A Christmas Accident (1912)
- Summaries (2)
The Giltons are next door neighbors to the Biltons. The houses are exactly alike and adjoin each other; the back yards are even unseparated by a fence. Gilton is a crabbed old money-maker and childless while his wife has grown submissive through years of continual nagging. The Biltons are a happy family of seven; poverty and scrimping have not soured them. The struggle to maintain his wife and the little ones has left Bilton threadbare, it is true, but the loving wife and five pairs of little arms that crept around his neck each morning and night were worth the fight. The fact that old Gilton fumed and fussed about the children sometimes stepping over the line of his back-yard, bothered him only in so far as he disliked discord; and when Gilton's dog was poisoned Bilton was as sorry as though it had been his own, yet old Gilton accused him of having been the poisoner. Even the heart-broken sobs of Cora Corrella, Bilton's sweet little daughter over the death of her canine playfellow, failed to convince the crusty old man. When the grocer's boy delivered Gilton's order to Mrs. Bilton and she cooked the dinner, thinking her husband has sent the things, Gilton was almost ready to commit murder. As Christmas approached the Biltons were hard pressed but gave their little store to the children to buy presents, telling them that Santa Claus was too poor to leave them a turkey. On Christmas Eve old Gilton staggered home in a blizzard, the turkey for Christmas dinner under his arm; on the porch that led to the twin doors of his house and Bilton's a terrific gust of wind and snow closed his eyes and horror of horrors, he entered the home of the hated neighbor. Blinded and cold, his entire figure snow covered, he stepped into the midst of the Biltons, gathered as they were about the table laden with the cheap presents listening open-mouthed to Bilton reading "The Night Before Christmas." The children's vision of cheery Santa was rudely interrupted by Gilton's snow covered figure. To them he was a real Santa Clans. In a beautiful closing scene old Gilton's flinty eyes filled with tears and the breach between the families is closed as though the spirit of Santa Claus himself had welded it.
Well-to-do Mr. and Mrs. Gilton live next door to a large family that struggles to make ends meet. Despite their desire to be friendly, Mr. Gilton is frequently irritated by his neighbors, insisting that they stay out of his yard, and blaming them for anything that goes wrong. During the holiday season, the differences between the two families become even clearer. Mrs. Gilton wants to do something to help their neighbors, but Mr. Gilton will take a lot of convincing.
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