T was’ the night before Christmas, when all through Wells House, not a creature was stirring, not even Wells mouse. The fairy stockings were hung by the chimney with care, in hopes that Saint Nicholas soon would be there.
The fairies were nestled all snug in their beds, while visions of sugarplums danced in their heads. When out on the lawn there arose such a clatter, Flo sprang from her bed to see what was the matter. Away to the window she flew like a flash, tore open the shutter and threw up the sash.
The moon on the breast of the new-fallen snow, gave a lustre of midday to objects below. When what to her wondering eyes should appear, but a miniature sleigh and eight tiny reindeer. With a little old driver, so lively and quick, she knew in a minute, it must be Saint Nick!
More rapid than eagles his coursers they came, and he whistled and shouted and called them by name. “Now, Dasher! now, Dancer! now, Prancer and Vixen! On, Comet! on, Cupid! on, Donner, and Blitzen! To the top of the porch, to the top of the wall, now, dash away, dash away, dash away all!”
So, up to the housetop the coursers they flew, with a sleigh full of toys and Saint Nicholas, too. And then, in a twinkling, Flo heard on the roof, the prancing and pawing of each little hoof. As she drew in her head and was turning around, down the chimney Saint Nicholas came with a bound.
He was dressed all in fur from his head to his foot, and his clothes were all tarnished with ashes and soot. A bundle of toys he had flung on his back, and he looked like a peddler just opening his pack.
His eyes, how they twinkled! his dimples, how merry! His cheeks were like roses, his nose like a cherry. His droll little mouth was drawn up like a bow, and the beard on his chin was as white as the snow.
He had a broad face and a little round belly, that shook, when he laughed, like a bowl full of jelly. He was chubby and plump — a right jolly old elf, and she laughed when she saw him, in spite of herself.
A wink of his eye, and a twist of his head, soon gave her to know she had nothing to dread. He spoke not a word, but went straight to his work, and filled all the stockings, then turned with a jerk.
And laying a finger aside of his nose, and giving a nod, up the chimney he rose. He sprang to his sleigh, to his team gave a whistle, and away they all flew like the down of a thistle.
But Flo heard him exclaim, when they drove out of sight, “Happy Christmas to all, and to all a good-night.”