A man was looking for a young illustrator named Paley in West 'Teenth Street and knocked on the door of a furnished room house. The door was opened by a stout landlady named Mrs. Kannon, who had a suspicious and melancholic demeanor.
After inquiring about Paley, the man was told that there was no such person living there. He decided to try the house next door, only to find the same landlady answering the door. Confused and frightened, he left the area.
The door opened; and there stood the same woman.
Later, he learned that Mrs. Kannon leased three adjoining houses and answered the doorbells for all of them. One of her tenants was a young man named Harry Stickney, who worked in a camera store and lived in a small room in one of the houses.
Stickney was a lonely young man with few friends and acquaintances, earning a meager salary.
On Christmas Eve, Stickney found himself with only fifty cents in his pocket. He couldn't accept charity, borrow money, or expect an invitation to dinner. He rang the doorbell of his house, forgetting his latchkey, and was greeted by Mrs. Kannon. As he entered, he wondered what Christmas would bring for someone like him, who seemed to be left behind by the festivities and joy of the season.