A Tale of Christmas Eve
It was long past midnight and the Stocking was angry.
"To be taken out of a nice comfortable drawer on a winter night", it said querulously, "and, without being hung in front of the kitchen fire, to be strung up to a bedpost like a common thing. Upon my word, it is too bad!"
A little girl lay fast asleep in the bed. The curtains were drawn across the window. In a saucer on the bureau burned a night light. The clothes of the sleeper lay neatly folded on a chair beside the wall; the stockings which she had worn during the day hung dreaming over the back of this chair and underneath were her little buckled shoes, both of them snoring.
"I miss my mate", said the Stocking, glancing at the folded pair of sleeping stockings over the back of the chair. "It's downright monstrous to take one stocking from a drawer and leave its mate behind! If I worked for a one-legged child or a mermaid, it would be a different matter. Oh, my poor heel and toe, how cold it is!"
Just as it finished speaking, there was a noise in the direction of the chimney, and, looking at the fireplace, the Stocking was amazed to see a very old, white-bearded gentleman in a red cloak descending from the hearth. The night light burned suddenly brighter; the room became warm and cheerful. The Stocking, which was too wonderstruck to speak, thought that it had never seen such a quaint old man in all its life.
"If this is a burglar," it thought, "may I have a potato in my heel for the rest of my life!"
The old gentleman, who was no other person than Father Christmas, advanced to the bed and let a big bag which he carried on his shoulder slide to the floor.
Santa Claus " H a " , he said, in a very cheerful voice, "how she has grown, to be sure! Why, when I was here twelve months ago, I could have put her into one of my waistcoat pockets." He looked about the room. "Nice and tidy", he said approvingly. " Clothes neatly folded; frock hung up; books nicely put away; no broken toys about; the doll I gave her last year safely tucked up in its cradle, the Teddy Bear hasn't lost an eye, and grey rabbit is still full of sawdust. Come, Marsie, you're quite a good little girl". He walked to the foot of the bed. "Ha", he said, laughing, "this is the only night in the year when the foot of the bed has a stocking!"
He put his hand on the Stocking and said: "Well, my grumbling friend, how do you find yourself tonight?"
" Rather lonely", answered the Stocking. "I miss my mate terribly and it's cold. They took me out of my nice warm drawer and hung me up here alone in the dark without a glimpse of the fire".
"Oh, I'll warm you quick enough!" said Father Christmas, and, diving into his sack and pulling out all manner of toys and boxes of sweets, he began to cram the Stocking with Christmas presents.
"Hold hard!" cried the Stocking. "You'll split me if you aren't careful! What next, I wonder! I'm a stocking. What do you take me for -- a Danish bazaar, the toy department of a big store or what?"
Father Christmas laughed. "You're new to this game, then?" he asked.
"I was only born this winter," said the Stocking. "I grew on a very nice sheep until the beginning of the spring. Then I was cut off, sent to a mill, and woven into the handsome stocking that you see I am now. I've only been worn four times and I've scarcely shrunk an eighth of an inch in the wash. I thought I was in for a very easy life. My young lady doesn't wear me hard, and Neto, her auntie, is a good darner. I go for walks in the garden, rides with the pony and drives in the motor car. If it's very cold, they wrap me in leggings and put a nice fur rug over them. Hey, what are you up to now? I can't bear anymore! You're stretching me out of shape! You'll burst me!
In the morning, very early, Marsie woke up and emptied the Stocking of all its toys and sweets and let it fall on the floor. Aunt Neto came later, kissed the little girl and picked up the Stocking.
"Your work is done", she said, and placed the Stocking back in the drawer.
"Well", said its mate, "and where have you been all the night? Staying out by yourself till the morning like this! You ought to be ashamed of yourself, you know you ought!"
" My dear," said the Stocking, " I've never worked so hard before or been so happy. But permit me to wish you a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year," and snuggling down in his drawer, he went to sleep.