The Story of a White Rocking Horse by Laura Lee Hope
Chapter V. A Night Ride
The White Rocking Horse wanted to gallop across the room and back, because he felt so happy at seeing the Sawdust Doll again. As for the Sawdust Doll, she wanted to stand up and clap her hands, as the Calico Clown used to clap his cymbals together. But neither of the toys dared do anything, because, in the same room with them, were the father and mother of Dick and Dorothy. And the toys, as I told you, never moved or spoke when any one was near them.
"The old Jumping Jack looks well on the Christmas tree," said the lady, as she smoothed out the dress of the Sawdust Doll.
"Yes, I'm glad we brought him down out of the attic, poor fellow," replied the man, as he rocked the Horse slowly to and fro, to make sure he was in a good place. "I wonder if these toys ever know or care what joy they give to the children?" he asked.
"Oh, I think they do," said Dorothy's mother. "Do you know," she went on with a little laugh, "sometimes I think the toys are really alive, and can talk among themselves, and do things."
"What nonsense!" laughed the man. "Do you think this Rocking Horse can come to life?" and he patted our toy friend.
"Well, maybe not exactly come to life," answered his wife. "But I am sure they must have good times when we aren't looking. See that Sawdust Doll! Why, I really think she is looking at the Rocking Horse as if she knew him! And you know they did come from the same store."
"Well, I think everything is ready now for Santa Claus," said the man. "We will leave the rest of the tree to him. It will soon be Christmas morning. Let us go out and leave the toys to themselves. Perhaps they will really have a good time, as you think."
"I am sure they will," the lady said, laughing softly.
Then the door was shut and of course you can guess what happened when no human eyes were there to watch the White Rocking Horse and Sawdust Doll.
The Doll was the first to speak.
"Oh, how glad I am to see you!" she said, as she stood up on her sawdust-stuffed legs and looked at the Horse high above her head. "You can't imagine how glad I am!"
"And I am glad to see you," neighed the Horse. "I never dreamed I should be brought to the house where you were. Tell me, are you to be a Christmas present, too?"
"No, I was bought for Dorothy's birthday," was the answer. "Don't you remember? I left the store some weeks ago. But Dorothy wanted me put under the Christmas tree with the other presents Santa Claus is to bring to her and Dick. But you are a Christmas present, I know."
"Yes, I am," said the White Rocking Horse. "Real jolly, I call it! I never saw a Christmas tree before."
"You haven't really seen this one yet," went on the Sawdust Doll. "Has he, Jumping Jack?" she asked.
"Indeed I should say not," was the reply. "It has not been lighted as yet. I well remember the first Christmas tree I was put on. I was a gay, jumping chap then. My spring wasn't broken. But I am not going to talk about that. This is no time for sadness. Only, when the tree is lighted to-morrow night, Rocking Horse, you will see something very pretty. Will he not, Sawdust Doll?"
"He certainly will! And now, please tell me about my friends in the store," she begged. "How are the Bold Tin Soldier and the Calico Clown?"
"Each sent you his love," said the White Horse. "And the Candy Rabbit, the Lamb on Wheels and the Monkey on a Stick--each and every one wanted to be remembered to you."
"That was very kind of them, I'm sure," said the Sawdust Doll. "But tell me--have you had any fun since I left?"
"Oh, a little," was the answer. "Only last night the Elephant, who borrowed some roller skates, started to race with me," said the Rocking Horse. "We got as far as the elevators, but one of his skates came off. We started back and then the watchman came in and spoiled the fun."
"What a shame!" cried the Sawdust Doll. "I wish I had been there to see. But I am so glad you have come to live here."
"Is it a nice place?" asked the Horse.
"Oh, the very nicest!" exclaimed the Sawdust Doll. "Dorothy is such a kind mistress to me. And you will find her brother Dick a kind master, too. I suppose you are going to belong to him."
"Well, I haven't really heard much about it," said the Horse. "A number of boys came into the store and tried to ride me. One gave me some hard kicks in my side--so hard that I was afraid all my paint would come off. But a girl in the store oiled me, and I am all right again. I think I remember Dick."
"Yes, he was in the store once, when. Dorothy's mother brought her little girl in to look at dolls, and I was the one the mother picked out because I had such brown eyes."
"Nice brown eyes, I think she said," cried the Rocking Horse.
"Well, of course it would not do for me to say that," said the Sawdust Doll, smiling. "At any rate, here we two are, together, and in a happy home, and I am glad of it."
"So am I," the Rocking Horse said.
"And I am, too," came from the Jumping Jack. "If it had not been for you, my rocking friend," he went on, "I might be still dust-covered and in the attic." So the toys under the Christmas tree talked among themselves and even moved about a little, but not too much, for they could not tell at what moment some one might come in.
And in the night Christmas came. The toys under the tree knew it just as well as if they had been real persons. They knew Santa Claus a great deal better than most real persons, too, having been made in the North Pole shop of St. Nicholas.
"Well, you will soon have Dick riding on your back," said the Sawdust Doll to the Rocking Horse as, together, they waited beneath the green tree. "I can see the morning light coming over the hills. And I heard Dorothy and Dick saying yesterday that they were going to get up, even before the sun, to see what Santa Claus had brought them."
"He certainly brought them a fine lot of presents," remarked the Jumping Jack, in a sort of rusty, squeaking voice. "I hope--"
"Hush! Here they come, now!" whispered the Sawdust Doll.
The door opened. In rushed two happy, laughing, shouting children.
"Merry Christmas!" cried Dorothy.
"Merry Christmas!" echoed Dick.
"Oh, here is the set of dishes I wanted!" Dorothy exclaimed.
"And here is my White Rocking Horse!" shouted Dick. "Oh, it's just the very one I hoped I'd get! Oh, what a dandy!"
With a leap he was up on the red saddle and grasping the red reins in his hands.
"Gid-dap!" cried the boy, and he beat a tattoo on the sides of the horse with his feet. But as Dick had on soft slippers, he did not hurt the White Rocking Horse in the least, nor did he chip off any paint. "Here I go! Here I go!" shouted Dick. "Oh, what a fine horse!"
"He's lovely, Dick," said his sister.
"Merry Christmas, children!" said Mother, as she came in to see the Christmas tree.
"Merry Christmas!" they answered. "See what you have, Mother!"
And there were presents for her and for Daddy also, under the tree. And Daddy came downstairs, rubbing his eyes and saying:
The White Rocking Horse felt very happy and so did the Sawdust Doll, and even the Jumping Jack was as jolly as the rest.
"You may have a ride on my horse if you want to, Dorothy," said Dick, as he slowly brought his steed to a stop.
"Thank you," answered his sister. "And when I have a play party with my new Christmas dishes you may come and have some cake."
And so Christmas came and brought happiness with it to Dick and Dorothy and also to the White Rocking Horse and the Sawdust Doll. For the toys were in a fine house and had a kind master and mistress. And that means more than you think to toys.
I cannot begin to tell you all that happened this Christmas Day. Boy and girl playmates of Dorothy and Dick came over to see what Santa Claus had brought their friends, and the visitors showed their own presents. Among the callers were Mirabell and Arnold, the boy and girl who lived next door.
"Oh, what nice things you have!" said Mirabell. "I got nice presents, too. I wanted a Lamb on Wheels, such as I once saw in the store, but I have so many things I don't exactly need that now. Maybe I'll get one later on."
"And I wanted a Bold Tin Soldier," said Arnold, her brother. "But I have a pop gun and a drum, and I'll wait until my birthday for the soldier."
The children had jolly Christmas fun, and at night the tree was lighted.
"Oh, what a beautiful sight!" said the White Rocking Horse to the Sawdust Doll, when they were alone in the room for a moment and could talk without being overheard.
"I told you that you'd see something wonderful," said the old Jumping Jack.
"You were right," said the Rocking Horse. "It is beautiful!"
The fun of Christmas night was as jolly as that during the day, but at last Mother said:
"Come now, children, it is time to go to sleep. You may play with your White Rocking Horse to-morrow, Dick. And you may have a play party for your Sawdust Doll, Dorothy."
And, very happy indeed, brother and sister went to bed.
It became very still and quiet and dark in the house. It was like the hour in the department store when there is no one to see the toys.
"Now I can move about," said the White Rocking Horse, who had been taken up to Dick's room. "I wish I could see the Sawdust Doll and have a talk with her."
"She is in Dorothy's room," said an old Driver, who had once sat on a tin express wagon. "Dorothy always takes her doll to bed with her."
"Then I think I'll go in and see my friend," said the Horse. "I can gallop softly down the hall and into Dorothy's room. As long as no one sees me I am allowed to move about."
"Yes, go ahead," said the Driver. "I'd go with you if I still had my wagon. Go and see the Sawdust Doll."
So rocking softly over the thick carpet, and making no noise, the White Horse made his way out of Dick's room, down the hall, and straight to where Dorothy was sleeping with the Sawdust Doll on the pillow beside her.