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•THE SAN FRANCISCO CALL, SUNDAY, DECEMBER 18, 1910.— THE JUNIOR CALL
Santa Claus Twin JESSIE NILES BURNESS A. CHRISTMAS party in July, daugh ter, how eoulU that happen?" "That's Just what I said, mother, when Bess first spoke of it, and she said, 'Well, it's thl 3 way. You know my. birthday comes the day after Christmas. All the rest have birth days in the summer. May's is in May, of course, and both the boys' are in September. They always have birth day parties, and lots' of fun beforehand planning and preparing, but mine comes too soon after, the Great Birth day. One time I spoko of this when we were up hero at the farm for vaca tion, and Aunt Bess said "How would it do for us to have a party up here some day in July, if you like, and call it your birthday party?" and just then Uncle Warren came along and we asked him what he thought, and he didn't say, only began. sort of chanting— \V.«,k Oh, what ~n 'blessing 'twould 'a' been If .Santa had been born a | twin, ;. We'd had two CliiiKtmnsos a year. And p'raps one brudder'd settled here. ' "'.That gave us the Idea of making it. a. .Christmas party. . Uncle had found, the verse In an old magazine, and had set it- to music/, So we always sing it at my. party. ; 'That was three years .ago, and . we've had .one each year since, and you don't know what ! fun it is! 1 ,Y>, « • : "And it is, mother.' , I'll just begin at tiie beginning and tell you allabout it. You t remember you thought the country life, this vacation would help me to grow, strong and well, and when Aunt Bess asked me to comoout with' Bess and the , children, I didn't want to. go, but you coaxed, me. I was afraid -for Blu? wasn't my. really, truly Auntie, : ' and I never like to be away from you— b "t i;never had. such, a jolly ..time in" my life, and I shall never be afraid again.--- .Lonesome? V Why. from the' time^they, met usat the. train until I pt back- home I don't believe there has been asingle minute I havn't been \u25a0 doing isomethingl wanted to do and you couldn't get lonesome out. there if you tried. \u25a0 "For two weeks before the party we W itn e n« USy aS bees ma^ing gifts and planning, surprises, just as we do for Christmas, \ and Uncle- Warren would say .'mystery, mystery; who's got the ,mystery,Vbut'he was the worst of the lot. because we found out he had helped Bess Plan nearly everything t*»,iy i^ n , the da y came and we had £a«m d , lnin & room ready. I wish you could .have seen it. Bess set; a small tablefor the dolls. We used a big box for a platform to raise it as high as ° U S ?WI?? WI ? table> E ach doll hadachal \u25a0and their table had flowers and favors and candles and baskets of fruit and boxes of candies, and in the center Bess \ birthday cake with 14 candles. .Christmas , wreaths and greens were' everywhere and the- boys had found a lot of scarlet berries that grow on vines^, close to the ground—kinnikin nic. Rolph said the Indians called li ana we used U like holly with the cedar and spruce and fir. •" "Another table in another corner held the: gifts.: Packages of all sorts and shapes and sizes were on it. One of the rules is that each gift shall be the un aided work of each giver. Auntie says there s plenty of time Juring vacation and the worth of a gift is the love and thought we weave into it. You just wait mother, my love, till you see the won der box I have brought home. It will make you proud of me. I'm proud of myself. There are candle shades made of real pressed flowers between waxed paper, and when • the light shines through they look like fresh 'blooms. And there are two balsam pillows; they take quite a lot of time, and some pillows of rosoleaves— you know there are such loads and loads of roses there, always. Then there are quite a lot of the funniest hickory j nut and clothes pin dollies. They are fascinating to make, and soon as you get one done you want to do another. The hickory nut dolls we dressed \u25a0in corn husks, perfectly gorgeous raiment of different shades of brown. I callone of them my Creole queen. You will think I worked hard every minute when you see what I have done, all my own self, but I didn't. Aunt Bess says this life is too short and too full of pleasant things to do ever to keep at one till we are weary, and it seemed like she made us stop each time at the place in our work when we would be crazy to continue. Maybe that was what made us rush at it again so eagerly and gladly when the chance came. Sha never mild 'Stop!' Instead she would say, 'What Tittle girl wants to go with - me,' or 'Whose duty is,. it?' And, of course, it was always something, we wanted to do. I had a horseback ride j nearly every single day and they t»ught ' me how to hitch a horse to a buggy and — but that- isn't übout the party. "in my wonder box you will find toys unil baskets and rucks and ever so many thlDga made out of reeds. The way ,that happened, auntie said she would give her copy of "Little Women," that she has had since she, was a lit tle girl, to the one who would "con trive the most. unique things out of the reeds, and when you see how many I have you wiJ.l wonder I didn't .win, but Bess did. \u25a0;. Then ,; auntie , came around to eaich j of us, after giving Bess "Lit tje Women,' 1 : and. she said that con solation prizes were ' certainly due to each of us, so I .was to have "Under the Lilacs"^ and. Olive should have "Faith Gartriey's Girlhood," and each of the boys .'. had :..< some book off that' same shelf in -the -library: She said she wanted us to see what;. old fashioned stories were like, and she -hoped we would be good to : the books, because she had had them so long; that she gave them to us because she loved us so well" she wanted to share with us the .things she cared for Vmost. This happened, of : course, whil,e we were making ready for the party. "To get to back to the day Itself. The big " dining table, pulled out just as long as it could be, was set in the middle of the dining room, and in the center ; was the most beautiful little. fir tree, trimmed with the smallest candles we could get, and all the other things — tinsel and trinkets. There wasn't room on that table 'for any other decora tion^, because there were so many of us, 11 children and the grownups. And such a feast! They put everything on at once, old time fashion. "At each end there was a huge platter with a roast turkey, surrounded by little roast^ turkeys. They were really truly quail, that the boys had gone hunting for the day before. And there was baked ham, cold, an>4 roast veni son, hot, and vegetables and pies and cakes 'and cookies and pickles and jel lies, and, in fact, I don't believe I ever saw so much\to eat all in sight at one time In my life, but it seemed a kind of jolly way. Auntie said it was the country custom from the time turkey became the national bird, not of free dom but of fun. I wondered what we could do with all that would be left, but after dinner auntie and Bess whisked out a lot of boxes and paper napkins and set us all to packing \u2666part of the party" (she called it) for all the) neighbors, for another rule at this twin Christmas is. that you must think only of giving, not of getting. Of course you get, just the same, but auntie kept talking so much about the blessedness of giving that truly, mother, dear, I was sort of surprised when uncle handed me my first pack age, and then more and more of them. Just wait till you see! Theru'u the loveliest rug made from an Angora kid skin, and Bess knit me slippers that Baby May tails ' 'mitten shoes/ and Jlolph'made me a pen rack of some small deer horns, and oh — you just '"When everything was ready uncle had disappeared and Aunt Bess said,. 'I guess, he's gone ;. down to the barn; scamper after him and bring, him in.a hurry,' and we all rushed down to the barn, but he wasn't there, so we all rushed back and told her, and she said, 'Well, we'll not wait; come into; the dining room, he is sure to be along.' And she opened the door, and I wish you could have seen that dining room. Of course, sending us to the barn was just a trick, and while we were out they, had drawn: the shades and lit the candles' arid started the music box in jthe other room to playing 'Holy Night,' and by the table of gifts stood uncle in a white suit that glistened and sparkled like. frost. "He began to speak before we had caught our breath. He said he had been appointed a deputy for St. Nicho las,' and before distributing the pack ages he had a message for us from headquarters. . j Father Christmas much pleased at our invitation to visit us at' a leisure time and! regretted it would be.impossible to accept. He re garded the" occasion as a sort of re hearsal for the real Christmas play and was sure we would all be benefited and would play our parts much better for it. That it had given him pleasure to confer all necessary authority for directing the festivities to Uncle War ren, who he felt sure would prove a capable deputy. "Then uncle distributed the pack ages, and it was just like " Christmas eve, oh-ing, and ah-ing, and laughing, and then pretty soon we all sat down to dinner, and right in the midst of it came the adventure. A -knock came on the kitchen door, and Rolph went out and opened it. Then he came and called Uncle Warren. Uncle must have for gotten how funny his spangled suit would look to anybody that didn't know what was going on. The man sort of mumbled — I couldn't hear what he said — but uncle spoke up so hearty you couldn't help hearing: 'Of course! come right in! We're. glad to have you. We're at dinner now.' "Aunt Bess seemed to know, the first word uncle spoke, what would be needed, and had a place almost fixed by the time they reached the dining room door. "She said some welcoming word, but the man didn't seem to hear and began to get whiter and whiter, and finally sort of fell into a chair, Uncle thought he was fainting, but the man said, 'No, no, no/ no,' over and over, just like that, and he put his head on his arm and begun to cry. It was pretty awful for a minute, I tell you. - I never saw a grown man cry or sob before. "Then auntie said: 'It must .be seeing so many children. Have you, perhaps, lost one of your own ' •'The man lifted up hit* head, then he btoud up, looking just lighting mud,. but auntie said afterwards it was just a fight for self-control. "'Lost one! I've lost four! Oh, fool, fool, fool that I have been, but, God willing, I can 1 find them again." It wasn't. so much the sight of the chil dren,- but that ! table ,of dolls that knocked me silly. I've one little tad, that with. one rag doll kept. courage in us when we needed it pretty bad. She was just 3 ; at the time, and whatever, she overheard she would later on ex plain to "Minnie," iso we just* had to keep up a brave front, or hear her tell ing 'Nen papa scolded, and mamma kyed.' '.' 'The way I happen to be here is: shameful enough, but till this : minute I never thought about it that way. I couldn't gqt; work, and we were worse thah starving, fj I thought the little woman andtho babies could accept help ;'. and no shame to them, if I disappeared, and that their condition would become known through search for me, so I lit out without saying a word, but I mailed a. letter before, I left town, saylng s l'd gone to fln'd work and s*he needn't ex pect to hear from me till I found it. I've been j tramping over four months. I'd get an odd job here and there so I've not had to beg or go hungry. I've slept out under the stars (I like that part of it), and" harvest time is. coming' so maybe I can get something steady, but I'm not much account at anything but my; trade. I'm a stonemason, and strong enough, but farm work has; to be learned like any other trade, I.sup pose, before, a man is much good, and it seems like every time I touch a tool I break it, but I'm learning; at least, I've learned that I don't know much about it; that helps. But it doesn't look much like a steady job, with t a living in it for six, does it? The only one of my babies that knows much about Christmas is Vera. She is 8. At first we did pretty well, but then I got hurt by a fall, and since then, though I've worked hard when I could, we've never been out of debt, not once.' "He stopped with a sort of gasp, and even uncle and Aunt Bess looked kind of helpless, but Bnby May spoke up jutft then, 'We want you come-a-dlnner; here's your place; there's mince pie, and . pumpkin, pie.' That mndo everybody laugh, and uncle got the man into his place and served him, and everybody began talking at once. I guess there never was exactly such a Christinas party, but it ended beautifully. Uncle knew just the place for the man, and they hud It all planned before dinner was over to send for the family and everything. Then, as uncle rose from the table* he said, 'Oh, what a blessing — everybody sing,' and began beating time with v knife, and we nil joined in Hinging „ "Oh, what it blessing 'twould 'a' beeu If Saiiln hud been bum a twin. .We'd lu»d two (.'hrlstiinineis n year. And ii'iuji-. one brudder'd settled faere."