Search      Hot    Newest Novel
HOME > Short Stories > The Surprise Book > II The Telephone Santa Claus
Font Size:【Large】【Middle】【Small】
II The Telephone Santa Claus
The shops were full of Christmas toys. There were Christmas greens and fir trees everywhere. Big ribbon-trimmed holly wreaths began to appear in front windows and everybody in the streets carried Christmas bundles. At this time, too, Mary Louise, who lived in the large and beautiful house with mother and daddy, and who was the only little girl they had, began to plan what she should ask Santa Claus to bring her.

Can anybody ever have too many toys? Mary Louise had a whole toy closet full. There were certain “very best toys” put by nurse on the top shelf for special occasions and there were countless “every day toys,” some of them a bit broken, but a great many of them quite whole and splendid, ever so[Pg 14] much nicer than the toys that Mary Louise’s little friends had to play with. Still, Mary Louise wanted more toys. The list that she was now writing in her round, wiggly handwriting had already covered several sheets of large pad paper that nurse had given her.

Mary Louise sat at the big flat desk in the library. Her velvet dress was almost lost in the big arm-chair that was daddy’s favorite. Behind her was a cheerful fire on the hearth and it snapped and crackled joyously. Mary Louise’s blue eyes travelled about the room as if seeking fresh inspiration in the objects that they rested upon. She already had everything, but she wanted more, and so she put the pencil on the paper and continued the letter to Santa Claus.

“I want two new Teddy bears, the biggest you have, Santa Claus,” the pencil said. “I want one that is pure white like snow and another that is furry and brown. Both should have a squeak and if you have any that will growl, I’d like that kind, too.

“I want a white doll carriage lined with pink satin. They have them at Bunty’s Department Store, for I saw them once and[Pg 15] they cost twenty-five dollars. I want a big doll to go in it. I want a whole wardrobe of clothes for it, a new doll cradle, and it must have a pink silk dress, too. I want a doll that will open and shut its eyes—one with real hair. It must talk, too.

“You can bring me, beside this, a boy doll with a sled and all the different kinds of clothes that a little boy ought to wear. I want a real toy automobile with a horn and a lamp—not the kind that is like a tricycle, because I already have one like that—I mean the real kind that runs with gasoline. They cost a hundred and twenty-five dollars, maybe a little more, but I don’t think you mind what they cost.

“I want a doll house that is nicer than the one you gave me before. It ought to be big enough for me to go into myself and I would like to have it built up in the garden like a real house. You can put it down by the greenhouses because it will be too big to bring into our house or carry down the chimney, I know. And then too I want—”

Mary Louise’s blue eyes considered the ceiling for a space of time: “I want a ring like[Pg 16] mother’s—one with a blue stone in it,” she added. While she was trying to think of something else to ask for, the door of the library opened and in walked Mary Louise’s big daddy. He glanced for a minute at Mary Louise and he took up the telephone.

Mary Louise’s daddy was busy there several minutes. He watched Mary Louise nibbling the end of her pencil and he looked over her shoulder at the letter. As he did so, a smile crossed his face. “Writing to Santa Claus, Mary Louise?” he asked when he put down the receiver.

“I was wondering what to ask for next,” Mary Louise informed him. “I think I’ll ask for another pony. Nibbles is very nice, of course, but I’d rather like one that will trot faster. I think I’d like a white pony with a white kid harness and a white basket-cart.”

“You’re asking for a great many things, aren’t you?” daddy suggested. “Maybe it might be well to close the letter now. I’ll take it with me and mail it on the way down town—better address the envelope.”

“I might think of something more,” remonstrated Mary Louise. But she folded the six[Pg 17] sheets of pad paper and put them into the envelope that daddy held out. Then she addressed it to Mr. Santa Claus, Santa Claus Land, Santa Claus Country, North Pole, exactly as nurse had told her.

Daddy put it into his overcoat pocket as Mary Louise had seen him put letters that he posted for mother. Then as the library door closed, she plumped herself down upon the thick black fur rug in front of the fire to look at a picture book.

She had not been there very long when the telephone bell rang. James didn’t come as he ought and Marie was upstairs, so Mary Louise incommoded herself by getting up from the rug to answer it. It had already rung three times and she was quite ready to scold Marie for not answering it. But she did not have the chance as Marie still did not come. So Mary Louise took up the receiver. “Hello!” she called.

“Hello,” came a cheery answer.

“What is it?” inquired Mary Louise.

“I want to talk to Miss Mary Louise Snow,” came the answer. “I’m Santa Claus.”

“Oh, I’m her!” gasped Mary Louise. “I’m—I’m[Pg 18] her!” Never before had Santa Claus called Mary Louise up by telephone! Never had she spoken to him except for a few brief minutes at a Christmas party celebration.

“You are,” returned the voice. “Well, I’m glad you are at home, Mary Louise. There’s something very special that I want to talk about. It’s almost time for me to receive your usual Christmas letter. I suppose there are a great many things that you will want. Have you been a good little girl this year?”

“Sometimes,” Mary Louise faltered. “I have tried very hard not to have tantrums. Maybe I did once or twice but I tried not to say things when Marie would unsnarl my hair.”

“Have you learned your multiplication tables?”

“Up to sevens,” answered Mary Louise. “I think I can say them, but I can’t always remember what seven times nine is and I forget seven times twelve.”

“That sounds as if you had tried fairly well,” the voice of Santa Clause commented. “There are a great many Christmas presents that you would like, I suppose?”

[Pg 19]“Yes,” returned Mary Louise, “Oh, yes, Santa Claus! I just wrote you my letter and I hadn’t quite finished it when daddy came in and took it to mail, so maybe I’ll write another later on. I didn’t ask for any games or things. I might send another letter when I think of what I want. If you like, I will tell you the things that I asked for in my first letter if I can remember them. I want a big, big doll that can talk, and it must have real hair and shut and open its eyes and it must have blue eyes and real eye-lashes too. I asked for a pink silk dress and gloves, I think—I can’t remember. And there were to be two big Teddy bears with a growl and a squeak both—very big bears, one pure white and the other furry and brown. I want a white pony, too, and a white cart and harness. The letter will tell you all about that—I forget all that I said in the letter,” she explained. “It was ’most six pages long of big pad paper.”

“That was rather long,” chuckled Santa Claus.

“Yes,” smiled Mary Louise, “but I think I forgot to say that I wanted gloves for the doll.”

[Pg 20]“I’m not sure I can bring the gloves,” Santa Claus said. “I think, however, that I might get the doll to you. Would you rather have a doll than the two Teddy bears?”

“I want both,” replied Mary Louise. It seemed strange that Santa Claus should not understand a thing, as simple as that! “Teddy bears are very po-pular, I know, but I guess you must have ever so many and you’ve usually brought me nicer things than you’ve given other little girls that I know.”

“Well, maybe I can bring a Teddy bear, if there’s one left over, Mary Louise, but I’m not at all sure I can bring the pony this year, you know. I’m afraid I’ve got to cut down on your presents, Mary Louise. That’s why I called up. I have something very, very important to ask you. I want to know if you can help me? I’m trying to distribute my gifts more—more properly this year. You know, of course, Mary Louise, that there are ever so many little children that do not get Christmas presents, especially in war time.”

“Are there?” inquired Mary Louise. “I suppose it’s the children who have been naughty.”

[Pg 21]“Oh, no.”

“What is it, then?”

“It’s not because I forget them or because they are naughty,” explained Santa Claus’ voice. “It’s because too many goodies go to the rich little children. Then the poor little children who would like toys—they have nothing.”

“Oh,” gasped Mary Louise. “Then, I suppose you’ve given me more than my share?”

“I’m afraid so,” answered Santa.

“Don’t the poor children have anything?”

“Sometimes I’ve given to the wrong people,” came the evasive answer. “You see, I have a great deal to do. I ought to have a lot of people to help me. How can one person do it all! Sometimes I don’t find the right children and I use up the things that grow in the Santa Claus Land and then I have nothing left after the long, long lists are made up for the very particular little rich children.”

“Oh, dear!”

“Yes, that’s why. Do you want to give up some of your things this year so that they can go to the poor children?”

[Pg 22]Mary Louise reflected. “Which?” she asked. “Do you mean the doll or the pony or the automobile or the new doll house?”

“You have about a hundred dolls, haven’t you?”

“No,” corrected Mary Louise, “only just seventy-six, counting the little bits of china ones in the doll house. Without these there are about forty—but only twenty are big ones.”

“Well,” chuckled Santa Claus, “that seems to me a good deal too many. You could give up the doll, I think. Suppose that you were a little girl who had never had any doll ever!”

“Well, but I’d like the pink doll—”

“I’ll tell you what,” Santa Claus suggested. “You think things over. Maybe I’ll find that I can spare a pink doll for you, after all. But I want you to help me look out for some of the poor children this year and I want you to buy at least six presents out of your very own money. I want you to find some children that I ought to know about. I want you to help them for me. I’ll telephone you some addresses where there are little poor children and you must write these down and keep them[Pg 23] and see that the boys and girls have proper Christmas presents. Will you do it?”

“Oh, yes, Mr. Santa Claus, gladly,” returned Mary Louise. “I have nineteen dollars in my bank, I think. My daddy will help me.”

“No, I don’t want your daddy to help you. It’s to be your very own money!”

“All right. I’ll not ask him. Of course I want to help you, Mr. Santa Claus. I’ll love to do it.”

“Well, good-bye. If I can, I’ll come on Christmas eve to your tree. You do the very best you can, Mary Louise, and invite the poor children to share your tree!”

The receiver was hung up at the other end of the line and Mary Louise stood bewildered before the library table where she had just written her long Christmas list. She stood there thinking it all over from beginning to end. She, she had been asked to help Santa Claus! It was a great distinction! Poor overworked Santa Claus had appealed to her as a very rich little girl who already had everything—and she mightn’t get the pink doll at all!

[Pg 24]Then Mary Louise could not keep the secret any longer and she dashed up the stairs to mother’s room. She wouldn’t let mother go out of the room till she had told her the whole story and mother had a very important engagement and was all ready to go out in the car. Together they emptied Mary Louise’s bank and counted out exactly nineteen dollars and fifty-three cents. Mary Louise wanted to take it and start right out in the car to buy the presents, but with difficulty mother explained that she had better wait till Santa Claus sent in the names and she had found out what the children wanted.

And Santa Claus did telephone the names. Mary Louise was at dinner and James answered the telephone. Mary Louise felt badly that she had not been called, but there was no need to take her away from dinner; James had the addresses on the telephone pad, mother said. She was sure they were right.

Mary Louise wished daddy were home. It seemed to her that he would never come. As she felt sure she would need to buy a tree for the Christmas party, she got nurse to take her to that shop in the afternoon. But it is wonderful[Pg 25] to think that a Christmas tree costs money! Before this, Mary Louise had never considered the subject. It was a very tall tree and it was an expensive tree. The charge for it ate into the nineteen dollars and fifty-three cents considerably. The things that went onto the tree must all be new. Santa Claus must see that Mary Louise had bought new ones to please him. So she bought ever so many-stars and birds, and balls of red, yellow, blue, green, white, silver, gold. And there was need of tinsel. If Mary Louise had had her own way, she would have spent almost all the nineteen dollars and fifty-three cents just on that tree without thinking of the consequences. Why, if she had, how could she have bought any presents for the poor children?

Next day, after having told daddy all about it, she wrote to the addresses that Santa Claus had given her. She wrote the letters in ink and used her very bestest best blue note-paper. All the letters were sealed with a Santa Claus sticker. It did take a great deal of time, I assure you.

The invitations were to Mamie and Johnnie[Pg 26] and Toby Smith. They were to Tony Pettino and Lily Wicks and Benny Wicks who lived in a part of the city Mary Louise had never seen. Nurse said it was a very sad part of the city. When Mary Louise asked if she might go there and see it and see the children, nurse said she guessed Santa Claus didn’t know what he was talking about—she guessed not. Mary Louise insisted, but all in vain. Santa Claus had told her what the children’s ages were and left the gifts to Mary Louise’s selection.

When daddy had taken the letters to the poor children in his overcoat pocket to mail, Mary Louise fell to planning about the gifts. Only one little girl—all boys! How dreadful! But mother helped Mary Louise by suggesting things that little boys might like. From her own playthings Mary Louise selected her biggest doll for Lily and would have given her ever so many other dolls, had not mother thought that Mary Louise might add other little girls to her Christmas list of poor children and make the helping of Santa Claus more equally distributed among those who might otherwise be forgotten.

[Pg 27]How fast the nineteen dollars and fifty-three cents did go—just buying the tree and the fixings, and the sled and the overcoat and mittens, and skates, and carts, and baseball bats! It was a tragic moment when Mary Louise suddenly discovered that Benny had been neglected and didn’t have as many gifts as the others. She consulted daddy, as there were no boys’ toys among her playthings and nothing seemed right. Daddy said—well, he said she might work and earn the money to buy Benny a present.

Never in her life had Mary Louise worked to earn money! “How can I earn money?” she asked.

Daddy thought. “If you will learn the seven times seven table, and the eight, and the nine and any of the others, I’ll give you a dollar for every one you can say perfectly. That’s very special, Mary Louise, because it’s Christmas, you know.”

Dear me! To think of having to sit down quietly in all the excitement of Christmas rush and learn horrid multiplication tables! If anything was work, that surely was!

But where there’s a will there’s a way and[Pg 28] Mary Louise did it. She did it so well that she remembered all of the seven table perfectly. She also went on and learned the eight and nine table and the ten table—that was easy. Then, being quite enthusiastic, she tried hard at the others and mastered the twelve table after keeping at it a steady day. With the proceeds of these earnings, paid gravely by daddy, she was able to buy Benny a game, and when she went to buy it and found some little poor children right by the car that stopped at the entrance of Bunty’s Department Store, she was able to invite them then and there and go right in and buy presents for them. They needed woolen scarfs and mittens, and Mary Louise had found presents on the toy shelf among the toys kept for very special occasions. These would do for them.

When once Mary Louise had started to help Santa Claus, there was no knowing where she would end. Whenever she went out, she saw little children whom she was sure Santa Claus had forgotten because they looked so wistfully in at shop windows. Some of them nurse let her speak to and she added these to[Pg 29] her list for the party. There seemed to be no table of thirteens to learn but daddy gave a dollar for every poem she could recite and Mary Louise knew ever so many and it was easy to learn short ones.

Oh, dear! Oh, dear! How the time did fly! Before Mary Louise knew it, Christmas Eve was there! There had been all the fun of fixing the tree and daddy and mother had helped. Mary Louise hoped Santa Claus wouldn’t disappoint her! She hoped that he surely would come! She was very much relieved when James came in and said that he had just been asked to deliver a message that came from Santa Claus over the telephone. It was a telegram and it said:

    Will be at your Christmas party Christmas Eve eight o’clock.

    Santa Claus.

After that, Mary Louise didn’t worry. She let Marie take the tangles out of her hair and help her into her very best pink silk dress and then she dashed downstairs to wait for all the guests who had been invited to come. She wanted to play games with them and she[Pg 30] wanted to tell them all about Santa Claus and she hoped they would like to sing carols and dance around the tree—but most of all she hoped that they would like the presents she had arranged for them at Santa Claus’ suggestion. Oh, wouldn’t it be fun to see Santa Claus give out the big white Teddy bear and the big brown fuzzy bear and the pink doll and the cart and the skates and—and—

But here the doorbell rang and there was a scuffle of happy feet. It was Lily and Benny and Tony and all the rest. They were as happy as happy could be. Mary Louise greeted them all and then they beamed upon her almost as if she were Santa Claus herself, but I just wish you could have heard the shrieks of delight when the front doorbell rang and James ushered in Santa Claus himself! It was just too bad that daddy wasn’t there to see all the fun, though mother did hope that maybe he might be able to come later. Oh, what a good time they all did have! It was the very best and happiest Christmas that Mary Louise had ever, ever, ever had! It was wonderful!

Why, Mary Louise had such a good time[Pg 31] that she forgot all about the pink doll till Santa Claus came and gave it to her, after giving out all the other gifts. It was the very doll that Mary Louise had wanted, but she asked Santa Claus to be sure he could spare it and that he had neglected nobody else to give her the doll. He said he guessed not—at least he hoped not, and then they sat on the sofa and ate ice cream together while Santa Claus joked and told stories. But he couldn’t stay very long, he said, and he had to go. Then just afterwards, alas, in came daddy, who might have met Santa Claus, if only he had got there a wee bit sooner! And the children danced around the tree and sang carols. And then they all wished Mary Louise a Happy Christmas and went home with arms laden with packages that they hugged tight and smiled and chuckled over.

After the children went, there was just mother and daddy left. They both kissed Mary Louise and vowed that they’d have another party again next year, maybe. Then daddy took Mary Louise upon his knee and put a little blue ring upon her finger. It was the kind of a ring that Mary Louise had[Pg 32] wanted—one just like mother’s, only little. And mother told Mary Louise that her Christmas present was the doll house. It was coming as soon as possible. It was so big that one could play inside and it was to be placed right close to the garden greenhouses.

It was a Christmas that Mary Louise never forgot and couldn’t forget, even if it had not been for the blue ring and the multiplication tables!

[Pg 33]

[Pg 34]

The Penny Bank Window


The January surprise pocket had held a little picture calendar. Marjorie had opened it according to directions that said:

    “Open sometime when you want to write a letter.”

As there was a Christmas thank-you letter to write upon the very first day of January, Marjorie had opened that pocket and found the calendar. Then she had looked to see just when she might open the story pocket. The writing on this one said:

    “Open on some Saturday afternoon, when you are sitting by the fire.”

The very first Saturday afternoon that came in January, Marjorie took the Surprise Book and went to the fireside. She could not wait to find out what was in the story pocket. She told Dotty that the time had come for the story and Dotty curled happily at her feet on the rug while she read “The Penny Bank Window” that was the January story.


All The Data From The Network AND User Upload, If Infringement, Please Contact Us To Delete! Contact Us
About Us | Terms of Use | Privacy Policy | Tag List | Recent Search  
©2010-2018, All Rights Reserved