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ChrisImasEve (®, 192S, Western Newspaper Union.) , RETENDER ’POSSUM was S not liked In his own nelgh in borhood. He was not so \L clal, and more than that, was not honest. When not working for his own ends, he was usually asleep; and ~/lW when awake and working In his usual manner, the ends were more than likely to be among the neighbors’ possessions. This was Pretender’s peculiar Strength. No matter what was suspect ed of him, nothing could be proved. Be was always loud In his own lnno^ cence, so much so that many of those most Injured were half-persuaded there was a mistake somewhere. Pre tender could open his eyes with the Innocence of a baby, and half-close them with the cunning of a—’possum. Pretender’s strong point—or weak ness, as may seem best—next to his cunning, was his appetite; and this In many ways, through stress of circum stances or greed, had become warped even beyond the ordinary flexibility of •possum nature. Persimmons were his height of all that was delectable in life, and yet there were times when birds’ eggs and hidden stores of nuts or fruit, obtained fraudulently by cun ning, tasted better to him than ’sim mons that were plentiful and to be had for the taking. And then, of course, during much of the year, ’simmons could not be had-at all, when trickery seemed wholly preferable to hard worb as a means of livelihood. There was scarcely a creature of the ground or air who had not suffered at one time or another from Pretender’s marauding tendencies; but, though all of them were convinced of the fact, not one could point a positive finger and say, “You are the thief.” Toward Christmas the depredations became worse than ever, until exas -w»ration had almost reached the limits or endurance. At last it was cum Gray of the Squirrels who took the matter In hand, determined at all hae ! ards to hUnself to bring the thief to , Justice. There was only one persimmon tree in the neighborhood that bore; but this was very large, and every year Its limbs bent under the enormous weight of fruit they carried—enough for Pre tender and all the other creatures around who liked ’slmmons. The next tree was four miles back In the moun The Depredations Became Worse Than • Ever. tains, In a desolate little gulch. Pre tender had been there only once In his life, and he always shuddered at the remembrance, the place had seemed so uncanny and lonely. In the fall, In accordance with his nature, he made a conspicuous affecta tion of remaining in the ’slmmon tree all the time, eating or sleeping. It was as though he would say, “Behold, I am Innocent of everything that takes place away from this tree, for I never leave it.’’ And yet there was not a night that some small creature did not find Itself despoiled of carefully-hoarded treasures It had stored away. It Was a year of extreme scarcity, too, which made the depredations dou bly hard. There was a generous living In the ’slmmon tree for Pretender, it he had been content to remain there; but no, that was not his nature, so long as other creatures had stores they cared for within reach of his stealthy paws. The squirrels did not like ’sim mons, and yet there was scarcely a branch of the family whose hoards had not been rifled. And so with the owls and moles and some of the birds. It did not matter so much about the crows and robins and jays, for they liked ’slmmons and could easily snatch them from the tins of branch^ * yona reacn or g vicious claws. The turth bblts and i groundhogs were of 'slm mons, but they could not climb the tree, and had to depend on occasional ones the wind brought down—though even these were usually snatched from before their eager eyes by the mali cious paw of Pretender. Chief Gray went first to Robin Good fellow, whose nest had been rifled of eggs in the spring. Goodfellow’s ad vice was always' sound. Then both went to the oak trees of the neighbor hood, and gave a message t,o their re maining crinkled leaves, which were to scatter to all points of the world. The message was: “To all creatures of the earth and air, In defense of our homes and property, meet the day before Christmas at noon at the Confer ence Oak to mature plans for the punisnment or our great enemy, Pretender ’Possum.” The next day Pretender was lying half-asleep upon a limb of the persim mon tree, full to repletion with fruit and things stolen the night before. He was too drowsy to notice an unusual whirring through the air and skurrying and crawling over the ground, all in the direction of the Conference Oak. It was not until an hour or so later, as he lay with half-closed eyes bent down ward, that he became aware of some thing out of the ordinary. Many tur- ' ties were crawling rapidly toward his tree, and his eyes opened curiously. And there were hundreds of rabbits and groundhogs. He despised all of these creatures, but he rose quickly upon his limb, his eyes wide with as tonishment. He had never seen so j many of either together before. What i did It mean? Then came a wild skurrying up the tree trunk, and myriads of squirrels, | It seemed, gray and red and striped, flashed past and around him to the 1 smaller limbs. He tried to reach some of them with vicious claws and teeth; , but they were too far away, upon the slender branches, and he dared not go out there with his weight. But he could not understand. He had never seen a squirrel in a persim mon tree before. They did not care for the fruit, and yet here tliev were _ Of bad books we can never read' too little—of the good, never too much. • ! -, r ' '. 1 < (©, 1923, Western Newspaper Union.) LD Solomon Way lived In a shack at the foot of the mountain. He was a queer, solitary man who seldom ap peared In the village. Now and then he drove In for supplies: these he bought with as little conversation as possible. No one knew his history, and it is to be .feared that few j gave a thought ‘ to him, beyond idle curiosity which stirred mildly upon 1 these occasional visits of his, and then died before satisfied. Two days before Christmas there was a meeting at the minister’s to j discuss arrangements for a community . tree. Most of the village was present, j particularly the young people. This . was their special Interest and they mm—■■ -_ ^■Kd trim It? Who would arrange tBfe electric bulbs and see about the battery? Old Solomon listened Intently. Per haps the rest of the people forgot he wus there. In any case, there was a little gasp of surprise when the tall, white-haired man arose, and, looking about shyly, said he would like to say a few words. The minister spoke a few courteous sentences to make Old Solomon feel at ease, and then sat down. “I ain’t never been down to one o’ your meetln’s before," began the woodsman, “but I reckoned I couldn’t miss this one. I’ve seen your pretty Christmas trees now for two or three year, and It kinder seemed as though I wanted to say somethin’." His voice was deep and gentle, with a slow patience that gave It, and the words he said, a sort of weight and richness. The young people listened in puzzled silence, but it was to be noted that not ft whisper disturbed the assembly. ‘‘Mebbe you won't like what I got to say,” continued Old Solomon, "but I feel like I must speak. I see and know a lot of things, up there In my cabin, that the rest of you don’t have time to notice. And I’d feel pretty mean if I did not put In an oar for some friends of mine who can't say a word for themselves." He paused, looked around the room, ami then continued. “We human bein’s are pretty apt to think we’re mighty Important: we gc about takin’ for granted that this hull universe was made purpose for us, and everything in It. But when you’rt alone ns much as I be, ’specially cold, windy, winter nights, you can’t help thlnkin’ about all the little critters outdoors. And in the mornin’ there are their tracks all about the house They don’t ask nothin’ of us, All they want Is a chance to hunt for food and some sheltered hole to sleep In. An the birds! Even the pesky sparrows No matter what the weather is, they’re, flutterin’ around chipper as anything : No complaints, no discouragement, ne : fuss; and if there’s a warm corner oi ! a bit of sunshine, they manage to try a few notes of slngln’. They’re ar j everlastin’ example to us grumblers And I was thlnkin’ ”—Solomon looked keenly into the faces of his listeners— “If this year we couldn’t have a com munlty tree, as you call it, not for our selves but for the birds, and any smal' critters that would venture near It" contrived to get a great deal of fun out of planning and talking about th« tree. j Just as the meeting was called to order, the front doorbell jangled and the minister excused himself to an swer It. In a few moments he reap peared, and walking nt his side was Old Solomon Way. He was a giant a fellow, a trifle stooped about the shoulders, but carrying a certain dig nity that hushed the clatter of the lively young people. The minister made no comment, but, seating Old Solomon In a comfortable chair, opened the meeting. The usual discussion followed. Who would go for the tree? Who would set it uu in the vMJnge green? Who AMERICAN PICKLE & CANNING COMPANY WIGGINS, MISSISSIPPI • ! AT THIS SEASON OF THE YEAR WHEN MAN’S THOUGHTS NATURALLY TURN TO THE BEAUTY AND SUBLIMITY OF THE HOLY SEASON, WE WISH TO THANK OUR FRIENDS AND CUSTOMERS WHO HAVE CO-OPERATED WITH US IN ASSIST ING TO BUILD OUR IMMENSE BUSINESS, WHICH WE SINCERELY BELIEVE TO BE OF INESTIMABLE VALUE TO EVERY PERSON IN THIS TERRITORY. \ \ ######## With the passing of the Yuletide season comes practical plans for A NEW YEAR ******** ******** WHETHER YOU ARE A FARMER OR A BUSINESS MAN, WE INVITE AN INVESTIGATION OF OUR 1924 PROPOSITION TO PICKLE GROWERS. i i We Shall Be Pleased To Furnish Facts and Figures PHONE NO. 42. __ ' .\ t r, , ,cu» •»*- 4 ••# they were too surprised. The ministei arose and said the meeting was opet to discussion. Finally a girl in the back of th< room popped up and asked how the thing could be managed. Old Solotnoi was ready with his plans. C1RISTMAS—th. same old Ckrismu— That lives in the minds of men; The same old round of buying, Then buying and buying again. The same old tinselled playthings; The same old star on the tree; The same old worn out shoppers. And the same old childish glee! Christmas—the same old Christmas, The faces wan and white. That peer into gay decked Windows, And shivei—on Christmas night! Christmas—the same old Christmas, The time of the Christ Child’s birth; When the angels sang of heaven, And peace to the strife torn earth! Thank God for the Christmas spirit. Thank God for the cheery light That streams from the cottage windows When the Christ Child walks that night! CLARA S. McCULLEY in Kansas City Star REASON FOR CHRISTMAS The observance of December 25 as the anniversary of our Savior’s birth has been maintained long enough to create a presumption in the belief that it is an original institution of Christen dom. Nevertheless, the oldest authority for the observance of that day as the birthday of Christ belongs to an epoch separated by a distance of three cen turies from the original event, and the festival itself was celebrated on De cember 25 in the West before it was assigned to that day in the East. It is certain that in A. D. 336, December 25 was observed in Rome as the Festival of the Nativity of Christ. The au thority for this statement is a Festal calendar drawn up by the local church at Rome In that year. Early In the Third century—i. e., about 130 years before the compilation of this festal calendar—Hippolytus, Bishop of Portus, had assigned Wednesday, De cember 25, in the forty-second year of the reign of Augustus, as the date of our Lord’s birth.