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James's Mittens
by David He

Winter was on the way and the weather got colder and colder. James, a foreign teacher who had come to work in China, began to get out his warm clothes. Even though he felt warm in his new clothing, his hands still went red with the cold.

One freezing afternoon I dropped in on James. He sat on the sofa, looking very excited. When I approached him, I saw him repairing a new pair of gloves, to be more exact, a pair of mittens. He was trying to get a loose woollen thread tight.

“Hi, what beautiful mittens!” I said. “Where did you get them?”

“From England.” James replied, smiling. “A friend sent them to me.”

“How do you like them?” I joked. “Warm?”

“Very!” he said.

A few days later, I went to see him again. He was in bed, admiring his mittens. “Mr. He, look at my gloves.” he said as he turned them upside down. “Aren’t they beautiful?”

“Sure.” I smiled.

“Good.” James responded in a satisfying way. “As beautiful as her heart.” Then he kissed them.

Later one evening I went to tell him that there was a parcel for him. He was on the phone, speaking excitedly.

“Who are you speaking to now?” I asked James.

“Annie, my friend.” he replied, with the phone away from his mouth.

“Is she the girl whose picture you showed me when you came here?” I asked him.


“Is she the girl who sent you the mittens?” I further asked.

“Yes.” James looked very excited. “Would you like to speak to her?”

“Yes, I will.” I really didn’t want to lose the chance to practice my spoken English.

“Hello, Mr. He.” said Annie as soon as the receiver touched my ear. “Nice to meet you.”

“Nice to meet you too.” I responded. “What good mittens you knitted!”

“Thank you.” she replied.

“ What made you want to knit the mittens for James ?” I asked.

“As you know, we are good friends.” she explained. “I know him very well. When winter comes, the first thing he will buy are gloves.”

“So you remembered to buy the mittens and sent them to James?” I asked.

“Yes, I remembered that he would need gloves so I learned how to knit them for him.” Annie tried to make it clear. “Since I didn’t know how to knit fingers, I knitted them into mittens.”

“They are even warmer!” James put in.

Another few days later, I went to see James again. He was sitting there, quiet.

“Hi, James.” I shouted at him. “You look a bit glum today.”

“I am sorry, Mr. He, but I lost my gloves today.” He raised his eyes.

“What?” I was a little surprised. “The ones Annie knitted for you?”

“Yes.” he replied very slowly.

“How did that happen?” I really wanted to know the reason.

“It happened like this.” James began to tell the story. “This morning I cycled along the river. Soon an old bridge came into my sight. I decided to take a picture of it. So I had to take one of my mittens off to load the film. After that, I could not find it any where. I felt very upset. I returned with only one glove on.”

“I am sorry to hear that, James.” I tried to make him forget it. “One is better than none. You could keep it as a souvenir.”

“But now I don’t have any, Mr. He.” he continued.

“Why?” I asked puzzled. “You said you had lost only one.”

“Yes, you are right,” he explained, “but halfway back I changed my mind.”
“What did you do then?” I became more interested.

“Suddenly I remembered that one glove would not do any good. So I went back to the bridge and put the other there so that someone could keep both hands warm if he should find the whole pair.” said James.

“Good idea!” I praised him. “But what would Annie think?”

“If she forgives me,” James smiled, “she will support me.”

Now he was back, tired and thirsty, he poured himself a glass of water and then sat down to drink it. Without thinking, he put his hand into his pocket. “Oh, God!” he screamed. “What is that?”