is a small town. Not much ever happens in this small Virginia town. The place is
known for the fishing and tall tales. Many tales come from the men of the area.
You see, the majority of the men there make their living on the waters.
One tale, which to this day has
yet to be explained, happened on Christmas Eve of 1872. The men of the Emeline
S, a stately fishing boat, had just returned from their usual daily sea hunt.
The catch of the day netted nothing more than a few dogfish and a few shrimp.
Maybe it had gotten too cold for the oysters this season. The
talk of the day centered around the lousy catch of the day. Dogfish! Now,
who the hell would want a baby shark for Christmas dinner? The men lingered a
while at the Fox Pub and then decided to head home for Christmas.
Louis and Sarah Heath
had lived alone for some time now. Their two sons had grown and moved on. Louis
had the water, and Sarah stayed busy with her church. Their home had once been a
scene of joy and excitement at Christmas in the past. But all seemed to change
as they got older.
A cold wind blew in off the
Atlantic and the sky filled with the obvious snow clouds. Tonight would be a
cold one. Louis went down to his boat house to do a last minute check on his
riggins. Emeline S was his pride and joy. Then, as if an unexpected Nor'easter
had hit the shores, the wind blew the boat house doors open. When it had died
down a little, Louis wiped the dust from his eyes. Standing in the doorway were
three small puppies, shivering and wet from the falling snow.
"Well, what have we
here? Where did you fellows come from?" said Louis. "I
can see you need a place to spend the night." Louis looked around the boat
house until he found an old wooden box. In it he placed some old sail material.
"That ought to get you guys through the night. I'll have the Misses bring
down some grub for you. You look hungry too." Louis closed the doors and
went into the house.
we have company. Have you got any left over stew? he asked.
"What on earth are you
talking about, Louis?" replied Sarah.
"There are three small,
cold, and hungry puppies in the boat house.." Louis almost smiled.
"But where did they come
from?" Sarah asked.
Louis answered softly. "I
have no idea. We'll find out tomorrow. It's becoming a blizzard out there
After they fed the pups, Louis
and Sarah went to bed. It was maybe 2 AM when the first noise woke Sarah. She
sat up in bed and then turned and shook Louis. "Louis! Did you hear that?
Listen!" By now the noise had grown much louder. Louis jumped out of bed
and grabbed the fireplace iron on his way out the door. The noise was coming
from his boat house!
It was the puppies. They were
wrecking the whole place. They had found a box filled with old Christmas
decorations and had strewn them everywhere. Sarah appeared at the doorway to see
Louis shaking his head. "What a mess!"
"Well, maybe they are trying
to tell us something." Sarah said, laughing. "Maybe they think we
should put these pretties up. After all, it is Christmas. Since the boys left,
we don't celebrate Christmas like we used to."
"It's 3 AM!" replied
Louis. "Oh well, alright. I can't sleep now anyway."
They had just finished putting
the last ornament up when they heard a knock at the door. Louis joked and said,
"Now who can that be? I wonder if it's those puppies and they want to see
the decorations ..."
Louis opened the door and there
stood their oldest son, Alonzo, who had not been home in four years. He had
joined the Merchant Ship U.S.S. Olivia and had been away at sea. Louis and Sarah
spent several hours talking with Alonza. They told him about the puppies that
had taken refuge in the boat house. After a while, the three of them headed out
to the boat house to see the puppies.
The sun had started to peek over
the Atlantic and turn the night's snowfall into a glistening blanket. As the
three moved toward the boat house, the sound of horse and carriage broke the
early morning silence. Coming down the lane was their youngest boy, Ivan. As
they all greeted and hugged, Louis mentioned the puppies again. They opened the
wide doors of the boat house but there was no sign of the puppies anywhere. They
boat house was clean. Even the wooden box Louis had put down for them was in
it's original place.
"This is so strange."
"Maybe they were Angel
Puppies!" Sarah suggested. "How else can you explain this?"
All through the day they remarked
about those strange little visiters. At noon, the Annual Christmas pageant began
at the church. The story of Christmas and the birth of Jesus had been told. Then
Louis told the congregation about the puppies. Did anyone have an explanation?
No. No one could provide one. Maybe it was just one of those little miracles God
gives us now and then. Louis and Sarah took the time to help those puppies. In
turn, the puppies gave them back the true meaning of Christmas and a reason to celebrate.
Many years have passed. Louis and
Sarah have long been gone. But every year at Christmas the people of the little
town of Wachapreague show their best effort to decorate and celebrate Christmas.
After all, legend has it, those Christmas puppies will return and pull out your
Christmas decorations anyway!