The Imp and the Angel/The Imp's Christmas Dinner
THE IMP'S CHRISTMAS DINNER
THE IMP'S CHRISTMAS DINNER
EVERYONE knows that J. W. Henderson, though he has a large office in his great department store and though his name is on every piece of paper that the clerks wrap about the goods they sell, is not the only manager of the business. He is a great business man and is respected wherever he is known, but the person who really controls the important matters of the great shop, or who can when he will take the trouble, is George Perry Scott, who has a five-eighths interest, and who, when he is not off on his yacht, or shooting in the Adirondacks, or getting up parties of young people to have a jolly time with him, will sometimes turn his attention to his New York business, and then Mr. Henderson has to be very polite and sometimes change his plans a little. For George Perry Scott is a very determined man.
But he is not fond of business, as everybody knows, too, and so he leaves it for the most part to his partner, never enters the store at all, and much prefers to talk about something else when you try to find out if it is twelve or fifteen hundred employees that are registered on the books, and if his wasn't the first place of the kind to provide the sales-girls with seats behind the long counters.
"I shouldn't wonder," he says cheerfully, and asks you if you've seen his new golf-links.
But let anyone intimate that something isn't quite straight with J. W. Henderson's establishment, that it hasn't all the modern appliances, perhaps, or that some little crooked transaction turned out for the benefit of the store and to the disadvantage of the buyer, and George Perry Scott takes a little run to New York and stays at his club there for a while. And during that time Mr. Henderson, who is a good man, if a trifle selfish and very anxious for dollars, is apt to be a little uneven in his temper, and talks to the head book-keeper about the extravagance of society men who get mixed up in business concerns.
But well known as he is in business circles, and valuable as is his knowledge of every branch of his own particular business, it was not Mr. Henderson who saved the establishment from the greatest danger it was ever threatened with, but the "society member" himself. And there are those who say that not even he deserves that reputation, but that the honor is due to a much smaller and less important personage. It happened in this way.
One day late in the fall the Imp happened to be left alone in the house with only the waitress to bear him company. The house was his Aunt Gertrude's—Big Aunty she was called, to distinguish her from little Aunt Gertrude, who was very young. The Imp's mother didn't believe in bringing up little boys in the city, so for most of the year they lived in a very pleasant suburb that was almost the country, coming to stay with Big Aunty for two months in the winter. The Imp was immensely impressed with the city, and was under particular obligation to it at this point in his history, having just received a magnificent sailor-suit with a tin whistle attachment which he was firmly convinced could never have been purchased at any shop at home. It was none of your ordinary blue flannel sailor-suits to wear at the seaside in the summer, but a fine blue broadcloth affair with neat anchors in black silk braid at various points, and the whistle already mentioned. Except for the unfortunate tendency of the family to burst into nautical songs at his approach and the persistence of his Uncle Stanley in shouting "Ay, ay, sir!" whenever he spoke, the Imp enjoyed this garment greatly.
In a conversation with the waitress as to its merits, he was greatly interested to learn that in a certain shop downtown there was a whole room of such suits, many of them white, with gold braid.
"I should like to see 'em," he remarked. The waitress passed this by discreetly and turned the subject.
"I want to see 'em, Maggie," he added firmly. Maggie shook her head decidedly.
"We ain't to take you into stores, you know, Master Perry," she reminded him. "We'll go out if you want, though."
In previous dealings with Maggie, who shared with the housemaid the supervision of the Imp when he was left alone, since he did not really need a nurse, being seven and accustomed to a great deal of freedom as to his comings and goings at home, he had learned that persuasion was futile, but that argument often worked well.
"Only when you don't have to, Maggie," he explained. "Katy and I just had to go to a place, and we just did. For thread. We had to need it. So we went. And it was all right, Katy said. The reason why we can't, it's so's to get the air all the time."
"Very well, Master Perry, but we don't need a thing."
"Not a thing? Not a little thing, Maggie, where the suits live?"
Maggie softened. She was very fond of the Imp and the suits would amuse him.
"Why, I suppose we could get them towels to hem," she agreed. "We've got to have 'em soon, anyhow."
"Oh, yes!" cried the Imp, "I'm sure we need 'em, Maggie! I took our last towel this morning for the cat that I washed—I mean I tried to—" but Maggie's face did not invite further reminiscence of that little episode and he turned the subject.
It was a clear, cold day and the streets were crowded. The Imp swung along proudly, his hands in his pockets, one fist tight about a five-dollar gold piece. He always insisted on emptying his bank whenever he went downtown, though he never spent anything. Nevertheless, the ceremony was invariably performed and the money refunded on his return. They did not walk very fast, for the Imp's legs were short, and he got out of breath if they hurried. But there was no great haste necessary, and so they admired at their leisure the ladies with violets in their jackets, the pretty little children, the brilliant shop-windows, and the general bustle and rush of New York.
In front of an enormous building that seemed to stretch over the whole block they paused, and Maggie said, sternly,
"Now you must just hold on tight to me, Master Perry, or I won't go in a step. Do you hear? If you let go you'll be lost, and I shan't know where to find you."
"Oh, yes, I'll hold on! I'll hold on, Maggie!" he agreed. He meant it very sincerely, for the big crowd pouring out and in through the vestibule frightened him a little. There was the usual rush, for it was bargain day, and the clerks screamed "Cash! Cash! Caaash!" and the cash-girls ran and dodged and pushed, and the women chattered, and the big bright counters seemed to rise and press against the Imp as he gazed and held Maggie's hand. He was half afraid and half delighted and very glad they had come. He followed Maggie's lead, not seeing her, not speaking to her, his eyes fascinated by the color and the motion. Through the winding, crowded little streets made by the counters they pushed their way, and before the lace counter Maggie paused to handle and price some great bargains. The intoxication of the shopper caught her, and she pushed and pulled the remnants and crowded the other women till the Imp grew horribly restless. He gave one or two little pulls at her hand, but she had long ago dropped his and only said, "In a minute, Master Perry, in a minute," till his wrath grew hot against her and he slipped over to get a nearer view of a wonderful revolving wheel of ribbons a little farther off. He looked back once apprehensively, but Maggie was engaged in pricing handkerchiefs, "slightly soiled, at greatly reduced values," and did not notice that he had left her.
The excitement of adventure seized him and he struck off boldly into the crowd, wandering here and there where the pressure drove him, his hands in his pockets, his head well back, his pea-jacket buttoned up to his throat, his sailor-cap tipped to one side, a genial and inquiring smile on his handsome little face. The ladies behind the counters smiled at him, the mothers with children of their own in tow wondered audibly if he were lost; but his look was so confident that no one spoke to him, and he revelled in the independence and excitement of the occasion, with slight concern for Maggie, whose mind found its satisfaction in old handkerchiefs.
At his right rose a shrill impatient cry: "Cash! Here, cash!" A very handsome young lady with marvellously dressed hair and ^ very small waist was calling and looking fiercely at a slow little girl in a crumpled black sateen apron, who idled along, vigorously chewing gum, tossing her short pigtails and looking saucily at the young lady. "Hurry, cash!" snapped the clerk, but the little girl pretended to tie her shoe, and kneeled down near the Imp, setting her flat basket by his feet. A tall straight man standing by a pillar turned suddenly and looked at them. The little girl had finished her shoe and was looking with interest at the Imp, who returned her stare with a pleasant smile. She looked very much like a little girl he knew at home, only her hair was redder and curlier, and the Imp loved red-haired people even at the age of seven and a half, a taste he never lost in after life. They smiled at each other, and the Imp had just said, "Hello!" when the tall man walked up to them.
"Get up immediately and hurry up—you're wanted," he said severely. The little girl pouted and scowled as much as she dared.
"I was just tyin' m' shoe," she mumbled.
"No answering back," he said crossly. "You dawdle half your time, I don't doubt."
The little girl slunk away with a very angry look and presented her basket to the young lady behind the counter. The Imp followed her, immensely interested. She darted away with a basketful of little fluffy things and the Imp ran after her. Into an elevator she jumped and then he lost her. But as he waited disconsolately where she had entered the little square room that sailed up and down, it came back again and she appeared. As his face lit up with the unexpected pleasure she grinned familiarly at him.
"Hello!" she said.
"Hello!" returned the Imp. She shook her pigtails back and began a question, when he saw her eyes grow big with apprehension.
"Come on! Come on!" she gasped, and seizing his hand she ducked under the outstretched, bundle-filled arms of an old lady and pulled the Imp after her, only giving him time to see approaching her, with anger in his eye, the same tall straight gentleman who had scolded her before. Whether they were followed or not the Imp did not know, for they ran so quickly and turned and dodged so successfully that in a few moments they were in an entirely new part of the big store, full of Japanese goods. The Imp was all eyes for the red and blue and purple and yellow that covered banners and parasols and fans. A quaint, sweet odor came from everything, and fewer people crowded the narrow little lanes.
"Who is he?" gasped the Imp, terribly confused and out of breath.
"Floor'ker," responded his companion briefly. "Nasty thing!"
The Imp had never heard of a floor-walker, but he nodded comprehendingly.
"Oh! A flawker," he said. "Is he horrid?"
"He's a pig," said the little girl.
"Sadie! Oh, Sadie!"
Coming towards them with a small parasol and a Japanese gong under her arm and an empty basket on her head, like a little Italian, was another little girl in a black sateen apron and pigtails.
"Wha'cher want?" she said, looking with some interest at the Imp.
"Will you take these to Miss Murphy at the ribbon counter? I daresn't go near it—Wicks is mad at me again."
"He's mad at me too," objected Sadie. "I sassed him Tuesday and he was hoppin' mad. Are you takin' back the kid?"
"Yes," said the other girl promptly. "He's lost."
It struck the Imp for the first time that this was a fact. He was lost, and as the idea came over him with full force and he imagined Maggie hunting vainly for her little boy, his chin quivered and the gorgeous lantern above his head grew blurred for a moment.
"Oh, we'll find her—we'll find her," cried his friend hastily. "We always find 'em! Where was you when you lost her? Near the ribbons?"
But the Imp checked himself quickly. "I guess so—I was holding Maggie's hand and she—she let go—no, I let go——"
"Where was you?" said Sadie persistently; "near the ribbons?"
"No," said the Imp thoughtfully, "it was near the bargains."
The little girl laughed and ran off with the two baskets, and his friend sat down comfortably under a big parasol hung with lanterns.
"It's no good for us to move," she said. "Sadie'll tell 'em where we are. Once me and another kid chased ourselves all 'round the place with his mother chasin' after us. We'll stay right here. Was it your mother?"
"'Course not! " responded the Imp, indignantly, "mamma's off to make a call with Big Aunty. It was Maggie."
"Oh, well, she'll come, you just see! She'll come!"
"Yes, she'll come!" repeated the Imp contentedly; "she'll come!"
So they sat, a funny little pair, under the big umbrella, the little sailor-boy and the cash-girl; and being of a sociable nature, they exchanged experiences. The little girl, whose name was Jenny, seemed strangely ignorant of all the Imp's affairs and had never met his Uncle Stanley. Nor did she know where he lived, though the Imp explained that they were a lot of brown houses all close to each other with steps going up.
"O my! there's lots o' them!" she said easily, and the Imp felt that she knew a great deal and could probably take him home herself if she chose to trouble about it.
She was very glad of a rest, she said, because she had trotted all day, and the floor'ker had lost whatever temper he had, and Miss Murphy had cried, he'd talked so nasty to her, and the whole place was wild at Henderson, he'd discharged so many for complaining. But he'd see! He'd see! Here Jenny hugged herself and rocked back and forth with delight.
"What is it? What is it?" said the Imp, excitedly.
"I mustn't tell a soul," said Jenny, "not a soul. Miss Murphy says she's sorry for George Scott, 'cause he'll lose more than Henderson."
"What'll he lose?" said the Imp with interest, "what'll Uncle George lose?"
"Oh, 'tain't your uncle," replied Jenny. "It's Scott that owns the place. Miss Murphy says that if he knew maybe it would be different; but he's off South—he don't know what Wicks and Henderson do."
"My Uncle George is back. He isn't South any more," announced the Imp. "I saw him this morning. He was eating his breakfast."
"Oh, well, this one I mean is South," Jenny returned hastily. "Maybe he'd want the dinner, Miss Murphy says."
"Dinner? dinner?" queried the Imp.
"A Christmas dinner for us all," explained Jenny. "Like J. P. Williams does for his clerks."
"Oh!" said the Imp, with interest. "Cranberry and turkey and all the people?" Jenny nodded.
"And lunch in the store like Smith's, holiday time."
The Imp couldn't exactly see why one's family and grandfather from the country and Uncle Henry from the West should go to a store to have lunch, but he nodded.
"And a tree?" he asked.
Jenny shook her head. "I guess not a tree," she said regretfully. "Miss Murphy doesn't care for a tree."
The Imp disagreed with Miss Murphy and said as much. He was, nevertheless, interested in the great surprise in store for Mr. Henderson and Mr. Scott in the South, and though Jenny's explanations were extremely vague to his mind, he got a vivid picture of Mr. Henderson and "Wicks" running about in an empty store, trying to serve all the customers alone. He had a keen sense of humor, and this amused him greatly. He chuckled to himself as Jenny described their rage and despair, and he asked her what the great Miss Murphy would do then.
"Oh, she'll be all right," said Jenny, "she'll be all right. She knows what she'll do. She's got another place."
The little cash-girl felt very important and chattered all that she had heard, and the Imp listened vaguely, watching the clerks and the people, very interested in what he saw, and really paying attention only when Jenny gave some particularly vindictive representation of how angry "Wicks" would be.
But at last he grew restless and tired. And Jenny "found her hands full," as she said, to entertain him. Also her conscience smote her for not having taken him long ago to the room where the clerks had instructions to bring lost children, and she was afraid that even her good friend Miss Murphy would be very angry with her for wasting so much time. She knew that the employees in the Japanese department would have sent her about her business long ago if she had not been so open in her attentions to the little boy that they believed her under orders to amuse him while his people were found. So she was glad enough when Sadie ran up to her to say that a nurse was crying for a little boy in a blue sailor-suit in the ladies' waiting-room, and that Jenny was greatly in demand, as the crowd was greater than ever.
"I told 'em at the lace counter that Wicks had sent you on an errand, but Miss Ferris is awful mad," she said, hurrying them along. "She says she's got to have more help or she can't keep her cash-book straight.'
The little girls gossiped together and elbowed the crowd and chewed gum vigorously, and the Imp felt very lonely and frightened by the time they dropped him in the ladies' waiting-room and he ran into Maggie's arms, crying loudly when he saw her own frightened, tear-stained face. She did not scold, for she knew it had all been her fault, but she said sorrowfully, "I've been an hour hunting for you, Master Perry," and as he begged her pardon in his best manner she answered him very kindly and only hoped that he'd say nothing about it to anyone. This he readily promised, and they went home, subdued but grateful that a kind Providence had thrown them together again.
Nobody was at home but Uncle Stanley, and he entertained his nephew till dinner-time, when the Imp ordinarily went to bed. But a great desire to converse with his very favorite Uncle George led him to beg for a half-hour after dinner with that gentleman. His own tea had made him very drowsy, and when Uncle George came into the library the Imp was almost asleep in the big chair. Uncle George was not alone, and a little slender man who preceded him almost sat on the Imp, who uncurled himself with a sniff and stared at the visitor. Uncle George laughed.
"Only my nephew, Henderson," he said. "I'm afraid you'll have to run along, Imp, I'm very busy to-night."
The Imp pricked up his ears. "Is it the one that's going to have to tie up all the bundles himself?" he asked with interest. And as both men stared he added politely, "I mean with Wicks—he and Wicks together."
"What do you mean?" asked his uncle laughingly.
"When they strike, you know," said the Imp, looking inquiringly from one to the other. "There won't be anybody else—not a body. He'll have to run pretty fast—he's so small."
Mr. Henderson stared harder at the rumpled little boy with the sleep yet in his brown eyes. Uncle George picked him up and said:
"What do you know of a strike, Perry? Where did you ever hear of one?"
"It isn't when you hit anybody," explained the Imp eagerly. He had labored under that delusion at first himself, and he sympathized with his hearers. "You all go away from the store and don't come back, so then all the people come to buy the things and nobody's there to give 'em to 'em. See?"
"When does this happen?" said Uncle George, in a queer way. "Where did you hear it?"
"At holiday time, Jenny says, but only some people know about it. It's to spite Henderson and Wicks. They'll have to tie up the bundles," said the Imp sleepily.
"This is absurd," said the little man angrily. "The child has been hoaxed, Mr. Scott."
"Where have you been, Perry?" said Uncle George quietly.
"In a big store where Wicks is, and white sailor-suits like mine—but I never saw 'em, never!" answered the Imp sadly.
"Who told you that there would be a strike?" asked the little man crossly.
"Jenny," replied the Imp simply. "Miss Murphy made it up. Henderson was nasty to her."
The little man flushed. "This is absurd," he said angrily. "There's no truth in it, Mr. Scott, and if there were, we can get plenty of people——"
"Oh, no, you can't!" interrupted the Imp quickly. "No, you can't! There won't be anybody. They aren't going till late——"
"How late?" asked Uncle George.
"Oh—late," said the Imp vaguely. "An' all the other stores will have the other people. They're going to another place."
"Where?" asked Uncle George. He held the Imp tight and looked rather sternly at him.
"To Ferris's, in Brooklyn," said the Imp promptly.
"It's a lie!" the little man burst out. "Ferris has enough clerks! "
"He's bought a new store," said the Imp, whom the heat of the open fire was making sleepier than ever. "Miss Murphy told him about the clerks an' he wants 'em. He hates Henderson, too. Henderson is too fresh," he explained drowsily.
"I cannot stay any longer to be insulted, Mr. Scott," began Mr. Henderson angrily, but Mr. Scott had risen, and still holding the Imp looked sternly down at him.
"I think you had better stay, Henderson," he remarked calmly, "there may be something to be done yet. It's not too late."
"You don't mean you believe all that tomfoolery, Scott?" demanded the little man. "Why, it's utterly impossible that I shouldn't have known of all this—utterly impossible! It would be all over the place in a day!"
"Nobody knows at all," murmured the Imp to himself, "nobody at all. Jenny listened, so she found out. Just the day before, they're going. Ferris will take them. He's a Jew, and he hates Henderson. Miss Murphy will be the head one. She's sorry for Scott. He's South. She says maybe he'd do something if he knew——"
"What do they want?" said Uncle George, shaking the Imp, to open his eyes.
"Oh! you pulled my hair! I want to go to bed! I want Maggie!" cried the Imp fratchily. Uncle George soothed him and gave him his gold watch to play with. "In a minute, Boy. Just tell me what they want," he said pleasantly.
"A Christmas tree! And lunch with grandfather in the store! And longer time to rest!" snapped the Imp.
And as the two men scowled at each other he shook his head at his own confusion. "I mean they don't want a tree!" he cried. "They want a dinner like—like the other man gave the clerks, and they want a lunch in the store an', an'—" here an enormous yawn choked him and his head fell forward sleepily.
"Do you know anything about this, Henderson?" asked Uncle George.
Mr. Henderson shifted his gaze and twisted in the chair he had dropped into. "I believe there was some petition or other as to a lunch served in the store during the holiday season and a longer intermission," he said in a low voice, "and Wickham tells me that the girls, especially, feel angry because Williams has given his clerks a Christmas dinner occasionally. But it is a privilege which I felt I could grant or not as I chose, and the expense would be very considerable, as the year has been fairly hard. Moreover, there has been a great deal of insubordination and I have had to discharge——"
The Imp opened his eyes. "Henderson has discharged lots of 'em—lots!" he said cheerfully. "If they open their mouth he fires 'em!"
Mr. Henderson gasped. The Imp looked curiously at him.
"How do you fire 'em—like an air-pistol?" he inquired. He did not notice if Mr. Henderson answered, for sleep overcame him finally, and with a vague murmur of sailor-suits and lanterns and Maggie's bargains he drifted off, only mentioning the name of Wicks and later drawling in a whisper, "tie up all the bundles—tie up all the bundles——"
The firm of Henderson was engaged in business till very late that night, the silent partner with his nephew still in his arms. Mr. Henderson seemed very greatly shaken and very deeply impressed, and as he stood in the vestibule and George Perry Scott, six feet in his stockings, handsome and gray-haired, delivered a final charge that ended with "spare no expense," he nodded his head thoughtfully.
"Maybe you're right, maybe you're right, Scott," he said slowly. "I never take any stock in rumors, but maybe you're right. It would be a nasty time to lose them, and as you say, we should be severely crippled for a week at least. And I'll send Wickham away. He's strict, but I thought that was just as well. As for Miss Murphy, I can't deny she's a fine woman, but—still if a dinner will make it all right, I guess we can afford it."
"How many of the little girls that carry the baskets have you?" said Mr. Scott abruptly. "Poor little devils—it's a nasty life for them. Suppose we give 'em a tree?"
Mr. Henderson gasped but said nothing. "I think we'll do that," said his partner comfortably. "You can say you thought of it yourself, Henderson, and by Jove, it may make you popular! Mind you don't forget it, now! I may happen in myself. Good-night!"
And he carried his nephew upstairs himself, and at his sleepy request undressed him, even to spreading the sailor-suit carefully across the bed, according to its owner's directions. And he laughed to himself as he thought how the "society member" and his namesake had managed the affairs of J. W. Henderson.
But his laughter was as nothing to the mighty burst of delight that greeted the Imp on Christmas afternoon, when his uncle and he entered the great armory hung with evergreen and holly, filled with long tables, resounding with the clatter of the tongues of J. W. Henderson's employees. From the head book-keeper, whose salary exceeds most college professors', to the little boys who open the doors as you enter the building's vestibules, they were all there, seated about the closely laid tables, waiting for the feast. In some mysterious way the whole affair had leaked out, and everybody knew perfectly well that it was to the small brown person in a blue sailor-suit they owed this dinner, and more than the dinner, the hot lunch at noon and the extra half-hour at supper-time that had made the holiday season the easiest they had ever known. They knew, as who does not, George Perry Scott, tall and handsome in his great ulster, and they felt, each one, that once in such close connection with them, the society member would not forget them in a hurry. He was only careless, not really uninterested, and queerly enough they liked him none the less for that. And it would be a hard heart that could not feel kindly toward this cherubic sailor-boy who, unafraid and confident in all the uproar, trotted down the hall, dragging the silent partner behind him, to where around two tables sat a crowd of little cash-girls blissfully awaiting their turn, and stopping before a red-haired, chattering child announced cheerfully, "It was this Scott, you see, Jenny, and he isn't South at all! He's the one! He owns half of the sailor-suits!"
Although the fact was not so astonishing to the little girls as it had been to the Imp, it yet had its effect, and the noise about the tables redoubled when at his request the Imp sat between Jenny and her friend and waited with interest for his dinner! He had been far too excited to eat any at home, and the knowledge of what was coming later kept him dancing on his seat with impatience through the long feast.
Mr. Scott had a very pressing engagement and could stay only long enough to make a little speech of welcome in the name of the firm, thanking them for their promptness and energy during the holiday-time, which, with an almost entire absence of friction, had, he said, more than offset the loss of the half -hour at supper-time. He would try in the future to keep in closer touch with his business interests than before, and thus relieve Mr. Henderson, whose utmost care had not been able hitherto to discharge such heavy responsibilities. And he wished them a very merry Christmas!
He went out in a storm of applause, and the waiters began to scurry about. And then it was like any other enormous dinner, full of delicious savory-smelling courses and noisier even than the millinery department on a bargain day.
The Imp sat and chatted like the sociable fearless little being that he was, only hinting at intervals of a glory yet to come. When the raisins and nuts and little cups of coffee were before the company, and the chatter and clamor had sunk to a drowsier pitch, the big double doors that led to the officers' room were flung open, and full in sight of the little cash-girls' table stood the tree! A monster it was, all covered with lights and popcorn and threaded cranberries and gold and silver paper! There was a hush and then a gasp of delight from the children, with a clapping and cheering from the others. The head book-keeper mounted his chair and announced briefly that Mr. Scott desired him to say that this tree was the suggestion and gift of his nephew, Perry Scott Stafford, and then amid a deafening cry of "Speech! speech!" the Imp was lifted to the middle of the table before he knew it.
"What—what for?" he gasped at the head book-keeper, who whispered softly, "Say something, you know!"
"What'll I say?" he whispered back, and as the book-keeper answered that he need only tell them something about the tree, and as he had not had time to be really frightened, the Imp actually lifted up his voice and made his speech.
"It's for the little girls that run around with the baskets—it's a s'prise. I had a tree, too, but not so big! I—I—Oh! I'm to take 'em to 'em myself! Stop! Stop!"
For he had seen one of the waiters pull a small box from a low branch and hand it to a little girl dancing with impatience beside him. And so they got no more speeches from the Imp. But they had all seen him, which was the main thing, and they cheered him wildly as he scrambled from the table and dashed toward the tree, to wait upon the little cash-girls.
He gave his mother a graphic description of the whole affair as he lay, red with the excitement of it all, in his white little bed that night
"There were millions millions of 'em!" he said placidly, "millions of thousands! All eating their dinner! They said, 'Hurrah for George Scott! Hip, hip, hurrah!'"
"Lie down, Perry dear——"
"And that was Uncle George! I said it too; I said 'Hurrah!'"
"Perry, you must be still and go to sleep, dear!"
"Well, all right. But listen—listen here! Do you think Henderson and Wicks could have tied up all those bundles, all alone!"
"Of course not. Now lie——"
"Well, that's what I said. I said they wouldn't have tied up half—not half!"
So he went to sleep to dream it all over again. And they put him in the papers, speech and all, which nearly broke his mother's heart, but which pleased him mightily. And while to him it was merely the jolliest kind of a party and a fine frolic, there are those who insist that the phenomenal success of J. W. Henderson's mammoth establishment dates from that hour, and that without the Imp's unforeseen visit in the fall of 188-, that remarkable sympathy between the heads of the firm and the employees, which is the envy of all the other New York houses, would never have been established, and the consequent zeal of every person in the great store, from the elevator-boys to the head book-keeper, would not exist to-day to make it what it is, the model house of the city.