The television mumbled faint inanities in the next room. From a few houses down the block came the sound of car doors slamming and guests being greeted with large cordiality.
Her father thought awhile. His mind went back over the interminable parade of Christmas books he had read at the bedside of his children.
“Well,” he started, tentatively, “Once upon a time, it was the week before Christmas, and all the little elves at the North Pole were sad.”
“I’m tired of elves,” she whispered. And he could tell she was tired, maybe almost as weary as he was himself after the last few feverish days.
“OK,” he said. “There was once, in a city not very far from here, the cutest wriggly little puppy you ever saw. The snow was falling, and this little puppy didn’t have a home. As he walked along the streets, he saw a house that looked quite a bit like our house. And at the window ...”