Authors: Jeff Brown
Tags: #Age 7 and Up
by Jeff Brown
Pictures by Macky Pamintuan
She was the sort of little girl who liked to be
of things, so she went all over Snow City, checking up.
The elves had done their work.
At the Post Office, Mail Elves had read the letters, making lists of who wanted what.
In the great workshops—the Doll Room, the Toy Plant, the Game Mill—Gift Elves had filled the orders, taking care as to color and size and style.
In the Wrap Shed the gifts lay ready, wrapped now in gay paper with holly and pine cones, sorted by country, by city or village, by road or lane or street.
The Wrap Elves teased her. “Don’t trust us, eh? … Snooping, we call this, Miss!”
“Pooh!” said the little girl. “Well done, elves! Good work!”
But at home in Snow City Square, all was not well.
“Don’t slam the door, dear,” said her mother, weeping. “Your father’s having his nap.”
“Mother! What’s wrong?”
“He won’t go this year, he says!” The mother sobbed. “He’s been so cross lately, but I never—”
won’t he go?”
“They’ve lost faith, don’t care anymore, he says! Surely not
, I said. Think of your favorite letter, the one by your desk! He just growled at me!”
“Pooh!” said the girl. “It’s not fair! Really! I mean, everything’s
“Not now, dear,” said the mother. “It’s been a dreadful day.”
In the little office at the back of the house, the girl studied the letter her mother had mentioned, framed with others on a wall:
I am a regular boy, except that I got flat, the letter said. From an accident. I was going to ask for new clothes, but my mother already bought them. She had to, because of the flatness. So I’m just writing to say don’t bother about me. Have a nice holiday. My father says be careful driving, there are lots of bad drivers this time of year.
The girl thought for a moment, and an idea came to her. “Hmmmm …
?” she said.
She looked again at the letter.
The name LAMBCHOP was printed across the top, and an address. It was signed “Stanley, U.S.A.”
It was two nights before Christmas, and all through the house not a Lambchop was stirring, but something was.
Stanley Lambchop sat up in his bed. “Listen! Someone said ‘Rat.’”
“It was more like ‘grat,’” said his younger brother, Arthur, from his bed. “In the living room, I think.”
The brothers tiptoed down the stairs.
For a moment all was silence in the darkened living room. Then came a
. “Ouch!” said a small voice. “Drat again!”
“Are you a burglar?” Arthur called. “Did you hurt yourself?”
a burglar!” said the voice. “Where’s the—Ah!” The lights came on.
The brothers stared.
Before the fireplace, by the Christmas tree, stood a slender, dark-haired little girl wearing a red jacket and skirt, both trimmed with white fur.
“I banged it
,” she said, rubbing her knee. “Coming down the chimney, and just now.”
have a front door, you know,” said Stanley.
“Well, so does my house. But, you know, this time of year … ?” The girl sounded a bit nervous. “Actually, I’ve never done this before. Let’s see … Ha, ha, ha! Season’s Greetings! Ha, ha, ha!”
“‘Ha, ha!’ to you,” said Arthur. “What’s so funny?”
“Funny?” said the girl. “Oh! ‘Ho, ho, ho!’ I meant. I’m Sarah Christmas. Who are you?”
“Arthur Lambchop,” said Arthur. “That’s my brother, Stanley.”
“It is? But he’s not
“He was, but I blew him up,” Arthur explained. “With a bicycle pump.”
“Oh, no! I wish you hadn’t.” Sarah Christmas sank into a chair. “Drat! It’s all going wrong! Perhaps I shouldn’t have come. But that’s how I am. Headstrong, my mother says. She—”
“Excuse me,” Stanley said. “But where are you from?”
you come?” said Arthur.
Sarah told them.
Mr. and Mrs. Lambchop were reading in bed.
A tap came at the door, and then Stanley’s voice. “Hey! Can I come in?”
Mr. and Mrs. Lambchop cared greatly for proper speech. “Hay is for horses, Stanley,” she said. “And not ‘can,’ dear. You
Stanley came in.
“What is the explanation, my boy, of this late call?” said Mr. Lambchop, remembering past surprises. “You have not, I see, become flat again. Has a genie come to visit? Or perhaps the President of the United States has called?”
Mrs. Lambchop smiled. “You are very amusing, George.”
“Arthur and I were in bed,” said Stanley. “But we heard a noise and went to see. It was a girl called Sarah Christmas, from Snow City. She talks a lot. She says her father says he won’t come this year, but Sarah thinks he might change his mind if I ask him to. Because I wrote him a letter once that he liked. She wants me to go with her to Snow City. In her father’s sleigh. It’s at the North Pole, I think.” Stanley caught his breath. “I said I’d have to ask you first.”
“Quite right,” said Mrs. Lambchop.
Mr. Lambchop went to the bathroom and drank a glass of water to calm himself.
“Now then, Stanley,” he said, returning. “You have greatly startled us. Surely—”
“Put on your robe, George,” said Mrs. Lambchop. “Let us hear for ourselves what this visitor has to say.”
!” Sarah Christmas sipped the hot chocolate Mrs. Lambchop had served them all. “My mother makes it too, with cinnamon in it. And little cookies with—” Her glance had fallen on the mantelpiece. “What’s
, pinned up there?”
“Christmas stockings,” Stanley said. “The blue one’s mine.”
“But the other, the great square thing?”
“It’s a pillowcase.” Arthur blushed.