Home > A Texas Christmas Carol

A Texas Christmas Carol
Author: Karen Witemeyer





“IT’S A FOOL’S ERRAND, I tell you.”

Felicity Wiggins shrugged as she collected the list of needy families from last year’s Christmas Basket Committee chairwoman. “Marching around Jericho for seven days probably felt like a fool’s errand to the Israelites too, but their persistence paid off. The walls eventually fell.”

Margaret Talley made a clucking noise as she closed the storage closet on the dozen oversized market baskets that had just been delivered for their congregation’s annual community project. “Yes, well, the Israelites had the captain of the Lord’s army giving them instructions. So unless you have an angel directing you, I’d recommend harkening unto the words of our Savior instead, and cast not your pearls before swine.”

“Don’t worry,” Felicity said with a soft chuckle, “I won’t let Mr. Beazer trample over me. My backbone is strong enough to withstand a few snaps and growls.”

Margaret headed toward the stairs leading out of the church basement, tossing a frown over her shoulder. “It’s your time, I suppose. If you choose to waste it, that’s your prerogative. Just don’t say I didn’t warn you. Evan Beazer might be the wealthiest man in town, but he’s a Scrooge of the worst order. Not only does he refuse to donate to any of our causes, but he insults anyone with the temerity to approach him.” She paused at the top of the stairway and braced a hand against the wall as she turned to face Felicity. “He called me a blood-sucking leech and threatened to have me brought up on trespassing charges should I ever darken his door again.” Margaret, her face usually placid and lovely, scrunched her nose as if the memory were so rancid, she could smell it. “The gall of him. He might dutifully leave his tithe in the collection plate every Sunday to keep his conscience clean, but he refuses to donate so much as a penny to any cause beyond that obligation, no matter how worthy. He’s a tight-fisted, coldhearted man. Completely void of compassion. Why, you could wring him like a dishrag, and not a single drop of Christian charity would fall out. His soul is as dry as a bone.”

Mrs. Talley was a dynamo when it came to getting things done and a blessing to any committee she served upon, but she had definite opinions about how things should go and didn’t react well when thwarted.

Felicity patted her arm. “There is nothing the least bit leech-like about you. You probably just caught him on a bad day.”

The deacon’s wife arched a brow. “Every day is a bad day for Evan Beazer.”

Not every day. Felicity ducked her head, recalling one day in particular when Mr. Beazer had been in rare, heroic form.

Pushing the distracting thought aside, Felicity winked at her friend as she marched past. “I recognize the challenge he presents, but I’m determined to try anyway. With the passing of dear Mrs. Humbolt this year, our donation total is down by a third. I can suffer through a few insults if it means more shoes and winter coats for the children. Besides, forewarned is forearmed. Thanks to you, I know what kind of reception to expect, so I can plan accordingly. And, believe it or not, I can be rather devious when I put my mind to it.”

“You? Devious?” Margaret shook her head, a huff of a laugh escaping. “Felicity, you don’t have a dishonest bone in your body.”

“Oh, I don’t plan any trickery,” Felicity said, turning to face Margaret while continuing to walk backward down the hall to the main sanctuary. “In fact, my strategy comes straight from scripture itself.”


Felicity nodded, a grin spreading across her face. “Remember the parable Jesus told in Luke 11 about the man who kept knocking on his neighbor’s door in the middle of the night, asking for bread? The neighbor kept trying to turn him away, but the man persisted, and eventually he got his bread. I plan to employ the same technique.” Mischief swirled in her belly, stirring up an excitement she couldn’t quite contain. “I’m going to pester him into cooperation.”

Margaret let out a full laugh. “If anyone can do it, it’s you.”

Felicity prayed she was right. Not just for the children’s sakes, but for Mr. Beazer himself. He never smiled. How awful it must be to be so miserable. She couldn’t imagine a world void of happiness. But then, she’d been blessed with a cheerful family who laughed and teased and actively looked for reasons to celebrate. Mr. Beazer had no one meaningful in his life beyond a handful of local staff and a conglomeration of distant employees.

He needed a strong dose of joy in his life, and she was prepared to hold his nose and force a spoonful of medicinal Christmas cheer down his throat, if necessary.


A timid tap sounded against the doorframe, followed by the timid voice of Evan Beazer’s housekeeper. “Sorry to interrupt, sir—”

“Then don’t.” Evan didn’t bother to look up from the stock report he was scrutinizing.

Could the woman not follow the most basic of instructions? He was not to be disturbed while in his study. Ever. The concept couldn’t be more simplistic. Yet here she was, disturbing him.

Mrs. Bell was his third housekeeper in the five years he’d lived here. A widow with children to support, she’d stuck it out the longest, going on two and a half years now. She needed the work badly enough to endure his idiosyncrasies, and he needed someone to cook and clean badly enough to endure her failings. To a point. Today’s infraction veered dangerously near the line.

“There’s a young woman at the door, sir,” Mrs. Bell persisted, “and she—”

Evan slapped the folded newspaper atop his mahogany desk and was slightly mollified when the housekeeper startled and dropped her sentence with a gasp. He didn’t want an explanation. He wanted silence.

“Send whoever it is away,” he ordered. “You know I don’t accept callers unless they are business associates. And even you must recognize that I don’t do business with young women.”

Mrs. Bell bristled at his poorly veiled insult of her intelligence, and one of her hands found its way to her hip. “I tried to send her away, sir, but she refuses to leave.”

He waved her off with a brush of his hand. “Slam the door in her face. That should rid us of her.”

“Tried that.” Mrs. Bell looked far too smug imparting that bit of news. “Even threatened charges of trespassing, but nothing budges her. She promised to continue knocking until you come to the door.”

“Bah! Give her five minutes. She’ll weary of the game.”

His housekeeper raised a brow. “I’ve given her twenty. She’s still at it.”

Still at it? After twenty minutes?

“She’s taken to beating out song rhythms on the door. At least I think they’re song rhythms. Hard to tell with no melody. But either way, they’re driving me batty.”

“Not a far drive,” Evan muttered under his breath.

Mrs. Bell narrowed her eyes, both hands now resting firmly on her hips. “I hope you’re in the mood for raw bread dough and half-cooked chicken for supper, then, ’cause I’ve reached my limit. If that dreadful knocking doesn’t stop in the next two minutes, I’m taking the rest of the day off.”

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