Josephine Lawrence

Illustrated by Joseph C. Claghorn

Scanned by Deidre Johnson for her Josephine Lawrence website; please do not use on other sites without permission






  PERHAPS you've never seen a little
  red envelope, an envelope no
  larger than your thumb, sticking in
  the crack of the floor some morning.
  It's all right if you've never happened
  to see a little red envelope like that,
  but in case you have seen one, you
  might like to know that it was a
  letter from Santa Claus.

  Santa Claus always writes his letters
  on bright red paper and he uses tiny
  square envelopes, but children do not
  see his letters often, because he doesn't
  write to them. No'm, the children


  write to Santa Claus, but you can
  easily see he wouldn't have much
  time to spend getting ready for Christ-
  mas if he ever tried to answer all the
  letters he receives.

  The moment Mr. White saw one of
  those little red envelopes we've just
  told you about, he knew it was from
  Santa. It was the week before Christ-
  mas and a very busy time for everyone.
  All the children were busy being good,
  Santa Claus was busy choosing pres-
  ents for them, and as for Mr. White,
  he was busy explaining to the three
  White boys what Santa Claus wished
  them to do that Christmas Eve.

  Mr. White knew exactly what they
  were to do, because it was only the



  Christmas before that Santa Claus
  had brought him in his sleigh from
  North Pole Land.

  "You are to go in the top of the
  children's stockings," said Mr. White
  patiently for the third time-those
  White boys would try to play the new
  mouth organ instead of listening to

  "All of us in one stocking?" asked
  Willie White, who wore a checked

  "Certainly not," Mr. White an-
  swered. "One of you in the top of
  each stocking. You mustn't handle
  the toys, or play with any of the
  things or eat any of the sweets,


  "Not even gum-drops?" asked Wil-
  fred White, whose jacket was red.
  "Certainly not," Mr. White
  answered again.
  "Nor the oranges?" asked Wilbur
  White-his jacket was bright red.
  "Don't eat anything," said Mr.
  White and just then he spied the red
  letter and knew Santa Claus had
  written to him.
  ' ' Excuse me, ' ' he murmured politely
  to the three White boys and then he
  opened the envelope and read the
  "Dear Mr. White," wrote Santa
  Claus, "I have always been able to
  depend on you and I am sure you -will
  not fail me now. The grandpa of the

  children in your house has some extra
  special gifts for them and he doesn't
  want them to be on the Christmas
  tree because they will see that Christ-
  mas Eve. This grandpa can not be
  at the house till Christmas Day. In
  fact he doesn't expect to get there
  much before dinner time. He has
  given me his presents and I will see
  you Christmas Eve. I'd like to leave
  these gifts in your care, if you are
  willing. Affectionately your old
  friend, Santa Claus. P. S. Mrs. Santa
  sends you her kindest regards.
  Now there, as Mr. White remarked
  excitedly, was something to think
  about. The three White boys were
  terribly curious and they teased Mr.

  White with questions right up to
  Christmas Eve; but not a word could
  they get from him.
  And when Santa Claus tumbled
  down the chimney Christmas Eve,
  the three White boys hovered as near
  as they dared, hoping to at least see
  what these gifts were that were not
  to go on the Christmas tree. That
  tree, blazing with lights and with a
  beautiful white and gold fairy on one
  of the branches, delighted the chil-
  dren. Santa Claus turned on the lights
  for them and then, while they were
  looking at their gifts, he and Mr.
  White got behind the sofa and had a
  confab all by themselves.
  "That's all right then," Willie
  White heard Santa Claus say. "We'll
  keep it as our secret. I'll be back at
  midnight to fill the stockings"
  And he went away after that.
  It was Wilbur White who noticed
  that Mr. White looked different, but
  before he could say anything, he was
  popped into a stocking. You know
  how fast time flies on Christmas Eve.
  It was midnight, the children were
  asleep, and Santa Claus had come
  back to fill their stockings.
  "I think Mr. White looks differ-
  ent--" Wilbur White began and it
  was then Santa Claus put him in a
  stocking and told him to keep still.
  As soon as breakfast was over the
  next morning (Christmas morning),

  Hannah began to set the table for
  Christmas dinner. Right in the center
  of her table, after she had put on a
  beautiful linen tablecloth, she put
  Mr. White.
  Dear me, he did look handsome!
  His tall hat was very shiny, his jacket
  was very blue, and he seemed to have
  a lot of little red ribbons coming out
  of his neck. A lovely wreath of holly
  was placed around him and the tall
  red candles that he had always ad-
  mired. Then Hannah went back and
  forth, from the pantry to the table,
  putting on the best plates and the tall
  glasses that sparkled because she had
  polished them so nicely, and the
  very necessary knives and forks.

  The Christmas tree was in the
  dining room and Mr. White thought
  that a fine arrangement. He said it
  gave him something to look at. He
  didn't have much time to look at it
  at first, because Hannah kept going
  and coming and every time she came
  to the table she changed a plate, or
  moved a glass, or patted the holly
  wreath. Lastly, though, she put
  down great white napkins, neatly
  folded, and then she went off to her
  kitchen to see if the turkey was
  roasting properly.
  It was then that Mr. White had a
  chance to admire the Christmas tree
  The packages were gone, and some of
  the candy canes were missing, but
  there were plenty of lovely things still
  in place. The children were trying
  to keep the tree "all trimmed" as
  they said, to show their grandpa.
  "How do you do?" said a very
  sweet little voice suddenly.
  Mr. White would have jumped, if
  he could. But he had no legs and
  legs are absolutely necessary to anyone
  who jumps. Then he noticed that
  something bright and shiny was being
  swung before his face and a moment
  later he saw that it was one of the
  tinsel stars.
  "Who's swinging that star?" asked
  Mr. White, trying to make his voice
  sound very deep and stern.
  "I am," giggled the little voice.
  "Who are you?" Mr. White asked,
  remembering that he had a secret with
  Santa Claus and that someone might
  be trying to get it away from him.
  "Merry Christmas!" laughed the
  pretty voice. "I'm Princess Star-
  Mr. White blinked his eyes and
  wished he could take off his hat.
  He had never met a princess. But
  his hat was glued on and he hoped
  the princess would understand and
  excuse him.
  Then, for Princess Starshine con-
  tinued to swing the star, a bit of
  tinsel flew off and struck Mr. White
  in his eye!
  "Ouch!" he said, and felt around

  for his silk pocket handkerchief.
  "Oh-oh-oh!" the little voice said
  sadly. "Have I hurt you? Wait a
  minute and let me get that speck out
  of your eye."
  And to Mr. White's great astonish-
  ment, the beautiful fairy from the
  Christmas tree flew down to the
  He could see then that she wore
  tiny red shoes and a tall read hat and
  carried a slender wand. She had long
  golden hair and her dress was white
  gauze and altogether he had never
  seen anyone so pretty.
  "Let me touch your eye with my
  wand, said Princess Starshine, "and
  it will not hurt you at all."
  Mr. White took his handkerchief
  away from his sore eye and the
  princess touched it ever so gently
  with her wand.
  "My goodness, it doesn't hurt a
  bit!" said Mr. White. "Thank you
  very much."
  "Don't mention it," the fairy prin-
  cess answered. "My wand is tipped
  with magic and I like to use it. Sh-
  here comes Hannah with more holly.
  I'd better fly back to the Christmas
  Before Mr. White could count two,
  the fairy was back in her place and
  there was Hannah, walking around
  and around the table, laying a little
  bunch of holly on each clean napkin.
  "It's a fine-looking dinner table, if
  I do say it myself," said Hannah
  aloud. "You do yourself proud, Mr.
  Hannah made him a bow and Mr.
  White smiled his best smile. That
  was the second time he wished his
  hat wasn't glued on, so he might tip
  it politely.
  ' ' Seems to me I never saw you with
  so many ribbons on before," said
  Hannah, staring at Mr. White. "But
  there, I suppose it is some of the
  children's doings."
  She went back to her kitchen and
  the fairy princess flew down to the
  table again.
  "How many people are coming to
  dinner?" asked the fairy, curiously.
  "Oh, dozens," Mr. White answered
  wisely. ' ' All the people in this house,
  and all the people next door, and
  Grandpa Perry from-far-away, and
  Uncle Oscar and Aunt Mary."
  "And will they all look at the
  tree?" asked the fairy princess.
  "Of course they will," Mr. White
  Princess Starshine looked about the
  table and her eyes began to shine
  "Want to see some of my magic?"
  she asked.
  Mr. White couldn't stop thinking
  about the secret he had with Santa
  Claus, and he wished he could. He
  was afraid he might mention it if he
  thought too much about it. So he
  was very willing to see some magic-
  he thought, and rightfully, too, that
  magic would give him something else
  to think about.
  "Then just you watch," said Prin-
  cess Starshine.
  We've told you that she carried a
  wand and now, as Mr. White watched
  her, she tripped about the table,
  touching the candles, one after the
  other. The instant her wand touched
  the tip of a candle, it burst into flame.
  "Oh-h, you're lighting them!" Mr.
  White cried. ' ' They'll burn out before
  the folks come to dinner."
  "I'll put them out-" began the
  fairy princess with her soft laugh.
  She meant to say she would put
  them out right away, but before she
  could do that, there was a noise in
  the next room and quick as a flash
  Princess Starshine flew back to the
  branch on the Christmas tree, where
  she belonged
  In the doorway stood Mother Evans
  and Daddy Evans, and Bobby and
  Betty and Baby Evans. They lived
  in Mr White's house, or he lived in
  their house, whichever way you wish
  to have it.
  "Why I didn't know Hannah meant
  to light the candles!" cried Mother
  Evans "Grandpa hasn't come."
  Just then Hannah came into the
  dining room with the bread plate and
  as soon as she saw the lighted candles,
  she looked surprised.
  "Did the company come, ma 'am?"
  she asked. "I see you've lighted the
  "I didn't light them," replied
  Mother Evans. "You must have
  lighted them, Hannah."
  But Hannah declared she had not
  and none of the others had touched a
  match to them, and who lighted those
  candles always remained a mystery
  in that household. Mr. White could
  have told but, aside from politeness
  which made it impossible for him to
  tell tales, he had a rule he never
  broke-he did not speak aloud.
  However, the candles were allowed
  to burn, for the door-bell rang a
  moment later, and there was Grandpa
  from-far-away, and Aunt Mary and
  Uncle Oscar and the people from the
  house next door.
  You know all about how Christmas
  dinner tastes, so we won't tell you
  about this dinner, except to mention
  that the turkey was a little more of a
  golden brown than any other turkey
  you've seen. And the potatoes were
  so fluffy they looked like snow, and
  everyone's name was spelled out in
  red pimentos on the salad and the
  nuts and raisins were simply delicious.
  Oh, yes, and the plum pudding wasn't
  too rich for the children either.
  And, when dinner was over. Grandpa
  from-far-away said he had given his
  presents to Santa Claus to deliver,
  but that Santa had not been able to
  tell him where they would be hidden.
  Had anybody- seen a letter from Santa
  Claus that morning?
  Nobody had, but obligingly every-
  one began to look.
  "I've got it!" shouted Bobby Evans,
  whose sharp eyes were the first to spy
  a little square red envelope sticking
  out from under the dining-room rug.
  "That's it," said Grandpa, taking
  the letter.
  He opened it and read it quickly.
  "Why Santa says that Mr. White
  is taking care of the presents," said

  Grandpa. "Listen and I'll read you
  what Santa has written: 'Pull the
  ribbons fair and square, you'll find
  presents hidden there.' "
  It was a wonder Mr. White didn't
  blush, so many pairs of eyes stared
  hard at his dangling red ribbons.
  "Let's each take one and when I
  count three, pull!" Grandpa suggested.
  So each one at the table took a
  ribbon and Grandpa held up his hand.
  'One!" he counted slowly.
  "Two!" he said next.
  "Three!"-and everyone jerked a
  Snip! Up went Mr. White's head,
  and out came little flat packages,
  wrapped in red tissue paper.
  They looked exactly like Christmas
  presents and they were-beautiful
  shiny gold pieces which were meant
  to be spent during holiday week,
  Grandpa said. Everyone was de-
  lighted and away they all rushed into
  the next room to begin to plan what
  they would buy when they went
  No one stayed to thank Mr. White
  for keeping the precious gold pieces
  so carefully, and when Hannah came
  in to clear off the table, she burst
  into laughter.
  "Ha! Ha!" laughed Hannah, pick-
  ing up Mr. White's head and trying
  to put it on straight for him. "I
  wish you could see yourself. You're
  too funny for words. Your hat is
  over one ear. You look positively
  All the time Hannah was talking,
  she was carrying Mr. White out to
  the kitchen and when she put him
  down on the kitchen table, to put
  his head on for him, she went right
  on telling him how foolish he looked.
  But she needed the room on the
  kitchen table for her dishes, so back
  to the dining room she carried Mr.
  White again, and plumped him down
  between two piles of clean plates.
  His hat fell over one eye and he
  slid down till he leaned against a
  goblet. Hannah laughed at him once
  more and then she went back to the
  kitchen to eat her nice hot dinner.
  "I don't care," said Mr. White
  drowsily, for the excitement had made
  him sleepy, "I don't care if I do
  look silly; I told Santa Claus I would
  help him and I have. I may have a
  head that wobbles, but I know how
  to keep a secret."
  And the Princess Starshine called
  to him from the Christmas tree. that
  that was true.
  Later that evening Mr. White
  showed that he knew more than how
  to keep a secret. He knew how to
  warn Hannah that all was not well
  in the dining room.
  It happened this way: the children
  had gone next door to see the Christ-

  mas tree there and had insisted on
  taking the Princess Starshine with
  them. This left Mr. White with no
  one to talk to, so he simply dozed
  gently, not exactly asleep, you under-
  stand, but just resting.
  Hannah was talking to her best
  friend, Mrs. Nagel, in the kitchen,
  as she set bread for the next day.
  Hannah always baked bread on Thurs-
  day, no matter whether it was the
  day after Christmas or not. Mr.
  White, dozing between the two piles
  of clean plates, could hear their voices
  and he liked that because then he
  didn't feel so lonely.
  Suddenly Mr. White thought he
  heard a voice that was not Hannah's
  voice, nor yet Mrs. Nagel's. It was
  as tiny a voice as the Princess Star-
  shine's, but not nearly so sweet.
  This tiny voice was sharp and shrill.
  "Eek!" it went. "E-eek! Oh,
  you must hurry-there are raisins
  and nuts and everything perfectly
  Mr. White opened one eye
  "Eka, eka, eka!" began another
  little voice. "How about the Christ-
  mas tree? I would so love to nibble
  a candy cane."
  Mr. White opened his other eye.
  "The mice!" he said to himself.
  Now Mr. White was not unkind
  to mice. He rather admired their
  perseverance and their cheerfulness.
  But he knew they had no business on
  the dining-room table and he thought
  only a very mean mouse would eat
  the candy on a Christmas tree. He
  tried to think of a way to warn Han-
  nah, and in a moment he had the idea.
  Mr. White simply let his head roll
  off the table!
  Hannah heard the noise and came
  running in, and Mrs. Nagel came
  with her.
  "I knew I ought to have cleared
  off the table and now I will," said
  Hannah wrathfully. "Those nasty
  mice have been in here-see this raisin
  dragged across the cloth."
  Then she saw Mr. White's head on
  the floor and she picked it up and put
  him together again.
  "I suppose the mice knocked him
  over, running past him, ' ' said Hannah,
  which shows you that she didn't
  know as much about it as you do



Scanned by Deidre Johnson for her Josephine Lawrence website; please do not use on other sites without permission

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