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EL PASO HERALD
Saturday, Dec. 17, 1910. $
By RENE MANSFIELD
E had seen them all leave
the office, rather earlier
than usual, Kinney, the
manager with his wife on
one arm and his small son
tugging Impatiently at the
Murdock laden with various
awkward packages from one of which,
through a hreak in the paper, a woolly! for the funeral of his parents
7ottiV aratTtTdf a trloofnl wnnllv fall ' I
young Simpson each pocket hulging
?rtth a neat box tied with gold cord,
and O'Connor, grinning broadly above
the big holly wreaths he had bought
Erom the cripple boy who had peddled
them through the building. O'Connor
had stopped at bis desk a moment
"See here, Barton, why can't you
come out to the house to dinner? Help
us fix up the tree for the kids the
Madame would be delighted "
He had cut him off almost sharply.
"It's srood of you. O'Connor. But I'm
dining out this evening, thank you."
"Well, so lone: then, old fellow. A
Merry Christmas to you!"
"Merry Christmas," be repeated
He had heard O'Connor's big voice
trumpet the same parting phrase to
the elevator boy, andthe boy's shrill,
excited response came to him through
the kmgJialL &&rs "
"Mer' Christmus, Mr, O'Connor.
Thank you, sir. Mer' Christmus to
you. Mer' Christmus!" t
Then he was quite alone in the of
fice. Indeed, there seemed 'to have
been a general early exodus from the
building, to swell the throngs of
eleventh-hour shoppers, or of those
hurrying homeward to holly-wreathed
gaiety. Only the rumble of the streets
far below reached him, which seemed
somehow to be pitched in a different
key than on other days, ahd the oc
casional faint echo of a "Merry Christ
mas," as the elevators passed up and
-Barton closed the office doors and a
window which had been -slightly open
and set iimself to posting the ledger.
This unnecessary labor finished he
sought diligently through the files for
an unimportant letter that had been
misplaced. Then he sharpened all the
pencils on bis desk to miraculous
points, and mechanically tore off the
top leaf of his calendar pad.
"December 25th." There it was
again. There was no getting away
from it, no matter what one did. All
day they had dinned it in his ears. To
morrow would be Christmas Day. All
That was when the rosecoloT ambi
tions of youth had seethed to the sur
face and he he'd left the farm. But
the braggart assurance of the city
paralyzedfhim. He was not stupid, but
he grew to underestimate himself be
cause others did.
In five years he returned to the farm
hoped to renew some of the barefoot!
irienusmps ox ms cxmanooa. jdut.
neither had the old friends the time to
pierce his shell of diffidence. So he
returned again to the bookkeeper's
desk in the city, a friendless man.
"December 25th." Barton crushed
the sheet in his hand, and threw it
into the waste basket. Then he put
on his overcoat and closed up the of
fice. He slipped an envelope con
taining a bill into the expectant hand
of the elevator boy.
"Thank you, Mr. Barton. I wish you
a Merry Christmas, sir," the boy
said formally, with no trace of the
easy camaradle witn wnicn be bad
Out on the street In the good-na-
1 tured, hurrying throngs Barton was
like a withered hip of weed borne along
on a riotous wave of joyousness. At
the -corner, where the crow was
3enie,,'the spire of a small Christmas
tree clutched in the arms of a big
Irishman grazed his face and cocked
bis hat at an absurd angle. For a
brief moment he had been drawn into
the eddying spirit of the street He
straightened bis hat and from habit
drew back his head between his
'TiOosen'up, ye ould grouch! It's
Christmas Ave! Ain't ye wisa to ut?"
remarked the Irishman, and strode on.
He paused at a brilliant shop win-
Vdow. A woman with a shawl oven her
head and a child stood near him.
"Oh, ma, don't I wisht 'at 01
Wiskers 'ud bring me a doll like that
there one!" cried the child.
Barton reached into his pocket and
turned to the woman shyly. "If-If." he
''Come, Maggie, we must be gettin
home," said the woman taking the
child's hand. And they passed on.
Barton took his usual seat- at
Henry's cafe at a table partially
screened from view by a couple of
dusty, artificial palms.
ed the waiter.
Yes-and turkey-and-and-say, John,
basket of flowers jon her arm. She
had been coming every night for a
long time. Barton had scarcely ever
looked at her although sometimes
when she sought out his table he
.bought a little bouquet from her, and
taking It home put it in his tooth
brush mug where it brightened up his
room a bit until the landlady dumped
It out Tonight there was sometning
about the woman that held his gaze.
Beneath her small, neat hat her brown
hair rimjled back to a tight knot at
the back of her head. And her face
was the face of a woman who would
sit up far into the night to dress a doll
or fill a stocking.
"Merry Christmas, Rose-Anna L"
"Merry Christmas, Hose-Anna!" Rose
Anna as the habitue's of Henry's called
her, responded quietly to the greet
ings. One maudlin celebrant asked
her to join him in a toast to Christmas
Day. She smiled wearily and passed
Barton wondered if she would seek
him out, behind the dusty palms. She
passed his table without stopping, and
he felt ojidly disappointed. Then It
may have been the dreary droop of
bis shoulders that she had noticed as
she went by him, that brought her
back. At any rate, she turned about
and came back to lay a little nosegay
on his table. '
Barton's hand sought his pocket .
"O, that's all right" he said hastily.
'This ain't no kind of a Christmas
Eve, is it? she added, her eyes sweep
ing the crowded room, and returning
to tne limp scraps or noiiy on tne tur
"It sure ain't," agreed Barton.
"I don't like to stick around here,"
the woman .went on, as though she
might simply be thinking aloud. "But
they ain't much to cheer a body in a
cold little hall bedroom. Ought to be
candles and firesides and children on
Christmas Eve, oughtn't they?" She
looked down into Barton's pale eyes.
"They sure ought," he said heartily.
"Ain't you got anything anything
the world would make a holiday a
holiday of family love and the thought
of friends. 'And now it was Christmas
Eve. Soon a million, tiny candles
would Ue twinkling on the glittering
boughs of fir and pine trees. Soon
small stockings would be hung from
mantle shelf and bed post, and small
persons tucked all unwillingly into
To Hiram Barton Christmas meant
none of these things. It meant a soli
tary dinner on Christmas Eve at
Henry's, a cafe not of thefirst order,
where he was in the habit of dining.
It meant walking slowly to his room
after dinner past bright-lighted homes
whose window wreaths seemed to grin
at him mockingly; it meant waking
on Christmas morning with only the
desire to get the day over. The post
man brought him no little gifts nor
letters. Perhaps the landlady set a
dish of fruit on his table. Perhaps she
Hiram 3arton had no friends. It
was not that he did not wish for
friends, it was that he did not know
how to become a friend and that no
one had ever had the patience to try
to win his friendship. He was born 'in
cased in diffidence like a turtle In a
shell. Ho had an unpleasant frighten
ed way of drawing back his head be-,
tween his lean, stooped shoulders, at;
any friendly advances, so that no xme
ever noticed the glint of shy yearning j
in his pale eyes. Only onc6 in his life j
.bad Hiram Barton asserted himself.
fix it up a little, will you some holly
"Yes, sir, I'll fix it up right for you,"
replied John, without enthusiasm.
Barton began almost to wish he had
accepted O'Connor's invitation. But
he knew that he would have been but
a miserable spectator at a happy home
festival. "Too, O'Connor's boisterous
efforts to put him at his ease troubled
Henry's was well filled. He hadn't
thought It possible that so many
should have no homes to dine in on
Christmas Eve. He scanned the faces
of the' men and women at the tables
about him. The men were for the
most part flushed of face and loud of
speech. Before them on the .tables
stood not only the bottles of cheap
wine served with the table d'hote, but
siphons and bottles of whiskey to cele
brate the occasion. Barton searched
the place for the face of a woman
whom he could imagine sitting up far
into the night to dress a doll or fill a
little stocking. There was not one
Barton smiled grimly when the
waiter brought In his turkey. At
either end of the thick, white platter
upon which rested thick, dark 'slices
of meat he had placed sparse little
sprigs of holly, quite berry-less and
with broken leaves.
"Thank you, John," said Bartan,
As he was eating his desert he saw
the nosegay woman come In with her
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"No, no, I have no family nor
friends." He admitted simply to this
kindly woman what had never passed
his lips before.
"Me, neither," she replied. "Got no
relations, and I ain't much of a hand
to make friends. Kinda lonesome,
times like this, ain'c it?" She was cov
ering over her basket carefully before
going out Into the frosty air.
It was then that all the loneliness of
Hiram Barton's life seethed to the sur
face, as once before his youthful am
bitions had done when he left the!
farm. All his longing3 for understand
ing, and a home and a mate had been
lashed Into an acute pain by the joys
of the season around him. Perhaps It
was the cheap wine that had made him
a little giddy perhaps it was the haze
of cigar smoke that softened the plain
features of Rose-Anna, but It seemed
to him that in her face was the fulfill
ment of these things.
'T wish," said Hiram Barton firmly,
"I wish that you would marry me jto
night 'Twouldn't be so lonely and
we could have a Christmas."
Rose-Anna fingered the covering of
her basket fr a minute. Then she
looked down into Barton's shy, anxious
"P'rhaps I might," she said simply.
The head waiter was ushering a
man to the only seat left unoccupied
in the cafe the one opposite Barton,
there behind the palms. Barton arose
and put his coat on hurriedly.
"Come," he said softly to Rose-Anna.
And together they went out into the
(festive street Together they sought
the office of the marriage license clerk.
They picked their way through the
throngs, speaking little to each other,
although occasionally Barton seized
the woman's arm as though he were
afraid she was a wraith. Luck was
with them. The clerk was at his desk,
working late at some statistics he was
preparing for the coming year. He
made out a license for Hiram Barton,
aged 42, not married before, and Anna
Hagan, aged 43, also unmarried.
As, later, they stood on the steps of
the home of the justice of the peace
before entering, Barton took from
Rose-Anna's basket that he still car
ried, the little nosegays that remained
and tied them Into one bouquet From
his pocket he took a bill and thrusting
it awkwardly Into the center of it
handed the bouquet to Anna.
"For-for the bride," he stammered.
"And-and you won't need the basket
any more, Anna," he added as he put
It down in the corner of the porch.
Rose-Anna had never dreamed that
such chivalry existed.
After they were married they set out
to buy a bit of Christmas cheer that
should brighten up Barton's plain
room. Gradually the constraint which
had seized them both gave way to a
delightful sense of companionship.
J Gradually the spirit of youth in them
was revivified to meet the spirit of
joy about them. Barton Insisted upon
buying a little Christmas tree and all
the glittering appurtenances thereto,
He hung holly wreaths on his arms,
and stuffed his pockets with candles
and nuts and little articles that Rose
Anna's eye had seemed to rest upon
"I'd like to be buying you a surprise
for to-morrow, Hiram," said Anna
timidly, "if you'll just go and leave ma
for a minute."
"And I've just been wondering how
I was going to get a surprise for you!"
cried Barton excitedly. So they sepa
rated with great formality, to meet
again soon in the great crowd of shop
pers with unconcealed delight that
their dream was not yet dissipated.
It was very late when they finished
the decoration of Barton's room. They
set up the Christmas tree on the table,
with its ink-spotted spread, between
the windows. They hung one wreath
across the corner of the tarnished
frame of the "Death of Lincoln." Anna
put her bridal bouquet In the wash
bowl in the hope that the wilted flow
ers might revive, and rearranged ths
furniture to her liking. The two sur
prise gifts they placed under the
boughs, of the little tree to await th
light of Christmas Day.
Barton glanced about the trans
formed room that was eloquent of
Christmas cheeriness. His wife's hat
hung on a hook beside his, her worn
coat was thrown over the chair where
he was wont to sit alone at night
"It's home, Anna," he said brokenly.
"Home, Hiram," she repeated thank
fully. A clock some where In th
house struck midnight "And a Merry
Christmas to you!"
"A Merry Christmas!" he echo
It)! oJlbwwSw m
Tickets on Sale Dee. 1 8 to 20, and 22 to 26,
Dec. 3 1 -Jan. 1 Inclusive
Final Limit for Return Jan. 5th
Christmas Holiday Rates to Southeastern Points,
Chicago and St. Louis
, On Sale Dec. 20th, 21st and 22nd. Limit Jan. 18th.
Train Service Between
El Paso and New Orleans
LEAVE EL PASO 8:00 P. M. AND 10:30 A. M.
Firstand Second Class Sleep ;ng, Dining and Library
. Observation Cars. Free Reclining Chair Cars
Oil Burning Locomotives
Through Standard Sleeping Car to Chicago
IU$ OIL BURNING PU
i I LOCWSOTTVrS j I
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J. E. Monroe, C. P. T. A.
City Ticket Office
St. Regis Hotel