Mr. Treanchard smiled his most polite and apologetic smile to the classroom.

It did not seem to have the effect he was aiming for. 

The class of 7b had just watched with rapt attention as Miss Langland lit the first advent candle . When she turned to look upon the class class the joyfull smile froze on her face one of puzzlement as she noticed Mr. Treanchard standing there in the middle of the children seated on the classroom floor.

One or two faces were raised, puzzled looks on their faces, no longer attentive to the traditional lighting of the advent candles. The wooden, holly decorated wreath now with its solitary lit and three yet to be lit candles sat on her desk.

Red and gold candles in an ancient wooden wreath that ever year was pulled out along with various other decorations dusted down and somehow made the classroom a brighter place.

Mr. Treanchard raised his hat and coughed a gesture intended to clear his throat.

The still smoking match fell from her fingers, the children gasped, more than one got up to stand with and hide behind Miss Langland.

Mr. Treanchard looked about him and noticed, clever man than he was, the slowly beginning to tear and whimper children (and teacher).

He went to raise his hat again, heard the sharp intake of numerous breaths, looked at the suddenly shut tight eyes and thought that he might best leave it on.

‘I am terribly sorry!’ He said as softly and as gently as he could, ‘but I have always enjoyed this time of year. Especially the lighting of the candles. Please,’ he looked earnestly into the eyes that were still open, ‘please, do forgive me. It was not my intention to cause any upset.’

He cast he face downward and his face was full of sadness. 

As quickly and as silently as he had appeared so he was gone.

At least two children clapped and remarked with wows and other exclamations what a meet trick that was and would Miss Treanchard bring the funny man with the detachable head back.

Her voice was a high pitched sqweak and all it could say was ‘Class dismissed!’

In the staff room surrounded by the other teachers she recounted what had occurred. The headmistress, Mrs Ottershaw, a normally stern faced old maid handed her a strong coffee (with added pick me up kept normally in a bottle labelled medical sherry in the bottom left hand draw of her desk), a look of regret and angst held in her eyes.

‘My dear, I am dreadfully sorry! It simply slipped my mind that this, being your first year with us, that I should have warned you. In that particular class room we do not under any circumstances light the candles at advent. How foolish of me.’

Around the room teachers nodded full of sympathy at the poor figure wrapped in a blanket sitting hunched on the overstuffed couch coffee cup shaking in trembling hands clattering against her teeth as she tried to drink.

‘Could have been worse I suppose?’ Pipped up Gillian Hammerschmite the gym mistress, ‘He’s normally worse when you light the second candle!’

The squeak and sound of coffee cup breaking on the floor happen almost simultaneously.