Sunday, December 9


Late that night, the two sisters sat each side of the hearth, working their rug.

'D'you know what Vanessa said when her father fetched her?'  asked Margaret.  'She said:  "This is the loveliest Christmas we've ever had!" 'Twas good of the child to say it, I thought after such a muddling old day.  It touched me very much.'

'She spoke the truth,' replied Mary slowly.  'Not only for herself, but for all of us here in Fairacre.  'Tis a funny thing, sister, but when I crept up the stairs to take a first look at that new babe, the thought came to me:  "Ah!  You're a true Fairacre child, just as I was once, born here, and most likely to be bred up here, the Lord Willing!"  And then another thought came:  "You've warmed up us cold old Fairacre folk quicker'n the sun melts frost."  You know, the Emerys have put us all to shame, many a time, with their friendly ways, and been snubbed too, often as not.  It took a Christmas baby to kindle some proper Christmas goodwill in Fairacre.'

"Tis true,' admitted Margaret, putting down the rug hook, and gazing into the dying fire.  Into her tired mind there floated irrelevant memories...  Mrs Emery's scarlet petticoat, a ginger cat lapping milk, Anna-Louise fumbling with her egg-spoon, while her sisters watched her with squirrel-bright eyes, laughing at her antics...  all adding up to colour and warmth and gentle loving-kindness."

Miss Read

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