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CHAPTER VIII.

WHO IS KRISS KRINGLE ?

It was the day before Christmas—always a day of restless, hopeful excitement among the children; and my thoughts were busy, as is usual at this season, with little plans for increasing the gladness of my happy household. The name of the good genius who presides over toys and sugar plums was often on my lips, but oftener on the lips of the children.

“Who is Kriss Kringle, mamm'a ?” asked a pair of rosy lips, close to my ear, as I stood at the kitchen table, rolling out and cutting cakes.

I turned at the question, and met the earnest gaze of a couple of bright eyes, the roguish owner of which had climbed into a chair for the purpose of taking note of my doings. I kissed the sweet lips, but did not answer. Say, mamma? Who is Kriss Kringle ?”

persevered the little one. “Why, don't you know?” said I, smiling.

, “No, mamma. Who is he?

Why, he is—he is–Kriss Kringle.” “Oh, mamma! Say, won't you tell me ?" !

” “ Ask papa when he comes home,” I returned, evasively

I never like deceiving children in any thing. And yet, Christmas after Christmas, I have im

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posed on them the pleasant fiction of Kriss Kringle, without suffering very severe pangs of conscience. Dear little creatures ! how fully they believed, at first, the story; how soberly and confidingly they hung their stockings in the chimney corner; with what faith and joy did they receive their many gifts on the never-to-beforgotten Christmas morning!

Yes, it is a pleasant fiction; and if there be in it a leaven of wrong, it is indeed a small portion.

“But why won't you tell me, mamma ?" persisted my little interrogator. “Don't

“Don't you know Kriss Kringle ?"

“I never saw him, dear,” said I.
“ Has papa seen him ?"
“ Ask him when he comes home." .

“I wish Krissy would bring me, Oh, such an elegant carriage and four horses, with a driver that could get down and go up again.”

“If I see him, I'll tell him to bring you just such a nice carriage.”

“And will he do it, mamma ?” The dear child clapped his hands together with delight.

“I guess so.

“I wish I could see him,” he said, more soberly and thoughtfully. And then, as if some new impression had crossed his mind, he hastened down from the chair, and went gliding from the room.

Half an hour afterwards, as I came into the nursery, I saw my three “olive branches,” clustered together in a corner, holding grave counsei on some subject of importance; at least to them

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selves. They became silent at my presence; but

; soon began to talk aloud. I listened to a few

a words, but perceived nothing of particular concern ; then turned my thoughts away.

“ Who is Kriss Kringle, papa ?” I heard my cherry-lipped boy asking of Mr. Smith, soon after he came home in the evening.

The answer I did not hear. Enough that the enquirer did not appear satisfied therewith.

At tea-time, the children were not in very good appetite, though in fine spirits.

As soon as the evening meal was over, Mr. Smith went out to buy presents for our little ones, while I took upon myself the task of getting them off early to bed.

A Christmas tree had been obtained during the day, and it stood in one of the parlors, on a table. Into this parlor the good genius was to descend during the night, and hang on the branches of the tree, or leave upon the table, his gifts for the children. This was our arrangement. The little ones expressed some doubts as to whether Kriss Kringle would come to this particular room ; and little “cherry lips” couldn't just see how the genius was going to get down the chimney, when the fire-place was closed up.

“ Never mind, love; Kriss will find his way here," was my answer to all objections.

“ But how do you know, mother ? Have sent him word ?"

“Oh, I know.”

Thus I put aside their enquiries, and hurried them off to bed

“Now go to sleep right quickly,” said I, after

Have you they were snugly under their warm blankets and comforts; "and tomorrow morning be up bright and early.”

And so I left them to their peaceful slumbers.

An hour it was, or more, ere Mr. Smith returned, with his pockets well laden. I was in the parlor, where we had placed the Christmas tree, engaged in decorating it with rosettes, sugar toys, and the like. At this work I had been some fifteen or twenty minutes, and had, I will own, become a little nervous. My domestic had gone out, and I was alone in the house. Once or twice, as I sat in the silent room, I imagined that I heard a movement in the one adjoining. And several times I was sure that my ear detected something like the smothered breathing of a man.

"All imagination,” said I to myself. But again and again the same sounds stirred upon the silent air. “ Could there be a robber concealed in the next

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room ?”

The thought made me shudder. I was afraid to move from where I sat. What a relief when I heard my husband's key in the door, followed by the sound of his well known tread in the passage! My fears vanished in a moment.

As Mr. Smith stood near me, in the act of unloading his pockets, he bent close to my ear and whispered :

• Will is under the table. I caught a glance of his bright eyes, just now.”

" What!” " It's true. And the other little rogues are in

the next room, peeping through the door, at this very moment.

I was silent with surprise.

“ They're determined to know who Kriss Kringle is,” added my husband; then speaking aloud, he said:

“Come, dear, I want to show you something up in the dining-room.”

I understood Mr. Smith, and arose up instantly, not so much as glancing towards the partly opened folding door.

We were hardly in the dining room before we heard the light pattering of feet, and low, smothered tittering on the stairway.

Then all was still, and we descended to the parlors again, quite as much pleased with what had occurred as the little rogues were themselves.

“ I declare! Really, I thought them all sound asleep an hour ago," said I, on resuming my work of decorating the Christmas tree. could have believed them cunning enough for this? It's all Will's doings. He'll get through the world.”

Aye will he," returned Mr. Smith. “Oh! if you could have seen his face as I saw it, just peering from under the table cloth, his eyes as bright as stars, and full of merriment and delight.”

6 Bless his heart! He's a dear little fellow !" How could I help saying this?

“ And the others! You lost half the pleasure of the whole affair by not seeing them.”

“ We shall have a frolic with the rogues toraorrow morning. I can see the triumph on

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