Some years ago there lived in an
English city, a man whom I shall
call Fred Armstrong.
in the local post office, where
he was called
because he handled
whose addresses were faulty
or hard to read.
He lived in an old
house with his little wife and even
smaller daughter and tiny son.
After supper he liked to sit in his
easy chair and tell his children
of his latest exploits in delivering
himself quite a detective.
There was no cloud on his modest
- - until one
sunny morning when his
little boy suddenly
Within 48 hours the child
In his sorrow, Fred Armstrong's
soul seemed to die. The mother and
their little daughter, Marian,
struggled to control their grief,
determined to make the best of it.
Not so with the father.
was now a dead letter with no
In the morning, Fred
rose from his bed and
went to work like a sleep
He never spoke unless spoken to
and he ate his lunch alone.
He sat like a statue at the supper
table and went to bed early. Yet,
his wife knew that he lay
most of the night with his eyes open,
staring at the ceiling.
As the months passed, his apathy
seemed to deepen.
His wife told
him that such despair was unfair
to their lost son and unfair
to the living.
But nothing that she
said seemed to reach him.
It was coming close upon Christmas.
One bleak afternoon at work Fred
sat on his high stool and moved a
new pile of letters under the electric
On the top of the stack was
an envelope that was clearly
In crude block
letters were penciled the
Fred started to throw it away,
when some impulse made him pause.
He opened the letter and read:
Dear Santa Claus,
We are very
sad in our house this year, and I
you to bring me anything.
My little brother went to heaven last
All I want you to do when you
come to our house is to take brother's
toys to him.
I'll leave them in the
corner by the kitchen stove; his
hobby horse and train and everything.
I know he'll be lost up in heaven without
them, most of all his horse.
He always liked riding it so much.
So you must
take them to him, please.
needn't mind leaving me anything.
But, if you could give Daddy something
that would make him like he used to be,
and make him tell me stories, I do wish
you would. I heard him say to Mommy
once that only eternity could cure him.
Could you bring him some of that and I
will be your good little girl.
That night Fred walked home at a
In the winter
darkness he stood in the dooryard
garden for just a moment.
Then, he opened the kitchen door.
He hugged his wife and asked his
little daughter if she was ready to
hear a story.