The Christmas Barn

The Christmas Barn

What with one thing and another, I didn’t get this children’s story up before Christmas, so here it is now, only a couple of weeks late. Heh heh. Half today and half tomorrow; it’s kind of long.

The Christmas Barn

The 200-year old barn was empty and lonely. No longer did horses stamp their feet inside his walls; cows didn’t warm the stalls with their breath; no sheep snuggled against each other to sleep the night away.

     The barn missed these animal friends. He missed the  chickens who used to gossip and mutter inside the feed troughs. Even the pigeons had deserted the loft. The farmer and his family had moved from the little house across the road. The house looked as lonely as the barn felt. Its roof had caved in and the walls swayed with each cold gust of wind.

     The first few years after the farmer left, the barn didn’t mind so much. A couple of owls took up residence and, in the winter, a groundhog hibernated under the floor. But, time passed and even these few visitors stopped coming.

At night, the cold wind moaned

The old barn sighed and his old walls groaned.

     But then, a miracle happened. Three animals of the forest found the barn. They were long, stealthy animals, moving on silent feet, slipping through the door and tip-toeing to a dark corner.

     Hooray, the barn thought. Someone has come to live here at last. He straightened his walls and his roof creaked with joy.

     “We made a haul tonight, we did,” the first animal muttered, emptying a sack he had over his shoulder. “Look at this—lots and lots of corn, two wonderful trout, and half a sack of acorns.”

     “I’ve never heard of a weasel eating acorns, Butch, but if you say so, I’ll give it a try.”

     “I say so,” the first weasel named Butch growled. “We can pull some bark off these logs and make a fine fire to get warm. Get busy, Buddy. You help too, Carl.”

     The old barn shook in the wind. Pull bark off his logs? No! Start a fire? Good heavens! What if it got out of hand and burned him to the ground? Suddenly, the newcomers didn’t sound so nice.

     Meanwhile, in the deepest part of the forest a chipmunk, a raccoon, and a squirrel walked in circles, wringing their hands.

     “It was those thieving weasels,” muttered the raccoon. “They stole my fish right from under my nose.”   

     “And, the corn I had stored for Christmas,” the chipmunk said, wiping a tear from her eye.

     The squirrel shook his tail. “All my lovely acorns are gone and the worst part is they destroyed my nest!”

     Another tear slipped from Chipmunk’s eye. ” Instead of having a feast and a warm home for Christmas, now we’ll have nothing.”

     “It’s no good to sit here feeling sorry for ourselves,” the raccoon said. “Let’s see if we can find more food.”

     The chipmunk wiped her eyes. “If we stick together, at least we’ll have each other.”

So the three friends started off through the forest. They scuffed the leaves looking for nuts. Chipmunk and Squirrel followed Raccoon to the creek for more fish, but the water was frozen over. Chipmunk knew there’d be no more corn in the corncrib because she had stolen the last from a farmer.

     The moon, rising over the hill, looked down on three tired, hungry forest folk. As night came and a cold wind ruffled their fur, they scrunched under some leaves and shivered.

     “Oh, dear, oh, dear,” cried the chipmunk. “We’ll starve or we’ll freeze, whichever comes first.”

     The squirrel flipped his tail over his nose and closed his eyes.

 

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