What Happened Christmas Eve
by Oliver Herfold
It was Christmas Eve and the frost fairies were busy getting ready for Christmas Day. First of all they spread the loveliest white snow carpet over the rough, bare ground; then they hung the bushes and trees with icicles that flashed like diamonds in the moonlight. Later on, they planned to draw beautiful frost pictures on the window panes, to surprise the little children in the morning.
The stars shone brightly and the moon sent floods of light in every nook and corner. How could any one think of sleeping when there was such a glory outside!
Jessie and Fred had gone to bed very early so they might be the first to shout “Merry Christmas!” but their eyes would not stay shut.
“Oh dear! It must be ‘most morning,” said Fred; “let us creep softly down stairs and maybe we’ll catch Santa Claus before he rides off.”
Hand in hand they tiptoed to the dining-room and peeped out the big window – surely, surely, that was something climbing up the roof of cousin Nellie’s house; it must be old Santa. Fred gave a chuckle of delight; to be sure the reindeer were very queer looking objects, and the sleigh such a funny shape, but the children were satisfied.
The old fir tree, whose high branches almost touched the roof, knew all about those shadows, but it was so old no one could ever understand a word of the many tales it told.
“There’s something scratching on the door,” whispered Jessie; but it was only a mouse, who had sniffed the delightful odors of the Christmas goodies and was trying his best to find a way into the pantry and test them with his sharp teeth.
“Come,” said Jessie, “we’ll turn to icicles if we stay here much, longer”; so up-stairs they quickly scampered.
Papa had been to town on an errand, so it was quite late when he came home. As he was hunting in his pockets for his key, he heard a pitiful cry, and looking down he saw a big, white cat carrying a tiny kitten in her mouth.
“Poor thing,” said papa, “you shall come inside till morning.”
Santa Claus had been there with the nicest wagon for Fred and a warm, seal-skin cap that lay right in the middle of it. When papa left the room, puss and her kitty were curled up comfortably on the rug singing their sleepy song.
The sun was shining brightly in the dining-room window when Jessie and Fred made their appearance; then Fred just laughed with delight, for right in the crown of his new cap lay the cutest white kitten, with big, blue eyes and wee pink nose, while standing close by as if to guard her darling from danger, was good old mother puss.
“I never had a live Christmas present before,” said Fred, “now I know Santa Claus read the letter I threw up the chimney because I told him to bring me a kitten and here it is.”
Papa smiled and looked at mamma, and then everybody said “Merry Christmas” at once.