The Miracle on 34th Street

The Miracle on 34th Street by A. L. Singer Read Free Book Online

Book: The Miracle on 34th Street by A. L. Singer Read Free Book Online
Authors: A. L. Singer
wasn't a problem! This store is going to stand by Kriss Kringle. If they can prosper with him, they can suffer with him."
    She spun around and stormed out of the room. Shellhammer bolted up from his desk and followed her.
    Dorey wound her way through the hallways, straight toward the ofi~ce of Mr. Cole.
    Shellhammer's eyes popped. There was a board meeting inside. She couldn't—
    Dorey pushed through the big oak doors and walked right in.
    "We must distance ourselves from this scandal—" Mr. Cole was saying. He interrupted himself and glared at Dorey. "Mrs. Walker, we're in conference!"
    But Dorey stepped up to his desk. "I just read your press release and I think you're all a bunch of cowards. You don't deserve to run this store."
    The other businesspeople murmured in protest. "You're entirely out of order!" Cole retorted.
    "We've spent millions telling people we're the store that cares," Dorey went on. "What do we care about? Profit? Ourselves? What about one of our own, who needs us now? We sang his praises. We said he saved the company and our jobs and careers. Now we want to pretend we never knew him!"
    "He's at Bellevue," Cole said. "He's crazy!"
    Before Dorey could reply, Shellhammer spoke up. "Who but a madman would spend his life believing that every man, woman, and child on the face of the earth is worthy of his love and understanding?"
    Dorey turned around in surprise. Shellhammer gave her a friendly but nervous wink.
    Cole's angry expression was softening. "What can I do?" he asked. "The public thinks Kriss is out of his mind. They think he's dangerous."
    "We have to change what they think," Dorey said. "If we stand with Kriss, if we challenge the rumors, if we force the truth, we'll win. We'll save Christmas for Cole's and for everybody. Kriss is going into court with the best attorney in the city—and he's going to prove that Kriss isn't crazy."
    Dorey took a deep breath. Yes, she said it. And it was true. Bryan was the best.
    "I may be thirty years old," she went on, "but today I believe in Santa Claus. How about you, Mr. Cole?"
    Cole looked around the room. Everyone else was nodding.
    He tapped his pencil and sat deep in thought. Finally, with a sigh, he said, "I'm sixty-three. I believe in him."
    Dorey wanted to scream with joy. She glanced at Shellhammer, who was beaming.
    Cole clapped his hands. "All right. Cole's stands with Kriss. Sit down and let's get to work."

December 20, 7:32 A.M.

    5 Days To Christmas
    The new Cole's commercial aired on the morning news. It was simple. Striking. First the Cole's logo, then the words A Message From Our
    Chairman .
    Next, Mr. Cole appeared on the screen.
    "Today was the first time in seventy-five years that there has been no Santa Claus at Cole's," he said. "Why? Because he is about to go before a court of law where he must prove his identity or face detainment in a mental institution. Questionable circumstances and unknown motives have tarnished his reputation. We at Cole's don't believe the rumors. Cole's believes in Santa Claus. We will stand by him. He has done nothing but serve the children and families of New York City—and the world. We invite you to stand with us and ask yourself one simple question: Do you believe in Santa Claus? Thank you and Merry Christmas."
    Immediately Cole's telephone switchboard lit up. Operators frantically took calls. One by one, the people of New York spoke up:
    "I'm Anne Johnson, from the Upper West Side, and I believe."
    "This is Mr. Rodriguez from East 63rd Street, and I believe."

    WE BELIEVE.
    The message appeared across New York City. On an electronic billboard in Times Square. In the windows of apartment houses. On trucks, tollbooths, restaurant windows, office buildings, movie marquees.
    New York City was showing its colors true blue, for Kriss Kringle.
    That Thursday, Kriss Kringle sat in the courtroom next to Bryan, trying to keep his hands from shaking. Curious spectators jammed the gallery seats behind him.
    "You'll

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