Friday, December 3, 2010

Papa's Shoes by Kersten Hamilton and Tyger Tyger Necklace Giveaway!

Kersten Hamilton is the author of Tyger Tyger* a fun YA fantasy that explores the world of goblins! She wrote this special story for us today and you also have the chance to win a Tyger Tyger necklace by leaving a relevant comment on this post.

Papa's Shoes by Kersten Hamilton

On the far side of the street, on the windy side of town, stood a funny little house. It had three windows made of rose-colored plastic, and one window covered with boards.
The house belonged to Papa Bicket and his children, Isabel, Fergus, Adelaide, Bernard and Huckleberry. The Bickets didn’t have much money, but they had lots of fun.
Every morning, after they ate their oatmeal, Papa Bicket pulled on his work boots, climbed into the old station wagon and drove to work. The little Bickets walked to school.
After school, they hurried home to clean the house for their Papa. Adelaide shined papa’s good pair of shoes. Fergus, Bernard and Huckleberry climbed up the bookshelves to dust the portrait of Grandfather Griswold Bicket.
Once a week, when Isabel waxed the floor, they each put on their oldest pair of socks and slid back and forth and round and round until the floor shone bright.
Every night when Papa came home, Isabel put a bubbling pot of beans on the plywood table, while Fergus set jelly-jar glasses by each bowl. Then all the Bickets sat on two long wooden benches.
“Well, now,” Papa would say, “haven’t we forgotten something?” Then Adelaide would get the best china bowl and the blue china cup from the top of the cupboard, and set them at the head of the table by the one wobbly chair.
“Papa, who is the special bowl for?” Huckleberry always asked, even though he knew the answer.
“For the Welcome Stranger,” Papa would say.
“Papa!” Isabel always shook her braids. “The Welcome Stranger is an angel! He isn’t coming to our house.”
“No, not to our house,” Bernard and Fergus would echo.
“You never do know, you never can tell.” Papa always laughed. “Some people have entertained angels unawares.’”
After supper, if the weather was warm, they would sit in the backyard while Papa told stories under the stars. If it was cold and stormy, the little Bickets would play hide-and-seek and hunt one another up and down the hall, past the dark doorways and creaking closets.
When they were too tired to hunt anymore, they would jump into their beds. The wind might howl and rattle the windows, but the Bickets were safe and warm in their funny little house.
One autumn day, Adelaide, Bernard and Huckleberry were making chrysanthemum soup and mud pies under the porch when their neighbors Mrs. Ashworth and Mrs. Busby came down the sidewalk.
“What a shame,” said Mrs. Ashworth. “Mr. Bicket doesn’t have enough money to buy real windows.”
“Windows!” Said Mrs. Busby. “Why the poor man can barely feed his children. They eat oatmeal for breakfast and beans for supper every single day.”
“And not one of them,” said Mrs. Ashworth, “has two pair of shoes.”
“What a terrible thing it is to be poor,” Said Mrs. Busby.
“A terrible thing,” Agreed Mrs. Ashworth.
Adelaide and Bernard crawled out from under the porch, and watched them walk away.
“Our Papa has two pair of shoes,” Bernard called, but the ladies didn’t hear.
Adelaide, Bernard and Huckleberry found Isabel and Fergus in the kitchen. They told them what Mrs. Ashworth and Mrs. Busby had said. The little Bickets looked from the plywood table to the rose-colored windows and the china bowl on the cupboard.
“Do angels eat oatmeal?” Fergus asked.
“Do they eat beans and drink from jelly-jar glasses?” Adelaide asked.
Bernard scratched his curly head. “Are we poor?”
Nobody said anything, so Huckleberry started to cry.
“Hush,” said Isabel. “We mustn’t let Papa know.”
“That night, when Adelaide put the special bowl on the table, Isabel didn’t say, “Papa! The Welcome Stranger isn’t coming to our house.” They all knew the Welcome Stranger wouldn’t come. Not to their house.
The very next morning, Huckleberry shook them awake, one by one.
“Get up!” he said. “There’s a bear in our car! I went outdoors to get my book, and I heard it growling.” The little Bickets got out of bed and followed Huckleberry down the hall and out the door. Fergus took his slingshot just in case.
The frost crunched beneath their bare feet and made their toes tingle as they crept across the yard. Their breath made tiny clouds in the air.
When Huckleberry opened the car door they all heard the grumbling, rumbling sound.
“It’s not a bear,” said Adelaide. “It’s a man. He’s snoring.”
The man was curled up, fast asleep. His toes peeked out of the ends of his shoes. His tattered black coat was pulled up to his chin. He had a gray felt hat over his face to keep out the morning sun.
“He must be very cold,” Said Isabel.
“My feet are very cold,” said Bernard.
Fergus closed the station wagon door quietly. They tiptoed back across the yard and up the steps, then ran all the way to Papa’s room.
“Papa, wake up! There’s a man sleeping in our car!”
“What should we do?”
“Should we call the police?”
“Should we lock all the doors?”
Papa looked out the window at the car. Then he said, “We should make breakfast.” Papa cooked the oatmeal, while the little Bickets set the table. The kitchen filled with the smell of cinnamon and coffee.
“Now,” Papa said, when the oatmeal was done, “Sit down, and mind your manners. I will see about the man in the car.”
When papa came back, the man in the tattered black coat came with him. He walked straight across the room and sat down in the wobbly chair.
Papa himself took down the special bowl and the blue china cup from the top of the cupboard, and set them in front of him.
“It’s him,” whispered Adelaide. “It’s the Welcome Stranger.”
The man smiled at the little Bickets. He took his hat off and put it under his chair.
“Well,” said Papa. “Let’s eat!”
The stranger ate two bowls of oatmeal and drank the whole pot of coffee.
“Thank you,” he said, when he had finished. “That’s the best breakfast I have ever had.” He stood up.
“Wait,” Papa Bicket said. He went to his room and brought out his good black shoes. “I have four shoes,” he said. “But only two feet. Maybe you know of someone who could use these?”
The stranger took the shoes.
“Thank you,” he said again, and there were tears in his eyes. Papa Bicket walked the stranger down the steps an out onto the walk.
“I don’t think Papa knows that we’re poor,” Huckleberry whispered. Isabel hugged him tight.
“Papa’s right,” she said. “We’re not poor. We have enough to share.”
Nobody noticed the hat under the chair until Papa came back inside.
“Take it to him,” Papa said. “Run, now.”
Fergus grabbed the hat and the little Buckets ran outside.
Mrs. Ashworth and Mrs. Busby were watering their lawn. Isabel asked Mrs. Ashworth which way the stranger had gone. Mrs. Ashworth said she hadn’t seen any stranger. Mrs. Busby said she was glad she hadn’t seen him.
Adelaide and Bernard ran up the street. Fergus, Isabel and Huckleberry ran down the street. They even checked the shortcut through the alley, but they couldn’t find the man in the tattered black coat. The stranger was gone.
“We couldn’t find him, Papa,” Fergus said, when they got home. “We couldn’t find him anywhere.”
They all looked at the gray felt hat.
“Was he an angel, Papa?” Adelaide asked. “Was he?”
“You never do know, you never can tell,” Papa said. “Some people have entertained angels unawares!”


To enter to win a unique Tyger Tyger necklace, just leave a comment on thsi post about Kersten's story! Make sure to leave a valid email address so I can contact the winner in one week!

*I helped Kersten set up a small blog tour for Tyger Tyger.

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