CHRISTMAS IN THE BARN





Only two more days and Christmas would be here! It had been snowing

hard, and Johnny was standing at the window, looking at the soft, white

snow which covered the ground half a foot deep. Presently he heard the

noise of wheels coming up the road, and a wagon turned in at the gate

and came past the window. Johnny was very curious to know what the

wagon could be bringing. He pressed his little nose close to the cold

window pane, and to his great surprise, saw two large Christmas-trees.

Johnny wondered why there were TWO trees, and turned quickly to run and

tell mamma all about it; but then remembered that mamma was not at

home. She had gone to the city to buy some Christmas presents and would

not return until quite late. Johnny began to feel that his toes and

fingers had grown quite cold from standing at the window so long; so he

drew his own little chair up to the cheerful grate fire and sat there

quietly thinking. Pussy, who had been curled up like a little bundle of

wool, in the very warmest corner, jumped up, and, going to Johnny,

rubbed her head against his knee to attract his attention. He patted

her gently and began to talk to her about what was in his thoughts.



He had been puzzling over the TWO trees which had come, and at last had

made up his mind about them. "I know now, Pussy," said he, "why there

are two trees. This morning when I kissed Papa good-bye at the gate he

said he was going to buy one for me, and mamma, who was busy in the

house, did not hear him say so; and I am sure she must have bought the

other. But what shall we do with two Christmas-trees?"



Pussy jumped into his lap and purred and purred. A plan suddenly

flashed into Johnny's mind. "Would you like to have one, Pussy?" Pussy

purred more loudly, and it seemed almost as though she had said yes.



"Oh! I will, I will! if mamma will let me. I'll have a Christmas-tree

out in the bam for you, Pussy, and for all the pets; and then you'll

all be as happy as I shall be with my tree in the parlour."



By this time it had grown quite late. There was a ring at the

door-bell; and quick as a flash Johnny ran, with happy, smiling face,

to meet papa and mamma and gave them each a loving kiss. During the

evening he told them all that he had done that day and also about the

two big trees which the man had brought. It was just as Johnny had

thought. Papa and mamma had each bought one, and as it was so near

Christmas they thought they would not send either of them back. Johnny

was very glad of this, and told them of the happy plan he had made and

asked if he might have the extra tree. Papa and mamma smiled a little

as Johnny explained his plan but they said he might have the tree, and

Johnny went to bed feeling very happy.



That night his papa fastened the tree into a block of wood so that it

would stand firmly and then set it in the middle of the barn floor. The

next day when Johnny had finished his lessons he went to the kitchen,

and asked Annie, the cook, if she would save the bones and potato

parings and all other leavings from the day's meals and give them to

him the following morning. He also begged her to give him several

cupfuls of salt and cornmeal, which she did, putting them in paper bags

for him. Then she gave him the dishes he asked for--a few chipped ones

not good enough to be used at table--and an old wooden bowl. Annie

wanted to know what Johnny intended to do with all these things, but he

only said: "Wait until to-morrow, then you shall see." He gathered up

all the things which the cook had given him and carried them to the

barn, placing them on a shelf in one corner, where he was sure no one

would touch them and where they would be all ready for him to use the

next morning.



Christmas morning came, and, as soon as he could, Johnny hurried out to

the barn, where stood the Christmas-tree which he was going to trim for

all his pets. The first thing he did was to get a paper bag of oats;

this he tied to one of the branches of the tree, for Brownie the mare.

Then he made up several bundles of hay and tied these on the other side

of the tree, not quite so high up, where White Face, the cow, could

reach them; and on the lowest branches some more hay for Spotty, the

calf.



Next Johnny hurried to the kitchen to get the things Annie had promised

to save for him. She had plenty to give. With his arms and hands full

he went back to the barn. He found three "lovely" bones with plenty of

meat on them; these he tied together to another branch of the tree, for

Rover, his big black dog. Under the tree he placed the big wooden bowl,

and filled it well with potato parings, rice, and meat, left from

yesterday's dinner; this was the "full and tempting trough" for

Piggywig. Near this he placed a bowl of milk for Pussy, on one plate

the salt for the pet lamb, and on another the cornmeal for the dear

little chickens. On the top of the tree he tied a basket of nuts; these

were for his pet squirrel; and I had almost forgotten to tell you of

the bunch of carrots tied very low down where soft white Bunny could

reach them.



When all was done, Johnny stood off a little way to look at this

wonderful Christmas-tree. Clapping his hands with delight, he ran to

call papa and mamma and Annie, and they laughed aloud when they saw

what he had done. It was the funniest Christmas-tree they had ever

seen. They were sure the pets would like the presents Johnny had chosen.



Then there was a busy time in the barn. Papa and mamma and Annie helped

about bringing in the animals, and before long, Brownie, White Face,

Spotty, Rover, Piggywig, Pussy, Lambkin, the chickens, the squirrel and

Bunny, the rabbit, had been led each to his own Christmas breakfast on

and under the tree. What a funny sight it was to see them all standing

around looking happy and contented, eating and drinking with such an

appetite!



While watching them Johnny had another thought, and he ran quickly to

the house, and brought out the new trumpet which papa had given him for

Christmas. By this time the animals had all finished their breakfast

and Johnny gave a little toot on his trumpet as a signal that the tree

festival was over. Brownie went, neighing and prancing, to her stall,

White Face walked demurely off with a bellow, which Spotty, the calf,

running at her heels, tried to imitate; the little lamb skipped

bleating away; Piggywig walked off with a grunt; Pussy jumped on the

fence with a mew; the squirrel still sat up in the tree cracking her

nuts; Bunny hopped to her snug little quarters; while Rover, barking

loudly, chased the chickens back to their coop. Such a hubbub of

noises! Mamma said it sounded as if they were trying to say "Merry

Christmas to you, Johnny! Merry Christmas to all."





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