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the baby ta be borned tonight, huh?" he asked
   "Yeah, that's the reason they called Doc Miller,"

explained Grandpap.
   There was another pause while the three made their
way through a particularly deep snowdrift.  Finally,
Lum, who was carrying the lantern, noticed Abner
grimacing as he struggled with his armload of blankets.
   "What's the matter, Abner?" Lum inquired, although
he thought he knew.
   "I doggies, my arms is gettin' tired here, fellers,"
groaned Abner.
   "Well here, let me carry those blankets for a while,
and you kin carry this oil heater," Lum offered
charitably.  Abner, on making the swap, noticed that
the heater was at least as heavy as the blankets had
been, if not more so.  "Is that box of groceries gettin'
too heavy fer ya, Grandpap?" Lum asked their older
   "No, I'm all right," Grandpap replied quickly,
probably envisioning another trade of cargo in Lum's
mind. "Ort ta be thar directly, ennyhow," he muttered.
Abner decided to change the subject.  "This snow
shore tires a body out walkin' through it," he said,
pointing out the obvious.
   "Well, maybe we're walkin' a little too fast fer you,
Abner," Lum said with a slight grin.  "Here, you take
the lantern, too."  Before Abner could protest, Lum
had shoved the lantern into his hand.
   "Oh..." sighed Abner.  The thought flashed through
his mind of all the times Lum's grand schemes had
somehow ended up with himself doing most of the
hard work.  But remembering that this was Christmas,
he made no conment.
   "Yessir, hit was shore nice of you fellers ta come
over here at night thissaway," Grandpap was saying.  
"l sorta hated ta cause ye ta git out on Christmas
thissaway, but after Doc left, why, me and the womarn
got ta talkin' 'bout how pitiful hit wuz that that couple
wuz havin' ta stay out in this barn with nothin' ta eat an'
   "Well, I'm jest glad ye called me, Grandpap," Abner
assured his checker-playing rival, "Jest proud of a
chance ta help 'em."
   "Yeah, this makes it seem more like Christmas ta
me," Lum put in, "doin' fer somebody else.  Ye know,
ye jest can't do things ta make otherns happy without
makin' yerself happy at the same time."  Seeing that
the others were agreeing with him, Lum went on,
"Trouble with a lot of us, we sorta lose the Christmas
idee altogether...think too much about ourselves.  The
real Christmas spirit is the happiness we git outa
makin' otherns happy."
   "Why, shore," Abner said.  "Thar we wuz now," he
continued, sounding a bit more sarcastic than he really
intended, "settin' thar at home...THOUGHT we wuz
enjoyin' ourselves; an' these folks out here spendin'
Christmas in a ole barn thissaway.  Naw," he
decided,            "Thar jest wouldn'ta been no Christmas
to it if ye hadn't called us up, Grandpap."
   "Yeah, well, I knowed I could DE-pend on you
fellers," Grandpap chuckled.  "Now, if hit's the ole
Gaddis place, we orta be able ta see it from the top o'
this hill, here."
   The little group had reached the top of a small rise
by now, and from its top they could see a large portion
of the surrounding countryside, which lay illuminated
by the full moon.
   "Wait a minute; I b'lieve that's the barn yonder, ain't
it?" said Lum, pointing straight ahead to a shape down
in the valley below.
   "Yep...yep, that's whar they're at, all right,"
Grandpap agreed.
   "Well, that's due east from whar we wuz at, all right,"
observed Abner, "fer thar's the East Star right over
the top o' the barn, thar."  The star, which seemed
brighter than ever, did indeed appear to be hanging
directly above the weathered old building.               
"Yep; thar's Doc's horse tied to the fence, thar," Lum
pointed out, "An' ye kin see the light shinin' through
the cracks in the walls. Yep, this is the place."