Castle Roland

A Better Christmas

by Eric Aune


A Better Christmas

Posted: N/A

A Better ChristmasRobert Stewart said goodbye to his friends at the Knickerbocker club and got his coat, hat, scarf and gloves from the attendant in the club foyer, who helped him into his coat.

"Have a good Thanksgiving tomorrow, Mister Stewart."

Robert looked at the young man and gave him a little smile.

"Thank you, Jack. I wish you a good Thanksgiving as well."

He shook the young man's hand and patted him on the shoulder. When Robert let his hand go, Jack found a dollar bill in his hand. Robert smiled at him and gave him a nod before he turned and went outside. As he walked out onto Fifth Avenue, he tucked the scarf a little closer around his neck to keep that chill out. It seemed like it was going to be one of the coldest seasons that he'd known in his forty five years of being on this planet. He looked across at Central Park and sighed a little. It had gotten a little shabbier than when he first came here from Scotland with his parents many years ago. The city leaders didn't seem to be keeping it up as they did even a few years back. He thought about the many times that he brought his own family to the park for a picnic. The thought of his family caused him to shake his head. He didn't want to head down that path. He turned and headed north along Fifth Avenue. For a moment he considered going back into the club and calling home for his car to come and pick him up, but he decided that he wanted to walk home this evening.

With his hands in coat pockets he walked along greeting other people who were out for a walk in the early evening as well. Several of them were, of course, people he knew that lived nearby who were out for an evening stroll. When he neared the Metropolitan Museum of Art, he decided to cross the street and walk near it. He had always liked it here. He paused in front of the steps and looked up at building. It was a magnificent building. He should visit soon. It would be a nice way to spend a day looking at all the artwork inside. Maybe he'd visit tomorrow. As he started to walk away nodding to himself and he already started to look forward to tomorrow's visit, then he realized, tomorrow was Thanksgiving and the museum would be closed. His shoulders slumped a little as he turned away. Another Thanksgiving without his family. He continued on his way, as he reached the north end of the steps he heard a strange clicking sound. He stopped and started looking around as he tried to find the source of the weird clicking. He took a few steps forward as he tried to locate the sound. He looked along the side of the steps and saw something huddled in the corner. The sound seemed to be coming from the huddled form. He could see that it appeared to be a person. As he got nearer he confirmed that the huddled form was where the clicking was coming from.


The figure moved and lifted its head up to look at Robert. He found himself looking into the face of a young boy. The boy had bright blue eyes and his face was framed by golden hair underneath the oversized newsboy cap that he was wearing. The young boy appeared to be wearing a coat that looked to be a bit too big for him and he had his knees underneath the coat and his arms around his knees as he tried to keep warm.

Robert noticed that the boy was the source of the clicking sound, it was his teeth chattering from the cold. He bent down to the boy. "What are you doing out here son?"

"I…I ain't nowhere…g..go. Ye…yer h…honor, s..sir."

"Where's your family?"

"D…d…died fro…from…the Spa…Spa…Spanish Fl…Flu, s..sir."

"When did that happen?"

"T….two….m….mo….months…a…ago, s…s…sir."

"Don't you have any other family you can live with?"

"N…n…no sir."

"What's your name son?"

"K…K…Kieran K….Kilkenny, ye…yer honor, s…s…sir."

"I can't leave you out here. Come with me laddie."

Robert reached out his hand to the boy. The boy looked back and forth between the man's hand and his face a few times before reaching out and taking Robert's hand. Robert gave a gentle tug and pulled the boy to his feet. His hand was like ice, Robert could feel it even through this gloves. He could feel the boy shivering as he held his hand. Robert let go of the boy and quickly unwrapped the scarf from around his neck and knelt in front of the boy to wrap it gently around his neck and tuck it into his oversized coat. He looked at the boy and received a little smile in return. Robert reached up and stroked the boy's cold reddened cheek before he stood up and reached for the boy's hand. Robert smiled down at him and started for home. The two of them crossed the street and walked past a few of the other large mansions that were located on Fifth Avenue. He turned to walk up the stairs of one of the mansions and was pulled up short by the boy who had stopped and was staring up at the three story building.

"You…you l….live here?"

Robert nodded. "Yes, this is my home."


"Come lad, we need to get you out of the cold."

The boy shivered again as if Robert's mention of the temperature reminded him that he was cold. Robert gave him a little pull and Kieran joined him as he walked up the steps. Robert opened the door and was met by Gordon.

"Good evening, sir."

"Good evening, Gordon. Could you have Jennie draw a bath for my Master Kieran here?"

Gordon looked down at the boy standing beside Robert and raised an eyebrow for a moment before nodding to Robert. "Of course sir, come along young master, if you would."

Kieran looked at Robert and he nodded.

"Go ahead lad. A good bath will help you warm your bones. I'll be up in a little bit to make sure everything is okay with you. Run along now."

Gordon started to walk off after hanging up Robert's coat and hat. Kieran still hadn't moved yet. Robert put his hand on Kieran's shoulder and gave him a gentle push to get him going. Kieran began to follow Gordon, who was walking toward the staircase. He gave one last look at Robert who gave him an encouraging smile. Robert watched as the boy followed Gordon up the stairs before he went to his study. Inside he poured himself a glass of single malt and sat in one of the comfortable chairs in the room as he sipped his drink. He sat there for a time mulling over why he felt the need to bring the boy home with him. Something besides the sound of the boy's chattering teeth drew him to the boy. He chuckled a little to himself.

He finished the glass and then headed upstairs. He met Gordon on the way down, who was carrying the boy's clothes.

"What should I do with….these, sir? I do believe there are creatures in them."

Robert lifted a corner of the old coat that Kieran had been wearing and looked over the other threadbare clothes that the boy had been wearing. He let go of it and wiped his hands together.

"Burn them."

Gordon raised an eyebrow at the statement.

"Very good, sir."

Gordon continued downstairs while Robert went up. He went along the hall until he could hear a young voice singing through a closed door, it was not English that's for sure. Because of the slight accent he had detected in the boy's voice when he had talked to him and the words he was hearing now, he was pretty sure he was Irish. He stood outside listening for a few moments before he opened the door and went inside. The singing stopped when he went inside and he saw Kieran sitting in the bathtub with soap suds in his hair.

Robert chuckled as he went over to the side of the tub and sat down. "How are you feeling laddie?'

"Good yer honor, sir. Warm."

"Excellent. Are you about done in there?"


"Let me help you."

Robert stood up and took his coat and vest off and hung them from a hook behind the door. He then rolled up his sleeves and sat on the edge of the tub. He took a cloth and some soap and once he had it all soaped up he began to wash Kieran's hair. "Close your eyes Lad. We don't want to get soap in them."

Kieran obediently closed his eyes as Robert massaged the soap into his hair. Kieran almost began to purr from the attention.

When Robert was satisfied he put the cloth aside. "Okay, dunk your head underwater to rinse the soap off."

Kieran obediently lay back until he was completely underwater and when he sat back up all the soap was gone and his hair was shining. Robert went to a stack of towels and picked one up. He went back to the tub and held it up. Kieran unashamedly stood up and got out of the tub and let Robert wrap him up in the towel to dry him off. Robert could see that he seemed to be a little underfed as he ribs were showing and he looked a little thin. As Robert rubbed him dry, Kieran giggled a little because Robert hit a ticklish spot, which caused Robert to laugh with him.

Outside the room, Gordon and Jennie looked at each other in surprise from the sounds coming from within the room. Gordon shooed her off to her duties while he knocked on the door and opened it. "Sir, I have disposed of the clothes as you ordered."

Robert looked at Gordon and nodded. "Very good Gordon, thank you. Now we need to find something for Kieran to wear."

"My clothes will be just fine, yer honor, sir."

Robert looked at Kieran. "Well, your clothes were very bad and even if we cleaned them, they would have probably fallen apart when we washed them. Besides, they were infested with vermin and that could be very unhealthy for you."

"But what will I wear?"

"We'll take care of that, don't you worry."

Robert looked away for a moment before turning back to Gordon. "Do we still have any of Robbie's clothes stored anywhere?"

Gordon was taken aback by the question, and he didn't answer right away. "I….don't know if we do sir, but I will see what I can do."

"Thank you Gordon. We'll be in my room."

"Very good, sir." Gordon turned and left the room.

Robert took one of the towels and wrapped it around Kieran's waist and draped another over his shoulders. He grabbed his coat and vest from the back of the door and then led the way out of the bathroom and into his bedroom. In the bedroom he laid his jacket and vest over the back of the chair of his dressing table. He then walked over to another chair near the window that looked out on Fifth Avenue and Central Park. He motioned for Kieran to come over to him. He finished drying Kieran's hair. When he finished he draped the towel over Kieran's shoulders again and looked at the boy. He smiled at Kieran and got up for a moment to go over to his dressing table, picked up a brush and went to sit in the chair again. He pulled a footstool over and gestured for Kieran to sit down on it facing away. Kieran did and he began to brush his hair for him.

While they sat their Gordon entered the room. In his hands was a bundle of clothes. "Sir, I've been able to find a trunk with a some of Master Robert's old clothes in it."

"Excellent. Put those on the bed."

"Where shall I put the trunk with the rest of the clothes, sir?"

Robert thought for a moment before saying anything. "Put them in Robbie's room."

"Very good, sir." Gordon placed the neatly stacked pile of clothes on the bed and retreated from the room.

Robert finished with Kieran's hair and got up to put the brush back. Then he went over to the small stack of clothes on the bed and picked up the first item of clothes on the top of the stack. It was a robe. As he held it in his hands, he paused as he held the robe. He suddenly felt a catch in his throat and quickly swallowed it down. He gestured for Kieran to come over to him as he put the robe down and went through the clothes until he found what he was looking for, pajamas. He knelt down in front of Kieran and held the bottoms open for him. Kieran dropped the towels to the ground and put his hand Robert's shoulders as he stepped into the pajamas. Robert then had him raise his arms so that he could slip the top on. The last item was the robe that Robert held open for him to put on. After slipping his arms in the sleeves, Kieran turned around so that Robert could tie the robe closed. The last items of clothing were some stockings and leather slippers to keep his feet warm. Everything seemed to fit Kieran very well. When he was done he reached out and grasped Kieran's upper arms. He smiled at the boy. He was about to say something when the boy spoke first.

"Who is Robbie, yer honor, sir?"

The question gave him pause and he once again had to try to swallow down the lump that tried to form in his throat. He looked into Kieran's bright blue eyes. He reached out and ran his right hand through the boy's hair.

"He….Robbie was my….my son."

"Did somethin' happen to him?"

Robert nodded and his eyes began to tear up a little. "He…..died of the Spanish Flu last year in early November."

"Oh, I'm sorry, yer honor, sir."

"Not your problem Laddie. And another thing Lad, it's going to take forever for us to have a conversation, if you're always saying 'your honor, sir'. Please call me Robert."

"Okay, yer honor, sir…..uh, I mean Robert. I'll try, if you call me Kieran."

Robert looked at the boy and then smiled. "Fair enough Lad….Kieran. Now, are you hungry?"

Kieran nodded enthusiastically.

"Then let's go downstairs and see what we can find."

Robert started to stand up, but he suddenly found a young boy tightly wrapped around him and hugging him tightly. Robert put his arms around the boy. He heard a quiet voice say in his ear.

"I'm sorry about Robbie. Thank you for everything."

Robert tightened his arms a little around the boy and held him as he let the tears that he had been holding in loose as he hugged the boy to him. Kieran didn't let go, he let Robert hold him. He could feel the shudders of the man as he held him. Finally Robert let him go and sat on the bed and wiped his eyes with one of the towels that he picked up from the floor.

"I'm sorry, La….Kieran for that. I miss him so much. He was your age….wait, how old are you?"


"Then yes, he was your age when he died. He was the last of my family to die from the Spanish Flu last year."

"There were others?"

"Yes, my wife, my two daughters, my son, and my parents. They all succumbed to the flu. For some reason I never got it or if I did, it didn't affect me much."

Kieran moved forward and hugged Robert again. Robert gratefully accepted the comfort that the boy extended to him in his loving hug. They stayed together for several minutes before he felt Kieran loosen his hold and he allowed the boy to stand back up.

"Now I'm starting to feel pretty hungry. Let's go downstairs to get something to eat. Didn't you say you were hungry?"

Kieran grinned and nodded. Robert stood up and with the two towels in his hands which he dropped in a hamper. He then took the boy's hand for the walk downstairs. They got to the kitchen where an older lady was bustling around the kitchen, stirring some pots on the large stove.

"Good Evening Martha."

The lady jumped around startled. "Oh, Mister Stewart, sir. Excuse me I didn't see you. You startled me."

"I'm sorry to have startled you Martha. This is Kieran. What do we have for dinner? Kieran, this is Missus Grant."

"Hello young man, I'm very pleased to meet you. I making some beef stew and biscuits."

"Good evening ma'am."

Robert looked at Kieran. "How does that sound to you?"

"Good, si…Robert."

"I agree. We'll be in the breakfast room, Martha."

"Very good, sir, the meal will be right out."

"Thank you, Martha."

Robert took Kieran's hand in his again as he walked to the breakfast room. Martha watched them go before turning back to her stew with a shake of her head. In the breakfast room, two places were set. Robert's place was at the head of the table and Kieran's was to his right. They sat down and a few moments later Martha came in with a trolley with some plates and pitchers on them. She placed the stew in front of each of them. She also placed a plate of biscuits on the table and from one of the pitcher's she poured some milk in Kieran's glass. She poured some tea for Robert. They took up their spoons and began to eat. There was little talk during the meal. Kieran had another helping and may have asked for a third, but Robert stopped him, telling him that he shouldn't eat too much or he might get a tummy ache, so he stopped at two bowls of stew and a glass of milk.

When they were through, Robert took him into the Drawing Room in the front corner of the house. He went over to the tall Victrola. From the cabinet underneath, he selected a record and placed it on the turntable, wound it up and then flipped the lever before lowering the needle onto the record. He guided Kieran over to a settee in the room and they sat down as the sounds of light classical music began to play. Kieran scooted next to him and Robert put his arm around the boy as they listened to the music.

"Si…Robert would you tell me about your son, Robbie?"

Robert was quiet for several moments before he began to talk. He told him about what Robbie was like and what he liked to do. Before he knew it he was telling him about all of his family. Kieran would interrupt him with questions from time to time, but other than that, he just listened. Robert found that some of the sadness that he had been feeling for the last year eased somewhat as he talked about his family. Eventually Robert noticed that Kieran hadn't said anything for a little while now and he felt a little heavier as he leaned against Robert's side. Robert stopped and looked to his side and saw that Kieran was completely out. He carefully got up from the settee and then leaned down and lifted the boy up and held him. Kieran unconsciously put his arms around Robert's neck and lay his head on his shoulder. It brought a smile to his face as he remembered Robbie doing the same thing. He left the drawing room and headed toward the stairs.

Gordon saw him and came up to him. "Would you like me to take the boy up for you sir?"

"No, I wish to do it."

"Very well sir. Jennie has made sure that there were fresh linens on the bed and that everything is dusted. All the clothes have been put away."

"Thank you Gordon. I'll take it from here. Goodnight."

"Goodnight sir."

Gordon left him at the base of the stairs as he went around the house making sure it was secure for the night before retiring. Robert climbed the stairs and found that the boy seemed as light as a feather. He went to the room next to his and went through the open door. He paused at the door as he surveyed the room. It had not been changed at all. Some of Robbie's toys and things were still on the shelves and the pictures of cowboys and Indians on the walls that Robbie had liked were still there. He went over to the bed and lay the boy down on the bed. He removed his robe and slippers and tucked his feet under the sheets and blanket before pulling it up to his chin. He sat on the side of the bed and watched the boy sleep. Kieran turned onto his side and Robert readjusted the covers so that the boy was nicely tucked in. He stroked his hair gently and then leaned down and kissed his cheek.

"Good night laddie, sleep well and god bless you with wonderful dreams."

Robert stood up and closed the door to the hallway and then through the other door that led to the bathroom that connected both of their rooms and into his room. He began to get ready for bed himself as he felt very tired as well. It had seemed like it had been a very long day, even though it was still a little early for him. Once in his pajamas he turned off the lights and got into bed. There was a little smile on his face as he fell into a restful sleep.

In the morning Robert seemed to be feeling pretty warm in his bed when he woke up. Then he noticed something else. There was another body in bed with him and lying partly on top of him. He was startled at first until he remembered his young charge. He pulled the covers down and beheld Kieran snuggled up close to him, with one arm across his chest and his head lying on Robert's shoulder and his other arm wrapped around Robert's arm. Robert watched him sleep for a few minutes before the call of nature let itself be known and he tried to pry Kieran loose which only succeeded in waking him up. When Kieran realized where he was he jumped back a little.

"So..sorry, yer honor, sir. I didn't mean nuthin' by it, but I woke up and got scared and crawled into bed like I used to do with me Da and Mum. I'll go back to the other room now and won't be botherin' ya."

Kieran turned to get out of the bed and Robert grabbed his arm and pulled him into a hug.

"No lad. It's fine. My Robbie used to do the same thing sometimes. I didn't mind it then and I don't mind it now. I only was getting up because I need to use the bathroom."


"You can stay here if you want."

Robert got out of bed and grabbed his robe from the foot of the bed and put it on as he walked to the door leading to the connecting bathroom. When he was done he sat down on the bed.

"Excuse me yer….sir, er, Robert. I need to use the bathroom too."

Robert got up and let him go into the bathroom. He heard the sound of the boy peeing as he hadn't closed the door. When he heard him stop, Robert headed to the bathroom and joined Kieran in there. He proceeded to brush his teeth with Kieran watching him. When he finished he gave Kieran the brush.

"Here lad, you need to brush your teeth so that they stay healthy."

Kieran took it and Robert put some tooth powder on it. Kieran copied what Robert had done while Robert put some water with his shaving soap and started to lather his face. Kieran spit into the sink like he had seen Robert do and put the brush down on the sink to watch him. Kieran said nothing as Robert removed the lather with his straight razor. Robert saw him watching and smiled at him. When he finished he took out the shaving brush and dabbed a little on Kieran's cheeks which got him a giggle. He spread it around and then took his razor and began to give Kieran a shave. He had to be careful because he didn't want to cut him, especially since the boy giggled from time to time as he got his shave. When he finished, they each rinsed off their faces and after drying his face, he dried Kieran's face before tickling him in his side getting some more giggles.

"Well, I think we're ready for the day. Let's go into your room and see what we can find for you to wear."

They went into Kieran's room and while Kieran sat on the bed, Robert looked through the closet. There was not much to choose from but he found a matching tweed jacket and knickerbockers. He laid them on the bed and then went through what was in the dresser and pulled out a union suit, shirt and some stockings and laid them on the bed as well.

"Kieran, why don't you go ahead and get dressed in these while I get dressed. I'll join you when I'm done and we can go downstairs and have some breakfast."

Kieran nodded and started taking his pajamas off while Robert went to his room to dress. Ten minutes later, Robert went back into Kieran's room and saw him sitting on the bed tying a pair of brown leather high top shoes. He stood up when Robert came in.

"Ah you look wonderful lad, just a couple of items missing."

Robert looking in the closet and saw one of the things he was looking for on the shelf. It was a matching cap to the suit. He then rummaged through the drawers and pulled out a small bow tie. He went over to Kieran and fixed the bow tie and placed the cap on his head. He nodded approvingly.

"Now Lad, you're ready for a walk. But first grab your cap and let's see what Martha has fixed for breakfast."

They left the room and went downstairs to the Breakfast room. Gordon greeted them there and looked into the kitchen to let Martha know that they were there. Soon she came in with eggs and bacon for breakfast. There was also some cold milk for Kieran and coffee for Robert. When they were finished Robert looked over at Gordon.

"Gordon, could you have Miles bring the car around. I'd like to take Kieran for a ride for a little while. Then later this afternoon we'll be ready for a good Thanksgiving dinner."

"Very good, sir."

"And Gordon, I am inviting the staff to have Thanksgiving dinner with us this year."

"I don't think that would be proper sir."

"Proper or not, I would really like all of you to join us."

"Very good sir, I will let the staff know."

"Thank you Gordon. Let us know when Miles is ready."

"Yes sir."

They finished their breakfast and Robert then took Kieran for a tour of the house. He showed him the Salon, the Library, the Dining Room, Robert's Office, the Smoking Room and when they got to the Ballroom, Kieran was amazed at the size of the room. There were some sheets over the furniture inside.

"Why is everything covered up in here?"

"Well, we haven't used the room for almost two years. Last year when the Spanish Flu was running rampant in the city, people didn't get together for parties because of the worry about getting sick and then since with everything that happened, I was never interested in doing anything with the room. That was my mother and wife's thing. They loved to have people over for dances and informal parties."

Robert ushered Kieran out of the room. As they entered the Great Hall, Gordon came up to them.

"Miles is out front with the car sir."

"Thank you Gordon. Remember, I expect the staff to join us for Thanksgiving dinner in the dining room."

"As you wish, sir."

Gordon helped Robert into his coat and handed him his hat. He also pulled another smaller coat from the closet and helped Kieran into the coat. Kieran put his cap on. Gordon opened the door for them and they went down the steps to where Miles waited beside the door of a dark green Pierce Arrow.

"Good morning Mister Stewart and you must be Master Kieran. Where are we headed this morning sir?"

"Good morning Miles. Just a drive for now. Let's see the sights."

Miles held the door for them while they climbed in before getting in the front and starting the car. Miles pulled out from in front of the mansion and drove on. Robert had Miles circle Central Park first and then go to Times Square and Broadway. For the next couple of hours they drove around the city. Many times Kieran hung out the window as they drove, with a big grin on his face. Robert enjoyed himself as he had not done for over a year or more as he watched Kieran enjoy himself during the ride. Robert showed Kieran many of the sights he had never seen.

When they got back to the mansion, Kieran thanked Miles and held onto Robert's hand as they went up to the door. It opened as they neared it and Gordon greeted them, taking their coats and hats from them.

"Is dinner on schedule, Gordon?"

"Yes sir, it should be ready in about an hour if you and Master Kieran would like to freshen up."

"Excellent idea. Come on lad, let's go wash up and then we'll go and relax in the Drawing Room before dinner."

They went upstairs to the bathroom between their two rooms and washed up. They went down to the Drawing Room and relaxed for a little while before Gordon came in to let them know that dinner was ready. They followed him to the dining room and Robert was glad to see that there were several places set and the other members of the staff were there waiting for them. Robert greeted each of them and gestured for everyone to have a seat. Martha came out with the trolley with everything on it. Gordon helped her place everything on the table before they took a seat at the table.

"Let us pray. Lord we give thanks for the food before us and for the health that you give us. We also thank you for our new member of the household, Kieran. We thank you for your good graces. Amen."

He looked at the others at the table. "Thank you all for having dinner with Kieran and I. Please, everyone, enjoy yourself."

The food was passed around and everyone filled their plates with turkey, mashed potatoes, sweet potatoes, cranberry sauce, and corn. Kieran talked about what they had done that day to everyone. When dinner was over, Martha brought out some pumpkin pie for dessert.

After dinner was finished, Robert invited the staff to join him in the Drawing Room for a snifter of brandy. Robert had Gordon put a record on the Victrola as they had their brandy. Kieran lay on the floor looking through a magazine. When they finished their brandy, the staff left Robert and Kieran to themselves as they had duties to perform and there was the dinner to clean up afterward. Kieran and Robert spent the rest of the evening listening to music and reading. Robert read the New York Times and while Kieran looked through some copies of Life Magazine, National Geographic and Popular Science. When he started to yawn Robert suggested that it was time for him to get to bed. Kieran agreed and the two of them went upstairs. Robert stayed with Kieran as he readied himself for bed. Robert heard his prayers and then tucked him in, getting a hug and a kiss goodnight from the boy before he settled in for the night. At the door he turned off the light and stood there watching for a few moments before he closed the door and went back downstairs to his office.

A few minutes after he sat down and started going over some company reports that had been sitting on his desk for a few days, Gordon came in the room carrying a tray with a decanter and some glasses. Robert looked up and smiled as Gordon put the tray down and held up the decanter.

"Good idea Gordon, pour yourself one as well and have a seat. Luckily, I own a shipping company or soon I will not get a chance to indulge in some good single malt, since Congress passed that bloody Volstead Act."

Gordon poured the whiskey into two glasses, handed one to Robert and took the other for himself as he sat down in one of the chairs in front of Robert's desk.

Robert took a sip and let out a satisfied sigh. "Ah, excellent choice. Which is this?"

"The thirty year Macallan, sir."

Robert nodded and took another sip. The two men sat in companionable silence for a few minutes as they sipped the whiskey. Robert broke the silence, "What do you think of Kieran, Gordon?"

"He seems a nice enough lad, sir."

"Come my friend, I want to know what you really think."

Gordon said nothing for a few moments as he gathered his thoughts. "As I said, he seems a nice enough lad. He is polite and I suppose he is Irish, from his name to the slight Irish lilt in his voice. He is friendly as well. What do you know of him sir?"

Robert smiled and shook his head. "Not much really. His parents died in the Spanish Flu epidemic a few months ago and he's been on his own since then. Other than that, I don't know anything. But you know what, I don't care. I enjoyed today as I have not done for over a year since my family died the same way as his did. I feel a connection to him, which I cannot explain."

"What are your intentions towards him sir?"

"I've not given a lot of thought, to tell the truth, but I think I want him to stay with us. He seems to be filling an empty space for me. It was such a joy to take him for a drive through the city. I saw things through his eyes as if they were new and I felt a weight lift from my soul. It is like the good Lord sent him to me. I feel blessed."

"I'm glad to hear that sir. We have, of course, noticed a difference in the household since he has been with us. Should I make arrangements for schooling or tutoring for him?"

"Not right now, but I think after the first of the year we will see about getting him enrolled in a school and perhaps getting him a tutor if necessary. If you could make inquiries to see about his schooling that would be helpful."

"I will start on that tomorrow morning. Perhaps having a tutor come here to assess his level of schooling?"

"Yes, do that. Perhaps we can start that now so that the boy is prepared to begin at one of the schools after the New Year begins. Also, please tell Miles that I will need the car tomorrow morning to take Kieran shopping. He should have some of his own things."

"Very good sir, if you'll excuse me sir."

"Of course. Have a good evening Gordon."

"You as well, sir."

Robert worked a little while longer on his papers before he, too, retired for the evening.

Connor and Brendan stood at the railing of the SS Celtic and looked up in awe as they steamed past the Statue of Liberty in New York Harbor. They could not believe what they were seeing as they looked at the tall buildings beyond it that formed the skyline of New York City. Never in their lives had they imagined that buildings could be built to stand so tall. For a short time it made them forget their troubles and worries as they gazed in wonder at this land that was to be their new home.

All their troubles started a couple of days after the steam ship left Liverpool for New York. Each of them had a similar story.

Brendan's parents had gotten letters from friends who had immigrated to America, about their life there and they made the decision to emigrate for better opportunities and because of all the troubles between Irish patriots and the British. His Da had lost some friends in the rebellion and he wanted a better life for his family. His father had worked as a cabinetmaker in Dublin, Ireland and thought that he could easily find work as a cabinetmaker in America. It took them about a year to save enough money to buy tickets to America for the whole family. First they had traveled to Liverpool and had to stay there for several weeks while they waited for a steam ship that was heading to America. There were a lot of people living close together while they awaited the steam ship. Finally the ship arrived in port and after a few days of refitting, they were able to board the ship and find their berth.

Before they left port, Brendan met Connor as they were waiting for the boat to sail. They stood next to each other as they waved goodbye to Liverpool. They got to know each other better over the next couple of days as they spent time together. Sometime Brendan's little brother Damian would play with them too. Connor was from Kilmarnock, Scotland. His dad worked in a textile mill, but an accidental fire destroyed the factory he worked in and he was having a hard time finding another factory position. Luckily his dad had some money saved up, and by working odd jobs they were able to save up enough to go to America.

The trouble started the third day at sea. Some people started getting sick. At first they thought it was seasickness, but they soon found out that it was much worse. The heads started to overflow and then people became too sick to leave their beds. The ship's crew was overworked trying to take care of everyone. Then the deaths started by the fourth day at sea. The youngest were lost first, which included Brendan's little brother Damian. Then older people and unfortunately that included Brendan and Connor's parents. The two boys never got sick and they did all they could to help take care of their families. By the ninth day, the two boys were all alone as their parents, and in the case of Brendan his little brother, too, had died of the sickness. The ship's doctor said it was cholera and that the people had probably already been infected with it when they came aboard. The crew quickly held burials at sea because they wanted to do all that they could to prevent the disease from spreading further.

The older boy, Connor moved into Brendan's berth because it was a little bigger than his family's berth had been and the two boys slept together to give each other comfort. It was a tight fit on his parent's bed in the room, but they made do. Because of all the sickness on board and the crew having to take care of everyone, it was a slower than normal passage and by the tenth day, they could see the coast of America.

Now here they were sailing into New York Harbor. Because of the sickness on board, they had to go directly to Ellis Island to be sure that everyone on board was not contagious. The ship anchored just off Ellis Island and the ferry pulled up next to the ship so that the people could be brought to the Island to be checked and processed. Before anyone was allowed to disembark, a group of men came aboard. They turned out to be doctors who were there to check the first and second class passengers for any signs of disease. This took a few hours to accomplish. Once they were satisfied that those passengers were healthy, they left and early the next day, those passengers began to disembark for the mainland.

For the rest of the passengers they awaited for word when they could prepare to leave. The day after the higher class passengers left the ship, the word came for everyone else to gather their belongings and make ready to disembark. Brendan and Connor bundled up whatever they could carry and then looked around their berth. There were some of their family's clothes and things in the berth, but the most important items were stashed in the boy's belongings, including family pictures and some small items that the felt they had to bring with them. After their parents had died, the boys looked through everything and they had each found the money that their fathers had stashed to help them get a new start in America. When they put it together it was the equivalent of about thirty pounds sterling which was quite a lot of money to them. Most of it was in silver coins; shillings, crowns, and half crowns with a few gold sovereigns mixed in. They didn't know how much that was worth in American money but they figured they'd find out when they got to the island.

Most of it was from Brendan's family, but Brendan told Connor that he wanted to share it with Connor, because Connor was the closest thing he had to a family now. They were their own family. So they had pooled their money. They had found a money belt that Brendan's father usually wore under his clothes after he had died and they put all of their money in the belt. Since Connor was the older and bigger of the two, he carried the money belt that had all their accumulated wealth, with him at all times.

The two boys gathered on deck when they were told and waited anxiously for their turn to get on the ferry that would take them to Ellis Island. Brendan had a tight hold on Connor's hand. As they got closer to the ferry he looked up at the older boy.

"I'm a bit afraid uv it all Connor. What's going ta happen ta us?"

"I'm nae sure Bren, but we'll face it taegether. I'll not abandon ye. Ye can be sure 'o that."

Connor then put his arm around Brendan's shoulders and hugged him to his side. Brendan wrapped his free arm around Connor's waist as they slowly made their way in the queue for the ferry. Finally it was their turn to get on the ferry that would take them to their new home. They clambered aboard and made way for others behind them. When it was full the ferry pulled away and headed to the dock where they could disembark. They eyed the huge red and white building that was ahead of them.

When the ferry docked, they saw officers in uniforms. They all looked like soldiers, although they didn't see any guns, waiting at the dock. As the passengers walked down the gangplank to shore, the officers shouted and motioned for them to head toward the imposing red brick building in front of them. As each person came off the ferry, they were given a numbered identity tag that they were told to affix to their clothes. There was commotion and jostling everywhere. The two boys clung to each other so that they wouldn't be separated by the crowds. When they entered the building they could see the first room that they were in had many bundles, suitcases and other such items. They were directed to put their belongings down and they could retrieve them once the inspection was done. They were then directed up to some stairs.

Before they could go up the stairs, they had to wind their way through the great hall that was about 200 X 100 feet. The room was full of people and all the voices made it very intense as they bounced off the vaulted ceilings. They slowly moved through the lines for what seemed like hours. Finally each of the boys stood in front of a man in uniform who looked them over and were given a clean bill of health. They were directed to continue through the maze of metal rails to the far end of the hall. When they got to the end of the hall they were directed to sit on one of the long wooden benches until they were called.


Connor took Brendan's hand.

"Come on Bren."

They walked over to desk that they were directed to. The sat on the stools in front of the desk as the man looked up from his paperwork. He saw the two boys and frowned. He looked back down at a paper on his desk and then at the boys before him.

"Duncan Guthrie?"

"Tha' was me Da. He died on the way o'er here. It's just meself and me cousin Brendan."

"And your name is?"

"Connor Guthrie."

The man wrote on his paper.

"And your cousin's name?"

"Brendan Murphy."

The man scanned the list until he found Brendan's name.

"Where are your parents Brendan?"

"They died too, sir."

"Yeah, his…my aunt and uncle and other cousin Damian, died 'o the cholera on the ship. We're all the family we have left sir."

The man made some more notes before looking at the boys again.

"I have several questions I must ask. I'll skip some of them as they don't apply. Now how old are you two."

"I'm thirteen."

"I'm eleven."

"Are you able to read and write?"

Both boys nodded. The man nodded and made a mark on the paper before him.

"Where were you born?"

"Kilmarnock, Scotland."

"Dublin, Ireland."

"And you're cousins?"

"Aye sir. It's true, we're cousins."

The man looked at the boys for a few moments before writing their answer.

"Do you have any family that will be meeting you here?"

"No sir. It's just us."

The questioning continued through the rest of the required questions that were asked of every immigrant. When the questions were finished, the man gestured to one of the uniformed men. The uniformed man bent down and they talked in low voices that the boys could not hear. The uniformed man nodded. The man at the desk looked at the two boys.

"Thank you. Please go with Mister York. He will take you where you need to go next."

"Yes, sir."

The boys followed the man who led them back to where their baggage had been left.

"Please grab your belongings and follow me."

The boys went through the piles of bags, suitcases and trunks until they found their bags. Mister York gestured for him to follow him as he led them through the building and then up the stairs until they reached the third floor. They were shown to a room with many beds in it, a dormitory room.

"Find a bed boys."

"How long will we be staying here sir?"

"It will be some weeks until there is a ship to take you back to Liverpool."

"What? You're sending us back?"

"Yes. Anyone under the age of sixteen who has no family member to take charge of them must be sent back to their port of origin."

"But we hae no one back there either. This is where we belong now. This is what our Da's wanted for us."

"Sorry boys, but that is our law. We cannot take care of every charity case in the world."

Mister York turned and left the two boys. They looked around the room. The cots were of metal and were stacked three cots tall. On each was a stretched sheet of canvas for a mattress with a wool blanket. There were other men and some older boys already in the dormitory room. The two boys walked through the dormitory room until they found two lower cots side by side in a corner of the room. They placed their bags on the cots and then sat down on one of them. Both boys looked at each other with tears in their eyes. Brendan fell into Connor's arms and began to cry silently. Connor held him and let silent tears fall down his cheeks as he tried to comfort the younger boy.

The shopping trip had been lots of fun for both Robert and Kieran. They visited Lord and Taylor, Sak's Fifth Avenue, Macy's and Gimbels to buy what Robert felt Kieran needed. It turned out to not be as much as Robert wanted to buy. From time to time, when Robert suggested getting something, Kieran would look at him and shake his head as he said that he didn't need that. Robert would look at him and would feel caught up in his eyes and he found himself agreeing with Kieran that it was not necessary. One thing he did insist on was that Kieran had to have a nice evening suit as an idea had been coming to Robert and if everything worked out, Kieran would need such a suit. This time Kieran accepted it, when he seemed to be about to reject it.

When they got home, Kieran had to show off his new clothes and things to the staff. There was a change in the atmosphere and attitude of the staff since Kieran joined the household. For a year it had been a place to be, but there seemed to be liveliness to the house now. By the end of the Thanksgiving weekend, everything had a lighter hearted feeling in the household and with the Christmas season upon them, they felt the spirit of Christmas within them.

After the Thanksgiving Weekend, the staff began to decorate the house for the Christmas season. During part of the day, Robert went to the main office of Royal Stewart Shipping Company to take care of business, while Gordon oversaw the decorating.

When Robert got home, the two of them invariably took a walk over to Central Park. A couple of times they went to the Metropolitan Museum of Art, so that Robert could share with Kieran the great works of art that could be found in there. They spent time at the Central Park Zoo. One thing that delighted Kieran was one day when the snow fell. He and Robert went to the park and Kieran was soon throwing snowballs with other boys. Robert got involved at one point when Kieran got a mischievous look on his face and decided that Robert should get involved as well. By the time they finished both of them were a bit damp from all the snowballs that they had thrown at each. Some of those who passed by, thought it was ridiculous that a grown man was cavorting in the snow like a child, but Robert didn't care. There were a few other men who got involved in the snowball fighting when their son's got involved. For some reason all of these men remembered what it was like to play in the snow like they had as a child and they were more than willing to take part.

On the island Connor and Brendan got a chance to go outside every day. Either they went to the third floor roof garden as it was called or they went outside on the back side of the main building where their dormitory was located on. On the day that is snowed, they and several of the other children were out on the grassy area and played in the snow. For a time, the two boys forgot about their circumstances and were able to be just a couple of boys having fun in the snow.

Sometimes when they were outside, they looked across the harbor to the huge city nearby. So close but still so far and from what they had been told, it was out of their reach at least until they were older. They tried to think about what they would do when they got back to Liverpool. Connor said that Brendan could come with him and they could go back to Kilmarnock. Maybe they could get work in the textile mills. Connor still had some friends there and maybe his friend's parents could help them get settled somewhere. With the money that they had, they might be able to get back there okay, but there was so much uncertainty that they were still worried about how it would go for them, once they were back there.

After the snowball fight, their clothes were a little wet and they were cold so they went back into the dormitory and changed into some dry clothes. They hung the damp clothes on their cots to dry and went to the dining hall to eat supper. Some of the other detainees played instruments and they were able to hear music, so it wasn't completely boring at night before going to sleep. Many times Brendan crawled into Connor's bed for comfort and they would sleep that way all night. Sometimes Brendan would cry and Connor was able to comfort him as he held the younger boy.

That was their existence for the next couple of weeks. They went outside when they could, ate in the dining hall, and listened to music. When they knew the song, they would join in singing. The others there enjoyed when either of the boys would sing with them and they usually received applause from the others who were there listening to the music. They were told that there would be a Christmas dinner and some entertainment for the detainees on Christmas Day. It was something to look forward to.

That night the boys were in their cots when large hands grabbed them both and started tugging at their clothes. Connor was able to break free and he kicked one of the men who were attacking Brendan in the nuts and pushed the other one away. He pulled Brendan behind him and backed into a corner. He raised his hands up ready to fight to stop the men who were closing in. He knew they had no chance so he put his hands up to stop them.

"No, I'll do what ye want, just leave me little brother alone. Please, don't hurt him."

Some of the men standing in front of him did not understand him as they didn't speak English, but Connor made his intention clear. He pushed Brendan back to the corner and pointed at him and vehemently shook his head. He was older and he had heard of things like this. He could see the look in their eyes and knew what they wanted. Then he stepped forward and started unbuttoning the one piece union suit that he wore, starting at the top. When he had it unbuttoned all the way he slipped the shoulder straps down and let it drop to the ground.

"Connor, no!"

Connor looked over his shoulder and shook his head.

"No Bren, I hae tae do it or they'll be after ya. And I can't let them hurt ya that way. I'm bigger and I can taek it. You might get hurt bad. Just stay there in the corner, they'll leave ye alone."

There were tears in Brendan's eyes as he watched Connor turn back to the men and step out of the underwear at his feet towards the grinning men. One of them grabbed him and pulled him over to the cot and pushed him down so he was lying on his stomach. The man who had grabbed him, dropped his pants and spit into his hand to rub it on his penis. When he was satisfied, he got on the cot and spread the boy's legs. Connor gritted his teeth as the man entered him and tears started to run down his cheeks from the pain. The man was not gentle in his assault and Connor couldn't help crying out from the pain. The man finished and another took his place. Connor turned his head to look at Brendan and saw Brendan sitting against the corner holding his head and crying as he watched what was happening. Then the worst thing happened, one of the men got impatient and went over to Brendan and grabbed him. The man started ripping at the younger boy's underwear, trying to get him naked.


The man just looked over at Connor and sneered at him, while he resumed ripping at Brendan's underwear. Brendan was struggling and the man hit him several times to subdue him. This enraged Connor and he began to fight those around him. He surprised the man who was assaulting him and when he pushed up with the adrenaline surging within him, the man slammed his head against one of the metal poles and fell off the cot and to the ground dazed and shaking his head. One of the other men waiting their turn began to beat Connor with the help of another of the men. Connor could see that Brendan was limp in the arms of the other man who had finally managed to rip the rest of his underwear off, leaving Brendan naked. That gave Connor another surge of strength and he started swinging wildly, he felt his fists and feet connect before he felt something slam into the side of his face and just before he passed out, he heard a yell followed by a hollow crunch.


What Connor and Brendan didn't see was the man that they knew as Mister York, wading in among the men and swinging his fists knocking the attackers left and right. All of the men had their pants down so they got easily tangled up in them as he waded into them. One of the men would never get up again, as he had struck his head hard against the edge of one of the metal cots. The sound of the fight and Mister York's yell had brought other officers running into the dorm room. The five men who had attacked the two boys were held to the side. The others in the dorm room were cowering back from the area, trying their best to keep a distance from the five men. They had seen what was happening, but they had been too afraid to try and stop it. The men who had attacked the boys were not very pleasant people.

Jeff York and another of the officers, Richard Stanton, wrapped the two unconscious boys in blankets and picked them up, carrying them out of the dormitory. They left the main building and carried the boys to the hospital on another part of the island. They were careful because of the little bit of snow that was on the ground, making it slippery.

Back in the dormitory, another of the officers was gathering all of the boy's belongings. When he picked up one of the packs, the money belt fell to the floor with a clink. The men who had attacked them looked with greed at the belt and a missed opportunity. The officer gathered the money belt up and tucked it back into the pack it had fallen from. More officers had been called and the four men who were still alive were escorted to cells and they were not gentle about it. The attacker who had hit is head was hastily covered by a blanket from one of the cots. By the time that the men had arrived at the detention cells they seemed to have been rather clumsy and fell down quite a bit. The officer in charge of the jail accepted this explanation and took charge of the men. The men still seemed to be clumsy and they got blood on the bars of the cells as they slipped going in, hitting their heads against the bars.

Jeff and Richard entered the hospital calling for help. The doctor on duty and a couple of nurses came over to them.

"What happened?"

"A group of unsavory bastards attacked these two boys."

"Bring them to the treatment room."

The officer followed the doctor and lay the two boys down on a couple of beds so they could be looked after. They stepped back so that the doctor could look them over. The blankets were folded back and the doctor and nurses got to work taking care of the boys. Both of them had bruises and cuts.

"Um, Doctor, you should check the backside of the older boy."

The doctor looked at Jeff and then had one of the nurses turn the boy up onto his side. His eyes opened wide when he saw what had happened. He gestured for the nurse to lay the boy back.

"They raped him?"

"Yes, I believe so."

"Thank you Officer. We'll take care of them."

As they turned to go, the officer with the boys belongings arrived.

Jeff took charge of them. "These are the boy's belongings Doctor."

"Just put them over there. We'll make sure they go with the boys when we finish treating them."

"Thank you Doctor."

Jeff and the other two officers left the hospital and headed back to the main building. When they got there their night time supervisor interviewed them about what had happened. When Jeff related what had happened the man scowled with distaste.

"We're going to prosecute those raping bastards to the fullest extent of the law. Why were they in the dorms?"

"They were to be deported. The reason, I don't know until we check the records, but they are definitely the kind of people we don't want here."

"I agree, but hopefully they will spend a very short time of the long sentence that I expect them to receive after their trial and then at the end of their sentence, if they survive it, we will send them back to their home country."

Jeff agreed with his sentiment and returned to his duties. The dead man was removed from the dormitory and those who stood by were made to clean up the mess before being allowed to go to sleep.

Saturday evening before Christmas, December 20th, Robert held a Christmas Ball and had invited many friends, colleagues, and many of the other members of society who lived nearby to his home. It had been a few years since there had been a ball at the Stewart mansion and many of his friends were glad to see him socializing once again. Many had noticed that he had not been his usual friendly social self since the deaths in his family the year before. Some of them knew the reason for the change and they greeted Kieran who stood with Robert to greet everyone as they came in the house. He was dressed in a miniature version of the evening suit that Robert wore and most of the ladies commented on how handsome he was. They found him to be charming and very polite. Robert was nearly busting with pride in Kieran and how he talked to everyone. It was a wonderful evening and they applauded when Kieran sang for everyone in his treble voice. Many of the young girls would look at him and then giggle as they talked among themselves about how wonderful he looked.

Later in the evening, several of the men were in the smoking lounge talking about business, and news of the day as they enjoyed some brandy and pipes or cigars. Robert was talking to a friend of his, Doctor Nathan Porter.

"So how have you been Nathan?"

"Well, now that we've got that damnable Spanish Flu licked around here, not as bad as it was last year." As soon as he said that, he realized what he had said and who he was talking to. "Blast, what an idiot. I do beg your pardon Robert."

Robert waved to indicate that he shouldn't worry about it. "Peace my friend. I am well. There is still that missing piece, but I am much better now. Especially because of Kieran, I do care deeply for that boy."

"I'm glad to see this change in you. I'm glad the boy has been a blessing to you."

"A blessing he truly is."

"He's lucky. Some like him aren't."

Robert heard the concern in his friend's voice. "You sound troubled Nathan."

"It is a pair of patients I took care of the other night. I've been doing some work over at the hospital at Ellis Island and there are these two boys, they say that they are brothers. Anyway, the other night they were assaulted by five men and brutally beaten and one of the boys was raped."

"My word. What a ghastly thing to happen to them. How old are they?"

"One is eleven and the other is thirteen. The older one is the one who was raped."

"What happened to the criminals that did such a thing?"

"They have been detained and will face criminal charges."

"Where are the boy's parents?"

"They have no parents. The parents died of cholera on the way over from England, leaving the boys alone."

"What's going to happen to them without any parents to take care of them?"

Robert and Nathan nearly jumped at the young voice that had asked the question who stood at their elbow. Robert looked down at Kieran, who had somehow appeared next to them, without them noticing.

"How long have you been standing there son?"

"Not long, sir. I just heard Doctor Porter say something about the two boys that were hurt."

"Well, Kieran. Our laws say that any immigrant who is younger than sixteen that has no relatives or other adults to take care of them must be sent back to their country of origin."

"That's too bad. Will they be alright, sir?"

Nathan looked at the boy and gave him a nod and a smile. "Yes, they are getting the best of care."

"That's good, sir. People like you are very important, because you help other people all the time."

"Why thank you young man. That is very nice of you to say. Robert, you have a very polite young man here. Take good care of him."

Robert put his arm around Kieran's shoulders and gave him a quick hug. "I intend to Nathan. I think he'll be a great man someday."

Kieran beamed at the compliment. "I'll leave you, sir, to talk to your friend."

"Thank you Kieran."

The men smiled at the young man as he left the room.

"When will the boys be shipped back to England?"

"I'm not sure. As soon as there is a ship going that way I suppose."

Robert nodded as another gentleman joined them. He wanted to ask Robert about possibly working with Robert in transporting goods from his factories to Europe. Nathan took his leave and let Robert and the other gentleman talk business.

The Christmas Ball was a success and everyone had a wonderful time. Kieran made friends among many of the other children who had come to the Ball with their parents. After everyone left, Kieran said goodnight to Robert and went to bed.

At breakfast the next morning, Robert noticed Kieran staring out the window as he ate. He seemed to be lost in thought. Robert reached into his pocket and looked through the change in his pocket. He found what he was looking for and placed it down across the table from Kieran.

Kieran had seen his movement from the corner of his eye and looked at the penny with a puzzled look.

Robert smiled at him. "A penny for your thoughts."

"Oh, I was just thinkin'."

"About what? You seemed very deep in thought. It must be important."

"Yes sir. I was thinking about those two boys."

"Which two boys?"

"The two that Doctor Porter was talking about last night."

"Yes, bad business that. I hope that they will do well."

Kieran ate some more before getting lost in thought again for a few minutes before looking back at Robert who was looking through the paper.

"Sir, could I ask a favor of you?"

Robert looked up and nodded. "Of course. If it is within my power, I will do what I can."

"Could we visit those two boys in the hospital who were hurt?"

Robert was about to shake his head, but he saw the look on Kieran's face and he was once again caught by those bright blue eyes that he found he could get lost in. He shook his head a little and blinked. "Perhaps."

"Could we do that today?"

"Well, I don't know. It is Sunday after all and we have church to go to yet, and I don't know if they let anyone come out there who doesn't have business there."

"Maybe we could go after church. You could talk to your friend, Doctor Porter. I'm sure he could arrange it, sir."

Robert saw the earnest look on Kieran's face and he nodded. "I will call him and ask about it, but if we aren't allowed, then there is nothing that I can do about it."

"Yes sir. Thank you."

After breakfast, they went back up to their rooms to get ready for church. They attended the Church of the Heavenly Rest at 5th Avenue and 46th Street. Miles dropped them off and would return to pick them up after services. When they returned home, Kieran asked Robert if he could contact Doctor Porter now. Robert said that he would wait until after lunch so that he could be sure that he was home. Kieran accepted what he said, but Robert could see he was still a little anxious still. It was evident during lunch as well. He kept looking at Robert as if he wanted to say something, but he held off. Inwardly Robert was smiling at the anxiousness of the boy.

When the plates were taken away, Robert decided to have a little fun at Kieran's expense. "Well son, what shall we do this afternoon? We could go for a drive, maybe take a walk in the park. It looks nice outside, although it is a little cold, so we'll have to bundle up a bit, but a good walk after an excellent meal would be good."

Robert glanced at Kieran and he could see that Kieran was looking at him anxiously. He chuckled a little and held his hands up in surrender. "Okay, I'll call Doctor Porter and see about the visit."

"Yay. Thank you Robert. Thank you so much."

"Now don't get your hopes up. We may not be allowed to go out there. I don't know the rules."

"I know, but it should be okay. We're just going to visit them. I'm sure they would like to have visitors. Maybe they're feeling better now?"

"Very well, come in the office with me and we'll call him."

Kieran got up and followed Robert to his office that was located next to the breakfast room. Robert sat down and picked up the phone and waited.

"Good morning, may I have Knickerbocker 3874…..yes, thank you."

Robert gave Kieran a little smile while he waited.

"Good morning Nathan, this is Robert Stewart…, no…everyone is well….he is too…..I have a request. Well, to tell you the truth, the request is from young Kieran…..yes, I agree he is…..Kieran asked me if it would be possible to visit the two lads you told me about last night…..yes, he wants to visit them and perhaps cheer them up a bit. I told him that I would call and ask you about it as I didn't know the rules on such things………… it is possible."

Kieran was grinning and he was trying to get Robert's attention. Robert noticed him.

"Wait a moment Nathan, Kieran seems to have something to say."

"Robert, can we go today?"

"Uh, Nathan, he wants to know if it is possible to visit today…..yes……you're sure…..we don't want to put you out…….very well……would you like me to send my car?......It would be no trouble……very well, I will send Miles straightaway…..Yes, see you in a little while…..Until then, goodbye."

Kieran had heard enough on this side of the conversation to know that it would happen the way he wanted it to and he got up and ran around the desk to give Robert a hug as he tried to hang up the phone.

"Thank you Uncle Robert. You are the best."

Robert hugged him back.

"Uncle, huh."

"Yes. You are the best uncle."

"Thank you. Let me get Miles on his way. He will pick up the doctor and then pick us up and we will go to where we can take a ferry out to the island."

"Uncle Robert, can we take them something. A treat, like cake or cookies?"

"Why don't you check with Martha and see if she has any treats that we can take with us for the boys. That is a wonderful idea."

Kieran gave him one more hug and then disappeared from the room to ask Martha. Robert turned his attention to some papers on his desk chuckling at the antics of the excited boy. Kieran returned a few minutes later.

"Missus Grant says that she can put together a basket of goodies for us to bring with us."

"Very good. Go and get ready to go. Make sure you wear warm clothes as we will be going out in the harbor and it will probably be cold out there."

"I will Uncle Robert."

Kieran rushed out of the room as Gordon entered.

"Good morning sir. May I enquire about the excitement of Master Kieran?"

"Last night Doctor Porter told me of a dreadful event that happened to two immigrant boys under his care on Ellis Island. Kieran heard about them and he wants to go visit them and bring them some cheer. Please ask Miles to go to Doctor Porter's house and pick him up. He is going along to introduce us."

"Very commendable sir, he is a remarkable boy."

"Yes, he is."

"Do you know how long you will be sir?"

"No. I expect we'll be back by suppertime."

"Very good sir, I will let Miles know."

Robert nodded and went back to going through the paperwork on his desk. After twenty minutes he put it down and got up from the desk. He headed upstairs to make sure he had warm clothes on as well. Kieran was waiting for Robert in the Drawing Room when he returned downstairs. He was standing by the window looking outside for the car. Robert had stopped by his office to pick up the paper and took a seat in an armchair to read while he waited.

"They're here Uncle Robert."

Robert looked up and folded the paper to place beside the chair. "Let's grab out coats and hats."

Kieran led the way to the entryway closet. Gordon was there to help them into their coats and let them out. Martha had a covered basket, which Kieran took charge of and thanked her. Miles had the door open for them when they came down the steps. Doctor Porter was inside the car waiting for them.

"Good morning Robert, Kieran."

"Good morning Nathan. Thank you doing this.

"Good morning sir."

"Not at all, I'm glad to do it."

"Well, let's get to it. Miles follow the Doctor's directions."

"Yes, sir."

The doctor gave them directions as they drove south into Lower Manhattan. It took them sometime to get down there, but eventually he directed Miles to an official dock with a sign saying US Bureau of Immigration, and directed him where to park the car. They got out and Robert told Miles to be back at four thirty. Nathan had his doctor bag with him. Miles nodded. Nathan led the way to where a boat was docked. He had them wait while he went inside the office.

A few minutes later he came back out. "We can board the boat. They're getting ready to leave with supplies for the island."

Robert nodded and they followed Doctor Porter to the ferry boat that was tied up to the dock. A few minutes after they embarked the ferryman on the boat got her untied from the dock and the captain had her heading out to the harbor. Kieran went to the bow of the ferry. Robert and the doctor joined him. It was cold out on the harbor, but luckily not much wind, so the water wasn't choppy. Kieran enjoyed feeling the wind in his face and he seemed to have a permanent grin affixed to his face. The ride did not take too long as it was only a little over a mile to Ellis Island from the Immigration dock. The boat pulled up to the dock and the ferryman got her tied up. When the gangplank was lowered Nathan led Robert and Kieran onto the island. As they walked to the hospital, Nathan pointed out what the buildings on the island were used for. They could see some of the immigrants who were presently detained on the island, out and about.

Nathan led them away from the Main Building to the opposite side of the island where the hospital was located. He let them in the front door and greeted the staff as he brought them upstairs to the ward that the boys were located in. Inside the ward were other children who were receiving treatment as well.

Nathan stopped them at the entrance to the ward. "Wait here for a few moments while I go examine the boys to see how they are doing and talk to them about your visit.

Robert and Kieran nodded as Nathan made his way to the far end of the ward where a boy was sitting on the edge of the bed of another boy.

"Good afternoon boys."

"Hello Doctor."

"How are you feeling this afternoon?"

"We're okay sir."

"Are your injuries giving you any problems Connor?"

"Not really sir, except when I have to….go."

"Yes, I expect that would cause you some discomfort for a little while, but it will go away with time. May I take a look at your injuries to make sure they are healing well?"

The boys nodded and Brendan got off of Connor's bed and sat on his bed. Nathan signaled for a nurse to move one of the portable screens up to block the view of everyone else, while he examined his patients. Nathan went over to Brendan and placed his bag on the bed and pulled a stethoscope out. He looked Brendan over, checking on his bruises, cuts and scrapes. He listened to his heart and breathing and when he was satisfied he tousled Brendan's hair. He turned his attention to Connor. Of the two Connor had more bruises, but everything seemed to be healing fine as well. He had Connor turn up on his side, so that he could examine the injuries to his backside. He looked carefully and had Connor lay back on his back.

"Well boys, you both are doing very well. We should have you good as new in no time. I have a question to ask you though. Would you mind having some visitors?"


"Yes, a friend of mine and his son wanted to come and visit you. They are very nice people and heard that you had been hurt so they wanted to come here today to visit."

"Why us? Do they know us?"

"No. The boy Kieran asked to see you. He's about your age. He says he has something for you. So if it's alright, they are waiting outside. I'll bring them in if you say it is okay."

Connor looked over at Brendan who nodded. "It's okay sir. Thank you."

"Good, I'll be right back with them."

Nathan put his equipment back in his bag and went to get Robert and Kieran. When they got to the beds, Kieran gave them a big smile.

"Connor, Brendan, this is Mister Stewart and Kieran."

Kieran put the basket he was carrying down on the end of Brendan's bed and went over to the two boys with his hand out.

"Hi, I'm Kieran. I've brought goodies to share with you if you want."

They shook his and Robert's hand. Kieran put the basket on a nearby table and took the cloth from the top and both boys' eyes widened as they beheld the treats inside. There were some small cakes, cookies and some fruit. Kieran held the basket out to them so that they could choose what they wanted. Brendan took a cookie while Connor took a little cake. As the boys ate them, both closed their eyes relishing the taste. Nathan tapped Robert and motioned for him to follow him.

"Let's leave the boys here. They'll be fine. Let me show you around."

Robert nodded and the two men left the ward. For the boys it was a nice time. They devoured about half of the treats that Kieran brought. He pulled a deck of cards out of his pocket and taught them some games. The three boys talked, ate sweets and played card games while Robert and Nathan walked around the Island. The boys became comfortable enough with Kieran to tell him everything. Their parents dying and what happened to them and that they were going to be sent back to England. Kieran went to Connor and held him when tears rolled down his cheeks. Brendan joined the hug and they stayed like that for a little while.

"I don't know what I'm going to do Kieran. Neither of us have anyone back there. This was to be our new home and now they won't let us."

"I'm really sorry Connor."

Kieran was about to say more, but they heard Robert and Nathan talking as they neared the screen that had been put up to give them privacy.

"Hi boys."

"Hi Doctor."

"Kieran, its time that we head back home."

"Okay Uncle Robert. Goodbye."

He hugged Connor and Brendan. Robert shook their hands.

"It was nice to meet you boys. You listen to what Doctor Porter says and he'll have you up and about in no time."

"Yes, sir. Thank you, sir. Oh sir, your basket."

"Keep it for now. I see there are still some treats in there. Doctor Porter will get it back to me when you are finished."

Robert put his hand on Kieran's shoulders and Kieran gave one last wave before they left. Connor looked at Brendan and Brendan climbed into bed with him. They were both a little sad at the departure of their new friend.

The three went back to the dock and boarded a ferry boat. On the ride back, Kieran was silent as he leaned against the rail and watched the island recede behind them. Beyond it, he could see the Statue of Liberty. Robert and Nathan sat on a bench against the wheelhouse and talked. When they got back to the dock, they found Miles was waiting for them. They bundled into the car and drove home. At the house, Robert asked Nathan if he'd like a little nip before Miles took him home, but Nathan declined, saying that he had to get home. They shook hands and he was thanked by both Robert and Kieran.

Gordon helped them out of their coats and hats and they went upstairs to remove their warmer clothes. The house was well heated with radiators and fireplaces so they did not need to wear thick clothes. When they came back downstairs, supper was ready. Throughout the meal, Robert noticed Kieran was quiet and didn't say much. He thought he had an idea what it was about, as he had noticed that Kieran and the two boys had hit it off well. He was probably missing the fun he had had with them. After dinner, Kieran sat in the drawing room to read for a little while, but he couldn't concentrate on what he was reading, so he told Robert goodnight and went up to bed.

"Are you alright son?"

"Yes, I'm okay. Thank you for taking me out there Uncle Robert. I had a great time."

"I'm glad. Maybe it's all the excitement. You go and get a goodnight's sleep and I'll see you in the morning."

"Goodnight Uncle Robert."

Before going to his bedroom, Robert looked in on Kieran, he was fast asleep. He sat down on the edge of the bed and just watched him sleep. He was surprised at how much love he felt for this boy, who was just a short time ago, an orphaned boy on the street. He vowed he would do what he could to make his life wonderful. He leaned down and kissed him on the side of his head before going to his room.

Next morning at the breakfast table, Kieran was again doing a lot of looking out the window towards Central Park. Part way through breakfast, Gordon came to him to tell Robert that he had a phone call in his office. He excused himself and with his cup of coffee in hand went to his office to see who it was. He was still talking on the phone several minutes later when Kieran appeared at the doorway of his office. He waved him in and the boy hesitantly came in the room, and stood behind one of the chairs with his hands resting on the back of it. Kieran waited patiently for Robert to finish.

When he hung up, he looked at the boy. "Yes son?"

"Uncle Robert. May I ask for a really big favor? If you say yes, I promise I won't ask for anything else."

Robert nodded for him to continue.

"Uncle Robert. Will you let Connor and Brendan come live here with you?"

"I don't know if that's possible. We don't really know these boys and they are supposed to be shipped back to England."

"I know, but they are really nice and fun. I had a great time with them yesterday and I know it would be even more fun if they lived here with us. You have this big house, and it's just us and Gordon and Miles, and Missus Grant, and Jenny and…."

"I understand. But these things aren't that easy. I'm sure that they have some family back in England….."

"That's just it Uncle Robert. They're orphans like me. There is no one. They told me. And the only reason that they are going back to England is because they don't have anyone to take care of them here in America. They said that it was the law, because they are too young. If they were older, they would let them stay. But you could take care of them. I know you'd like 'em. Both of them are real smart. They are real sad that they can't stay here. This is where they want to live because there is nothing back there for them now that their families are gone. Please. I'll do anything you say. I promise I won't do anything to disappoint you. I will never ask for anything if you please do this for me."

Robert looked at the boy over steepled fingers. He could see tears in Kieran's eyes as the boy pleaded with him. Like had happened so many times over the past few weeks he got lost in those eyes and he could practically feel the anguish that the boy was feeling.

"I don't know Kieran. I understand why you would want this, but like I said I don't know these boys."

"But you could get to know them. Let them live with you and I know you will like them a lot. I know it."

Robert held up his hand to stop Kieran from continuing. "Son, I'll think about it. For now though, I must go into the office. I have a company to run."

"You promise to think about it."

"I said I would and I will let you know of my decision when I'm ready to give it. Now run along so I can get to work."

Kieran went around the desk and threw himself into Robert's chest and hugged him tightly, giving him a little peck on the cheek before standing up and leaving the room. Robert sat there for a few moments looking at the door that Kieran had just exited before he got up from the desk. He placed some papers in the briefcase and headed to the door. Gordon helped him into his coat and hat. He went outside where Miles was waiting with the car to take him to work. Kieran watched from the Drawing Room window and waved goodbye.

Kieran was at the door waiting for Robert when he got home. He hugged him in greeting but didn't say anything about the favor that he had asked him and Robert had to admit he had given little thought to it, as he had a lot of business to attend to that day. Robert could tell that Kieran was a little restless and he knew why he was restless, but he really had no answer for him. Kieran said goodnight to him and Robert went into his office to do some work.

When Kieran arrived in the breakfast room, Robert just finished up his coffee. "Good morning Kieran. I'm off to the office early today. I have a lot of work I need to take care of this morning, because I plan on not going to the office for the next few days so that I can spend them with you. Christmas is only a couple of days away."

He walked by Kieran and gave him a kiss on the top of his head as he left the room. During the day Kieran went across to the park and played in the little bit of snow that was on the ground. Jenny went with him to keep an eye on him. He met up with some of the other boys he had met and they played for a little while. Jenny reminded him that it was time for lunch so he went back home. After lunch, he stayed inside because it began to rain a little and Martha didn't want him getting all wet and catch his death.

He whiled away the afternoon reading a book. In the middle of the afternoon, he heard Gordon open the door. He went up to the window and looked outside. He saw Robert's car pulling away from the curb.

"Hi Kieran."

He turned around quickly at the young voice that he heard. Standing in the doorway were Connor and Brendan. The three boys ran to each other and enjoyed a three way hug talking excitedly. Robert watched the scene and found that he felt very good inside as he watched the three boys.

"Where shall I put their belongings sir?"

"The adjoining bedrooms down the hall from mine."

"Very good sir."

Gordon carried their bags upstairs to the bedrooms indicated and directed Jenny to put them away. Downstairs, Kieran looked up and saw Robert in the doorway. He disentangled himself from the other boys and ran over to him wrapping his arms tightly around Robert.

"Thank you, thank you, thank you. This is the best thing ever. When did you do this?"

"I thought about what you said and the more I thought about it, the more sense it made to me. I do have a big house and there is plenty of room. So I called Doctor Porter this morning. He agreed to help me and he called in some favors of his own. We went over there and he discharged them from the hospital. I had to talk to an immigration official and he had me sign some papers giving them to me."

Robert held him and chuckled. Moments later the two boys joined them. When the hug was over, Robert gave them a tour of the house and introduced them to everyone. Martha was all smiles when she met the boys. When they came to the kitchen, Brendan excused himself for a moment and came back carrying the basket that Martha had sent them. He thanked her for the treats and she hugged him tightly. When they finished looking at the downstairs, they were taken upstairs and shown where everything was including their bedrooms.

At the end of the tour they went back downstairs and saw that some of the furniture in the Drawing Room had been rearranged, the reason soon became apparent as Miles came in with a Christmas tree to set up in the drawing room so it could be seen through the window from the street. They spent the rest of the afternoon decorating it. After dinner, they were sitting in the Drawing Room admiring the tree. A fire was crackling in the fireplace. Outside they could see some light snow coming down.

Kieran went over to Robert and crawled into his lap. "Thank you so much for this Uncle Robert. You've made them both very happy. They want to live here and become Americans. I promise they will make you very happy. You'll see."

"Seeing you happy, makes me happy."

Kieran got out of the chair and went to join the two boys in front of the fireplace to take turns playing backgammon. Martha made some hot chocolate for the boys. When they finished it was getting late, so Robert sent them off to bed. He looked on each of them before retiring himself.

Later that night Connor came awake when he felt someone touch his shoulder. It woke him up, a little frightened because he had been having a nightmare about the men who attacked him. He'd had trouble sleeping through the night since then, because of the nightmares. He started to back away and then he noticed that the person who had touched him wasn't big enough for one of those men.

"Connor, it's me, Kieran."

"Kieran? What are you doing in here?"

"I've come to help you."

"Help me do what?"

"Help you heal, if you'll let me. I promise you I won't hurt you and you will never have any of those nightmares ever again."

"But how can ye do that. What they did….I can't get it out of me head."

Connor began to cry and Kieran put his arms around him and held him, as he murmured words of comfort. He pulled back from the hug and looked at Connor who was now sitting up in the bed.

"Do you trust me?"

Connor looked into Kieran's eyes. He saw only love and affection in them. There was no disgust in them like he expected since Kieran knew what had happened. After a moment he nodded. Kieran smiled and then leaned forward and kissed Connor on the cheek. He then reached for the top button of Connor's union suit. Connor put his hands up to grab Kieran's hands and started to pull away.

Kieran stopped and looked Connor in the eyes. "Please trust me. After tonight you will never have a nightmare about them again. I promise."

Connor again hesitated before letting go of Kieran's hands. Kieran reached forward and continued unbuttoning his union suit. When he had all the buttons undone, he gently lowered the straps from his shoulders and pulled the top part down to his waist. He gave Connor a gentle push so that he was lying down. He pulled the covers back and pulled the union suit off of him completely and tossed it to the ground beside the bed. Then Kieran got off the bed and took his pajamas off, leaving them on the floor. Then he got in bed with Connor and pulled the covers over them. He moved so that he was lying on top of Connor and leaned down and kissed him on the lips. Connor was startled, but found that he didn't want Kieran to stop and he began to kiss back.

"Connor, you are such a special person. You lost your family, but you gave your love to a boy who you didn't know and you became a brother to him. You swore to him that you would always be there for him. What those men did was so wrong and I know that they will get everything that they deserve. Now it's time for you to get everything that you deserve. I want to show you what it feels like to be loved."

Kieran then began to kiss him again. The two boys held onto each other and touched and cuddled together. There was nothing sexual about it. It was just Kieran showing him love. Sometimes they would cry together over his loss, but slowly Kieran's love overshadowed all the bad and the tears dried up and it was just two boys comforting each other. At one point something seemed different and they suddenly felt another smaller pair of arms go around them. They turned and found that Brendan was there. They smiled at him and the two older boys helped Brendan out of his union suit and soon the three naked boys were cuddled up together. Both Connor and Brendan enjoyed the close contact with Kieran. His touch drove away the bad feelings they had been feeling since they arrived in America. Now everything looked better. Mister Stewart had said that they would be staying here with him and Kieran from now on. The three boys soon fell into a restful sleep.

When they woke up the next morning, the two boys found that they felt good. Even their aches from the attack seemed to be gone. Kieran gave each of them a kiss before getting out of bed to get his pajamas back on. None of them felt any embarrassment at what they had done last night. The two boys put their union suits back on and they all went to take care of their morning business. The boys got dressed and Kieran led them downstairs to the breakfast.

Robert was drinking some coffee as he read the paper. "Good morning boys. Did you sleep well?"

"Yes sir. Thank you."

Martha came in with bacon and eggs for them and the boys set to.

When breakfast was over Robert let them know the plans for the day. "We're going to go out to get you some new clothes."

"You don't have to do that sir."

"I'm not doing it because I have to, it's because I want to. So after breakfast get your coats and hats and we'll be off."

The boys finished breakfast and soon the four of them were outside waiting for Miles to bring the car around. Robert took them to many of the same stores he had taken Kieran to a few weeks earlier. Miles stayed with them to help with the packages. The boys marveled at their new shoes and clothes. They couldn't wait to get home to try them on. At home they modeled each and every one for Kieran and Robert.

That evening Martha cooked up a special Christmas Eve dinner and Robert insisted that everyone join them for dinner so they used the Dining Room. That evening after dinner, everyone retired to the Drawing Room and they sang Christmas Carols before the fire, while drinking hot chocolate, while the men sipped brandy. The boys played Parcheesi and Backgammon. Finally Robert reminded the boys that it was time for bed. They wished him goodnight and went up to bed. Robert checked on the three of them before he retired.

Robert awoke during the night for some reason. He looked around and found that it was still dark. He tried to go back to sleep, but found that he couldn't. He thought perhaps a brandy would calm his mind so that he could sleep, so he put his robe and slippers on and went downstairs. In his office he turned on the light and poured himself some brandy. He took a sip and gave a satisfied smile. Then he heard a noise that sounded like it was coming from the Drawing Room. He walked over there and was startled to see Kieran standing in front of the Christmas Tree arranging presents. There was a merry fire going in the fireplace.

"Kieran? What are you doing up? You should be in bed."

Kieran turned around and smiled.

"I'm just taking care of some last minute things before I go."

"Go? Go where? What do you mean go?"

Robert was startled by a voice from behind him. He turned and saw Connor and Brendan, both of them in their new pajamas, robes and slippers. Their hair tousled from sleep.

Kieran smiled at them before looking at Robert. "My work is done here and it's time that I go back to my home."

"But…but this is your home. I love you like my own son. In fact, as far as I'm concerned you are my own son."

Kieran came over to Robert and wrapped his arms around him, hugging him tightly. Robert held him and bent down to kiss him on the top of his head, swallowing the lump in his throat. The two other boys joined the hug.

"Kieran, I need you. You brought life back into me and into this house. For the first time in a long time this house feels like a home again and it's all because of you."

"No, it's because of you, Robert. You just needed to open your heart and feel the spirit of Christmas once again. Once you did that, everything else followed. This will be a wonderful home. You have two wonderful sons to share it with and they will bring you years of joy and happiness and one day, grandchildren to spoil."

"Why can't I have three sons? You are my son as well."

"Robert, I will keep your love in my heart forever, but I must leave. There are others who need my help."

"What others?"

"Others like you who need someone to bring the spirit of Christmas back into their hearts so that they can share their love with others."

Kieran slowly broke the hug and stepped back. Out of the corner of his eye, Robert saw something sparkling from the fireplace. All of them looked and saw what looked like a stream of gold sparkles come out of the chimney and touch the ground near the tree. The sparkles disappeared and a man in a red suit appeared standing next to Kieran.

Robert and the two boys were shocked and went to their knees in wonder. The man chuckled. Brendan was the first to find his voice.

"Father Christmas?"

"Yes, Brendan. I am Father Christmas as you call me. One of many names that I am proud to wear."

"But how, I mean….I…"

"I know Robert, it is hard to believe. But it is real. My heart ached for you when your tragedy struck and I saw all the happiness leave you. So I sent one of my special elves to help you find that Christmas Spirit again and as usual he did a magnificent job."

Santa waved his hand and silver sparkles fell from his hand as they settled over Kieran. He began to change a little before their eyes. His ears grew pointed and his eyes slanted a little bit. His hair seemed to shine like pure gold and his eyes seemed to have a slight glow to them. He still looked like Kieran, but even more beautiful. He smiled at the three before him. He walked over and pulled them to their feet. He reached up and put his hands on each side of Robert's face and pulled his head down so that he could give him a gentle kiss. He repeated it for each of the boys.

He placed his hand on Robert's chest. "Robert, I wish you a long, wonderful and loving life with your two sons. They will make you proud, I assure you. Show them love and it will be returned, ten…a hundred times, over the years. You will not regret taking a chance on a boy that you found by the museum steps. You have my blessings."

Robert felt a sudden surge of love entering his heart which brought him to tears. Kieran looked up at him with his beautiful smile and reached into his coat. He pulled out a thick envelope that he handed to Robert.

"This is my Christmas gift to you."

Kieran stepped back to Santa's side. Robert opened the thick envelope and took the papers out to see what they were. When he finished he looked at Kieran.

"How did you do this?"

"Just a little Christmas Magic."

Robert showed the two boys beside him the papers.

"Look boys, you are now my real sons. These are adoption papers, saying that from now on, you are known as Connor Guthrie Stewart and Brendan Murphy Stewart. We're a real family."

The boys went to Kieran and hugged him again before returning to stand beside their new father.

"Now it's time for us to go. Love each other. Take care of each other and you will have a wonderful life. There is one more thing. Only you three will ever remember me. No one else will ever know that I was here. Remember me, as I will remember you."

"Will we ever see you again?"

Kieran smiled. "You never know, perhaps someday. Goodbye. I love you all. From this point forward you will always have a better Christmas."

"Goodbye my son. You will always have a place in my heart."

Santa smiled at them and then with a wave of his hand the two of them disappeared in golden sparkles that flew up the chimney. The three of them went to the window and looked outside to see snow falling. They did not feel tired so they sat down on the settee in the room and looked at the fire. Robert held his two sons close as they watched the fire. Faintly in the distance, they thought they heard some jingling and maybe a laugh. Soon the three of them fell asleep cuddled up together dreaming wonderful dreams. That is where Gordon found them the next morning. He gave Robert a gentle shake.


Robert blinked his eyes a little and looked around before focusing on Gordon.

"Good morning Gordon. Merry Christmas."

"Merry Christmas, sir. Did you sleep here all night sir?"

"No, I woke up during the night and couldn't get back to sleep. So I came down here and started a fire. I guess these two couldn't sleep either so they joined me. It looks like we finally fell asleep."

He looked around and saw the light coming from the windows. There was snow covering the ground everywhere. He turned to his sons and gave them a gentle shake. "Time to get up boys. It's Christmas Day."

The boys began to stir and rubbed the sleep from their eyes. They looked around and remembered what had happened. They looked at the tree that had presents all around it.

"Gordon, please have the staff join us this morning. Could you have Martha make some hot chocolate for the boys and I think I'll have some as well."

"Very good, sir."

Gordon left and Robert smiled as he watched the boys examine the presents under the tree.


He looked at Brendan.

"Yes son."

"Come hae a look at this."

Robert got up from the settee and walked over to where Brendan was standing next to the tree. Connor joined them as well. Hanging on the tree was a finely detailed glass ornament. It was of Santa's sleigh and sitting in the back looking out toward them was an elf with a big smile that made his face light up and with a hand raised in a wave. Robert gathered his two sons to his side and they shared a special smile between them. They knew Kieran would always be watching over them at Christmas time.

Merry Christmas

I want to thank all those who have read my stories over the years and wish you all the best of holidays and a wonderful new year. I have enjoyed all of the emails I've gotten from fans around the world. Thank you to Cynaira, my main editor for all her work and to David of D&B for all that you did as my editor before he left us, you will be missed.

The inspiration for this story came to me after listening to the song, Isle of Hope, Isle of Tears. Many people have sung this, but the one I heard was by Celtic Thunder. It is a beautiful song and it was what inspired me to write this Christmas Story. I have listened to it many times, but this time, it became a story. I hope you enjoy it.