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   Chapter 17 No.17

Santa Claus's Partner By Thomas Nelson Page Characters: 3932

Updated: 2017-11-30 00:05

When Livingstone walked into Mrs. Wright's drawing-room that evening he had never had such a greeting, and he had never been in such spirits. His own Christmas dinner had been the success of his life. He could still see those happy faces about his board, and hear those joyous voices echoing through his house.

The day seemed to have been one long dream of delight. From the moment when he had turned to go after the little child to ask her to show him the way to help others, he had walked in a new land; lived in a new world; breathed a new air; been warmed by a new sun.

Wright himself met him with a cordiality so new to Livingstone and yet so natural and unforced that Livingstone wondered whether he could have been living in a dream all these years or whether he was in a dream to-night.

Among the guests he suddenly came on one who made him think to-night must be the dream.

Mrs. Wright, with glowing eyes, presented him to a lady dressed in black, as "an old friend, she believed:" a fair, sweet-looking woman with soft eyes and a calm mouth.

The name Mrs. Wright mentioned was "Mrs. Shepherd," but as Livingstone looked the face was that of Catherine Trelane.

The evening was a fitting ending to a happy day-the first Livingstone had had in many a year. Even Mrs. Shepherd's failure to give him the opportunity he sought to talk with her could not wholly mar it.

Later, Livingstone heard Mrs. Wright begin to tell some one of his act of the night before, in buying up a toy-shop for the children at the hospital.

"I always believed in him," she asserted warmly.

Livingstone caught his name and, turning to Mrs. Wright, with some embarrassment and much warmth, declared that she was mistaken, that he had not done it.

Mrs. Wright laughed incredulously.

"I suspected it this morning when I first heard of it; but now I have the indisputable proof."

She held up a note.

"'I think I've heard of you before,'" she laughed,

with a capital imitation of Mr. Brown's manner.

"I still deny it," insisted Livingstone, blushing, and as Mrs. Wright still affirmed her belief, he told her the story of Santa Claus's partner.

Insensibly, as he told it, the other voices hushed down.

He told it well; for his heart was full of the little girl who had led him from the frozen land back to the land of light.

As he ended, from another room somewhere up-stairs, came a child's clear voice singing,

God west you, mer-wy gentle-men,

Let nossing you dismay;

For Jesus Chwist our Sa-wiour

Was born this ve-wy day.

Livingstone looked at Mrs. Shepherd.

She was standing under the long evergreen festoons just where they met and formed a sort of verdant archway. Two of the children of the house, attracted by Livingstone's story, had come and pressed against her as they listened with interested faces, and she had put her arms about them and drawn their curly heads close to her side. A spray of holly with scarlet berries was at her throat and one of the children had mischievously stuck a sprig of mistletoe in her hair. Her face was turned aside, her eyes were downcast, the long, dark lashes drooping against her cheek, and on her face rested a divine compassion; and as Livingstone gazed on her he saw the same gracious figure and fine profile that he had seen the night before outlined against the light in the archway of the gate of the Children's Hospital. It was the reflective face of one who has felt; but when she raised her eyes they were the eyes of Catherine Trelane. And suddenly, as Livingstone looked into them, they had softened, and she seemed to be standing, as she had stood so long ago, in the Christmas evening light in a long avenue under swaying boughs, in the heart of the land of his youth.

While still, somewhere above, the child's voice carolled,

-Let nossing you dismay;

For Jesus Christ our Sa-wiour

Was born this ve-wy day.


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