From the Children’s Friend, January 1941 –
Thanks a Million
By Sara O. Moss
Elsie loved the new service station her father had bought on the highway, way up here in the hills. There was always excitement; cars pulling in at all hours, happy people waving as they passed on the road and the mailman leaving letters and parcels on his way to the small towns in the valley beyond. Today the mailman honked his horn and handed Elsie an envelope.
“Oh,” said Elsie, “It’s a letter from Grandma,” and she tore the flap with flying fingers.
“Dear Elsie,” said Grandma’s writing, “I am sending you something soft and furry. I hope you will like them.”
Elsie clapped her hands with joy. “Something soft and furry,” she said to herself. “Grandma must mean two little dogs, for she knows I have always wanted at least one dog,” and she ran to the house to tell her mother the good news.
The hours dragged after that, for it was two whole days before the mailman stopped again. The box he left was a large one and quite heavy – indeed, too heavy for Elsie to carry.
“Well, there’re no dogs in this,” said Mr. Nolan, Elsie’s father, as he carried the box into the house.
“Are you sure?” asked Elsie, running along beside him.
Her father laughed. “Of course,” he said. “This box is air-tight and no dogs could live in it. But we’ll find out just what your Grandmother meant by ‘something soft and furry.’”
Like all of Grandmother’s packages, the box was filled with good things from the farm: a ham, a dressed chicken, butter, cake and cookies.
“But no dogs,” said Elsie sadly.
“No dogs,” said Mr. Nolan, “but what’s this?” and he pulled out something brown from the very bottom of the box. “Mittens,” he said, handing Elsie some soft, brown mittens of fur. “So that’s what she meant by ‘something soft and furry,’” and thinking it quite a joke because they had been looking for dogs, he and mother laughed heartily.
Elsie took the mittens slowly and put them on her small hands. Suddenly she began to cry. “I wanted a dog,” she said brokenly. “I was so sure I would get two little dogs.”
Her father patted her head then. “Never mind,” he said kindly. “I’m sure Grandma didn’t know, and anyway, the mittens will be fine for making a snowman.”
Elsie looked up and smiled through her tears, and then stroked the brown mittens. “Of course, Daddy,” she said. “I didn’t mean to cry, but you know how it is, if you’d wanted a dog.”
It was several days later and the weather had suddenly changed. The sky was dark with clouds and the wind howled through the pines in the hills. Far back, the mountain tops were white with snow and Elsie was glad that she could be inside by the warm fire.
Suddenly the door opened and Elsie’s father burst into the room. Behind him was a man carrying a small girl, who was crying and Elsie could see how cold she was.
“Mother,” said Mr. Nolan, “this is Mr. Carr and his little girl who is very cold from riding and needs something warm to drink.” Then he set the little girl down in a big chair by the fire.
Mrs. Nolan hurried about and rubbed first one little hand and then the other. “Poor child,” she said, “she is dressed much too thinly for such weather as this.”
Mr. Carr had taken off his little child’s shoes and warmed the cold feet. “It was so warm in the valley when we left this afternoon,” he said, “and I had no idea that these hills could be so cold. I was sure we would be plenty warm in the car until we arrived at Uncle Charlie’s house in the other valley.”
“No,” said Mrs. Nolan, “no one can realize that we have it so cold up here – and we must find a warm blanket for your child before you start on your way. You can return it when you come back from your uncle’s.” Then she went for the warm milk and soon the little girl was smiling happily as Elsie showed her some playthings. The time went altogether too fast, for soon Mr. Nolan was back again after going out to service the car.
“Well, everything’s ready,” he said, and Elsie’s mother began wrapping up the little girl in a warm blanket. It was then that Elsie left the room, returning shortly with her fine, new mittens.
“Here,” she said to the child, handing her the fur mittens. “You may take these to keep your hands warm until you come back.” The little girl was pleased.
“Well,” said Mr. Carr, patting Elsie’s head, “those are fine mittens.”
“Yes,” said Elsie. “My grandmother sent them to me, but really I wanted a dog.”
Everyone laughed at that, but soon the goodbyes were said and the strangers were on their way, with a promise to be back in three days.
And the three days had almost passed as Elsie sat at the table writing a letter to her grandmother, to thank her for the mittens. She was hoping too that she would have them safely in her dresser drawer before the day had gone, but such a day as it was! The snow blew against the windows and the snow plows had been busy all day keeping the roads clear. Elsie was afraid that her new friends would not be able to make the trip as they had planned.
But a loud knock at the door roused her, and she hurried to open it. There on the threshold stood the Carrs, the little girl now snugly warm in a snowsuit that looked new.
“Oh, come in,” said Elsie, pleased to see them again.
“Not today,” said Mr. Carr. “We must be on our way as it’s late, but here are the things we borrowed, and thanks a million.” He laid the blanket down carefully on the floor, and the mittens on top of it. “Be sure to put the blanket away, at once, so you won’t forget,” and he and the child laughed heartily, as they rushed to their car.
Elsie closed the door, then picked up the mittens, glad to have them again. Then she started to take the blanket, but jumped back in astonishment, for suddenly the blanket had moved. Again and again it moved, and then a little white dog wiggled right out onto the floor.
“Oh, you darling!” said Elsie, hugging the puppy. “So that’s why they were laughing. They wanted to surprise me. Oh,” she said again, “then you’re really mine.” She hugged the little dog again, then stooped and picked up her mittens which had fallen to the floor in her excitement. “I must go and finish my letter to Grandma,” she said to herself, “and thank her for the mittens – and you,” she finished, holding the little dog tightly.