I''ll Be Home for Christmas  

I''ll be home for Christmas;
You can count on me.
Please have snow and mistletoe
And presents on the tree.
Christmas Eve will find me
Where the love-light gleams.
I''ll be home for Christmas
If only in my dreams.
Kim Gannon, Walter Kent (c) 1943

Mason put down the receiver and grinned. So he would be able to get home for Christmas, after all! When he told Julia he would not be able to make it, she was not angry; she did not blame or reproach him. It was just like all the cheerfulness, all the animation had deserted her voice. Mason hated to distress her like this, on the night before Christmas Eve.
So as soon as he learnt he still could get home by Christmas he started ringing her back. At home Mrs. Cobb informed him Julia had just been called to work. At her office, he was told she had gone to the police station. He tried the police station, but Cruz told him Julia had just left there, too. Julias secretary, Mrs. Cobb, Cruz, they all asked if Mason wished to leave a message, but he decided not to. He had heard her voice wither now he deserved at the least to hear it come alive again, if he could not see her eyes. But well, if Julia was not to be found by telephone, hed just have to make his appearance without any warning.
He dialed the home number. Mrs. Cobb, its me again.
Mr. Capwell, said Mrs. Cobb ceremoniously.
Mason could not get her to call him by his first name, although Mrs. Cobb had long ago become a member of the family. He was not sure why, but he suspected that Mrs. Cobb, as any other ultrareliable, responsible, obliging and punctual person, did not fully trust him, for he possessed none of those qualities. Nevertheless, their relations were cordial and affectionate enough, for there was one thing Mrs. Cobb knew pretty well: he loved Samantha more than anything else in the world, and for her it was all that counted.
Mrs. Cobb, I told Julia I was not coming home for Christmas.
I know. She tried not to show it, but I think she cried.
Mrs. Cobbs tone was reproachful as much as she could permit herself to be reproachful with her employer. Mason thought with a smile that she must have identified with Julias mother, sometimes, and so, more often than not, she felt protective of Julia.
I am sorry about it, Mrs. Cobb, but now Ive learnt I can come. Only please dont tell Julia anything about it, not yet.
Why not, Mr. Capwell? She is so upset, and she told Samantha you were not coming, it makes the two of them, and
I want it this way, said Mason gently.
Mrs. Cobb fell silent.
I really thought I would not be able to come, he explained. And now I want it to be a surprise. Mrs. Cobb, will you be an angel? of course you ARE an angel, our familys indefatigable guardian angel, but will you please help me with my surprise?
Oh Mr. Capwell, youre a glib talker, arent you! but Mrs. Cobb melted, still. Okay, what shall I do?

*
Mason had mentioned the idea of organizing a holiday for Samantha before, and he asked the nanny to mention it to Julia again. So when in the afternoon on Christmas Eve the doorbell rang and there appeared a few circus actors and clowns, juggling with oranges and singing, with two living rabbits, some puppets and a bigger toy bunny, Julia was not surprised. Fortunately, Samantha was both surprised and happy. Her mother was still there, and so was Mrs. Cobb, so the six-year-old did not feel embarrassed. She gladly joined in the fun.
Ms. Wainwright, will you please sign the receipt? one of the female clowns asked. She handed it to Julia. Mr. Capwell has ordered everything on this list, so I guess our programme will take forty minutes or so, is that okay with you?
Julia looked up briefly at the heavily made-up face, nodded and scribbled her name across the receipt. She gave a long sad sigh.
Mason, disguised as one of the clowns, was watching her out of the corner of his eye. Not for the world would he agree to miss his little girls mien when she so seriously was talking to the puppets, and he was anticipating the glad looks of both Julia and Samantha when he was disclosed. So it was worth it but it really was hard to see Julia so downcast. She was sitting at her desk, and she only occasionally raised her eyes to check on her daughter who was busy with the puppets, the clowns and Mrs. Cobb on the couch. Most of the time Julia seemed miles or ages away. Her eyes were listless, and when Mason thought he saw a tear in her eye, he felt a grip come over his heart.
So he picked up the big toy bunny and hurried upstairs with it. The faithful Mrs. Cobb nodded in reply to Julias questioning look: Its okay, I gave him permission.
In a minute the female clown came up to Julia again.
Ms. Wainwright, I am afraid theres a problem.
What? Julia asked, shaking off the reverie. What is it?
I am afraid we cannot satisfy the agreement unless you consent to modifying it.
Why not, what do you mean?
I am so sorry, Ms. Wainwright. The woman seemed genuinely disturbed.
Well, if its a question of time I guess the shows been long enough for my girl. Thank you very much, and
Ms. Wainwright Please, you dont understand. We cannot just let it go. You must tell our boss youll have no complaints. While were busy with the child here, will you please get upstairs, to talk to our boss? Hes just taken the toy up, to hide it in the nursery, as Mr. Capwell ordered, so you can talk to him upstairs. The bosss a real pain in the neck. The clown smiled pleadingly.
Why is he? Julia said in exasperation.
The clown shrugged her shoulders. Hes just like this.
Why dont you go and settle it with him, Julia? Mrs. Cobb interposed. Its definitely up to him to decide, so--
Okay, said Julia getting to her feet. Ill go talk to this grumbler; will you just look after Samantha, Mrs. Cobb?
And so Julia went upstairs.
There was no light burning in the nursery door, but the bedroom was lit, as Julia could see from the stair-well.
What the heck! reached Masons ears. He grinned. He could single out this irate voice out of a thousand voices and he just loved it.
Mason did not plan on frightening his wife, to add to the distress and the wrath, so he was not awaiting her in the bedroom. As soon as Julia got to the second floor she beheld him in the light streaming from the room, as he was leaning lazily against the door-post. His buffoons jacket was undone, and he had taken off the wig and had washed off the make-up.
Just as hed hoped, her eyes lit up, and she flew into his arms. Mason couldnt resist the temptation he kissed her passionately on the lips.
So you cannot satisfy the agreement? Julia suggested mockingly.
Well, I am not so sure, maam.
Whats the cause of the trouble, pray?
You see, Mr. Capwell ordered a complete service package.
Oh did he?
He did, actually. Mason kissed her ear.
And what does that presuppose?
You do want to know, dont you?
As a matter of fact
Well, at least it presupposes satisfying the needs of both the child and the wife.
Mr. Capwell couldnt really commission you with it, could he? said Julia, feigning bewilderment. She was gasping for air as his lips had got to her neck. Mason could not maintain the game any longer, either.
I love you, Julia, he whispered, lifted her up in his arms and carried her to the bed.


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