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Mrs. Budlong's Christmas Presents   By: (1872-1956)

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First Page:

MRS. BUDLONG'S CHRISTMAS PRESENTS

BY

RUPERT HUGHES

AUTHOR OF "EXCUSE ME," "THE OLD NEST," ETC.

MCMXII

CONTENTS

CHAPTER

I AT THE SIGN OF THE PIANO LAMP II CHRONICLES OF A CRAFTSMAN III MISTRESS OF THE REVELS IV ONLY A MILLIONAIRE V THE BITER BIT VI DESPAIR AND AN IDEA VII FOILED VIII FOILED AGAIN IX WORSE, AND MORE OF IT X A WELL LAID PLAN XI GANG AGLEY AGAIN XII AN AMAZING CHRISTMAS

MRS. BUDLONG'S CHRISTMAS PRESENTS

I

AT THE SIGN OF THE PIANO LAMP

The morning after Christmas Eve is the worst morning after there is. The very house suffers the headache that follows a prolonged spree. Remorse stalks at large; remorse for the things one gave and did not give and got.

Everybody must act a general glee which can be felt only specifically, if at all. Everybody must exclaim about everything Oh! and Ah! and How Sweet of You! and Isn't it Perfectly Dear! The very THING I Wanted! and How DID you EVER Guess it?

Christmas morning in the town of Carthage is a day when most of the people keep close at home, for Christmas is another passover. It is Santa Claus that passes over.

People in Carthage are not rich; the shops are not grandiose, and inter family presents are apt to be trivial and futile or worse yet, utile.

The Carthaginian mother generally finds that Father has credited the hat she got last fall, to this Christmas; the elder brothers receive warm under things and the young ones brass toed boots, mitts and mufflers. The girls may find something ornamental in their stockings, and their stockings may be silk or nearly but then girls have to be foolishly diked up anyway, or they will never be married out. Dressing up daughters comes under the head of window display or coupons, and is charged off to publicity.

Nearly everybody in Carthage except Mrs. Ulysses S. G. Budlong celebrates Christmas behind closed doors. People find it easier to rhapsodize when the collateral is not shown. It is amazing how far a Carthaginian can go on the most meager donation. The formula is usually: "We had Such a lovely Christmas at our house. What did I get? Oh, so many things I can't reMember!"

But Mrs. Ulysses S. G. Budlong does not celebrate her Christmasses behind closed doors or rather she did not: a strange change came over her this last Christmas. She used to open her doors wide metaphorically, that is; for there was a storm door with a spring on it to keep the cold draught out of the hall.

As regular as Christmas itself was the oh quite informal reception Mrs. Budlong gave to mitigate the ineffable stupidity of Christmas afternoon: that dolorous period when one meditates the ancient platitude that anticipation is better than realization; and suddenly understands why it is blesseder to give than to receive: because one does not have to wear what one gives away.

On Christmas Mrs. U. S. G. Budlong took all the gifts she had gleaned, and piled them on and around the baby grand piano in the back parlor. There was a piano lamp there, one of those illuminated umbrellas about as large and as useful as a date palm tree.

Along about that time in the afternoon when the Christmas dinner becomes a matter of hopeless remorse, Mrs. Budlong's neighbors were expected to drop in and view the loot under the lamp. It looked like hospitality, but it felt like hostility. She passed her neighbors under the yoke and gloated over her guests, while seeming to overgloat her gifts.

But she got the gifts. There was no question of that. By hook or by crook she saw to it that the bazaar under the piano lamp always groaned.

One of the chief engines for keeping up the display was the display itself. Everybody who knew Mrs. Budlong and not to know Mrs. Budlong was to argue oneself unknown knew that he or she would be invited to this Christmas triumph. And being invited rather implied being represented in the tribute.

Hence ensued a curious rivalry in Carthage. People vied with each other in giving Mrs... Continue reading book >>




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