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Pride And Presents
by Hazel Girolamo

December 23rd 1889  Little Withering on Wye, England
Christmas festivities at the local village church took on a less than festive air yesterday when Father Christmas, after stumbling over a suspected deliberately placed foot, believed to belong to a local urchin, who having already been on the receiving end of a quick thump behind the ear,  can only expect a  lump of coal in his threadbare stocking this year, made Father Christmas lose his grip on his bulging sack. It made a most unusual noise as it landed and out tumbled, not the gaily wrapped presents that the extremely excited impatiently awaiting children were expecting, but a man's body, all trussed up, "Quite like a Christmas turkey" as Father Reed was later overheard saying. The mystery of the man's identity was quickly dispelled when Miss Gwendolyn Murray-Mountbank uttered a piercing shriek that it was her Herbert before fainting into Father Reeds arms.
Dr.FitzHerbert Lyons-Byron-Symon-Jones recently seen out walking with said Miss Murray-Mountbank amid rumours their betrothal was to be announced at Gwendolyn's 21st birthday celebrations to be held at Mountebank Manor next month. It was expected to be among the social highlights of the new year with rumblings of royalty being among the invited guests by Miss Murray-Marchbanks mother, Dowager Duchess Majolica  Mainwaring-Murray-Mountbank, who refused to confirm or deny.
As Father Reed later admitted when pressed by  the local newspaper reporter who had reluctantly but dutifully resigned himself into attending the nativity festivities, and on his  supposed weekend off, now found himself with an exclusive news scoop  that he fervently hoped would lead  to a promotion over that Nosy Neville No Nose as he privately referred to his rival at the paper just because Neville was the bosses daughters current boyfriend's cousin but after much persistent harassment of Father Reed, that good man finally confessed that he had last seen Herbert a few days previously over a purely private personal matter that he had no intention whatsoever of divulging  to a pushy upstart of a cub reporter or to the readers of his so called illustrious well distributed salacious rag, for which he and his parishioners took very little Withering interest in, at which point the reporter slash photographer took a final snap of the buxom Miss Murray-Mountbank being fanned back to consciousness by Father Reeds cassock.
Miss Gwendolyn declined to comment, however a calling card was discretely pressed into the reporters creased front shirt pocket as she pushed past him to a waiting carriage. The police are baffled and while they say are following several avenues of inquiry. Anybody who can shine a light upon the perplexing problem of the purloined presents, are cordially invited to contact Scotland Yard who hope to have it all wrapped  up by  new year!