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Chapter 9


Susy: "We've caught you, we've caught you."

Jim: "I just bet it was you, and now I've won, haven't I, mother?"

Susy: "And I've won, too, haven't I, father?" Arrested at sight of her father in the hooded bath-gown: "He does look like Santa Claus, doesn't he, Jimmy? But the real Santa Claus would be all over snow, and a long, white beard. You can't fool us!"

Jim: "You can't fool us! We know you, we know you! And mother dressed up, too! There isn't any Mrs. Santa Claus, and that proves it!"

Mrs. Fountain, severely: "Dreadful little things! Who said you might come here? Go straight back to bed, this minute, or— Will you send them back, Clarence, and not stand staring so? What are you thinking of?"

Fountain, dreamily: "Nothing. Merely wondering what we shall do when we've got rid of our superstitions. Shall we be the better for it, or even the wiser?"

Mrs. Fountain: "What put that question into your head? Christmas, I suppose; and that's another reason for wishing there was no such thing. If I had my way, there wouldn't be."

Jim: "Oh, mother!"

Susy: "No Christmas?"

Mrs. Fountain: "Well, not for disobedient children who get out of bed and come in, spoiling everything. If you don't go straight back, it will be the last time, Santa Claus or no Santa Claus."

Jim: "And if we go right back?"

Susy: "And promise not to come in any more?"

Mrs. Fountain: "Well, we'll see how you keep your promise. If you don't, that's the end of Christmas in this house."

Jim: "It's a bargain, then! Come on, Susy!"

Susy: "And we do it for you, mother. And for you, father. We just came in for fun, anyway."

Jim: "We just came for a surprise."

Mrs. Fountain, kissing them both: "Well, then, if it was only for fun, we'll excuse you this time. Run along, now, that's good children. Clarence!"

William Dean Howells

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