A Novel Postman by Alice Wheildon
A little country girl made known her wants in a decidedly original
way. A small boy in the city did his best to satisfy them. This is
at once a story of Thanksgiving and of Christmas.
"OH, MOTHER! what do you suppose Ellen found
in the turkey? You never could guess. It's a letter—yes,
a real letter just stuffed inside—see!" And
Freddie held before his mother's wondering eyes a soiled
and crumpled envelope which seemed to contain a letter.
Freddie had been in the kitchen all the morning
watching the various operations for the Thanksgiving
dinner which was "to come off" the next day, when all
the "sisters, cousins, and aunts" of the family were to
assemble, as was their custom each year, and great was
the commotion in the kitchen and much there was for
Master Fred to inspect. When Ellen put her hand
into the turkey to arrange him for the stuffing, great
was her astonishment at finding a piece of paper. Drawing
it quickly out she called, "Freddie, Freddie, see
here! See what I've found in the turkey! I declare if he
isn't a new kind of a postman, for sure as you're born
this is a letter, come from somewhere, in the turkey.
My! who ever heard of such a thing?"
Freddie, standing with eyes and mouth wide open,
finally said, "Why, Ellen, do you believe it is a letter?"
"Why, of course it is! Don't you see it's in a' envelope
and all sealed and everything?"
"Yes, but it hasn't any stamp and how could a turkey
bring it—how did it get in him?"
"Oh," laughed Ellen, "that's the question! You'd
better take it right up to your mother and get her to
read it to you and perhaps it will tell."
So Freddie, all excitement, rushed upstairs and into
his mother's room, shouting as we have read.
His mother took the letter from him. "Where did
you get this, Freddie—what do you mean by finding
it in the turkey?"
"Why, Ellen found it in the turkey when she was
fixing him, and I don't see how it got there."
Mrs. Page turned the envelope and slowly read,
"To the lady who buys this turkey," written with a
pencil and in rather crooked letters on the outside; then
opening the envelope she found, surely enough, a letter
within, also written in pencil, in rather uncertain
letters, some large, some quite small, some on the line,
others above or below, but all bearing sufficient relation
to one another for her finally to decipher the following:
Mad River Village, N. H.
dere lady I doo want a dol for Christmas orful and mother
says that Sante Claws is so busy in the city that she gueses he
forgits the cuntry and for me to rite to the city lady who buys
our turkey and ask her if she will pleas to ask Sante Claws if he
could send a dol way up here in the cuntry to me. I will hang
my stockin in the chimly and he cannot mistake the house becaus
it is the only house that is black in the hole place. I have prayed
to him lots of times to give me a dol but I gues he does not mind
prayers much from a little girl so far away so will you pleas to
ask him for me and oblige
P. S.—I hope the turkey will be good to eat, he is our very best
one and I was sorry to have him killed, but I never had a dol.
Freddie listened, very much interested, sometimes
helping to make out the letters while his mother read this
remarkable letter. At its conclusion he dropped upon a
chair in deep thought while in his imagination he saw a
small black house surrounded by turkeys running wildly
about while a little girl tried to catch the largest.
"Oh, mother," at length he sighed, "only think of
a girl who never had a doll, and Beth has so many she
don't know what to do with them all—shall you ask
Santa Claus to send her one?"
"Well," said Mrs. Page, who also had been in deep
thought, "do you think we better ask Santa Claus to
send her one, or send her one ourselves? You and
Beth might send her one for a Christmas present."
At once Freddie became fired with the desire to rush
to a store, purchase a doll, and send it off to the little
"black house." He seemed to think the house was
little because the girl was little.
"No, no, Freddie, not so fast," said Mrs. Page. "I
think we better wait till papa comes home and then we
will ask his advice about it: first, if he knows of a
town in New Hampshire of this name, and then if he
thinks there may really be a little girl there who has
such an odd name—I shouldn't be surprised if Papa
could find out all about her."
Freddie thought it was hard to wait until his father
came home before something was done about securing
a doll; still he knew his mother was right and tried to be
patient, wishing Beth would come home, wondering
how the little girl looked, and if she had any brothers who
wanted something, and fifty other things, till he heard
his father's key in the front door; then down he rushed,
flourishing the open sheet in his hand, and gave him a
most bewildering and rapid account of the letter and
the finding it in the turkey, ending with, "Now,
Papa, do you know of any such town, and did you
ever hear of Lucy Tillage before, or of anybody's
turkey having a letter sent in him, and don't you
think we might send her the doll right away so's she
might have it for Christmas sure—don't you, Papa?
And if we can't get a new one won't you tell Beth
to send one of hers? I know she won't want so many
"Oh! stop, my boy," said Mr. Page, laughing heartily;
"wait a moment, Fred, I don't half understand what
this is all about—a letter and a turkey and a little girl
with a doll and a turkey in a black house——"
"Now, Papa, you're getting it all mixed up; you read
the letter yourself, please."
So Mr. Page read the letter and heard about finding
it in the turkey, and then talked it over with his wife
and Freddie and Beth, who had come in from her play,
and it was decided that he should write to the postmaster
and minister in Mad River Village asking them
if they knew of any family in the place of the name of
Tillage, and if they did, whether they were a poor family,
and how many children they had, and anything else they
might know of them.
There was no time to lose if the doll was to be sent
for Christmas, so both letters were written that very
evening and Freddie begged to put them in the post
box himself that there might be no mistake in that.
Then came a long time of waiting for Master Fred.
At first he thought one day would be enough for the letter
to find its way to Mad River Village; but upon a
solemn consultation with the cousins and aunts who
came to the Thanksgiving party, it was decided that
three days, at least, ought to be allowed for a letter to
reach a place that none of them had ever heard of, and
perhaps there was not such a village anywhere after all;
but Freddie had made up his mind that there was somewhere,
and so each morning found him watching for the
postman and each night he went to bed disappointed,
saying, "Oh! I hope there is a truly Mad Village."
Beth was almost as much excited as Fred about
Lucy's letter, but still she laughed at him as older sisters
sometimes seem to take pleasure in doing, saying,
"I guess it's a delicious wonderland kind of a letter,
and that the people up there are mad people to be sending
letters in turkeys!"
"Well, you just wait, Beth, and see if they are," answered
Fred; and sure enough, after ten days of waiting
Freddie was rewarded by receiving from the postman a
yellow envelope with "Mad River Village" printed in
large, clear letters "right side of the stamp." He ran as
fast as he could with it to his father, shouting to Beth
by the way to "come and see if there isn't a Mad Village
and a Lucy Tillage."
Mr. Page was never given so short a time before to
open a letter and adjust his glasses, but then a letter
had never before been received under such circumstances.
It proved to be from the postmaster at Mad
River Village, and ran as follows:
Mad River Village, N. H.
Mr. Page of Boston: I rec. your letter a Day or two since
and hasten to ans. it right away, as you wish, by this morning's
mail which I must put up pretty soon so this letter must be short.
Yes sir I do know a family in this town by the name of Tillage
and they're a good respectable family too. They live a mile or
two out of the village on a farm his father left him and I guess
they have pretty hard times making both ends meet—there
ain't much sale up here for farm things, you know, and it costs a
heap to send them to Boston but they do say that of late he's
raised lots of chickens and turkeys to send to Boston for Thanksgiving.
Last year he and his wife started in on taking summer
boarders and I guess they done first rate. They're young folks,
got three children, a little girl a small boy and a baby and I
guess they'll do as well as any one can on that farm, it's a likely
place but his father ain't been dead long and Geo. didn't have no
show while the old man was alive. He buys his flour and groceries
of me and I call him a honest fellow and I guess you'd like
to board with them if you want to try them next summer. I
don't think of anything more to say so will close.
P. S.—His name and address are George Tillage, Intervale
Farm, Mad River Village, N. H.
This was a highly satisfactory letter, especially to
Master Fred who had shouted gleefully to Beth, "I told
you so!" "I do know a family of the name of Tillage,"
and when his father read "three children, a little girl,
etc.," he nearly turned a somersault in his excitement,
dancing about and saying, "that's Lucy! that's Lucy!"
Mr. Page turned smilingly to his wife, saying, "Well,
my dear, this does not sound so much like a fairy tale
after all, and I really think you and the children must
play Santa Claus and send Lucy a doll."
"Oh, yes, Papa, of course we must! Yes, do,
Mamma!" shouted both children at once. "It'll be such
fun and she won't know where it comes from."
Mrs. Page was only too willing, so she promised, only
adding that she hoped the minister would give an equally
The children, however, were quite satisfied with the
postmaster's letter and began preparations the very
next morning to secure the doll and her "fit out" as
Beth called it. First, Beth's dolls were looked at to
see if one of them would do to take a trip into the country,
but although there were quite a number of them
none seemed to just suit their ideas of what Lucy's
doll should be. So Mamma was appealed to and in
consequence a visit was paid to Partridge's store by
Mrs. Page, accompanied by Beth and Master Fred.
Here such a bewildering array of dolls was presented
to the children that it was with difficulty they finally
decided upon one with blue eyes and short golden hair,
and real hair that curled bewitchingly. Then came the
selection of the "fit out." Freddie thought she should
have skates and a watch and bracelets and one of the
cunning waterproof cloaks and a trunk—in fact, everything
that could be bought for a doll (and in these days
that means all articles of apparel, whether for use or ornament,
that could be bought for a real person); but Mrs.
Page explained that she would not need so many things
in Mad River Village, so he was contented with a trunk
which he selected himself, while his mother and Beth
bought a little hat and cloak, shoes, stockings, and a
pretty sunshade—the dresses and underclothing Beth
thought she could make with the aid of her mother's
seamstress, and she was very ambitious to try.
Freddie thought the "small boy" and the "baby"
ought to have presents sent to them also; so he was
allowed to select a drum, which he was sure the boy
"would like best of anything," and a pretty rattle and
a rubber cow for the baby.
It was a very busy season of the year for the Pages as
well as for other people, and Beth had many presents to
think about, but she kept the little dresses and clothes
for Lucy's doll in mind and worked and planned with a
will all the time she could spare for them, and Mary, the
seamstress, sewed and sewed, and as she knew how to
cut dresses as well as make them, in about two weeks
they had, as Beth said, "a lovely fit out," even to a tiny
muff and collar made from some bits of fur mamma had
and a sweet little hood made just like Beth's own.
Then Miss Doll was dressed in her travelling suit,
muff and all, her other dresses and clothing packed in the
little trunk, and she herself carefully tucked in on top,
then Beth shut the cover and locked it, tying the key to
one of the buckles of the side strap—a box had been procured
and into it was packed the trunk, the drum, and
the presents for the baby, supplemented by Freddie with
a ball which he had found among his own playthings and
two cornucopias of candy which he had purchased himself,
saying that "Christmas won't be Christmas if they
don't have some candy." Mrs. Page "filled in the
nooks and corners just to steady the whole," as she
modestly said, with a pair of strong warm mittens for
Mr. Tillage, some magazines and books, several pairs of
long thick stockings which Freddie had outgrown but
not worn out, and over the whole a beautiful warm
Then Beth and Fred composed a letter together which
Beth wrote and they both signed:
Dear Lucy Tillage
:—The turkey brought the letter safely
to us and we wanted to be Santa Claus ourselves and so send the
doll and the other things for a Christmas present to you and your
brother and the baby.
We wish you all a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.
This they neatly folded, put in an envelope addressed
to Miss Lucy Tillage, Mad River Village, and placed on
the shawl where it might be seen the moment the box
was opened. They felt very proud and happy when the
box was finally nailed up and directed in clear printed
Mad River Village,
Freddie insisted that Lucy's name ought to be put on,
too, as she was the one who had written the letter and to
whom the box was really sent; so "For Lucy" was
printed across one corner and underlined that her
father might see it was sent particularly to her. It all
seemed so mysterious, sending presents to people they
did not know, and so delightful, that they thought this
the best Christmas they had ever known and only wished
that they could be in the little "black house" when the
box was opened, to see Lucy's face as she caught sight of
the cunning trunk and then the doll which she had so
The very day the box was sent on its way there came
a letter from a minister in the town in which Mad River
Village was located, saying that he "did not know any
family of the name of Tillage, but upon inquiry he had
found that there was a family of that name living on the
other side of the river, but as they did not go to his
church he was not acquainted with them; he was sorry,
But the children cared little for this letter; their faith
in Lucy was not shaken, and they were very happy that
they had answered her letter.