“Tell us a story, nursie; please do”, begged two little golden-haired girls, as they snuggled on the soft rug before the fire. “Did you ever have just what you wished for at Christmas, when you were a little girl?”
“Yes, I did once. I was the oldest, and had two brothers and three little sisters. We did not have a beautiful home like this. We lived in a little cottage. It was pretty, though, in the summer time, when the roses and pinks were in bloom. My father was dead, and mother worked for the rich people around the village. There was plenty to do about holiday times.
“It was the day before Christmas. Mother was at the house of a very rich and kind lady. She was going to have a grand party in the evening.
“Mother told me, when she went away, to mind the children, and perhaps I might have a nice Christmas present. I knew we should have plenty of candy and cake, and other nice things, from Mrs. Reid’s. We often had pretty clothes, too, that Mamie and Robbie Reid had outgrown.
“I had been wishing for a muff; but I knew Mother could not afford to buy me one. It was hard enough even to get shoes for us all. I thought I should have to be satisfied with mittens.
“It was quite dark, and we all sat around the fire. I had rocked Tilly to sleep and put her to bed. Willie and Joe were playing cat’s-cradle. The rest of us were making believe we were rich and could have all we wanted for Christmas.
“All at once there was a heavy step on the porch, and a knock at the door. I opened it, with Margie and Amy clinging to my dress. A boy shoved a big box into the room and shouted, ‘A merry Christmas to you!’ He then ran out at the gate.
“The box had all our names on the cover, and the children were wild to see what was inside.
“‘Wait till mother comes,’ I said; and pretty soon we heard her at the gate, She seemed surprised, and said Santa Claus had remembered us early.
“Mother advised us to go to bed and wait until morning to see our presents. It was pretty hard; but we had some oranges and candy, and I put the boys to bed. Margie and I wondered and guessed what was in the box; but at last we fell asleep.
“You may be sure we were up early in the morning. There were dolls and toys for the little ones, with hoods and mittens, and for me a lovely squirrel muff, lined with blue, with a soft little boa for my neck. I was a happy girl that Christmas, I can tell you.
“And now, my dears, you must go to bed, or Santa Claus will not be able to find your stockings.”
“Oh! I hope I shall have what I want to-morrow!” said Gracie.
“And I, too,” echoed Helen. “And your story was very nice, nursie.”
“Good-night, and call us early in the morning.”