Linnea and Mr. Orbit decided that Mrs. Orbit must have dropped off upstairs and they hoped so. They were conspirators now, conspiring how to please and bless Mrs. Orbit, and they hoped she would nap along until the feast they were preparing was on the table. Mr. Orbit did a lot. He kept the fire going, and peeled potatoes and dried the dishes, while Linnea went ahead and worked the miracle. She brought about perfect order in the topsy-turvy kitchen. She made apple pies, raised biscuits, cranberry sauce and never left a dirty dish behind her. At intervals she turned practised Apician eyes upon the pork roast popping and snapping with juice and turning more and more golden brown. She set the table for ten and in the exact center placed that more than decorative piece, the frosted fruitcake.
The dinner would not be ready to sit down to and eat until six-thirty, but at a little after five Mrs. Orbit appeared with the shamed strained eye-swollen miserable look of the man who has crept in the house at broad daylight with his shoes in his hand after having been out all night drinking and squandering his salary and doing God knows what else besides.
“Merry Christmas,” Linnea said with twinkling eyes through the steam of the potatoes. She had just taken the lid off the kettle and was sticking a fork into them to see how much longer they had to cook.Mrs. Orbit’s face worked. She saw, not in detail but panoramically, that electrifying changes had been made in her kitchen. It looked beautiful, it smelled beautiful. Best of all, it was working, perking, running, a going concern. There was light to it, life to it, snap to it. It had a beating heart and a reaching soul. “Merry Christmas,” she said brokenly. Then she put her hands up before her embarrassed face and she bawled.
--From The Peaceable Kingdom