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– ON CHRISTMAS –

that expenditure which in these days of the high cost of living it is always so pleasant to avoid.

In a month from now it will be starting out on its travels again, but on a different route, for I am sending it to a friend in Australia, whither, I feel sure, it has never yet penetrated.

The question, ‘What becomes of the Christmas presents?’, is one which has long vexed thinking men. Every year a tidal wave of incredibly useless junk bursts upon the metropolis, and somehow or other it is disposed of long before the first mosquito steps down to the New Jersey shore and hails the Twentythird Street ferry. A proportion of this, no doubt, is kept working after the manner of my Smoker’s Ideal Companion; but the vast majority of Christmas presents simply disappear. My own theory is that they are sold back to the shops, whence they emerge next year in another incarnation.

It is a known fact, I believe, that every large store in a big city retains a special staff of skilled workmen whose sole duty it is to transform old Christmas presents into new Christmas presents of a different species.

They are like clever cooks who can turn anything into anything. They receive the combined pocketbook, cigar-case, and handy manicure-set, and, with a few deft touches, transform it into the purse with an attachment for milking cows which is to be all the rage in the following season. They take the slightly

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