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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. The Boche crucified some of our chaps on his Christmas-trees. I can't go it. It's too German. Please forgive me.'

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"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 disguise. 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.

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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.

"I don't like her marrying just to get me a father and five hundred acres,' said Angus, finally. "That's a bit thick, you know. I don't see how I can let her do that, much as I should like to inherit the Grahame place."

Martha was exasperated.

"Angus," she exclaimed crossly, "can't you see that your mother loves Colonel Grahame?"

Angus looked startled.

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"Oh, I say," he admitted, "I can't imagine mother caring like that. No, no; I think you must be wrong.' 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

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aware that he is a founder of the Society of the Enemies of Santa Claus?" Mollie and her new husband burst into shouts of laughter. They laughed till the tears came.

"We heard of nothing else for a week before we left England," the colonel explained.

"It's no laughing matter," said Martha. She was laughing, too, but there were tears in her eyes, and she went on to tell them the whole story of the agonizing week we had put in since Angus told us that Christmas was a filthy Boche performance. We all talked at once.

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The colonel turned away, his shoulders heaving, and Mollie took charge of proceedings.

"A week before I sailed," said she, "a deputation of angry mothers called upon me at my home in Edinburgh and stated that my son had inveigled their sons into pledging an oath that they would have nothing to do with the socalled German Christmas. These young men had become alarmed at the prospect of receiving no gifts and also at the anger displayed by their parents when informed of the secret society into which they had been initiated by

Angus MacLeod. But some of them felt bound by the solemn oath which had been administered to them. Two days later I gathered them all into my drawing-room."

"How many came, Mother?" Angus asked.


"All twenty-five of the Enemies of Christmas and Kultur were present. had the honor to explain to them that they had taken an oath without knowing what it was for, and that it was not binding, and that I forthwith absolved them of all obligations, in your name. I explained that Christmas is a Christian festival, originating with the three wise men who brought gifts to the Christ child. I informed these young ignoramuses that Santa Claus is not a German, but a Scandinavian, saint, who has been adopted wherever the Norsemen have ever gone, including our own Scotland. And I urged them never to belong to another society which was so ashamed of itself that it had to be kept a secret."

Angus was quite crushed.

"Oh, I am an ass!" he said in a smothered voice.

"Further," his mother continued implacably, "I pointed out to those splendid young gentlemen that Christmas was a time devoted to 'peace on earth and good will toward men,' a time for 'forgiving those who have trespassed against you,' a time for universal loving-kindness."

"Please don't say any more, Mother!" Angus begged.

There was a silence, and the rest of us stole out of the room. I confess I lingered in the hallway and listened, but everybody else sneaked away, feeling whipped. I was fascinated by that woman's power over the boy, and I could n't believe she would keep it up. As a matter of fact she could n't. Through the crack I saw that Colonel Grahame had taken up a position behind her chair.

"Angus," said his mother, gently, “I have just been abusing my power as a grown person over a child. I did it deliberately. I did it to show you that you must learn not to abuse your power over other children or their parents. You've been tyrannizing over this house. I

don't know what you 're going to do about it, I really don't."

"You'll have to think up something very handsome to do for poor Mrs. Ferguson," said the colonel. "Get your

cap, and we 'll go for a long tramp and see what we can think of."

"By the way, Angus," said his mother, "I have n't told you that Wallas and I were married in Edinburgh on December tenth. We've each had secrets. We'll just have to forgive each other."

"I don't know what to say," said Angus, "except that I'm very proud indeed, sir, to have you for a father, and I am Scotch enough to relish the prospect of inheriting your lovely place in the Trossachs." He and the colonel shook hands warmly.

"Let's take that tramp I suggested," said the colonel, and they started toward the door behind which I was shamelessly eavesdropping. I fled up-stairs and watched them from a window as they swung down the drive side by side.

They were gone all day. By nine o'clock we decided they were not going to eat the dinner we had saved for them. The children went up to bed at nine-thirty, and William declared that this would be a fine time for him to try on his "Santa rig." Martha tiptoed upstairs and brought it down, but when she and William unfolded it and spread it out, their faces fell terribly. It had shrunk away almost to nothing. We were aghast.

"Is n't there some way you can boil me down to the dimensions of a quartcup?" he asked breathlessly.

At that moment Colonel Grahame and Angus came in together, laden with many of packages. They evidently had put in a day in New York.

"Look what Santa Claus has to wear," said William, holding out the shrunken costume.

Angus dropped his bundles to the floor and leaped at him. He snatched the costume and dashed over to Martha. "I have it!" he shouted. "Cousin Martha, I want to ask a perfectly tremendous favor, a perfectly tremendous favor. This this will fit me! Will you please let me be Santa Claus?"

I must say it was the merriest Christmas we have ever had.

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