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[272] man pays the bills; and it is to be remembered, moreover, that the whole position is a confidential one, and involves sacred secrets in every family. Much of it would be done, very likely, with closed doors, conspiring with Bessie to surprise mamma, and again with mamma to astonish Bessie. The Santa Claus agent should therefore be a woman, and, if possible, one well known in other ways to the household, in order to win entire confidence, and to keep above all suspicion of being unduly under the influence of some particular dealer. If she does her work well, she will soon have influence for herself with all dealers, going straight to headquarters with that assured precedence possessed by the stewardess on a steamboat, who quietly walks into the clerk's office and sweeps off the very last state-room before the enraged eyes of a whole line of men, who are vainly cooling their boot-heels on the windy deck outside. She will be a sort of embodied power — a veritable Parnell of the Christmas trade, knowing that both dealers and customers must conciliate her at last. Indeed, the only danger is lest she become too powerful, and be a despot; in which case she too must be dethroned, and some new substitute inaugurated.

Meanwhile, who would not welcome the Santa Claus agent? She will be sent for, let us suppose,

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