The Brick Moon and Other Stories HTML version

Bread On The Waters (A Washington Christmas)
[No. This story also is "Invented Example." But it is founded on facts. It is a pleasure to
me, writing fifty-four years after the commission intrusted to me by the late Mrs. Fales, to
say that that is a real name, and that her benevolence at a distance is precisely represented
Perhaps the large history of the world would be differently written but for that kindness
of hers.
I was a very young clergyman, and the remittance she made to me was the first trust of
the same kind which had ever been confided to me.]
Chapter I. Make Ready
"Only think, Matty, papa passed right by me when I was sitting with my back to the fire
and stitching away on his book-mark without my once seeing him! But he was so busy
talking to mamma that he never saw what I was doing, and I huddled it under a
newspaper before he came back again. Well, I have got papa's present done, but I cannot
keep out of mamma's way. Matty, dear, if I will sit in the sun and keep a shawl on, may I
not sit in your room and work? It is not one bit cold there. Really, Matty, it is a great deal
warmer than it was yesterday."
"Dear child," said Matty, to whom everybody came so readily for advice and help, "I can
do better for you than that. You shall come into the study; papa will be away all the
morning, and I will have the fire kept up there,--and mamma shall never come near you."
All this, and a thousand times more of plotting and counterplotting, was going on among
four children and their elders in a comfortable, free-and-easy seeming household in
Washington, as the boys and girls, young men and young women were in the last agonies
of making ready for Christmas. Matty is fully entitled to be called a young woman, when
we see her. She has just passed her twenty-first birthday. But she looks as fresh and pretty
as when she was seventeen, and certainly she is a great deal pleasanter though she be
wiser. She is the oldest of the troop. Tom, the next, is expected from Annapolis this
afternoon, and Beverly from Charlotte. Then come four boys and girls whose ages and
places the reader must guess at as we go on.
The youngest of the family were still young enough to write the names of the presents
which they would be glad to receive, or to denote them by rude hieroglyphs, on large
sheets of paper. They were wont to pin up these sheets on certain doors, which, by long
usage in this free-and-easy family, had come to be regarded as the bulletin-boards of the
establishment. Well-nigh every range of created things had some representation on these
bulletins,--from an ambling pony round to a "boot- buttenner," thus spelled out by poor
Laura, who was constantly in disgrace, because she always appeared latest at the door
when the children started for church, to ride, or for school. The youngsters still held to