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A Captured Santa Claus   By: (1853-1922)

A Captured Santa Claus by Thomas Nelson Page

First Page:

[Illustration: Cover art]

[Frontispiece: Over Evelyn he bent silently.]

A CAPTURED

SANTA CLAUS

BY

THOMAS NELSON PAGE

WITH ILLUSTRATIONS BY

W. L. JACOBS

CHARLES SCRIBNER'S SONS

NEW YORK

1902

COPYRIGHT, 1891, 1902, BY

CHARLES SCRIBNER'S SONS

Published, October, 1902

CONTENTS

I. CHRISTMAS AT HOLLY HILL II. MAJOR STAFFORD COMES HOME III. MAJOR STAFFORD GETS THE CHRISTMAS PRESENTS IV. THE BOYS LEARN SOMETHING OF WAR V. THE SPY VI. SANTA CLAUS PASSES THE LINES VII. BOB SECURES A UNIFORM VIII. SANTA CLAUS SURRENDERS

LIST OF ILLUSTRATIONS

Over Evelyn he bent silently . . . . . . . . . . . . Frontispiece

The Major's Christmas presents

Bob trotted around, keeping as far away from the camp fires as possible

"I'm goin' to get my papa," said the tiny swordsman

A CAPTURED SANTA CLAUS

I

CHRISTMAS AT HOLLY HILL

Holly Hill was a place for Christmas! Holly Hill, the old rambling Stratford homestead in Virginia, on its high hill, looking down the long slope and across the wide fields to the far woods rimming the sky. From Bob, the veteran, within a month of his teens, down to brown eyed Evelyn, with her golden hair floating all around her, when Christmas came everyone hung up a stocking, and the visit of Santa Claus was the event of the year.

They went to sleep the night before Christmas or rather they went to bed, for sleep was long far from their bright eyes with delightful expectations and thrills along their backs, and with little squeakings and gurglings, like so many little white mice, and if Santa Claus had not always been so very prompt in disappearing up the chimney before daybreak he must certainly have been caught. For by the time the chickens were crowing in the morning there would be an answering twitter through the house, and with a patter of little feet and subdued laughter small, white clad figures would steal through the dim light of dusky rooms and cold passages, opening doors with sudden bursts, and shouting "Christmas gift!" into darkened chambers, at still sleeping elders. Then they would scurry away in the gray light to rake open the hickory embers and revel in the exploration of their bulging, overcrowded stockings. Not Columbus was to be envied when those discoveries were being made. What was a new world to those treasures! The thrill of the new jack knife remains after forty years it had four blades, each worth a province. Envy Columbus? Perish the thought!

Such was Christmas morning at Holly Hill in the old times before the war those times of Memory and Romance.

Thus it was that at Christmas, 1863, when the blockading lines were drawn close and there were no new toys to be had for love or money, there were much disappointment and some murmurs at Holly Hill. The children had never really felt the war until then, though their father, Major Stafford, had been off, first with his company and then with his regiment, since April, 1861. War was on the whole a pleasant experience to the boys so many strangers came by. Battles were so interesting, and there was a bare chance of their seeing one, in which Bob was to lead a charge and capture the commanding General.

But when Christmas came and there were no presents, no "real" presents, war was realized. It was a terrible thing. From Mrs. Stafford down to little tot Evelyn there was an absence of the merriment which Christmas always brought with it. The children's mother had done all she could to collect such presents as were within her reach, but the youngsters were much too sharp not to know that the presents were "just fixed up"; and when they were all gathered around the fire in their mother's chamber that Christmas morning, looking over their presents, their little faces wore an expression of pathetic disappointment.

"I don't think much of this Christmas," announced freckled Ran, with characteristic gravity, looking down on his poor presents with an air of contempt... Continue reading book >>




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