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And Thus He Came: A Christmas Fantasy

Language - English
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Description: - "How did you get in? What are you doing here?" he asked. There was no answer. "Come," said the man, shrinking back. "I can't imagine how you got in here. If my people had not all gone I should hold them to strict account. As it is, you-"The room was suddenly filled with people. They came crowding through the walls from every side and pressed close to him. Such people he had never seen: wan, worn, stunted, pinched, starved, joyless. They were all children, meagerly clothed, badly nourished, ill developed. They were quite silent. They did not cry. They did not protest. They did not argue. They did not plead. They did not laugh. They just looked at him. They made no sound of any sort. He had children of his own and he had known many children. He had never known so many gathered together without a smile or a laugh.His eye wandered around the room. They were very close to him and yet they did not touch him. He turned to the desk where the lad had sat, but he was no longer there and yet he well remembered his face. He knew exactly how he looked. He turned to the nearest child and in some strange way, although the poor, wretched face had not changed, his look suggested the lad who had been his first visitor. He turned to another and another. They all looked back at him in the same way with the same eyes.He threw his head up again and saw the castle of success of which he had dreamed. He looked down again. This was the foundation. Slowly his hand went to the desk. The little crowding figures drew back to give him freedom of movement as he stretched his hand out for a telegraph-blank. He drew it to him. He seized a pen and wrote rapidly: "Build no more mills, take the children out of those already in operation, put men in their places. We will be content with less profit in the future."He read over the telegram. The telephone was close at hand. He called up the telegraph-office, dictated it and directed it to be sent immediately. He had been so engrossed in this task that he had noticed nothing else. Now he looked up. The room was still filled with children, but they were all laughing. It was a soundless laugh, and yet he heard it. And then the room was empty save for the child he had seen first and vaguely. He had just time to catch a smile from his lips and then he, too, was gone as silently and as strangely as he had appeared
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