The Mysterious Visitor
by Samuel D. Bogan
In spite of the fun and laughter, young Frank Wilson was not happy.
It was true that he had received all the presents he wanted. And he enjoyed these traditional Christmas Eve reunions of relatives—this year at Aunt Susan’s—for the purpose of exchanging gifts and good wishes.
But Frank was not happy because this was to be his first Christmas without his brother, Steve, who during the year had been the tragic victim of a reckless driver. Frank missed his brother and the close companionship they had had together.
He said good-bye to his relatives and explained to his parents that he was leaving a little early to see a friend. Since it was cold outside, Frank put on his new plaid jacket. It was his favorite gift. The other presents he placed on his new sled.
Then Frank headed for the Flats, hoping to find the patrol leader of his Boy Scout troop. This was the section of town where most of the poor lived, and his patrol leader did odd jobs to help support his family. To Frank’s disappointment, his friend was not at home, but running errands.
As Frank hiked down the street, he caught glimpses of trees and decorations in many homes. Although not meaning to pry, suddenly he glimpsed a shabby room with the limp stockings hanging over an empty fireplace. A woman was seated near them weeping. The stockings reminded him of the way he and his brother had always hung theirs side by side. The next morning they would be full of presents. Then he remembered that he had not done his “good turn” for the day.
He knocked on the door.
“Yes?” the sad voice of the woman inquired.
“May I come in?”
“You are very welcome,” she said, “but I have not food or gifts for you. I have nothing for my own children.”
“That’s not why I am here,” Frank replied. “You are to choose whatever presents you need for your children from this sled.”
“Why, God bless you!” the amazed woman answered gratefully.
She selected some candies, a game, the toy airplane, and a puzzle. When she took the new Scout flashlight, Frank almost cried out. Finally, the stockings were full.
“Won’t you tell me your name?” she asked as Frank was leaving.
“Just call me the Christmas Scout,” he replied.
That night Frank saw that his sorrow was not the only sorrow in the world and before he left the Flats, he had given away the remainder of his toys. The plaid jacket had gone to a shivering boy.
He trudged homeward, cold and uneasy. Having given his presents away Frank could think of no reasonable explanation to offer his parents. He wondered how he could make them understand.
“Where are your presents, son?” asked his father as he entered the house.
“I gave them away.”
“But I thought you were happy with your gifts.”
“I was, very happy,” the boy answered lamely.
“But, Frank, how could you be so impulsive?” his mother asked.
His father was firm. “You made your choice, Frank. We cannot afford any more presents.”
His brother gone, his family disappointed in him, Frank suddenly felt dreadfully alone. He had not expected a reward for his generosity for, in the wisdom if young grief, he knew that a good deed always should be its own reward. It would be tarnished otherwise. So he did not want his gifts back. Frank thought of his brother and sobbed himself to sleep.
The next morning he came downstairs to find his parents listening to Christmas music on the radio. Then the announcer spoke:
“Merry Christmas, everybody! The nicest Christmas story we have this morning comes from the Flats. A crippled boy down there has a new sled this morning. Another youngster has a new plaid jacket. And several families report that their children were made happy last night by gifts from a teenage boy who simply referred to himself as the Christmas Scout. No one could identify him, but the children of the Flats claim that the Christmas Scout was a personal representative of old Santa Claus himself.”
Frank felt his father’s arms go around his shoulders, and saw his mother smiling through her tears. “Why didn’t you tell us? We are so proud of you, son.”
The carols came over the air again filling the room with music.
“….And praises sing to God the King, and peace to men on Earth.’