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Rated: E · Article · Fantasy · #589638
A story of a young cowboy and his Christmas gifts.
The Christmas Dance

Long ago when the West was being settled and wagon trains were headed in that
direction, there was a young man everyone knew as Skippy, who dreamed of going
on such a trip. Skippy was one lucky young man because he had an uncle who
owned a large ranch in the western plains.

Skippy had just turned twenty years old and a telegram from Uncle Buck said
there was a job for him, if he was interested. Uncle Buck had arranged a job
for him on a wagon train that would end close to the ranch.

Skippy’s one and only prize possession was a cutting horse named Lucky.
The train was scheduled to leave the first week in March. It would be a
three-month trip, and Skippy would meet a lot of people, one of whom would win
his heart. Her name was Lori Lee.

That day in March arrived and the wagon train began its long, hard journey.
There were young and old of all different types on the train. The wagon master
put the train together and was Skippy’s job to ride from front to back
each day. He'd help in anyway he could. He was responsible for keeping the
train moving. If one wagon stopped, the train would stop and wait until all was
ready and 'Wagons Ho!' again.

The very first day, in about fourth wagon from the front, Skippy spotted an
angel. She had gold, silky hair, a complexion the color of honey and eyes as
blue as the sky. When he saw her, he stopped and tipped his hat.

She smiled and said, “Hi, my name is Lori Lee.”

Her name was as pretty as she was and he didn’t say anything because he
couldn't remember his own name.

“What’s your name?” she asked.

He finally thought of it. “Skippy.”

“Are your wife and family on the train?”

“I have no wife, and I work for the train.”

“I feel safer already.”

Skippy got a foot taller in the few minutes he was sitting there. “I need
to check the train. May I see you later?”

“Ride back at lunch and I'll prepare something for you.” Skippy
knew then he'd met the girl he wanted to spend the rest of his life with.

Now as the weeks flew past, Skippy spent as much time as possible with her. He
would bunk under the chuck wagon just four wagons from Lori Lee’s wagon.
She was traveling with her aunt and uncle, and they were the nicest people he
had ever met. In the evenings when the train had stopped for the night, they'd
take walks. Skippy fell in love with her. He hoped she felt the same. She acted
like she did, but he was afraid to ask.

It seemed everything was going smoothly on the train, and one day Skippy
realized the trip was drawing to an end. One evening on one of their walks,
Skippy said, “Lori Lee, do you realize I've never asked where you and
your aunt and uncle are going?”

She looked at him with those beautiful eyes and he could tell that was a
subject she'd rather not talk about, but finally she spoke. With a quivering
lip, she said, “I get off the wagon train in a few weeks and take the
train. I'll travel the rest of my trip by rail to Denver. I'm enrolled in the
Denver School of Dance that begins in the fall.”

Skippy’s heart broke. He looked at her and saw a tear form and start down
her cheek. He knew Denver was a full, hard day's ride from his uncle’s

“My aunt and uncle live there. They came to get me. That’s why I'm
traveling with them.”

Skippy’s heart was breaking, but he put his arms around her. “I
don’t want to leave you, Lori Lee. I love you and want you to be my
wife. I know Uncle Buck will sell us some land off his ranch. I want to love
and take care of you the rest of my life. I'd like for us to find a church and
worship Jesus and thank him for bringing us together.”

After hearing all this, Lori Lee’s heart was breaking. “Please,
hold me.” He held her and then, she received a kiss like none she'd ever
gotten before. It was a true kiss from the heart.

Lori Lee looked in Skippy’s eyes. “You don’t understand. I'm
engaged to another. My family and his put us together when we were children.
He's studying to be a lawyer. When he graduates, they all expect me to return
and be his wife. I can't let them down.”

Lori Lee grabbed Skippy’s hands and excitedly said, “Skippy, the
school in Denver is having a Christmas dance on Christmas Eve. It'll start at
6:00 P.M. and last until 8:00 A.M. on Christmas morning. If you could come, we
could dance the whole night and spend all night together.”

She held him so tightly after she spoke. Then Skippy said, “The wagon
master said that was an eight-hour ride in good weather, and with the snow it
adds two hours. Lori Lee, I would love to, but I can’t promise.”

She understood. “That’s okay.”

"No, that’s not okay. If the lord's willing, I'll be there, snow or no

The next few days were really hard for Skippy. Every day in his prayers he
thanked God for Lori Lee. One such evening after supper, Skippy knelt down and
prayed this prayer: Father, thank you for all you've given me. Thank you for
Lori Lee and watch over her always. Help the young man she's marrying realize
how special she is. Father, I don’t deserve a wife like her. I
don’t think I could ever love another. Please allow what she wants and
not my will, but yours will be done. Father, I look so forward to seeing your
face. I don’t deserve you either, but I know you love me. I pray you
don’t forget me. Forgive me when I sin . In Jesus' precious name, I pray.

After his prayer, Skippy couldn’t hold back the tears anymore. His heart
was broken. Then he felt a soft hand on his shoulder. He hadn't realized anyone
else was around, but when he looked up he saw Lori Lee. He stood and they
embraced and wept together. Soon Lori Lee softly said to him, “Please
understand, I have to do this. I know how much you love the Jesus you were
praying to. Thank you for asking him to be with me.”

The day came when Lori Lee took her bags off the wagon and put them on the
train for Denver. That was the saddest day in each their lives. The last thing
Lori Lee said was, “I'll understand if you can’t make it to the

In a few more days the wagon train reached its destination and Skippy headed to
his uncle’s ranch. When he arrived, he was amazed at how large it was. It
was as far as the eye could see in all directions. When he got to the ranch
house, his aunt and uncle were waiting for him. It was early summer and there
was a lot of work to be done. He'd receive $5.00 a week, plus room and board.
That was generous pay for a ranch hand.

Skippy would be one of three year-round hands that would share the bunkhouse.
The other twelve hands were seasonal hands and lived off the ranch. One of
Skippy’s favorite work-mates was Jabber Jaws. He never hushed up. He
would complain about having nothing to complain about. His other room mate and
friend was named No Neck.

One evening Skippy asked No Neck how he got his name. Before he could answer,
Jabber Jaws said, “Look at the old fool. He ain’t got no neck. His
big, old dumb head sits right on his shoulders. If you were to tell him to haul
ass, he would have to make two trips.” Skippy slipped off, he
didn’t want to continue this conservation.

Soon fall was upon them and all the cattle that would be sold were gone and
only a few that would calf were kept for the winter. All the summer help had
gone and Skippy, Jabber Jaws and No Neck were the only ones left.. Jabber Jaws
was worried about his Christmas present. He wanted to make sure no one forgot
him so he'd give out a few hints on what he wanted. He also let Skippy know
that after the Thanksgiving meal, boss man Buck would give them their yearly
wages. They got paid after the entire herd was sold. They waited for the
Thanksgiving meal and payday.

Jabber Jaws had figured out for Skippy just about how much he'd receive. He
said that it was out of the kindness of his heart that he did that. He wouldn't
do it for just anyone. No Neck said, “Yep, usually just the ones he
thinks might buy him a Christmas gift. He wants chocolate. You hear, Skippy?
I'm telling you so the old fool won’t have to.”

“Shut up," Jabber Jaws said. "Now you've done it. I was going to give you
a piece of chocolate, but not now.” Skippy slipped away once more.

Thanksgiving Day came and Skippy thought how wonderful it'd be just to see Lori
Lee one time. In his prayers that day he thanked God for the opportunity he had
received to just be with her for those few weeks. He asked if God would watch
over her and never forsake either of them. Skippy’s aunt often heard
these prayers and that day she asked Skippy about Lori Lee.

“She's the most beautiful girl in the whole world, and I'm afraid our
life together will never be.”

Skippy’s Aunt Kay gave him his wages of $225 that day and reminded him
that was a mighty powerful God he was praying to and not to give up too easily.
Skippy grinned and said he knew God loved him..

“Aunt Kay, she's the most special girl in the whole world and I could
never deserve anyone such as her. I'm a nobody.”

Aunt Kay gave him a big hug and told him he was so wrong. “Skippy, I need
to take the wagon into town for supplies. It's a three-hour ride one way and an
hour and half for shopping. I'd like for you to go with us this year. There's a
telegraph office there and one in Denver. I thought maybe there was someone
there you'd like to send a message to, someone very special you'd like to buy a
gift for.”

He hugged Aunt Kay. “I love you. You knew there was someone special,
didn’t you?”

Then he gave Aunt Kay $120 for a deposit on a spot of land. Uncle Buck had just
walked up and heard this last bit of conversation. He smiled at Aunt Kay and
said, “Honey, you know that ten acres of land with the big lake and all
them trees?”

She nodded.

“If it's agreeable with you, I think we'll sell that off. I really
don’t need it. Now, when we go into town I'll nail up a flyer and price
it for about $120. You think we could get that for it?”

Aunt Kay gave him a big hug and handed him $120. “You old softy. I know
a young man looking for some land and that's his $120.”

“Stick a fork in that deal, it’s done," Uncle Buck said. "When we
go to town, we'll make the deed.”

He gave Aunt Kay one of those looks that said, “Don’t you dare tell
Skippy we just paid $500 for it the week before he arrived.” She would
see to it he never found out.

The day came when Uncle Buck and Aunt Kay hitched the wagon and off they went
to buy supplies and make a deed over to Skippy. Jabber Jaw told Aunt Kay she
could sort of point Skippy toward the chocolate candy. He may never find it on
his own. Jabber Jaw would have bought some for himself, but he said it'd take a
fool to blow a week's pay on chocolate.

Skippy took everything he had in the world with him to town that day, not
counting the land he was about to purchase. He had his horse Lucky, a buck
knife and one hundred and twenty dollars with him. When they arrived in town
they went to the land office and Uncle Buck made over the deed to Skippy. He
went on to the telegraph office to send a telegram to Lori Lee. When they
arrived, the clerk asked Uncle Buck if he had a hand named Skippy working for

“That's me,” Skippy said.

“I have a telegram for you from Denver.”

He wanted to tear into it right there, but he made himself wait until he could
be alone to read it. Then he told the clerk, "I'd like to reply to this."

He took a piece of paper and wrote:

Lori Lee,

I miss you so much, and you're in my prayers each day. I want to come so badly
to the Christmas Dance to see you. If it wasn’t so far I'd leave today,
but I can’t. I bought something today and I pray it will end up being for
us. Can’t wait to show you what it is. It's starting to get very cold
here, and the snow is already two-feet deep in the high country. If God is
willing, it'll take more than snow to keep me away. If I'm not at the dance
before it ends, then you know I'm not coming.

Hope to see you then. I love you forever and one more day.


Skippy sent his telegram and put Lori Lee’s in his pocket. He paid the
clerk a quarter and went on his way. When he went in the general store, the
first thing he saw was the jewelry. He'd like so much to buy Lori Lee a ring,
but she already had a ring--an engagement ring from someone else. But he did
see the most beautiful gold bracelet with diamonds all around. It had a price
of $50. He wanted it so badly for Lori Lee, but people would think he was crazy
to blow ten weeks' pay on a girl who was engaged to marry another. It was as
beautiful as she was and he had to have it. He picked it up, then saw the most
magnificent gold watch. He picked that up too and marveled at both of them.

The storekeeper said, “Should I wrap them for you, sir?”

“No, sir," Skippy said sadly. "I don’t have enough money for them.
I could buy the bracelet, but I haven't enough for the watch.”

“Yes you do, Skippy," Aunt Kay said. "It'd take about all you have and I
know it's all the annual wages you have left, but you deserve something for
yourself. The bracelet would make a fine gift. If you have an emergency, Uncle
Buck and I will help you.”

But Skippy said, “Aunt Kay, $25 of this money goes for the Lord’s
work. It's all his, but at least $25 is his portion.”

“Skippy, you’re so much like Mr. Fuller the storekeeper,” his
aunt told him.

“I don’t understand.”

“Mr. Fuller not only runs the general store, he also keeps the church
doors open here in town. If not for him, it'd be boarded up. Now, as if that's
not enough, he also sees to it that every child has a small bag of hard candy
on Christmas morning.”

Then the strangest thing happened. Skippy said, “Mr. Fuller, will you
accept this $25 to go toward the church and the candy? Then I want the bracelet
for $50. Do you have chocolate?”


“I need seventy-five cents worth in two boxes evenly split,
please.” Then he whispered to him, “Please wrap one silk scarf for
Aunt Kay and one handkerchief for Uncle Buck too.” Skippy cleared his
throat and said, “Would you figure my bill?”

“Son, thank you for your kindness," Mr. Fuller said. "If you want me to
add the $25 for the church, the total will be $80.”

That left $40 for Skippy. He gave him the money and Mr. Fuller said,
“Don’t you want the watch?”

Very softly Skippy said, “I only have $40. It cost $50.”

“Son, that watch is on sale for $40, I think. Shall I wrap it?”

Excitedly Skippy said, “No, I'll wear it, if I may?”

Mr. Fuller handed over the watch and Skippy gave him all the money he had in
his pocket. The next payday was a year off. Skippy didn’t care. The
people he cared for the most got something. He had given God 10% of his pay. He
bought Lori Lee a gold bracelet, and he bought Uncle Buck and Aunt Kay a
handkerchief and scarf. And even Jabber Jaw and No Neck got their chocolate
candy. For the first time in his life, he bought himself something. Then he
thought, Thank you, God, for being a good God.

Skippy, Uncle Buck and Aunt Kay started the long trek back to the ranch. Skippy
told them to drive on ahead, he wanted to stop and read Lori Lee’s
letter, then he'd catch up. Skippy stopped, opened it and with tears in his
eyes read these lines:

Dear Sweetheart,

Just a line to let you know how much I love you and how I miss you so. Once you
told me you loved me and wanted to marry me. You said you'd teach me about your
Jesus and both of us could see. I told you I had met another and he wanted to
marry me after he became a lawyer back in San Francisco. Only then, you see, he
said how good I'd make him look. I was as pretty as could be. Never once did he
say he loved me--or just how much he wanted to be with me. It was always
he—he—and never us or me.

Remember the dance on Christmas Eve. If you haven't found another and would
still like to have me, be at the dance that night. And I'll wait there to see
you. If I don’t see you there, then I'll know you found another and our
lives together will never be.

Dear sweetheart... I hope yo see you at 8:00 A.M. Christmas morning... If by
then, I don’t see you... The hardest thing I must do will be to get on
the train for San Francisco, but my heart will be with you.

Love you forever and one more day,

Your sweetheart...Lori Lee

There was a big lump in Skippy’s throat, and he made up his mind right
then there'd be nothing that'd stop him, snow or no snow. He'd go to the
Christmas dance.

Skippy caught up with Uncle Buck’s wagon and soon they arrived at the
ranch. Skippy let Jabber Jaw and No Neck see their boxes of chocolate, but he
pretended he didn’t know they saw them. He let them see him sneak into
the bunkhouse and hide the boxes, but they were unaware he knew. They knew that
candy was in the bunkhouse, and they'd find it once he was off to the dance.

On Dec 22nd the snow started and it was as if a white blanket had dropped from
heaven. By 6:00 P.M. that evening there was two feet of snow on the ground and
it was still falling. Skippy wasn't going to let snow stop him. He knew he had
an eight hour ride in clear weather, so he'd leave at 4:00 A.M on the 23rd,
This would allow him twelve hours riding time before the dance started. If he
was a hour or two late, Lori Lee would understand because of the weather.

He loaded all the supplies he could into his saddlebags, along with Lori
Lee’s bracelet. He had his buck knife and his rifle. He thought a good
hot meal of rabbit sounded good in that cold weather and snow. He packed the
letter he'd received from Lori Lee. In fact, he read it two or three times a
day. That was the only thing he had that she had touched, and it was priceless
to him.

The further Skippy went, the harder the trail became. He was making good time
according to the weather. Then in the distance, he spotted a cabin. There was a
chimney, but no smoke was coming out of it. Skippy didn’t realize there
was a house way out there. He thought, I guess no one lives here. There's no
smoke. But when he got closer, he saw a body half-covered in snow on the

He stopped and checked. It was a old man half-frozen, who looked as if he'd not
eaten in days. He picked him up and brought him inside the cabin. There was
wood inside, so he built a fire. Soon the cabin was warm, but the old man had
no food. Skippy went to his horse and got out enough for about three days. The
man wouldn't gorge, but he wouldn’t starve either. He put some jerky in
snow water and boiled it for him. “Drink this broth. You have enough wood
for a few days. I'll return this way and find a deer for meat and cut you more

Skippy looked at his watch. He'd been there two hours, but that was okay. He
had allowed himself a four-hour cushion. He rode on not than a mile when he
saw another cabin. This time he saw a little trickle of smoke coming from the
chimney. He didn’t know of any cabin here either, but there it was.

When he rode closer, he saw a woman trying to split wood from the woodpile.
She'd hit it and the ax would stick. She worked hard to get it unstuck, then
the very next hit would be the same. She was so cold and worn-out she
didn’t even hear him ride up. He wanted so much to ride on. She
hadn’t seen him, and he couldn’t afford to lose any more time. He
just couldn’t ride on though. He stopped and helped her inside. He very
kindly told her he'd split her wood and pack it in the house for her. She was
so grateful to him, she said, “I'll have coffee for you when you

He completed his promise and she offered his coffee. He thanked her and while
standing there, taking sips, he said, “Thank you, Miss, but I must be on
my way. I'll stop on my return and check on you.”

Skippy continued on and looked at his watch. He had been there two hours. There
went his time cushion. Now he knew he'd be late. If only he could spend two or
three hours with her, that'd be better than not at all. People can watch
out for themselves today. I have a life too. I have done all the good deeds I'm
going to do today.

He tried to make Lucky speed up, but the snow was so deep and he was exhausted.
Skippy had gone no more than a mile when he approached a fork in the road. To
the left was Denver. Skippy brushed off the sign and looked at the miles that
was cut into it. Suddenly, the snow stopped falling. Skippy looked at his watch
and estimated he could be at the Denver Christmas dance and not miss much more
than half. He and Lori Lee could dance the rest of the night away. Finally, God
had smiled down on him. His luck had started to change. He lifted up
Lucky’s reins and started off, but he couldn’t help notice that up
the right fork there was a Christmas tree moving down the trail. It would move
about a foot, then stop a minute. It would sit there a few seconds, then jump
ahead a few more inches.

Skippy thought, I'm not going that way, and I don’t care about a tree
inching down the trail. I got a dance to attend. He started on the left
trail to Denver, but he just had to look around once more. This time he saw
what was moving the tree--a little boy, not more than eight or nine years old.
The tree was three times bigger than he was. Skippy wanted to reach Denver. He
couldn’t afford any more delays. He said to God, “Please, let this
pass from me. I have to see Lori Lee.”

But as hard as he tried, he couldn’t make that Denver trail.
He pulled up on Lucky’s reins and started for the little boy. Skippy had
a very sad heart. He figured he could spare no more than an hour, if he was to
make it now. He pulled up by the little boy and said, “Where is that tree
pushing you to?”

The little boy answered with a quivering lip and a tear in his eye. “Sir,
I have to pull it about two more miles and set it up and decorate it before

The little fellow already looked half-frozen, so Skippy removed his rope and
told the little guy to loop it over the end of the tree. A happy little boy did
so. Then Skippy said, “Why don’t you jump up here on Lucky with me?
I think that if I slide back, there'll will be room in the saddle for each of

He did what Skippy asked, then Skippy opened his coat and wrapped his arms
around the little guy. They hadn’t moved 100 feet before the little guy
was fast asleep. Skippy held on to him and in a short while, they were in front
of an old cabin. Standing at the door was a woman that looked half-dead from
exhaustion. She put the boy to bed and wept as she said, “I cut the tree
this morning, but it was too big for me to move. I tried as hard as I could,
but I just couldn’t do it. I didn’t think I was going to have the
strength to make it back myself.”

Skippy said, “Couldn’t you find a smaller tree?”

She pointed in the corner to another bed. In the bed was a man. He looked very
sick. “That's Toby’s dad. He can’t last any more than a
couple of days. Toby wants his last Christmas to be a special one. You see,
before his dad became sick a few months ago, he had taken care of that tree in
the woods. He cleaned from around it and shaped it. He told Toby how nice it
would look all decorated with presents under it. Toby was going to have that
tree for his dad, or he would die trying. There are no presents to go under it,
but the tree is here. When Toby awakens, we'll prop it up in the corner and
wake up Dad and show him his tree.”

Skippy looked at his watch and asked, “Do you have any lumber in the

“Yes, some short scrap pieces.”

Skippy was off to the barn. He found a short board, a couple of nails and a
hammer. He nailed the board to the bottom of the tree, stood it up, then found
all the corn he could. He put it on the stove and as it swelled, he gathered it
up. This woke Toby up and when he realized what was happening, he was got up to

Mom found some things in the drawer and when they had finished, it was the most
beautiful thing Toby had ever seen. He asked Skippy, “Are you God? You
must be. This is what I prayed for. There are no presents, but I don’t
care. I got a tree and Dad gets to see it before he dies.”

Skippy gathered mom and Toby around dad’s bed. They had a prayer circle
and Skippy thanked God for all the new friends he'd made that day. He asked God
to let Toby’s dad live until Christmas morning and watch over them and
keep them safe. Once again he thanked God for Lori Lee and prayed she'd always
be happy. He didn’t see any way he could get to the dance in time now. It
was almost 5:00 A.M. and no way could he finish his trip by 8:00 A.M.

Skippy looked around and saw Mom and Toby asleep on Dad’s bed. He found
another blanket and covered them both. He looked at Toby and wondered how a
sweet little boy could have thought he was God. He couldn’t even make an
eight-hour trip in twelve. God could do all.

A very sad Skippy went out to his saddlebags and took out the box with the
bracelet and returned to the house. He put the bracelet under the tree. He
found a pencil and on the box he wrote, To Mom. He removed his watch and
found some paper. He rolled the paper around the watch and on the paper he
wrote, To Dad.

Skippy took his buck knife out of his pocket and wrapped more paper around it.
With the pencil he wrote, To Toby. When all three gifts were under the
tree, he stood up. Mom, Dad and Toby were fast asleep on the bed. Skippy
quietly closed the door and went to the barn to saddle up Lucky. He knew he
couldn't make it now because the sun was starting to break through the clouds.
He prayed this prayer anyway.

God, I know all things are possible with you. Please let that train be late.
Please, let me ride like the wind. Give Lucky the power to make this trip.
Father, I know I don’t deserve any of these things I ask. Father, let
your will be done and not mine. In Jesus' precious name, I pray. Amen.

Skippy took out his letter and read it one more time. That had to be the
millionth time he'd read it. Those words broke his heart. "Dear
Sweetheart...just a line to let you know how much I love you and how I miss you
so." This time he folded it back up and put it away.

Skippy thought he was making good time, so he looked at his watch before he
remembered he didn't have it anymore. But he didn’t mind. His heart was
breaking, but this morning there was one happy family for sure. His prayers
would always be with them.

Soon Skippy found the place where the dance was to be held. He looked and
looked, but all he saw was one old man sweeping up trash and putting it in a
barrel. The old man said, “Son, you're a couple hours late.”

“Did you see a girl here tonight?”

“Son, there was a lot of girls here tonight.”

“This was a very special and beautiful girl.”

“I think I understand. There was a girl with golden hair, skin as silky
smooth as honey and eyes as blue as the sky.”

“That was my Lori Lee.”

“Son, she stood and watched the horizon all night. I think she might have
been looking for you. She left about a hour ago on the train for San

Skippy’s heart broke. He had fooled around and missed her. She was gone
now, and he had no way of finding her. She would be married before he'd be able
to locate her. Skippy reached in his pocket and pulled out Lori Lee’s
letter and put it in the trash the old man was burning. Sadly, he watched as
the paper curled up and turned black. Skippy turned Lucky and headed back

He was feeling the lowest he'd ever felt in his life. Then he prayed this
prayer. ”Father, why did you forsake me tonight? I need you always,
but tonight I needed you more than ever. You were just not here tonight.
Forgive me if I've done wrong. I never meant you any harm.

Then suddenly he heard a voice as soft as could be speak. It said, “My
son, I was never far away from you tonight. Three times our paths crossed
tonight and each time I knocked at your door. You see, I was an old man and you
gave something to eat. I was the old woman who didn’t have any heat...I
was the little boy who wanted a tree... Three times I knocked and three times
you let me in. Each time I found the warmth of a friend. Just believe in me
once more, and I'm sure you'll be happy forever and some more.”

As the voice finished, Skippy looked up and once again saw an old man in
despair. He cried, “Please Father, make him disappear. I've done enough
good deeds for today. Please! Please! Make him go away.”

Skippy opened his eyes and the old man was still there, laying in a grove of
trees that he didn’t remember seeing there before. He stopped and got off
Lucky and opened his saddlebag. He took out some jerky and held the old man up.
He told him to chew on it and he'd feel better.

Skippy removed his coat and put it around him and tried to get him warm. He
went to his saddlebag again and took out the last bit of dry branches he had
and started a fire. Soon the man was able to speak. He thanked Skippy for his
kindness and said, “You're a sad looking young man on this Christmas

“If you only knew what a tragic day I've had. I don’t think God
loves me. I try so hard, but I just can’t get it right. Maybe some day I
may get my act together.”

“How about we start now?”

Skippy raised his teary eyes and the old man handed him a letter. On it was an
address: 1025 Peach Tree Trail. He opened the envelope and read these lines:
“Dear Sweetheart...just a line to let you know how much I love you and
how I miss you so.”

He looked up at the old man and saw a golden light around his face. This was
the letter he had put in the barrel of trash and watched burn. Then the old man
gave him two boxes and a paper with a buck knife in it. That was his knife he
had left with the little boy. His gold watch was in one box and the bracelet in
the other.

“I wanted that poor family to have them,” Skippy said.

“They were angels. So were the woman you split wood for and the man you
gave something to eat.” Then he touched Skippy’s arm and said,
“Through the trees, about a hundred feet, you'll find this street. Go to
the door and knock and then return to this spot.”

Skippy did just as he was told. He knocked on the door and a beautiful young
girl with golden hair and skin as smooth as honey opened it. Her eyes were as
blue as the sky. He couldn’t believe his eyes. It was Lori Lee.

She threw her arms around him and said, “I will not let you go this time.
How did you get here so fast? I just set my bags down, and there's not another
train here for a week.”

“I'll tell you all about it later. Will you marry me?”


He picked up her bag. “Will you come with me?”

“Anywhere in the world, just as long as I can be with you.”

They said their goodbyes and off they went through the grove of trees. Somehow,
they went through the fog and there stood Lucky and another horse. As they rode
back to the ranch, Skippy told Lori Lee all that had happened. The cabins that
he had stopped at on the way were not there now.

Soon they were at the ranch. Jabber Jaw and No Neck came out to meet them when
they saw them. They were fit to be tied. Christmas Day was almost over and they
wanted their presents. They told Skippy they watched him go in the bunkhouse
with their chocolate and now it was nowhere to be found. By this time, Uncle
Buck and Aunt Kay had come to meet them.

Uncle Buck said, “Now I can see why this girl means so much to you. I can
remember when your Aunt Kay was that age and looked just like her. Will you
please give them two big babies their Christmas presents? They're about to
drive us crazy!”

No Neck said, “They're not in the bunkhouse where you put them. Unless
that old mean Jabber Jaw found them and ate all of it!”

Jabber Jaw said, “No! They're gone.”

“Everybody come with me,” Skippy said. They all went into the
bunkhouse and couldn’t believe their eyes. Jabber Jaw and No Neck had
moved everything. Skippy’s bed was all apart and the cupboards were open.

“What came through here?” Aunt Kay asked.

Uncle Buck said, “They're behind you.”

The only place that wasn’t touched was Jabber Jaw and No Neck’s
bed. Skippy went between them and opened their footlocker, moved one box and
lifted out two boxes of chocolate. “Merry Christmas.”

“You old fool," No Neck said. "We've been laying three feet from that
candy, and you didn’t even know it. Skippy, what a dumb place to hide our
presents. You put them in our own footlocker. You don’t hide
someone’s gift in his own stuff.”

Then Aunt Kay said, “Guys, aren’t you forgetting something?”

Then they remembered. On the other end of their locker they lifted out a box
and gave it to Skippy. “It’s for the both of you.” They
opened it and saw a beautiful model of a two-story log cabin. “This time
next year you'll be in it. We'll build it for you on your ten acres next
Spring. Lori Lee, this is the outside. You tell us how you want the inside and
we'll fix it for you.”

“Forgive me, Father, for losing my patience with you," Skippy said.
"We'll always love you and teach our kids all about you. Love you forever and
one more day.”

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