The Angel and the Author
I had a vexing dream one night, not long ago: it was about a fortnight after Christmas. I
dreamt I flew out of the window in my nightshirt. I went up and up. I was glad that I was
going up. "They have been noticing me," I thought to myself. "If anything, I have been a
bit too good. A little less virtue and I might have lived longer. But one cannot have
everything." The world grew smaller and smaller. The last I saw of London was the long
line of electric lamps bordering the Embankment; later nothing remained but a faint
luminosity buried beneath darkness. It was at this point of my journey that I heard behind
me the slow, throbbing sound of wings.
I turned my head. It was the Recording Angel. He had a weary look; I judged him to be
"Yes," he acknowledged, "it is a trying period for me, your Christmas time."
"I am sure it must be," I returned; "the wonder to me is how you get through it all. You
see at Christmas time," I went on, "all we men and women become generous, quite
suddenly. It is really a delightful sensation."
"You are to be envied," he agreed.
"It is the first Christmas number that starts me off," I told him; "those beautiful pictures--
the sweet child looking so pretty in her furs, giving Bovril with her own dear little hands
to the shivering street arab; the good old red-faced squire shovelling out plum pudding to
the crowd of grateful villagers. It makes me yearn to borrow a collecting box and go
round doing good myself.
"And it is not only me--I should say I," I continued; "I don't want you to run away with
the idea that I am the only good man in the world. That's what I like about Christmas, it
makes everybody good. The lovely sentiments we go about repeating! the noble deeds we
do! from a little before Christmas up to, say, the end of January! why noting them down
must be a comfort to you."
"Yes," he admitted, "noble deeds are always a great joy to me."
"They are to all of us," I said; "I love to think of all the good deeds I myself have done. I
have often thought of keeping a diary-- jotting them down each day. It would be so nice
for one's children."
He agreed there was an idea in this.
"That book of yours," I said, "I suppose, now, it contains all the good actions that we men
and women have been doing during the last six weeks?" It was a bulky looking volume.