December 14th

Ludwig was deflated; the door-to-door and various searches hadn’t given them a single clue. It was looking more and more likely that an outsider had stolen all the presents and run away with them. Anton sat with him at the kitchen table, trying to console the young man.

“You know kids don’t need many presents, maybe we can manage to get each one of them a little bit and they’d all be happy. Look at those who don’t have anything, it must be hard to see their friends get great presents.”
“I know, but I wanted to organise the perfect Christmas for you,” Ludwig looked at his friend, fighting back his tears.
Anton put an arm around his shoulder and squeezed him tight, when they heard a knock on the door. It was Madeleine.
“I hope I’m not…” she said, when Anton opened the door to her.
“Come in, come in. Such a nice young lady is always welcome. And I’m sure Ludwig would agree with me on that,” he said, leading her into the kitchen, where Ludwig sat, nodding feverishly.

He jumped up to make coffee for the teacher, at which point Anton made his excuses, explaining how he had so much work to do, pensioning, and all. When he left, Gary sneaked into the house, because he was starting to get cold outside. Sometimes he wondered if the ability to talk also brought him other human traits as well, like being weak, especially in cold weather. He made himself comfortable on the rug in front of the fireplace, where Madeleine watched him curiously.

“Aren’t goats fine being outside in the winter? Or at least in a stable?” she asked.
“Normal goats are, yes. Gary is quite special,” Ludwig explained. Gary’s ear twitched up, then he stretched out, stood up and walked over to the young woman and put his head on her leg.
“What a curious being you are,” she said, patting Gary’s head, “and your goat is, too,” smiling at Ludwig.
“And quite a cheeky one he is as well.”

Gary just gave him a wide grin, cuddling up closer to Madeleine.

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