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V AISER WILHELM, stern ruler And thousands of the kinderen of the
of the German Empire, sat in Empire who were eagerly watching for lonely state in his great palace on the Weinachtsman would find their
Unter den Linden, and pondered Christmas tree empty of presents! It over troublesome affairs of international should not be. The children of his Emdiplomacy. How had his interference in pire should not have their unbounded Morocco been taken by the other Euro- faith in Kriss Kringle blasted by a little pean powers? How long would the bal- congestion in the Postoffice Department. ance of power be preserved in the Far Who was responsible for this state of East? What did England mean by build- things ? Couldn't he get help enough to ing all those huge warships ?
deliver the mail? The Christmas mail As he was weighing great affairs of should be delivered, and delivered the state, he overheard a chance word, drop- day before Christmas, if the imperial ped by one of his courtiers, to the effect troops themselves had to do the work. that the Berlin Postoffice was swamped Thus went forth the imperial mandate with the Christmas irail, and was utterly from the Kaiser—the King—who could unable to handle the unprecedented ava- interrupt the whole machinery of his lanche of letters and presents which came State Department, and make time to see pouring in. Hastily he dismissed from that his subjects should not be disaphis mind all thought of Germany's mili- pointed in their plans to spend a merry tary and commercial supremacy, and Christmas. Here was the Kaiser playturned the tremendous energy of his ing the role of Santa Claus, and a right mind to the solution of this more press- willing St. Nick he made! ing problem.
So it came about that last year the EmWhat! The Christmas presents which peror's soldiers turned mail carriers, and were in hand then could not be all de- delivered all the Christmas mail in the livered before a week after Christmas! Berlin Postoffice before Christmas Day. was only too ready to respond, and told how he had been delivering Christmas presents all day to the farmers on his run. At every stop he had been made welcome and offered a cup of good applejack and given a present as a reward for his fidelity during the year. Mrs. Jim's little girl gave him her pet pig, and young Jenkins from the city had given him a pair of store gloves. And old man Hotchkiss had act
ually loosened up enough to PosTMAN ON SKIS IN THURINGIAN FOREST, GERMANY.
offer him a glass of his
favorite cider. But, best And the soldiers emulated old Santa him- of all was a present he had not self in the willingness with which they brought with him; and that was a whole went about the task. A battalion of in- load of hay from Squire Burgess. And fantry from the Berlin Garrison unloaded the shepherd pup and the lambs and other the mail cars at the railway stations, es- animals all came from the people along corted the sacks to the General Postoffice, his route. But the guinea pig! Oh, that unpacked the bags, helped the delivery came from the little old Frenchman down wagons along Unter den Linden, the in the hollow, who couldn't speak EngFriederich Strasse, and the residential lish. So the story of the Rural Free Destreets, and even assisted the mailmen in livery in America was told in a word, and delivering the letters.
the hearty way in which the American Tire United States Rural Free Delivery farmer enters into the Christmas spirit Carrier No. 14, as he was known on the was pictured as it is found all over the official register, slowed up in front of the United States. town postoffice. It was Christmas Day, In Switzerland and the remote parts of and a large crowd of loafers were hang- Germany, the mail carrier faces unexing around town ready to mix in with the pected hardships and dangers to deliver festivities if anyone started a scrap. Cries his load of presents in time for the gay of "Hello Si, where did you get the menagerie?" "Well, Old Man, I see you're rooting for yourself nowadays,” and “When are you going to take out a circus license, Si?" greeted him in a chorus as he got out of his rig. But Silas Roeder simply chuckled to himself over a good day's work, and, gathering up his mail sacks, passed into the general store, which served for a postoffice as well. The crowd of farm hands in front of the store gathered around the sleigh and promptly questioned Silas
CARRYING THE MAIL ON THE PRUSSIAN-AUSTRIAN FRONTIER. when he came out. Silas
A scene in the Riesen-Gebirge mountains.
festivities. There he travels through near-by hill, one can often hear the mountains and forests, where snow, ice, cheery yodeling of some mailman as he and uncertain roads, steep inclines, and strikes out on his snowshoes for the next roaming packs of wolves combine to give station. His pay is not increased at this real danger to his task. And when the season, but he receives many a welcome weather is milder he is scarcely better treat as he goes his rounds. off, for then there is mud and slush The mail-carrying Santa must be his through which he must climb the hills; own reindeer in the Austrian Tyrol. The the rivers run high and are flooded with mountains are so steep in that section of ice; and oftentimes snowslides come tear- the country, that the merry postman must ing down the mountain during the thaw, drag his load behind him on a small sled. and blockade the roads. Nightfall comes In the country called “Spreewald,” near
quickly, too, in these countries, and in the Berlin, the sled is discarded for the leathmiddle of December it gets quite dark byern pouch, and the postman travels on four o'clock in the afternoon. The post- skates. The Spreewald is a great stretch man's stations are far apart, and at times of country which is always under water he has to seek what shelter he can secure in summer, and snow and ice in winter. from the driving snow, by crouching un- When the freezing weather comes, the der the overhanging rocks. Very seldom, children must skate to school, and the indeed, does he reach the end of his run farmers take their produce to market in before nignt sets in, and in the early sleighs. Men go to business on skates ; morning he must up and away again on whole families, from the little tots to the the return trip, laden with outgoing mail. old folks, go visiting or to church on In the Thuringiar forest of Germany skates; and the lady of the house, as well, the carrier meets with a combination of must do her bargain-hunting on runners. all these terrors, for he has both woods Delivering mail on skates is not an unand mountains to traverse, snow, ice, and pleasant job, and the mailmen along the swollen rivers to face, wild boars and Spreewald seem to take a real pleasure packs of wolves to combat.
in their work. In Switzerlar!, the pasTrue to the tradition of old Santa, senger stage-coaches take care of the however, these postmen do not take life mail. It is an inspiring sight to see the over-seriously; and from the top of a great, unwieldy coach circling round
some Alpine mountain, swaying behind the steady trot of three horses dextrously guided by a skilful Swiss driver. St. Moritz, Davos, the Engadin, and other famous winter resorts, receive their Christmas mail in these diligences.
In the large cities of the Continent, the Christmas mail carrier is hardly less picturesque than his country cousin. In St. Petersburg, the "Czar's Mail” goes tearing through the streets at a gallop, and the driver cares not who is riding ahead of him, for the Russian mail has
en do their marketing on bicycles, and the mail carrier delivers his letters as the newsboy in America does his morning papers.
I n the United States the postman has every facility given him to help handle the Christmas mail, but the Americans are such a generous people that even then he is usually swamped for a week before and a week after Christmas. The Chicago Postoffice is considered the most representative station in the United States, because in that city the nationali
the right of way, just as the United ties are grouped in towns of their own, States mail has in America. The mail- as it were, and probably every nationality sleigh drivers of St. Petersburg are very in the world is represented by its little jealous of their rights, and will not yield clan in some part of the city. The posttheir privilege to anyone. They go dash- master at Chicago finds that the Christing through the Nevskoi Prospekt, lash- mas rush of mail is pretty well distribing their teams of three sturdy Orloffs uted over the entire city, everyone seeminto a gallop and making the carriages of ing to participate in the holiday greetthe aristocrats get out of their way. The ings. The increase of Christmas mail mail carriers are a privileged class, and over the normal amount handled, was with true Russian spirit they lash their about 8,300,000 letters during the two horses with long, cruel-looking thongs. weeks, one before and one after ChristBut the horses seem accustomed to it and mas. to enjoy the gallops. In Copenhagen the Although the mail increases about onemail-carrying Santa uses motor-cycles. third during the holidays, the force of The streets are level but sloppy and slip- carriers in the Chicago Postoffice, conpery, and the people find bicycling the sisting of 1,296 men in 1905, was ineasiest method of getting about. There creased by only 242. Thus the carrying is probably no city in the world in which force is increased about one-sixth, while the "two-wheel" is so universally used the mail increases about one-third. But as in the capital of Denmark. The wom- whatever the statistics may be, the city
mail carrier struggling under a load of and thus secures the little remembrances Christmas packages so large as almost to which the people to whom he has faithhide him from view, like the burro of the fully ministered during the whole year Southwest, has the sympathy of all. have ready for “their postman.” In the
But the regular carrier wants to deliver United States the mail carrier usually all the Christmas mail himself, and he serves about 27/2 years as a “sub." Durwillingly works much harder at that time, ing his first year as a regular, he receives without extra pay from the Government. $600; the second, $800; and at the beWhen extras are put on an old carrier's ginning of the third year, his pay is inbeat, he simply has the new man route creased to $1,000. and bring the mail to him at certain During the Christmas rush, every kind points in his territory, so that the regular of conveyance is brought into service to carrier does all the delivering himself, help the carrier. Sometimes the mailman