A Christmas Story by Ronyx
The Red Wagon
Copyright © 2013 by Ronyx
All Rights Reserved
Dawn arrived too early. The grandfather clock in the parlor chimed loudly, announcing the
sixth hour of the day. The day was December Twenty-Fourth, Christmas Eve.

“That blasted clock,” mumbled Zachariah Wentworth as he rose from his warm,
comfortable bed. It seemed like only minutes before he had pushed back the brocade
coverlet and climbed into of bed.

The house was cold. His children were now adults, and it had been years since he last saw
them. His wife, Muriel, left him twenty years ago. She only remained  around as long as
she did was because of the children. When his last daughter, Heather, married, his wife
packed her bags and moved two thousand mile away. Now, he only thought about her
when he had to sign her alimony checks when his attorney stopped by his office at the
first of each month.

Zachariah was used to the silence the house offered. Each hour the large clock in the
parlor sang out the number of hours of the day. However, when it ended, the house was
filled with the silence. No longer did the children scamper up the stairs in a playful game of
tag. Then, he found it annoying. He would holler out in his usual authoritarian voice for
the children to “cease and desist.” The raucous noise would quickly end, and he would
wait to hear the pitter patter of their young feet tiptoeing up the staircase.

Now, he longed to hear that again. All that remained were the echoes of their
youthfulness. Echoes that haunt him as missed opportunities. No more would the large,
stone house be filled with children’s laughter.

He entered the closet and examined his suits. ‘It is Christmas Eve,’ he thought to himself.
‘What would be appropriate to wear on a day like today?’ He reached for the black wool.
After putting on a black tie, he stood back and looked at himself in the cheval floor mirror.

“Not too bad for a sixty-eight year old man,” he quipped admiringly as he straightened his
tie and adjusted his gold cuff links. His dark, black locks had turned white many years
earlier. He still darkened the temples that extended slightly down to his sideburns. A
female client once thought he would look more distinguished with a touch of color in his
hair. Upon a later visit, she remarked how a distinguished man he was.

After a final appraisal, he headed downstairs. He retrieved his black cashmere coat and
fedora. Looking one last time into the ornate foyer mirror, he gave a satisfied nod and
headed out the door.

His office was two blocks away,  and he made the journey each morning on foot. On
inclement days, he would summon a cab. Today, however, the morning was cold and
brisk. Light snow was falling, but not enough to impede his way to work. He pulled the
coat collar tightly around his neck and headed down the desolate street.

Pedestrians were rare on the cobble street lined with aged oak trees. The old townhouses
were a century old, and only those with prosperous means could afford to reside there.
Even though he had lived in the neighborhood for over twenty-five years, most of his
neighbors were strangers. When his children were young, he might occasionally be
confronted to donate to a charitable cause by a kindly parent. But now that they were
departed, he was merely Mr. Wentworth, the neighborhood scrooge. It was a title he wore
with pride. At least it ceased their annoying requests for charity.

A block away, he could see the stately tower of his office building. The lights were already
on in his third floor suite. Mr. Young, his law partner, must have already arrived for the
day. Even though it was Christmas Eve, depositions, briefs and other legal matters could
not be deferred to another day. In two days, he would be required for a court
presentation, and there was no holiday for preparation. He had worked hard for years to
be recognized as a man with an impeccable reputation. He had sacrificed his family and
friends to receive such recognition. He had no time for frivolous celebrations. Christmas,
after all, was just another day out of three hundred and sixty five.

He didn’t consider himself as Scrooge. He was a generous benefactor, giving to causes
that would merit recognition from his peers. The name of Zachariah Wentworth associated
with any charitable organization usually was held in high esteem. However, he was careful
of the checks he wrote, and he was cautious not to be scammed or duped into any
questionable affairs. His reputation was all that he now had that was dear to him.

As he approached the entrance to his building, he saw a young man who appeared to be
in his late teens. He was holding a coffee can with a piece of paper wrapped around it.
“Another beggar,” Zachariah mumbled to himself.

The boy held out the can and politely asked, “Would you like to donate to St. Andrew’s
Christmas Fund, Sir?”

“No, I wouldn’t,” rudely replied Zachariah. “I donate to enough causes.”

“But, Sir,” pleaded the boy as he stepped in front of the taller man and held out the can.
“Some people won’t have anything to eat for Christmas. We’re trying to collect for twenty
families so they can have a nice Christmas dinner tomorrow.”

Zachariah glared down at the persistent boy. “Then,” he hissed angrily, “perhaps they
should get a job.”

“Times are tough, Sir,” insisted the boy as he thrust the can toward Zachariah. “Won’t
you give something?”

“I already gave you my answer,” he replied as he shoved the boy aside. “Now get out of
my way before I call the authorities on you. I own this building, and I’ll have you arrested
for vagrancy.”

“Sorry, Sir,” replied the boy. He hung his head and walked away. Before he left, he turned
and said, “Merry Christmas, Sir.”

Zachariah ignored him as he unlocked the security entrance and went inside. He turned
and looked out the windows to make sure the boy had left.

He removed his coat and shook off the light snow from it. “Everyone always wants
something,” he mumbled to himself. “No one wants to work for anything anymore.”

He thought back to when he was a boy, much younger than the one who had blocked him
from entering the building just minutes earlier. He began by delivering newspapers to his
neighborhood. He arose at four each morning, and it would take him two hours to cover
his route. He then went home and slept for an hour before he had to get up and attend
school.

When he entered high school, he worked as a clerk for an attorney in his father’s law firm.
The same one that bore his name on the building, Jerome S. Wentworth and Son. His
father had died fifteen years ago, and he still continued the successful law practice. He
often thought of changing the   firm’s name to better illustrate that he was now head of
the firm, but he felt bound by tradition.

“No one gave me anything,” he said aloud. “I’ve earned all I have.”

The last statement sent shivers down his spine, and an immense depression engulfed
him. “All I have,” he thought.

As he entered the elevator, he thought about all that he had. He had amassed great
wealth. He lived in a massive townhouse decorated with fine antiques and valuable
paintings. “I have everything a man could want,” he muttered to himself.

As the elevator door opened, he mused, “Then why do I feel so miserable?”

When he entered his stately office, his personal secretary, Mrs. Darby, was not seated at
her desk. He then recalled that she had requested a week ago to take a leave of absence
for the day. He looked out into the hall and noticed that there was no activity. Usually,
clerks would be scrambling from office to office conducting legal transactions.

He asked to himself, “How can we get any work done when everyone stays home? Why,
when I was a lad, if I had stayed home on the day before a holiday, my father would have
had my hide.”

He went back to his office and called three of his partners. Each time he heard a recording
that wished everyone a Merry Christmas, and that he or she would return their call on the
following day.

“Rubbish,” he hissed as he slammed the phone down on the receiver. “This will never
happen again.” He turned on his computer and spent the next few minutes typing an
email notifying his partners and personal secretaries that there would be no more vacation
leave prior to-or the day following- a holiday. He muttered, “That should do it,” as he
watched to make sure that the email was sent.

He spent the next three hours alone in his office working on a deposition that he would
have to present in court immediately after Christmas. One of his clients, a wealthy, local
businessman, was being charged with income tax evasion. His clerks had discovered
loopholes that were imbedded surreptitiously into the law. If he was to argue the case
successfully, then he must become familiar with its covert interpretations. He smiled to
himself and thought, ‘I’ll earn millions to keep him from prison.’

He heard the clock in the outer office chime noon. “I might as well go home,” he muttered
angrily. “I can’t get much done when no one is around to help me.” He stood and put on
his coat and hat. After making sure that his office complex was secure, he headed toward
the elevator.

As he waited for the elevator, a cleaning woman pushing a cart approached. She was a
middle-aged woman wearing a tidy gray uniform and white hat. She smiled and said,
“Good Day, Sir.”

Zachariah ignored her pleasant greeting. He grumbled, “I’m glad to see someone working
today.”

“I’d rather be home with my family, Sir,” she replied, “but I need the money to buy my
children Christmas presents.”

The elevator door opened. As he entered, Zachariah announced loudly enough for the
woman to hear, “They should learn to not expect anything. I didn’t.”

On the elevator’s descent to the first floor, he thought about all the Christmases he spent
alone while his parents spent the holidays in the Catskills. A maid would bring him
Christmas dinner prepared by a local restaurant that his father had ordered before his
departure. ‘I didn’t expect anything,’ he thought once again as he departed the elevator.

Usually, a doorman would hold the door open for him as he exited the building. Even he
was absent from his post. Zachariah shook his head disbelievingly as he pulled his collar
tight when he walked out into the cold winter afternoon.

He found it odd that the streets were rather deserted. However, he was in the business
district, and most offices were closed for the holidays. The wind was blowing briskly, and
his cheeks were starting to get cold.

As he approached the last building on the street, a man stepped out from the entrance
alcove and blocked Zachariah’s path. He was short, and it appeared he hadn’t shaved in
days. Dark circles engulfed his eyes, and crevices lined his face. Though he didn’t seem
old, a hard life had aged him beyond his years.

Panic seized Zachariah, but he knew he must not show it to the threatening stranger.
Years in court had taught him that the slightest sign of trepidation would signal weakness.

He looked down at the sinister vagrant. He ordered authoritatively, “Get out of my way,
Good Man.” When he tried to step around him, the stranger moved to block Zachariah’s
path.

“I’m not a good man,” he snarled and thrust out his hand. “I’ll have your wallet, Good
Man,” he ordered sarcastically.

Zachariah placed his hand protectively to his breast pocket. “I have no money on me,” he
insisted.

The vile, little man thrust his hand toward Zachariah once again. “I’ll be the judge of that.
Now hand over your wallet.” He put his other hand in his tattered coat pocket and
warned, “Or you’ll be sorry you didn’t.”

Suddenly, he heard a youthful voice shout out, “Leave him alone!” He turned to see the
young man who had been begging for money that morning outside his office come
rushing across the street.

The man pulled a knife from his pocket and pointed it at the boy. “This don’t concern
you.” He jabbed the knife at him and ordered threatenly, “Now git!”

The boy stepped in front of Zachariah and positioned himself in case the stranger lunged
at him. “You have no right to steal this man’s money!”

“I have every right,” hissed the vagrant. “I’m hungry, and I need a drink.” He glanced
behind the boy at the tall man standing behind him. “It don’t appear like he’ll miss it
much.” He took a step forward and pointed the knife just inches from the boy’s chest.
“Now git out of my way.”

In one quick motion, even before Zachariah had time to comprehend what was happening,
the boy disarmed the stranger by grabbing the arm containing the knife and twisting it
behind his back. The stranger struggled, but the boy brought his knee to the stranger’s
stomach with a violent thud. As the stranger gasped for air, the boy tossed him to the
ground.

The stranger rose from the filthy sidewalk with a look of fear. He took one last look at the
boy, clutched his chest and ran off down the street. Seconds later, he disappeared into an
alley.

Zachariah brushed his coat off and glared down at the boy. He admonished, “That was a
very irresponsible thing to do.”

The boy hung his head and replied meekly, “I know, Sir.”

Zachariah insisted, “I could have taken care of myself.” He added with a tone of
indignation, “I didn’t need a boy to defend me.”

“I’m sorry, Sir,” the boy responded.

The older man studied the boy before him. He was fair-skinned with long brown hair
appearing underneath the woolen hat he had pulled down over his head. ‘He’s an
attractive and polite young man,’ thought Zachariah. He doesn’t appear like one of the
ragamuffins who normally occupy the street corners on his walk home in the evenings. It
wasn’t uncommon for one to approach and ask impolitely if they could borrow a smoke.

Zachariah asked in a gentler tone, “Why did you help me anyway? I was so rude to you
earlier this morning.”

The boy lifted his head and looked into the man’s eyes. “Because you needed help, Sir.”

“But you could have been harmed.”

“Yes, Sir. I realize that.”

“Yet, you came to my defense?”

“Yes, Sir.”

Zachariah couldn’t understand why someone would come to the aid of a stranger. If he
had witnessed someone being mugged on the street, he would have quickened his pace
and left the scene immediately. After all, it was the duty of the police to protect citizens.

He asked the boys, “Do you think I should call the police and make a report?”

“It probably won’t do any good, Sir,” replied the boy. “It is Christmas Eve, and it would
probably take hours for them to respond. Besides, the man is probably blocks from here
by now.”

Zachariah reached into his pocket and pulled out his wallet. “Then the least I can do is
reward you for your assistance.” He pulled out a twenty-dollar bill and attempted to hand
it to the boy.

The boy shook his head and responded, “I can’t take your money, Sir. I was taught you
can’t expect anything for doing a good deed.”

“But you may have saved my life,” insisted Zachariah as he thrust the money at the boy.

“I was able to help you, Sir, when you needed help,” he replied proudly. “I have the
satisfaction of knowing that I didn’t desert my fellow man when he was in need.”

Zachariah stared into the eyes of the boy. It amazed him because he sensed that the boy
actually meant what he said. He didn’t help him expecting some kind of a reward. He did it
out of the goodness of his heart. As he looked down on the young man, a feeling of guilt
swept over him.

He asked, “What is your name, Boy?”

“William Jefferson, Sir,” he replied politely.

“Well, Mr. William Jefferson,” said Zachariah as he handed the bill to the young man. “Give
this to the charity you were collecting money for this morning.”

The boy shook his head. “It’s too late, Sir. I turned in my collection already. I was on my
way home when I noticed that you were in danger.”

“I feel that I owe you, though,” insisted Zachariah. “Isn’t there any way I can repay you?
Can I buy you dinner, or perhaps you are in need of something yourself?”

The boy thought for a moment and then shook his head. “No, Sir. I should be going.”

When he turned to walk away, Zachariah reached out and gently grabbed his shoulder.
“There is something,” he said. “I saw the look on your face.”

A saddened look appeared on the boy’s face. “There was, Sir. But it is too late now.”

The older man pleaded, “Please. Tell me what it is?”

Tears welled up in the boy’s eyes as he stared into Zachariah’s face. “I told you this
morning that I was collecting money to help feed twenty families Christmas dinner
tomorrow?”

Zachariah nodded, “Yes, I remember.”

The boy continued, “One of the families has a little boy named Charles. He is six years
old.” The boy shook his head and looked down the deserted street. “But all the stores
have closed, and it is too late now.”

“Too late for what?”

“Charles has been telling his mother that he hopes Santa brings him a little red wagon for
Christmas. I’ve looked in several stores, but I can’t find one.  I was going to use my
allowance to buy him the red wagon.” He shook his head sadly. “It would have meant the
world to him if I could have found one.”

Zachariah couldn’t believe what he was hearing. “I have offered you money, dinner or
anything else you might need, and all you ask for is a red wagon for some little boy?”

“Yes, Sir.”

“But why?

The boy looked into Zachariah’s eyes and stated, “Because he’s a little boy, and tomorrow
is Christmas. He’s too young to understand how cruel the world can be. All that matters
to him is a little red wagon. I wanted to see the happiness in his eyes when I surprised
him with one.” He hung his head and said sadly, “Now, it’s too late to buy him one. He’ll
be heartbroken when he runs downstairs in the morning and there is no wagon under the
tree.”

Zachariah asked, “Is he an only child?”

“No, Sir,” the boy replied. “He has two sisters.”

He asked, “Their ages?”

“Two and nine, I believe. I’m not very good at telling ages,” he apologized.

Zachariah reached into his pocket and pulled out one of his business cards. After writing
his address on the back, he handed it to the boy.

“What is this, Sir?”

“William,” replied the older man. “I want you to come by my home tomorrow morning at
nine sharp. Can you do that?”

“Yes, Sir,” he replied. “I’ll have to get permission from my mother.” Zachariah took the
business card and wrote his personal phone number on the back.

“Have her call me if she has any questions.”

The boy nodded and asked, “But why, Sir?”

Zachariah smiled warmly and replied, “Because I have a good deed to perform.”

The boy returned his smile and said knowingly, “Thank you, Sir.” He then turned and
scurried down the street.

“No,” said Zachariah. “Thank you, Mister William Jefferson.” He started walking briskly
home. He had a mission to accomplish before nine on Christmas Day.

When Zachariah returned home, he removed his coat and tossed it onto a wingback chair
in the foyer. He had no time to hang it meticulously into the coat closet as was his ritual
when he returned from a day at the office.

He went through the kitchen, and opened a door next to the pantry. It creaked like the
bones of an old man as he awakened from a long night’s sleep. Dust covered the steps as
he crept cautiously up to the attic above.

He grabbed the string to a light hanging at the top of the stairs. To his delight,
brightness filled the cluttered room. He stood with his hands on his hips and looked
around. He asked himself, “Now where did I put those things?”

He hadn’t been in the attic for over twenty years. As his children grew older, he cleaned
out their bedrooms and brought their personal belongs that they left behind to the attic.
He and his wife would get into heated arguments because she wanted to keep their rooms
intact so that she could occasionally reminisce about what life was like at an earlier time
when the house was filled with joy and laughter.

Zachariah thought she was a foolish old woman. He would argue that the past was gone,
and it was best to be forgotten. He couldn’t understand what pleasure she received by
clutching an old rag doll to her chest and crying about a past that would never be again.

He rummaged through old dusty furniture and boxes. His clothes were becoming soiled,
but he had no time to worry about his appearance. He moved an old armoire in a corner,
and there it was. The object of his search- a little red wagon.

He carried it into the middle of the attic and fell upon it. Tears filled his eyes, and he
began to sob. He pictured a little boy, Jeremiah, his son on the morning of Christmas
forty years earlier. He remembered lying in his warm bed that morning beside his wife
as they listened to the children come running from their bedrooms and bounding down
the stairs. Seconds later, shouts of joy were heard as the Jeremiah, and his younger
sister, Heather, discovered the treasures Santa had brought them as they slept.

On that morning, Zachariah kissed his wife as they crawled out of bed to watch the
surprised looks on their children’s faces as they tore off the wrappings of their presents.

As he descended the stairs, Jeremy ran up to him, grabbed his leg, and hugged it tightly.
He then ran over to a little red wagon and shouted with glee, “Look what Santa brought
me!” He grabbed the handle and pulled it over to Zachariah. “Pull me in it, Daddy.” He
laughed joyfully as his father pulled him around the parlor in that little red wagon.

Zachariah’s body trembled as he sobbed and clutched the little red wagon. He had blocked
out all memories of the past for so many years. Now, his mind was filled with repressed
images of the past.

He wailed, “What have I done?” He ached to see his children again. He had been too busy
to notice them as they grew. A business meeting was more important than watching
Heather perform in a school play, or attending one of Jeremiah’s soccer matches. They
had grown up, and he had grown old. Years now seemed like minutes, and minutes
seconds.

He held the little red wagon and cried, “I would give up everything I have to pull Jeremiah
in this wagon again.”

He rose from the floor and began frantically rummaging through boxes taped shut years
earlier. “Eureka!” he shouted as he tore open one and looked inside. He then pulled out a
rag doll and clutched it to his chest.

He thought of Heather on that Christmas morning as she tore open the wrapping on a
gift to discover the rag doll. She had jumped to her feet and danced around the room
with the ragged doll. Zachariah had put his arm around his wife and laughed at her
jubilation.

He clutched the doll tightly to his chest and rocked it in his arms. “Oh, Heather,” he cried.
She had grown up too fast. It seemed like only yesterday it was that Christmas morning.
Now, she lived five hundred miles away with her husband and four children. It had been
five years since they last visited. Their visit was cut short when he had to leave suddenly
and catch a flight to Miami because a client had been arrested. He talked to her
occasionally on the phone, but she never again asked to return for a visit.

Jeremiah he had seen less frequently. He now resided in London with his wife and child.
The child was seven, and he had yet to see his grandson. He was sent pictures when he
was born, but Zachariah had no idea what he now looked like.

Zachariah pulled the red wagon over to the box and began emptying its contents into it.
Many of the dolls and toys he had never seen.  He thought, ‘They must be from
Christmases I missed.’ And there had been many.

It was after three in the morning when the old gentleman retired for bed. He had found
Christmas wrapping and bows, and he spent hours adorning each gift with care. When
finished, he carried the red wagon filled with presents downstairs to the parlor. He placed
a small gift with a silver bow off to the side. He nodded approvingly at all that he had
accomplished during the night. For the first time in years, he felt alive.

Zachariah awoke with the grandfather clock in the parlor ringing out six chimes. He
dressed and hurried downstairs like a small child rushing to see what Santa had left during
his midnight visit.

He paced around the house for an hour. He didn’t want to call too early. At seven, he
nervously dialed Heather’s number. She was reticent at first, but her father’s cheerfulness
warmed her heart. They talked for an hour, and he spent several minutes with his
grandchildren wishing them a Merry Christmas. It was the most wonderful Christmas gift
he had ever received. Before hanging up, they made plans for Heather and her family to
visit during the summer. He promised her that this time he would take an overdue
vacation so that he could spent time with them.

He waited several minutes to make the next call. It would be more difficult. He and
Jeremiah had been estranged since his son went off to college. He recalled with sadness
the day Jeremiah stood in the parlor and called him a cold-hearted man when he refused
to go with him on the opening day at the university. Jeremiah had told him he was
nervous, and he desperately wanted his father’s support.

His cold response was, “Grow up and be a man. My father didn’t see me off when I left
home.” Hours later, Zachariah was on a plane to San Francisco to attend a conference.

The phone rang several times before anyone answered. Zachariah was ready to hang up
when he heard his son’s stern voice. “Hello, Father? What do you want?”

“I wanted to wish you Merry Christmas, Son,” he said nervously.

His son replied dismissively, “Well, you have.”

“And,” Zachariah’s voice became thick with emotion. “I wanted to say I love you.”

There was a long silence. Neither said a word, but Zachariah could hear his son softly
crying. He muttered softly, “I’m sorry.”

The conversation started slowly, but after a half hour they were talking like old friends.
Jeremiah told him about his wife and son. He listened joyfully as he told stories about his
grandson, Zachary. Zachariah was filled with emotion when Jeremiah told his father he
named his son after him.

Before hanging up, they made plans for Zachariah to fly to London to visit early in the
spring. He promised to make hotel reservations in the next day, but Jeremiah insisted
that he would stay at their home. He had to wipe away tears when his son said, “You can
spend time with your grandson.”

When he finished with the call, he looked at the clock on the wall. He only had twenty
minutes until William would arrive. He called a cab, and ten minutes later, he was putting
the gifts into the trunk. When he looked up, William was hurriedly walking toward him.

“Merry Christmas, my good friend William Jefferson,” he said cheerfully. As an added
measure, he playfully removed his hat and bowed.

William smiled and said, “Good Morning to you too, Sir.”

The older man put his arm around William and insisted, “I wish you would call me
Zachariah. Sir makes me feel so old,” he laughed.

“Sorry, Sir,” replied William. “My mother always taught me to pay proper respect to my
elders.”

“Your mother is wise,” said Zachariah as he patted William on the back and added, “She
must be rather young, though.”

William smiled and said, “She is, Sir.”

Zachariah opened the back door to the cab and told William to get in. “Give the driver the
address to your young friend’s house.”

It was a long drive across town. The older man passed through areas he never knew
existed. Old boarded up buildings aligned many of the streets. Even in the cold, many
people walked the streets in tattered coats.

Finally, they pulled up in front of a row house. The porch sagged, and it appeared it had
been years since it was last painted. William jumped out of the car and announced, “We’re
here, Sir.”

The old man got out and looked around at his surroundings. It was nothing like his
neighborhood. Most of the homes were run down and in need of major repairs. There
were old, rusty overhead lights instead of the stately oak trees that adorned his street.
Potholes in the road indicated that the city had long abandoned any repairs that were
needed.

He looked up when the front door of the brown house flew open. A little boy emerged and
hollered, “William!” He ran out barefooted in pajamas too small for his little frame. William
knelt down as the boy jumped into his arms.

William said cheerfully, “Merry Christmas, Charles!” as he held the boy tightly.

The small boy frowned and tried to hold back tears. “Santa Claus didn’t stop here last
night.” He looked at William, pouted and announced sadly, “I knew he wouldn’t bring me
my wagon.”

Zachariah reached out, took the young boy from William’s arms, and held him. He was an
adorable little boy with blonde hair and bright blue eyes. The old man touched his nose
and said, “You know what happened?”

They boy’s eyes sparkled as he asked, “What?”

Zachariah smiled and said, “Well, Santa is an old man.” He laughed and continued, “And
sometimes his memory isn’t as good as it used to be.” The little boy giggled and nodded
his head. “Anyway, when I got up this morning, there were all these presents under my
tree.” He squeezed the boy tighter, “And you know what?”

The boy excitedly asked, “What?”

“I’ll tell you what,” replied Zachariah as he lightly pinched the boy’s rosy cheeks. “The
presents had your name on them, is what.”

The small boys face lit up brightly as he shouted, “They did?”

“Yes, they did,” replied Zachariah. “That silly old fool left them at the wrong place.” He
made a gruff face. “Well, I called him this morning and told him he made a mistake and
that some little boy would be very disappointed. He offered to get back on his sleigh and
take them to the right address.”

The little boy’s eyes shined brightly. Zachariah looked up and noticed a woman standing in
the doorway smiling down at him. He nodded slightly and continued his story. “But I could
tell that Santa was tired. You know he was out all night delivering presents to good little
boys and girls?” Charles giggled and nodded his head. “So anyway, I told him if he gave
me the address, I would deliver the presents.”

“You did?” asked the small boy with a glimmer of hope in his eyes.

“I did,” stated Zachariah. He carried the small boy up the steps and handed him to his
mother. She was crying as he placed him in her arms.

“Now, you go inside while William and I bring in the gifts.” The boy giggled, pulled himself
away from his mother and rushed inside.

She smiled at Zachariah and mouthed, “Thank you.”

He smiled, turned and said to William, “Help me get the presents out of the cab.” After
paying the fare and rewarding the driver with a very generous tip, he picked up the wagon
and carried it inside.

Charles squealed with glee when he saw it. “A red wagon!” Zachariah put it on the floor
and the boy immediately began pulling it around the small, cramped room. Two small girls
were standing on a staircase shyly observing what was happening.

Zachariah walked over and asked, “And who might you be?”

“Judith, Sir,” replied the older girl.

He picked up the smaller girl and asker her name. She replied timidly, “Amanda.”

Zachariah put her down and placed his finger to his cheek. “Let me see. Judith and
Amanda.” He walked over and took several boxes out of William’s arms. He returned to
the girls and handed them the ornately wrapped packages. “I believe these are yours.”
The girls smiled, took the gifts and rushed into the living room. They fell to their knees
and tore open the wrappings. They squealed with joy when they saw the dolls and other
toys Santa had left them.

Zachariah took two other gifts from William and handed them to Charles. “Since you’ve
been an extra good boy this year,” he said, “Santa has some more gifts for you.” He
watched happily as Charles opened the boxes containing a train set and an old fire engine.

Emotion overcame him when Charles rose from the floor and hugged him tightly. “Tell
Santa Claus this is the best Christmas ever.”

As he stood and watched the young children sitting on the floor playing with their gifts,
William walked over with an unwrapped gift in his hand It was the small package with a
silver bow. He handed it to Zachariah. “You forgot one, Sir.”

The old man took it and handed it back. “I think Santa wanted you to have this one,” he
smiled.

William turned it over as he examined it. “What is it, Sir?”

Zachariah laughed and replied, “Well, you won’t find out unless you open it.”

William carefully opened the package. It contained a small velvet jewelry box. He gasped
when he opened it up and looked inside. He closed the box and handed it back to
Zachariah. “I can’t accept this, Sir. It is too costly.”

“Nonsense,” he replied as he pushed the box toward William. “I want you to have it.”

“But, Sir,” protested William. He took out the gold pocket watch and held it in his hands.
He carefully opened it and looked at its ornate features. He again tried to hand it back.    
“I can’t accept anything this expensive.”

“My boy,” said Zachariah as he placed his arm around the astonished young man. “My
father gave me this watch when I was a mere lad about your age.  I’ve kept it all these
years in hopes of one day finding someone deserving of it. I could have sold it many
times, but it means more to me than just money. I wanted to find someone to cherish it,
as I have these many years.”

“But, Sir.”

The old man took the pocket watch and placed it back into the boy’s hands. He then
closed his hand and placed his over it. “This is my good deed in return,” he pleaded.
“Please don’t deny me it.”

William smiled and replied, “I won’t, Sir.” He took the watch, attached the fob to his belt
loop and let it fall into his pocket. “I will cherish it forever.”

Just then, Charles’s mother approached. She was holding the hands of the two girls.      
“I’m sorry, but I don’t know your name.”

The old gentleman smiled and said, “Zachariah Wentworth.”

“Mr. Wentworth,” she said apologetically, “We don’t have much, but we would be happy to
share with you and William what little we have.” She smiled warmly and asked, “Would
you please stay and share Christmas dinner with us?” Charles reached out and held the
old man’s hand.

“Madam,” he replied tearfully. “I could think of no better way to spend Christmas than with
you and your family.”

He picked up Charles and sat him inside the red wagon. Everyone laughed as he pulled the
wagon around the room. The small boy giggled and squealed with glee.


The End...and a very Merry Christmas to all.



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