“I ate hardly any breakfast, and I’ve done everything I know to make myself extra hungry, but I really don’t think I can eat straight through, unless I burst my buttons off,” whispered Geordie to Will, as he surveyed the bounteous stores before him with a hopeless sigh.

“A fellow never knows what he can do till he tries,” answered Will, attacking his heaped-up plate with an evident intention of doing his duty like a man.

Everybody knows what a Christmas dinner is, so we need waste no words in describing this one, but hasten at once to tell what happened at the end of it. The end, by the way, was so long in coming that the gas was lighted before dessert was over, for a snow flurry had come on and the wintry daylight faded fast. But that only made it all the jollier in the warm, bright rooms, full of happy souls. Everyone was very merry, but Archie seemed particularly uplifted—so much so, that Charlie confided to Rose that he was afraid the Chief had been at the decanters.

Rose indignantly denied the insinuation, for when healths were drunk in the good old-fashioned way to suit the elders, she had observed that Aunt Jessie’s boys filled their glasses with water, and had done the same herself in spite of the Prince’s jokes about “the rosy.”

But Archie certainly was unusually excited, and when someone remembered that it was the anniversary of Uncle Jem’s wedding, and wished he was there to make a speech, his son electrified the family by trying to do it for him. It was rather incoherent and flowery, as maiden speeches are apt to be, but the end was considered superb; for, turning to his mother with a queer little choke in his voice, he said that she “deserved to be blessed with peace and plenty, to be crowned with roses and lads’-love, and to receive the cargo of happiness sailing home to her in spite of wind or tide to add another Jem to the family jewels.”

That allusion to the Captain, now on his return trip, made Mrs. Jessie sob in her napkin, and set the boys cheering. Then, as if that was not sensation enough, Archie suddenly dashed out of the room, as if he had lost his wits.

“Too bashful to stay and be praised,” began Charlie, excusing the peculiarities of his chief as in duty bound.

“Phebe beckoned to him; I saw her,” cried Rose, staring hard at the door.

“Is it more presents coming?” asked Jamie, just as his brother re-appeared, looking more excited than ever.

“Yes; a present for mother, and here it is!” roared Archie, flinging wide the door to let in a tall man, who cried out—

“Where’s my little woman? The first kiss for her, then the rest may come on as fast as they like.”

Before the words were out of his mouth, Mrs. Jessie was half-hidden under his rough great-coat, and four boys were prancing about him clamouring for their turn.

Of course, there was a joyful tumult for a time, during which Rose slipped into the window recess and watched what went on, as if it were a chapter in a Christmas story. It was good to see bluff Uncle Jem look proudly at his tall son, and fondly hug the little ones. It was better still to see him shake his brothers’ hands as if he would never leave off, and kiss all the sisters in a way that made even solemn Aunt Myra brighten up for a minute. But it was best of all to see him finally established in grandfather’s chair, with his “little woman” beside him, his three youngest boys in his lap, and Archie hovering over him like a large-sized cherub. That really was, as Charlie said, “A landscape to do one’s heart good.”

  By PanEris using Melati.

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