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XIV The Directory Santa Claus
Christmas holidays had begun and school was out. The scholars had spoken Christmas pieces that told of gift-giving and Santa Claus.

Rose Schneider and Lili Fifer, with school-books under their arms, pushed open the heavy oak door of the big city library and trotted with one accord upstairs to join the line of children waiting to get in.

“I got a dandy book,” Lili volunteered as they wedged into the waiting line. “It was all about a little girl that went to see Santa Claus. I’m bringin’ it back now. Say, Rose, you get it on your card. It’s an awfully nice story.”

But Rose shook her head. The thin snub of her nose turned up even higher than ever. It added emphasis to her refusal. “There[Pg 186] ain’t any Santa Claus,” she said. “I never had any Christmas presents from him.”

“Well,” Lili insisted, “I ain’t either but I think there is a Santa Claus all right. He don’t know us, maybe, but he’s awfully good to some children. My cousin that goes to Sunday School gets a doll, and a box of candy, and an orange from him every Christmas. He has a long white beard an’ he’s ever so jolly!”

“Salvation Armies, they make Santa Clauses. They’re not real—only anybody dressed up. Most likely your cousin’s Santa Claus was like that,” Rose retorted. “The Salvation Army Santa Clauses they always stand by the street corners to catch Christmas dinner pennies in their pails.”

“No. ’Twasn’t that kind of a Santa Claus! He’s real!”

“Well, you won’t find him in no directory,” Rose argued. “You just go an’ look. All real folks’ names is in it an’ you won’t find Santa Claus. There ain’t any!”

With this parting thrust, Rose squeezed through a sudden opening in the line and escaped into the reading room beyond.

Lili waited for her book to be discharged,[Pg 187] then she raised a questioning little hand toward the lady at the library desk.

“Please,” she asked, “where is the directory book?”

“Downstairs,” the librarian answered. And downstairs Lili went.

The directory book was really very, very big indeed. It was almost a pity that it couldn’t be a story book, for one could never have done with a story book that size. There’d always be something new to read in it. When the fat volume was opened on its desk, Lili studied it at random trying to make out what it all meant. She decided to begin at the very beginning, so she commenced with A, turned on to B, and ran her forefinger down page after page. It took a great deal of time and patience. The text was very small and Lili was afraid she might overlook it. Down page after page it travelled till it came to Claus—Oh, there it was: Claus, Adolph, carpenter! No. That couldn’t be Santa Claus—the whole name wasn’t right. And beside that, he wasn’t a carpenter, Lili felt sure.

How many people there were by the name of Claus! Well, with patience, one might find[Pg 188] the right one! “Then I shall tell Rose that there is a Santa Claus for sure,” thought Lili. On down the list she went.

There was an S. T. Claus. That was the nearest to it. Who knows what that S. T. might mean in the way of abbreviation? The address was not far from the library. Lili decided to go down the avenue and find out if it were where the real Santa Claus lived.

The long winter twilight was beginning when Lili came out of the library. Already the lights from the grocery and the drugstore on the corner beyond warmed the cold gray stone of the pavement with red light. Further over, past the intersecting street, an arc lamp made a misty star in the dimness. Toward the star of light Lili made her way.

Yes, yes, she was on the right side of the street—she was getting nearer, nearer! Lili’s heart went pit-a-pat. Oh, there it was—There it was! It was a little shop that bore the number. Over its window was a sign, S. T. Claus. Somewhere Lili thought she had seen Santa Claus’ name written that way! It was the very place, no doubt!

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