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Beschreibung des Verlags
For two tiny, bewildered people, it was a struggle for survival in a world of toys
It was Christmas Eve. Family men in their cozy bungalows hummed cheerfully as they put the finishing touches on Christmas trees. Men of affairs slapped each other affably on the back and toasted the season in the lounges of exclusive clubs. Merrymakers crowded the public streets and filled the taverns to overflowing. Children caroled gayly in church services. Mothers smiled their secret smiles as they wrapped presents.
And Clyde Hilton worked like a lousy dog in Propper's toyshop.
The funny part of it was, Clyde didn't care. He was as happy as the rest. Twelve hours on his feet today --facing mobs of customers gone frantic with the necessity of making last-minute purchases --that was Clyde's lot, but he was still smiling.
From time to time the redheaded young man grinned and patted the left hand pocket of his suit coat. Deep down inside reposed a little plush-covered box. The box contained an engagement ring.
Clyde fingered it and grinned-- grinned at the girl behind the counter across the aisle.
Gwen Thomas was worth grinning at. A pert, trim, dark-haired girl with milk-white skin and perfectly modeled features-- she had the delicacy of a china doll. "Exquisite" is a somewhat precious word, and yet it exactly described Gwen's miniature-like beauty.
Clyde waited for the moment that he would slip the ring on her dainty finger. This would be a Christmas they'd both remember. To top it off, Old Man
Propper had promised Clyde a raise. He'd winked indulgently at this romance between his two clerks, and the holiday spirit had him in its grip. They'd have a little party after closing-time, and then Clyde would give Gwen the ring and Old Man Propper would say, "Bless you, my children." Just a slice out of Dickens.
Meanwhile, Clyde scribbled furiously in his order book, wrestled with the wrappings of a hundred packages, tangled himself in yards of twine and ribbon, punched the cash-register until his fingers were blistered, and kept up a running fire of sales chatter.
He had just sold a toy train to the fat lady and her husband when he saw the man.
It had been a job, selling this expensive model, but Clyde was something of an expert in the train field and he rejoiced in the opportunity of turning on high-pressure tactics. So he was quite elated, and finished his wrapping with deft fingers.
But he almost dropped the twine when the man came in.
The door opened. The toyshop was crowded, and ordinarily an entering customer couldn't be detected in the throng --but this man was plainly visible.
The man wore a black overcoat with a turned-up collar that reached his chin. He was hatless, and his wiry gray hair stood up in a bushy mop upon his skull.
The man had a great beaked nose, and a curiously red mouth. Despite gray hair, his face was absolutely unlined. Not a wrinkle disturbed the pristine pallor of his long face. It was a perfectly blank background for the blazing intensity of his eyes.
If his hair denoted age and his unlined face indicated youth, then his eyes were--eternal.
They were black, but shining --shining radiantly with a penetrating fire. Two fountains of strength. Clyde saw the eyes before he saw anything else, and the rest of his scrutiny was just incidental. He gaped, fascinated. For some reason a strange fancy occurred to him. During his lifetime, he mused, he must have seen a million pairs of eyes --but never until now had he realized what power the eye could contain. Black, blazing fountains.
There was one other slight excuse for Clyde's interest in the stranger.