THE RAINBOW BOOK
"Yes, you are," she retorted firmly. "Now, what are you doing here ?"
" It's a secret."
" You're after poaching again. I shall report you to Dad. And," she added severely, " you've just got to give me this very minute all you've got in that bag."
" All in my bag ? Softly, softly : wouldn't that be highway robbery, with threats ?" answered the jolly voice, and with a laugh—" Oh, greedy !"
Nancy stopped and stared hard, but it was too dark for her to see him, as she had done from her bed. He had stopped too.
" Who are you, then ?" she asked lamely.
" Santa Claus," came the reply.
" Santa Claus !" repeated the child in astonishment.
The dark cloud-wrack happened to part, and Nancy saw towering above her the dearest and most imposing old gentleman imaginable, with a large smiling face and long white beard. White curly hair fringed his holly-decked scarlet cap, and his long, loose, red coat revealed here and there glimpses of scarlet plush beneath. Instead of rabbits and pheasants, he was laden with the newest of toys; and as to Muffins, he was nowhere to be seen— unless he was that toy-dog dangling from the overflowing bag, and wearing a leather collar with