It is easy, boy, to believe in the big miracles. It is the small ones that give us so much trouble."" As insight offered by Murdo MacMunn, the Wild Man of Glen Erskine, the idea seems somewhat dubious to young Jamie who believes in God. But Jamie has already amended his attitude toward Murdo, the town drunkard, because he sees the man has a way with ""wild"" animals. Mourning his sheep dog Rab, Jamie is distracted by caring for the otter, fox cub, hamster, jackdaw, et al.- while Murdo spends a month in jail for drinking. Later he decides God is going to give him Rab back for Christmas, or at least a dog as good as Rab, and his hopes build up to Christmas morning. Murdo and Jamie have discussed Lazarus and the sudden return of the trout to the local stream, each convinced of his own ""reasons"" for such happenings. Even so, the ""miracle"" of Christmas morning is complex, and what will be just right for some readers may seem a trifle suspicious to others: there is a puppy for Jamie who knows that Murdo rather than God provided, but the giving also signals a transformation in Murdo that the boy's uncommon feeling has effected. The characters are overdrawn (widower wild man, lonely orphan living with tough-talking, miserly female) but the romantic overtone has pull even for those who, like nonbelieving Murdo MacMunn, ""believe in other things.