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The Making Of A Christmas Story
by [?]

[EDITOR. Yes, yes. Of course, I quite admit that a man might go to the bad in twenty-four hours, but would his beard grow as–AUTHOR. Look here, you’ve heard of a man going grey with trouble in a single night, haven’t you?

EDITOR. Certainly.

AUTHOR. Well, it’s the same idea as that.

EDITOR. Ah, quite so, quite so.

AUTHOR. Where was I?

EDITOR. A scar over one eye was just testifying–I suppose he had two eyes in the ordinary way?]

—testified to a drunken frolic of an hour or two ago. Never before, thought the policeman, as he passed upon his beat, had such a pitiful figure cowered upon the Embankment, and prayed for the night to cover him.


He was–



AUTHOR. To tell the truth I am rather stuck for the moment.

EDITOR. What is the trouble?

AUTHOR. I don’t quite know what to do with Robert for ten hours or so.

EDITOR. Couldn’t he go somewhere by a local line?

AUTHOR. This is not a humorous story. The point is that I want him to be outside a certain house some twenty miles from town at eight o’clock that evening.

EDITOR. If I were Robert I should certainly start at once.

AUTHOR. No, I have it.]

As he sat there, his thoughts flew over the bridge of years, and he was wafted on the wings of memory to other and happier Yuletides. That Christmas when he had received his first bicycle….

That Christmas abroad….

The merry house-party at the place of his Cambridge friend….

Yuletide at The Towers, where he had first met Alice!


Ten hours passed rapidly thus…

. . . . . . .

[AUTHOR. I put dots to denote the flight of years. EDITOR. Besides, it will give the reader time for a sandwich.]

Robert got up and shook himself.

[EDITOR. One moment. This is a Christmas story. When are you coming to the robin?

AUTHOR. I really can’t be bothered about robins just now. I assure you all the best Christmas stories begin like this nowadays. We may get to a robin later; I cannot say.

EDITOR. We must. My readers expect a robin, and they shall have it. And a wassail-bowl, and a turkey, and a Christmas-tree, and a–

AUTHOR. Yes, yes; but wait. We shall come to little Elsie soon, and then perhaps it will be all right.

EDITOR. Little Elsie. Good!]

Robert got up and shook himself. Then he shivered miserably, as the cold wind cut through him like a knife. For a moment he stood motionless, gazing over the stone parapet into the dark river beyond, and as he gazed a thought came into his mind. Why not end it all–here and now? He had nothing to live for. One swift plunge, and–

[EDITOR. YOu forget. The river was frozen.

AUTHOR. Dash it, I was just going to say that.]

But no! Even in this Fate was against him. THE RIVER WAS FROZEN OVER! He turned away with a curse….

What happened afterwards Robert never quite understood. Almost unconsciously he must have crossed one of the numerous bridges which span the river and join North London to South. Once on the other side, he seems to have set his face steadily before him, and to have dragged his weary limbs on and on, regardless of time and place. He walked like one in a dream, his mind drugged by the dull narcotic of physical pain. Suddenly he realized that he had left London behind him, and was in the more open spaces of the country. The houses were more scattered; the recurring villa of the clerk had given place to the isolated mansion of the stock broker. Each residence stood in its own splendid grounds, surrounded by fine old forest trees and approached by a long carriage sweep. Electric–

[EDITOR Quite so. The whole forming a magnificent estate for a retired gentleman. Never mind that.]

Robert stood at the entrance to one of these houses, and the iron entered into his soul. How different was this man’s position from his own! What right had this man–a perfect stranger–to be happy and contented in the heart of his family, while he, Robert, stood, a homeless wanderer, alone in the cold?