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ANNIE AND WILLIE'S PRAYER
SOPHIA P. SNOW
E. P. DUTTON AND COMPANY
LONDON: GRIFFITH AND FARRAN
BY E. P. DUTTON AND COMPANY.
O lniibrsitn 3 rcss :
JOHN WILSON AND SON, CAMBRIDGE.
EDMUND II. GARRETT. JOHN A. FRASER.
W. P. SNYDER.
Drawni and Engraci'd under the suTecrrision of
GEORGE T. ANDREW.
ANNIE AND WILLIE'S PRAYER.
'TwAS the Eve before Christmas. "Good-night" had been said,
And Annie and Willie had crept into bed.
There were tears on their pillows, and tears in their eyes,
And each little bosom was heaving with sighs;
For to-night their stern father's command had been given
That they should retire precisely at seven,-
Instead of at eight, for they troubled him more
With questions unheard of than ever before.
He had told them he thought this delusion a sin,
No such creature as Santa Claus" ever had been;
And he hoped, after this, he should never more hear
How he scrambled down chimneys with presents each year.
And this was the reason that two little heads
So restlessly tossed on their soft, downy beds.
Eight, nine, and the clock on the steeple tolled ten;
Not a word had been spoken by either till then;
When Willie's sad face from the blanket did peep,
And whispered, "Dear Annie, is 'ou fast aseep?"
"Why, no, Brother Willie," a sweet voice replies,
"I've long tried in vain, but I can't shut my eyes;
For somehow it makes me so sorry because
Dear papa has said there is no 'Santa Claus.'
"Now we know there is, and it can't be denied,
For he came every year before mamma died;
But, then, I've been thinking that she used to pray,
And God would hear everything mamma would say;
And may be she asked Him to send Santa Claus here
With the sack full of presents he brought every year."
" Well, why tan't we pay, dust as mamma did den,
And ask Dod to send him with presents aden?"
"I've been thinking so, too; "-and without a word more
Four little bare feet bounded out on the floor,
And four little knees the soft carpet pressed,
And two tiny hands were clasped close to each breast.
"Now, Willie, you know we must firmly believe
That the presents we ask for we're sure to receive;
You must wait very still till I say the Amen,'
And by that you will know that your turn has come then."
" Dear Jesus, look down on my brother and me,
And grant us the favor we 're asking of Thee.
I want a wax dolly, a tea-set, and ring,
And an ebony work-box that shuts with a spring;
Bless papa, dear Jesus, and cause him to see
That Santa Claus loves us as much as does he:
Don't let him get fretful and angry again
At dear Brother Willie and Annie. Amen."
"Pease, Desus, 'et Santa Taus tum down to-night,
And bing us some pescnts before it is 'ight;
I want he sood div' me a nice littlee sed,
Wid bight shinin' runners and all painted 'ed;
A box full of tandy, a book, and a toy,
Amen. And den, Desus, I'll be a dood boy."
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Their prayers being ended, they rais'd up their heads,
And with hearts light and cheerful again sought their beds.
They were soon lost in slumber, both peaceful and deep,
And with fairies in dream-land were roaming in sleep.
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Eight, nine, and the little French clock had struck ten,
Ere the father had thought of his children again:
He seems now to hear Annie's half-suppressed sighs,
And to see the big tears stand in Willie's blue eyes.
" I was harsh with my darlings," he mentally said,
"And should not have sent them so early to bed.
But then I was troubled; my feelings found vent;
For bank-stock to-day has gone down ten per cent.
But of course they've forgotten their troubles ere this,
And that I denied them the thrice-asked-for kiss :
But just to make sure, I '1 steal up to their door-
To my darlings I never spoke harshly before."
So saying, he softly ascended the stairs,
And arrived at the door to hear both of their prayers:
His Annie's Bless papa" drew forth the big tears,
And Willie's grave promise fell sweet on his ears.
" Strange strange -I 'd forgotten," said he, with a sigh,
" How I longed when a child to have Christmas draw nigh!
I'll atone for my harshness," he inwardly said,
" By answering their prayers ere I sleep in my bed."
Then he turned to the stairs and softly went down,
Threw off velvet slippers and silk dressing-gown,
Donned hat, coat, and boots, and was out in the street -
A millionaire facing the cold, driving sleet!
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Nor stopped he until he had bought everything,
From the box full of candy to the tiny gold ring:
Indeed, he kept adding so much to his store
That the various presents outnumbered a score.
Then homeward he turned, when his holiday load,
With Aunt Mary's help, in the nursery was stowed.
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Miss Dolly was seated beneath a pine-tree,
By the side of a table spread out for her tea;
A work-box, well-filled, in the centre was laid,
And on it the ring for which Annie had prayed;
A soldier in uniform stood by a sled
" With bright shining runners, and all painted red."
There were balls, dogs, and horses; books pleasing to see;
And birds of all colors were perched in the tree;
While Santa Claus, laughing, stood up in the top,
As if getting ready more presents to drop.
Now as the fond father the picture surveyed,
He thought for his trouble he'd amply been paid;
And he said to himself, as he brushed off a tear,
"I'm happier to-night than I've been for a year;
I've enjoyed more true pleasure than ever before:
What care I if bank-stock falls ten per cent more?
Hereafter I'll make it a rule, I believe,
To have Santa Claus visit us each Christmas Eve."
So thinking, he gently extinguished the light,
And, tripping downstairs, retired for the night.
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As soon as the beams of the bright morning sun
Put the darkness to flight, and the stars one by one,
Four little blue eyes out of sleep opened wide,
And at the same moment the presents espied;
Then out of their beds they sprang with a bound,
And the very gifts prayed for were all of them found.
They laughed and they cried in their innocent glee,
And shouted for papa to come quick, and see
What presents old Santa Claus brought in the night
(Just the things that they wanted !) and-left before light.
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" And now," added Annie, in voice soft and low,
" You'll believe there's a Santa Claus, papa, I know; "
While dear little Willie climbed up on his knee,
Determined no secret between them should be,
And told, in soft whispers, how Annie had said
That their dear blessed mamma, so long ago dead,
Used to kneel down and pray by the side of her chair,
And that God up in heaven had answered her prayer.
" Den we dot up and payed dust as well as we tood,
And Dod answered our prayers: now was n't He dood?"
" I should say that He was, if He sent you all these,
And knew just what presents my children would please.
(Well, well, let him think so, the dear little elf!
'Twould be cruel to tell him I did it myself.")
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Blind father! who caused your stern heart to relent,
And the hasty words spoken so soon to repent?
'T was the Being who bade you steal softly upstairs,
And made you His agent to answer their prayers.
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