something in it! It’s
stuffed full!”
. “And heavy!” exclaimed McRitchie,
lifting it wonderingly. “And here’s
a card. Come here on my knee, Ma-
ry, and see what’s up. That's Mr.
Corey’s writing. It says”’—McRitchie
caught his breath—“it says, ‘A nest
egg for little Miss McRitchie, from
the derelicts and others to whom her
' parents have given a happy Christ-
mas.’ ”
Mac looked speechlessly at Mary as
he emptied the little stocking into her
lap. Quarters, dimes, gold pieces,
three bank notes, even Junior Taylor’s
precious Christmas pennies, were
among the hoard. Then Mac unwrap-
ped a scrap of paper, revealing anoth-
er gold piece and a penciled serawl.
Mr. McRitchie, I want to give this
to your baby. It’s the best I have.
Mr. Corey gave it to me today, but I
haven’t any use for it, truly. I never
had a family, and no one ever asked
me anywhere but you. I didn’t know
they was such things as Christmases
like this.
Your truly,
Yop Basil 3 THOMAS.
, dear!” stid Mar h .
“Oh, dear!” y chokngly
“For five cents,” said McRitchie
huskily. “I could weep. This is a real
nest egg, Mary. We'll add to it every
year, and when that sleepyhead is
ready to go to college—"
McRitchie stopped abruptly, and be-
came absorbed in the treasure on Ma-
ry’s lap.
“Mr. Corey must have given the
gold pieces,” he said slowly; “but
whoever gave those bank notes could
not afford it. I bet one was from
Miss Knowlton—but—we’ll never
know. Maybe that’s the beauty of it,
dear. And that pood kid, Thomas—
McRitchie’s glasses suddenly need-
ed wiping, and there came a silence
before Mary spoke.
“Well, dear,” she said, “I think it's
up to us to see that Thomas makes
something of his life. He sha’n’t
spend all his days taking people from
the first floor to the tenth of the Cor-
ey Building. We'll manage somehow
to give the boy his chance.
“Oh, Mac, what a dear world it is!
—so full of lovely opportunities to
lend a hand! When I look at that lit-
tle stocking and think what it meant
to some of them to be so generous,
I'm just ashamed. I—I wish I were
more like you, Mac. I’ve been so self-
ish. I wanted dreadfully to have the
day alone with you and baby. And
“You dear goose!” cried McRitchie
tenderly, “don’t you know that’s what
I wanted, too?”
And those words were all that Mary
needed to make her Christmas the
perfect day.—By Christine Whiting
Parmenter, in The American Maga-
Animals and Traps.
Of all the animals that fall victims
to the trap, the snare and other devic-
es of man, the fox, wolf and coyote
are the most alert and wary when it
comes to being cautious of approach-
ing anything set for their capture.
Bears, with all their shrewdness and
keen instincts of self-preservation are
nevertheless gullible and will blunder
into the waiting jaws of a trap or trip
‘a deadfall with no apparent misgiv-
ings of danger. Members of the cat
family are stupid and easily duped by
a tempting bait or titbit. The squir-
beaver, coon, skunk,
marten, and weasel take little or no
cognizance of the traps whose gaping
jaws await them in runways, trails,
slides and water-courses.
The lives of the hunted are beset
with numberless perils. Sharp-wit-
ted, keen-sighted and ever alert
though the wild creatures may be,
they are outmatched by the ingen-
ious and tricky devices of their cruel
human overlords.
Guard Your Horse Aganst Black-
Water! .
Guard your horse against black-
water, generally the result of over-
feeding when he stands idle on a
Sunday or holiday. See that he has
a good bran mash the night before.
Especially when two rest days come
together, cut down his grain mater-
ially and give him a little exercise if
only by walking him. Black-water,
so commonly fatal, comes from over-
feeding and too little exercise.
Attacks occur almost always soon
after the horse leaves the stable.
Sweating, knuckling at
fetlocks, either one or both, stagger-
ing of hind parts. Stop horse at
| once, unharness, blanket warmly, no-
‘tify owner and call ambulance.
not try to walk animal to nearby sta-
ble, and it is better for horse not to
lie down. If+he cannot keep his feet
put blanket under him.
Once is Sufficient.
A traveler tells how a pioneer once
settled an old discussion. One day
the teller of the story took refuge
with a pioneer in the mountains dur-
ing a thunderstorm. The two were
standing in the open door of the cab-
in, when suddenly the lightning
struck a tree near by. So terrific was
the bolt that the tree appeared to have
been dynamited.
That brought to the mind of the
narrator the old saying that lightning
never strikes twice in the same place.
He turned to the old fellow and asked:
“Why is it, Tom, that lightning
never strikes twice in the same
place?” :
“Well, it don’t need to!” was the re-
sponse. ;
The Efficient Lovers.
“I find that my husband has been
having the office boy call me up every
day and mumble words of endear-
“I wender you didn’t find it out
' sooner!”
“Well, you see I've had the cook
answer all calls from the office.” —
Cartoons Magazine. °