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The Holiday
by [?]

The old clock that hung in the tower of the town hall struck one.

It was dark, except for a few twinkling stars like bright eyes in the night sky. All the town was asleep. It was cold, and white snow lay over every thing. But as the clock struck one, the baker awoke and went down to his kitchen to light his ovens. It was time for the fire to glow and burn for his baking when the clock struck one o’clock.

Two struck the clock in the tower of the town hall.

As the clock struck two the baker put on his white apron and rolled up his sleeves. He bent over his great mixing bowl and began kneading the dough and shaping the loaves of bread that were to be baked in the oven.

It was time at two o’clock for the loaves of bread to go into the oven to bake in the fire that glowed and burned so early in the morning.

Three struck the clock in the tower of the town hall.

The dairyman poured rich milk into his shining bottles and packed them into the milkman’s wagon. It was still dark, although the stars were not so bright and the sky was just beginning to be streaked with pink. It was very cold, but the dairyman knew that it was time at three o’clock to measure the milk that must go to town for the children to drink as they ate the bread that the baker had mixed and baked.

Four struck the clock in the old town hall. Now the sky was light enough for the milkman’s team to start out, driving over the hard, frosty roads. No other people were out, but the milkman knew that he must start to town at four o’clock and begin delivering his milk that the dairyman had measured so early in the morning. The children must have it to drink as they ate the bread that the baker had mixed at two, and baked in the fire that had been lighted at one o’clock.

Five struck the clock in the town hall. A wintry wind blew out of the east. It bit the nose and ears of the baker’s boy who started out with a basket of fresh loaves of bread on his arm for delivering at the kitchen doors. He ran and whistled to try and keep warm. He did not stop to think of anything, though, except that five o’clock was time to deliver a loaf of bread at every house where the milkman had left a bottle of milk.

Six struck the clock in the town hall.

Jack’s mother came downstairs and raised the house curtains to let in the first sunshine, and then she put on her apron to begin the work of the day. She spread a clean cloth over the table and laid the knives and forks and spoons, and set the cups and bowls and plates in their places. She knew that six o’clock was time to make the house ready for breakfast. The baker’s boy had started at five, and the milkman had brought the milk at four. The dairyman had measured the milk at three for the children to drink when they ate the bread that the baker had mixed at two, and baked in the fire he had lighted at one.

Seven struck the clock in the town hall. The tea kettle on the kitchen stove sang. The sun shone in brightly, and Jack knew that it was time to get up. But Jack was sleepy. He pulled the blankets up over his nose and buried his head in his pillow so that he should not hear the sound of the clock. It was a holiday, and Jack had decided to do nothing but sleep and play.

Ting-a-ling; what was that? Jack jumped out of bed and into his clothes when he heard the loud ring at the house door. Then he heard his mother’s voice.

“Good morning, Tom; you are out early, are you not? And here are all my groceries; the butter, and the sugar, and the fruit, and the eggs! Now I shall be able to make a cake to-day.”

Jack knew who it was that had come through the cold, before he was up in the morning, with a basket of groceries. It was Tom, the grocer’s boy.

Then Jack heard other sounds as he went downstairs and ate his breakfast. He heard the sound of the baker kneading his bread, and the drip of the milk as the dairyman measured it. He heard the rattle of the milkman’s cart and the sound of the baker’s boy whistling as he delivered his loaves in the cold. He saw Tom coming down the street again with his empty basket on his arm. He was going back to the grocery store for another load.

Jack put on his hat and coat and ran out.

“Wait, Tom!” he called, “I have a holiday and I’ll help you deliver the groceries this morning.”