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CHAPTER VI Johnny Blossom’s Christmas Presents
 MY, oh, my! Tomorrow would be the day before Christmas and Johnny Blossom hadn’t thought about a single present yet, for any one. He would have to hurry now, though after all he wasn’t in such a bad fix, for he had some money—fifty cents, in fact—and that was surely enough and to spare.  
He ought to give twelve Christmas presents in all: to Father and Mother, three sisters, both the maids, Jeremias the wood-cutter, Uncle Isaac of Kingthorpe, Miss Melling (Uncle’s housekeeper), Miss Jorgensen, who stayed with them last summer, and Tellef, his special boy friend.
This wasn’t the first year he had given presents, no, indeed! He had given some last year and the year before, but then Mother had helped him. This year he was going to plan them all by himself. Not a single person, not even Mother, should get the least idea of any of the presents beforehand.
After all, should he give Miss Jorgensen a present or not? Miss Melling there was no question about. She was always giving him presents, and she wasn’t the worst person in the world, even if she was so about boys wiping their feet. The last time he was at Kingthorpe she had given him a silver pencil without any reason whatever! It wasn’t his birthday or anything. Yes, he would certainly give her something—that was settled.
The hardest to find presents for were Uncle Isaac and Jeremias. Poor Jeremias was sick now; he had been in bed for a whole month with pains in his back and everywhere. Johnny Blossom had been to his house to see him every day that he had thought of it, and that was almost every day. Jeremias lay there alone all day long, except that Maria Kopp went in morning and evening to look after him a little. It was easy enough to get into the little house, for it was never locked. Any one could lift the and step in; then the thing to do was to get Jeremias a dipper of water and to fix up the fire. Jeremias would say, “Thank you , sir” (he always said that), and then Johnny Blossom would dash out, fastening the door again with only the heavy old latch.
At home that day they had been baking the Christmas cakes. Johnny Blossom had eaten not a little of the raw , and his sister Asta and he had made some cakes of shapes (though rather from much handling), which they were allowed to bake.
It was while they were busy with the cakes that it had dawned upon Johnny Blossom that there was no time to spare, and that he must decide upon his presents at once.
The present for Father was an easy matter. The ruler that Johnny had just finished in the sloyd class was exactly the thing; and Mother should have the knife box. Carve their names nicely on the things, and those two presents would be ready.
Then he would make—h’m—seven baskets of pretty colored paper and fill them with drops. Everybody liked peppermint drops.
This left only Uncle Isaac and Jeremias and Tellef, and there would be about twenty cents to spend on their presents. Oh, yes! He could manage very well.
Suddenly he had a brilliant idea. That beautiful frame that he had carved in the autumn, he would give that to Uncle Isaac, with a pretty card on which he would write: “A Christmas greeting from an affectionate boy. Johnny Blossom.”
Jeremias should also have a beautiful card, but that would have to have a frame of paper pasted round it. And on the card there should be a text from the Bible, because Jeremias was so fond of texts. If he could only find the right one! At first he thought he should have to ask his mother, but that he would choose one all by himself.
There! he had it! Not that he was altogether sure of its being a text exactly, but it was so beautiful! Then Johnny Blossom, with his head on one side, his little snub nose almost the paper, wrote, with extraordinary slowness, because the writing was to be so very, very good:
God will never, never thee.
Pshaw! That was always the way! The more pains you took, the worse was the writing. Some of the letters were awfully small and and others were too big; and the whole thing down hill so that there was scarcely room for his name in the corner; and of course his name must be there.
Well, there was nothing to do about it. He had no more cards so he should have to use this. With a dark brown paper frame and a red cord it would not be so bad after all. Johnny Blossom put his head first on one side and then on the other and the card as a whole. No, it really was not bad.
For Tellef he would buy some dates—they were so good—and with this settled, all his presents were planned.
On the day before Christmas, big, soft snowflakes drifted slowly down from a lowering gray sky. The snow melted as soon as it fell, and from the sea a raw, wet wind came in; but there might have been worse weather, and Johnny Blossom, at any rate, was well content. He was going out to distribute his presents today. It was so pleasant to take them himself to the different persons.
First he went to Miss Jorgensen’s, for she lived nearest, in her own tiny white house. She was in the kitchen washing dishes when Johnny Blossom’s little nose showed itself at the kitchen door.
“Well, well! Is it you?”
Yes, it was he, and would she accept a little Christmas present? Johnny Blossom held out to her the fancy paper basket filled with peppermint drops.
“Set it down somewhere—my hands are wet. I never eat peppermint candy, but I thank you all the same. Is every one well at home?”
“Yes, very well.”
Johnny Blossom took his leave in some disappointment. Miss Jorgensen wasn’t a bit nice—she was simply . Oh, well, he didn’t mind. Anyway, she couldn’t say that no one had given her a Christmas present.
Johnny Blossom went on to Jeremias the wood-cutter’s. The wind blew straight into the room the minute the door was opened, and Jeremias . He looked awfully old today. Very gray indeed was his stubby beard and very dull were his eyes as he lay there on his blue pillow.
“Have you come to see me in all this bad weather?” said Jeremias.
“This is weather,” said Johnny Blossom, although just then another wild of wind made Jeremias’s little house shake violently.
“Here is a Christmas present for you,” said John. “It is to hang on the wall so you can see it, Jeremias. Isn’t it pretty?”
“Yes, indeed, that’s a fine piece of work!”
“Did it all myself,” said Johnny Blossom, with some pride.
“Well, well! You do know how to make things!” said Jeremias admiringly.
A nail was driven in the wall near the one that held the big silver watch, and the Christmas present was hung on it at once in plain sight.
“God will never, never forsake thee,” read Jeremias as his crooked old finger along the line. “There is balm in those words, Johnny Blossom,” he said slowly.
Old people were queer, thought John, for “balm” was something that was used for wounds—he knew that very well—and yet there lay Jeremias and said that there was balm in those words, “God will never, never forsake thee.”
“Yes,” said Johnny Blossom, for he saw that Jeremias expected him to answer.
It really looked very pretty hanging there on the wall.
“How do they manage about the wood at your house nowadays?” asked Jeremias.
“Oh, very well,” replied John. Then he happened to think that Jeremias might be disappointed to hear that it made no difference whether he was able to look after the wood or not, so Johnny added quickly, “Mother says that they don’t split the wood fine enough.”
Jeremias was plainly enlivened. “There! Isn’t that what I have always said!” he exclaimed. “Wood should be split just so. Kindlings ought to be light and pleasant and coquettish to make the fire dance.”
“Yes,” said Johnny Blossom.
What a great one Jeremias was to use queer words!
“Well, Merry Christmas, Jeremias!”
“Thank you kindly, sir. It won’t be lonesome now that I have that to look at,” and his crooked finger pointed up to the little brown paper frame hanging by its red cord.
John now started on his way to Kingthorpe. One of his pockets was weighted down with a big of dates, for he planned to drop in at Tellef’s on his way home; and from another pocket the greater portion of the frame he was to present to Uncle Isaac.
Kingthorpe was quiet and stately and a little awe-inspiring as usual. Miss Melling had gone to town and Uncle Isaac was ill in bed. After a little thought, Johnny Blossom sent the frame in to his uncle by the servant, with his best Christmas wishes. The servant was in livery and always carried a silver tray in his hand. Even when Uncle Isaac had nothing but , he had it on a silver tray!
Johnny Blossom was nearly out of the grounds on his way home when the servant came running after him to tell him that his uncle wanted him. Johnny turned back with great delight. He had known well enough that Uncle Isaac would wish to see him after receiving such a beautiful present.
Uncle Isaac lay in the big carved bedstead. My, oh, my! how pale he was! almost as pale as Jeremias the wood-cutter.
“Sit here beside me,” said Uncle Isaac. “Thank you very much for this beautiful Christmas present.” The frame stood on a table near the bed.
“Yes, but you mustn’t look at that corner, for there’s a tiny piece off there; nor right there either; and here it is badly carved, as you see, Uncle Isaac. But if you hold it like this and just look at the whole—why, it isn’t so bad,” said Johnny Blossom, beaming.
“I will remember,” said Uncle Isaac. “I am to hold it sideways and just get the general view when I look at it.”
“The writing might have been nicer, too,” said Johnny apologetically, “but I had such a scratchy, bad pen.”
“I like it very much just as it is,” replied Uncle Isaac.
There came a little pause. Johnny felt somewhat and scarcely knew what to talk about.
“Jeremias the wood-cutter is ill in bed, too,” he said suddenly.
“Is that one of your acquaintances?”
“Yes. I know him very well. I go in to see him almost every day.”
“Tell me a little about him.”
“He has pains in his back—right there—tearing his back to pieces, he says; and he lies there alone all day except when Maria Kopp or I go to see to him. His house is never locked; any one can go right in. I’ve just been there with a Christmas present for him.”
“What did you give him, little John?”
“A Bible text in a frame and with a cord to hang it by. This was the text, ‘God will never, never forsake thee.’”
“And was he pleased?”
“Yes, he said it was balm.”
“Did he say that?” And the wonderful, far-seeing expression that Johnny Blossom could never understand came over Uncle Isaac’s face.
“The wood-cutter is right. It is balm,” said Uncle Isaac finally.
Well! Here lay Uncle Isaac with the green silk eiderdown , with the servant in livery always carrying a silver tray; and there lay Jeremias the wood-cutter on his blue homespun pillow, with the wind howling at his very bedside—and both of them said that there was balm in those words! Johnny Blossom thought it was very queer.
“Some presents will go over to your house this evening,” said Uncle Isaac when he said good-by.
My, oh, my! Johnny Blossom over every he came to on his way home. First over the gutter and then back again and over again just because everything was so unspeakably , because it was Christmas Eve, because Uncle Isaac was going to send some presents. They were sure to be wonderful presents, those Uncle Isaac sent!
He met Tellef’s littlest sister on the street.
“See here!” he said to her; “here is a Christmas present for Tellef; but just as surely as you the least bit with the paper, I’ll send a snowball right through your head. So now you know what to expect.”
The little girl went straight into the house holding the cornucopia of dates stiffly with both hands, while Johnny Blossom, with snowball ready, stood and watched her.
No, she didn’t meddle with the package at all. Everything had gone well. Johnny Blossom took careful aim and sent the snowball flying toward the flagstaff at his own home.
The church bells began to ring, in the holy tide. Christmas Eve! Oh, he must hurry, hurry home!
Bim! Boom! How the great bells chimed!

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