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A night with Santa Claus by Annie R. Annan
From The book of stories by Fanny E. Coe
Start of Story
Not very long ago, and not far from here, lived a little boy named
Robby Morgan. Now I must tell at once how Robby looked, else how will
you know him if you meet him in the street? Blue-eyed was Rob, and
fair-haired, and pug-nosed,--just the sweetest trifle, his mother
Well, the day before Christmas, Rob thought it would be a fine thing
to run down the High Street and see what was going on. After dinner
his mother put on his fur cap and bright scarf, and filled his pockets
with biscuits. She told him to be very polite to Santa Claus if he
should happen to meet him.
Off he trotted, merry as a cricket, with now a skip, and now a slide.
At every corner he held his breath, half expecting to run into Santa
himself. Nothing of the sort happened, however, and he soon found
himself before the gay windows of a toyshop.
There he saw a spring hobbyhorse, as large as a Shetland pony, all
saddled and bridled, too--lacking nothing but a rider. Rob pressed his
nose against the glass, and tried to imagine the feelings of a boy in
that saddle. He might have stood there all day, had not a ragged
little fellow pulled his coat. "Wouldn't you like that popgun?" he
"Catch me looking at popguns!" said Rob shortly. But when he saw how
tattered the boy's jacket was, he said more softly, "P'r'aps you'd
like a biscuit?"
"Only try me!" said the shrill little voice.
There was a queer lump in Rob's throat as he emptied one pocket of its
biscuits and thrust them into the dirty, eager hands. Then he marched
down the street without so much as glancing at that glorious steed
Brighter and brighter grew the windows, more and more full of toys. At
last our boy stood, with open eyes and mouth, before a great shop
lighted from top to bottom, for it was growing dark. Rob came near
taking off his cap and saying, "How do you do, sir?"
To whom? you ask. Why, to an image of Santa Claus, the size of life,
holding a Christmas tree hung with wonderful fruit.
Soon a happy thought struck Rob. "Surely this must be Santa Claus's
own store, where he comes to fill his basket with toys! What if I were
to hide there and wait for him?"
As I said, he was a brave little chap, and he walked straight into the
shop with the stream of big people. Everybody was busy. No one had
time to look at our mite of a Rob. He tried in vain to find a quiet
corner, till he caught sight of some winding stairs that led up to the
next storey. He crept up, scarcely daring to breathe.
What a fairyland! Toys everywhere! Oceans of toys! Nothing but toys!
Excepting one happy little boy! Think of fifty great rocking-horses in
a pile; of whole flocks of woolly sheep and curly dogs, with the real
bark in them; stacks of drums; regiments of soldiers armed to the
teeth; companies of firemen drawing their hose-carts; no end of
wheel-barrows and bicycles!
Rob screwed his knuckles into his eyes, as a gentle hint, that they
had better not play him any tricks, and then stared with might and
Suddenly Rob thought he heard a footstep on the stairs. Fearing to be
caught, he hid behind a go-cart. No one came, however, and as he felt
rather hungry, he took out the remaining biscuits and had a fine
Why didn't Santa Claus come?
Rob was really getting sleepy. He stretched out his tired legs, and,
turning one of the woolly sheep on its side, pillowed his curly head
upon it. It was so nice to lie there, looking up at the ceiling hung
with toys, and with the faint hum of voices in his ears. The blue
eyes grew more and more heavy. Rob was fast asleep.
Midnight! The bells rang loud and clear, as if they had great news to
tell the world. What noise is that besides the bells? And look, oh,
look! who is that striding up the room with a great basket on his
back? He has stolen his coat from a polar bear, and his cap, too, I
declare! His boots are of red leather and reach to his knees. His coat
and cap are trimmed with wreaths of holly, bright with scarlet
Good sir, let us see your face--why! that is the best part of him--so
round and so ruddy, such twinkling eyes, and such a merry look about
those dimples! But see his long white beard--can he be old?
Oh, very, very old! Over nineteen hundred years! Is that not a long
life, little ones? But he has a young heart--this dear old man,--and a
kind one. Can you guess his name? "Hurrah for Santa Claus!"
Right!--the very one.
He put his basket down near Robby, and with his back turned to him
shook the snow from his fur coat. Some of the flakes fell on Rob's
face and roused him from his sleep. Opening his eyes, he saw the white
figure, but did not stir nor cry out, lest the vision should vanish.
But bless his big heart! _he_ had no idea of vanishing till his
night's work was done. He took a large book from his pocket, opened at
the first page, and looked at it very closely.
"Tommy Turner" was written at the top, and just below was a little
map,--yes, there was Tommy's heart mapped out like a country. Part of
the land was marked _good_, part of it _bad_. Here and there were
little flags to point out places where battles had been fought during
the year. Some of them were black and some white; wherever a good
feeling had won the fight, there was a white one.
"Tommy Turner," said Santa Claus aloud,--"six white flags, three black
ones. That leaves only three presents for Tommy: but we must see what
can be done for him."
So he bustled among the toys, and soon had a ball, a horse, and a
Noah's ark tied up in a parcel, which he tossed into the basket.
Name after name was read off, some of them belonging to Rob's
playmates, and you may be sure that the little boy listened with his
heart in his mouth.
"Robby Morgan!" said Santa Claus.
In his excitement that small lad nearly upset the cart, but Santa did
not notice it.
"One, two, three, four, five, six, seven"--Rob's breath came very
He almost clapped his hands.
"One, two, three, _blacks_! Now I wonder what that little chap would
like--here's a drum, a box of tools, a knife, a menagerie. If he
hadn't played truant from school that day, and then told a fib about
it, I'd give him a rocking-horse."
Rob groaned in anguish of spirit.
"But, bless him! he's a fine little fellow, and perhaps he will do
better next year if I give him the horse."
That was too much for our boy. With a "hurrah" he jumped up and turned
a somersault right at Santa Claus's feet.
"Good gracious!" cried Santa, "what's this?"
"Come along, I'll show you the one," cried Rob.
Santa Claus allowed himself to be led off to the pile of horses. You
may believe that Rob's sharp eyes soon picked out the one with the
longest tail and thickest mane.
"Well, he beats all the boys that I ever saw! What shall I do with the
"O dear Santa Claus!" cried Robby, hugging the red boots, "do just
take me along with you; I'll stick tight when you slide down the
"Yes, no doubt you will stick tight--in the chimney, my little man."
"I mean to your back," said Rob, with a quiver in his voice.
Santa Claus can't bear to see little folks in trouble, so he took the
boy into his arms, and asked him where he wanted to go.
"To Tommy Turner's, and oh, you know that boy in the awful old jacket
that likes popguns," was the breathless reply.
Of course he knew him, for he knows every boy and girl in Christendom;
so a popgun was added to the medley of toys. Santa Claus then strapped
Rob and the basket on his back. He next crept through an open window
to a ladder he had placed there, down which he ran as nimbly as a
squirrel. The reindeer before the sledge were in a hurry to be off,
and tinkled their silver bells right merrily. An instant more, and
they were snugly tucked up in the white robes--an instant more, and
they were flying like the wind over the snow.
Ah! Tommy's home. Santa Claus sprang out, placed the light ladder
against the house, and before Rob could wink--a good fair wink--they
were on the roof making for the chimney. Whether it swallowed him, or
he swallowed it, is still a puzzle to Robby.
Tommy lay sleeping in his little bed and dreaming of a merry
Christmas. His rosy mouth was puckered into something between a
whistle and a smile. Rob longed to give him a friendly punch, but
Santa Claus shook his head. They filled his stocking and hurried
away, for empty little stockings the world over were waiting for that
On they sped again, never stopping until they came to a wretched
little hovel. A black pipe instead of a chimney was sticking through
Rob thought, "Now I guess he'll _have_ to give it up." But no, he
softly pushed the door open and stepped in.
On a ragged cot lay the urchin to whom Robby had given the biscuits.
One of them, half-eaten, was still clutched in his hand. Santa Claus
gently opened the other little fist and put the popgun into it.
"Give him my drum," whispered Rob, and Santa Claus, without a word,
placed it near the rumpled head.
How swiftly they flew under the bright stars! How sweetly rang the
When Santa Claus reined up at Robby's door, he found his little
comrade fast asleep. He laid him tenderly in his crib, and drew off a
stocking, which he filled with the smaller toys. The rocking-horse he
placed close to the crib, that Rob might mount him on Christmas
A kiss, and he was gone.
_P.S._ Rob's mother says it was all a dream, but he declares that
"it's true as true can be!" I prefer to take his word for it.