MRS. SANTA CLAUS
C. S. B. Adapted from a story which I once heard Miss Frances Newton tell.
IT was Christmas eve. Old Santa Claus was just ready
to start out upon his long journey over the snowy
treetops and roofs to find the waiting chimneys and the
little empty stockings. Such a busy day as it had
been—with the brownies finishing the packing and Mrs.
Santa Claus sewing buttons on the last doll's dress,
and tying the last hair ribbon, and smoothing the last
curl! But everything was ready. The sleigh was packed
from top to bottom, so full that it seemed as if old
Santa Claus could never squeeze in himself. There were
tops, and drums, and Jack-in-the-boxes, and steam
engines, and hundreds of dolls, and barrels of
chocolate drops; and peppermint canes were hanging out
from the back. The reindeer were harnessed
prancing—Dasher, and Dancer, and Donder, and Vixen, and
the rest. The sleighbells were ringing gaily, and old
Santa Claus jumped in and took the reins.
"Good-bye, mother," he called to Mrs. Santa Claus, who
stood in the door to watch the sleigh start. "Anything
I can bring you from the city, dear?"
"I think I need a new pair of spectacles," said Mrs.
Santa Claus. "My eyes are growing dim with so much
sewing. If the stores are open when you finish
to-night just bring me a stronger pair of glasses."
"I will. Good-bye!" shouted Santa Claus. With a dash
and a jingle of bells the reindeer jumped to the top of
the trees and started; and Mrs. Santa Claus went in to
sit in her rocking-chair by the fire and doze.
The workshop was very still. Christmas eve, you know,
is the only time of the whole year when Santa Claus'
workmen may rest; so the little brownies who paint the
sleds, and nail the doll houses, and test the
steamboats, were curled up in heaps on all the benches
fast asleep and snoring. The candy-kettles were
polished and hung in a row upon the kitchen wall. Mrs.
Santa Claus sat and rocked by the fire and thought of
all the dolls she had dressed.
"There were four hundred with silk dresses," she said
to herself, "And two hundred with blue. There were
five hundred baby dolls, and I never finished dressing
them until to-day. I wonder if Santa packed them all.
I must go and see."
So Mrs. Santa Claus lighted a candle and went out to
the sewing-room and peered about in every corner.
There were piles of silk and velvet and satin and
ribbon all over the floor, but, oh!—there sat three
 dolls: a baby doll, a doll in pink and a doll in
blue! Santa Claus had forgotten them!
"What shall I do? What shall I do?" cried Mrs. Santa
Claus, looking out of the window to see if Santa were
anywhere in sight—but he was not. "We counted them
all, and there were just enough to go around. Three
little girls will have no dolls on Christmas morning.
I shall have to go with them myself!"
Out in the barn there was just one reindeer standing in
his stall. It was Blitzen, who had a lame foot, so he
could not take the long journey with the others. He
was contentedly munching hay; but Mrs. Santa Claus
tucked the dolls under her arm, put on her little red
shawl, tied her cap strings tighter and hurried out to
"Come, Blitzen!" she said, as she saddled him and
jumped on his back. "We must go as fast as ever we can
after Santa Claus. He has left three dolls behind!"
So Blitzen dropped his hay and they started. Over the
woods and the fields and the fences they dashed, so
fast that the wind was left far behind. They looked
very funny, indeed, for Mrs. Santa Claus had forgotten
to take off her apron, and her cap was all awry; but on
they hurried. And, when they came to the towns,
Blitzen stopped at every roof, that Mrs. Santa Claus
might look down the chimney; but Santa Claus had always
been there first, and the stockings were filled and the
dolls were waiting.
"Over the woods, the fields, and the fences they dashed."
"We counted them all," Mrs. Santa Claus kept saying to
herself. "Some one will need a doll—" And, sure
enough, she came to a very wee chimney of a very wee
house; and there was a stocking hung, but there was
only an apple in it—nothing else. So Mrs.
Claus dropped the beautiful doll that was dressed in
pink silk into the stocking and started on once more.
Presently they came to another house, and when Mrs.
Santa Claus looked down the chimney she saw no stocking
at all hanging by the fireplace, and there was no fire
even. There was nothing in the room but a table, and a
broken chair, and a bed where a little girl—so thin and
pale—lay sleeping. And Mrs. Santa Claus dropped the
doll in the blue silk dress right down into the little
girl's arms and hurried on again.
When they had come to the very end of the town, Mrs.
Santa Claus saw a little girl standing out in the
street. She had a bundle of papers to sell, and no one
had seen her, because she was so small, and she was
waiting out in the cold and the snow. Mrs. Santa Claus
dropped the baby doll down to the little girl's lap and
then she turned Blitzen toward home again.
It was almost Christmas morning when they reached the
barn, and, oh! they were very tired. When Santa Claus
came back with his empty sleigh and the new spectacles,
he found Mrs. Santa Claus fast asleep in her
rocking-chair by the fire.
"Poor mother," he said, "she's been sewing too much!"
And Mrs. Santa Claus woke up, but she never told about
the three dolls.