LITTLE GIRL'S CHRISTMAS WINNIFRED E. LINCOLN





It was Christmas Eve, and Little Girl had just hung up her stocking by

the fireplace--right where it would be all ready for Santa when he

slipped down the chimney. She knew he was coming, because--well,

because it was Christmas Eve, and because he always had come to leave

gifts for her on all the other Christmas Eves that she could remember,

and because she had seen his pictures everywhere down town that

afternoon when she was out with Mother.



Still, she wasn't JUST satisfied. 'Way down in her heart she was a

little uncertain--you see, when you have never really and truly seen a

person with your very own eyes, it's hard to feel as if you exactly

believed in him--even though that person always has left beautiful

gifts for you every time he has come.



"Oh, he'll come," said Little Girl; "I just know he will be here before

morning, but somehow I wish--"



"Well, what do you wish?" said a Tiny Voice close by her--so close that

Little Girl fairly jumped when she heard it.



"Why, I wish I could SEE Santa myself. I'd just like to go and see his

house and his workshop, and ride in his sleigh, and know Mrs.

Santa--'twould be such fun, and then I'd KNOW for sure."



"Why don't you go, then?" said Tiny Voice. "It's easy enough. Just try

on these Shoes, and take this Light in your hand, and you'll find your

way all right."



So Little Girl looked down on the hearth, and there were two cunning

little Shoes side by side, and a little Spark of a Light close to

them--just as if they were all made out of one of the glowing coals of

the wood-fire. Such cunning Shoes as they were--Little Girl could

hardly wait to pull off her slippers and try them on. They looked as if

they were too small, but they weren't--they fitted exactly right, and

just as Little Girl had put them both on and had taken the Light in her

hand, along came a little Breath of Wind, and away she went up the

chimney, along with ever so many other little Sparks, past the Soot

Fairies, and out into the Open Air, where Jack Frost and the Star Beams

were all busy at work making the world look pretty for Christmas.



Away went Little Girl--Two Shoes, Bright Light, and all--higher and

higher, until she looked like a wee bit of a star up in the sky. It was

the funniest thing, but she seemed to know the way perfectly, and

didn't have to stop to make inquiries anywhere. You see it was a

straight road all the way, and when one doesn't have to think about

turning to the right or the left, it makes things very much easier.

Pretty soon Little Girl noticed that there was a bright light all

around her--oh, a very bright light--and right away something down in

her heart began to make her feel very happy indeed. She didn't know

that the Christmas spirits and little Christmas fairies were all around

her and even right inside her, because she couldn't see a single one of

them, even though her eyes were very bright and could usually see a

great deal.



But that was just it, and Little Girl felt as if she wanted to laugh

and sing and be glad. It made her remember the Sick Boy who lived next

door, and she said to herself that she would carry him one of her

prettiest picture-books in the morning, so that he could have something

to make him happy all day. By and by, when the bright light all around

her had grown very, very much brighter, Little Girl saw a path right in

front of her, all straight and trim, leading up a hill to a big, big

house with ever and ever so many windows in it. When she had gone just

a bit nearer, she saw candles in every window, red and green and yellow

ones, and every one burning brightly, so Little Girl knew right away

that these were Christmas candles to light her on her journey, and make

the way dear for her, and something told her that this was Santa's

house, and that pretty soon she would perhaps see Santa himself.



Just as she neared the steps and before she could possibly have had

time to ring the bell, the door opened--opened of itself as wide as

could be--and there stood--not Santa himself--don't think it--but a

funny Little Man with slender little legs and a roly-poly stomach which

shook every now and then when he laughed. You would have known right

away, just as Little Girl knew, that he was a very happy little man,

and you would have guessed right away, too, that the reason he was so

roly-poly was because he laughed and chuckled and smiled all the

time--for it's only sour, cross folks who are thin and skimpy. Quick as

a wink, he pulled off his little peaked red cap, smiled the broadest

kind of a smile, and said, "Merry Christmas! Merry Christmas! Come in!

Come in!"



So in went Little Girl, holding fast to Little Man's hand, and when she

was really inside there was the jolliest, reddest fire all glowing and

snapping, and there were Little Man and all his brothers and sisters,

who said their names were "Merry Christmas," and "Good Cheer," and ever

so many other jolly-sounding things, and there were such a lot of them

that Little Girl just knew she never could count them, no matter how

long she tried.



All around her were bundles and boxes and piles of toys and games, and

Little Girl knew that these were all ready and waiting to be loaded

into Santa's big sleigh for his reindeer to whirl them away over

cloudtops and snowdrifts to the little people down below who had left

their stockings all ready for him. Pretty soon all the little Good

Cheer Brothers began to hurry and bustle and carry out the bundles as

fast as they could to the steps where Little Girl could hear the

jingling bells and the stamping of hoofs. So Little Girl picked up some

bundles and skipped along too, for she wanted to help a bit

herself--it's no fun whatever at Christmas unless you can help, you

know--and there in the yard stood the BIGGEST sleigh that Little Girl

had ever seen, and the reindeer were all stamping and prancing and

jingling the bells on their harnesses, because they were so eager to be

on their way to the Earth once more.



She could hardly wait for Santa to come, and just as she had begun to

wonder where he was, the door opened again and out came a whole forest

of Christmas trees, at least it looked just as if a whole forest had

started out for a walk somewhere, but a second glance showed Little

Girl that there were thousands of Christmas sprites, and that each one

carried a tree or a big Christmas wreath on his back. Behind them all,

she could hear some one laughing loudly, and talking in a big, jovial

voice that sounded as if he were good friends with the whole world.



And straightway she knew that Santa himself was coming. Little Girl's

heart went pit-a-pat for a minute while she wondered if Santa would

notice her, but she didn't have to wonder long, for he spied her at

once and said:



"Bless my soul! who's this? and where did you come from?"



Little Girl thought perhaps she might be afraid to answer him, but she

wasn't one bit afraid. You see he had such a kind little twinkle in his

eyes that she felt happy right away as she replied, "Oh, I'm Little

Girl, and I wanted so much to see Santa that I just came, and here I

am!"



"Ho, ho, ho, ho, ho!" laughed Santa, "and here you are! Wanted to see

Santa, did you, and so you came! Now that's very nice, and it's too bad

I'm in such a hurry, for we should like nothing better than to show you

about and give you a real good time. But you see it is quarter of

twelve now, and I must be on my way at once, else I'll never reach that

first chimney-top by midnight. I'd call Mrs. Santa and ask her to get

you some supper, but she is busy finishing dolls' clothes which must be

done before morning, and I guess we'd better not bother her. Is there

anything that you would like, Little Girl?" and good old Santa put his

big warm hand on Little Girl's curls and she felt its warmth and

kindness clear down to her very heart. You see, my dears, that even

though Santa was in such a great hurry, he wasn't too busy to stop and

make some one happy for a minute, even if it was some one no bigger

than Little Girl.



So she smiled back into Santa's face and said: "Oh, Santa, if I could

ONLY ride down to Earth with you behind those splendid reindeer! I'd

love to go; won't you PLEASE take me? I'm so small that I won't take up

much room on the seat, and I'll keep very still and not bother one bit!"



Then Santa laughed, SUCH a laugh, big and loud and rollicking, and he

said, "Wants a ride, does she? Well, well, shall we take her, Little

Elves? Shall we take her, Little Fairies? Shall we take her, Good

Reindeer?"



And all the Little Elves hopped and skipped and brought Little Girl a

sprig of holly; and all the Little Fairies bowed and smiled and brought

her a bit of mistletoe; and all the Good Reindeer jingled their bells

loudly, which meant, "Oh, yes! let's take her! She's a good Little

Girl! Let her ride!" And before Little Girl could even think, she found

herself all tucked up in the big fur robes beside Santa, and away they

went, right out into the air, over the clouds, through the Milky Way,

and right under the very handle of the Big Dipper, on, on, toward the

Earthland, whose lights Little Girl began to see twinkling away down

below her. Presently she felt the runners scrape upon something, and

she knew they must be on some one's roof, and that Santa would slip

down some one's chimney in a minute.



How she wanted to go, too! You see if you had never been down a chimney

and seen Santa fill up the stockings, you would want to go quite as

much as Little Girl did, now, wouldn't you? So, just as Little Girl was

wishing as hard as ever she could wish, she heard a Tiny Voice say,

"Hold tight to his arm! Hold tight to his arm!" So she held Santa's arm

tight and close, and he shouldered his pack, never thinking that it was

heavier than usual, and with a bound and a slide, there they were,

Santa, Little Girl, pack and all, right in the middle of a room where

there was a fireplace and stockings all hung up for Santa to fill.



Just then Santa noticed Little Girl. He had forgotten all about her for

a minute, and he was very much surprised to find that she had come,

too. "Bless my soul!" he said, "where did you come from, Little Girl?

and how in the world can we both get back up that chimney again? It's

easy enough to slide down, but it's quite another matter to climb up

again!" and Santa looked real worried. But Little Girl was beginning to

feel very tired by this time, for she had had a very exciting evening,

so she said, "Oh, never mind me, Santa. I've had such a good time, and

I'd just as soon stay here a while as not. I believe I'll curl up on

his hearth-rug a few minutes and have a little nap, for it looks as

warm and cozy as our own hearth-rug at home, and--why, it is our own

hearth and it's my own nursery, for there is Teddy Bear in his chair

where I leave him every night, and there's Bunny Cat curled up on his

cushion in the corner."



And Little Girl turned to thank Santa and say goodbye to him, but

either he had gone very quickly, or else she had fallen asleep very

quickly--she never could tell which--for the next thing she knew, Daddy

was holding her in his arms and was saying, "What is my Little Girl

doing here? She must go to bed, for it's Christmas Eve, and old Santa

won't come if he thinks there are any little folks about."



But Little Girl knew better than that, and when she began to tell him

all about it, and how the Christmas fairies had welcomed her, and how

Santa had given her such a fine ride, Daddy laughed and laughed, and

said, "You've been dreaming, Little Girl, you've been dreaming."



But Little Girl knew better than that, too, for there on the hearth was

the little Black Coal, which had given her Two Shoes and Bright Light,

and tight in her hand she held a holly berry which one of the Christmas

Sprites had placed there. More than all that, there she was on the

hearth-rug herself, just as Santa had left her, and that was the best

proof of all.



The trouble was, Daddy himself had never been a Little Girl, so he

couldn't tell anything about it, but we know she hadn't been dreaming,

now, don't we, my dears?





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