“Tommy Brown’s Christmas Gift,” from Sunny Slopes (1866)

It was just four days before Christmas, and the winter thus far had been an unusually mild one, no snow having fallen of any consequence. So the boys said, who were very impatient to try their new brightly-painted sleds, “which were no manner of use in the world to them, snugly stowed away in a corner of the barn;” and many an anxious and longing glance had been directed toward the sky ever since December set in, at least; and it had been their habit for weeks past to jump from their beds as soon as they awoke in the morning, and drawing aside the curtain, look out of the window, hoping and expecting to see the ground covered with a beautiful carpet of snow, only to turn away with a sigh of disappointment, and a “O, how I do wish it would snow!” And the burden of their song for the last three or four days had been “I do hope we will have snow at Christmas, anyway, for there will not be half the fun without it!”

Well, their wishes in that respect were about to be realized, for all the morning the Friday before Christmas—Christmas would come the next Tuesday—the air was very heavy and damp, and the blue sky completely hidden by dark, leaden-looking clouds; and the old weather-wise farmers, glancing up at the clouds, said, “They shouldn’t be at all surprised if we had some snow afore tonight.”

Sure enough, it began to fall just as Miss Thompson’s school began at noon.

At first, the soft white feathery flakes came down very quietly and slowly, as if they were afraid they would soil their pure white robes on the earth’s dark brown bosom; but, after a while, the wind springing up to meet them, down they came, faster, faster, and faster, tumbling hither and thither, here and there and everywhere, until the whole atmosphere was filled with them, and in a very short time the ground was completely covered.

What a time Miss Thompson had, to be sure, trying to keep the children quiet, and have them attend to their studies! Scold them as much as she might, they would keep peeping out at the windows, and nudging each other, and whispering, “Just see how it snows!” “O, but I am glad, aint you?” Their rosy cheeks flushed with a deeper red, and their eyes sparkled like diamonds.

Gaining their attention for a few moments at last, she said to them:

“Children, our term for this year closes this afternoon, you are aware, and there is to be a vacation of three weeks.”

Didn’t the books and slates drop from their hands then, in their start of glad surprise, and fall with a deafening bang to the floor? and didn’t their eyes stand out from their heads “like saucers” when she made that joyful announcement? Only think of it! three long weeks of frolic and fun!

“And I have been thinking,” she continued, “that if you will be very quiet the remainder of this afternoon I will let you out an hour earlier than usual, so that you may have time to go home and get your sleds, and have a good time coasting before dark, for if it continues to snow the way it is doing now until school’s out, the snow will be deep enough for that sport. But remember, now, you must be very quiet and attentive to your lessons, or else forfeit the pleasure of getting out earlier at least.” PAGE 23

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