It was the day after Christmas when Jack broke the window pane. He was playing with his fine new ball that Santa Claus had brought him, and he had just said to himself, as he tossed it up, "This time it will go as high as the house top," when, crash the ball went right into the little window and the glass came shivering down.
The little window was in Jack's own room. He could lie in bed at night and see the twinkling stars and the shining moon through its bright panes, and every morning the sunbeams came streaming in to fill the room with golden light. There were four panes of glass, each one as clear as crystal, and not one had ever been broken before that Jack could remember.
The north wind that had been singing all day in the tree tops hurried into the house through the broken glass. It rattled the window and slammed the door and made such a stir in the little boy's room that his mother went in to see what was the matter.
"Dear me, dear me!" she said when she saw the broken window pane, and she made haste to sweep up the broken bits of glass and to fasten a blanket across the window.
"It would never do to have the north wind in the house on a day like this, she said as she closed the door and went back to her work. She was still talking about it when Jack came in from the yard.
"Of all the days in the year for such a thing to have happened," she said to the maid. "But I have fastened a blanket across the window, and that will keep the wind out till we can get a new glass."
She did not ask Jack any questions, though, and he did not say a word. He sat down behind the stove and listened to the north wind singing outside, "Ooooooo!
"Who broke the little window, who?
I know and so do you;"
that is what it seemed to say.
He did not like to hear it, so by and by
he got up and went out to the barn where
the hired man was mending the harness.
The hired man was singing
"Yankee Doodle went to town
Upon a little pony,
He stuck a feather in his cap
And called it Macaroni."
"Did I ever tell you about the panther that I saw when I was about your size?" he said when he saw Jack.
The hired man knew the nicest stories. They always were about bears, or squirrels, or panthers, but this day Jack did not care to listen. "Did you ever break a window?" he asked as soon as the story was ended.
"I don't know that I ever did," said the hired man, "Did you?" but somebody called Jack and he went out without answering.
The little boy who lived next door was calling. "If you will come over here I will show you my soldiers," he said. "I got them yesterday, and they are made of wood. Go ask your Mama if you may come."
But Jack did not feel like visiting. He went into the house again and up the stairs to his own room. The blanket was across the window just as his mother had said, and the room was as dark. It did not look like the same room that he had left only a little while before, even though his sled and his top and his new Christmas bank were there just where he had put them when he ran out to play with his ball. The ball was there too, lying under the bed where it had rolled when it came through the window, but Jack did not look for it. There was a lump in his throat and an ache in his heart, and he lay down on the bed and hid his face in the pillow.
He lay there so long that he fell asleep, and when he waked up his mother was in the room. It was growing late and she had a lighted candle in her hand that made the whole room bright.
"What was my little boy doing up here in the dark by himself?" she asked.
"Oh, mother, mother," cried Jack, "it
was I who broke the window pane.
"Oh, mother, mother," cried Jack, "it was I who broke the window pane."