Half-Hours with Jimmieboy
Half-Hours With Jimmieboy.
JOHN KENDRICK BANGS,
"Tiddledywink Tales," "In Camp with a Tin Soldier,"
"Tiddledywink Poetry Book," etc.
FRANK VERBECK, CHARLES HOWARD JOHNSON,
J. T. RICHARDS, P. NEWELL,
R. H. RUSSELL & SON,
TO MY SON,
FRANCIS HYDE BANGS.
Thanks are due to Messrs. Harper & Bros. for the
privilege of re-printing several of the
stories in this book.
CHRISTMAS EVE AT JIMMIEBOY'S.
It had been a long and trying day to Jimmieboy, as December 24th usuallyis to children of his age, who have great expectations, and are more orless impatient to have them fulfilled. He had been positively cross atsupper-time because his father had said that Santa Claus had written tosay that a much-desired velocipede could not be got down through thechimney, and that he thought Jimmieboy would have to wait until thechimneys had been enlarged, or his papa had built a new house with morecommodious flues.
"I think it's just too bad," said Jimmieboy, as he climbed into bed anhour later. "Just because those chimneys are small, I can't have aphilocipede, and I've been gooder than ever for two weeks, just to getit."
Then, as his nurse extinguished the lamp and went into the adjoiningroom to sew, Jimmieboy[Pg 12] threw himself back upon his pillow and shed atear. The tear crept slowly down over his cheek, and was about todisappear between his lips and go back again to where it had startedfrom, when a voice was heard over by the fire-place.
"Can you get it down?" it said.
Jimmieboy sat up and peered over toward the spot whence the voice came,but could see nothing.
"No. The hind wheels won't go through the chimney-pot, and even if theywould, it wouldn't do any good. The front wheel is twice as big as thehind ones," said another voice, this one apparently belonging to someone on the roof. "Can't you get it in through the front door?"
"What do you take me for—an expressman?" cried the voice at thefire-place. "I can't leave things that way. It wouldn't be the properthing. Can't you get a smaller size through?"
"Yes; but will it fit the boy?" said the voice on the roof.
"Lower your lantern down here and we'll see. He's asleep over here in abrass bedstead," replied the other.
And then Jimmieboy saw a great red lantern appear in the fire-place, andby its light he noticed a short, ruddy-faced, merry-eyed old[Pg 13] gentleman,with a snowy beard and a smile, tip-toeing across the room toward him.To his delight he recognized him at once as Santa Claus; but he didn'tknow whether Santa Claus would like to have him see him or not, so heclosed his eyes as tightly as he could, and pretended to be asleep.
"Humph!" ejaculated Santa Claus, as he leaned over Jimmieboy's bed, andtried to get his measure by a glance. "He's almost a man—must be fiveyears old by this time. Pretty big for a small velocipede; still, Idon't know." Here he scratched his beard and sang:
"If he's too large for it, I think,
'Twill be too small for him,
Unless he can be got to shrink
Two inches on each limb."
Then he walked back to the fire-place and called out, "I've measured."
"Well, what's the result?" queried the voice on the roof.
"'Nothing,' as the boy said when he was asked what two plus one minusthree amounted to. I can't decide. It will or it won't, and that's allthere is about it."
"Can't we try it on him?" asked the voice up the chimney.
"No," returned Santa Claus. "That wouldn't prove anything; but we mighttry him on it. Shall I send him up?"
"Yes," came the voice from above, much to Jimmieboy's delight, for hewas quite curious to see what was going on up on the roof, and who itwas that owned the other voice.
In a moment Jimmieboy found himself in Santa Claus's arms, cuddled up tothe warm fur coat the dear old gentleman wore, in which position he wascarried up through the chimney flue to the roof. Then Jimmieboy peepedout between his half-opened eyelids, and saw, much to his surprise, thatinstead of there being only one Santa Claus, there were two of them.
"Oh dear!" he said in astonishment; "I didn't know there were two ofyou."
Both the Santas jumped as if some one had let off a cannon cracker undertheir very noses.
"Well, I declare!" said the one that had carried Jimmieboy up throughthe chimney. "We're discovered. Here I've been in this business wholecenturies, and I've never been discovered before."
"That's so," assented the other. "We know now how America must have feltwhen Columbus came sailing in. What'll we do about it?"
"We'll have to take him into partnership, I[Pg 15] guess," rejoined the first."It'll never do in this world not to. Would you like to be one of ourconcern, Jimmieboy?"
"Oh, indeed I would," said Jimmieboy.
"Well, I say we let him help us this time anyhow," said the roof SantaClaus. "You're so fat, I'm afraid you can't get down some of these smallchimneys, and Jimmieboy is just about the right size."
"Good scheme," said the other; "but he isn't dressed for it, you know."
"He can get a nice black soot down in the factory chimney," said theroof Santa Claus, with a wink.
"That's so; and as the factory fires are always going, it will be a nicewarm soot. What do you say, Jimmieboy?" said the other.
"It's lovely," replied the boy. "But how did there come to be two ofyou?"
"There had to be," said the first Santa Claus Jimmieboy had seen. "Theworld is growing so fast that my work has nearly doubled in the lasttwenty years, so I had to get an assistant, and he did so well, I tookhim into partnership. He's my brother."
"And is his name Santa Claus, too?" asked Jimmieboy.
"Oh no, indeed. His name is Marmaduke. We call him Marmy for short, andI can tell you what it is, Jimmieboy,
"He is as fine a fellow
As ever you did spy;
He's quite as sweet and mellow,
Though not so fat as I."
"And that's a recommendation that any man has a right to be proud of,"said Marmy Claus, patting himself on the back to show how proud he felt."But, Santa, we must be off. It would not do for the new firm of Santa,Marmy, and Jimmie Claus to begin business by being late. We've got toleave toys in eighteen flat-houses, forty-two hotels, and an orphanasylum yet."
"That's a fact," said Santa, jumping into the sleigh and grasping thereins. "Just help Jimmieboy in here, Marmy, and we'll be off. We canleave his things here on our way back."
Then, before he knew how it happened, Jimmieboy found himself wrapped upwarmly in a great fur coat, with a seal-skin cap on his head, and thedearest, warmest ear-tabs over his ears, sitting in the middle of thesleigh between the two huge, jolly-faced, members of the Claus family.The long lash of the whip snapped in the frosty air, at the sound ofwhich the reindeer[Pg 17] sprang forward and dragged the toy-laden cutter offon its aerial flight.
At the start Santa drove, and Marmy prepared the toys for the firstlittle boy they were to visit, handing Jimmieboy a lot of sugar-plums,to keep him from getting hungry, before he began.
"This is a poor sick little fellow we are going to see first," he said."He wanted a set of choo-choo cars, but we can't give them to himbecause the only set we have is for you, Jimmieboy. Your applicationcame in before his did. I hope he won't be disappointed, though I amafraid he[Pg 18] will be. A fish-pond isn't half so much fun as a set ofchoo-choo cars."
"That's so," said Jimmieboy. "But, Mr. Marmy, perhaps, if it's going tomake him feel real bad not to get them—maybe—perhaps you might let himhave the cars. I don't want them too much." This wasn't quite true, butJimmieboy, somehow or other, didn't like to think of the little sick boywaking up on Christmas day and not finding what he wanted. "You know, Ihave one engine and a coal car left of my old set, and I guess maybe,perhaps, I can make them do," he added.
Marmy gave the little fellow an affectionate squeeze, and said: "Well,if you really feel that way, maybe we had better leave the cars there.Eh, Santa?"
"Maybe, perhaps," said Santa.
And it so happened; and although he could not tell exactly why,Jimmieboy felt happier after leaving the cars at the little sick boy'shouse than he ever thought he could be.
"Now, Jimmieboy," said Santa, as Marmy took the reins and they drove offagain, "while Marmy and I are attending to the hotels and flat-houses,we want you to take that brown bag and go down the chimney of the orphanasylum, and leave[Pg 19] one toy for each little child there. There are abouta hundred little orphans to be provided for."
"What's orphans?" asked Jimmieboy.
"Orphans? Why, they are poor little boys and girls without any papas andmammas, and they all have to live together in one big house. You'll see'em fast asleep in their little white cots when you get down thechimney, and you must be very careful not to wake them up."
"I'll try not to," said Jimmieboy, softly, a lump growing up in histhroat as he thought of the poor children who had no parents. "And I'llmake sure they all get something, too."
"That's right," said Marmy. "And here's where they live. You take thebag now, and we'll let you down easy, and when we get through, we'llcome back for you."
So Jimmieboy shouldered the bag full of toys, and was lowered throughthe chimney into the room where the orphans were sleeping. He wassurprised to find how light the bag was, and he was almost afraid therewould not be enough toys to go around; but there were, as he found outin a moment. There were more than enough by at least a dozen of the mostbeautiful toys he had ever seen—just the very things he would most haveliked to have himself.
"I just guess I'll give 'em one of these things apiece, and keep theextra ones, and maybe perhaps they'll be for me," he said.
So he arranged the toys quietly under the stockings that hung at thefoot of the little white beds, stuffing the stockings themselves withcandies and apples and raisins and other delicious things to eat, andthen sat down by the fire-place to await the return of Santa Claus andSanta's brother Marmy. As he sat there he looked around the dimlylighted room, and saw the[Pg 21] poor thin white faces of the little sleepingorphans, and his heart stirred with pity for their sad condition. Thenhe looked at the bag again, and saw the extra dozen toys that were sopleasing to him, and he wondered if it would make the orphans happiernext morning