t was December 1884 and 10-year-old Elizabeth Conway was walking home from school with her younger sister, Clara. They were hurrying along the busy Brainerd streets because they just had to see the Christmas window at Hinkley’s General Store. They reached their destination breathless. There were many people gazing at the beautiful display, but the girls managed to squeeze in to take a look. There were so many wonderful toys in the window, but Elizabeth was staring at the most beautiful sight she had ever seen — a porcelain doll. Lovely blond ringlets fell to the doll’s shoulders and her painted blue eyes seemed to sparkle.
“That little lady is from Paris,” said a voice inside the store.
The girls looked up to see Mr. Hinkley beckoning them inside his store. They followed him shyly inside. Mr. Hinkley then kneeled to their height and said, “I have to show you something.” The grey-haired shop owner then got out a trunk with brass handles and carefully opened it. Inside was what seemed like hundreds of pretty outfits for the doll. Elizabeth had never had such a desire to own something as she did right at that very moment. Something so grand must cost a fortune.
“How much does she cost, Mr. Hinkley?”
“She is $25. But I might give this special doll to a worth girl,” said Mr. Hinkley smiling. The girls knew that they could not afford this doll. They settled on some penny candy and said good-bye to Mr. Hinkley.
Elizabeth and Clara lived on a small farm with their parents and older brother, Jack. As the girls hurried inside the home, Ma was at the stove preparing Christmas dinner. By the time Pa and Jack came in, the girls had finished their homework and the table was set for dinner.
“Pa, I saw the most beautiful doll at Hinkley’s today,” said Elizabeth during dinner.
“Must be nice,” Pa said without looking up from his plate.
“Do you think I might get it for Christmas? I would take good care of it.” She saw the sad look on her father’s face and knew that he could not afford the doll.
The dinner was now cleared and the children were nibbling on gingerbread as Ma hung the stockings. She turned as the last stocking was hung saying, “Children, you ought to go to bed now if you want Santa Claus to come.”
The children hurried up the ladders to the loft where their beds were. Now in their night clothes, the children said their prayers and went to bed. They all high hopes for Christmas surprises.
At the first sign of daylight on Christmas morning, the kids rushed to their stockings and began opening their presents. Elizabeth then stood back to look everything over. Among all the gifts, she did not see the doll. She felt sad, but thankful for the gifts she could receive. At that moment, there was a knock on the door.
“I’ll get it,” yelled Elizabeth, as she put on her shawl and opened the door. The girl did not see anyone. Looking down, she saw a package addressed to her. She opened it and gasped when she saw its contents. Inside the package were the doll and trunk. Elizabeth happily picked up her new gift. Before she went back inside though, she hugged her new doll and whispered, “Thank you, Mr. Hinkley.”