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´╗┐Title: Mr. Kris Kringle - A Christmas Tale
Author: Mitchell, S. Weir (Silas Weir), 1829-1914
Language: English
As this book started as an ASCII text book there are no pictures available.
Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

*** Start of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "Mr. Kris Kringle - A Christmas Tale" ***

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(This file was produced from images generously made


           [Illustration: A SILENT GROUP ABOUT THE HEARTH.]


                          MR. KRIS KRINGLE.

                                  A

                           Christmas Tale.



                                  BY

              S. WEIR MITCHELL, M. D., LL. D., HARVARD.



                          SEVENTH THOUSAND.



                            PHILADELPHIA:

                       GEORGE W. JACOBS & CO.,

                        103 South 15th Street,

                                1898.



                           COPYRIGHT, 1893,

                         BY S. WEIR MITCHELL.

       *       *       *       *       *

    The following little Christmas story was written, and is
    published for the benefit of the Home of the Merciful Saviour
    for Crippled Children, Philadelphia.

                                            S. WEIR MITCHELL.

       *       *       *       *       *



MR. KRIS KRINGLE.


It was Christmas Eve. The snow had clad the rolling hills in white, as
if in preparation for the sacred morrow. The winds, boisterous all day
long, at fall of night ceased to roar amidst the naked forest, and
now, the silent industry of the falling flakes made of pine and spruce
tall white tents. At last, as the darkness grew, a deepening stillness
came on hill and valley, and all nature seemed to wait expectant of
the coming of the Christmas time.

Above the broad river a long, gray stone house lay quiet; its vine and
roof heavy with the softly-falling snow, and showing no sign of light
or life except in a feeble, red glow through the Venetian blinds of
the many windows of one large room. Within, a huge fire of mighty logs
lit up with distinctness only the middle space, and fell with variable
illumination on a silent group about the hearth.

On one side a mother sat with her cheek upon her hand, her elbow on
the table, gazing steadily into the fire; on the other side were two
children, a girl and a boy; he on a cushion, she in a low chair. Some
half-felt sadness repressed for these little ones the usual gay
Christmas humor of the hopeful hour, commonly so full for them of
that anticipative joy to which life brings shadowy sadness as the
years run on.

Now and then the boy looked across the room, pleased when the leaping
flames sent flaring over floor and wall long shadows from the tall
brass andirons or claw-footed chair and table. Sometimes he glanced
shyly at the mother, but getting no answering smile kept silence. Once
or twice the girl whispered a word to him, as the logs fell and a
sheet of flame from the hickory and the quick-burning birch set free
the stored-up sunshine of many a summer day. A moment later, the girl
caught the boy's arm.

"Oh! hear the ice, Hugh," she cried, for mysterious noises came up
from the river and died away.

"Yes, it is the ice, dear," said the mother. "I like to hear it." As
she spoke she struck a match and lit two candles which stood on the
table beside her.

For a few minutes as she stood her gaze wandered along the walls over
the portraits of men and women once famous in Colonial days. The great
china bowls, set high for safety on top of the book-cases, tankards,
and tall candelabra troubled her with memories of more prosperous
times. Whatever emotions these relics of departed pride and joy
excited, they left neither on brow nor on cheek the unrelenting
signals of life's disasters. A glance distinctly tender and distinctly
proud made sweet her face for a moment as she turned to look upon the
children.

The little fellow on the cushion at her feet looked up.

"Mamma, we do want to know why Christmas comes only once a year?"

"Hush, dear, I cannot talk to you now; not to-night; not at all,
to-night."

"But was not Christ always born?" he persisted.

"Yes, yes," she replied. "But I cannot talk to you now. Be quiet a
little while. I have something to do," and so saying, she drew to her
side a basket of old letters.

The children remained silent, or made little signs to one another as
they watched the fire. Meanwhile the mother considered the papers, now
with a gleam of anger in her eyes, as she read, and now with a
momentary blur of tear-dimmed vision. Most of the letters she threw at
once on the fire. They writhed a moment like living creatures, and of
a sudden blazed out as if tormented into sudden confession of the
passions of years gone by; then they fell away to black unmemoried
things, curling crumpled in the heat.

The children saw them burn with simple interest in each new
conflagration. Something in the mother's ways quieted them, and they
became intuitively conscious of sadness in the hour and the task. At
last the boy grew uneasy at the long repose of tongue.

"O Alice! see the red sparks going about," he said, looking at the
wandering points of light in the blackening scrolls of shrivelled
paper.

"Nurse says those are people going to church," said his sister,
authoritatively.

Her mother looked up, smiling. "Ah, that is what they used to tell me
when I was little."

"They're fire-flies," said the boy, "like in a vewy dark night." Now
and then his r's troubled him a little, and conscious of his
difficulty, he spoke at times with oddly serious deliberation.

"You really must be quiet," said the mother. "Now, do keep still, or
you will have to go to bed," and so saying she turned anew to the
basket.

Presently the girl exclaimed, "Why do you burn the letters?" She had
some of her mother's persistency, and was not readily controlled. This
time the mother made no reply. A sharp spasm of pain went over her
features. Looking into the fire, as if altogether unconscious of the
quick spies at her side, she said aloud, "Oh! I can no more! Let them
wait. What a fool I was. What a fool!" and abruptly pushed the basket
aside.

The little fellow leaped up and cast his arms about her while his
long, yellow hair fell on her neck and shoulder. "O Mamma!" he cried,
"don't read any more. Let _me_ burn them. I hate them to hurt you."

She smiled on him through tears--rare things for her. "Every one must
bear his own troubles, Hugh. You couldn't help me. You couldn't know,
dear, what to burn."

"But I know," said the girl, decisively. "I know. I had a letter once;
but Hugh never had a letter. I wish Kris Kringle would take them away
this very, very night; and lessons, too, I do. What will he bring us
for Christmas, mamma? I know what. I want"--

"A Kris Kringle to take away troubles would suit me well, Alice; I
could hang up a big stocking."

"And I know what I want," said the boy. "Nurse says Kris has no money
this Christmas. I don't care." But the great blue eyes filled as he
spoke.

The mother rose. "There will be no presents this year, Hugh.
Only--only more love from me, from one another; and you must be brave
and help me, because you know this is not the worst of it. We are to
go away next week, and must live in the town. You see, dears, it can't
be helped."

"Yes," said Hugh, thoughtfully, "it can't be helped, Alice."

"I don't want to go," said the girl.

"Hush," said Hugh.

"And I do want a doll."

"I told you to be quiet, Alice," returned the mother, a rising note of
anger in her voice. In fact, she was close upon a burst of tears, but
the emotions are all near of kin and linked in mystery of
relationship. Pity and love for the moment became unreasoning wrath.
"You are disobedient," she continued.

"O mamma! we are vewy sorry," said the lad, who had been the less
offending culprit.

"Well, well. No matter. It is bed-time, children. Now to bed, and no
more nonsense. I can't have it, I can't bear it."

The children rose submissively, and, kissing her, were just leaving
the room, when she said: "Oh! but we must not lose our manners. You
forget."

The girl, pausing near the doorway, dropped a courtesy.

"That wasn't very well done, Alice. Ah! that was better."

The little fellow made a bow quite worthy of the days of minuet and
hoop, and then, running back, kissed the tall mother with a certain
passionate tenderness, saying, softly, "Now, don't you cry when we are
gone, dear, dear mamma," and then, in a whisper, "I will pway God not
to let you cwy," and so fled away, leaving her still perilously close
to tears. Very soon, up-stairs, the old nurse, troubled by the
children's disappointment, was assuring them with eager mendacity
that Kris would be certain to make his usual visit, while down-stairs
the mother walked slowly to and fro. She had that miserable gift, an
unfailing memory of anniversaries, and now, despite herself, the long
years rolled back upon her, so that under the sad power of their
recurrent memories she seemed a helpless prey.

[Illustration: AND OPENED THE CASE OF A MINIATURE, SLOWLY AND WITH
DELIBERATE CARE.]

While the children were yet too young to recognize their loss the
great calamity of her life had come. Then by degrees the wreck of her
fortune had gone to pieces, and now at last the home of her own
people, deeply mortgaged, was about to pass from her forever. Much
that was humbling had fallen to her in life, but nothing as sore as
this final disaster. At length she rose, took a lighted candle from
the table, and walked slowly around the great library room. The
sombre bindings of the books her childhood knew called back dim
recollections. The great china bowls, the tall silver tankards, the
shining sconces, and above, all the Stuart portraits or the Copleys of
the men who shone in Colonial days and helped to make a more than
imperial nation, each and all disturbed her as she gazed. At last, she
returned to the fireside, sat down and began anew her unfinished task.
With hasty hands she tumbled over the letters, and at length came upon
a package tied with a faded ribbon; one of those thin orange-colored
silk bands with which cigars are tied in bundles. She threw it aside
with a quick movement of disdain, and opened the case of a miniature,
slowly, and with deliberate care. A letter fell on to her lap as she
bent over the portrait of a young man. The day, the time, the need to
dispose of accumulated letters, had brought her to this which she
meant to be a final settlement of one of life's grim accounts. For
awhile, she steadily regarded the relics of happier hours. Then,
throwing herself back in her chair, she cried aloud, "How long I
hoped; how hopeless was my hope, and he said, he said, I was cruel and
hard. That I loved him no more. Oh! that was a lie! a bitter lie! But
a sot, a sot, and my children to grow up and see what I saw, and learn
to bear what I have borne. No! no! a thousand times no! I chose
between two duties, and I was right. I was the man of the two, and I
sent him away--forever. He said,--yes, I was right, but, my God! how
cruel is life! I would never have gone, never! never! There!" she
exclaimed, and threw back the miniature into the basket, closing it
with violence, as she did so, as one may shut an unpleasant book read
and done with.

For a moment, and with firmer face, she considered the letter, reading
scraps of it aloud, as if testing her resolution to make an end of it
all. "Hard, was I? Yes. Would I had been sooner hard. My children
would have been better off. 'I went because you bid me.' Yes I did.
Will he ever know what that cost me? 'I shall never come again until
you bid me come.' Not in this world then?" she cried. "O Hugh! Hugh!"
And in a passion of tears that told of a too great trial, still
resolute despite her partial defeat, she tore the letter and cast it
on the fire. "There!" she cried, "would to God I loved him less." And
then, with strange firmness, she took up a book, and sternly set
herself to comprehend what she read.

The hours went by and at last she rose wearily, put out one candle,
raked ashes over the embers, and taking the other light, went slowly
up to bed. She paused a moment at the nursery door where she heard
voices. "What! awake still?"

"We was only talking about Khwis," said the small boy. "We won't any
more, will we, Alice? She thinks he won't come, but I think he will
come because we are both so good all to-day."

"No, no, he will not come this Christmas, my darlings. Go to sleep. Go
to sleep," and with too full a heart she turned away.

But the usual tranquil slumber of childhood was not theirs. The
immense fact that they were soon to leave their home troubled the
imaginative little man. Then, too, a great wind began to sweep over
the hills and to shake the snow-laden pines. On its way, it carried
anew from the ice of the river wild sounds of disturbance and at last,
in the mid hours of night, an avalanche of snow slid from the roof.
Hugh sat up; he realized well enough what had happened. But presently
the quick ear of childhood was aware of other, and less familiar
sounds. Was it Kris Kringle? Oh! if he could only see him once! He
touched the sister asleep in her bed near by, and at last shook her
gently.

"What is it, Hugh?" she said.

"I hear Khwis. I know it is Khwis!"

"O Hugh! I hear too, but it might be a robber."

"No, nevah on Chwistmas Eve. It couldn't be a wobber. It is Khwis. I
mean to go and see. I hear him outside. You know, Alice, there is
nevah, nevah any wickedness on Chwistmas Eve."

"But if it is a robber he might take you away."

"Oh! wobbers steal girls, but they nevah, nevah steal boys, and you
needn't go."

"But are you sure? Oh! do listen," she added. Both heard the creaking
noise of footsteps in the dry snow.

[Illustration: "MR. KHWIS KWINGLE, ARE YOU THERE? OR IS YOU A
WOBBER?"]

"I will look--I must look," cried Hugh, slipping from his bed. In a
moment he had raised the sash and was looking out into the night.
The sounds he had heard ceased. He could see no one. "He has gone,
Alice." Then he cried, "Mr. Khwis Kwingle, are you there? or is you a
wobber?" As he spoke a cloaked man came from behind a great pine and
stood amid the thickly-fallen flakes.

"Why, that is Hugh," he said. "Hugh!"

"He does know my name," whispered the lad to the small counsellor now
at his side.

"And, of course, I am Kris Kringle. And I have a bag full of presents.
But come softly down and let me in, and don't make a noise or away I
go; and bring Alice."

The girl was still in doubt, but her desire for the promised gifts was
strong, and in the very blood of the boy was the spirit of daring
adventure. There was a moment of whispered indecision, resulting in
two bits of conclusive wisdom.

Said Alice, "If we go together, Hugh, and he takes one, the other can
squeal. Oh! very loud like a bear--a _big_ bear."

"And," said Hugh, "I will get my gweat gwandpapa's sword." And with
this he got upon a chair and by the failing light of the nursery fire
carefully took down from over the chimney the dress rapier which had
figured at peaceful levees of other days. "Now," he said, "if you are
afwaid I will go all alone myself."

"I am dreadfully afraid," said she, "but I will go, too." So she
hastily slipped on a little white wrapper and he his well-worn brown
velvet knickerbocker trousers. Neither had ever known a being they
had reason to fear, and so, with beating hearts, but brave enough,
they stole quietly out in their sweet innocence and hand in hand went
down the dark staircase, still hearing faint noises as they felt their
way. They crossed the great warm library and entered the hall, where,
with much effort, they unlocked the door and lifted the old-fashioned
bar which guarded it. The cold air swept in, and before them was a
tall man in a cloak half white with snow. He said at once, "Oh! Hugh!
Alice! Pleasant Christmas to you. Let us get in out of the cold; but
carefully--carefully, no sound!" As he spoke he shut the door behind
him. "Come," he said, and seeming to know the way, went before them
into the library.

"Oh! I'm so frightened," said Alice to Hugh in a whisper. "I wish I
was in bed."

Not so the boy. The man pushed away the ashes from the smouldering
logs, and took from the wood basket a quantity of birch bark and great
cones of the pine. As he cast them on the quick embers a fierce red
blaze went up, and the room was all alight. And now he turned quickly,
for Hugh, of a mind to settle the matter, was standing on guard
between him and the door to the stairway, which they had left open
when they came down. The man smiled as he saw the lad push his sister
back and come a step or two forward. He made a pretty picture in his
white shirt, brown knee-breeches, and little bare legs, the yellow
locks about his shoulders, the rapier in his hand, alert and quite
fearless.

[Illustration: HE MADE A PRETTY PICTURE--ALERT AND QUITE FEARLESS.]

"My sister thinks perhaps you are a wobber, sir; but I think you are
Mr. Khwis Kwingle."

"Yes, I am Kris Kringle to-night, and you see I know your
names--Alice, Hugh." His cloak fell from him, and he stood smiling, a
handsome Chris. "Do not be afraid. Be sure I love little children.
Come, let us talk a bit."

"It's all wite, Alice," said the boy. "I said he wasn't a wobber."

And they went hand in hand toward the fire, now a brilliant blaze. The
man leaned heavily upon a chair back, his lips moving, a great stir of
emotion shaking him as he gazed on the little ones. But he said again,
quickly:

"Yes, yes, I'm Kris Kringle," and then, with much amusement, "and what
do you mean to do with your sword, my little man?"

"It was to kill the wobber, sir; but you mustn't be afraid, because
you're not a wobber."

"And he really won't hurt you," added Alice.

"Good gracious!" exclaimed Kris, smiling, "you're a gallant little
gentleman. And you have been--are you always a good boy to--your
mother?"

"I has been a vewy good boy." Then his conscience entered a protest,
and he added: "for two whole days. I'll go and ask mamma to come and
tell you."

"No, no," said Kris. "It is only children can see me. Old folks
couldn't see me."

"My mother is vewy young."

"Oh! but not like a child; not like you."

"Please, sir, do let us see the presents," said Alice, much at her
ease. For now he pushed a great chair to the fire, and seated them
both in it, saying: "Ah! the poor little cold toes." Then he carefully
closed the door they had left open, and said, smiling as he sat down
opposite them: "I have come far--very far--to see you."

"Has you come far to-night?" said the little host, with rising
courage.

"No, not far to-night." Then he paused. "Is--is your mother--well?"

"Yes," said Hugh, "she is vewy well, and we are much obliged."

"May we soon see the presents?" said Alice. "They did say you would
not come to-night because we are poor now."

"And," added Hugh, "my pony is sold to a man, and his tail is vewy
long, and he loves sugar--the pony, I mean; and mamma says we must go
away and live in the town."

"Yes, yes," said Kris. "I know."

"He knows," said Hugh.

"Oh! they know everything in fairyland," said Alice.

"Was you evah in faywyland, sir?" asked Hugh.

"Yes."

"Where 'bouts is it, sir, and please how is it bounded on the north?
And what are the pwincipal wivers? We might look for it on the map."

"It is in the Black Hills."

"Oh! the Black Hills," said Alice. "I know."

"Yes, but you're not sleepy? Not a bit sleepy?"

"No, no."

"Then before the pretty things hop out of my bag let me tell you a
story," and he smiled at his desire to lengthen a delicious hour.

"I would like that."

"And I hope it won't be very, very long," said Alice, on more sordid
things intent.

"That's the way with girls, Mr. Kwingle; they can't wait."

"Ah, well, well. Once on a time there was a bad boy, and he was very
naughty, and no one loved him because he spent love like money till
it was all gone. When he found he had no more love given him, he went
away, and away, to a far country."

"Like the man in the Bible," said Hugh, promptly. "The--the--what's
his name, Alice?"

"The prodigal son," said Kris, "you mean--"

"Yes, sir. The pwodigal son."

"Yes, like the prodigal son."

"Well, at last he came to the Black Hills, and there he lived with
other rough men."

"But you did say he was a boy," said Alice, accurately critical.

"He was gwowed up, Alice. Don't you int--inter--"

"Interrupt, you goosey," said Alice.

"One Christmas Eve these men fell to talking of their homes, and made
up their minds to have a good dinner. But Hugh--"

"Oh!" exclaimed the lad, "Hugh!"

Mr. Chris nodded and continued. "But Hugh felt very weak because he
was just getting well of a fever, yet they persuaded him to come to
table with the rest. One man, a German, stood up and said, 'This is
the eve of Christmas. I will say our grace what we say at home.' One
man laughed, but the others were still. Then the German said,

    'Come, Lord Christ, and be our guest,
    Take with us what Thou hast blest.'

When Hugh heard the words the German said he began to think of home
and of many Christmas eves, and because he felt a strangeness in his
head, he said, 'I'm not well; I will go into the air.' As he moved, he
saw before him a man in the doorway. The face of the man was sad, and
his garment was white as snow. He said, 'Follow me.' But no others,
except Hugh, saw or heard. Now, when Hugh went outside, the man he had
seen was gone; but being still confused, Hugh went over the hard snow
and among trees, not knowing what he did; and at last after wandering
a long time he came to a steep hillside. Here he slipped and rolling
down fell over a high place. Down, down, down he fell, and he fell."

"Oh! make him stop," cried little Hugh.

"He fell on to a deep bed of soft snow and was not hurt, but soon got
up, and thought he was buried in a white tomb. But soon he
understood, and his head grew clearer, and he beat the snow away and
got out. Then, first he said a prayer, and that was the only prayer he
had said in a long time."

"Oh my!" cried little Hugh. "I did think people could nevah sleep
unless they say their prayers. That's what nurse says. Doesn't she,
Alice?"

And just here Kris had to wipe his eyes, but he took the little
fellow's hand in his and went on.

"Soon he found shelter under a cliff, where no snow was, and with his
flint and steel struck a light, and made with sticks and logs a big
fire. After this he felt warm and better all over and fell asleep.
When he woke up it was early morning, and looking about, he saw in
the rock little yellow streaks and small lumps, and then he knew he
had found a great mine of gold no man had ever seen before. By and by
he got out of the valley and found his companions, and in the spring
he went to his mine, which, because he had found it, was all his own,
and he got people to work there and dig out the gold. After that he
was no longer poor, but very, very rich."

"And was he good then?" said Hugh.

"And did he go home," said Alice, "and buy things?"

"Yes, he went. One day he went home and at night saw his house and
little children, and--but he will not stay, because there is no love
waiting in his house, and all the money in the world is no good unless
there is some love too. You see, dear, a house is just a house of
brick and mortar, but when it is full of love, then it is a home."

"I like that man," said Hugh. "Tell me more."

"But first," said Alice, "oh! we do want to see all our presents."

"Ah, well. That is all, I think; and the presents. Now for the
presents." Then he opened a bag and took out first a string of great
pearls, and said, as he hung them around Alice's neck, "There, these
the oysters made for you years ago under the deep blue sea. They are
for a wedding gift from Chris. They are too fine for a little maid. No
Queen has prettier pearls. But when you are married and some one you
love vexes you or is unkind, look at these pearls, and forgive, oh! a
hundred times over; twice, thrice, for every pearl, because Kris said
it. You won't understand now, but some day you will."

"Yes, sir," said Alice, puzzled, and playing with the pearls.

Said Hugh, "You said, Mr. Khwis, that the oysters make pearls. Why do
the oysters make pearls?"

"I will tell you," replied Kris. "If a bit of something rough or sharp
gets inside the oyster's house, and it can't be got rid of, the oyster
begins to make a pearl of it, and covers it over and over until the
rough, rude thing is one of these beautiful pearls."

"I see," said Hugh.

"That is a little fairy tale I made for myself; I often make stories
for myself."

"That must be very nice, Mr. Khwis. How nice it must be for your
little children every night when you tell them stories."

"Yes--yes"--and here Kris had to wipe his eyes with his handkerchief.

"Isn't that a doll?" said Alice, looking at the bag.

"Yes; a doll from Japan."

"Oh!" exclaimed Alice.

"And boxes of sugar-plums for Christmas," he added. "And, Hugh, here
are skates for you and this bundle of books."

"Thank you, sir."

"And these--and these for my--for Alice," and Kris drew forth a
half-dozen delicate Eastern scarves and cast them, laughing, around
the girl's neck as she stood delighted.

"And now I want to trust you. This is for--for your mother; only an
envelope from Kris to her. Inside is a fairy paper, and whenever she
pleases it will turn to gold--oh! much gold, and she will be able then
to keep her old home and you need never go away, and the pony will
stay."

"Oh! that will be nice. We do sank you, sir; don't we, Alice?"

"Yes. But now I must go. Kiss me. You _will_ kiss me?" He seemed to
doubt it.

"Oh! yes," they cried, and cast their little arms about him while he
held them in a long embrace, loath to let them go.

"O Alice!" said Hugh, "Mr. Khwis is cwying. What's the matter, Mr.
Khwis?"

"Nothing," he said. "Once I had two little children, and you see you
look like them, and--and I have not seen them this long while."

Alice silently reflected on the amount of presents which Kris's
children must have, but Hugh said:

"We are bofe wewy sorry for you, Mr. Khwis."

"Thank you," he returned, "I shall remember that, and now be still a
little, I must write to your mother, and you must give her my letter
after she has my present."

"Yes," said Alice, "we will."

Then Kris lit a candle and took paper and pen from the table, and as
they sat quietly waiting, full of the marvel of this famous adventure,
he wrote busily, now and then pausing to smile on them, until he
closed and gave the letter to the boy.

"Be careful of these things," he said, "for now I must go."

"And will you nevah, nevah come back?"

"My God!" cried the man. "Never--perhaps never. Don't forget me,
Alice, Hugh." And this time he kissed them again and went by and
opened the door to the stairway.

"We thank you ever so much," said Hugh, and standing aside he waited
for Alice to pass, having in his child-like ways something of the
grave courtesy of the ancestors who looked down on him from the walls.
Alice courtesied and the small cavalier, still with the old rapier in
hand, bowed low. Kris stood at the door and listened to the patter of
little feet upon the stair; then he closed it with noiseless care. In
a few minutes he had put out the candles, resumed his cloak, and left
the house. The snow no longer fell. The waning night was clearer, and
to eastward a faint rosy gleam foretold the coming of the sun of
Christmas. Kris glanced up at the long-windowed house and turning went
slowly down the garden path.

Long before their usual hour of rising, the children burst into the
mother's room. "You monkeys," she cried, smiling; "Merry Christmas to
you! What is the matter?"

"Oh! he was here! he did come!" cried Alice.

"Khwis was here," said Hugh. "I did hear him in the night, and I told
Alice it was Khwis, and she said it was a wobber, and I said it
wasn't a wobber. And we went to see, and it was a man. It was Khwis.
He did say so."

"What! a man at night in the house! Are you crazy, children?"

"And Hugh took grandpapa's sword, and--"

"Gweat-gwanpapa's," said Hugh, with strict accuracy.

"You brave boy!" cried the woman, proudly. "And he stole nothing, and,
oh! what a silly tale."

"But it _was_ Khwis, mamma. He did give us things. I do tell you it
was Khwis Kwingle."

"Oh! he gave us things for you, and for me, and for Hugh, and he gave
me this," cried Alice, who had kept her hand behind her, and now threw
the royal pearls on the bed amid a glory of Eastern scarves.

"Are we all bewitched?" cried the mother.

"Oh! and skates, and sugar-plums, and books, and a doll, and this for
you. Oh! Khwis didn't forget nobody, mamma."

The mother seized and hastily opened the blank envelope which the boy
gave her.

"What! what!" she cried, as she stared at the inclosure; "is this a
jest?"

UNION TRUST CO., NEW YORK.

     MADAME:--We have the honor to hold at your disposal the
     following registered United States bonds, in all amounting
     to ----.

The sum was a great fortune. The Trust Company was known to her, even
its president's signature.

"What's the matter, mamma," cried Alice, amazed at the unusual look
the calm mother's face wore as she arose from the bed, while the
great pearls tumbled over and lay on the sunlit floor, and the fairy
letter fell unheeded. Her thoughts were away in the desert of her past
life.

"And here, I forgot," said Hugh, "Mr. Khwis did write you a letter."

"Quick," she cried. "Give it to me." She opened it with fierce
eagerness. Then she said, "Go away, leave me alone. Yes, yes, I will
talk to you by and by. Go now." And she drove the astonished children
from the room and sat down with her letter.

     "DEAR ALICE:--Shall I say wife? I promised to come no more
     until you asked me to come. I can stand it no longer. I came
     only meaning to see the dear home, and to send you and my
     dear children a remembrance, but I--You know the rest. If in
     those dark days the mother care and fear instinctively set
     aside what little love was left for me I do not now wonder.
     Was it well, or ill, what you did when you bid me go? In
     God's time I have learned to think it well. That hour is to
     me now like a blurred dream. To-day I can bless the anger
     and the sense of duty to our children which drove me
     forth--too debased a thing to realize my loss. I have won
     again my self-control, thank God! am a man once more. You
     have, have always had, my love. You have to-day again a
     dozen times the fortune I meanly squandered. I shall never
     touch it; it is yours and your children's. And now, Alice,
     is all love dead for me? And is it Yes or No? And shall I
     be always to my little ones Kris, and to-night a mysterious
     memory, or shall I be once more

                                                   YOUR HUGH?

"A letter to the bank will find me."

As she read, the quick tears came aflood. She turned to her desk and
wrote in tremulous haste, "Come, come at once," and ringing for the
maid, sent it off to the address he gave. The next morning she dressed
with unusual care. At the sound of the whistle of the train she went
down to the door. Presently, a strong, erect, eager man came swiftly
up the pathway. She was in his arms a minute after, little Hugh
exclaiming, "O Alice! Mr. Khwis is kissing mamma!"

       *       *       *       *       *





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