Christmas Day by Anna Morrison
"Boys," said Mrs. Howard one morning, looking up from a
letter she was reading, "I have had a letter from your
grandmamma. She writes that she is returning to England
The boys went on with their breakfast without showing any
great amount of interest in this piece of news, for they had
never seen their grandmother, and therefore could not very well
be expected to show any affection for her.
Now Mrs. Howard, the mother of two of the boys and aunt to
the third little fellow, was a widow and very poor, and often
found it a hard task to provide for her "three boys," as she
called them, for, having adopted her little orphan nephew, she
always treated him as her own son. She had sometimes thought it
strange that old Mrs. Howard should not have offered to provide
for Leslie herself but she had never done so, and at last Mrs.
Howard had ceased to expect it. But now, right at the end of
her letter, Grandmamma Howard wrote:—
"I have been thinking that perhaps it would come a little
hard on you to support not only your own two boys, but poor
Alice's son, and so, on my return to England, I propose, if you
are willing, to adopt one of them, for I am a lonely old woman
and shall be glad of a young face about me again."
After thinking the matter over, Mrs. Howard decided she
would say nothing about their grandmother's intention to the
boys, as she thought that it was just possible she might change
her mind again.
Time passed on, and winter set in, and full of the delights
of skating, the boys forgot all about the expected arrival of
During the Christmas holidays the boys one morning started
off to Broome Meadow for a good day's skating on the pond
there. They carried their dinner with them, and were told to be
sure and be home before dark.
As they ran along the frosty road they came suddenly upon a
poor old woman, so suddenly that Leslie ran right up against
her before he could stop himself. The old woman grumbled about
"lazy, selfish boys, only thinking of their
own pleasure, and not caring what happened to a poor old
But Leslie stopped at once and apologized, in his polite
little way, for his carelessness.
"I am sorry," he said. "I hope I did not hurt you;
and you have such heavy parcels to carry too. Won't you let me
"Oh! come on, Leslie," said his cousins; "we shall never get
to the pond at this rate!"
"Yes, go on," said the old woman sharply; "your skating is
of a great deal more importance than an old woman, eh?"
But Leslie's only answer was to take the parcels and trudge
merrily along beside his companion.
On the way to her cottage the old woman asked him all sorts
of questions about himself and his cousins, and then, having
reached her cottage, dismissed him with scarcely a "thank you"
for the trouble he had taken. But Leslie did not take it much
He raced along, trying his hardest to overtake his cousins
before they reached the pond, and was soon skimming about with
the rest of them.
Squire Leaholme, in whose grounds the boys were skating,
afterwards came down to the pond to watch the fun, and, being a
kind-hearted old gentleman, offered to give a prize of a new
pair of skates to the boy who should win the greatest number of
As it was getting late, it was arranged that the racing
should come off on the following day, and the Squire invited
all the boys who took part in it, to come up to his house to a
substantial tea, after the fun was over.
How delighted Leslie was, for he was a first-rate skater,
and he did so want a new pair of skates!
But the Squire's skates were not to be won by him, for on
the following day as he and his cousins were on their way to
the pond, they came across the queer old woman whom they had
met on the previous day.
She was sitting on the ground, and seemed to be in great
pain. The boys stopped to ask what ailed her, and she told them
that she had slipped and twisted her foot, and was afraid that
her ankle was sprained, for she could not bear to put it to the
"You musn't sit here in the cold," said Leslie; "come, try
and get up, and I will help you home."
"Oh! Leslie," cried both his cousins, "don't go. You will be
late for the races, and lose your chance of the prize."
Poor Leslie! He turned first red, then white, and then said,
in a husky tone of voice—
"Never mind—you go on without me."
"You're a good laddie," said the old woman. "Will you be
very sorry to miss the fun?"
Leslie muttered something about not minding much, and
then the brave little fellow set himself to help the poor old
woman home, as gently and tenderly as he could.
She would not let him come in with her, but told him to run
off as quickly as he could, and perhaps after all, he would not
be too late for the skating. But Leslie could not bear to leave
her alone and in pain, so he decided to run home and fetch his
When Mrs. Howard arrived at the cottage, you can think how
surprised she was to find that Leslie's "poor old woman" was
none other than Grandmamma Howard herself, who wishing to find
out the real characters of her grandsons, had chosen to come in
this disguise to the little village where they lived.
You will easily guess which of the three boys Grandmamma
chose to be her little companion. And oh! what a lovely
Grandmamma she was, as not only Leslie, but his cousins too,
found out. She always seemed to know exactly what a boy wanted,
and still better, to give it to him.
Walter and Stanley often felt terribly ashamed of the
selfish manner in which they had behaved, and wished they were
more like Leslie.
But Grandmamma told them that it was "never too late to
mend," and they took her advice, and I am quite sure that at
the present moment if they were to meet a poor old woman in
distress by the roadside, they would not pass her by, as they
once did Grandmamma Howard.