the frosted glass windows, the children sat looking at the
changing countryside. Timmy was lying under a seat, his nose on
- We are lucky, said Dick, snow for Christmas, and a lovely layer,
- How happy I am, said Anne, see how the trees are beautiful, and
this beautiful spotless white coat on the moors !
- A real Christmas ! added Julian. The Famous Five are in luck !
Why are you so quiet, George ?
The girl, thoughtful, was delighted. She was going to see her
parents, the Kirrin cottage. Timothy, each evening, would sleep on
her legs... A smile spread on her lips.
- Here we are again together. And no tutor to irritate us, this
time ! We are going to enjoy ourselves !
The train stopped loudly.
Aunt Fanny was at the station to meet the children, sitting in the
small cart attached to the poney. A cover envelopped her legs, for
it was bitter cold. There were kisses round, and the little troup
set off for Kirrin cottage !
- Mummy, what joy, said George, we are really very happy ! and it
is Christmas ! Is Dad very busy ?
- He still has a lot of work, answered her mother. But he promised
me to rest the eve of Christmas and the next day. Anyhow, it is
neccesary to be calm, for you can not all the time be outside, it
is so cold... and the house will not resist to your games...
- Mum, must we walk on tip toes, speak softly, and Timmy will not
have the right to bark..
- But can he do all that at school ? asked Julian, coming to the
help of his aunt.
- No, certainly not... The girl stopped herself : one could see
the Kirrin cottage, covered with snow. A smile appeared on the
face of George. A smoke was escaping slowly from the chimney of
the kitchen, and Joanna, the cook, who liked a lot the children,
moved hands near the window.
When the door opened, a good odour of cake arrived to the nose of
the children, and a breath of warmth envelopped them.
- How nice it is here, said Dick, removing his coat. Here, there
is uncle Quentin who is coming out of his office. Hello, my uncle
The oncle Quentin kissed his nephews, his niece and his daughter.
He looked cheerful. What luck, thought the children, that's a good
sign. The holidays announced themselves well. When the uncle
Quentin had retired, aunt Fanny invited the children to the
kitchen where Joanna was waiting for them, before some dishes of
cakes still hot, full of appetizing odours.
Tim was agitating itself, smelling all the corners, snifing at the
dishes, pushing the children, whereas Joanna was distributing huge
kisses to the boys and to the girls.
- Joanna, how nice
smell your biscuits, can we taste them ? asked Dick, the greedy
- No, they are for this evening, replied Joanna turning herself to
hide her laugh. You will wait untill then ?
But nobody believed her, and even Timothy ate the cakes, the
biscuits, and the buns, whereas the children savoured each a bowl
of creamy drinking chocolate.
- How comforting this is, after the badly heated train, said
Anne. Are we going to take are suitcases upstairs ?
- Of course, approoved Julian, high, and long live the holidays.
- I am happy to see my room again, said George, putting her
suitcase down. I am not sad at school, but all the same, it is
better to be back home !
- And then, it is Christmas, we are going to buy cakes, make the
tree, decorate it...
- We will need holly, mistletoe and lots of other shining things,
said Dick passing his head in the opening of the door ! That is
going to be really funny. Your eyes hine, George, added the boy
laughing... What is the matter ?
- This year, wrote to me mummy, we are going to do all by
ourselved. Tomorrow, we will go to our forest to cut the pine tree,
then we will pluck the holly and the mistletoe, there are in the
apple tree of the garden !
- And we will go the attick looking for angle hair, balls,
- What do you say, asked Julian who was just arriving. You are all
chating 19 to the dozen ! You prepare an expedition ?
- Oh ! no, laughed Anne, we were speaking only about the joys that
await us ! You will not be the last to take part in it, I think ?
- No, but Christmas is my favorite festival... I love a lot this
period of the year. The snow, the wind, the long nights and the
- so short, mocked Anne.
All burst out laughing.
This first evening at the Kirrin cottage was spent happily. They
went to eat in thre hall which was lighted by a small lamp. A
firewood was burning in the chimney, and Timothy, as all the dogs,
had laid himself down near the fire. They were speaking of the
school, of holidays, of the fete which was prepared. In a cornor,
some packages were piled, but the children did not speek about it.
Quentin announced that the days to come will also be as cold, and
that the snow will fall.
- Can we all the same go to the wood to cut the tree
of Christmas, asked George ? We want so much to do it !
yes, said her mother ! You will put you coats, your hoods, and you
will wear boots. That will be the best. You will choose a tree,
not too big, in the Log Wood, you now George, near of the cabin in
George knew well this wood situated between the road and the moor,
where heath grew, along with pines and other trees. It was
situated between a depression of the terrain, and one could not
see it from the house, neither from the road.
- It is a beautifull walk, said George to her cousins. A good walk
anyhow, I inform you. Timothy will be happy, he will have all the
time to play in the snow.
- And we too, said Dick and Julian, beware the balls of snow, the
- You also, riposted George laughing ! Anne, we will defend
ourselved like tigresses and the boys will have to be carefull.
laughed at these funny comments, and they climbed to lie down.
Through the glasspane, Anne looked outside, in the dark night.
- Come to lie down, said George to her cousin sister, you are
freezing yourself for nithing ! You can see nothing !
- Yes, protested Anne... You see, uncle Quentin was not wrong !
The snow is falling again. It is whirling ! What thickness there
will be tomorrow !
- Very well. Let the snow fall, now sleep.
Anne murmured some words against her George who was scolding her,
then slipped herself in the feather bed with satisfaction.
next morning, in deed, a good layer of snow covered again the
- Christmas is after tomorrow, said aunt Fanny, whereas the
children were finishing their breakfast. Get ready, for we go in
city this morning. We can take the small train. Tomorrow perhaps
there will be too much of snow !
- The farms of the hills are already blocked, said the uncle
quentin. And they announce still more falls of snow, and some wind
- What beautifull white Christmas, said George, fast Anne, put
your coat, you come, boys ?
In the city, all was marvellous. Some pines were standing
everywhere, decorated of shining garlands in golden and silver
colors. The windows were filled with toys and with games. Behind
the glass windows of the pastry shops, superb cakes decorated with
spirits, holly, axes and some small trees.
- I am off on my own way, said aunt Fanny, make your purchases,
enjoy yourselves, we will meet again in front of this pastry shop
to drink chocolate and eat some cakes.
- Very good programme, said Anne. See you soon, my aunt, come,
others, lets us go our shopping.
The children made their purchases secretly, for they offered each
other small gifts, and no body had to be forgotten, neither Joanna,
Joanna had prepared a hot dinner, lovely winter dish, that the
children gobbled down without making a fuss.
- Let us take our packages in our rooms, proposed Julian. Oh,
George, what do you hide behind your back, is it my present ?
Don't try to guess, protested the little girl, it is a surprise !
Quick, Anne, let us hurry up before the boys tear open the
wrappers and see what is inside...
Everybody laughed loud, and Timothy barked all he could.
From below, a door was slamed open brutally, and a very irritated
voice came up :
- Is there ever going to be peace in this house, I am working !
It was the uncle Quentin who, one more, did not understand the
excitement of the children. Aunt Fanny thought it was necessary to
- Calm yourself, Quentin, the children are going out. They are
going to go to the wood to cut the tree ! Aren't you, the children
- Yes, mummy, shouted George, whereas her father banged the door
of this study- room.
- Yes, aunt Fanny, daid the three other voices, more calmly.
Anne borrowed a basket from her aunt. Julian took a small axe,
while George armed herself with a rope.
- To strip the branches, she explained.
They took a way where the snow was covering almost the boots.
Timothy had snow right uptill his tummy, jumping, and seemed to
enjoy himself a lot. The trees were whispering, packets of soft
snow were falling off from the tree-tops.
Let us take the way of the hut, said George, there are beautiful
pine trees over threre. We will enjoy the view of a beautifull hut
under a white coat.
- Not a foot print, pointed Anne... How beautifull this is, this
wood. You hid this treasure from us, George ?
- Well, we are all the time so busy, during our hols ! It never
occured to me to show you this wood, neither the cabin of
wood-cutters ! All this is a part of the farm of Kirrin.
- You are lucky, said Dick for the hundredth time ! A beautifull
house, an island, a farm... a nice dog !
And "smashing" cousins, cut George. Ah ! here we come to
the hut !
In a clearing, a solid looking hut appeared, covered with snow,
like a house straight out from a Christmas card. The children
- The door is not closed, remarked Julian. Can we enter, George ?
Without answering, the little girl pushed the door, closed only by
a log of wood.
- We hardly use it, said George. There are just a stack of hay, an
old empty tub or a table and two chairs. It is used by the
wood-cutters, when they stay here many days.
- And a cute little pan, continued Anne ! Oh ! How I shall enjoy
using it !
- We won't have time for that, said Julian, it will soon become
dark, and we have to cut our pin for our tree. Come all, added the
boy, otherwise Anne will make us spend Christmas here !
- That will not annoy me, sighed George, who loved adventures, but
all the same, not for Christmas !
Julian closed the door behind him when the others had got out of
- It is all the same necessary to put a chain or a padlock, he
said to his cousin sister.
George took them a little further, where the woods were lovely,
dark and mysterious.
- How beautifull are these tall trees, said Anne, which one are we
going to take ?
They agreed upon a straight tree, with narrow boughs, about
Dick attacked it with his axe, and soon, it fell down with a
hissing sound. George flattened out the boughs and tied them with
Like an escort of Father Christmas, they left, dragging the tree
in the snow.
Julian plucked some branches of holly and George promised to climb
up the apple tree of the garden to cut mistletoe.
The little troop looked quite funny when they entered in at the
gate of Kirren cottage. The children shook their boots, put their
coats, whereas Joanna shook the pine tree. Then she accompanied
the children to the drawing room, where it was to be dressed.
How lovely the evening was. The excited children passed one
another angels, balls, little colour candles, white cotton to for
snow. Aunt Fanny had decorated the leg of the tree with paper that
looked like rocks. Joanna came in and out of the hall, with a tray
of hot biscuits or crunchy snacks. Even Uncle Quentin was all
smiles that evening, and forgot all about his diagrams and
"Gosh ! how tired I am," said Anne, I am going to sleep.
I am already yawning !
"Same here, agreed Dick, but we have enjoyed our day... I am
already falling asleep ! It's already a quarter past ten. Which of
you likes me, follow me !
The next day, the weather was dull. The wind blew itself into a
gale while the snow fell hard. Christmas was only a day away, and
this evening would be spent in fun and gaiety.
times, it snowed a little lesser, and by mid-day, the weather was
better. The children were playing in the house, trying to make
less noise in order not to irritate Uncle Quentin.
But Aunt Fanny decided to send them up to the attic where they
would be a little farther from their uncle and where they could
enjoy themselves without being disturbed. They imagined that the
attic was a lost boat, in storm, and while George was looking out
at the sea, Anne was looking out of a small window overlooking the
- Oh ! she said suddenly, a smoke in the woods...
Leaving her post, George approached.
- You cannot see the woods from the house ! she said. Move a
She wiped the glass pane with her handkerchief, then saw.
You are right, Anne ! I should have known that it could be seen
from here ! It's because we are up here in the loft ! Who do you
think could have set that fire ?
All the children had approached the window, and discussed in
- It is coming from the hut, said Dick. There is somebody there !
- A this time of the day, said Julian. Seems funny !
- Let's go and see, asked George. It's a mystery...
- On Christmas eve ! protested Anne.
- We shall go there this afternoon soon after lunch, decided
Julian, and now, let's be silent about it. Anne, please don't give
away our little secret...
- Okay, I will hold my tongue, promised Anne... At least, I'll try
The children continued to play until mid-day, but the blue smoke
which curled itself slowly up into the thick sky kept coming to
their mind, so the children waited dinner with impatience.
Was it adventure round the corner ?
During the meal, the children thought of Christmas and of that
mysterious smoke identified from the attic. But alas ! they could
not speak about it all. Anne managed to hold her tongue, and the
meal ended finally.
he had announced, uncle Quentin did not mean to work thay
afternoon, neither the next day which was Christmas.
They were scared that he did not manifest his desire to remain
with the children but the children heaved a sigh of relief seeing
him taking a book out of the library and settling comfortably in
- What are you going to do ? he asked them. Don't disturb Joanna,
in any case !
She is already very busy, preparing meals for seven of us, to say
nothing of your hungry dog !
- We were thinking of making the most of the snow, said George.
It's so nice.
- Well, then, make it fast, and do not go too far, the wind is
strong, and one announces still more falls of snow on the radio !
- It is possible that the roads are blocked by the snow tomorrow,
added Aunt Fanny. Be careful, and don't come back home too late.
- We put our coats, our boots and our gloves, said Anne. See you
soon, Aunt Fanny !
As they walked, the children looked at the sky, laden and heavy,
on that December afternoon. Thick snow flakes kept turning round
and falling, thereby making a white carpet.
- Damn it ! said Julian, it was a good thing we left early, it is
more difficult to walk today than it was yesterday.
- Even Timothy is finding it difficult to walk, said George. See
how the snow accumulate itself in the ditches.
- Let us advance as quickly as we can, suggested Dick, who knows
what we may find there ?
They came down slowly and they were now between the trees. The
wind was less strong. Timothy had stopped jumping, and walked
carefully near George.
The countryside was splendid, and inspite of the mystery that
surprised the children, the Five kept their eyes wide open, as
Timmy was enjoying the snow, this surprising thing, soft, which
sometimes fell on his nose. The children staryed talking about the
mystery of the smoke. Was it still visible ? Or had it disappeared
? Who had made the fire in this hut lost in the woods, instead of
being wisely at home, sitting infront of the fireplace ?
- If I am not mistaken, said Julian, we are approaching the hut.
Let us move forward carefully. Timothy will warn us of any danger,
if there is one.
- I don't think we will find anybody, George said finally. Someone
might have refuged himself in the cabin to make some fire and will
have left. A woodcutter, a vagabond.
- Then we will verify that everything is well extinguished, and
that the place is in order, and we will carefully close the door.
- Look, said Dick, the sky is even lower. How dark it is !
The children continued on their way silently. They soon came to a
clearing, but the day was so weak that they could hardly see where
they were. The smoke was still escaping from a tube of gas, but
Timothy did not manifest any sign of fear.
- Let us go see, said Julian.
There were two small windows, masked by old curtains. And a
quivering light lit the room.
- That's the heater, murmured George.
The five came still closer, and Julian put his face against the
- There is a candle that is lit, he blewed... And the heater is
red. But there is nobody.
- Lemme see, said George pushing her cousin brother, I hve better
eyes than you. No, I don't see anybody either.
The children went back a few steps, and then Julian said :
- Timothy does not look worried. See, he is approaching the door
and is scratching it softly.
- In that case, let us enter, said George.
- Wait a little longer, said Dick, let me go round the hut.
- I come with you ! said George.
Crouching themselves, the four children walked carefully around
the hut. After a few meters, at the shelter of a tree, Anne found
- They are those of someone who has small feet, said Dick. A bit
of luck that the traces are under the trees, otherwise the snow
would have erased them.
Back in front of the door, they decided to go in.
At once, Timothy went towards the old cot, the "bed" as
George had said. A child was asleep. Near him, on a chair, was a
candle that was almost dead. The heater was still giving some
amount of heat, but was not sufficient. A big travel bag was lying
beside the chair.
- Who is it ? murmured Anne.
The children hesitated a moment. Then Julian approached the child,
and shook his shoulders.
He turned slowly to the other side.
- Oh ! what...
- Don't be scared, assured him Julian, we are only children. We
found you by chance...
The boy could be 9 or 10 years. He was blond-headed, bright-eyed,
who was at present yawning loudly.
- You have lost yourself, said Julian. What are you doing here ?
It is a surprise for us to find a child asleep in this hut, far
from all, and that too on the day before Christmas !
- Pour us your adventure, said kindly Anne.
And the boy began his tale.
He had left his school the previous day. A bus was taking the
children back home. Little Michael, that was the child's name, was
the last to get off the bus, as he lived at a farm lost between
the hills, far away from all. Usually, his parents came to fetch
him. But the snow storm had put certain roads out of use, and the
bus was finding it hard to proceed.
- The driver dropped me on the road much before the crossing as he
could not make his bus climb up the little cliff. It was snowing
hard, making it impossible to see even a little ahead. And that's
how I got lost... added Michael. I walked and walked, but to no
- You must have been scared ? said Anne.
- Actually, I was beginning to feel tired, and I could still not
recognize the countryside. Finally, I came to this wood. But I did
not know where I was.
- So you must have been jolly glad to have found this shelter ?
- Oh, yes ! It was cold, I was wet... I saw this heater, and a
small heap of wood sticks, so I made fire to keep myself warm, and
then fell asleep.
The boy looked intelligent and pleasant.
- Anne, interrupted Julian, see if you can find anything hot to
- And I shall put some twigs in the pan, said Dick.
- My parents must be worried, said Michale... Why did they not
come to collect me ?
- You know, explained Julian, many roads are filled with snow.
Either they could not, or they arrived too late !
- We are going to take you back home, to Kirrin Cottage, said
George. Father will inform your parents.
She thought the child was very nice, and Timothy was licking him
and was putting his nose in between his hands.
The pan whistled gaily, and Anne had found a bowl still containing
tea, and some humid stones of sugar.
- You have been sleeping for a long time, remarked Dick.
- I slept until mid-night. Then I got up... The snow was still
falling, and I did not know which way to go. And then, I had
nothing to eat ! Just a package of biscuits in my bag.
- Good thing Anne saw this smoke in the forest, said George.
Otherwise, we would not have found you today !
Anne served the tea and everyone sipped it.
- Right, said Julian. We must leave now. He helped the child to
put some old newspapers beteween his shirt, to protect him from
- Do you hear the wind ? I think it is the storm of snow that had
been announced on the wireless. Let us hurry up.
The children poured some snow on the fire that was still burning,
closed the door again, and blocked it with a plank, so that the
wind could not open it.
And they made their way back home.
- See, said George, how the way is beginning to disappear, let us
walk fast, mother must be worried.
The children hurried up.
The little group was all white when it arrived to the Kirrin
Aunt Fanny, who was anxiously awaiting the little party, was
surprised to discover a fifth child.
Joanna, Uncle Quentin, the children, the dog, all started explaing
at the same time. It was noisy !
Finally, when everything was explained, Joanna took the child to
the kitchen, where she made him a nice breakfast, for the child
was famished. Uncle Quentin phoned the parents of the little boy.
Surrounded by all, he was delighted. He became pink on the cheeks
again, and smiled around.
- Your parents could not leave the farm, explained Uncle Quentin.
And the telephone line was cut ! It is working again, now, and
your father was about to call the policemen just when I called him
! How relieved he was ! Your mother is reassured. But you are
going to stay with us this evening, for Christmas, as it is the -
- Three cheers ! shouted George, this is our Christmas visitor.
Everybody clapped, even Uncle Quentin.
The five children took Michale near the tree, and the children
excited, talked of Christmas, presents, good meals that were being
prepared in the kitchen. Dick, George, Anne and Julian were happy
to choose a gift for their guest. As for Timothy, he offered the
child his best wishes, and the boy hugged him tightly.
evening was marvellous. Garlands of the tree were switched on.
Behind the tree, the fireplace was throwing peaceful showers of
coal. An enormous turkey, surrounded with eggs, marvellously
cooked by Joanna was sitting on the table, while everyone ate
titbits. A cake waited on the dessert bowl. All kinds of toffees
were set out on the plates.
And at the leg of the tree, colorful packets were piled up neatly.
Everybody took good care of the little Michael, and the child
admired the Famous Five whose members narrated to him their
- He is a nice boy, said George to Anne, while climbing the stairs
late in the evening. I hope we get to see him again. Here,
Michael, you can go with the boys. Joanna has made a bed for you
in their room !
- Thank you, thank you, said Michael, you are smashing, what luck
to have met you ! I think that we will have some fun together !