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(Written especially for the Crime by John Rafferty O'Brian, Y. C. upon his return from the first authentic trip to St. Nicholas Island ever made by mortal man. Applause, please. Ready, Mr. Conductor.)
My old mother told me that I was not cut out for a paper doll, that I had larger things to do than wash other peoples poodles. So at the ripe and mellow age of forty-nine I strapped my felt hat to my black overcoat and set out for Cambridge. Arriving there about half past nine what was my surprise when I saw that someone had arrived there before me--it was quite a thrill to see the long line of Yard Cops on their conservations with their arms crossed across their abdomens and that look which Abraham Lincoln has described so ably as "Four score and twenty years ago." They let me join. I joined.
And so the cold blasts of air which came across the snows of the Yard found me at my post leaning against it. I was tired, had been playing marbles all day at Mrs. Jack Gardner's and refused four invitations to go on tour with the Boston Debutantes. Anyway there I was when an old man with whiskers and a cheerful cigar approached, saying, "Is this Hollis Hall." I brushed the ashes from his cigar and begged the question. He repeated it five times which I raised to seven by local subscription. And there we were. All of which I would have thought impossible had it not been for the fact that I worked at Raymond's for twenty years. "No", I replied, "This is not Hollis Hall."
"Never mind", said the old man, "I merely wanted to break the ice for a cocktail". I shivered.
"A cocktail?" It did not seem to me quite right that I should let an old man break the ice for a cocktail in the middle of Harvard Yard on a frosty morning. Now if it had been summer or even fall, especially spring, I would have been able to give him my permission, for there is no ice then anyway.
So together we climbed into his open taxi and drove off toward the North pole. "Now remember", he quoth, "this is on me." I looked to see just what was on him and discovered that it was a quaint old colonial bathrobe with file mignon over blouse and two layers of very thin varnish.
"Here we are", he cried, taking the taxi meter from its niche in the hall of poverty and placing it slightly above the average. "You are now at Santa Claus' home."
"Are you Santa Claus", I asked, my heart beating at the time.
"I thought that Yard cops did not believe in Santa Claus."
"Surely we do", said I dancing with glee to know that my faith was justified, for this certainly was Santa Claus. None else would give me a ride in a taxi "Some people think I teach Shakespeare or lecture on the Boston Herald. That is two other people. I teach human kindness pragmatically."
I was amazed. Here was a person who not only taught human kindness but did so pragmatically. I ventured a question. "But the upkeep of the deers must boawful high."
"No", he conjured, "I no longer use them. I learned my lesson in New York. But to get to business, what would you like best for Christmas aside from eleven days vacation?"
"I would like I would like--." And then the lights faded and Santa was gone to come again netx year to bring warmth, health, and a desire for freedom, prosperity and two lumps of sugar into the heart of each and every Yard cop. I thank you.
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