|Antje asked once more when it would begin, but before Mother could answer, a lot of things happened all at once. Upstairs there was a stomping of feet.
"They're coming," said Grandma in a hushed voice.
There was banging on the windows, and the door bell rang loud and long.
Mother pushed the children towards the fireplace. "You don't have to be afraid. Better sing for Saint and Pete, close to the chimney, so they can hear you well."
While they were singing their favourite song, the door opened and a black hand threw candy and "pepernoten" into the room.
That was too much for the children. They crawled on the floor to find the goodies, under the table, under the sofa, under the piano.
And then came the voice of Daddy from the hall: "Jan, Antje, Mother, Grandma, come and look!"
The front door was wide open. On the porch stood a basket full of parcels. St. Nicholas and Black Peter were nowhere in sight. The children shouted "Thank you St. Nicholas" into the black night, and rushed back into the house to unwrap the gifts.
Jan blinked his eyes. No dog! Nothing moved in the basket.
Daddy handed out the presents. For Grandma, for mother, a book, for Antje, a doll, the one with the soft curls. With almost every gift came a poem, usually a funny one that was read out loud.
But Jan didn't hear a thing. No pup. no woolly bundle.
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