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 Snow falls on the just and the unjust. There was quite as much of it in Hannah's back yard as in either Virginia's or Nellie's—perhaps even a little more had drifted into the fence corners. Hannah's joy in discovering that in this respect she had not been slighted crowded her troubles into the background. Immediately after breakfast, bundled up snugly, she stood in her yard and threw snowballs toward her neighbors' homes, while she squealed with delight. In a very few minutes, three little girls were playing where only one had played before.  
The two newcomers, Virginia Lawrence and Nellie Halloran, presented an interesting contrast. Virginia, slim, and tall for her age, with long, flat, yellow braids, handled the snow daintily, even gingerly. Nellie, fat and dimpled, her curls tousled into a flame colored halo, rolled over and over in the snow, and then shook herself like a puppy. Until the advent of Hannah, a subtle antagonism had existed between the two children. Virginia's favorite game was playing "lady" with a train floating gracefully behind her; Nellie's chief joy in life was seeing how long she could stand on her head, her short skirts obeying the laws of gravity all the while. Hannah, however, vibrated obligingly between the two sports, and kept the peace inviolate.
Romping in the snow is hard play, and presently the little girls sat panting on the top step of the Josephs' back porch. Immediately Nellie produced a string of amethyst colored beads from her coat pocket, with the announcement that she would say her prayers while resting.
"What kind of beads are those?" asked Hannah.
"Rosary beads, 'course," responded Nellie. "Hannah, you don't know anything."
"I do, too."
"Huh! you didn't even know about the Mother o' God until I told you."
"I reckon I thought God was an orphan," Hannah pleaded in extenuation. "But, what about God's papa?" she demanded with sudden inspiration. "You're so smarty, tell me about that!"
"Oh, God didn't have to have a father," Nellie answered easily. "Everything is free in Heaven; so He didn't have to have a father to work for Him when He was little."
"Then why did He have to have a mama?"
"To tell Him what to do, 'course. You know how 'tis. If you ask your papa anything, don't he always say, 'Go ask your mama'?"
Hannah had noticed this shifting of masculine responsibility more than once. "That's so," she acquiesced. Then a terrible thought struck her. "I don't want to go to Heaven! I don't want to go anywhere unless my papa can go too."
Nellie's nimble Irish wits were ready. "I just said God didn't need any papa. 'Course our papas will go to Heaven, 'cause that's the only place they can quit working. Didn't I hear my papa say one time he hoped he'd get a little rest in Heaven, 'cause he never got any on this earth?"
"But, you have to die before you can get to Heaven," sighed Hannah.
Virginia, who had been maintaining a most dignified silence, looked as if she must speak or explode. "No you don't. Heaven begins here and now," she recited. "If you are good, you are well and happy, and that's Heaven."
"'Tisn't," scoffed Nellie. "Do you see any angels flying 'round in this here yard? I don't."
Hannah rather took to Virginia's argument, and resolved to have conversation with her some time, undampened by Nellie's skepticism. If there could be feasting on the joys of Heaven here and now, Hannah had every intention of being at the banquet table. At the present moment, however, the rosary beads were of fascinating interest; she must hold them in her own hands, and watch the play of purple lights upon the snow as she flashed them in the sun. Questions about the crucifix, she found, brought on an embarrassing silence. Nellie looked at Virginia. Virginia looked at Nellie. Then the two excused themselves for a whispered colloquy at the other end of the yard. When they returned, Virginia acted as spokesman, fixing Nellie with an unrelenting eye.
"That is Jesus nailed to the cross, Hannah. Some very wicked people did it."
There was nothing exciting in this to Hannah; wicked people were doing wicked things the world over, all the time. The statement fell flat, and Nellie, disappointed at the lack of dramatic effect, broke treaty. "I 'spect the Jews did it," she said.
"They did not!" Hannah's voice trembled. "The Jews are nice people; they wouldn't do a wicked thing like that!"
Virginia put an arm across Hannah's shoulders. "Now see what you've done," she snapped at Nellie.
"Oh, I 'spect the Irish helped them," Nellie added magnanimously. "My papa says the Irish are into every thing."
Not having to bear the ignominy alone Hannah was comforted. "What makes you say prayers on the beads?" she asked.
"'Cause I want Santy to bring me a doll to-night. I wrote him 'bout sixteen letters, and I'm going to say my rosary a dozen times to-day."
To-morrow was Christmas Day! Hannah's face fell. All her sorrows returned with a rush. "Have you got any more of those beads?" she asked.
"Yes, but they wouldn't do you any good," Nellie answered with quick understanding. "You're not a Catholic."
"Couldn't I be one............
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