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cially about the silly little war we had over a century ago."
Are you sure he's not a British propagandist?" William asked, with a grin.
"Yes," said Angus, "I have a confidential list of them up-stairs, and he 's not on it. He's merely a scholar interested in showing how the anti-British attitude was produced in this country.
"Thomas Jefferson went through your Revolutionary War," said Angus, "and he said that England was the best friend the United States had or could win for herself. Those are not his words, but that was his idea. Cousin William, I wish it were possible"-Angus was tremendously in earnest -"to force every history teacher in the United States to tell the whole truth about the revolt of the American colonies."
"What do you mean by the truth?" William asked, puffing away at his cigar as he always does when he is very much interested.
Angus drew himself up, and his eyes flashed.
German king named George III," he declared, a man who spoke English with a marked Hanoverian accent and who was a madman and had to be confined not long after, seized by corruption the government of my country. He it as who attempted to oppress the American colonists. They revolted, like the true Britishers they were. The war over here was hopelessly mismanaged, and after a time the colonists succeeded in obtaining complete separation from the mother country, just as the great bulk of Englishmen wanted them to."
"Bravo!" said William, applauding. Angus maintained his gravity. was really very impressive.
"The true Briton," said he, "is as proud of America's independence as he is of the British Empire. We AngloSaxons cannot be robbed of our liberties by any German that ever lived or that ever shall live."
"Hail to the new British ambassador!" William shouted, laughing, and the children cheered with him. Then William declared, "Long may the British lion and the American eagle hunt
together cheek by jowl!" and they cheered again.
Early in December William made his annual announcement.
"Well, kids, the day has come to begin your letters to Santa Claus."
Instantly Bob and Betty broke forth into joyous hubbub. When they had left the table to go to school, Angus said:
"I say, you American parents do spoil your children, don't you?"
"Angus," said Martha Ferguson, "you must write a letter, too."
"Dear Cousin Martha," he stammered, "I really can't, you know. II'm most awfully sorry."
She was deeply hurt.
"Why, Angus, why should n't you?" Angus was shifting most uncomfortably in his chair.
"I-I don't believe in the Santa Claus thing, don't you know, and-" She smiled at him, relieved.
"I sometimes wonder if Bob does, either. Betty is hardly old enough to question Santa Claus's reality yet; but I'm afraid Bob has his doubts. That does n't matter at all, Angus."
"But you see, dear lady,"—Angus was evidently distressed,-"in my case it does matter. I'm most I'm most awfully sorry."
I thought I knew what the trouble
"Do you hate being given presents, Angus?" I asked.
He was amazed at the question. "No, no; rather not."
"Would n't you prefer to receive the things you want instead of a lot of things you don't want?" Mrs. Ferguson asked.
"Oh, I am so sorry!" Angus was quite miserable. "I'm so sorry, but, you see —oh, dash it all, I'll have to tell you what I think of the whole Christmas racket. You Americans have been doing this Christmas thing so long you've forgotten where you got the idea. It's a dirty Hun trick."
Martha Ferguson stared at him in open-mouthed horror.
"Why, what a dreadful thing to say!" she cried indignantly.
"Now you've put your foot in it," William growled. "When you get
""WILL YOU PLEASE LET ME BE SANTA CLAUS?"
From a painting made for THE CENTURY by Arthur G. Dove
Martha roused up, there's the devil to pay. Come and help me find a nice fir sapling in the wood-lot over the hill. I sha'n't cut it to-day, but I want to pick it out."
"I know you'll think me a beastly rotter," said Angus, “and I don't blame you at all for having the Christmas thing if you want to, but, really, you know, I simply can't mess in it. You must excuse me, Cousin William. Boche crucified some of our chaps on his Christmas-trees. I can't go it. It 's too German. Please forgive me."
"But we 're not Germans, Angus, not even German-Americans."
"That's what makes it so hard for me, Cousin Martha. I can't tell you how beastly I feel. But don't you see, I-I-not long ago I helped organize a secret society whose object is to uproot all German customs and ideas that have taken root in England-kindergartens, Christmas, and all that. We call ourselves the Enemies of Christmas and Kultur."
"Angus, does your mother know about this?"
"No, Cousin Martha, she does n't. We were obliged to make it a secret society because people in England think the Christmas thing was brought over from America,-but, you see, America got it from Germany, and they would oppose us if they knew. Besides, you can enroll more members for a secret society. I never dared tell mother, because she said once that a secret society is a society that is or ought to be ashamed of itself. But I'm sure she would approve of this one," he concluded doubtfully.
Angus MacLeod," said Martha, and her voice quivered and her eyes were full of tears, "Christmas is the happiest time of the year for my babies and for me. I adore giving them things. I adore decorating their tree. I look forward from year to year much more than the children do to seeing their father in his Santa Claus clothes. I don't care whether Christmas is German or Turkish or Chinese; I love our Christmas. I just love it, and I think it's dreadful of you to talk as you do!" Martha fled, weeping.
I felt sorry for Angus, but sorrier
for poor Martha, and I followed her upstairs. She was crying over William's Santa Claus costume when I found her.
"I'm not going to let that boy spoil our Christmas!" she declared defiantly. She threaded a needle, and tightened some of the buttons on the rea muslin aisguise. Between bites at her thread she confided to me in a tone of triumph, "I knew that child was too perfect to be quite right in his mind." The consolation of this thought was very real. Angus did put Bob and Betty more or less in the shade, he had been so beautifully educated, he had had such unusual advantages, such wonderful associations. But that did n't make it pleasant to have him outshine our own children. We had never warmed to him as William did, nor as Bob and Betty did. Martha and I, though I less than Martha, had been a little jealous for our babies. That is the truth of the matter. And now it was good to find a flaw in the perfect prodigy. We were just a little. glad that Angus was such a fool about Christmas. That also is the mere truth.
Martha bit off her thread and looked at me.
"That boy is cracked with his notions about Christmas being a dirty German custom. Oh, I could shake him! I don't care if the custom did originate in Germany. Trousers originated in Persia. That's no reason for civilized men discarding them."
"But what are we going to do with him in the house?"
"I don't know," she replied desperately. "I'll cable his mother, if necessary, and make her order him to behave himself."
She began to cry again, and I could. have cried with her. Christmas is such a joyous time with us! We begin to plan for it nine months ahead, and by Thanksgiving the hiding-places in the house and all the high shelves and closets and dark corners are filled to bursting with the most thrilling secrets in packages and boxes and barrels and crates. You learn to walk warily into rooms, and knock with tingling timidity at doors that were wont to stand open. What can be gayer than the suspense of the week before Christmas? Is there any more rapturous music than the
rustle of Christmas tissue-paper or the soft clink of ornaments being hung on a brilliant tree?
"I won't have it ruined, I won't have it!" exclaimed Martha. "Take this down-stairs, please, dear, and ask Susan to wash it," and she thrust William's masquerade into my hands.
"Won't it shrink, dear?"
"Can't be helped. It's all dusty and dirty and must be washed. William will have to squeeze into it."
I took it with some misgivings. I remembered that it had been none too large last year.
That day Angus received a letter from his mother—a momentous letter, which he read to us at the dinner-table; so momentous that it drove the Christmas quarrel into the background for the time being. I cannot attempt to paraphrase one of Mollie MacLeod's letters. You must read it in full and draw your own conclusions.
Angus, dear boy:
Colonel Wallas Grahame was invalided to Edinburgh the day you sailed from Liverpool. He convalesced at the Rookery, and now is ready to return to his ranch in Wyoming. I am coming with him. We shall see you within a week after you read this letter, for we are taking the Belgic, a somewhat faster boat than this letter will catch.
Do you recall that expanse of gorse and heather next to our hunting-lodge in the Trossachs? That has been in Wallas Grahame's family for three hundred years. Wallas left it and went to Wyoming not long after I married your father. I loved Wallas, but I chose Malcolm. Your father thought Wallas one of the finest men he knew.
Malcolm MacLeod has been dead for two years, and there are so many things a man can teach you that no woman ever knows. We are coming to ask your approval of our marriage.
Dear old chap, are n't you Scotch enough to want to add five hundred acres of grouseland to your patrimony?
"Does that mean they are married already?" William asked.
"No, no," said Angus; "mother would n't marry without consulting me."
Martha has a strong vein of sentiment, and she was quite moved. "I'm so glad Mollie is going to marry her old beau. She 's still a young woman, and I see no reason why she should n't suit herself if she has a chance."
Angus shook his head over the letter. He had already read it six times, and now he read it again slowly, his lips moving without sound.
It turned out that Martha was right. In their restrained, terribly well-bred, "dour" Scotch way they adored each other. That was clear from the moment they arrived. I have never seen two people more charmingly suited or more delightfully in love. And when the children had gone up to bed they confessed to us shyly, but with a good deal of mirth, that they had "practically eloped," and their marriage was solemnized in Edinburgh just before they started for America. But they wanted Angus's approval before telling him.
Martha had been fidgeting with impatience all evening, and as soon as congratulations had been enthusiastically offered, and toasts drunk, she burst forth:
"Mollie, did you know that Angus has organized a secret society?"
"It's too bad to split on the kid," said William, and laughed, "but are you