A Christmas Fairy
by John Strange Winter
It was getting very near to Christmas time, and all the boys at Miss Ware's school were talking about going home for the holidays.
"I shall go to the Christmas festival," said Bertie Fellows," and
my mother will have a party, and my Aunt will give another.
Oh! I shall have a splendid time at home."
"My Uncle Bob is going to give me a pair of skates," remarked
"My father is going to give me a bicycle," put
in George Alderson.
"Will you bring it back to school with you?" asked
"Oh! yes, if Miss Ware doesn't say
"Well, Tom," cried Bertie, "where are
you going to spend your holidays?"
"I am going to stay here," answered
Tom in a very forlorn voice.
"Here - at school - oh, dear! Why can't
you go home?"
"I can't go home to India," answered
"Nobody said you could. But haven't
you any relatives anywhere?"
Tom shook his head. "Only in India," he
"Poor fellow! That's hard luck for
you. I'll tell you what it is, boys, if I couldn't go home
for the holidays, especially at Christmas--I think I would
just sit down and die."
"Oh, no, you wouldn't," said Tom. "You
would get ever so homesick, but you wouldn't die. You would
just get through somehow, and hope something would happen before
next year, or that some kind fairy would--"
"There are no fairies nowadays," said
"See here, Tom, I'll write and ask
my mother to invite you to go home with me for the holidays."
"Will you really?"
"Yes, I will. And if she says yes,
we shall have such a splendid time. We live in London, you
know, and have lots of parties and fun."
"Perhaps she will say no?" suggested
poor little Tom.
"My mother isn't the kind that says no," Bertie
In a few days' time a letter arrived from Bertie's mother. The boy opened it eagerly. It said:
My own dear Bertie:
I am very sorry to tell you that little Alice is ill with scarlet fever. And so you cannot come for your holidays. I would have been glad to have you bring your little friend with you if all had been well here.
Your father and I have decided that the best thing that you can do is to stay at Miss Ware's. We shall send your Christmas present to you as well as we can.
It will not be like coming home, but I am sure you will try to be happy, and make me feel that you are helping me in this sad time.
Dear little Alice is very ill, very ill indeed. Tell Tom that I am sending you a box for both of you, with two of everything. And tell him that it makes me so much happier to know that you will not be alone.
Your own mother.
When Bertie Fellows received this letter, which ended all his Christmas hopes and joys, he hid his face upon his desk and sobbed aloud. The lonely boy from India, who sat next to him, tried to comfort his friend in every way he could think of. He patted his shoulder and whispered many kind words to him.
At last Bertie put the letter into
Tom's hands. "Read it," he sobbed.
So then Tom understood the cause of
Bertie's grief. "Don't fret over it," he said at last. "It
might be worse. Why, your father and mother might be thousands
of miles away, like mine are. When Alice is better, you will
be able to go home. And it will help your mother if she thinks
you are almost as happy as if you could go now."
Soon Miss Ware came to tell Bertie how sorry she was for him.
"After all," said she, smiling down on the two boys, "it
is an ill wind that blows nobody good. Poor Tom has been expecting
to spend his holidays alone, and now he will have a friend
with him--Try to look on the bright side, Bertie, and to remember
how much worse it would have been if there had been no boy
to stay with you."
"I can't help being disappointed, Miss Ware," said
Bertie, his eyes filling with tears.
"No; you would be a strange boy if
you were not. But I want you to try to think of your poor mother,
and write her as cheerfully as you can."
"Yes," answered Bertie; but his heart
was too full to say more.
The last day of the term came, and one by one, or two by two, the boys went away, until only Bertie and Tom were left in the great house. It had never seemed so large to either of them before.
"It's miserable," groaned poor Bertie, as they strolled into the schoolroom. "Just
think if we were on our way home now--how different."
"Just think if I had been left here by myself," said
"Yes," said Bertie, "but you know when
one wants to go home he never thinks of the boys that have
no home to go to."
The evening passed, and the two boys went to bed. They told stories to each other for a long time before they could go to sleep. That night they dreamed of their homes, and felt very lonely. Yet each tried to be brave, and so another day began.
This was the day before Christmas. Quite early in the morning came the great box of which Bertie's mother had spoken in her letter. Then, just as dinner had come to an end, there was a peal of the bell, and a voice was heard asking for Tom Egerton.
Tom sprang to his feet, and flew to
greet a tall, handsome lady, crying, "Aunt Laura! Aunt Laura!"
And Laura explained that she and her
husband had arrived in London only the day before. "I was so afraid, Tom," she said, "that
we should not get here until Christmas Day was over and that
you would be disappointed. So I would not let your mother write
you that we were on our way home. You must get your things
packed up at once, and go back with me to London. Then uncle
and I will give you a splendid time."
For a minute or two Tom's face shone with delight. Then he caught sight of Bertie and turned to his aunt.
"Dear Aunt Laura," he said, "I am very
sorry, but I can't go."
"Can't go? and why not?"
"Because I can't go and leave Bertie here all alone," he said stoutly. "When
I was going to be alone he wrote and asked his mother to let
me go home with him. She could not have either of us because
Bertie's sister has scarlet fever. He has to stay here, and
he has never been away from home at Christmas time before,
and I can't go away and leave him by himself, Aunt Laura."
For a minute Aunt Laura looked at the boy as if she could not believe him. Then she caught him in her arms and kissed him.
"You dear little boy, you shall not
leave him. You shall bring him along, and we shall all enjoy
ourselves together. Bertie, my boy, you are not very old yet,
but I am going to teach you a lesson as well as I can. It is
that kindness is never wasted in this world."
And so Bertie and Tom found that there was such a thing as a fairy after all.