Two children were out in the
wilderness on a cold evening. They had a ways to go, and Mike
told Abby to drink while she could. Jason saw them and rode up
to them. He watched the girl try to drink from the water. “Ewww!”
she declared, not enjoying the taste of the water at all. Mike
softly stated that horses and cows drank it, so it couldn’t be
“You two out here all alone?”
Jason asked as he walked up to the two children. The children,
suddenly fearful of this big man who stood over them, jumped
up. Mike clung to Abigail protectively. Jason gently offered
them some chow. “Did Mr. Stoddard send you out here to get me?”
Mike suddenly asked fearfully.
“Mr. Martin Stoddard over in New
Hope?” Jason asked.
“I knew it! Well, I ain’t going
back!” Mike cried. Jason assured the children Mr. Stoddard
hadn’t sent him. He was on his way to New Hope to do some work
“He’s got a gun,” the little girl
observed as she clung to Mike. Jason quickly hid the gun so it
wouldn’t scare the little girl. “And he’s bigger than all the
Jason lowered himself to be
closer to the children, wondering which ‘other ones’ the little
girl was talking about. “The one’s who are working for Mr.
Stoddard,” Mike answered. Jason quickly introduced himself and
told them he was on his way to New Hope to build a new water
system for their city.
“Now, how about the three of us
having a nice, hot supper, huh?”
They ate heartedly. Mike was
sure glad Jason hadn’t come to get him. He sure was obliged for
the food! Mike said they had to be getting’. “We have to find
a Texas Ranger,” Abigail announced.
“Well, that may take a long
time,” Jason said softly. “Why don’t you wait for good
weather. Go back home now.”
“I can’t go back home!” Mike
argued. Jason told them he sure wouldn’t run off two days
“Mike’s scared to go back!”
Abigail declared. “He shot Mr. Stoddard’s son.”
“I’m not scared!” Mike suddenly
shouted. “But nobody will listen to me unless I can get a big
law man like…like a Texas ranger to MAKE them listen!” Jason
gently told Mike he’d listen. “I didn’t shoot at nobody, Mr.
McCord.” Abigail explained to Jason that Randy Stoddard got an
awful bullet hole in his shoulder and might die. “I didn’t
shoot him!” Mike cried desperately.
“Mike, I know how it feels to be
blamed for something you didn’t do. But the best way to settle
it is to go back and face up.” Mike was still leery. Jason
promised him he’d talk to Mr. Stoddard and his folks.
“We ain’t got no folks,” Abigail
announced then. Just Mr. Perrin.” Jason looked towards Mike
for an explanation.
“Did he adopt you?” Jason asked.
“Hm?” Mike looked blank.
“Well…he just takes care of
who ain’t got folks.” He has eight kids in all. “And Mr.
Stoddard’s awful angry at him.
He says he’s gonna make him take
all the kids and get out of New Hope. That’s why we just gotta
find a Texas Ranger!” Abigail nodded her confirmation to Jason.
“Look kids…I think you better
ride back with me to New Hope in the morning,” Jason said
sternly. “I don’t know if I’ll do as well as a Texas Ranger,
but I sure will do my best.” Jason smiled, trying to ease their
“You won’t let them hang me?”
Jason leaned forward to look Mike
right in the eye. “Mike…The law won’t allow anybody to hang a
“But in New Hope, Mr. Stoddard IS
the law!” Jason looked to Abigail who gave him a slight nod.
The moment they rode into town,
two cowboys told Jason to hold up. “Where’d you find the Indian
pup?” One of them asked.
“Outside town. I’m taking them
home,” Jason answered.
“Thanks. We’ve been looking for
him.” The cowboy told Jason to hand him down.
“I said I’m taking him home!”
The cowboy took the gun from his
holster. “I said hand him down.” Jason looked at the children,
then back at the cowboy.
“Alright.” Jason slid silently
off the back of his horse and reached up to Mike. “NO!” Mike
cried. Jason moved his lips as if to tell him to stay quiet,
then quickly turned and punched the men giving the orders. Then
he pulled his gun on them.
“Your starting a lot of trouble,
Mister! Martin Stoddard’s got business with that kid.”
“And I’ve got business with
Stoddard myself. Where is he?” The cowboy assured Jason he’d
hear from him. “Alright. Pick up that gun and move out.” They
did as they were told knowing they had no choice. Jason
re-holstered his gun then climbed back up on his horse behind
the children. They smiled at him.
They rode for the Perrin place.
The kids and Mr. Perrin rejoiced when the door opened and Jason
presented the two missing children. Mike quickly explained who
Jason was. Mr. Perrin automatically wondered if the children
had eaten. Jason assured him he’d fed them. Mr. Perrin told
the two children to join the others. Then he apologized to
Jason for ‘forgetting his manners.’ Mr. Perrin complimented
Jason on his coat, but declared he could have done better with
the hat. Jason laughed, admitting that his hat was in pretty
Mr. Perrin again thanked Jason
for bringing the two little one’s home. He explained that he
was sick with worry, but he couldn’t leave the other children to
go looking for Mike and Abigail. “I have this rushed order for
the doctor, and if I finish tonight there will be money for
Jason wondered how he had come
upon his family. “Oh…Debra came first. A little baby all alone
in a covered wagon, crying beside her dead father and mother.
Disease took them.” Jason was surprised this tailor had taken
on a baby all alone. “Nobody would touch her.” He said then
there were five…eight…”Then next
week there will be ten.” He
smiled about it as if it were the most natural thing in the
world. “Word gets around. They just send them to me now.”
Jason stood and walked over to
Mr. Perrin as he worked. “Mike told me about the Stoddard boy
getting shot,” Jason announced in a hushed voice.
“He went with Randy. And he told
me it was the boy’s idea to take Stoddard’s gun. But about the
shooting, he won’t say anything.” Jason assured him he’d go see
Stoddard and try to straighten it out.
Mr. Stoddard thanked him, but
told him it was too late. “For a long time, he wants me to go
from this town. Now the shooting gives him a better reason. He
bought the mortgage on this shop. Now I owe him for a long time
back. Now he wants me to be out next week before the new
“Well doesn’t he realize you’re
doing the whole town’s job? You’re running a home for orphins!”
“You see…In some ways, Martin
Stoddard is a good man. All alone, he built this town. Only
this shop is an eye-sore with him. He wants to tear it down.”
Jason said Stoddard should be paying him. “I’m different. My
speaking ain’t so good, and I don’t go to their churches. So,
Mr. Stoddard and this town…don’t understand me. To them, Mike
is not a little boy. He’s an Indian…a savage. Do you know what
it feels like to be different, to be an outcast?”
“Yes, Mr. Perrin. But you’re not
a criminal.” Jason advised him not to let them buy him out like
he was one.
“But you can’t force people to
like you,” Mr. Perrin explained.
“But you CAN force them to
At Mr. Stoddard’s house, his son
Randy was desperately trying to tell him something. Martin kept
trying to tell him to stay quiet. Stoddard and the doctor
talked. Dr. Coats told him it didn’t look good. The bullet was
dirty. There would be complications – infection.
As the doctor and Stoddard came
down the stairs, Grace Stoddard ran up to them, begging the
doctor to tell her about her son. Dr. Coats assured her he was
doing everything he could. Stoddard was upset. He was trying
to raise a town with fine, Christian boys could grow up to be
young men. “Is this the tanks I get? My boy to be shot?” Dr.
Coats assured him he’d be back after making some calls.
Jason had been waiting quietly by
the Christmas tree. He stepped forward and introduced himself,
explaining that he was the engineer he’d hired. Stoddard
apologized, informing Jason he’d come at a bad time. His son
was very ill. He had a meeting with the town council on the new
town hall. “I know it’s Christmas Eve,” Jason started on a
different topic. “But there’s the matter of…Julius Perrin and
his children.” Immediately, Stoddard wanted to know what Jason
knew about it. Jason explained he found Mike after he ran away.
“So…You brought the Indian kid
back. The one who stole my gun and shot my boy.” Jason
suggested it was an accident. “No such thing! Being raised by
a man like Julius Perrin…That kid’s a godless savage! All those
kids are animals! I’m clearing them out of this town!” Perrin
“Like sweeping the
dirt under the
rug if you can’t see it, it’s not there. Is that it?” Jason
questioned Stoddard as he walked up behind him.
That made Stoddard angry. “Who
do you think you are??? I just want that Indian kid.”
“And I don’t think we should turn
him over until we have a chance to talk to your boy,” Jason
“You’re not going to see my boy.
You don’t have a job here anymore, Mr. McCord. I suggest you
“You decide about everybody who
stays and leaves this town?” Jason asked then. Stoddard
ordered him to get out.
The cowboy who had caused all the
trouble in town, Regan, saw Jason leave. “I want you to get
Perrin and his kids out of here. I’ve taken enough. Nobody can
blame me for foreclosing a few days early. Give them a wagon
and team and…Give them this one-hundred dollars. Make them get
out of here tonight!” Stoddard ordered.
Regan did as he was told. The
children, oblivious to what was going on, were excited about the
fact that it was Christmas Eve night. “Where shall I go? How
can I get another shop for so little? What will become of the
Jason felt bad for Perrin.
“Stoddard can’t make you leave tonight.” Perrin said Stoddard’s
man said he’d wait at the edge of town with the hundred dollars.
“But I will not go. It is bad
enough for the children not to have Christmas, but to have no
home on Christmas…NO…I will not go tonight!”
Suddenly, Mike and Abigail were
there begging for Mr. Perrin to tell them a Christmas story.
They led Mr. Perrin to the table. “The Night Before Christmas,”
“Now let me see…The Night Before
Christmas…It’s a good story…A very fine story. Only the
beginning…The beginning I forget.”
“Twas the night before
Christmas…” Abigail started.
“Oh that’s the beginning? But
that’s the name of it!”
Jason smiled at the scene, but
came to the rescue, knowing Mr. Perrin didn’t know the story.
“I think it all…goes like this.” Jason walked up to the table.
Gentle as could be, he started telling the story. “Twas the
night before Christmas when all through the house…Not a creature
was stirring…Not even…a..mouse!”
Meanwhile, Stoddard was meeting
with the town council. He presented the keys to the new Grange
Hall. The men cheered. He stated it was just another step in
the plans he had for New Hope. “I want a bright, clean, shiny
town…A proud town! Next week I’m tearing down the old saddle
shop, and the rickety tailor shop next to it. I’m going to
build a new church there…so we don’t have to depend on a circuit
through here on Sundays.”
While Stoddard was making his
speech, Jason went back to Stoddard’s house to see him. Grace
assured him she didn’t know when he’d be home. “When he does
come home, will you speak to him about Mr. Perrin and those
kids?” Jason asked softly. Grace admitted she hardly knew her
husband these last few days. He’d always been kind and
generous. Jason begged Grace to talk Stoddard into giving Mr.
Perrin some time. “The old man was trying hard to make a suit
so he could earn a few dollars to make a Christmas for those
kids. Well, he ran out of time. Now the best they can hope for
is to wake up tomorrow morning with a little candy and a few
balloons I got for them. Don’t let Mr. Stoddard take that
away. Don’t let him run those kids out on Christmas eve.”
Grace was moved by Jason’s
speech. She assured Jason she’d try to talk to her husband.
Little did they know that above, Randy was listening.
When Jason got back to Perrin’s
place, he found two men trying to force Perrin out of the
house. Jason immediately started fighting them. Mr. and Mrs.
Stoddard came in while this was going on. “You’ve got the real
Christmas spirit, haven’t you, Stoddard?” Jason lit into him.
But Stoddard didn’t want to listen. He announced that Randy was
gone. His wife had told him Jason was there. If Jason said
anything to send the boy away…
“I didn’t even see him,” Jason
“If anything happens to him, I’ll
“If you sand there making
threats, you may kill the boy,” Jason informed him.
Suddenly, another cowboy came in,
announcing Randy had been found. Stoddard ran out the door.
Jason and Grace followed him into the new Grange Hall where the
docotr was examining the boy. Dr. Coats was surprised. His
infection seemed to be down. “I guess being out in the cold and
the snow must have helped.”
“Dad, I was going to Mr. Perrin’s
to see Mike and the other kids,” Randy explained. “Dad, Mike’s
my very best friend. I was taking some of the presents to the
kids.” Dr. Coats announced that when Randy had been found, he
was dragging a bag of toys. “McCord said they’re not going to
have anything tomorrow. Mike didn’t shoot me, Dad. He didn’t
steal the gun either. I did.” Randy had tried to tell him, but
he was so mad. Stoddard wondered why the Indian boy didn’t say
anything. “I guess he was scared that nobody would believe
him. He knew you told me never to go near that gun case. We
only wanted to play Cowboys. He tried to talk me out of it.”
The gun had gone off. Mike had
tried to carry him home.
It was Stoddard’s turn to face
Mr. Perrin. “I guess when a man gets so big and important, he
can tear down old buildings and put up what he likes. Seems I
did the same with people.” Jason assured Stoddard he’d done a
lot of good things for New Home – including the new orphanage
he’d just built.
“New orphanage?” Mr. Perrin
“Yes. Mr. Stoddard’s painter
made a mistake on the sign outside. It says ‘Grange Hall.’”
Jason turned back to look pointedly at Stoddard.
“Oh yes…of course…the orphanage…”
Stoddard laughed nervously. “I’ll have that sign taken care of
Christmas day was wonderful in
the new orphanage. Mr. Perrin declared that was his first
Christmas Day. Stoddard declared he didn’t want Mr. Perrin to
give up his tailor business. He wanted two new suits! He
also wanted Jason to get started on his job…right after
Mike had a Christmas gift for
Jason: a wooden saber. "I made it myself," said
Mike. "I saw yours was broken." "Merry Christmas Mr.
"Thank you Mike. That's the nicest Christmas present I ever
got." "Merry Christmas!"
“Merry Christmas, kids!” Jason
declared. The children all said Merry Christmas back.
“MERRY CHRISTMAS!!!” Jason said