In a foreword, the author tells of a night in 1855 Devon, England, when footprints later identified as those of long-tail mice were found in the snow and attributed to the devil. Her story features stingy, rich Barnabas Beane, whose refusal to share his food and fire with John the orphan is met with John's ""Then the devil take you, Barnabas Beane!"" Next come the mysterious footprints around Beane's house, which frighten the miser into asking John's help. The orphan, not stingy himself, advises Beane to distribute his gold and extra food among the villagers, and then to open his house to them. The laughter of Beane and his guests scares away the long-tail mouse, ""and the footprints never came back."" It's a good-natured joke but not an uproarious one. And although Burgess' cross-hatched black-and-white drawings give Beane and John and especially the party guests a comical air, the pictures are repetitious, almost every one of them showing Beane alone or Beane conversing with John. Perhaps this is because Christian's anecdote doesn't give an illustrator much to illustrate.