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Christmas In The Barn






F. ARNSTEIN


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 barn 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."





Next: The Philanthropist's Christmas

Previous: The Legend Of Babouscka



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