Twelve O'clock, and All's Well by M. S. E. P.
( A Christmas Rhyme of Might-Have-Been.)
I KNOW of an Owl,
A story-book Owl,
And he dwells in a Cloudland tree,
So way-high-up you never see
A glimpse of the great white fowl.
And this ancient fowl,
This story-book Owl,
Sometimes to himself he speaks—
Once in a thousand years or so—
In a voice that crackles and creaks
And never is heard by the children below:
I sleep by day,
Of course I do—
It's the sensible way."
For when little children lie fast asleep,
And darkness enshrouds the world so deep,
And weary eyes close to gaze only in dreams,
This story-book bird
With the big round eyes,
Whom nothing escapes,
So knowing and wise,
Watches and peers, with never a wink,
Into crannies and nooks where one might think
No danger would come, so peaceful it seems.
And prying about, this story-book bird
In the snowy thick
Of a Christmas eve—
If you will believe—
Just in the nick
Found the strangest thing that ever you heard:
Santa Klaus asleep,
All down in a heap,
On the floor of his sleigh
Ready packed for the way!
And think of the stockings swaying
At 'leven o' the night,
With the silent firelight
All over them fitfully playing—
A dangling host
From the chimney nails
As warm as toast—
But empty, pitiful,
They promise a million wails
From just one city-full!
Here's a to-do!"
Said the sleepless bird,
The wise old owl,
The watchful fowl.
He flew and he whirred,
Soft Cloudland exploring,
Led up like an arrow
By the wildest of snoring,
Till he stopped,
On the edge of a cloud—
Oh, the snoring was loud!—
Then stalked to that sleigh.
Ah, what a fine dose!—
He flashed out one claw, and
Tweaked Santa Klaus' nose.
Santa woke with a jump,
Sat up in his sleigh,
Rubbed his nose—
And I don't suppose
Understands to this day—
And gazing around he took in the plight,
He seized his reins in the funniest fright,
And down he came in the snowy midnight
All rosy and bright—
The great, merry elf,
Just like himself,
Bluster and noise, nonsense and fun,
With gifts for the children, everyone;
While, soft and far, every bell
Chimed "Twelve o' the clock and all's well!"
And the slumbering world might have heard
The great white wide-winged story-book bird
A-calling "Merry Christmas!" forth in glee
As he flew up to his Cloudland tree.
And the Owl never told—I alone knew—
So don't you tell, whatever you do.
How near the world came to a disaster most shocking,
Waking Christmas morning without a filled stocking!