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Title: In the Yule-Log Glow, Book I - Christmas Tales from 'Round the World
Author: Morris, Harrison S. (Harrison Smith), 1856-1948 [Editor]
Language: English
As this book started as an ASCII text book there are no pictures available.
Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

*** Start of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "In the Yule-Log Glow, Book I - Christmas Tales from 'Round the World" ***

This book is indexed by ISYS Web Indexing system to allow the reader find any word or number within the document.

[Transcribers note: Several original spelling, punctuation and
hyphenation inconsistencies have been rationalised.]

[Illustration: The Yule-log glow]



"Sic as folk tell ower at a winter ingle"



Book I.




Copyright, 1891, by J. B. Lippincott Company.

Printed by J. B. Lippincott Company, Philadelphia.


If, gentle reader, you will step across this threshold, now, as the moon
rises in the keen Christmas air, and will find a place by the ruddy
ingle within-doors, you may hear, if you will, a Babel of voices from
many lands, telling over the adventures of the road and falling into the
good-fellowship of the happy Christmas season.

Here from the north, with his ample furs thrown back, sits the Russian
in friendly talk with a gay little wanderer from Sicilian valleys.
There, with elbow crooked by a foaming tankard, leans the German,
narrating his perils and pleasures to a gallant Frenchman and a
sunbrowned Spaniard who smoke and chatter together as now and then
Mynheer stops for a pull at his pipe.

A Swede, Norwegians, an Englishman or two, and even a happy-go-lucky
American, are clustered about the Yule-log; for the place you have
entered is the common-room of the wide world.

As you slip the latch and take your seat, some traveller calls out: A
Merry Christmas! Another cries: A story, a story! and so they fall to,
each from his own scrip taking forth a native tale,--and so they sit the
midnight out listening and talking in turn; while the good cheer goes
round in endless abundance and laughter and song make interludes for the
varied narratives.


The Three Kings of Cologne

_A modern version of an old English Chronicle._

_By Harrison S. Morris._

The Three Christmas Masses

_From the French of Alphonse Daudet._

_By Harrison S. Morris._

A Russian Christmas Party[A]

_By Count Léon Tolstoi._

Two Christmases

_From the German of Georg Schuster._

A Tale of a Turkey

_By Harrison S. Morris._

A Still Christmas[B]

_By Agnes Repplier._


_From the Norwegian of Björnson._

Christmas in the Desert

_By Matilda Betham Edwards._

[A] By courtesy of Messrs. W. S. Gottsberger & Co.

[B] By courtesy of "The Catholic World."


The Yule-log Glow      Frontispiece.


The Cavalier From France

My Little Sister Mary

_A Tale Spoken by a Graybeard Out of the East._

"Gracious powers! Perhaps you _are_ a hundred years old, now I think of
it! You look more than a hundred. Yes, you may be a thousand years old
for what I know."




(Written by John of Hildesheim in the Fourteenth Century.)

Here followeth the manner and form of seeking and offering; and also of
the burying and translations of the three Holy and Worshipful Kings of
Cologne: Jaspar, Melchior, and Balthazar.

Now when the Children of Israel were gone out of Egypt and had won and
made subject to them Jerusalem and all the land lying about, so that no
man durst set against them in all that country for dread that they had
of them; then was there a little hill called Vaws, which was also called
the Hill of Victory, and on this hill the ward of them of Ind was
ordained and kept by divers sentinels by night and by day against the
Children of Israel, and afterward against the Romans; so that if any
people at any time purposed with strong hand to enter into the country
of the Kingdom of Ind, anon, sentinels of other hills about, through
tokens, warned the keepers on the hill of Vaws. And by night they made a
great fire and by day they made a great smoke, for that hill Vaws
passeth the height of all other hills in all the East. Wherefore, when
any such token was seen, then all manner of men made ready to defend
themselves from the enemy that approached.

Now in the time when Balaam prophesied of the Star that should betoken
the coming of Christ, all the great lords and all the other people of
Ind and in the East desired greatly to see the Star of which he spake,
and gave gifts to the keepers of the hill of Vaws, and moreover hired
them with great rewards, that, if it so were, they saw by day or by
night, far or near, any light or any star in the air other than was seen
beforetime, anon they should show and send them word. And thus was it
that for so long a time the fame of this Star was borne through all the
lands of the East; until, of the name of the hill of Vaws, arose up a
worshipful and a great kindred in Ind, which is called the progeny of
Vaws even unto this day; and there is not a more mighty kindred in all
the kingdoms of the East; for this worshipful kindred came first from
the King's blood that was named Melchior, that offered gold to our Lord,
as ye shall hereafter learn.

In the year of our Lord 1200, when the city of Acon, that in this
country is called Akers, flourished and stood in virtue, joy, and
prosperity, and was inhabited richly with worshipful princes, and
lords, and divers orders of men of religion, and all manner of men of
all nations and tongues, so that there was no city like unto it in
nobility and might; then, because of its great name and of the marvels
that were there, the greatest of birth that were of the progeny of Vaws
came out of Ind unto Acon; and when they saw there all things more
wonderful than in Ind; then, because of delight, they abode there and
made a fair and strong castle for any king or lord. And they brought
with them out of the East many rich and wonderful ornaments and jewels.
And among all other jewels, they brought a diadem of gold arrayed with
precious stones and pearls, and about its edge stood letters of
Chaldaic, and a star made like after the Star that appeared to the Three
Kings of the East when they sought God, with a sign of the cross,
beside. And that diadem was Melchior's, the king of Nubia and of Araby,
that offered gold to the Babe in the manger. And afterward the master of
the Order of Templars received this same diadem of gold and many other
precious jewels; but when that Order was destroyed the diadem and
precious ornaments were lost, and have never been found unto this day.
Wherefore there was great sorrow made in all the country for a long time

But these same princes of Vaws brought with them out of Ind books
written in Hebrew and Chaldaic, concerning the life and deeds of these
three blessed Kings, which books were afterward translated into the
French tongue: and so, from these books, and from hearsay, and sight,
and also from sermons and homilies out of divers other works, the story
here written hath been brought together into one book.

And you shall understand that the old kindred of Vaws beareth always in
its banner, unto this day, a star with a sign of the cross, made after
the same manner as it appeared to the three blessed Kings.

Now it so happened that after Balaam had prophesied of this Star, the
more it was sought for the more its fame increased through the land of
Ind and Chaldee, and all the people desired to see it.

So they ordained twelve of the wisest and greatest clerks of astronomy
that were in all that country about, and gave them great hire to keep
watch upon this hill of Vaws for the Star that was prophesied of Balaam.
And the cause that there were ordained twelve men was, that if one man
died another should be put in his stead; and also that some should keep
watch at one time and some another--nevertheless the people looked not
only after the Star, but after the Man who was betokened by the Star,
the which Man should be Lord of all folk.

And they of Ind and Chaldee who came often into Jerusalem because of
merchandise and also for disport--the which, for the most part, be
learned in astronomy--said that in Ind were many stars in the firmament
that might not be seen by night in Jerusalem; but, specially on this
hill of Vaws in clear weather, were seen many and divers strange stars
that at the foot of the hill were not seen. Yet this hill of Vaws hath
no more breadth than a little chapel is made upon, the which the three
worshipful kings did build of stone and timber. And there be about this
hill many steps upon which men go up to the chapel on high, and also
there grew many good trees and herbs and divers spices all about the
hill--for else men might not well go upon this hill because it is so
high and so narrow. There is also a pillar of stone made above this
chapel, of wondrous height, and in the head of the pillar standeth a
great star, well made of gilt, and which turneth with the wind as a
vane: and through the light of the sun by day, and of the moon by night,
this star gives light a great way about the country. And many other
marvels are spoken of this hill of Vaws, the which were long to tell.

Now when the time of grace was come, that God would have mercy on all
mankind, in which time the Father of Heaven sent down his Son to take
flesh and blood and to be born a man for salvation of all the world: in
that time Octavianus, that was Emperor of Rome, sent out a commandment
that all the people within his empire should be counted and taxed; and
every man went forth from his dwelling-place into his native country.
Then came Joseph up from Nazareth unto Bethlehem the city of David,
because he was of the household and race of King David, and with him
came Mary that was his wife, and also great with child.

And you shall understand that Bethlehem was never of much reputation,
neither a place of great quantity. It hath a good site and good ground,
for there be many caves and dens under the earth thereabout; and it is
distant from Jerusalem but two little miles; and it is but a castle, but
is called a city because King David was born there. And in that town was
sometime a house which belonged to Isai, the father of David, where
David was born and anointed into the kingdom of Israel by Samuel the
prophet. And in this same dwelling was the Son of Heaven born of Mary.

And this same house was at the end of a street that was in that time
called the Covered Street, because, to keep out the great heat and
burning of the sun, this street was canopied above with black cloths
and other things,--for such is the use in that country always. And here
was wont to be great bargaining, or a fair once a week of old clothes;
and specially of trees or timber, by the little house which stood before
a den under the earth, made and shaped like a little cellar, where Isai
and others that dwelt there after him put certain necessaries that
belonged to the household, against the heat of the sun. It is also the
manner in all that country that there be certain houses, the which be
called there _alchan_, that we call hostelries, and in these houses be
mules, horses, asses, and camels always ready, that, if so that any
merchant or any man that travelled by the way, be it far or near, need
any beast for himself, or for his merchandise, then he goeth to such a
house and there he may hire a horse, or what beast that he will, for a
certain price. And when he hath such a beast then he goeth from that
city to another, where to abide and rest him for a time. Then he
dischargeth his beast of his burden, and so sendeth him to a house
called there also _alchan_; and the master of the house giveth his beast
meat, and, when he may, he sendeth it home to the same place that it
came from.

And such a house was, before the birth of Christ, in the place where
Christ was born; but, about the time of the Nativity, that house was all
destroyed, insomuch that there was nothing left but broken walls on
every side, and a little cave under earth, and a little unthrifty house
before the cave: and there men sold bread on the same ground; for it is
the usage in all that country that all the bread that is sold shall be
brought unto a certain place.

Now when Octavianus had sent out a commandment as it is aforesaid, then
went Joseph and Mary riding on an ass, late in the eventide, toward the
city of Bethlehem, and because they came so late, and all places were
occupied with pilgrims and other men, and also because they came in poor
array and went about the city, none would receive them, and specially,
men say, because that Mary, a young woman, sitting upon an ass, heavy
and sorry, and full weary of the way, was near to the time of bearing of
her child. Then Joseph led his wife into this shed that none took keep
of, down into the little dark house, and there our Lord, Jesus Christ,
the same night was born of the Virgin, without any disease or sorrow of
her body, for salvation of all mankind.

And in that house, before the cave of old time, was left a manger of the
length of a fathom, made in the wall; and to that same manger was an ox
of a poor man tied, that none might harbor. And beside that ox Joseph
tied his ass, and in that same manger Mary wrapped her blessed Son in
cloths and laid Him on high before the ass and the ox,--for there was
none other place.

And shepherds were fast by in the same country keeping their sheep in
the night, and an angel of Heaven came and stood beside them with a
great light, wherefore they were in much dread. And the angel said to
them, "Be not afraid, for I tell you a great joy that shall be to all
people, for this day is born to us our Lord, Christ, in the city of
David, and this shall be to you a token: Ye shall find a young child
wrapped in cloths and put in a manger." And then suddenly there came a
great multitude of angels of Heaven praising God, who said: "Joy be to
God on high and peace in earth to men of good will."

Now the place where the angel appeared to the shepherds that night when
Christ was born is but half a mile from Bethlehem, and in that same
place David, when he was a child, fed sheep and kept them from the bear
and the lion.

Some books say that the shepherds in that country, twice in the year,
are wont to keep their sheep in the night, and, therein, times be when
the day and the night are both of one length. And you shall understand
that the land about Bethlehem is all mountainous for the most part, so
that in some places a man shall not well know winter from summer, and in
some places it is right cold, and some it is both winter and summer at
one time, and sometimes on the mountains, in parts of the East, men
shall find snow in the month of August, and that snow is gathered by
them that dwell about, and put in caves, and afterward it is borne to
the market, where the great lords of the country will buy it, and take
it to their houses, and set it in a basin upon their board to make their
drink cold.

In September and October, when the sun cometh a little low in that
country, then seeds and all manner of herbs commonly begin to wax in the
fields, as in this country herbs begin to grow in March and April; also
in some parts of the East they reap corn in April and in March, but most
in May, as in some places the ground is higher, in some places lower;
but beside Bethlehem are many more places of good pasture and of flat
ground than elsewhere: insomuch that at Christmas-tide barley beginneth
to ear and to wax ripe; and then men send thither, from divers
countries, their horses and mules, to make them fat: and that time we
call among us Christmas, they call, in their language, the time of
herbage. And forasmuch as when Christ was born, peace was in all the
world, and betwixt Bethlehem and that place where the angel appeared to
the shepherds was but half a mile and a little way more, and also there
was no great cold thereabout, therefore the shepherds, all that winter
night and day, now in one place, now in another, dwelled there with
their sheep, and so they do yet to this day.

Now when Christ was born of the Virgin Mary for salvation of all
mankind, then His Star, that was prophesied of Balaam and long awaited
and looked for by the twelve astronomers on the hill of Vaws, at that
same night and at that same hour, began to arise in the manner of a sun,
bright shining; and so after, in the form of an eagle, it ascended above
the hill of Vaws. And all that day in highest air it abode without
moving, insomuch that when the sun was most hot and most high there was
no difference in shining betwixt them.

But when the day of the Nativity was passed, the Star ascended up into
the firmament, and it was nothing like to stars that be painted in
divers places, for it had right many long streaks and beams, more
burning and lighter than a brand of fire; and, as an eagle flying and
beating the air with his wings, right so the streaks and beams of the
Star stirred it about. And it had in itself the form and likeness of a
young child, and above him a sign of the holy cross, and a voice was
heard in the Star, saying: "This day is born to us the King of Jews that
folk have awaited, and Lord is of them. Go and seek Him and do Him

Then all the people, both man and woman, of all the country about, when
they saw this wonderful and marvellous Star and also heard the voice out
of the Star, were greatly aghast and had wonder thereof; but yet they
knew well that it was the Star that was prophesied by Balaam, and long
time was desired of all the people in that country.

Now when the three worshipful Kings who in that time reigned in Ind,
Chaldee, and Persia were informed, by the astronomers, of this Star,
they were right glad that they had grace to see the Star in their days.
Wherefore these three worshipful Kings, though each of them was far from
the other, and none knew of the other's purpose, yet in the same hour
the Star appeared to all three, and then they ordained and purposed
them, with great and rich gifts and many rich and diverse ornaments that
belong to a king's array, and also with mules and camels and horses
charged with treasure, and with a great multitude of people, to go seek
and worship the Lord and King of the Jews that was new born, as the
voice of the Star had commanded. And furthermore they arrayed themselves
the much more honestly and worshipfully, because they knew well that he
was a worthier King than any of them was.

And you shall understand that there be three Indias, of which these
three lords were kings; and all the lands for the most part are islands,
and there are also there great waters and wildernesses full of wild and
perilous beasts and horrible serpents, and there grow also reeds so high
and so great that men make thereof houses and ships. And these isles are
divided every one by itself far from the others, so that only with great
travail shall a man pass from one kingdom to another.

Now, in the first Ind was the land of Nubia, and therein reigned King
Melchior, in the time that Christ was born. Therein also is the land of
Araby, in which is the hill Sinai: and a man may lightly sail by the Red
Sea out of Egypt and Syria into Ind. In this land is found gold
wonderfully red, like thin and small roots, and that gold is the best
that is in the world. Herein is also a hill called Bena, where is found
a precious stone, called smaragd.

In the second Ind was the kingdom of Godolia, of which Balthazar was
king when Christ was born; and this Balthazar offered incense to the
Babe; for in this land many more good spices grow than in all the
countries of the East, and especially incense, more than in all places
of the world; and it droppeth down out of certain trees in the manner of

In the third Ind was the kingdom of Thaars. Of that kingdom was Jaspar
king at the birth of Christ. And Jaspar offered myrrh to the young
Child, and in this land is the isle of Egrisoulla, where groweth myrrh
more plentifully than in any place of the world, and it waxeth like ears
of corn that are burnt with the weather, and right thick; and when it is
ripe it is so soft that it cleaveth to men's clothes as they go by the

Now when these three worshipful Kings were passed forth out of their
kingdoms, the Star evenly went before each King and his people, and when
they stood still and rested the Star stood still, and when they went
forward again the Star always went before them in virtue and strength,
and gave light all the way. And, as it is written before, in the time
that Christ was born there was peace in all the world, wherefore in all
the cities and towns which they went through there was no gate shut
neither by night nor by day; and all men of the cities and towns that
these worthy Kings went through in the night were wonderfully aghast and
passingly marvelled thereof, for they saw kings and vast multitudes go
by in great haste; but they knew not what they were, nor whence they
came, nor whither they should go. On the morrow the way was greatly
befouled with horses' hoofs, whereof they were in much doubt what it
might mean, and great altercation was among them for a long time.

Furthermore, these Kings rode forth over hills, waters, valleys, plains,
and other divers and perilous places without hindrance or disease, for
all the way seemed to them plain and even, and they never took shelter
by night nor by day; nor ever rested; nor did their horses or other
beasts ever eat or drink till they had come to Bethlehem; and all this
time seemed to them but a day.

And thus, through the mercy of God and the leading of the Star, they
came unto Jerusalem and Bethlehem the thirteenth day after Christ was
born, at the uprising of the sun, whereof is no doubt: for they found
Mary and her son in the same place where the Child was born, and laid in
the manger.

But when the three blessed Kings, with their host and company were
almost come to Jerusalem, saving but two miles, then a great and dark
cloud held all the earth, and in that dark cloud they lost the Star. And
Melchior with his people was come fast by Jerusalem beside the hill of
Calvary, where Christ was afterward crucified; and there the King abode
in a cloud of fog and in darkness.

At that time the hill of Calvary was a rock of twelve degrees high,
where thieves and other men for divers trespasses were put to death; and
there was beside this hill a place where three highways met together.
But because of the darkness of the cloud, and also because they knew not
the way, they abode there, and went no further at that time.

And next came Balthazar, and he abode under the same cloud, beside the
Mount of Olives in a little town that is called Galilee.

Then, when the two Kings were come to these places, the cloud began to
ascend and wax clear, yet the Star appeared not. But when they saw that
they were near to the city of Jerusalem, knowing not each other, they
took their way thither with all their folk; and when they came where the
three ways met, then also appeared King Jaspar with all his host. And so
these three glorious Kings, each with his host and burdens and beasts,
met together in the highway beside the Hill of Calvary. And,
notwithstanding that none of them ever before had seen the other, nor
knew him, nor had heard of his coming, yet, at their meeting, each one
with reverence and joy kissed the other. And they were of diverse
language, yet all, seeming, used the same tongue.

So, afterward, when they had spoken together and each had told his
purpose and the cause of his journey, and the cause of all was learned
to be the same, then they were much more glad and more fervent. And so
they rode forth, and suddenly, at the uprising of the sun, they came
into the city of Jerusalem. And when they knew that this was the city
which the Chaldeans of old time had besieged and destroyed, they were
right glad, expecting to have found the King born in that city. But
Herod and all his people were greatly disturbed at their sudden coming,
for their company and beasts of burden were of so great a number that
the city might not receive them, but for the most part they lay without
the gates all about, whereof Isaias prophesied: "The strength of folk
cometh to thee--that is to say, to the City of Jerusalem--great plenty
of camels shall do thee service, and dromedaries of Madyan and Effa
shall come to thee. All men shall come from Saba, bringing gold and
incense and showing praise to God."

So, these three worshipful Kings, when they were come into the city,
asked of the people concerning the Child that was born; and, when Herod
heard this, he was troubled and all Jerusalem with him, and he gathered
together all his princes and priests and asked them where Christ should
be born, and they said: "In Bethlehem of Judea." Then Herod privily
summoned to him these three Kings, and learned of them the time that the
Star appeared, and so sent them forth unto Bethlehem, saying: "Go and
inquire busily of this Child, and when you have found Him, come and tell
me, that I may go and do Him worship."

Now when these three Kings were informed of the birth of Christ and of
the place where He was born, and so were passed out of Jerusalem, then
the Star appeared to them again as it did erst, and went before them
till they came to Bethlehem. And fast by that place were the shepherds
to whom the angel appeared with great light, showing them the birth of
Christ. And the three Kings spake with them, and when the shepherds saw
the Star they run together and told how the angel had appeared to them,
and furthermore all that the angel had spoken to them. And the Kings
were wondrous glad, and with good cheer heard and took consideration of
the shepherds' words; and so from witness, and from the words of the
shepherds and from the voice of the angel that was heard out of the
Star, they had no doubt of the thing. Then anon, when they knew that
they were come to Bethlehem, they got down from their horses and changed
all their array, and clothed themselves in the best and richest that
they had, as kings should be clothed--and always the Star went forth
before them.

Now the nearer the Kings came to the place where Christ was born the
brighter shined the Star, and they entered Bethlehem the sixth hour of
the day. And then they rode through the covered street till they came
before that little house. And there the Star stood still, and then
descended and shone with so great a light that the little house and the
cave within were full of radiance, till anon the Star again went upward
into the air, and stood still always above the same place, yet the light
ever remained in the house where Christ and Mary were. So as it is said
in the Gospel: "They went into the house and found the Child, and fell
down and worshipped Him, and offered to Him gifts of gold, myrrh, and

Of this example came afterward a usage, that in all the countries of the
East no man should go into the presence of the Sultan, but he brought
gold or silver or somewhat else in his hands; and, also, ere he spoke
to the Sultan he should kiss the ground, and this is a custom which is
used in all the countries of the East to this day. But the Franciscan
friars, when they approached the Sultan, offered to him only pears or
apples, for they might not touch gold nor silver; and these offerings
were received by the Sultan with all reverence and meekness.

Now on the day that the three Kings sought Christ and worshipped Him, He
was a little child of thirteen days old, and He was somewhat fat, and
lay wrapped in poor clothes in the hay of the manger up to His arms. And
Mary, His Mother, as it is written in divers books, was, in person,
fleshy and somewhat brown. In the presence of the three Kings she was
covered with a poor white mantle, which she held close before her with
her left hand. Her head was concealed altogether, save her face, with a
linen cloth; and she sat upon the manger and with her right hand held up
the young Child's head. And the Kings worshipped Him and kissed His hand
devoutly and laid their gifts beside His head.

But what was done with these gifts, ye shall learn hereafter.

Now Melchior, that offered gold to the Holy Child, was the least in
stature and person of the three Kings. Balthazar, that offered incense,
was of a medium stature; and Jaspar, that offered myrrh, was most in
person; whereof is no doubt, for the prophet saith: "Before Him shall
fall down Ethiops, and His enemies shall lick the earth. They shall come
to Thee that betrayed Thee, and they shall worship the steps of Thy
feet." And having regard to the stature of men of that time these Kings
were right little of person, insomuch that all manner of people
marvelled at them. And this showed well that they were come from far out
of the East, for the nearer toward the uprising of the sun that men be
born, the less they be of stature and be feebler and more tender.

And you shall understand that these three Kings brought out of their
lands many gifts and rich ornaments which King Alexander left in Ind, in
Chaldee, and in Persia; and all the ornaments which Queen Saba found in
Solomon's temple, and divers vessels that were of the king's house and
the Temple of God in Jerusalem, which, in the time of its destruction,
were borne into their countries by the Persians and Chaldeans, and many
other jewels, both gold and silver, and precious stones, brought they
with them to offer to Christ. But when they found our Lord laid on high
in the manger and in poor cloths, and the Star that gave so great light
in all the place, that it seemed as though they stood in a furnace of
fire, then these Kings were so sore afraid that, of all the rich jewels
and ornaments they brought with them, they chose nothing, when their
treasury was opened, but what came first to their hands, for Melchior
took a round apple of gold, as much as a man might hold in his hand, and
thirty gilt pennies, and these he offered to our Lord. Balthazar took
out of his treasury incense; and Jaspar took out myrrh, as it came
first, and that he offered, with weeping and tears.

And the Kings were so aghast and so devout and fervent in their
oblations, that to all the words that Mary said they gave but little
consideration, save only that to every King as he offered his gifts she
bowed down her head meekly, and said, "_Deo gracias_:" that is to say,
"I thank God."

When these three Kings had thus performed their way and will, and done
all things that they came for, then, as mankind asketh and would, they
and all their men and beasts began to eat, and drink, and sleep, and
betook them to rest and sport all that day in Bethlehem. For, as is said
before, they had neither eaten nor drunk during thirteen days. And then
they meekly told to all men in that city how wonderfully the Star had
brought them thither from the furthest part of the world.

Now, as the Evangelist saith: A command came to these Kings in their
sleep that they should not return again to Herod, and so, by another
way, they went home to their kingdoms. But the Star that went before
them, appeared no more. And so these three Kings, that suddenly met
together at the Mount of Calvary, rode home together with great joy and
honor, and rested by the way as men should do.

And they rode through the provinces that Holofernes of old time had
traversed with all his hosts, and the people supposed that Holofernes
had come again, for as they journeyed into any town they were meekly and
worshipfully received, and evermore they told what they had seen, done,
and heard, so that their name and praise were never after forgot. But
the way that before had taken only thirteen days, through leading of the
Star, they found now to take two years, which was ordained, that all men
should know what difference is between God's working and man's.

Now, when Herod and the scribes heard that the Kings were gone home
again, and came not to him as he had bade them, then, of much envy and
malice, he pursued them a great way; and always he found the people
bless them, and praise them, and tell of their nobility. Wherefore
Herod burnt and destroyed all the land that was under his power where
the Kings had ridden, and especially Tharsis and Cilicia, for he charged
them that they had suffered the three Kings privily to pass across the
sea in their ships. And Herod's envy was great when he heard how
marvellously the Kings had come out of their lands in thirteen days
through leading of the Star, and how, afterward, they went home again,
without the Star, through guides and interpreters,--yet no man could
tell, for wonder, how night and day they passed by; and for this reason
the paynims, who had no knowledge of Holy Writ, nor of the birth of
Christ, called these three Kings _Magos_; that is to say, Wise Men of
the East.

Now, when the Kings were come with great travail to the Hill of Vaws,
they made there, as is aforesaid, a fair chapel in worship of the Child
they had sought. Also they made a covenant to meet together at the same
place once in the year; and there they ordained their burial. Then all
the princes and lords and worshipful knights of their kingdoms, hearing
of the return of these three Kings, anon rode forth to them with great,
solemnity and met them at the place aforesaid, and with meekness and
humility received them. And when they heard how wonderfully God had
wrought for their Kings, they held them in more reverence, love, and
dread forever after.

So, when the Kings had done what they would, they took leave of each
other, and each one, with his people, rode home to his own land with
great joy.

And when they were come into their own realms, they preached to all the
people what they had seen and done on their journey; and they made in
their temples a star after the likeness of that which appeared to them,
wherefore many paynims left their errors and worshipped the Holy Child.

And thus these three worshipful Kings dwelt in their kingdoms in honest
and devout conversation until the coming of St. Thomas, the apostle.

Now, after the three Kings had gone forth from Bethlehem, there began to
wax, all about, a great fame for Mary and her Child, and for the Kings
of the East. Wherefore, Mary, in dread of persecution, fled out of the
little house where Christ was born, and went to another dark cave and
there abode; and divers men and women loved her and ministered to her
all manner of necessaries. But when she went out of the little house,
Mary forgot and left behind her her smock and the clothes in which
Christ was wrapped, folded together and laid in the manger; and there
they were, whole and fresh, in the same place to the time when St.
Helen, the mother of Emperor Constantine, came thither, long after.

Anon so great was grown Mary's fame that she durst not abide longer
there for dread of Herod and the Jews, and an angel appeared to Joseph,
saying: "Arise, and take the Child and His mother and flee into Egypt,
and tarry there till I summon thee, for it is to come that Herod shall
seek the Child to slay Him." Then Joseph arose and took the Child and
His mother and went into Egypt in the night, and there he remained until
Herod died. And Mary and her Son dwelt in Egypt seven years.

And it is told that by the road which Mary journeyed thither and came
back again, grew roses, which are called the Roses of Jericho, and they
grow in no other place. The shepherds of that country, in following
their sheep, gather these roses in their season, and sell them to
pilgrims, and thus they be borne into divers lands. And the place where
Mary dwelt is now a garden where groweth balm, and to every bush a
Christian man, among the Sultan's prisoners, is assigned to protect it
and keep it clean; for when a paynim keepeth them, anon the bushes wax
dry and grow no more. And this balm hath many virtues the which were
long to tell; but all men in the East believe truly that the place bears
such a virtue of growing balm because Mary dwelt there seven years, and
washed and bathed her Son in its wells of water.

And as to the gifts which the three Kings gave to Christ: the thirty
gilt pennies of Melchior were made of old by Thara, father of Abraham,
and Abraham bare them with him when he went on pilgrimage out of the
land of Chaldee into Ebron, which was then called Arabia, and there he
bought with them a burial-place for himself, his wife, and his children,
Isaac and Jacob. In exchange for the same thirty pieces Joseph was sold
by his brethren to merchants of Egypt. Afterward, when Jacob died, they
were sent to the land of Sheba to buy divers spices and ornaments for
his sepulture, and so they were put into the king's treasury of that
land. Then by process of time, in Solomon's reign, the Queen of Sheba
offered these thirty gilt pennies, with many rich jewels, in the Temple
at Jerusalem; but in the time of Roboam, King Solomon's son, when
Jerusalem was destroyed and the Temple despoiled, they were carried to
the King of Arabia, and were put into his treasury with other spoils
from the Temple.

And Melchior offered these same thirty pieces to Christ, because they
were of the finest gold, and the best that he had. But when Mary went
into Egypt she lost all the gifts of the three Kings by the way, bound
all in one cloth together. And it happened there was a shepherd who had
so great an infirmity that no leech might heal him, and all that he had
he paid to the leeches to be whole,--yet it might not be. But, on a
time, as he went into the fields with his sheep, he found these thirty
gilt pennies, with incense and myrrh, bound all in a cloth together, and
he kept them privily to himself, until, hearing tell of a holy prophet
that healed all men of their infirmities by a word, he came to Christ
and prayed Him for grace and help; and, being healed, he offered the
gold, and incense, and myrrh to Him with good devotion. And when Christ
saw the thirty gilt pennies and precious herbs He knew them well, and
bade the shepherd go into the Temple and offer them upon the altar.

Now, when the priest saw such oblations laid upon the altar he marvelled
much, and took all three things and put them in the common treasury. And
afterward, when Judas Iscariot came into the Temple to make covenant
with the Princes of the Law to betray his master, they gave him for his
pay the same thirty pieces of gold, and for them Judas sold his Master.
And after Christ was crucified, then Judas repented, and went to the
Temple and cast down to the Princes of the Law the thirty pieces. And
with fifteen of these gilt pennies the Jews bought a field of burial for
pilgrims; and the other fifteen they gave to the knights who kept the
sepulchre of Christ.

And the reason these thirty gilt pennies were called silver in the
Gospel, notwithstanding they were fine gold, is, that it is the common
usage in that country so to call them, as men in this country call gold
from beyond the sea scutys, motouns or florins; moreover in the East the
same print is made in gold and silver and copper, and the print on the
thirty pieces is this: on one side is a king's head crowned, and on the
other are written letters in Chaldaic, which men now cannot read. And
many marvels are told of these pieces of gold which were long to tell.

Now when Our Lord was ascended into heaven, then he sent St. Thomas, his
apostle, into Ind, to preach there God's word. And as St. Thomas went
about in the temples he found a star in every one, painted after the
manner of the Star that appeared to the three Kings when Christ was
born, in which Star was a sign of the Cross and a Child above. And when
St. Thomas saw this he asked of the bishops what it was, and they told
him that such a Star of old time appeared on the Hill of Vaws in token
of a Child that was born who should be king of the Jews, as was heard
spoken out of the same Star.

And when St. Thomas had preached and taught the people the understanding
of this Star and of the Cross and the Child, then he went to the
kingdoms of the three Kings, and he found them whole of body and of a
great age. And St. Thomas christened these three Kings and all their
people, and the Kings began anon to preach with the Apostle, and when
they had converted the people to the law of Christ he ordained them to
be Archbishops. And after this St. Thomas was slain, and in all that
country where he was martyred both men and women have visages shaped
like hounds, yet they be not hairy--and they are so unto this day.

Now under the Hill of Vaws St. Thomas and these three Kings had made a
rich city and called it Sewill, and this city is the best and richest
city in all the country of Ind to this day; and therein is the
habitation of Prester John that is called lord of Ind, and there
dwelleth also the Patriarch of Ind who is called Thomas, in worship of
St. Thomas and for an everlasting memorial. And when all things were
disposed by these three Kings they went to the city of Sewill, and there
they lived twelve years.

And a little before the feast of Christ's nativity, when these years
were drawn to an end, there appeared a wonderful star above this city
and the Kings knew that their time was nigh when they should pass out of
this world. Then of one assent they ordained a fair and large tomb for
their burial in the church they had made in the city; and in the feast
of Christmas they did, solemnly, God's service.

And in the feast of the Circumcision, Melchior, King of Araby, laid him
down before all his people and without any disease yielded up his
spirit, in the year of his age one hundred and sixteen. Then in the
feast of Epiphany, five days thereafter, Balthazar, King of Godolie and
Saba, died in the year of his age one hundred and twelve. And then
Jaspar the third king, the sixth day after was taken into everlasting
joy, and they were all buried in the same tomb that they had ordained;
and the Star that appeared over the city before their death, abode
always till their bodies were translated unto Cologne, as they of Ind

Now after much time had passed, Queen Helen, the mother of the glorious
Emperor Constantine, began to think greatly of the bodies of these
three Kings, and she arrayed her with certain people and went into the
land of Ind. And she had much praise among the people because of the
finding of Mary's smock and the cloths that Christ was wound in in his
childhood; and seeing that she was worshipped of all people, the
Patriarch Thomas and Prester John, took counsel of other lords and
princes and gave her the bodies of King Melchior and King Balthazar. But
the Nestorines had borne the body of the third king, King Jaspar, into
the isle of Egrisoulla. And these Nestorines were the worst heretics of
the world. For the most part they were black Ethiops, who painted Christ
and His Mother Mary and the three Kings in their churches all in black,
and the Devil all white, in despite of all other Christian men. But
because Queen Helen wished not that the three Kings should be parted,
she made many prayers and gave great gifts to the chief lords of the
isle of Egrisoulla, and thus anon did she get the body of King Jaspar.

And you shall understand that after she had found the bodies of all
these three Kings, Queen Helen put them into one chest and arrayed it
with great riches, and she brought them unto Constantinople with joy and
reverence, and laid them in a church that is called St. Sophia; and this
church King Constantine did make--and he alone, with a little child,
set up all the pillars of marble.

Now after the death of this worshipful King Constantine and Queen Helen
aforesaid, there began a new persecution of heresy against the Christian
faith, and of death against them that would maintain the law of Christ.
The Greeks forsook the Church and chose a Patriarch for themselves, whom
they yet obey until this day.

Now in this persecution the bodies and the relics of the three holy
Kings were put at no reverence, but utterly set at naught. For the
Saracens and Turks at this time won with strong battle the lands of
Greece and Armenia, and destroyed a great part of these lands.

Then came an Emperor of Rome who was called Mauricius, and through the
help of them of Milan he recovered all these lands again, and, as is
said among men in that country, through counsel of this Emperor the
bodies of the three Kings were carried unto Milan, and they were there
laid with all solemnity and worship in a fair church which is called
after St. Eustorgio, because he had asked the bodies from the Emperor,
and being granted them had sent them unto Milan.

Then afterward by process of time, it happed that the city of Milan
began to rebel against the Emperor, who was called Frederick I., and
this Emperor sent to the Archbishop of Cologne, who was called Rainald,
for help. Then this Archbishop, through help of divers lords of the land
of Milan, took the city of Milan and destroyed a great part thereof. And
the chief men of the city took the bodies of the three Kings and hid
them privily in the earth.

Now among all others there was in Milan a lord named Asso, and the
Emperor hated him more than all the rest of its people. So it happed
that in the destruction of the city the Archbishop won Asso's palace
through strong hand, and lived therein a great while, for Asso was taken
and put into prison.

Then, anon, Asso sent privily by his keepers to the Archbishop of
Cologne and prayed him that he would come and speak with him, and it was
granted that Asso should go to the Archbishop. And when he was come to
him, he prayed him that, if he would get him grace of the Emperor and
his love and the restoration of his lordship, he would give him the
bodies of the three Kings.

When the Archbishop heard this, he went to the Emperor and prayed for
Lord Asso, and got him grace and love. And when this was done, Asso
brought, secretly, the three bodies of the Kings to the Archbishop of

Then the Archbishop sent the bodies forth, by private means, a great
way out of the city of Milan, whereupon he went to the Emperor anew and
prayed him that he would grant him these three bodies, and the Emperor
did so with good will. Then the Archbishop openly, with great solemnity
and procession, brought the three holy Kings unto Cologne, and there put
them in the fair church of St. Peter, worshipfully; and all the people
of the country, with all the reverence they might, received these holy
relics; and there they are kept and beholden of all manner of nations
unto this day.

       *       *       *       *       *

Thus endeth the translation of these Three Worshipful Kings: Melchior,
Balthazar, and Jaspar.

_A French Yeoman's Legend._

     "He laughed fit to make the plates rattle, his little brown eyes
     twinkling all the while."




"Two truffled turkeys, Garrigou?"

"Yes, reverend Father, two magnificent turkeys stuffed with truffles.
There's no mistake, for I helped to stuff them myself. The flesh almost
cracked as they roasted, it was so tight--so----"

"Holy Virgin! and I, who love truffles as----Hurry; give me my
surplice, Garrigou. And what else besides the turkeys; what else did you
see in the kitchen?"

"Oh! all sorts of good things. Since noon we've done nothing but pluck
pheasants, pewits, wood-hens, and heath-cocks. Feathers are scattered
thick. Then from the pond they've brought eels and golden carp and
trout, and----"

"What size are the trout, Garrigou?"

"Oh, as big as that! reverend Father. Enormous!"

"Heavens, I seem to see them! Have you put the wine in the flasks?"

"Yes, reverend Father, I've put the wine in the flasks. But what's a
mouthful or two as you go to midnight Mass! You should see the
dining-hall in the château, full of decanters that sparkle with wine of
every color. And the silver dishes, above all the ornamented ones; the
flowers; the candlesticks! I never saw anything to equal it. Monsieur
the Marquis has invited all the nobility of the neighborhood. You will
be at least forty at table, without counting either the bailiff or the
notary. Ah! it will make you very happy to be there, reverend Father.
Why, only to smell the delicious turkeys--the odor of truffles pursues
me even yet. Muh!"

"Come, come, Garrigou, you must guard against the sin of greediness, and
especially on the night of the Nativity. Quickly, now, light the candles
and sound the first bell for Mass; midnight is very near, and we must
not be late."

This conversation was held on Christmas night, in the year of grace
sixteen hundred and sixteen, between the reverend Dom Balaguère,
formerly prior of Barnabites, now chaplain in the service of the Sires
de Trinquelague, and his clerk Garrigou; or at least what he supposed
was his clerk Garrigou, because you will learn that the devil had that
night taken on the round face and wavering traits of the young
sacristan, the better to tempt the reverend Father to commit the
dreadful sin of gluttony. Now, while the supposed Garrigou (hum! hum!)
rung, with all his might, the bells of the seignorial chapel, the
reverend Father put on his chasuble in the little sacristy of the
château; and, his mind already becoming troubled by the gastronomic
descriptions he had heard, he repeated to himself:

"Roasted turkeys; golden carp; trout as large as that!"

Outside, the night wind blew, scattering the music of the bells, and one
by one lights began to appear in the shadows about the flanks of Mont
Ventoux, upon the summit of which rose the ancient towers of
Trinquelague. These lights were carried by the farmers on their way to
attend midnight Mass at the château. They climbed the paths in groups of
five or six, the father leading, lantern in hand, the women enveloped in
their big brown mantles, where their infants nestled for shelter. In
spite of the hour and the cold all these honest people marched
cheerfully on, sustained by the thought that when they came out from the
Mass they would find, as they did each year, tables spread for them
below in the kitchens. Now and again on the rough ascent, the coach of
some seigneur, preceded by torch-bearing porters, reflected in its
glasses the cold moonlight; or, maybe, a mule trotted along shaking his
bells, and in the light of the lanterns covered with frost, the farmers
recognized their bailiff and saluted him as he passed:

"Good-evening, good-evening, Master Arnoton."

"Good-evening, good-evening, my children."

The night was clear, the stars were polished with cold, the wind stung,
and a fine sleet, which glistened on the clothes without wetting them,
kept faithfully the tradition of Christmases white with snow. Raised
there aloft, the château appeared like the goal of all things, with its
enormous mass of towers and gables, the belfry of its chapel mounting
into the blue-black sky, and a crowd of small lights that winked, went
and came, twinkled at all the windows, and seemed, on the sombre
background of the building, like sparks running through the cinders of
burnt paper. Once past the drawbridge and the postern, it was necessary,
in order to gain the chapel, to traverse the first courtyard, full of
coaches, of valets, of sedan-chairs, and bright with the flare of
torches and the fires of the kitchens. There was the click of the
turnspits, the crash of stewpans, the noises of glass and silver
preparing for the dinner. From below, a warm vapor, which smelt of
roasting meat and the strong herbs of curious sauces, whispered to the
farmers, to the chaplain, to the bailiff--to all the world:

"What a revel we are going to have after Mass!"


Drelindin din! Drelindin din! Midnight Mass is about to begin. In the
chapel of the château, a miniature cathedral with arches intercrossed
and a wainscot of oak mounting as high as the walls, all the hangings
have been arranged, all the candles lit.

And what a host of people! And what toilettes! First, seated in the
sculptured stall which surrounds the choir, behold the Sire de
Trinquelague in a suit of salmon-colored taffeta; and next to him all
the invited nobles. Facing these, on a prie-dieu trimmed with velvet, is
the old dowager Marquise in her robe of fire-colored brocade, and the
young Dame de Trinquelague, surmounted by a huge head-dress of lace,
made in the latest fashion of the French court. Further down, dressed in
black, with vast pointed perukes and shaven faces, are the bailiff,
Thomas Arnoton, and the notary, Master Ambroy, two grave objects among
the flowing silks and figured damasks. Then come the fat majordomos,
the pages, the grooms, the attendants; dame Barbe, all her keys
suspended at her side on a ring of thin silver. At the bottom of the
hall, on the benches, are the Servants, the yeomen with their families;
and lastly, beyond, all about the doors as they open and shut
discretely, are the scullions, who steal in, between two sauces, to get
a little of the Mass, carrying an odor of the revelry into the church,
all in its gay attire and warm with so many burning candles.

Is it a glimpse of their little white caps that distracts the celebrant
of the Mass? Or, it may be the clangor made by Garrigou's bells, that
pulsating sound which shakes the altar with an infernal vibration and
seems to say all the time:

"Hurry up, hurry up. We'll soon be done; we'll soon be at table!"

The fact is, that each time it sounds--that peal of the devil--the
chaplain forgets his Mass and thinks of nothing but the coming revel. He
pictures to himself the uproar of the kitchens; the furnace heated like
a blacksmith's forge; the vapor of opening trenchers, and in that vapor
two magnificent turkeys, buttered, tender, bursting with truffles.

Or, perhaps he saw pass the files of little pages bearing dishes
enveloped in tempting steam, and, with them, entered the grand saloon
already prepared for the feast. O deliciousness! behold the immense
table all set and sparkling; the peacocks in their plumes; the pheasants
with their open wings of reddish-brown; the ruby-colored flagons; the
pyramids of fruit peeping from green branches; and those marvellous fish
of which Garrigou told (ah! well, yes, Garrigou!) held aloft on a bed of
fennel, the mother-of-pearl scales as bright as when they came from the
water, with a bouquet of odorous herbs in their monster-like nostrils.
So distinct is the vision of these marvels, that it seems to Dom
Balaguère as if all the wonderful dishes are served before him on the
embroideries of the altar-cloth; and two or three times, in place of
_Dominus vobiscum_, he is surprised to find himself repeating the
_Benedicite_. Saving these slight mistakes, the holy man does his office
very conscientiously, without skipping a line, without omitting a
genuflexion; and all goes well enough as far as the end of the first
Mass; because, you know, on Christmas night the same celebrant must
repeat three consecutive Masses.

"One!" said the chaplain, with a sigh of relief; then, without losing a
minute, he made a sign to his clerk--or the person he believed to be his
clerk, and----

Drelindin din! Drelindin din!

The second Mass begins, and with it begins also the sin of Dom

"Hurry, hurry, let's get done," cries the thin voice of Garrigou's bell,
and this time the unlucky priest, abandoning himself to the demon of
gluttony, rushes through the missal, devouring its pages with all the
avidity of an overcharged appetite. Frantically he bows; arises; makes
the signs of the cross, goes through the genuflexions, abbreviates all
his gestures, the sooner to be finished. Scarcely does he extend his
arms to the Gospel, or strike his breast where it is required. Between
the clerk and him it is a race which shall jabber the faster. Verse and
response hurry each other, tumble over each other. The words, hardly
pronounced, because it takes too much time to open the mouth, become
incomprehensible murmurs.

  _Oremus ps--ps--ps--
  Meâ culpâ--pâ--pâ--._

Like hard-working vintagers pressing grapes in a vat, both wade through
the Latin of the Mass, splashing it on all sides.

"_Dom--scum!_" says Balaguère.

"_Stutuo!_" responds Garrigou, and all the while the damnable chime
sounds in their ears, like those little bells put on the post-horses to
make them gallop more swiftly. Believe me, under such conditions a low
Mass is vastly expedited!

"Two!" said the chaplain, all out of breath; then without taking time to
breathe, red, perspiring, he tumbled down the stairs of the altar.

Drelindin din! Drelindin din! The third Mass begins.

Only a step or so and then the dining-hall! but, alas, the nearer the
revel approaches, the more the unfortunate Balaguère is seized with the
very folly of impatience and greediness. His vision accentuates it; the
golden carp, the roast turkeys are there. He may touch them--he may--Oh,
Holy Virgin! the dishes steam; the wines send forth sweet odors; and
shaking out its reckless song, the bell cries to him:

"Hurry up, hurry up; still faster, still faster!"

But how can he go any faster? He scarcely moves his lips, he pronounces
fully not a single word. He tries to cheat the good God altogether of
His Mass, and that is what brings his ruin. By temptation upon
temptation, he begins to jump one verse, then two. Then the epistle is
too long--he does not finish it; skims the Gospel, passes by the creed
without even entering, skips the pater, salutes from afar the preface,
and by bounds and jumps precipitates himself into eternal damnation,
always following the infamous Garrigou (_vade retro, Satanas_), who
seconds him with marvellous skill; tucks up his chasuble, turns the
leaves two by two, disarranges the music-desk, reverses the flagons, and
unceasingly rings the bell more and more vigorously, more and more

You should have seen what a figure all the assistants cut. Obliged to
follow, like mimics, a Mass of which they did not understand a word,
some rose when others kneeled, or seated themselves when others stood,
and all the actors in this singular office mixed themselves on the
benches in numberless contrary attitudes.

The star of Christmas, on its journey through the heavens yonder by the
little manger, paled with astonishment at the confusion.

"The Abbe's in a dreadful hurry: I can't follow him at all," said the
aged dowager, shaking her head-dress with bewilderment. Master Arnoton,
his great steel spectacles on his nose, searched in his prayer-book
where the deuce the words could be. But, after all, that gallant host,
which itself was thinking only of the feast, was far from being vexed
because the Mass rode post; and when Balaguère, with beaming
countenance, turned toward the assembly crying with all his might, _Ite
missa est_, with a single voice they returned, _Deo gratias_, so
joyously, so fervently, that one might have thought them already at
table responding to the first toast of the night.


Five minutes later the crowd of seigneurs was seated in the grand
dining-hall, the chaplain in the midst of them. The château, illuminated
from top to bottom, echoed with songs, cries, laughter, uproar, and the
venerable Dom Balaguère planted his fork in the wing of a wood-hen,
drowning the remorse of his sin under floods of wine of the Pope and the
sweet juices of the meats.

So much did he eat and drink, that the poor holy man died in the night
of a terrible attack of sickness, without having even time to repent.
Then near the morning he arrived in heaven with all the savor of the
feast still about him and I leave you to imagine how he was received:

"Retire from my sight, evil Christian!" said the Sovereign Judge, "thy
fault is dark enough to efface a whole life of virtue. Ah, thou hast
robbed me of a Mass to-night. Thou shalt pay me back three hundred in
its place, and thou shalt not enter into Paradise unless thou shalt have
celebrated in thy proper chapel these three hundred Christmas Masses in
the presence of all those who have sinned by thy fault and with thee."

This, then, is the true legend of Dom Balaguère as they tell it in the
land of olives. To-day the château of Trinquelague is no more, but the
chapel still stands erect on the summit of Mont Ventoux, in a grove of
green oaks. The wind beats its disjointed portal; the grass creeps
across its threshold; the birds have built in the angles of the altar
and in the embrasures of the high windows, whence the colored panes have
long ago vanished. But it appears that every year at Christmas, a
supernatural light runs about these ruins, and that, in going to Mass or
feast, the peasants see the chapel illuminated by invisible candles
which burn brightly even through the wind and snow.

You may laugh if you will, but a vine-dresser of the neighborhood named
Garrigue, without doubt a descendant of Garrigou, has assured me that
one Christmas night, finding himself a little so-so-ish, he became lost
on the mountain beside Trinquelague, and behold what he saw! At eleven
o'clock, nothing. All was silent, dark, lifeless. Suddenly, toward
midnight, a chime sounded up above from a clock, an old, old chime
which seemed six leagues away. Pretty soon, on the ascending road,
Garrigue saw lights trembling in the uncertain shadows. Under the porch
of the chapel somebody walked, somebody whispered:

"Good-evening, Master Arnoton."

"Good-evening, good-evening, my children."

When the whole company was entered, my vine-dresser, who was exceedingly
brave, approached stealthily, and peeping through the broken door saw a
strange spectacle. All those who had passed him were ranged about the
choir, in the ruined nave, as if the ancient benches still existed.
Beautiful dames in brocade with coifs of lace; seigneurs bedizzened from
top to toe; peasants in flowered jackets like those of our
grandfathers,--everything with an ancient air, faded, dusty, worn-out.
Now and then the night-birds, habitual dwellers in the chapel, awakened
by all these lights, winged about the candles, whose flames mounted
straight and vague as if they burnt behind gauze. And what amused
Garrigue most was a certain personage with great steel spectacles, who
shook at each instant his high black peruke, on which one of the birds
had alighted and entangled itself, silently beating its wings.

At the farthest end, a little old man of boyish size, on his knees in
the midst of the choir, pulled desperately at the chimeless and silent
bell; while a priest attired in ancient gold, went and came before the
altar reciting orisons of which one heard not a single word. Surely,
that was Dom Balaguère in the act of saying his third low Mass.

_A Love-Passage from a Wandering Cossack._

     "Dressed in his everlasting blue frock, he sat near the fire
     playing cards."



Count Rostow's affairs were going from bad to worse. He was of a warm,
generous nature, with unlimited faith in his servants, and hence was
blind to the mismanagement and dishonesty which had sapped his fortune.
The possessor of a handsome establishment at the Russian capital,
Moscow, the owner of rich provincial estates, and the inheritor of a
noble name and wealth, he was nevertheless on the verge of ruin. He had
given up his appointment as _Maréchal de la Noblesse_, which he had gone
to his seat of Otradnoë to assume, because it entailed too many
expenses; and yet there was no improvement in the state of his finances.

Nicolas and Natacha, his son and daughter, often found their father and
mother in anxious consultation, talking in low tones of the sale of
their Moscow house or of their property in the neighborhood. Having thus
retired into private life, the count now gave neither fêtes nor
entertainments. Life at Otradnoë was much less gay than in past years;
still, the house and domain were as full of servants as ever, and
twenty persons or more sat down to dinner daily. These were dependants,
friends, and intimates, who were regarded almost as part of the family,
or at any rate seemed unable to tear themselves away from it: among them
a musician named Dimmler and his wife, Ioghel the dancing-master and his
family, and old Mlle. Bélow, former governess of Natacha and Sonia, the
count's niece and adopted child, and now the tutor of Pétia, his younger
son; besides others who found it simpler to live at the count's expense
than at their own. Thus, though there were no more festivities, life was
carried on almost as expensively as of old, and neither the master nor
the mistress ever imagined any change possible. Nicolas, again, had
added to the hunting establishment; there were still fifty horses in the
stables, still fifteen drivers; handsome presents were given on all
birthdays and fête days, which invariably wound up as of old with a
grand dinner to all the neighborhood; the count still played whist or
boston, invariably letting his cards be seen by his friends, who were
always ready to make up his table, and relieve him without hesitation of
the few hundred roubles which constituted their principal income. The
old man marched on blindfold through the tangle of his pecuniary
difficulties, trying to conceal them, and only succeeding in augmenting
them; having neither the courage nor the patience to untie the knots one
by one.

The loving heart by his side foresaw their children's ruin, but she
could not accuse her husband, who was, alas! too old for amendment; she
could only seek some remedy for the disaster. From her woman's point of
view there was but one: Nicolas's marriage, namely, with some rich
heiress. She clung desperately to this last chance of salvation; but if
her son should refuse the wife she should propose to him, every hope of
reinstating their fortune would vanish. The young lady whom she had in
view was the daughter of people of the highest respectability, whom the
Rostows had known from her infancy: Julie Karaguine, who, by the death
of her second brother, had suddenly come into great wealth.

The countess herself wrote to Mme. Karaguine to ask her whether she
could regard the match with favor, and received a most flattering
answer. Indeed, Mme. Karaguine invited Nicolas to her house at Moscow,
to give her daughter an opportunity of deciding for herself.

Nicolas had often heard his mother say, with tears in her eyes, that her
dearest wish was to see him married. The fulfilment of this wish would
sweeten her remaining days, she would say, adding covert hints as to a
charming girl who would exactly suit him. One day she took the
opportunity of speaking plainly to him of Julie's charms and merits, and
urged him to spend a short time in Moscow before Christmas. Nicolas, who
had no difficulty in guessing what she was aiming at, persuaded her to
be explicit on the matter, and she owned frankly that her hope was to
see their sinking fortunes restored by his marriage with her dear Julie!

"Then, mother, if I loved a penniless girl, you would desire me to
sacrifice my feelings and my honor--to marry solely for money?"

"Nay, nay; you have misunderstood me," she said, not knowing how to
excuse her mercenary hopes. "I wish only for your happiness!" And then,
conscious that this was not her sole aim, and that she was not perfectly
honest, she burst into tears.

"Do not cry, mamma; you have only to say that you really and truly
desire it, and you know I would give my life to see you happy; that I
would sacrifice everything, even my feelings."

But this was not his mother's notion. She asked no sacrifice, she would
have none; she would sooner have sacrificed herself, if it had been

"Say no more about it; you do not understand," she said, drying away her

"How could she think of such a marriage?" thought Nicolas. "Does she
think that because Sonia is poor I do not love her? And yet I should be
a thousand times happier with her than with a doll like Julie."

He stayed in the country, and his mother did not revert to the subject.
Still, as she saw the growing intimacy between Nicolas and Sonia, she
could not help worrying Sonia about every little thing, and speaking to
her with colder formality. Sometimes she reproached herself for these
continual pin-pricks of annoyance, and was quite vexed with the poor
girl for submitting to them with such wonderful humility and sweetness,
for taking every opportunity of showing her devoted gratitude, and for
loving Nicolas with a faithful and disinterested affection which
commanded her admiration.

Just about this time a letter came from Prince André, dated from Rome,
whither he had gone to pass the year of probation demanded by his father
as a condition to giving consent to his son's marriage with the Countess
Natacha. It was the fourth the Prince had written since his departure.
He ought long since to have been on his way home, he said, but the heat
of the summer had caused the wound he had received at Austerlitz to
reopen, and this compelled him to postpone his return till early in

Natacha, though she was so much in love that her very passion for Prince
André had made her day-dreams happy, had hitherto been open to all the
bright influences of her young life; but now, after nearly four months
of parting, she fell into a state of extreme melancholy, and gave way to
it completely. She bewailed her hard fate, she bewailed the time that
was slipping away and lost to her, while her heart ached with the dull
craving to love and be loved. Nicolas, too, had nearly spent his leave
from his regiment, and the anticipation of his departure added gloom to
the saddened household.

Christmas came; but, excepting the pompous high Mass and the other
religious ceremonies, the endless string of neighbors and servants with
the regular compliments of the season, and the new gowns which made
their first appearance on the occasion, nothing more than usual happened
on that day, or more extraordinary than twenty degrees of frost, with
brilliant sunshine, a still atmosphere, and at night a glorious starry

After dinner, on the third day of Christmas-tide, when every one had
settled into his own corner once more, ennui reigned supreme throughout
the house. Nicolas, who had been paying a round of visits in the
neighborhood, was fast asleep in the drawing-room. The old count had
followed his example in his room. Sonia, seated at a table in the
sitting-room, was copying a drawing. The countess was playing out a
"patience," and Nastacia Ivanovna, the old buffoon, with his peevish
face, sitting in a window with two old women, did not say a word.

Natacha came into the room, and, after leaning over Sonia for a minute
or two to examine her work, went over to her mother and stood still in
front of her.

The countess looked up. "Why are you wandering about like a soul in
torment? What do you want?" she said.

"Want! I want him!" replied Natacha, shortly, and her eyes glowed. "Now,
here--at once!"

Her mother gazed at her anxiously.

"Do not look at me like that; you will make me cry."

"Sit down here."

"Mamma, I want him, I want him! Why must I die of weariness?" Her voice
broke and tears started from her eyes. She hastily quitted the
drawing-room and went to the housekeeper's room, where an old servant
was scolding one of the girls who had just come in breathless from

"There is a time for all things," growled the old woman. "You have had
time enough for play."

"Oh, leave her in peace, Kondratievna," said Natacha. "Run away,

Pursuing her wandering, Natacha went into the hall; an old man-servant
was playing cards with two of the boys. Her entrance stopped their game
and they rose. "And what am I to say to these?" thought she.

"Nikita, would you please go--what on earth can I ask for?--go and find
me a cock; and you, Micha, a handful of corn."

"A handful of corn?" said Micha, laughing.

"Go, go at once," said the old man.

"And you, Fédor, can you give me a piece of chalk?"

Then she went on to the servants' hall and ordered the samovar to be got
ready, though it was not yet tea-time; she wanted to try her power over
Foka, the old butler, the most morose and disobliging of all the
servants. He could not believe his ears, and asked her if she really
meant it. "What next will our young lady want?" muttered Foka, affecting
to be very cross.

No one gave so many orders as Natacha, no one sent them on so many
errands at once. As soon as a servant came in sight she seemed to invent
some want or message; she could not help it. It seemed as though she
wanted to try her power over them; to see whether, some fine day, one or
another would not rebel against her tyranny; but, on the contrary, they
always flew to obey her more readily than any one else.

"And now what shall I do, where can I go?" thought she, as she slowly
went along the corridor, where she presently met the buffoon.

"Nastacia Ivanovna," said she, "if I ever have children, what will they

"You! Fleas and grasshoppers, you may depend upon it!"

Natacha went on. "Good God! have mercy, have mercy!" she said to
herself. "Wherever I go it is always, always the same. I am so weary;
what shall I do?"

Skipping lightly from step to step, she went to the upper story and
dropped in on the Ioghels. Two governesses were sitting chatting with M.
and Mme. Ioghel; dessert, consisting of dried fruit, was on the table,
and they were eagerly discussing the cost of living at Moscow and
Odessa. Natacha took a seat for a moment, listened with pensive
attention, and then jumped up again. "The island of Madagascar!" she
murmured, "Ma-da-gas-car!" and she separated the syllables. Then she
left the room without answering Mme. Schoss, who was utterly mystified
by her strange exclamation.

She next met Pétia and a companion, both very full of some fireworks
which were to be let off that evening. "Pétia!" she exclaimed, "carry me
down-stairs!" And she sprang upon his back, throwing her arms round his
neck; and, laughing and galloping, they thus scrambled along to the head
of the stairs.

"Thank you, that will do. Madagascar!" she repeated; and, jumping down,
she ran down the flight.

After thus inspecting her dominions, testing her power, and convincing
herself that her subjects were docile, and that there was no novelty to
be got out of them, Natacha settled herself in the darkest corner of the
music-room with her guitar, striking the bass strings, and trying to
make an accompaniment to an air from an opera that she and Prince André
had once heard together at St. Petersburg. The uncertain chords which
her unpractised fingers sketched out would have struck the least
experienced ear as wanting in harmony and musical accuracy, while to her
excited imagination they brought a whole train of memories. Leaning
against the wall and half hidden by a cabinet, with her eyes fixed on a
thread of light that came under the door from the rooms beyond, she
listened in ecstasy and dreamed of the past.

Sonia crossed the room with a glass in her hand. Natacha glanced round
at her and again fixed her eyes on the streak of light. She had the
strange feeling of having once before gone through the same
experience--sat in the same place, surrounded by the same details, and
watching Sonia pass carrying a tumbler. "Yes, it was exactly the same,"
she thought.

"Sonia, what is this tune?" she said, playing a few notes.

"What, are you there?" said Sonia, startled. "I do not know," she said,
coming closer to listen, "unless it is from 'La Tempête';" but she spoke

"It was exactly so," thought Natacha. "She started as she came forward,
smiling so gently; and I thought then, as I think now, that there is
something in her which is quite lacking in me. No," she said aloud, "you
are quite out; it is the chorus from the 'Porteur d'Eau'--listen," and
she hummed the air. "Where are you going?"

"For some fresh water to finish my drawing."

"You are always busy and I never. Where is Nicolas?"

"Asleep, I think."

"Go and wake him, Sonia. Tell him to come and sing."

Sonia went, and Natacha relapsed into dreaming and wondering how it had
all happened. Not being able to solve the puzzle, she drifted into
reminiscence once more. She could see him--_him_--and feel his
impassioned eyes fixed on her face. "Oh, make haste back! I am so afraid
he will not come yet! Besides, it is all very well, but I am growing
old; I shall be quite different from what I am now! Who knows? Perhaps
he will come to-day! Perhaps he is here already! Here in the
drawing-room. Perhaps he came yesterday and I have forgotten."

She rose, laid down the guitar, and went into the next room. All the
household party were seated round the tea-table,--the professors, the
governesses, the guests; the servants were waiting on one and
another--but there was no Prince André.

"Ah, here she is," said her father. "Come and sit down here." But
Natacha stopped by her mother without heeding his bidding.

"Oh, mamma, bring him to me, give him to me soon, very soon," she
murmured, swallowing down a sob. Then she sat down and listened to the
others. "Good God! always the same people! always the same thing! Papa
holds his cup as he always does, and blows his tea to cool it as he did
yesterday, and as he will to-morrow."

She felt a sort of dull rebellion against them all; she hated them for
always being the same.

After tea Sonia, Natacha, and Nicolas huddled together in their
favorite, snug corner of the drawing-room; that was where they talked
freely to each other.

"Do you ever feel," Natacha asked her brother, "as if there was nothing
left to look forward to; as if you had had all your share of happiness,
and were not so much weary as utterly dull?"

"Of course I have. Very often I have seen my friends and fellow-officers
in the highest spirits and been just as jolly myself, and suddenly have
been struck so dull and dismal, have so hated life, that I have wondered
whether we were not all to die at once. I remember one day, for
instance, when I was with the regiment; the band was playing, and I had
such a fit of melancholy that I never even thought of going to the

"How well I understand that! I recollect once," Natacha went on, "once
when I was a little girl, I was punished for having eaten some plums, I
think. I had not done it, and you were all dancing, and I was left
alone in the school-room. How I cried! cried because I was so sorry for
myself, and so vexed with you all for making me so unhappy."

"I remember; and I went to comfort you and did not know how; we were
funny children then; I had a toy with bells that jingled, and I made you
a present of it."

"Do you remember," said Natacha, "long before that, when we were no
bigger than my hand, my uncle called us into his room, where it was
quite dark, and suddenly we saw----"

"A negro!" interrupted Nicolas, smiling at her recollection. "To be
sure. I can see him now; and to this day I wonder whether it was a dream
or a reality, or mere fancy invented afterwards."

"He had white teeth and stared at us with his black eyes."

"Do you remember him, Sonia?"

"Yes, yes--but very dimly."

"But papa and mamma have always declared that no negro ever came to the
house. And the eggs; do you remember the eggs we used to roll up at
Easter; and one day how two little grinning old women came up through
the floor and began to spin round the table?"

"Of course. And how papa used to put on his fur coat and fire off his
gun from the balcony. And don t you remember----?" And so they went on
recalling, one after the other, not the bitter memories of old age, but
the bright pictures of early childhood, which float and fade on a
distant horizon of poetic vagueness, midway between reality and dreams.
Sonia remembered being frightened once at the sight of Nicolas in his
braided jacket, and her nurse promising her that she should some day
have a frock trimmed from top to bottom.

"And they told me you had been found in the garden under a cabbage,"
said Natacha. "I dared not say it was not true, but it puzzled me

A door opened, and a woman put in her head, exclaiming, "Mademoiselle,
mademoiselle, they have fetched the cock!"

"I do not want it now; send it away again, Polia." said Natacha.

Dimmler, who had meanwhile come into the room, went up to the harp,
which stood in a corner, and in taking off the cover made the strings
ring discordantly.

"Edward Karlovitch, play my favorite nocturne--Field's," cried the
countess, from the adjoining room.

Dimmler struck a chord. "How quiet you young people are," he said,
addressing them.

"Yes, we are studying philosophy," said Natacha, and they went on
talking of their dreams.

Dimmler had no sooner begun his nocturne than Natacha, crossing the room
on tiptoe, seized the wax-light that was burning on the table and
carried it into the next room; then she stole back to her seat, it was
now quite dark in the larger room, especially in their corner, but the
silvery moonbeams came in at the wide windows and lay in broad sheets on
the floor.

"Do you know," whispered Natacha, while Dimmler, after playing the
nocturne, let his fingers wander over the strings, uncertain what to
play next, "when I go on remembering one thing beyond another, I go back
so far, so far, that at last I remember things that happened before I
was born, and----"

"That is metempsychosis," interrupted Sonia, with a reminiscence of her
early lessons. "The Egyptians believed that our souls had once inhabited
the bodies of animals, and would return to animals again after our

"I do not believe that," said Natacha, still in a low voice, though the
music had ceased. "But I am quite sure that we were angels once,
somewhere there beyond, or, perhaps, even here; and that is the reason
we remember a previous existence."

"May I join the party?" asked Dimmler, coming towards them.

"If we were once angels, how is it that we have fallen lower?"

"Lower? Who says that it is lower? Who knows what I was?" Natacha
retorted with full conviction. "Since the soul is immortal, and I am to
live forever in the future, I must have existed in the past, so I have
eternity behind me, too."

"Yes; but it is very difficult to conceive of that eternity," said
Dimmler, whose ironical smile had died away.

"Why?" asked Natacha. "After to-day comes to-morrow, and then the day
after, and so on forever; yesterday has been, to-morrow will be----"

"Natacha, now it is your turn; sing me something," said her mother.
"What are you doing in that corner like a party of conspirators?"

"I am not at all in the humor, mamma," said she; nevertheless she rose.
Nicolas sat down to the piano; and standing, as usual, in the middle of
the room, where the voice sounded best, she sang her mother's favorite

Though she had said she was not in the humor, it was long since Natacha
had sung so well as she did that evening, and long before she sang so
well again. Her father, who was talking over business with Mitenka in
his room, hurriedly gave him some final instructions as soon as he heard
the first note, as a schoolboy scrambles through his tasks to get to his
play; but as the steward did not go, he sat in silence, listening, while
Mitenka, too, standing in his presence, listened with evident
satisfaction. Nicolas did not take his eyes off his sister's face, and
only breathed when she took breath. Sonia was under the spell of that
exquisite voice and thinking of the gulf of difference that lay between
her and her friend, full conscious that she could never exercise such
fascination. The old countess had paused in her "patience,"--a sad, fond
smile played on her lips, her eyes were full of tears, and she shook her
head, remembering her own youth, looking forward to her daughter's
future and reflecting on her strange prospects of marriage.

Dimmler, sitting by her side, listened with rapture, his eyes half

"She really has a marvellous gift!" he exclaimed. "She has nothing to
learn,--such power, such sweetness, such roundness!"

"And how much I fear for her happiness!" replied the countess, who in
her mother's heart could feel the flame that must some day be fatal to
her child's peace.

Natacha was still singing when Pétia dashed noisily into the room to
announce, in triumphant tones, that a party of mummers had come.

"Idiot!" exclaimed Natacha, stopping short, and, dropping into a chair,
she began to sob so violently that it was some time before she could
recover herself. "It is nothing, mamma, really nothing at all," she
declared, trying to smile. "Only Pétia frightened me; nothing more." And
her tears flowed afresh.

All the servants had dressed up, some as bears, Turks, tavern-keepers,
or fine ladies; others as mongrel monsters. Bringing with them the chill
of the night outside, they did not at first venture any farther than the
hall; by degrees, however, they took courage; pushing each other forward
for self-protection, they all soon came into the music-room. Once there,
their shyness thawed; they became expansively merry, and singing,
dancing, and sports were soon the order of the day. The countess, after
looking at them and identifying them all, went back into the
sitting-room, leaving her husband, whose jovial face encouraged them to
enjoy themselves.

The young people had all vanished; but half an hour later an old
marquise with patches appeared on the scene--none other than Nicolas;
Pétia as a Turk; a clown--Dimmler; a hussar--Natacha; and a
Circassian--Sonia. Both the girls had blackened their eyebrows and
given themselves mustaches with burned cork.

After being received with well-feigned surprise, and recognized more or
less quickly, the children, who were very proud of their costumes,
unanimously declared that they must go and display them elsewhere.
Nicolas, who was dying to take them all for a long drive _en troïka_,[C]
proposed that, as the roads were in splendid order, they should go, a
party of ten, to the Little Uncle's.

[C] A team of three horses harnessed abreast.

"You will disturb the old man, and that will be all," said the countess.
"Why, he has not even room for you all to get into the house! If you
must go out, you had better go to the Mélukows'."

Mme. Mélukow was a widow living in the neighborhood; her house, full of
children of all ages, with tutors and governesses, was distant only four
versts from Otradnoë.

"A capital idea, my dear," cried the count, enchanted. "I will dress up
in costume and go, too. I will wake them up, I warrant you!"

But this did not at all meet his wife's views. Perfect madness! For him
to go out with his gouty feet in such cold weather was sheer folly! The
count gave way, and Mme. Schoss volunteered to chaperon the girls.
Sonia's was by far the most successful disguise; her fierce eyebrows and
mustache were wonderfully becoming, her pretty features gained
expression, and she wore the dress of a man with unexpected swagger and
smartness. Something in her inmost soul told her that this evening would
seal her fate.

[Illustration: Sonia]

In a few minutes four sleighs with three horses abreast to each, their
harness jingling with bells, drew up in a line before the steps, the
runners creaking and crunching over the frozen snow. Natacha was the
foremost, and the first to tune her spirits to the pitch of this
carnival freak. This mirth, in fact, proved highly infectious, and
reached its height of tumult and excitement when the party went down the
steps and packed themselves into the sleighs, laughing and shouting to
each other at the top of their voices. Two of the sleighs were drawn by
light cart-horses, to the third the count's carriage horses were
harnessed, and one of these was reputed a famous trotter from Orlow's
stable; the fourth sleigh, with its rough-coated, black shaft-horse, was
Nicolas's private property. In his marquise costume, over which he had
thrown his hussar's cloak, fastened with a belt round the waist, he
stood gathering up the reins. The moon was shining brightly, reflected
in the plating of the harness and in the horses' anxious eyes as they
turned their heads in uneasy amazement at the noisy group that clustered
under the dark porch. Natacha, Sonia, and Mme. Schoss, with two women
servants, got into Nicolas's sleigh; Dimmler and his wife, with Pétia,
into the count's; the rest of the mummers packed into the other sleighs.

"Lead the way, Zakhare!" cried Nicolas, to his father's coachman,
promising himself the pleasure of outstripping him presently; the
count's sleigh swayed and strained, the runners, which the frost had
already glued to the ground, creaked, the bells rang out, the horses
closed up for a pull, and off they went over the glittering, hard snow,
flinging it up right and left like spray of powdered sugar. Nicolas
started next, and the others followed along the narrow way, with no less
jingling and creaking. While they drove under the wall of the park the
shadows of the tall, skeleton trees lay on the road, checkering the
broad moonlight; but as soon as they had left it behind them, the wide
and spotless plain spread on all sides, its whiteness broken by myriads
of flashing sparks and spangles of reflected light. Suddenly a rut
caused the foremost sleigh to jolt violently, and then the others in
succession; they fell away a little, their intrusive clatter breaking
the supreme and solemn silence of the night.

"A hare's tracks!" exclaimed Natacha, and her voice pierced the frozen
air like an arrow.

"How light it is, Nicolas," said Sonia. Nicolas turned round to look at
the pretty face with its black mustache, under the sable hood, looking
at once so far away and so close in the moonshine. "It is not Sonia at
all," he said, smiling.

"Why, what is the matter?"

"Nothing," said he, returning to his former position.

When they got out on the high-road, beaten and ploughed by horses' hoofs
and polished with the tracks of sleighs, his steeds began to pull and go
at a great pace. The near horse, turning away his head, was galloping
rather wildly, while the horse in the shafts pricked his ears and still
seemed to doubt whether the moment for a dash had come. Zakhare's
sleigh, lost in the distance, was no more than a black spot on the white
snow, and as he drew farther away the ringing of the bells was fainter
and fainter; only the shouts and songs of the maskers rang through the
calm, clear night.

"On you go, my beauties!" cried Nicolas, shaking the reins and raising
his whip. The sleigh seemed to leap forward, but the sharp air that cut
their faces and the flying pace of the two outer horses alone gave them
any idea of the speed they were making. Nicolas glanced back at the
other two drivers; they were shouting and urging their shaft-horses with
cries and cracking of whips, so as not to be quite left behind;
Nicolas's middle horse, swinging steadily along under the shaft-bow,
kept up his regular pace, quite ready to go twice as fast the moment he
should be called upon.

They soon overtook the first troïka, and after going down a slope they
came upon a wide cross-road running by the side of a meadow.

"Where are we, I wonder," thought Nicolas; "this must be the field and
slope by the river. No--I do not know where we are! This is all new and
unfamiliar to me! God only knows where we are! But no matter!" And
smacking his whip with a will, he went straight ahead. Zakhare held in
his beasts for an instant, and turned his face, all fringed with frost,
to look at Nicolas, who came flying onward.

"Steady there, sir!" cried the coachman, and leaning forward, with a
click of his tongue he urged his horses in their turn to their utmost
speed. For a few minutes the sleighs ran equal, but before long, in
spite of all Zakhare could do, Nicolas gained on him and at last flew
past him like a lightning flash; a cloud of fine snow, kicked up by the
horses, came showering down on the rival sleigh; the women squeaked,
and the two teams had a struggle for the precedence, their shadows
crossing and mingling on the snow.

Then Nicolas, moderating his speed, looked about him; before, behind,
and on each side of him stretched the fairy scene; a plain strewn with
stars and flooded with light.

"To the left, Zakhare says. Why to the left?" thought he. "We were going
to the Mélukows'. But we are going where fate directs or as Heaven may
guide us. It is all very strange and most delightful, is it not?" he
said, turning to the others.

"Oh! look at his eyelashes and beard; they are quite white!" exclaimed
one of the sweet young men, with pencilled mustache and arched eyebrows.

"That I believe is Natacha?" said Nicolas. "And that little
Circassian--who is he? I do not know him, but I like his looks
uncommonly! Are you not frozen?" Their answer was a shout of laughter.

Dimmler was talking himself hoarse, and he must be saying very funny
things, for the party in his sleigh were in fits of laughing.

"Better and better," said Nicolas to himself; "now we are in an
enchanted forest--the black shadows lie across a flooring of diamonds
and mix with the sparkling of gems. That might be a fairy palace, out
there, built of large blocks of marble and jewelled tiles? Did I not
hear the howl of wild beasts in the distance? Supposing it were only
Mélukovka that I am coming to after all! On my word, it would be no less
miraculous to have reached port after steering so completely at random!"

It was, in fact, Mélukovka, for he could see the house servants coming
out on the balcony with lights, and then down to meet them, only too
glad of this unexpected diversion.

"Who is there?" a voice asked within.

"The mummers from Count Rostow's; they are his teams," replied the

       *       *       *       *       *

Pélaguéïa Danilovna Mélukow, a stout and commanding personality, in
spectacles and a flowing dressing-gown, was sitting in her drawing-room
surrounded by her children, whom she was doing her best to amuse by
modelling heads in wax and tracing the shadows they cast on the wall,
when steps and voices were heard in the ante-room. Hussars, witches,
clowns, and bears were rubbing their faces, which were scorched by the
cold and covered with rime, or shaking the snow off their clothes. As
soon as they had cast off their furs they rushed into the large
drawing-room, which was hastily lighted up. Dimmler, the clown, and
Nicolas, the marquise, performed a dance, while the others stood close
along the wall, the children shouting and jumping about them with glee.

"It is impossible to know who is who--can that really be Natacha? Look
at her; does not she remind you of some one? Edward, before Karlovitch,
how fine you are! and how beautifully you dance! Oh! and that splendid
Circassian--why, it is Sonia! What a kind and delightful surprise; we
were so desperately dull. Ha, ha! what a beautiful hussar! A real
hussar, or a real monkey of a boy--which is he, I wonder? I cannot look
at you without laughing." They all shouted and laughed and talked at
once, at the top of their voices.

Natacha, to whom the Mélukows were devoted, soon vanished with them to
their own room, where corks and various articles of men's clothing were
brought to them, and clutched by bare arms through a half-open door. Ten
minutes later all the young people of the house rejoined the company,
equally unrecognizable. Pélaguéïa Danilovna, going and coming among them
all, with her spectacles on her nose and a quiet smile, had seats
arranged and a supper laid out for the visitors, masters and servants
alike. She looked straight in the face of each in turn, recognizing no
one of the motley crew--neither the Rostows, nor Dimmler, nor even her
own children, nor any of the clothes they figured in.

"That one, who is she?" she asked the governess, stopping a Kazan
Tartar, who was, in fact, her own daughter. "One of the Rostows, is it
not? And you, gallant hussar, what regiment do you belong to?" she went
on, addressing Natacha. "Give some _pastila_ to this Turkish lady," she
cried to the butler; "it is not forbidden by her religion, I believe."

At the sight of some of the reckless dancing which the mummers performed
under the shelter of their disguise, Pélaguéïa Danilovna could not help
hiding her face in her handkerchief, while her huge person shook with
uncontrollable laughter--the laugh of a kindly matron, frankly jovial
and gay.

When they had danced all the national dances, ending with the
_Horovody_, she placed every one, both masters and servants, in a large
circle, holding a cord with a ring and a rouble, and for a while they
played games. An hour after, when the finery was the worse for wear and
heat and laughter had removed much of the charcoal, Pélaguéïa Danilovna
could recognize them, compliment the girls on the success of their
disguise, and thank the whole party for the amusement they had given
her. Supper was served for the company in the drawing-room, and for the
servants in the large dining-room.

"You should try your fortune in the bathroom over there; that is enough
to frighten you!" said an old maid who lived with the Mélukows.

"Why?" said the eldest girl.

"Oh! you would never dare to do it; you must be very brave."

"Well, I will go," said Sonia.

"Tell us what happened to that young girl, you know," said the youngest

"Once a young girl went to the bath, taking with her a cock and two
plates with knives and forks, which is what you must do; and she waited.
Suddenly she heard horses' bells--some one was coming; he stopped, came
up-stairs, and she saw an officer walk into the room; a real live
officer--at least so he seemed--who sat down opposite to her where the
second cover was laid."

"Oh! how horrible!" exclaimed Natacha, wide-eyed. "And he spoke to
her--really spoke?"

"Yes, just as if he had really been a man. He begged and prayed her to
listen to him, and all she had to do was to refuse him and hold out till
the cock crowed; but she was too much frightened. She covered her face
with her hands, and he clasped her in his arms; luckily some girls who
were on the watch rushed in when she screamed."

"Why do you terrify them with such nonsense?" said Pélaguéïa Danilovna.

"But, mamma, you know you wanted to try your fortune too."

"And if you try your fortune in a barn, what do you do?" asked Sonia.

"That is quite simple. You must go to the barn--now, for instance--and
listen. If you hear thrashing, it is for ill-luck; if you hear grain
dropping, that is good."

"Tell us, mother, what happened to you in the barn."

"It is so long ago," said the mother, with a smile, "that I have quite
forgotten; besides, not one of you is brave enough to try it."

"Yes, I will go," said Sonia. "Let me go."

"Go by all means if you are not afraid."

"May I, Madame Schoss?" said Sonia to the governess.

Now, whether playing games or sitting quietly and chatting, Nicolas had
not left Sonia's side the whole evening; he felt as if he had seen her
for the first time, and only just now appreciated all her merits.
Bright, bewitchingly pretty in her quaint costume, and excited as she
very rarely was, she had completely fascinated him.

"What a simpleton I must have been!" thought he, responding in thought
to those sparkling eyes and that triumphant smile which had revealed to
him a little dimple at the tip of her mustache that he had never
observed before.

"I am afraid of nothing," she declared. She rose, asked her way,
precisely, to the barn, and every detail as to what she was to expect,
waiting there in total silence; then she threw a fur cloak over her
shoulders, glanced at Nicolas, and went on.

She went along the corridor and down the back-stairs; while Nicolas,
saying that the heat of the room was too much for him, slipped out by
the front entrance. It was as cold as ever, and the moon seemed to be
shining even more brightly than before. The snow at her feet was strewn
with stars, while their sisters overhead twinkled in the deep gloom of
the sky, and she soon looked away from them, back to the gleaming earth
in its radiant mantle of ermine.

Nicolas hurried across the hall, turned the corner of the house, and
went past the side door where Sonia was to come out. Half-way to the
barn stacks of wood, in the full moonlight, threw their shadows on the
path, and beyond, an alley of lime-trees traced a tangled pattern on
the snow with the fine crossed lines of their leafless twigs. The beams
of the house and its snow-laden roof looked as if they had been hewn out
of a block of opal, with iridescent lights where the facets caught the
silvery moonlight. Suddenly a bough fell crashing off a tree in the
garden; then all was still again. Sonia's heart beat high with gladness;
as if she were drinking in not common air, but some life-giving elixir
of eternal youth and joy.

"Straight on, if you please, miss, and on no account look behind you."

"I am not afraid," said Sonia, her little shoes tapping the stone steps
and then crunching the carpet of snow as she ran to meet Nicolas, who
was within a couple of yards of her. And yet not the Nicolas of
every-day life. What had transfigured him so completely? Was it his
woman's costume with frizzed-out hair, or was it that radiant smile
which he so rarely wore, and which at this moment illumined his face?

"But Sonia is quite unlike herself, and yet she is herself," thought
Nicolas on his side, looking down at the sweet little face in the
moonlight. He slipped his arms under the fur cloak that wrapped her, and
drew her to him, and he kissed her lips, which still tasted of the
burned cork that had blackened her mustache.

"Nicolas--Sonia," they whispered; and Sonia put her little hands round
his face. Then, hand in hand, they ran to the barn and back, and each
went in by the different doors they had come out of.

Natacha, who had noted everything, managed so that she, Mme. Schoss, and
Dimmler should return in one sleigh, while the maids went with Nicolas
and Sonia in another. Nicolas was in no hurry to get home; he could not
help looking at Sonia and trying to find under her disguise the true
Sonia--his Sonia, from whom nothing now could ever part him. The magical
effects of moonlight, the remembrance of that kiss on her sweet lips,
the dizzy flight of the snow-clad ground under the horses' hoofs, the
black sky, studded with diamonds, that bent over their heads, the icy
air that seemed to give vigor to his lungs--all was enough to make him
fancy that they were transported to a land of magic.

"Sonia, are you not cold?"

"No; and you?"

Nicolas pulled up, and giving the reins to a man to drive, he ran back
to the sleigh in which Natacha was sitting.

"Listen," he said, in a whisper and in French; "I have made up my mind
to tell Sonia."

"And you have spoken to her?" exclaimed Natacha, radiant with joy.

"Oh, Natacha, how queer that mustache makes you look! Are you glad?"

"Glad! I am delighted. I did not say anything, you know, but I have been
so vexed with you. She is a jewel, a heart of gold. I--I am often
naughty, and I have no right to have all the happiness to myself now.
Go, go back to her."

"No. Wait one minute. Mercy, how funny you look!" he repeated, examining
her closely and discovering in her face, too, an unwonted tenderness and
emotion that struck him deeply. "Natacha, is there not some magic at the
bottom of it all, heh?"

"You have acted very wisely. Go."

"If I had ever seen Natacha look as she does at this moment I should
have asked her advice and have obeyed her, whatever she had bid me do;
and all would have gone well. So you are glad?" he said, aloud. "I have
done right?"

"Yes, yes, of course you have! I was quite angry with mamma the other
day about you two. Mamma would have it that Sonia was running after you.
I will not allow any one to say--no, nor even to think--any evil of her,
for she is sweetness and truth itself."

"So much the better." Nicolas jumped down and in a few long strides
overtook his own sleigh, where the little Circassian received him with
a smile from under the fur hood; and the Circassian was Sonia, and Sonia
beyond a doubt would be his beloved little wife!

When they got home the two girls went into the countess's room and gave
her an account of their expedition; then they went to bed. Without
stopping to wipe off their mustaches they stood chattering as they
undressed; they had so much to say of their happiness, their future
prospects, the friendship between their husbands:

"But, oh! when will it all be? I am so afraid it will never come to
pass," said Natacha, as she went toward a table on which two
looking-glasses stood.

"Sit down," said Sonia, "and look in the glass; perhaps you will see
something about it." Natacha lighted two pairs of candles and seated
herself. "I certainly see a pair of mustaches," she said, laughing.

"You should not laugh," said the maid, very gravely.

Natacha settled herself to gaze without blinking into the mirror; she
put on a solemn face and sat in silence for some time, wondering what
she should see. Would a coffin rise before her, or would Prince André
presently stand revealed against the confused background in the shining
glass? Her eyes were weary and could hardly distinguish even the
flickering light of the candles. But with the best will in the world
she could see nothing; not a spot to suggest the image either of a
coffin or of a human form. She rose.

"Why do other people see things and I never see anything at all? Take my
place, Sonia; you must look for yourself and for me, too. I am so
frightened; if I could but know!"

Sonia sat down and fixed her eyes on the mirror.

"Sofia Alexandrovna will be sure to see something," whispered Douniacha;
"but you always are laughing at such things." Sonia heard the remark and
Natacha's whispered reply: "Yes, she is sure to see something; she did
last year." Three minutes they waited in total silence. "She is sure to
see something," Natacha repeated, trembling.

Sonia started back, covered her face with one hand, and cried out:


"You saw something? What did you see?" And Natacha rushed forward to
hold up the glass.

But Sonia had seen nothing; her eyes were getting dim, and she was on
the point of giving it up when Natacha's exclamation had stopped her;
she did not want to disappoint them; but there is nothing so tiring as
sitting motionless. She did not know why she had called out and hidden
her face.

"Did you see him?" asked Natacha.

"Yes; stop a minute. I saw him," said Sonia, not quite sure whether
"him" was to mean Nicolas or Prince André. "Why not make them believe
that I saw something?" she thought. "A great many people have done so
before, and no one can prove the contrary. Yes, I saw him," she

"How? standing up or lying down?"

"I saw him--at first there was nothing; then suddenly I saw him lying

"André, lying down? Then he is ill!" And Natacha gazed horror-stricken
at her companion.

"Not at all; he seemed quite cheerful, on the contrary," said she,
beginning to believe in her own inventions.

"And then--Sonia, what then?"

"Then I saw only confusion--red and blue."

"And when will he come back, Sonia? When shall I see him again? O God! I
am afraid for him--afraid of everything."

And, without listening to Sonia's attempts at comfort, Natacha slipped
into bed, and, long after the lights were out, she lay motionless but
awake, her eyes fixed on the moonshine that came dimly through the
frost-embroidered windows.

_A Wayfarer's Fancy._

     "A felicitous combination of the German, the Sclave, and the
     Semite, with grand features, brown hair floating in artistic
     fashion, and brown eyes in spectacles."

_George Eliot._



It was the time of the great war. Germany was desolated. Towns and
villages were destroyed by flames. Order and law had given way to savage
power; and from the walls of many a ruined house of God the wooden image
of the Saviour looked down with a face of anguish on the horrors of the
degenerate times.

The terrified citizens of towns that were still untouched by war, hid
themselves within their narrow walls, awaiting, in tremulous fear, the
day on which their homes must also fall a prey to plundering soldiers.
If any one were obliged to go beyond the boundaries, he would glance
anxiously at the bushes on either side of the road; and when night came
on, he would be forced to look with horror and sorrow at the reddened
horizon, where a little village or lonely hamlet was burning to ashes.

But who is it cowers there in the ditch by the highway? A dried-up
little man with deathly-pale countenance, and clad in a black coat!
Flee, Wanderer! let him not gaze at you with his piercing gray eyes!
Beware! for that old man is the Plague-man!

The heart of the Wanderer sinks within him. Horrified he rushes away,
and thanks heaven when, in the gray of the morning, he sees again the
towers of his native town. Enraptured by the sight of home he believes
these towers with the dear, well-known faces can protect him; but the
old cripple has been quicker than he. Before break of day he has knocked
at the town-gate, and the gate-keeper, on opening it, has scarcely
looked into his gray eyes before he sank down as though some one had
felled him with an axe.

Then the gray old man begins his terrible work. Like a bat he slips into
all dwellings; no gate and no bolt is an obstacle to him. Right up into
the lofts he climbs and opens the most secret chamber. That threshold he
passes is doomed to the Black-death.

       *       *       *       *       *

It had happened thus to a little town in Franconia, where but a few
houses remained untouched by the terrible plague. In this town there
lived a poor, honest couple with their child, a boy of nearly three
years. Their cottage lay on a small hill, and was divided from the road
by a little garden. People ascribed it to this that the awful spirit
for a long time had left their home untouched. But at last he seemed to
have found his way to even this out-of-the-way place.

A few days before Christmas the boy fell sick, and on Christmas morning
he lay motionless in bed, so that the poor parents thought the plague
had taken their child from them. The father wanted to bury the body at
once, but the mother showed him the rosy cheeks of the dead child, and
said that a death that looked so like sleep could do them no harm.
Thereupon she went into the little garden and cut box-tree leaves from
under the snow, and made a wreath for the dead darling. She placed the
wreath on his curly head and moved his bed into the middle of the room,
where she set candles burning around it, just as we do in quieter times
for a dear departed one. Then she went into the wood, cut down a small
Christmas-tree and placed it, all decorated with lights, nuts, and
bright tinsel, next to the coffin, in order that the dead child might
also have his Christmas pleasure.

This was the only Christmas-tree that the poor stricken town lit up!
People passing along the road looked with secret jealousy at the
illuminated window, wondering how they could still rejoice in such
bitter times. But no gladsome sounds from the window reached the
street, where flake after flake was whirling down from the gray heavens,
covering everything in its white cloak. And unceasingly, as flake after
flake sank down to earth, so in the little chamber the tears of the poor
woman rolled down her cheeks till the lights of the Christmas-tree
burned low, the fire in the stove died away, and sleep closed the
streaming eyes of the mother. Then all was quiet, very quiet, in the
little chamber.

       *       *       *       *       *

But at the gates of Heaven it was very noisy that evening. Countless
hosts were crowding up the broad stairway, young and old, rich and poor:
a mixed and motley crowd. There the patrician elbowed the tailor who had
made his coat; the general the lowest sutler; and a ragged beggar was
even next to a king, who drew his purple closer around him in order not
to be contaminated. All were pushing towards the great, light gate, and
many a one, who on earth had only beaten and jostled others, received
here in the crowd his own first jostling. At the gate stood a beautiful,
tall angel, who sprinkled each one with water out of a golden vessel.
The touch of this water obliterated at once all remembrance of the past.

St. Peter, who considered the noise and bustle too much of a good thing,
was of the opinion that mankind had none of the bother of dying, all
the work falling on him; and he was accordingly grumbling to himself.
Suddenly he saw a little fellow, clad only in a shirt, standing before
him, shivering all over, and regarding him with innocent, childish eyes,
as if asking whether he might enter. St. Peter, unwilling that such
little folks should cause delay in business, said, roughly, "In with
you!" The little frightened fellow rushed, thereupon, so quickly through
the gate that the angel did not have time to sprinkle him with the
waters of oblivion.

Now, as children of two years have but short memories and very harmless
pasts, the angel smilingly let him slip by. Once inside, little Hans was
seized by a host of flying angels and whirled away to Paradise, which
was more beautiful than the fairest garden on earth. Rare plants with
big, magnificently colored blossoms filled the air with spicy odor. Here
dwelt the tiny children who had left earth before they knew anything of
it. Here they could dream on forever; and their breath swept softly over
every bud. Large butterflies with silken wings were bathing in the clear
ether, and floating entranced from bud to bud. The heavens glittered and
lightened as though composed of millions of diamonds; yet the sun did
not blind the eye, nor the warmth rise to summer heat. Eternal spring
had banished from these regions battle and death, tempest and decay, and
far away below in misty distance lay all the sorrows of tormented
creation. Amongst the flowers wandered blissful forms, absorbed in the
beauty of surrounding harmony.

The boy curiously observed all this splendor, peered into the dewy buds
of the flowers, examined the wings of his heavenly playmates, and was
not a little rejoiced on observing that two wings had also grown on him,
with which he could fly like a bird. "If neighbor Liesel could only see
me!" thought Hans, and he felt quite proud at the thought. For,
notwithstanding all the splendor about him, the picture of his parents'
home presented itself constantly to his little mind. He had an excellent
memory of the much despised earth, which soon with magnetic power drew
all his thoughts towards it. At the sight of the wonderful flowers of
Paradise, such as the earth never produces, he could think of nothing
but the violets, and crocuses, and tulips which curled up in spring-time
out of the black earth of his father's garden. The golden fruits on the
trees reminded him of the gilded ones of the Christmas-tree, and seemed
to him even brighter; and although the Paradise of heaven, with its
eternal clearness, was a thousand times more beautiful than the
changing air below, yet the little heart felt a dim yearning for the
beloved earth, the griefs of which he had not yet learned to measure;
and, amidst all this angelic beauty, he only felt an uncontrollable
longing for the plain, human countenance of his mother. Then there came
an end to his enjoyment. He began to cry, and, finally, to roar lustily.
The other little angels gathered astonished around him, staring at the
strange playmate who had dewdrops in his eyes and made such awful faces.
Such a thing did not generally occur in heaven, where all were good and
quiet. But just then St. James came along and, on seeing the crying
angel, he spoke pleasantly to him, and finally took him up in his arms
in order to comfort him. But a great surprise lay in store for the
Saint; for it would have been easier for him to convert a thousand
heathens than to quiet the little unruly fellow, who commenced kicking
and wriggling, and made such a terrible outcry that the angels fluttered
away in consternation. There stood the Saint with the child in his arms,
and did not know what to do! At last he concluded to show the strange
being to the Lord Himself, and went with the little one before His
throne. Then the Lord Almighty smiled, and all the angels around His
throne smiled, when they saw St. James, who certainly did not seem very
well adapted for nursing children, and in whose arms little Hans,
regardless of all surroundings, continued to roar unmercifully. But the
merciful Lord opined that the greatest squallers often turned out the
best men, and He ordered an angel to carry the little one back to dear

And this was done. With mighty strokes of his pinions the heavenly
messenger floated back to earth, which came nearer and nearer with its
mountains, lakes, and rivers, and with the old, lifeworn town, and from
out the town rose up the gabled roof of the parents' home with a cap of
snow upon it.

The boy in the coffin opened his eyes, and with a cry of joy his mother
pressed him to her heart. Among the boughs of the Christmas-tree there
was a soft rustling and whispering.

Methinks the tree remembered that winter is only a deep sleep, and was
dreaming of spring.


The years of misery and war were over. In the streets of the old town,
where only a few years ago the roll of the drum resounded, and where the
plague, in deathly silence, had spread its black wings, there, the stork
on the town-hall heard, to his great satisfaction, merry shouts of
children,--the ringing laugh of peace. A group of boys chased each
other noisily over the market-place, playing at war. War! which had
desolated so many of their homes. Oh! the fresh, merry laughter of
childhood! how like unto ivy it climbeth over all ruins and findeth at
last the sunshine!

But there was one not amongst the noisy group, and that one was Hans.
His parents perceived with anxiety that the little noisy child had grown
into a silent, shy boy, who avoided the games of his comrades and
dreamingly went his own way. For hours he sat in the garden on the bench
near his mother's flowers, and gazed dreamingly at the busy bees and
butterflies, or lay in the woods near by and stared up through the
branches of the beech-trees at the blue sky.

"What are you thinking of?" his mother would ask at times; then he would
start up like one awakened from sleep, the thread of whose dreams are
broken by awaking. "He is ill," the mother would think, anxiously. But
folks would shake their heads suspiciously when, on speaking to the boy,
they received no other answer than a shy, questioning look. "There is
something wanting," said some, with an unmistakable gesture. "He is a
fool," murmured others.

Thus a boy fares who has peeped too early into Paradise. The children
of his own age made fun of him, and poor Hans would have been quite
forsaken if Liesel from next door had not taken his part. She was quite
the opposite to him,--merry and high-spirited. Whilst he sat dreaming,
she was romping about, singing and laughing. But the children kept
together, and the parents thought they might some day be a pair. The
boy's reserved nature vexed the father, and, being of the opinion that
man's hand cannot learn too early to handle and knead the tough clay of
existence, he apprenticed him to a potter, in the hope that time would
change the character of his son. He was mistaken, however; the boy grew
up a fine, handsome youth, but in character he remained the boy of
former days. If he looked up from his work it was not in order to gaze,
like other journeymen, after a young girl who maybe was tripping past;
but to stare up at the sky, which shone so blue between the houses, or
to follow with his eyes the great white clouds away,--who knows whither?
In his free time he did not go like others to the market-place, but
would mount the ramparts at the back of his parents' house and gaze into
the valley below, where the river was bearing its silvery wavelets into
the far distance. What might not be in the far distance? Far, far away
yonder must be the place where the dream of his childhood was realized!
How astonished, then, was his father, when one fine sunny spring morning
his son stood before him, with knapsack and staff, in order to bid him
farewell before setting out on his travels. Who would ever have thought
he would want to travel! The father rejoiced in the belief that the son
would seek work according to the custom of journeymen workmen, and gave
him his blessing, and much good advice besides. But he hardly even heard
the words and advice of his father; there was a singing in his ears and
a mist before his eyes, so that he felt like one intoxicated. Yes, he
was a fool! Nor did he see the tears his mother and Liesel were shedding
at his departure: he only thought of that far-off land, of the dream of
his childhood. What mattered to him their tears! He wanted only to
travel to find his Eden. And he travelled. With each rising sun he arose
and thought, "To-day you will find what you seek;" and when he laid
himself down tired at night, he thought, "To-morrow I shall reach my
goal;" and, happy in this thought, he would fall asleep. No mountain was
too steep for him, no path too stony, no forest too dense; he thought of
his Eden, and minded not the thorns that tore his flesh. Yes, he was a

Far behind him, forgotten, lay his home in the dim distance!

No living creature could tell him where his Paradise lay! The birds of
the forest went on with their song; the deer gazed at him astonished;
the brooks babbled on monotonously and sought the way to the ocean.
People he asked only laughed, and they looked back at the strange lad,
shaking their heads.

Quickly the time flew by; the spring faded, summer and autumn passed,
and still he wandered on. His path, that once lay before him green and
fair, was now covered with snow. He, however, heeded it not, and
journeyed on. It must come at last, the long-sought goal! At last he
reached a mighty snow-covered mountain range, so mighty that he said to
himself, "Beyond this it must surely lie," and in glad hope passed
forward. A whole day he ascended over snow and ice: his feet were sore
and bruised, and he was shivering from the cold, and yet no hut was to
be seen that might offer him shelter. The sun went down in crimson
behind the ice-armored mountains, leaving behind a bitter coldness, so
great that the stars in the heavens shivered with frost.

Then it occurred to tired Hans that it was Christmas, and for the first
time on his journey he thought for a long while of home, where the
Christmas-tree was now lighting up the warm room, and the dear ones were
assembling around it. But what mattered the Christmas-tree to him; he
was seeking Paradise!

Suddenly he saw on the roadside an old man. He was sitting on his
bundle, and leaning his head on his hands. He must have been very old,
for his face was furrowed like the bark of an oak, and his snowy beard
hung nearly to the ground.

Then tired Hans rejoiced, greeted him, and asked how far it might be to
the nearest habitation of man.

"To-day you can no longer reach it," replied the old man. "Whither are
you journeying?"

"I seek Paradise," answered Hans: "nearly a year have I wandered over
the earth, and yet have not found it."

Thereupon the old man arose, laid his hands upon Hans's shoulder, and
said, "Turn back and go home! I have wandered for more than a thousand
years on earth, and sought Paradise, and have not found it. Know, then,
I am Ahasuerus, doomed to everlasting wandering as a penance. Wherever I
go I am persecuted; where I knock the gate is locked; and nowhere have I
a home. Stones are my bed, and my bundle is my pillow. Go, poor fool!
return to the place of your birth. There, some day, they will dig a
grave for you, wherein you may sleep peacefully. Go back to your home,
where a Christmas-tree is lit up for you, and where you are loved, and
leave to me all wandering and seeking: to me, the poor, old, accursed

Then Hans was very sad: he threw down his bundle, sat down in the snow,
and wept bitterly. However, he was so tired from the long journey that
he soon forgot all his misery, and fell into a deep slumber. The old man
spread his cloak over him to protect him from the cold, and then
listened to the deep-drawn breathing of precious sleep, that drowns all
cares. The youth lying there could sleep, and die, and forget! but he
himself must keep awake, and live, and wander!

Upon the face of Hans a smile was playing; he was dreaming! Did he see
the long-sought Paradise? He saw in his dream a house with snow-covered
gable and little windows; a small house, closely encircled by other
houses, a garden in front. In a room inside sat his parents round a
cheerful fire. The spinning-wheel whizzed, and the cat purred in comfort
in front of the fire. Softly there fell, now and again, a needle from
the Christmas-tree. A resinous, pine-tree odor filled the room. From the
next house a clear, maiden's voice was singing the old, old Christmas

  "A rose has bloomed
  From a tender root,
  Our fathers have sung:
  Out of Jesse it came."

And the crackling of the fire, the whizzing of the spinning-wheel, and
the maiden's song seemed to the dreamer fairer than a thousand Edens. An
indescribable homesickness overcame him.

When he awoke, the east was radiant with the blush of morning. He sprang
up and seized his staff. Scales seemed to fall from his eyes. "Home,
home!" a thousand voices seemed to echo within him.

But up the mountains, outlined by the red of the morn, he saw the old
man wandering on his comfortless path.

_A Yarn Spun by a Yankee._

     "A white-haired, thin-visaged, weather-worn old gentleman in a
     blue, Quaker-cut coat."




The shutters of a little spur of warehouses which breaks out into
mountainous stores and open valleys of streets around the corner, but
which itself overlooks no fairer view than a narrow, muddy alley of a
thoroughfare scarcely broad enough to admit two drays abreast, and, by
actual measurement,--taken with persistent diligence by the adjacent
office boys,--just two running-jumps from gutter to gutter; the shutters
of this, in its own eyes, important little trade centre, were up, and a
great clattering they had made in getting up on a clear, tingling night
before Christmas, eighteen hundred and--no matter what.

The porters had come out in their faded greatcoats, bandaged right and
left in woolly mufflers, and more than usually clumsy in padded gloves,
and had been bitten and tossed about by the wind with such unbecoming
violence that even a porter felt it necessary to hurry and bustle.
Taking the shutters by assault from the foe's embraces, they had
thumped, and banged, and hammered, and scolded them into place, and, in
undignified haste, had betaken themselves, steaming warm breath through
their fingers, into their proper and respective places by the
counting-house fire.

The magic--so it seemed in its effects--tolling of a deep-toned bell in
the neighborhood would not allow them to doze long in their warm nooks,
but, like the jealous monster in the fairy-tale, kept its captives
always going, going, going, for its sixth stroke had not died away
before they began to appear again, this time with the addition of fur
hats and little dinner-baskets, and with no perceptible noses--unless
the existence of watery eyes above their mufflers argued the missing
features to be in their proper places below--and with an accelerated
gait--also an act of enchantment.

William, of No. 6, bawled as loud as his worsted gag would permit across
the street (so termed by a figure of rhetoric) to James, of No. 7:

"Hello, Jim! Cold as blazes, ain't it?"

James, of No. 7, assenting, Thomas, of No. 4, would like to know "How
blazes can be cold, now?"

William, of No. 6, would say "as thunder," if that would suit him any
better; and as it appeared to do so they, with half a dozen others,
breasted the wind and trudged out into the blustery streets beyond.

The merchants, too, had locked their doors, and tried their knobs, and
looked up at the faces of their stores as if to say, "Merry Christmas to
you, and I wish you a pleasant day to-morrow!" but in reality to see
that all was fast, and perchance to indulge in a comfortable survey of
their snug little properties--and the complacent tread with which they
followed the porters gives color to the suspicion--and draw from it
momentum for the enjoyment of the morrow's holiday.

The shutters, then, were up--stop, not all up! One, as you may see by
the shaft of gas-light that has just fallen across the pavement near the
top of the court, is still down.

The little square window through which the light eddies on the bricks is
supported on either side by a heavy door, and all three, the two doors
and the window, are in turn crowned and anointed on the head, as it
were, by a very bold sign containing very brazen--in every sense of the
word--letters which announced pompously, like some servants of similar
metallic qualities, the name of their master.

Emanuel Griffin--the tongue uncontrollably adds Esquire--was the name,
and there, if you had looked through the window, in a deep funnel of a
room, at a desk near the fire, head behind the open leaves of a ledger,
and feet beneath the warm recesses of the stove, sat its possessor.

Outside the railing which formed a barrier between Emanuel Griffin,
Esq., and the business world, and encompassed with a less elaborate
railing, sat, on a high stool in a cold corner, the little,
blackish-green (perhaps the color gas-light imparts to faded black)
clerk of Emanuel Griffin, Esq. Whether David Dubbs, such was he called,
derived the power of writing from his mouth; or whether the gentle
excitation of moving his lips over toothless gums assisted thought; or
whether, as some said, he chewed tobacco, a position which nobody ever
held long, as nobody ever proved him to have expectorated during his
whole life; his mouth--always closed--moved up and down, up and down,
with the motion of his pen. Hair he had none, that is, none to speak of;
there were some few isolated white locks behind his ears and at the back
of his head, but he made no pretensions to have any, and openly
acknowledged himself bald--and very candid of him it was to do so.

Chroniclers have told us how, after fierce battles that have raged from
dawn till nightfall, the moon has come calmly up from the horizon and
shone peacefully and serenely over the field of strife and death. So
arose a beneficent smile ever and anon over the wrinkled and careworn
face of the old clerk; but still he wrote on, Faithful Dave! and if
pleasant thoughts swept through him they avoided the business that
occupied his hands and did not interrupt it.

They had long sat in quietness, only broken by the noise of turning
leaves and crackling coals,--but, in truth, if David Dubbs's eye, in its
course to and from the clock, had not, like the world, worked silently
on its axis, there must have been continual creaking--when a noise like
the name of David emanated from the ledger, and following it--for it was
near-sighted--the head of Emanuel Griffin, Esq., lifted itself to an
erect posture and repeated in a less muffled tone, "David!"

"Yes, sir," answered the old clerk, in a weak little voice, and climbing
down to the floor from his perch.

"You may lock up, David. Ten thousand and odd. Ten thousand's a good
year, David; a very good year. Very--good--indeed! But go and lock up,"
and then Mr. Griffin took a glance at the clock. "Half-past six! Why
it's surprising how time does fly, and Christmas Eve, too. Well, well!
But hurry up with the shutters, David, and we shan't be long----"

Before Mr. Griffin had fully delivered himself of these remarks the
little person of David Dubbs was out in the cold, was in and out among
the screws on the door, had put up the shutters, and simultaneously with
the last word stood in the half-opened door and, all unseen by his
employer, waved his hand to some one at the corner of the court. He then
walked as quickly as his little, bent legs--parabolic were they in
outline, but, as this is not a geometric treatise, it is of no
particular consequence--would permit him up the long aisle in the centre
of the room, and sent off timid little echoes of his steps to ramble
away among the bales of crockery--for it was crockery that Emanuel
Griffin, Esq., dealt in--and rattle among the piles of plates.

Having reached again his little cage of an office, he took down from its
accustomed peg an old, threadbare coat, and, with much exertion and
outstretching of arms, finally got it on, turned up the collar, tied
about his ears a not very robust scarf, and laid thereon, as the
copestone of his apparel, a dingy high hat that had undergone, in point
of nap, as many reverses as its wearer in point of fortune. Thus
attired, he tipped his hat to his employer, all ready, like himself, to
depart, and started out.

Before he reached the door, a cry from Mr. Griffin arrested him, and he
came hastily back; for, although it would have required a thumbscrew to
have made him confess it, yet he had all day long looked forward to the
time of parting, when he half expected Emanuel Griffin, Esq., contrary
to his custom though it was, would offer him some little gift out of the
increased profits of a business he had done no little to advance. But no
such design had Mr. Griffin conceived, or if he had it was very soon
suppressed as entirely unworthy of a man of purely business habits, and
all he had to say was,--

"I know, David, there is something I was to have told you to do. Mrs.
Griffin impressed it on me this morning, but,"--here he stood thinking
for a moment,--"no matter," he resumed. "I guess it was nothing very
important, so good-by, David, and a--good-by!" He was going to say "and
a merry Christmas;" but for a man of purely business habits to unbend so
far and become cheerful--why, it's subversive of all business
discipline, and so he thought to himself.

David, doubly disappointed, turned and passed out, and his old eyes must
have been extremely sensitive to the wind, for they ran with something
very like tears that he wiped away with his glove as he muttered,--

"So, no Christmas, after all. Poor girls! Poor girls!" Mr. Griffin was
not long behind his faithful old clerk. He extinguished the lights with
great care, and then, with the key in his hand, felt his way to the
door, banged it after him, and locked it with the satisfaction of a
miser over a casket of treasures. His journey home led him to the
opposite end of the court from that which David had passed through, and
he therefore did not overtake him.

And if he had, would this hard, business-encrusted heart have been less
cold than the bitter winds that assailed it? Would the sight which made
David Dubbs forget the fierceness of night have penetrated the chilly
place where it rested and warmed it in pitying activity? Would the
tender impulses, which the unsifted morals of barter extinguish, as they
extinguish much of the nobility in man, have enkindled anew and
brightened this misery? Not if dollars would have done it; nay, not if
even a word would have done it, would Emanuel Griffin have relaxed from
the demeanor which purely business habits imposed upon him. He felt it
due to his position in business society to maintain rigidly its maxims,
the chief of which, "Do unto others as they would do unto you, if they
could," he practised to the letter.


Poor David Dubbs! Oh, the long time it seemed since boon companions had
smitten him on the back and cried, "Bravo, Dave Dubbs! Bravo, old
fellow!" to his little songs, or encouraged him by such exclamations as
"Dave Dubbs can't be beat at a ballad!" Oh, the long, long time ago! But
to proceed. As David Dubbs met the ambushed winds that leaped upon him
at the corner of the court, he also met the person to whom he had waved
his hand from the store-door. If you had looked for the stature of a man
you would have been doubly mistaken,--first in sex, next in size. It was
neither a man nor a woman. There, in a blustery doorway, shaking with
cold, but ever on the alert, crouched a little girl. She wore a knitted
hood, and out of it fell overflowing curls; but her poor, attenuated
little body was ill-assorted with plenty of any kind, and the wealth of
curls mocked the poverty of her clothes. A patched shawl affected to
protect her poor little shoulders, and a calico dress flapped coldly
about her legs. As David turned the corner she arose, and, for all her
stiffness and shivering, exclaimed, cheerily, "A merry Christmas,
father!" and reached to kiss him.

He took her in his arms--she was very, very slight--and lifted her to
his lips, and then, throwing one side of his own scanty coat about her
and holding it there with an affectionate hug, he said, "Come, come,
little daughter, it's too bleak for a little body like you to be out.
It's cruel, cruel, but I dared not tell him it was so late. What does he
know or care for my poor little faithful, Loving Scout?"

"Your Scout couldn't miss Christmas Eve, father, if it was ever so

"And does she ever miss? No, no, she's a dutiful Scout, winter and
summer, rain and shine, morning and night, and what should I ever do
without her!"

So, talking and fighting the wind by turns, they walked on, the bent and
shuffling old man and his Little Scout, as he had named her and as they
all affectionately called her, through dark streets where, ever and
anon, a car or belated dray shivered by, as if the cold had touched even
its insensibility, and made the tracks resound and the paving blocks
rattle in the clear air; through deep cisterns of streets, between lofty
stone banks--as stern almost as their governing boards, for, although
boards are chiefly wooden, a supplication will quickly petrify them;
through rows of illuminated stores like walls of Arabian Night visions,
with traceries of frost on their windows richer in design than the gems
within them; through clustering crowds that entered or left continually
the swinging doors of saloons and hotels; past waiting carriages; past
swearing men; past laughing ladies, and past beggars, wearier, and
colder, and lonelier than themselves. So they travelled, scarcely
heeding what they saw in their speed until, on the margin of all the
din, by a turn through a dark street, they reached a darker alley, and,
passing down it, at last stopped before their own homely door.

The building had once been a warehouse,--David liked it the better for
that, he said. "Why, all my life has been spent in trade, and, you see,
I've sort a become attached to anything that smacks of it, though I've
little reason to feel so, the Lord knows!" he would exclaim to his
friends. Up above, over a long door in the top story--you can scarcely
make it out in the uncertain light--jutted a weather-beaten crane, with
a long disused pulley dangling at its point, cracked, and rusted, and
abandoned, and no less cracked and abandoned, shot out from the second
floor a moss-covered platform that had been intended for the reception
of bales of stuffs that had never arrived. The mortar had, here and
there, been wrenched from between the bricks by savage weather and age,
and the doors, too, had shrunk before their united malignity. How such
a house had drifted to such a locality is unaccountable, unless--as is
often the case--some navigator of real estate had thought he descried a
port, where was only a shoal that left his venture high and dry among
newer and costlier craft.

However, the nearest approach it had made in the last twenty years or
so--so David said--to fulfilling its commercial place in the world was
in opening its doors to a gentleman in the carpentering line. This
gentleman, Mr. Jacob Tripple by name, occupied the ground floor, and all
around it were scattered evidences, in the shape of window-frames, and
wooden-horses, and props, and old lumber, of a thriving business. He,
with all his men, had departed long ago and left the place dark, and
still, and cold.

It had lain in this stupor of silence for more than an hour, waiting
against hope to be resuscitated by any stray echoes that should drop in
from the neighboring hubbub and waken it up, when it caught among its
bleak angles the cheery voice of David's Little Scout, and revived--as
some old men do under the charm of gentle words--to a more respectable
opinion of itself. So immediately it seemed refreshed, that if it were
possible for such a decrepit--not to say inanimate--old structure as
that even metaphorically to prick up its ears, it metaphorically did as
the sound of Dolly's--her proper name--cheery welcome home echoed round

"Here we are once more, father," she cried, breaking away from him to
have the door open when he plodded up to it. "Once more, and a welcome
home, and a merry Christmas to you!"

"Always on duty, Little Scout! Always on duty!" he called after her.
(The wind was keen and drew water to his eyes again, and again he
brushed it away.) "Always on duty," he went on repeating, with a doleful
effort at cheerfulness.

She was up-stairs by that time, and, opening the door above, had called
in, "Here's father!" then ran back to meet him, which she did at the
door below.

What these unusual proceedings meant, David Dubbs might have guessed or
might have known traditionally, they being of an annual nature, but
whether he did or not, or whether his ignorance was also traditional, he
gave no sign, and walked feebly up-stairs, guided by the Little Scout,
just as if it were not Christmas Eve at all.

What the proceedings did mean was that a steaming pot of coffee at the
given signal was lifted from its warm corner and tilted into a cup that
held a conspicuous place at the head of a little white spread table. On
its right hand sat, in the position of an honored and seldom present
guest, a juicy-complexioned, but not corpulent beefsteak; opposite to
it, inviting death by explosion, rested a bowl full of steaming potatoes
in their native jackets, and the centre was fully occupied by a huge
loaf with a large family of slices.

Around this collation--aroused by the signal, for they had been idly
waiting before--moved two pairs of hands with loving attention. The
cloth was resmoothed, the knives and forks straightened, a brace of
mealy potatoes was emptied on the two plates that awaited them, and at
last a ruddy slice of beefsteak was deposited beside and oozed through
them its savoriness. This last climax was reached just as the door
opened, and the two pairs of hands speedily transferred themselves to
the duty--no very arduous one--of helping David and Dolly out of their

And then, with many caresses and kisses and cries of "Take this side,
father, where the coals are bright!" or "Put your feet here and get them
good and warm, poor Little Scout!" then, when thick flying questions and
travellings to the one end of the room for things that were not wanted,
and excursions to the other end of the room for things that were wanted;
when the chairs were drawn up; when the grateful old man and his little
daughter, with those tender hands over their mouths to stifle the
gratitude they struggled to utter, were duly seated at the table, and
when the kettle was singing its approval in the corner, then,
only,--when all these preliminaries were gone through with,--did the
possessors of the hands that devised them seat themselves on a low
wooden settee opposite the table and enjoy the zest and delight they had
ministered to.

Good nature and tender hearts, pale faces and cheerful eyes, honest red
hands and neatly bound-up hair have never been faithfully reproduced in
a state of print and paper, much less in imagination, and, indeed, how
can anything so buxom and comely, even if the plainest in dress, be
expected to be? It is, therefore, needless to say that the twin
daughters of David, namely, Molly and Polly Dubbs, being all that is
here set down, should have been seen in all their kindliness to be truly
known, and no other form of introduction would do them full justice.

Molly was the counterpart of Polly in all respects save height. She was
a very little taller than Polly, and a fortunate thing it had been for
all concerned that she was so. Else, consider the vexation of the
measles and other diseases essential to youth. Why, in their quandary
which to begin on, they almost missed the twins altogether as it was.
Consider the complexity of young lovers who should pour into the ears of
Polly passionate adjectives intended solely to captivate the heart of
Molly; and, most important of all, consider the conflict of choice which
would have disquieted the soul of Mr. Jacob Tripple and at last driven
him to the alternatives of suicide or bigamy.

But all these dangers had been averted by the provisions of Nature, and
the twins, who had supped, for economic reasons, earlier in the evening,
sat beaming on while David and little Dolly heartily devoured the

David, looking up now for the first time, in the interval of a mouthful
swallowed and a mouthful threatened, espied a bowery wreath of holly
that hung around a picture of General Washington in the act of crossing
a dark, green river Delaware in a court dress of red and breeches of
yellow, surrounded on all sides by ice and officers in rainbow uniforms,
and, as this was the only adornment of a rather bare room, it is no
wonder it caught his eye.

"Why, who's been a-brightening up the gen'ral so Christmas-like?" he

"We did, father! Leastwise it was Polly's present," said Molly.

"And who may be a-sending presents to Polly now?" asked David, with a
twinkle in his eye that had seen better days but none kindlier. "It
wasn't young Cuffy over at the baker's, nor Jake Tripple, now, was it?"

He looked at Polly for an answer, whereat she stretched her arm along
the back of the settee and let fall her hand on Molly's shoulder with a
punch which was intended as punishment for the giggles her sister
struggled to confine in her mouth with both hands; but which, in spite
of her, bubbled over and attacked David, and then, with a blush, Polly

"It wasn't young Cuffy at all, and I hate his loafy, little face, and I

"Not Jacob Tripple! No, no, not good Jake Tripple?" said David,

"I didn't say that, father!" she exclaimed. "He's your good old friend,
and how could I hate him? He came in just before leaving for the day,
and asked for you--what, made him think you were home I can't tell, for
it was long before your time--and asked for you, and left the wreath

The hem of her long checkered apron then needed close scrutiny and
folding for some unknown purpose, and this duty diverted her thoughts
from the subject, but she turned to Dolly, who enjoyed this banter in
her own quiet little way, which seldom rippled into a loud laugh, for
her own quiet little face was too pale and too pinched to invite such
freebooters. "Come, come, Little Scout," she said. "Is she warm now, and
were the rations good, and did she meet Kriss Kingle on his cold journey
(with a caress of her pale little cheeks) with heaps of warm dresses,
and heaps of pretty dolls, and heaps of sweetmeats too big to carry
himself, so he asked her to carry some home to help him! Did she? (with
another caress.) And would our Little Scout be sorry if he didn't come
himself to look after them and----"

"Ah, that reminds me!" said David, quite audibly for him, and rising
from the table with knife and fork still in hand.

"What reminds you, father?" asked the twins, in chorus.

"Why, coming home!" said David, not very intelligibly.

"What coming home?" again from the chorus, in expectant attitude.

"Why, Tom, I told you!" which he hadn't done at all, but as by this time
he was deep in the cupboard, where his overcoat hung, and as his voice
was a little more muffled than usual, it was useless to argue the point,
so the chorus loudly exclaimed,--


"Yes, yes, yes!" from David, faintly and rather testily, as he had
groped through his old coat, and had successively dropped the knife and
fork, reeking with gravy, into the inside and outside pockets.

"To be sure! Tom coming home and I clean forgot it, what with the cold
and the surprises," he said again, emerging with the knife and fork in
one hand and a letter in the other. "Here it is. He'll be home
to-morrow, he says, God willin', and eat our turkey with us. Poor Tom,
poor boy! He's been away so long he's forgot Griffin and hard times, or
he wouldn't say that!"

"Tom! Be home! and to-morrow?"--interruption of chorus as it reaches for
the letter, opens and reads it aloud--Dolly being lifted in the sturdy
arms of Molly to look over.

David, meanwhile, overcome by the toothsomeness of beefsteak, falls to
again, while the others dance a sort of fandango, and turn up the rag
carpet, and rattle the dishes on the dresser, and lift Dolly high in the
air to the improvised tune of "Tom's coming home! Tom's coming home!
Tom's coming home to-morrow!"

"It's another mouth to feed, but it's hard to wish the poor boy back to
Californy again," huskily said David; then he exclaimed, as the noise
increased, "Hey dey! Why, you'll spill the coffee next, and cave in the
walls, too, in a minute, and then there'll be no home for Tom to come

This was good humoredly added as the final swing was given to the dance,
which brought the twins holding Dolly aloft in their arms laughing and
panting on the settee.

"But tell us, father, is he coming home for good? He don't say so in the
letter," asked Dolly, and all leaned forward to hear his answer.

"Coming home for good?" mused David. "Yes, he's coming home for good, I
hope; but I'm fearful he'll find little beside the good in his sisters'

"Poor Tom," said Dolly, with far-away eyes, "he's had a weary life of it
in the mines, I guess, poor fellow."

"Yes, yes," said David, "and that's what makes it harder that we can't
greet him with a good Christmas to-morrow. Well, well, it'll be a
delight to see my poor boy again, hard times or no hard times, and we'll
be as cheerful as we can be and are now, thanks to my good girls," and
here he arose from the table, and, seating himself at the fire, opened a
morning paper that he had found in the waste-basket in Mr. Griffin's
counting-house (and very worthless it must have been to be found there!)
in which, through the kind offices of a massive old pair of spectacles,
he was soon absorbed.

And now, while the Little Scout--in fulfilment of her established
character--plays the spy on sundry crumbs that slink from notice under
the table, and while the twins, too busy to talk, wash the dishes and
dispose them in a glistening row along the dresser, and, while David
opens the paper and plods up and down it, column by column, like a
ploughman furrow by furrow up and down a field, and with almost as much
toil; and while the ancient clock on the shelf over the stove and under
the motley General Washington ticks loud enough to be heard above the
clinking dishes and simmering kettle; and while the table, divested of
its cloth and exhibiting a stained and blistered old back, is glad
enough to avoid attention by being stowed away in the corner; while the
pleasant spirits of domesticity that come only at the call of good men,
and good wives, and good sons, and good daughters, but resist the
imperious beckonings of the wealthiest hands, and wing on over their
roofs to lowlier, and scantier, and purer habitations--while the
pleasant spirits of domesticity and kindliness throng invisibly into the
room, and David Dubbs reads stray scraps from his paper to his
daughters, grouped near the fire at his feet, we must softly withdraw
and leave them to the care of coming Christmas dreams.


Christmas morning had opened brightly with David Dubbs. The sun,
preceded down the court by hustling winds that knocked at every
citizen's door and demanded admittance for their oncoming master, had
left at each house a gift of golden cheerfulness. The sky above was so
blithe and blue that it smiled down at even so insignificant a crack as
David Dubbs's court must have appeared to it; and the cold was a jolly
and snappish cold.

The twins and David's Little Scout were as merry as the Christmas chimes
they lingered and listened to, and not the daintiest dinner that Mr.
Cuffy (and that gentleman held the subject somewhat in mind, too, on
Polly's account) could have delivered at their door would have added one
jot of happiness to their abundance. David's poor old back bent under
the stress of poverty that would permit him no indulgences for them--all
the more dear on that day; but, used to loving self-denial, they never
missed what they so little desired, and so far were they from giving it
a thought, that if David had spoken out what he so wilfully turned over
and over in his mind, that would have given them far more pain and
anxiety. Mr. Tripple was early in his shop, presumptively to attend to
some forgotten duties, but, as he did not pay very active attention to
anything but carefully tying up a square box in white paper, and as he
did pay very active attention to what went on up-stairs, at the same
time exhibiting no hurry to get home to dinner, David, who had, towards
noon, gone around the corner with Polly to make some little purchases of
groceries before the stores closed, dropped in on his way back and
invited Mr. Tripple up-stairs. Mr. Tripple at first firmly refused, and
said, "Very much obliged, Dave, but couldn't think of it. Indeed not.
They'd 'spect me at home, ye know, Dave." Whereupon Miss Polly added her
entreaties, and said he needn't expect anything very much, but if he
would walk up they would be very happy to have him. Mr. Tripple would
have walked up--and, indeed, wanted very much to walk up--at first, but
his extreme awkwardness, aggravated by holiday clothes of a tight cut
and by a paper collar bent above his coat like a scimetar, and almost as
sharp and glistening as that weapon, impelled him to do violence to his
wishes in order to appear calm--under _her_ eyes--and to deceive them
politely as to his real desire. But now, lured on by the siren voice of
Polly, he consented to go up "a little while" (which meant all the
afternoon), and taking the white box under his arm he locked the
shop-door and followed them up the creaking stairs.

Arrived in the room and relieved of hat and coat, Mr. Tripple bowed
mysteriously to Dolly, and, intrusting her with the box, whispered,--"Go
and hand that to sister Polly, little un." Polly, receiving it from her,
exclaimed in surprise,--

"For me, Mr. Tripple?"

"Yes, miss," he replied, growing red and smiling broadly, "a little
something for Christmas, that's all."

Polly opened the box and extracted a pasteboard plane with some
artificial shavings pasted upon it, which, when lifted apart, discovered
a heap of sweetmeats. Dolly and Molly, looking on, exclaimed, "Why, Mr.
Tripple, what a surprise!" and Polly blushingly added, "So very

Mr. Tripple grew redder and nervously crossed his legs, saying, "I
thought 'twould be kind a appropriate to the trade, you know, and so I
just fetched it up, and----"

Then Polly, seeing his embarrassment, called on David and the rest to
come and help themselves, and there was good humor and laughing until
the twins darted away to got dinner, which was soon prepared, for there
was little enough to get, and all invited to sit up to the table.

All were duly in their places, and David had, in accordance with
Christmas custom, offered grace. Mr. Tripple and the girls were slowly
raising their bowed heads, when a loud knock announced a visitor, and
hastened the raising of heads to an unseemly hurry.

"Tom!" all exclaimed.

Molly hurried down-stairs, and the rest rushed to the stair-landing,
where, in a moment, they received, not Tom, but a large, square basket
that emitted a very fragrant smell of roasted fowl, in the arms of the
returning Molly. Once in the room, the lid was off in a twinkling, and
out came a sizable plate, enveloped in dainty, clean napkins, which,
being removed in layers, exhibited, in all its brown deliciousness, a
huge turkey, just done to a turn.

The party gathered around in pleased wonder, and as Molly threw the
napkins into the basket a card fell on the floor. She picked it up and,
astonished, read, "Emanuel Griffin."

"What!" said David, snatching it and reading it aloud to himself,
"Emanuel Griffin. So it is, and no mistake!" and then he burst out,
"Hurrah! hurrah for Griffin! I knew he couldn't forget us this year!"
His poor old face was almost young again, and his voice,--why, it could
actually be heard as he ran on: "Why, there never was such a year for
the china trade, Tripple, and how could he forget me? Jacob Tripple,
your hand! A kiss, Little Scout! Why, your old father's 'most young
again, and his good girls shall dine like other good girls, after all!
How very thoughtful of Griffin to send it in the nick of time, too.
Come, sit up again before it gets cold, and I wish we had something as
hot to drink Griffin's health in. Why, I believe I could sing a song
again if we had something hot. I do, indeed!"

So he ran on in his childish delight at the thought of being remembered,
and at the far more grateful thought that his beloved daughters were to
share the gift with him.

When he had ceased, all turned to Molly and asked in one breath who had
left it. When the clamor slackened, she replied, "Why, young Cuffy from
the baker's, and all he said was, 'David Dubbs,--to be sent--card
inside,' and then kissing his hand, and crying 'Love to her,' meaning I
don't know who," with a smirk at Polly, "he jumped aboard his wagon and
flew away down the court."

Never was a turkey enjoyed so much, and never had a turkey better
deserved it.

Mr. Tripple grew bland and talkative under its juicy influence. He even
winked at Polly occasionally, and one time actually chucked her under
the chin. She sat next to him, remarking that if he had his way she
should live forever on turkey and sugar-plums. David ventured to say
that that course of diet would be pretty indigestive, whereupon Mr.
Tripple fondly suggested, as he gazed into her eyes, "How would love do
for a substitute, then?" implying that "his way" would supply that
abstract edible in equally large doses.

David dryly added "Starvation," and thereupon Polly covered her face
with her hands, but left open a laughing eye at Molly, and Mr. Tripple
looked boldly around the board as a man who had said a very bright thing
indeed, after which survey he broke out into a not very comfortable
laugh. All the rest laughed, too, then, and such good humor prevailed
that nothing seemed amiss, and Mr. Tripple's inexperience was kindly

But now the turkey was fast becoming skeletonized, and the good company
was fast becoming the reverse. The jollity was increasing and the
serious intentions of Mr. Tripple were impending and ready to fall into
open profession on the slightest encouragement. The Little Scout's
pinched and pale face--sweet and uncomplaining, even through hunger and
want--smiled gently and less sadly as it leaned in Molly's arms, and,
looking up, she said,--

"Poor father! How quiet you were last night when we were walking home.
I knew you were thinking about to-day and the poor dinner. How kind it
was of good Mr. Griffin. I'd like to thank him myself, father!"

"And so you shall, Little Scout," said David, gayly, bending over and
kissing her with boyish contempt of aged bones; "and so you shall, and I
make no doubt he'll be glad to see you, too, Deary."

The clock in a neighboring steeple, simultaneously with its ancient
kinsman on the shelf, and followed by incoming echoes of a score of
others, struck one; but the company little heeded that, and the
conviviality was far from diminishing when another summons rattled the
street door, and again all exclaimed "There's Tom!" and crowded to the
landing as before.

Polly this time tripped down and came back in a moment with only a
letter, saying,--

"A young man, father, with this letter for Mr. Griffin. It's addressed
to his store, but he said it was important, and, knowing you lived here,
he depended on you to deliver it at once."

"Has he gone?" said David, grasping it.

"Yes, father," replied Polly, "right off."

Here was a pitiable state of affairs indeed. David Dubbs, aroused from
the joyful celebration of his Christmas dinner and from the midst of
this cosey party and sent off across the river to his master's house
with a miserable letter and by a miserable young man (and if delivering
letters when every other well-intentioned man is eating his turkey isn't
miserable, why what is it?). Sent off on a graceless errand for nothing,
perhaps. But his kind employer, who had done so much for his comfort and
joy that very day, must not suffer by his neglect, and off he must post;
that was imperative. Mr. Tripple offered his services when David had
started down-stairs, and when there was no chance of his turning back,
but David said, "No, no, Tripple; you just stay and keep the girls
company till I get back, and that'll be enough for you to attend to.
Good-by, girls. Good-by, Little Scout; if it wasn't so cold, she should
go too." And off he trudged, as patient, and cheerful, and proud of his
master's attention and of his mission, too, now he had fully set out, as
many a younger and better dressed man would have been.


When Emanuel Griffin, Esq., leaving the dark little street wherein stood
his warehouse and wherein very much of his life and very little of his
money was spent--which latter fact had, however, no merely local
application but was of a general nature--when, to resume, Emanuel
Griffin, Esq., buttoning up his overcoat and, leaving the dark little
street, turned the next corner among the mountainous stores and looked
vexedly around for a car to bear him to his home across the river, and
rattled his keys in his pocket, and nearly hummed a tune in his
impatience, suddenly, as the car appeared like a new planet, and with
the easy-going motions of a planet in its ascent had nearly reached
him--suddenly a thought of something forgotten flashed through his mind,
and the violence of its reaction turned him completely around and sent
him in a precipitous hurry in the opposite direction, namely, in that
which David Dubbs and his little daughter had pursued but a short time

"Pshaw!" he muttered, and looked as if he would like to add something a
great deal stronger. "That's what I forgot to tell David; but Mrs. G. 'll
never forget it, nor forgive it, either, if I don't attend to it
before I get home." So he turned up his collar, and rubbed his ears, and
hurried on to keep warm.

His destination proved to be a fancy bakery in the neighborhood of David
Dubbs's house. The pavement in front of it at that hour and season,
owing to holiday orders, was sending up warm steam from the oven
beneath, and a fragrant and appetizing smell of hot bread and browning
cakes pervaded the street. It was a large establishment of the kind, and
besides its legitimate line of bread-baking, took charge of the cooking
and preparing of dinners for ladies of limited domestic conveniences in
fashionable life. Heedless of the delicious scents which had attracted
several men with greedy eyes to linger at the window and devour in
fancy--a process which left them hungrier than ever--the heaps of loaves
and cakes on the counter within; heedless of the supplicating looks the
men turned on him, and of the confidential attempts of one or two at a
begging whisper (but his hurry was in nowise chargeable with that
inattention); heedless of everything but finishing his errand and
getting home, Mr. Griffin pushed through the crowd in the store, and,
reaching the counter, beckoned to a light-haired, light-eyed, and
red-cheeked youth, in a blue tie and black waistcoat that, through
constant friction with loaves and flour-barrels, had become of a light
pepper-and-salt pattern, and hurriedly said,--

"I want a turkey, Cuffy, of about fifteen or twenty pounds, cooked and
sent to my house by one o'clock to-morrow."

"Can't do it, Mr. Griffin," said the young man, who knew him and had
bowed as he came up.

"Can't do what?" exclaimed Mr. Griffin, with surprise and dismay.

"Can't send it out," returned the young man, firmly.

"Oh!" said Mr. Griffin, relieved; "I thought you meant that you couldn't
prepare it!"

"No, sir," commenced the young man. "You see, sir, Mr. Griffin, it's so
late in the day that all our teams is ordered fur to-morrow at that
time, and so is our boys, but----"

"Well, I'll soon fix that, Cuffy," said Mr. Griffin, opening his coat
and taking out a card. "There, just pin that on the turkey when it is
ready, and carry it over here to Dubbs's--David Dubbs is my clerk. He
will understand the card, and bring the turkey out to my house. I
shouldn't be so particular about it if Mrs. Griffin had not impressed it
on me this morning. I almost forgot it, too."

Then asking the price, and answering,--

"That is very high, Cuffy;" to which that young man replied,--

"I know it is, sir, Mr. Griffin, but then, you see, the demand is werry
great, sir."

Mr. Griffin paid the bill and hurried out, took a car at the next
corner, and, after a long, cold ride, got home to allay the anxiety of
Mrs. Griffin by assuring her that the turkey was ordered, and would be
sent home promptly to-morrow by David Dubbs.

Christmas morning was, among the Griffin household, which consisted of
Mr. and Mrs. Griffin and a superannuated servant, a very busy morning
indeed, for the reason that Mrs. Griffin had, according to annual
custom, invited more guests to dine than she could conveniently provide
for. Their house was a cottage in the suburbs, pretty enough in summer
and no thanks to its mistress or the superannuated servant either, but
to the unaided impulse of nature, which climbed, in the form of bowery
vines, wherever a vine could find clinging room; but now, in the midst
of winter, bright though the day was, the skeletons of so much green
gayety looked bare, and inhospitable, and cold. The house was approached
by a long path that started at the iron gate and led up to the porch. It
was far from a large house, and looked inconvenient, and famished for
paint, and it was no less inconvenient than it looked, a fact, indeed,
which necessitated the purchase of a cooked turkey, for the oven was
small, and the stove in the crazy little kitchen needed all the surface
it could afford for the vegetables, oysters, and other viands which then
only, throughout the year, it blazed and glowed under.

The morning wore on and twelve o'clock arrived. The big table in the
little dining-room was duly dressed and adorned with Mrs. Griffin's
miscellaneous silver; and after a heated debate between that lady and
the Superannuated, it was decided that when the company were all in the
parlor the dining-room door should be left open, and at the bottom of
the table, which now projected against the door, an additional chair for
Mr. Griffin should be inserted. Mrs. Griffin said of course the company
must squeeze in, but they understood all that, and were glad enough to
get in by any means, to which Superannuated readily assented.

One o'clock, and now the company were all arrived. Mrs. Griffin was duly
excused by Mr. Griffin, who received them, on the plea of domestic
duties. They were mostly in the parlor, which contained, beside them, a
set of red velvet furniture and a shining piano, on legs which emulated
the unsteadiness of Superannuated's own, and which, in huskiness of
voice, also resembled that person; a portrait of Mr. Griffin in rigid
broadcloth, and a companion portrait of Mrs. Griffin in low neck and
volumes of lace; and last, a very pimply-looking carpet, which seemed to
suffer from a severe rash.

Mr. Griffin had occupied the space between the folding-doors as the
company arrived and suavely--as suavely, by the way, as his wincing at
the cost of it all would admit of--received, introduced, and seated
them. The first arrival was a single gentleman, whom he saluted as Fred.
He was short, and bald, and spasmodic,--so much so that his pantaloons
were never straight, and his collar, through much moistening of its
raspy edges, was soiled. After him, a lady and gentleman drove up to the
gate in a carriage, and, alighting, the lady swept up the path, in a
double sense, while her husband upbraided the driver for the muddy
condition of the carriage, and then, loudly, "At ten, William!" To which
William as loudly replied, "Can't do it, sir. Got another order; but
I'll send you another man."

The gentleman answered more quietly, with a careful look at the house,
where Mr. Griffin awaited him on the porch,--

"Very well, driver;" and also swept in, and was introduced to Fred as
Mr. Abbert.

Now came a pair who walked, and were addressed and handed around by the
host as "My dear friends, Mr. and Mrs. Dripps;" and then the volume of
new-comers became quite abundant; so much so that a number of gentlemen
with no apparent use for their hands were forced to lean about the hall
and sit on the stairs, which they did up to the very top one. When the
company had simmered down a good deal, and only a few very bold
gentlemen ventured to launch remarks into the unanswering silence, and
when everybody was wondering what everybody else was going to do next,
and all were, as they reported the next day, "enjoying themselves
immensely," there was a stir above stairs, a rustling of dresses, and
then the gentlemen on the stairs, like a row of falling bricks, were
driven down before the gracious smiles and bows of the transformed

Tripping down after them and falling at last into the extended arms of
her husband--rather unsteady under the weight--while the stiffly polite
gentlemen formed a compact crowd out to the door. Mrs. Griffin was led,
with no little difficulty, through the seated guests, bestowing bows,
and smiles, and "Glad to see you, my dear Mr. Dripps," and "How well
you're looking, my dear Mrs. Abbert," and "Welcome, gentlemen," (whereat
a murmur ran through the crowd and all shook their heads and tried to
turn round and bow, but utterly failed,) and "Oh! here's my old Fred,"
and sundry other bewitching remarks that led the crowd of gentlemen to
murmur again something like "Charming, be Gad!" and grow uneasy.

But now the bell was rung by Superannuated, who had duly inserted the
chair, and Mr. Abbert, receiving the hostess from the arm of her
husband and in turn delivering his smiling wife to Mr. Griffin, led off
the throng to dinner.

When they arrived at the protruding table, by a preconcerted arrangement
Mrs. Griffin handed Mr. Abbert to the one side and squeezed herself
through the other--an action which was imitated by the rest of the
company, who were finally seated close up to the door--all but Mr.
Griffin, who was to occupy the extra chair, and, as he was already
inside, and there was no other means of exit, he was obliged to pass
through the kitchen and around the house. He soon appeared again through
the front door and the dinner began.

Mrs. Griffin, who had long before left Superannuated to finish while she
perfected her toilet, now rang the bell and, on her appearance,
whispered in her ear. Superannuated whispered in her mistress's ear.
Mrs. Griffin thereupon uttered a little cry and looked at Mr. Griffin.
Mr. Griffin, in consternation, cried, "My dear!" and attempted to
squeeze between the chairs, but failed. Then he looked wildly about him,
and at last ran through the front door. He soon reappeared at the side
of his fainting wife, who revived enough to say,--

"I shall never, never forgive you! Oh, the humiliation! the agony!" then
fainted again.

"What is it?" "What's the matter?" "She's fainted!" and confused screams
of the ladies came from all sides. Mrs. Dripps passed along her salts
bottle. Mrs. Abbert held Mrs. Griffin's head, and Fred applied water.
Under the strong influence of these restoratives she soon revived, and
whispered to her husband something which caused him also to start and
look despairingly at her.

She then said to him, loud enough for all to hear, "You must tell them
it was your fault. Oh, the humiliation!" Here she burst out again, with
her handkerchief to her eyes, and Mrs. Abbert soothingly said, "Oh,
never mind him, my dear. I wouldn't mind him!" This was growing
invidious, and all the gentlemen at the bottom of the table were looking
scornfully at him.

He therefore said, in a loud voice,--

"The turkey has not arrived,--that is all."

"That is all," whimpered Mrs. Griffin, mockingly. "That is all, he says;
and isn't it enough, sir, to have all your domestic failings exposed to
the world?"

Mrs. Griffin alluded to cooking facilities, and grew very bitter, while
"the world" simpered and exchanged looks.

Mr. Griffin then, in desperation, explained the whole matter,--how he
had left the card for David Dubbs, and paid for the turkey, and come
unsuspectingly home. "As," he added, "I have done year after year,

Here Mrs. Griffin checked him with symptoms of another faint, and he
stopped short.

Mr. Abbert then said it was all that rascally clerk, and he ought to be
discharged at once.

"I know 'em," he added violently and with deeply implied wisdom, which,
by the way, was the only species of wisdom he ever attained to. "I know
'em, Griffin!"

Mr. Fred was of a similar opinion, and even more violent in his
denunciation of David, as he had set his heart on turkey, and the
appetite died painfully within him.

All the ladies and gentlemen were of various opinions, but all
concentrated their rage on the poor, innocent little clerk, and panted
for his clerkly death. In the midst of all this commotion the door-bell
rang, and intensified it twofold, for nobody could get through to the
door but by going around the house. This Superannuated finally did, and
brought back with her the identical little clerk,--the poor, agitated,
and bowing little clerk who had unconsciously aroused all the
indignation and tumult, whom sundry gentlemen at the lower end of the
table had threatened with severe punishment if they ever caught sight of
him, and who, now catching sight of him, were more than usually silent.

Mr. Griffin looked threateningly at him as, hat in hand, he walked up to
him, presented a letter, and, in his faint voice, said,--

"A letter for you, sir, left for me to deliver."

He took it, and David continued tremulously to say,--

"And how can I thank you, sir, and madam," turning to Mrs. Griffin, "for
the bounteous gift----"

"Gift?" exclaimed both in a breath; "what gift? Where is the turkey you
brought? What gift? What gift?"

"Why, a splendid turkey, with your card kindly----"

This was received by the company with a volley of cries and calls, by a
relapse on the part of Mrs. Griffin, and by the descent of Mr. Griffin's
hand upon David's coat-collar, and finally by poor, frightened David's
ejectment from the kitchen-door, harshly reproached by his employer as a
thief and vagabond, and warned never to show his face in his store

"Be off, now!" he cried after him, "you ungrateful, deceitful old
villain!" and then he slammed the door, and joined the hungry guests, to
whom he declaimed at some length on the thanklessness of the lower

Mrs. Griffin was quickly re-restored, this time to a state of injured
perfection, and after the united apologies of herself and husband, and
more abuse of poor, luckless David Dubbs, the company concluded with
pretty bad grace to make the most of what had been prepared in the way
of vegetables and side dishes, long ago cold. Mr. Griffin was mad,
insulted, and hungry, and the contents of the letter he had received
seemed to add very little warmth to the food, but a great deal to his
anger, for he tore it up into very small pieces, as if it were David
himself he was torturing, and, with a look the company did not consider
very sociable, scattered it on the floor.


The sky, as if presaging David Dubbs's misfortune, had grown overcast,
and flung down spiteful little sallies of snow as he crossed the river
on his way to Mr. Griffin's. The creaking of the bridge's huge timbers
and the splitting ice below it made him shiver and pull his threadbare
coat close about him and sacrifice his old hands to the wind to save his
freezing ears. The same scarf bound them as the night before, but an icy
gale like that which swept from the open river would have frozen through
arctic furs. Notwithstanding all this, his spirits were lighter than
usual. The scene he had left at home floated on before his eyes, and
transfused itself with the black, sketchy trees against the sky and
blent with the ragged barbs of smoke that depended from cottage
chimneys. The wind had been boisterous enough, and would have torn it
away on a cantering jaunt not many minutes ago, but, surcharged as it
was now with blinding snow, it had its own liberty to look after, and
paid little heed to anything else.

The snow came on thicker and thicker, and had begun to whiten the
streets by the time David reached Mr. Griffin's house, and now, as he
stood shocked and bewildered in the garden again, it lay deep and
dreadfully silent as far as the eye could reach. Had he heard truly? Had
he, for the first time in a long, and honest, and reputable life, been
called a thief? And by the man whom his heart had overflowed in
gratitude to but a moment before! David Dubbs a thief! And what of? What
had he stolen? Oh, it was cruel to his poor old heart! "And the girls so
merry, even now," he thought. How; how could he go to them with these
bitter tidings? To be deprived of even the poor means his pen had
faithfully and honestly earned for them; to toil so long, so wearily for
the meed of a thief, for the name of a thief! and he wept in his utter

His hat was still on his head, his coat was undone, his scarf had fallen
back on his shoulders; his poor old eyes were wide apart again, now, and
the wind tugged at his scanty hair, and the snow, no whiter than itself,
sifted through it and drifted into the folds of his clothes. But,
stunned, and tortured, and despairing though he was, the old clerk
staggered on insensibly homeward. Back through the dreary trees; back
through the drifted streets; back to the bridge, where he stopped by
some fatal impulse and leaned near a bleak abutment that overlooked the
river--gazing, gazing, gazing in a blank stare at the driving channel
below. The thought, the lurking purpose was shadowed dimly on his
distraught mind. The cold, rolling river once passed, the seething cakes
of ice once passed, and it would soon be over, soon be over. Life had
been a worthless gift to him. His youth had been falsely colored by the
visions of childhood; his age had been falsely colored by the ambitions
of youth. Nothing he had looked to in the distance ever had grown into
reality. Why should he survive his good name! And he clutched the stones
and raised himself up and quivered at the top of the stone wall.

But now his hand relaxed, and his face, clouded and suffering before,
fell into a calmer look of attention, almost a smile broke over it, and
he gazed out against the sky as if transfixed.

It was the vision that had, like the pillar of cloud by day and of fire
by night, preceded and gladdened him on his way; the scene of his happy,
unsuspecting girls; of the pale Little Scout--whose simple touch would
then have instantly revived and soothed him, whose tender love was his
comfort, his sanctuary from pursuing evils; the scene of his old home,
far cosier, far more beloved, far more cheerful for all its homeliness,
for all its poverty, than the more pretentious one of Emanuel Griffin;
the scene of lowly pleasures it had cherished; of the bitter trials it
had assuaged; and, finally, of the bright, laughing group he had left
there, oh! so little prepared, so little conscious of the blight he
would bring among them. This vision, these thoughts had flowed in upon
his already disturbed mind, and had driven quite away all consciousness
of where he was or how long he had stood in the bitter cold, when a
policeman--overcoated, and furred, and frozen-bearded,--came by, and,
suspecting things to be not altogether right, caught David by the
sleeve, and adjusted his scarf and hat, saying,--

"No loafing on the bridge, old man. Move on; move on, now!" at which
David started, looked all around him, and then moved on as commanded.
His back, always bent, and his gait, always decrepit and shuffling, were
now pitiably so, and he had a long, long journey before him; but, thanks
be to Him whose omnipotent care protects and watches over the poor in
spirit, he had escaped a far longer one. On and on he went, not cold
now, not thinking, not in haste; passing thick-coated travellers who
ran, and clapped their hands, and swung their arms for warmth; passing
gay companies in cabs that rolled over the snow as softly as footsteps
on velvet. But he heeded nothing of all this, and staggered onward to
his own poor home.

A light was streaming out from the windows of the old warehouse,
crossing the snow piled on the platform above and slanting on the heaps
beneath. It was an inviting glimmer, a herald from within to all cold
travellers without of the blessedness of home, and, as David approached
the corner of the court, his eye was greeted cheerily by its "Welcome
home!" and, indeed, it was the first thing he had distinctly seen since
leaving the house of Mr. Griffin. But his heart failed him. How could he
face his dear girls again and tell them of the destitution of to-morrow?
Of the worse than poverty? Thus he thought, and lingered, and slunk
away by turns, but the ray of home-born light allured him, impassively,
into its midst, and as he stood over against the house, a poor, weak,
old man, rambling in his mind, and heroically deciding rather to leave
them in peace to-night, one more night, and return to them to-morrow, a
window was thrown up, and Jacob Tripple, putting forth his head, looked
up and down the court, and then directly in front of him, where David
stood immovable in the light.

"Why, there he is, now!" he cried. "What's gone amiss, David? What's
kept you so long? Here he is! Here he is!" he exclaimed again and again,
and, drawing in his head in much less time than the words could be said,
Jacob Tripple, followed by the girls, was down-stairs, was--still
followed by the girls--out in the snow, and had forcibly carried David
up with them.

They laid him on the settee, moaning and crying aloud against Emanuel
Griffin, and repeating again and again that they were "Beggars, beggars,
beggars!" and exclaiming, "My poor Little Scout! My poor girls! My

"They shall not suffer, father!" said a new voice, the sound of which
raised him up with wide-opened eyes and palsied hands at his head, and a
long stare at the speaker--"It's Tom, father. Don't you know me?"
repeated the voice.

Know him! How should he know him? tall, and brawny, and whiskered, with
pleasant blue eyes, and ruddy cheeks, and good nature streaming from his
whole face! Him who, so many years ago,--a beardless youth--had run off
to California after gold bubbles, and whom little good had been heard of
when anything at all was heard of him. Know him? Of course he did not;
but, as he sat down beside him on the settee and shook his old hand,
David put his arms about his neck, and hung his head upon his bosom, and
saw, in imagination, the thriftless boy of long ago whom he loved for
all his waywardness.

Tom's strong arms soon bore him to his old seat near the fire, and, for
the first time, David's wandering eye noticed the bower of green holly
and red-berried mistletoe that decked the room. General Washington was
loaded with it. The old clock, actually striking in a cheerier voice the
hour of nine, had its full share. The dresser hid in festoons of it.
Even David's chair had its sprig. But what was that on the floor? An
opened trunk, like a cloven pomegranate, displaying within rich trinkets
that many a lady might covet?

"Wha--what's it all mean, girls? Tell me, Little Scout," said David,
catching her hand. "What happened to me? I thought I came home--home to
tell you Griffin threw me out in the snow, and called me a thief, and
how all of them scowled and cried out at me, and I thought----" then,
looking at the tall man, he cried again,--

"Tom, is it so? Is it so, my dear boy?"

"Yes, father," said Tom, slowly, to calm him, "it is, happily, all so."

Then his little daughter, who had stood by his side through it all,
kissed him, and said,--

"Come, father, look at the pretty presents Tom has brought us and you.
See here's a beautiful new coat hanging on your peg for you, and Molly
and Polly are as gay as any ladies," and she led him, tottering and
feeble, to the loaded table--no longer ashamed of its defaced back
beneath the pile of gifts it bore.

Then Mr. Tripple, hand in hand with the unresisting Polly, and Molly,
and Tom, an unbroken circuit of cheery faces that electrified David
Dubbs into a wrinkled smile in spite of lingering grief, clustered
around the table and exclaimed aloud with admiration at the gifts Tom
had brought.

But David, still overshadowed by the events of the afternoon, said, in a
quivering voice,--

"But to-morrow, children, to-morrow! I am discharged by Griffin; we
shall starve to-morrow!"

"Not while I'm about," laughed Tom. "Come, come, be calm, and I'll tell
you all about it."

And he did tell of the long years of hope and distress, of despair when
unconsciously within reach of fortune; of its final realization and of
its golden yield. "So here I am, father, and your old hand shall write
no more for Emanuel Griffin."

Then said Dolly, "You don't speak, father; you are surely not sorry?"

Sorry! He was stifled with gratitude; he was transforming into his old
self. The familiar tenderness of her voice opened the floodgates of his
heart, and he burst into a louder "Hurrah" than over Griffin's turkey,
and kissed them all around, Mr. Tripple included, and, indeed, the day
had been so successfully employed on the part of that gentleman that his
early entrance into the family was far from problematical--so of course
David did perfectly right.

Polly here broke in, "And, father, it was Tom who brought the note, and
Tom who planned the surprise for you. What did it say, Tom? you can tell
us now."

He laughed quietly, and then said, as if he were reading impressively
from the open sheet to Mr. Griffin himself, and making him writhe under
his coolness,--

     "Emanuel Griffin,

     "Sir: The connection of my father, David Dubbs, Esq., with your
     counting-house, will cease from this day forth.

"Sir, your obedient servant,
"Thomas Dubbs."

_Told by an English Tourist._

     "He seemed to be a kind of connecting link between the old times
     and the new, and to be, withal, a little antiquated in the taste of
     his accomplishments."



It was Christmas eve in the year of our Lord 1653. The snow, which had
fallen fitfully throughout the day, shrouded in white the sloping roofs
and narrow London streets, and lay in little, sparkling heaps on every
jutting cornice or narrow window-ledge where it could find a
resting-place. But in the west the setting sun shone clearly, firing the
steeples into sudden glory and gilding every tiny pane of glass that
faced its dying splendor. The thoroughfares were strangely silent and
deserted. The roving groups that had been wont at this season to fill
them with boisterous merriment, the noise, the bustle, the good cheer of
Christmas--all were lacking. No maskers roamed from street to street,
jingling their bells, beating their mighty drums, and bidding the
delighted crowd to make way for the Lord of Misrule. No shouts of "Noel!
Noel!" rang through the frosty air. No children gathered round their
neighbors' doors, singing quaint carols and forgotten glees, and bearing
off rich guerdon in the shape of apples, nuts, and substantial
Christmas buns. In place of the old-time gayety a dreary silence reigned
through the deserted highways, and down the narrow footwalk, with even
step and half-shut eyes, tramped the Puritan herald, ringing his bell
and proclaiming ever and anon in measured tones, "No Christmas! No

In sober and sad-hued garments was the herald arrayed, with leathern
boots that defied the snow and a copious mantle enveloping his sturdy
frame. Now and then he stopped to warn a couple of belated idlers that
they would do well to separate and go quietly to their homes. Now and
then a little child peeped at him timorously from a doorway, and,
overawed by his sombre aspect and heavy frown, retreated rapidly to hide
its fears in the safe shelter of its mother's gown. Men shook their
heads as he went by, and muttered something that was not always
complimentary to his presence; and women shrugged their shoulders and
sighed, and thought, perchance, of other Christmases in the past, with
Yule-logs burning on the hearth and stray kisses snatched beneath the
mistletoe. From a latticed window a girl's face peered at him with such
a light of laughing malice in the brown eyes that the Puritan, catching
sight of their wicked gleam, paused a moment, as though to reprove the
maiden for her forwardness, or to inquire what mischief was afoot under
this humble roof. But the night was growing chill, and he had still far
to go. It might not be worth while to waste words of counsel on one so
evidently godless; and, with a heavier scowl than usual, he tramped on,
swinging his bell with lusty force. "No Christmas! No Christmas!" echoed
through the darkening streets, and, as he passed, the girl contracted
her features into a grimace that would have done credit to the
wide-mouthed gargoyle of a Gothic cathedral.

"Cicely, Cicely!" cried a voice, at this juncture, from within, "close
the shutters, do, and come and help me."

Cicely, who had been inclined to stare out a little longer, shot the
heavy oaken bolt into its socket, and, opening a door leading to the
inner room, disclosed a scene whose ruddy cheerfulness shone all the
brighter in contrast to the dreary streets outside. A mighty bunch of
fagots blazed and crackled on the hearth, and above the carved
chimney-place hung branches of holly, their scarlet, berries glowing
deeply in the firelight. In one corner, half-veiled by a tapestry
curtain, a waxen Bambino nestled in its little manger, while before it
burned a small copper lamp. Wreaths of holly and ivy bedecked the
doors, and, standing tip-toed on a tall wooden chair, a young girl was
even now striving to fasten these securely with the aid of a very old
and wrinkled woman, who seemed more competent to admire than to assist
the undertaking.

"Some bigger berries, pray, Catherine," she said, impatiently; "and,
Cicely, if you feel you have loitered enough, hand me those two long ivy
branches. They should droop gracefully--so! And now stand off a little
way and tell me how it looks."

The younger sister obeyed, and, stationing herself in the middle of the
room, surveyed the whole effect with much approval. Annis, her fair face
flushed with the exertion, balanced herself on her lofty perch and gazed
complacently upon her handiwork; while even Mistress Vane, who had been
seated quietly on a deep chair by the fireplace, roused herself as from
a reverie, and looked half-wistfully around the cheerful room. "What
bell was that I heard just now?" she asked.

"The herald's, proclaiming a still Christmas," answered Cicely,
promptly; "and he watched me as sourly as though he knew that we were
plotting treason."

"Cecil, Cecil!" remonstrated her mother, in alarm. "Surely you did
nothing imprudent."

"I?" returned Cicely, apparently oblivious as to what she had done. "I
cast up the whites of my eyes, as though repeating psalms for mine own
inward sustainment; and seeing me so piously disposed, he was fain to
pass on to the correction of greater sinners."

"That were well-nigh impossible," said her sister, laughing; but
Mistress Vane only looked anxious and disturbed. The sense of insecurity
to which Annis was indifferent, and which Cicely at fourteen found
absolutely amusing, weighed heavily on the older woman, who had a better
understanding of the danger, and who had suffered cruelly in the past.
Husband and son had fallen for a lost cause, confiscation had devoured
the larger portion of her once fair inheritance; and now, with her two
young daughters, she found herself beset by perils, harassed by
stringent laws, and at the mercy of any ill-wind fate might blow her.
Cromwell's mighty arm held the fretful country in subjection, making the
name of England great and terrible abroad, and silencing every whisper
of disaffection at home. The Puritans, in their hour of triumph, stamped
upon the land the impress of their strong and bitter individuality; and
a morose asceticism, part real and part affected, crushed out of life
all the innocent pleasure of living. With every man determined to be
better than his neighbor, the competition in saintliness ran high. Under
its vigorous stimulus the May-pole and the Yule-log were alike branded
as heathenish observances, the Christmas-pie became a "pye of
abomination," and all amusements, from the drama to bear-baiting, were
censured with impartial severity. Feast-days were abolished, and even to
display the emblems of the Nativity was held to be sedition. The
Established Church, cowed and shorn of its splendor, was treated with
surly contempt; the Catholics were altogether beyond the pale of
charity. It was not a time calculated to promote festivity; yet, while
the heralds proclaimed through the frosty streets that Christmas at last
was dead, Annis Vane, with holly and ivy, with Yule-dough and
Babie-cake, was making all things ready for its mysterious birth. And as
she worked she sang softly under breath the refrain of a carol she had
learned at her nurse's knee,--

  "This endris night
  I saw a sight,
    A star as bright as day;
  And ever among
  A maiden sung
    Lullay, by-by, lullay."

"Is it not strange, mother," she said, breaking suddenly off, "that men
should deem it a mark of holiness to cast derision on the birth-night
of their Saviour?"

"Let us be just even to our enemies," replied Mistress Vane, gently.
"They think not to deride the Nativity, so much as to condemn the
riotous fashion in which Christians were wont to keep the feast. There
have been times, Annis, when the Lord of Misrule did more discredit to
this holy season than does the Puritan to-day."

Annis opened her blue eyes to their very utmost. This view of the matter
was one she was hardly prepared to accept. "Why, dearest mother," she
protested, "when should we venture to be happy, if not on Christmas-day?
And how can we show ourselves too joyful for our salvation? And did not
his most blessed majesty King Charles knight with his own royal hand a
Lord of Misrule who held court in the Middle Temple?"

Mistress Vane smiled at her daughter's vehemence. She knew more about
these jovial monarchs and their courts than Annis did, and it may even
be that his most blessed majesty's approval carried less weight to her
experienced mind. But in these dark and chilly days a little enthusiasm
was helpful in keeping one's heart warm, and she was far too wise a
mother to disparage it. "Truly they made a brave show then upon
Christmas-day," she admitted, "for the lord mayor and his corporation, a
goodly company of gentlemen, rode in procession to the church of St.
Thomas Acon, and thence to dine together with many pleasant ceremonies.
And stoups of wine and huge venison pasties were despatched to the
Temple for the stay and comfort of the mock-court, who made merry all
day long. And the streets were crowded, far into the night, with maskers
and revellers; and even the poor might for once forget their poverty,
and were welcome to the brawn and plum-broth of their richer neighbors."

"And now we have nothing of all this!" cried Cicely, with passionate
regret. "Nothing to look at and nothing to hear save the cracked bell of
a dingy herald, who does not even ride a hobby-horse like the merry
heralds of old. In truth, Master Prynne hath made good his own words
when he holds that Christmas should be rather a day of mourning than one
of rejoicing."

"Not so thought my godfather, kind Master Breton," said Annis,
thoughtfully. "For he hath written that it is the duty of Christians to
rejoice for the remembrance of Christ and for the maintenance of
good-fellowship. 'I hold it,' he hath said, 'a memory of the Heaven's
love and the world's peace, the mirth of the honest and the meeting of
the friendly.'"

Cicely's eyes danced with glee. "That were well remembered," she said,
mockingly; "if, now, you can but tell us in turn what your godfather's
nephew, Captain Rupert Breton, hath thought upon the matter."

Annis flushed scarlet, and the quick tears welled into her eyes as she
turned them reproachfully upon her sister. It was not easy for her to
think of her absent lover and maintain the cheerful frame of mind she
deemed appropriate to the season. The shores of France seemed very far
away that night, and the long months that had elapsed since the defeat
at Worcester stretched backward like a lifetime, as she recalled his
last hurried farewell. He had ridden hard and risked much for those few
words, and patiently and bravely she had waited ever since, hoping,
praying, turning her face steadily to the brighter side, and keeping
ever in mind the happy hour which should reunite them to each other.
Now, in silence, she bound together the last green boughs and put all in
order for the night. Old Catherine had long since gone off, yawning and
blinking, to bed, and Cicely, half-asleep, nodded over the dying fire.
Only her mother watched her, with eyes of loving scrutiny, and Annis
smiled brightly as she kissed the careworn face. "I shall not cry
myself to sleep to-night," she said, resolutely. "This is a time for
gladness; for the star of Bethlehem is shining in the sky, and the birth
of the Lord is at hand."

       *       *       *       *       *

Bright glowed the Christmas-logs on the capacious hearth till every
pointed leaf and scarlet holly-berry shone in the generous firelight.

  "Whosoever against holly doth cry,
  In a rope shall be hung full high."

For, when the oak and ash trees babbled to the wind, and betrayed the
Saviour's hiding-place, the holly, the ivy, and the pine kept the secret
hidden in their silent hearts; and for this good deed they stand green
and living under winter's icy breath, while their companions shiver
naked in the blast. Not till the risen sun has danced on Easter morn
shall the oak adorn a Christian household and prove itself forgiven. The
Christmas-pie--the Christ-cradle, as the Saxons used to call it--had
been baked in its oblong dish in memory of the manger at Bethlehem, with
the star of the Magi cut deeply in the swelling crust. The Yule-dough,
cunningly moulded into the likeness of a little babe, had been carefully
laid by as a sovereign protector from the evils of fire, floods,
carnage, and--so say some ancient writers--from the bite of rabid
dogs. Annis Vane, decked out in the bravest array her altered fortunes
would permit, knelt by the blazing hearth. Her ruff was of the finest
lace, and a row of milk-white pearls clasped her slender throat. She
shaded her face from the fire, and piled up shining cones of
bright-brown nuts that seemed to tempt the flames.

[Illustration: The Cavalier From France]

"All we lack now is the mistletoe," she said, half-despondently. "It was
no easy task to find the holly and bring it home unnoticed; but we
cannot gather mistletoe near London, and there is none for sale
throughout the city."

"Of what use is the mistletoe," said the practical Cicely, "when we are
but three women here alone? We can kiss each other as readily under a
sprig of ivy, and we can fire our nuts without the help of man or lad,
provided only we keep one in our minds. Of whom shall I think, Annis?"
she queried, wrinkling up her pretty forehead in anxious perplexity over
so disturbing a doubt.

"You are far too young to think of men at all," answered Annis,
reprovingly, and with all the conscious superiority of age. "Nor do you
know enough as yet to make such pastime profitable."

Cicely's brows drew together with a frown which plainly indicated the
nature of the retort upon her lips, but a glance from her mother checked
her. "The word uttered in vexation is better left unspoken," said
Mistress Vane, with gentle authority. "And I am waiting here, not to
listen to disputes, which in these stormy times have grown wearisome,
but to hear the Christmas carol promised me to-night."

Annis, with flushed cheeks, took down from the wall a little mandolin of
Spanish workmanship, and, striking a few chords, began the carol, in
which Cicely, after sacrificing some moments to ill-temper, concluded
presently to join, her clear flute-notes rising high above her sister's
weaker tones,--

  "When Christ was born of Mary free,
  In Bethlehem, in that fair citie,
  Angels sungen with mirth and glee,
            In Excelsis Gloria!

  "Herdsmen beheld these angels bright
  To them appeared with great light,
  And said, God's Son is born this night,
            In Excelsis Gloria!

  "The King is comen to save kind,
  Even in Scripture as we find;
  Therefore this song have we in mind,
            In Excelsis Gloria!

  "Then, dear Lord, for thy great grace,
  Grant us in bliss to see thy face,
  Where we may sing to thee solace,
            In Excelsis Gloria!"

As the sounds died into silence there stood one in the icy streets and
listened. No self-elected saint was he, scenting out treason to the
Commonwealth, but a cavalier from France, with his love-locks shorn for
sweet prudence's sake, and a mighty mantle enveloping him from head to
foot. If Annis Vane had waited, and hoped, and built up her faith in the
cheer of Christmas-night, the joy she coveted was very near at last.
After lingering a few moments, as though on the chance of hearing more,
the stranger advanced and knocked sharply at the heavily-barred door. It
was opened in due season and with great caution by old Catherine, who
evidently thought the hour ill-chosen for a new-comer, and mistrusted
sorely the purpose of his visit. He allowed her scant time, however, to
threaten or expostulate, but, putting her gently on one side, stepped to
the inner room. There, pale with anxiety and terror, Mistress Vane
leaned forward in her chair, while Cicely, half-frightened,
half-defiant, grasped her mother's skirt. Before the fire stood Annis,
her blue eyes shining like stars, a round, red spot burning feverishly
in each cheek, her lace ruff rising and falling distressfully with the
heaving bosom within. The mandolin had fallen from her hands; the ruddy
firelight lit up her slight figure and fair, disordered curls. She stood
thus for a moment, swaying breathless betwixt hope and fear, then, with
a low, joyous cry, sprang forward into her lover's arms.

Welcome now the good cheer of Christmas-night! Welcome the
Christmas-pie, the pasty of venison, the pudding stuffed with plums, and
the flagon of old wine. Love is a brave appetizer when backed by long
fasting and a ten hours' ride, and Captain Breton brought all the vigor
of youth and happiness and of a noble hunger to bear upon the viands.
The glow of the cheerful room was infinitely comforting to the tired
traveller; the sight of Annis's happy face put fresh hope and courage in
his heart. He had much to tell of the gay court of France, and of the
royal exile, who should one day, God willing, sit on his father's
throne. Nor were there lacking adventures and dangers of his own to give
flavor to the narrative, nor plans for the future, colored with all the
happy confidence of youth. He had come home to win his bride, and to
carry her away to brighter scenes until this soured and gloomy England
should be merrie England once more. "He who would keep a light heart
within London walls," said he, "must needs be very sure of heaven, as
are Master Prynne and Master Philip Stubbes, or very much in love, as am
I. It lacks but a covered cart and a bell in every street to make one
feel the Black Death is upon us. If you can laugh in such an atmosphere
of melancholy, Annis, what will you do in France?"

"Mayhap if I laugh enough in sober London I shall grow too giddy and
forward in foolish France," returned Annis, gayly; "unless----"

"Unless what, dear heart?"

"Unless while I am safe in Paris you are fighting the battles of the
king in England. Then tears will come easier than laughter, as in truth
they have done of late."

"Wherever I may be, your prayers will prove my bulwark," said Captain
Breton, confidently. "It would take more than a silver bullet to find
its way to my heart while you are besieging heaven's doors in the
tumultuous fashion that only women can attain. I bear a charmed life as
long as you remember your petitions."

Annis answered with a look, and Cicely, nestling by her mother's chair,
watched her sister with wide, serious eyes. To the child standing on the
threshold of womanhood the presence of love carries with it an
intoxicating flavor of mystery. It is something that fills her alike
with envy and a vague resentment, with wonder and an indefinable desire.
Its commonest expression is a perverse antipathy to one of the lovers,
with an irrational increase of affection for the other; and in this case
Captain Breton came in for his full share of Cicely's smothered anger
and disdain. He, meanwhile, in happy unconsciousness, chancing to meet
the brown eyes lifted dreamily to his own, and noting the upward curve
of the short, sweet lip, thought within himself that this elfish little
Cicely was growing almost as pretty as her sister--a judgment which
proves conclusively the blindness of love; for Annis, though fair and
comely to look upon, came no nearer to her young sister's beauty than
does the pink-tipped daisy to the half-opened rosebud uncurling slowly
in the sun. At present, the girl, seeing that she was watched, turned
away her head pettishly and eyed the leaping flames.

"Annis said to-night there was but one thing lacking to her Christmas
cheer," she remarked, after a pause, and with the too evident intention
of saying something vexatious.

"And that was I!" interposed the cavalier, with the ready assurance of a

"It was not you at all," returned Cicely, "but the mistletoe. We
gathered the other greens ourselves, but there was no mistletoe to be
found within or without the gates of London."

"By a happy chance we can proceed as though we had it," said Captain
Breton, contentedly, while Annis crimsoned like a rose. "It is a welcome
little plant, and carries a merry message; but if it be banished in
these saintly days, we obstinate sinners must kiss without its

"But the maid who is not kissed on Christmas-night beneath the mistletoe
will never be a wife during the coming year," persisted Cicely, who had
laid down her line of attack and was not to be driven therefrom.

"Now, will you wager your ring or your new ear-drop on that, little
sister?" said the captain, laughing at the threat. "Or have you a
trinket that you value less to risk in such a cause?"

Cicely, deeply affronted, puckered up her brow and drew closer to her
mother; but Annis, far too happy to be vexed, leaned over and kissed the
pouting lips. With her, joy meant thanksgiving, and her heart was
singing--singing the song of the angel of Judea: "In Excelsis Gloria!"

_A Norseman's Saga._

     "As he sat there with a sou'wester down over his ears, in a long
     pilot coat, his figure appeared to assume quite supernatural
     proportions, and you might almost imagine that you had one of the
     old Vikings before you."



There was once a man named Alf, who had raised great expectations among
his fellow-parishioners because he excelled most of them both in the
work he accomplished and in the advice he gave. Now, when this man was
thirty years old, he went to live up the mountain, and cleared a piece
of land for farming, about fourteen miles from any settlement. Many
people wondered how he could endure thus depending on himself for
companionship, but they were still more astonished when, a few years
later, a young girl from the valley, and one, too, who had been the
gayest of the gay at all the social gatherings and dances of the parish,
was willing to share his solitude.

This couple were called "the people in the wood," and the man was known
by the name of "Alf in the wood." People viewed him with inquisitive
eyes when they met him at church or at work, because they did not
understand him; but neither did he take the trouble to give them any
explanation of his conduct. His wife was only seen in the parish twice,
and on one of these occasions it was to present a child for baptism.

This child was a son, and he was called Thrond. When he grew larger his
parents often talked about needing help, and, as they could not afford
to take a full-grown servant, they hired what they called "a half:" they
brought into their house a girl of fourteen, who took care of the boy
while the father and mother were busy in the field.

This girl was not the brightest person in the world, and the boy soon
observed that his mother's words were easy to comprehend, but that it
was hard to get at the meaning of what Ragnhild said. He never talked
much with his father, and he was rather afraid of him, for the house had
to be kept very quiet when he was home. One Christmas Eve--they were
burning two candles on the table, and the father was drinking from a
white flask--the father took the boy up in his arms and set him on his
lap, looked him sternly in the eyes, and exclaimed,--

"Ugh, boy!" Then he added more gently,--"Why, you are not so much
afraid. Would you have the courage to listen to a story?"

The boy made no reply, but he looked full in his father's face. His
father then told him about a man from Vaage, whose name was Blessom.
This man was in Copenhagen for the purpose of getting the king's verdict
in a law-suit he was engaged in, and he was detained so long that
Christmas eve overtook him there. Blessom was greatly annoyed at this,
and, as he was sauntering about the streets fancying himself at home, he
saw a very large man, in a white, short coat, walking in front of him.

"How fast you are walking!" said Blessom.

"I have a long distance to go in order to get home this evening,"
replied the man.

"Where are you going?"

"To Vaage," answered the man, and walked on.

"Why, that is very nice," said Blessom, "for that is where I am going,

"Well, then, you may ride with me, if you will stand on the runners of
my sledge," answered the man, and turned into a side street where his
horse was standing.

He mounted his seat and looked over his shoulder at Blessom, who was
just getting on the runners.

"You had better hold fast," said the stranger.

Blessom did as he was told, and it was well he did, for their journey
was evidently not by land.

"It seems to me that you are driving on the water," cried Blessom.

"I am," said the man, and the spray whirled about them.

But after a while it seemed to Blessom their course no longer lay on the

"It seems to me we are moving through the air," said he.

"Yes, so we are," replied the stranger.

But when they had gone still farther, Blessom thought he recognized the
parish they were driving through.

"Is not this Vaage?" cried he.

"Yes, now we are there," replied the stranger, and it seemed to Blessom
that they had gone pretty fast.

"Thank you for the good ride," said he.

"Thanks to yourself," replied the man, and added, as he whipped up his
horse, "Now you had better not look after me."

"No, indeed," thought Blessom, and started over the hills for home.

But just then so loud and terrible a crash was heard behind him that it
seemed as if the whole mountain must be tumbling down, and a bright
light was shed over the surrounding landscape; he looked round and
beheld the stranger in the white coat driving through the crackling
flames into the open mountain, which was yawning wide to receive him,
like some huge gate. Blessom felt somewhat strange in regard to his
travelling companion; and thought he would look in another direction;
but as he had turned his head so it remained, and never more could
Blossom get it straight again.

The boy had never heard anything to equal this in all his life. He dared
not ask his father for more, but early the next morning he asked his
mother if she knew any stories. Yes, of course she did; but hers were
chiefly about princesses who were in captivity for seven years, until
the right prince came along. The boy believed that everything he heard
or read about took place close around him.

He was about eight years old when the first stranger entered their door
one winter evening. He had black hair, and this was something Thrond had
never seen before. The stranger saluted them with a short
"Good-evening!" and came forward. Thrond grew frightened and sat down on
a cricket by the hearth. The mother asked the man to take a seat on the
bench along the wall; he did so, and then the mother could examine his
face more closely.

"Dear me! is not this Knud the fiddler?" cried she.

"Yes, to be sure it is. It has been a long time since I played at your

"Oh, yes; it is quite a while now. Have you been on a long journey?"

"I have been playing for Christmas on the other side of the mountain.
But half-way down the slope I began to feel very badly, and I was
obliged to come in here to rest."

The mother brought forward food for him; he sat down to the table, but
did not say "in the name of Jesus," as the boy had been accustomed to
hear. When he had finished eating, he got up from the table, and said,--

"Now I feel very comfortable; let me rest a little while."

And he was allowed to rest on Thrond's bed.

For Thrond a bed was made on the floor. As the boy lay there, he felt
cold on the side that was turned away from the fire, and that was the
left side. He discovered that it was because this side was exposed to
the chill night air; for he was lying out in the wood. How came he in
the wood? He got up and looked about him, and saw that there was fire
burning a long distance off, and that he was actually alone in the wood.
He longed to go home to the fire; but could not stir from the spot. Then
a great fear overcame him; for wild beasts might be roaming about,
trolls and ghosts might appear to him; he must get home to the fire; but
he could not stir from the spot. Then his terror grew, he strove with
all his might to gain self-control, and was at last able to cry,
"Mother," and then he awoke.

"Dear child, you have had bad dreams," said she, and took him up.

A shudder ran through him, and he glanced round. The stranger was gone,
and he dared not inquire after him.

His mother appeared in her black dress, and started for the parish. She
came home with two new strangers, who also had black hair and who wore
flat caps. They did not say "in the name of Jesus," when they ate, and
they talked in low tones with the father. Afterwards the latter and they
went into the barn, and came out again with a large box, which the men
carried between them. They placed it on a sled, and said farewell. Then
the mother said,--

"Wait a little, and take with you the smaller box he brought here with

And she went in to get it. But one of the men said,--

"_He_ can have that," and he pointed at Thrond.

"Use it as well as _he_ who is now lying _here_," added the other
stranger, pointing at the large box.

Then they both laughed and went on. Thrond looked at the little box
which thus came into his possession.

"What is there in it?" asked he.

"Carry it in and find out," said the mother.

He did as he was told, but his mother helped him open it. Then a great
joy lighted up his face, for he saw something very light and fine lying

"Take it up," said his mother.

He put just one finger down on it, but quickly drew it back again in
great alarm.

"It cries," said he.

"Have courage," said his mother, and he grasped it with his whole hand
and drew it forth from the box.

He weighed it and turned it round, he laughed and felt of it.

"Dear me! what is it?" asked he, for it was as light as a toy.

"It is a fiddle."

This was the way that Thrond Alfson got his first violin.

The father could play a little, and he taught the boy how to handle the
instrument; the mother could sing the tunes she remembered from her
dancing days, and these the boy learned, but soon began to make new ones
for himself. He played all the time he was not at his books; he played
until his father once told him he was fading away before his eyes. All
the boy had read and heard until that time was put into the fiddle. The
tender, delicate string was his mother; the one that lay close beside
it, and always accompanied his mother, was Ragnhild. The coarse string,
which he seldom ventured to play on, was his father. But of the last
solemn string he was half afraid, and he gave no name to it. When he
played a wrong note on the E string, it was the cat; but when he took a
wrong note on his father's string, it was the ox. The bow was Blessom,
who drove from Copenhagen to Vaage in one night. And every tune he
played represented something. The one containing the long solemn tones
was his mother in her black dress. The one that jerked and skipped was
like Moses, who stuttered and smote the rock with his staff. The one
that had to be played quietly, with the bow moving lightly over the
strings, was the hulder in yonder fog, calling together her cattle,
where no one but herself could see.

But the music wafted him onward over the mountains, and a great yearning
took possession of his soul. One day, when his father told about a
little boy who had been playing at the fair and who had earned a great
deal of money, Thrond waited for his mother in the kitchen and asked her
softly if he could not go to the fair and play for people.

"Whoever heard of such a thing!" said his mother; but she immediately
spoke to his father about it.

"He will get out into the world soon enough," answered the father; and
he spoke in such a way that the mother did not ask again.

Shortly after this, the father and mother were talking at table about
some new settlers who had recently moved up on the mountain and were
about to be married. They had no fiddler for the wedding, the father

"Could not I be the fiddler?" whispered the boy, when he was alone in
the kitchen once more with his mother.

"What, a little boy like you?" said she; but she went out to the barn
where his father was and told him about it.

"He has never been in the parish," she added; "he has never seen a

"I should not think you would ask about such things," said Alf; but
neither did he say anything more, and so the mother thought she had
permission. Consequently she went over to the new settlers and offered
the boy's services.

"The way he plays," said she, "no little boy has ever played before;"
and the boy was to be allowed to come.

What joy there was at home! Thrond played from morning until evening and
practised new tunes; at night he dreamed about them: they bore him far
over the hills, away to foreign lands, as though he were afloat on
sailing clouds. His mother made a new suit of clothes for him; but his
father would not take part in what was going on.

The last night he did not sleep, but thought out a new tune about the
church which he had never seen. He was up early in the morning, and so
was his mother, in order to get him his breakfast, but he could not eat.
He put on his new clothes and took his fiddle in his hand, and it seemed
to him as though a bright light were glowing before his eyes. His mother
accompanied him out on the flag-stone, and stood watching him as he
ascended the slopes; it was the first time he had left home.

His father got quietly out of bed, and walked to the window; he stood
there, following the boy with his eyes until he heard the mother out on
the flag-stone, then he went back to bed and was lying down when she
came in.

She kept stirring about him, as if she wanted to relieve her mind of
something. And finally it came out,--

"I really think I must walk down to the church and see how things are

He made no reply, and therefore she considered the matter settled,
dressed herself, and started.

It was a glorious, sunny day, the boy walked rapidly onward, he listened
to the song of the birds and saw the sun glittering among the foliage,
while he proceeded on his way, with his fiddle under his arm. And when
he reached the bride's house, he was still so occupied with his own
thoughts, that he observed neither the bridal splendor nor the
procession; he merely asked if they were about to start, and learned
that they were. He walked on in advance with his fiddle, and he played
the whole morning into it, and the tones he produced resounded through
the trees.

"Will we soon see the church?" he asked over his shoulder.

For a long time he received only "No" for an answer, but at last some
one said,--

"As soon as you reach that crag yonder, you will see it."

He threw his newest tune into the fiddle, the bow danced on the strings,
and he kept his eyes fixed intently before him. There lay the parish
right in front of him!

The first thing he saw was a little light mist, curling like smoke on
the opposite mountain side. His eyes wandered over the green meadow and
the large houses, with windows which glistened beneath the scorching
rays of the sun, like the glacier on a winter's day. The houses kept
increasing in size, the windows in number, and here on one side of him
lay the enormous red house, in front of which horses were tied; little
children were playing on a hill, dogs were sitting watching them. But
everywhere there penetrated a long, heavy tone, that shook him from head
to foot, and everything he saw seemed to vibrate with that tone. Then
suddenly he saw a large, straight house, with a tall, glittering staff
reaching up to the skies. And below, a hundred windows blazed, so that
the house seemed to be enveloped in flames. This must be the church, the
boy thought, and the music must come from it! Round about stood a vast
multitude of people, and they all looked alike! He put them forthwith
into relations with the church, and thus acquired a respect mingled with
awe for the smallest child he saw.

"Now I must play," thought Thrond, and tried to do so.

But what was this? The fiddle had no longer any sound in it. There must
be some defect in the strings; he examined, but could find none.

"Then it must be because I do not press on hard enough," and he drew his
bow with a firmer hand; but the fiddle seemed as if it were cracked.

He changed the tune that was meant to represent the church into
another, but with equally bad results; no music was produced, only
squeaking and wailing. He felt the cold sweat start out over his face;
he thought of all these wise people who were standing here and perhaps
laughing him to scorn, this boy who at home could play so beautifully,
but who here failed to bring out a single tone!

"Thank God that mother is not here to see my shame!" said he softly to
himself, as he played among the people; but lo! there she stood, in her
black dress, and she shrank farther and farther away.

At that moment he beheld far up on the spire the black-haired man who
had given him the fiddle. "Give it back to me," he now shouted,
laughing, and stretching out his arms, and the spire went up and down
with him, up and down. But the boy took the fiddle under one arm,
screaming, "You shall not have it!" and, turning, ran away from the
people, beyond the houses, onward through meadow and field, until his
strength forsook him, and then sank to the ground.

There he lay for a long time, with his face toward the earth, and when
finally he looked round he saw and heard only God's infinite blue sky
that floated above him, with its everlasting sough. This was so terrible
to him that he had to turn his face to the ground again. When he raised
his head once more his eyes fell on his fiddle, which lay at his side.

"This is all your fault!" shouted the boy, and seized the instrument
with the intention of dashing it to pieces, but hesitated as he looked
at it.

"We have had many a happy hour together," said he, then paused.
Presently he said, "The strings must be severed, for they are
worthless." And he took out a knife and cut. "Oh!" cried the E string,
in a short, pained tone. The boy cut. "Oh!" wailed the next, but the boy
cut. "Oh!" said the third, mournfully; and he paused at the fourth. A
sharp pain seized him; that fourth string, to which he never dared give
a name, he did not cut. Now a feeling came over him that it was not the
fault of the strings that he was unable to play, and just then he saw
his mother walking slowly up the slope toward where he was lying, that
she might take him home with her. A greater fright than ever overcame
him; he held the fiddle by the severed strings, sprang to his feet, and
shouted down to her,--

"No, mother! I will not go home again until I can play what I have seen

_Contributed by An Oriental Traveller._

     "A great, long devil of a Spahi in his red burnous."




It seemed all too good to be true: the rest from labor, the swift flight
across southern seas, the landing, amid strange, dark faces on a
burnished shore, the slow, delicious journey through tamarisk groves and
palm forests, and the halt in the Desert that came at last.

I had been doing for the last twelve months what young artists and
authors are constantly doing, to their own ruin and the justifiable
ill-humor of critics, namely, working against the grain. A sweet,
generous, and beautiful Patroness, seeing me on the high road to brain
fever or hopeless mediocrity, stepped forward in time, and sent me to
the Desert. If ever I achieve anything excellent, it will be owing to
that lady, the Vittoria Colonna of her humble Michael Angelo. My little
sister Mary came with me, and, when I tell you that she was a teacher in
a school, you will easily understand what an intoxicating thing it was
for her to see a new world every day, and have nothing to do from
morning, till night. The poor child could hardly believe in an existence
without Czerny's scales being played on three or four pianos at once,
and a barrel organ and brass band in the street. "Oh, Tom!" she would
say to me, a dozen times a day, "I've got C scale and 'Wait for the
Wagon' on my brain, and can't get rid of them;" so that I verily believe
to my beautiful Vittoria Colonna Mary's present well-being is due as
much as my own.

We halted at a little military station on the borders of the Great
Sahara, about a week before Christmas-day. The weather was perfect, and
not too warm. A delicious, mellow atmosphere enveloped palm, and plain,
and mosque; the air, blown across thousands and thousands of acres of
wild thyme and rosemary, refreshed us like wine: we seemed to have new
souls and new bodies given us, and were as free from care as the
swallows flying overhead. Travellers never came to Teschoun, as this
little oasis is called; but we had placed ourselves under the guidance
of an enterprising Frenchman, who transacted all sorts of business on
the road between Mascara and Fig-gig, the last French post in the
Desert. His name was Dominique, and I shall always look upon him as the
most remarkable man I ever knew. He was as witty as Sydney Smith, as
clever at expediences as Robinson Crusoe, as shrewd a politician as
Machiavelli, as apt at languages as Mezzofanti, and as brave as
Garibaldi. Being a bachelor, Dominique was none the less ready to
receive us, and, with the help of an old Corsican named Napoleon, made
us very comfortable. When Dominique was carrying His Imperial Majesty's
mails to some remote stations southward, or had gone to an Arab fair to
buy cattle, Napoleon catered for us and cooked for us, and did both
admirably. Both master and servant spiced their dishes plentifully with
that mother-wit, never seen in such perfection as in crude colonies
where people without it would fare so ill.

"What are we to do for society for poor mademoiselle?" asked Dominique,
as he served our first dinner. "Monsieur can amuse himself with the
officers of the garrison, but there are no ladies here."

"When my brother is out, I shall stay at home and talk to Napoleon,"
Mary said, with a mock assumption of dignity. "I don't want to be
amused, Monsieur Dominique."

"Mon Dieu, mademoiselle! the officers of the garrison will fall in love
with you, and that ought to amuse you better than talking to Napoleon,"
Dominique answered. "It's a very dull life they lead here, these poor
officers; and if it weren't for hunting gazelles and hyenas, and
playing the deuce with the Arabs, they'd die of ennui; but a pretty
young lady like you will turn their heads soon enough."

Mary blushed, and tried to turn the conversation.

"What do they do with themselves all day long?" she asked.

"I'll tell you that quickly enough, mademoiselle. M. le Commandant has
to see that the Cadi gets what he can out of the Sheiks, and the Sheiks
get what they can out of the tribes, and that the tribes hold their
tongue. That is what the Commandant has to do, young lady, and he does
it pretty well. M. le Capitaine has an easier time of it, except when
there is an insurrection, and then he makes a raid against the Arabs,
and after keeping his men out of their way very cleverly, sticks up the
French flag somewhere in the Desert and comes home. M. le Lieutenant
does odd jobs for the Commandant and the Capitaine, and plays the flute;
but we have got M. le Général down here for a few days, and he is
setting everybody to work. I dare say the end of it will be an
expedition into the Desert. You may look, monsieur. I'm not talking at
random, I assure you; generals love war as umbrella-makers love bad
weather; and it is easier to make people fight than it is to make it

"I think French officers must be a wicked set; I hope none of them will
come near us," Mary said. "The poor Arabs! how my heart bleeds for

"Tiens! mademoiselle, there is no reason for your heart to bleed. Big
flies live on little ones all the world over; and if the French eat up
the Arabs, the Arabs eat up each other. The officers are very nice,
harmless gentlemen, I assure you; and as to the Commandant, though he
thinks fighting the best fun in the world, he wouldn't hurt a fly. To
see him pet his little gazelle would make you cry. She's the only lady
in the place, and I believe, if she died, it would break his heart. But
people must have something to be fond of. My old Napoleon, yonder, has
taken a fancy to a cat, and when the cat dies, Napoleon will be as lost
as his namesake the Emperor was at St. Helena. Listen a moment; that's
the Lieutenant practising on his flute: he has a little lodging next

The Lieutenant played very prettily, and Mary seemed to like his playing
much better than Dominique's stories. As her room adjoined the
Lieutenant's, she seemed likely to have the full benefit of his musical
capacities; but I do not think she lay awake to be serenaded that night.
We were fairly intoxicated with the sweet air of the Desert we had been
breathing all day, and went to bed at eight o'clock, too tired and happy
to dream.

Next morning Dominique informed us that he had himself delivered our
letter of introduction to M. le Commandant, who promised to wait upon us
in the course of the day. Not knowing at what hour we might expect him,
we set to work immediately after breakfast to prepare my room for the
reception of so distinguished a visitor. I helped Mary as well as I was
able, and, when nothing remained to do but the dusting, retired into a
recess to trim my beard.

An Englishwoman is never so well dressed as when she emerges from her
bedroom at early morning; and I must say that Mary looked the daintiest
little housewife possible to conceive as she went about dusting and
polishing in a pink cambric dress and tiny black apron. But, neat as she
was, and neat as my beard and the room were in a fair way of becoming,
we were overwhelmed with surprise and confusion at what followed, for
quite suddenly the door was thrown open; there was a military tramp and
a rattling of a sword outside, and Dominique exclaimed, in a voice of
thunder, "M. le Commandant!"

Impassible self-possession is a beautiful quality, and while Mary and I
stood blushing and aghast, like school children caught at stealing
cherries, M. le Commandant had made a courteous speech, welcoming us to
Teschoun. Then we all sat down, and M. le Commandant talked to us. He
was a sunburnt, soldierly man about fifty-five, with a rough manner but
a kind smile, and we felt at home with him in a moment.

"I presume that monsieur wishes to see as much of the country as
possible," he said; "and I shall be enchanted to place at monsieur's
disposal horses, and my servant and a spahi as guides. But what will
mademoiselle do while her brother is away? I must send her my little
gazelle to play with her."

"My sister will like to go with me where it is practicable," I said.

The Commandant opened his eyes, and looked at Mary much as one looks
upon a pretty little duckling or a year-old baby.

"Monsieur is evidently jesting," he answered. "Mademoiselle would be too
fatigued to undertake such journeys."

"I don't think so," Mary said. "I have no fear, monsieur, and I like to
be with my brother."

"Ah, what courage you English ladies have! Well, mademoiselle, we will
find you a quiet horse, and make everything as pleasant as possible."
And after inviting us to dine with him one evening, and bidding us to
make use of him in every possible way, he took leave of us.

"How nice he is!" cried Mary, as soon as the door was closed; "if all
French officers were like this one, Tom, I think we shall not care how
long we stay in the Desert----"

"Your heart has very quickly ceased to bleed for the poor Arabs, I see."

"But how can we be sure that Dominique's stories are all true? No, Tom;
I won't believe any harm of this kind-looking Commandant. I only wish he
had not come till the room was tidied and I had got on a muslin frock,
but, as we are sure of having no more visitors, I'll finish your room
and then unpack."

We were fairly at our work again, when another military step sounded,
and another sword rattled in the passage outside. This time Dominique's
arm swung back the door with less pomposity, and Dominique's voice was a
trifle less emphatic as he ushered in "M. le Capitaine."

Again Mary and I scuttled about like young rabbits, and then stood
still, staring shyly, and again our embarrassment was met by the calmest
nonchalance. The second figure was a man of much more presence than the
Commandant. He had the polished, graceful ease of a man of the world,
and, though quite as good-natured as the Commandant, his good-nature
pleased us less, because it was less spontaneous.

"I hope you will stay some time at Teschoun," he said, looking at Mary.
"The ennui of our lives here is terrible. Think of it, mademoiselle; we
have no theatre, no music, no society, and no domestic life. To find a
lady here is like the miraculous advent of an angel." Mary blushed, and
had no courage to make the sprightly answers she had made the

The fine air and grand compliments of the Capitaine overcame the little
thing, but she looked distractingly pretty as she sat opposite to him,
smiling and blushing when he addressed her, and only saying, "Oui,
monsieur," or "Non, monsieur," or at most, "Vraiment, monsieur."

"Does mademoiselle ride?" asked the gallant Capitaine.

"Oui, monsieur."

"Then mademoiselle shall ride my little barb; there is hardly such a
horse anywhere, mademoiselle, so docile, so sweet-tempered, and so
sure-footed. It is not every lady I would trust with my little horse;
but I know how an Englishwoman can sit in the saddle, and I am proud to
offer it to mademoiselle."

"Je vous remercie bien, monsieur."

Then the Capitaine talked of Christmas-day.

"We will have a little fête-champêtre in mademoiselle's honor," he said;
"we will go to the great water-falls of Boisel-Kebir and breakfast there.
I will invite my Commandant and all the officers of the garrison.
Monsieur can make a sketch and mademoiselle can gather flowers."

We expressed ourselves delighted at the proposal, and, after promising
to send Mary ostrich eggs and jackal skins to take to England, the
Capitaine left us.

"I don't like the Capitaine as well as the Commandant," Mary said; "but
how kind they all are to us! It is as if we were princes on a journey of
triumph. Oh, Tom! what days to remember are these!"

"I think your head will be fairly turned, what with the Commandant's
dinners and the Capitaine's fêtes-champêtres," I said; "and if the

"M. le Lieutenant!" announced Dominique, opening the door calmly, as if
nothing was the matter.

We had been twice so shocked and surprised that we had no more
embarrassment to expend on the Lieutenant. Indeed, he was rather shy
himself, which was the very thing to reassure a warm-hearted,
sympathetic little creature like my sister, and they began to talk
together without any effort.

He was young and handsome, with a very frank, pleasant expression.

"I am afraid that it is useless for me to offer my poor services," he
said, very modestly, "my superior officers having forestalled me; but it
will make me very happy to do anything for you. If mademoiselle would
like any stuffed birds, or dried flowers and plants, it will give me
pleasure to procure them for her; and perhaps monsieur would like me to
show him some wonderful things to paint. I draw a little myself, and
know where the finest points of view are to be found."

We thanked him heartily, and accepted all that he offered us. As it was
now time for our second breakfast, or, more properly speaking, lunch, we
pressed him to partake of it with us, which he did. We should not have
ventured upon inviting the Commandant, much less the Capitaine, so
unceremoniously, but the Lieutenant's diffident manner had set us quite
at our ease.

"I have a very humble apartment," he said; "but if monsieur and
mademoiselle will visit me, I will do the honors of it with pride and
pleasure. I can at least offer them a little music."

"Yes, I know that you play," Mary said, smiling; "our rooms join, and I
heard you playing before I went to sleep last night."

"Oh, mademoiselle! I shall never forgive myself if I disturbed you."

"No, indeed, you did not, monsieur. Much as I liked the music, I was too
tired to listen to it, and went to sleep all the same."

Then they both laughed gleefully, like children, and the Lieutenant
promised to play to her and send her to sleep every night.

After breakfast he accompanied us on a tour of inspection. We soon saw
all that there was to see of Teschoun, namely, a little line of bazaars
kept by Jews and negroes, a little boulevard of a year's growth, two
imposing-looking gates,--one looking towards Morocco, one towards the
Sahara,--a straggling camp, and a wall of circumvallation. There were
gardens in embryo here and there, but no trees of any size, and not till
you had got fairly away from Teschoun could you perceive that its aspect
was striking or imposing. Then, looking back from the craggy heights
that surrounded it, the white line of the camp and the belt of verdure
encircling it like a ribbon, struck the eye as a pleasant contrast to
the warm, yellow atmosphere of earth and sky. The warmth and the
yellowness were delicious. A fresh, sweet breeze blew across our faces
from the Desert. We sat down and drew it in with long, devouring

A hundred yards behind us, his bright-brown body sharply outlined
against the pale, amber-colored sky, stood a little Bedouin smiling down
upon us. It was a perfect personification of Eastern life, and I made a
sketch, while the Lieutenant told Mary of his hard campaign southward,
and his joy at catching the first glimpse of Teschoun from the distance.

When we returned home we found that the Commandant's servant had left a
bunch of roses for Mary, with his master's compliments; that the
Capitaine's servant had been sent round with his master's horse for her
to try, and that the Général had sent word by his aide-de-camp that he
would himself have the pleasure of calling upon us that evening.

Mary and I felt utterly overwhelmed by such goodness and condescension.
A real starred, laced Général was about to call on us! We could hardly
believe that we were our identical, insignificant selves, who, but for
you, oh! most sweet and honored Patroness, would have sunk under the
burden of toil imposed upon us. But how all was changed! The poor,
unknown artist was treated as if he had been Sir Peter Paul Rubens; the
humble little school teacher was fêted and flattered like the wife of a
conquering commander-in-chief.

We had invited the young Lieutenant to drink tea with us at eight
o'clock, and were enjoying a little music after a very sociable fashion,
when a noisy excitement seemed to shake the house like a shock of an
earthquake, and M. le Général was announced in Dominique's most
impressive manner.

M. le Général was by no means an awful-looking person; and, indeed, we
had so expended our surprise already, that we had no more at command.

He was an excessively stout, merry person, middle-aged, of a beautiful
complexion, and a capacity to wink that would have vulgarized any one
else but a general. He made himself very pleasant, accepted a cup of
tea, praised Mary's French, said that he intended to dine with us at the
Commandant's to-morrow, and told us some laughable stories about the
Arabs. I noticed that the Lieutenant seemed quite overawed by the
presence of the Général, and sat flute in hand, like a statue. Mary
tried to put him at his ease, but to no purpose. It did not mend matters
when the Général began first to twit him about his musical
accomplishments, and then to catechise him on military matters.

"You were in that affair of '59, in Kabylia, weren't you?" he asked,
in that quick, positive, military tone to which we with difficulty get

[Illustration: My Little Sister Mary]

"Oui, mon Général."

"It was a badly managed thing, I believe. The Kabyles got the better of
you more than once, didn't they?"

"I believe so, mon Général."

"Bah!" cried the Général, turning to me. "You see what these young
officers know of their trade. I have no doubt that Monsieur le
Lieutenant's musical education is much more advanced, and to serenade
mademoiselle suits him much better than to make war against the enemies
of his country."

And, at the mention of the enemies of his country, the Général indulged
in a wink. When he was ready to go, he sent the Lieutenant to order his
horse, much as if he had been a little boy of ten years old; and on
taking leave added half a dozen commissions in the same peremptory tone.
The poor Lieutenant listened very submissively, but no sooner had the
Général dashed down the street, followed by his servant, equally well
mounted, than he grew gay and easy again.

As soon as we were alone, Mary brought out her slender supply of gala
dresses, and we discussed the important subject of her toilet of the
next evening.

"It seems to me," I said, "that if you dress for the Lieutenant, you
will displease the Capitaine; if you dress for the Capitaine, you will
displease the Commandant; and if you dress for the Commandant, you will
displease the Général."

Mary gathered up her fineries in alarm. "Don't you think I had better
stay away from the dinner altogether, Tom?"

"By no means," I said; "settle the matter by dressing to please me."

Which she accordingly did, and the result was a semi-moresque, dainty,
and glowing bit of costume quite in keeping with the time and place.


Precisely at seven o'clock we presented ourselves at the Commandant's,
Mary looking very pretty in her transparent white dress, brilliant sack
of Tunis silk, and necklets and bracelets of coral and palm-seeds. The
little thing had such loving, dark eyes, such a soft bloom on her
cheeks, and such a sweet mouth, that I could hardly blame the Général
for wishing to have her sit beside him at dinner. The Commandant, being
a little shy, would have given up all his privileges as host, but the
Général insisted upon the Commandant leading her in, and she sat
between the two. It was very mortifying for the Capitaine and the
Lieutenant; the former made an effort to be complimentary and
entertaining across the table, but the latter looked quite crestfallen,
and hardly raised his eyes from his plate. When we retired to the
drawing-room, matters went a little better. The tame gazelle was brought
in for Mademoiselle Marie to see; and while the Général and the
Commandant had a long discussion on military affairs, the rest of us
sported with the pretty creature and made pleasant plans for the morrow.
Then an amusing game of cards was set on foot, over which we were
growing very merry, when up came the Général and the Commandant.

"Eh, bien!" said the Général, slyly nudging the Capitaine. "We have not
been so engrossed, but we heard one or two pleasant things talked of.
Upon my word, Capitaine, I am half disposed not to go to Mascara till
after your picnic to the water-falls."

"You will do my poor little fête great honor, mon Général," answered the
Capitaine, adding, naïvely, "but I think that the wild geese flying
northwards means rain."

"Not a bit of it. We shall have no rain until a fortnight after
Christmas. Mademoiselle Marie, I shall do myself the honor of offering
you one of my horses to ride."

"Mademoiselle has already condescended to accept mine," the Capitaine
put in, with stiffness.

"Mademoiselle Marie, this gentleman has no horse fit to carry a lady.
The brute he offers you has no more mouth than an elephant. Keep on the
safe side and ride mine, which is a lamb, I assure you, mademoiselle,--a

The Général spoke in jest, but the Capitaine was very near losing his
temper. Mary being thus appealed to, thought to extricate herself from
the difficulty by declaring herself half afraid to ride either horse,
being an inexperienced horsewoman. But both the gentlemen had mules, and
both the gentlemen's mules were the best. Poor Mary colored, and looked
at me in despair.

"I think," I said, "the safest plan will be for my sister to try the
horses, and see which suits her the best."

Then the different routes to the water-falls were discussed, and the
different Douars or Arab villages where it would be best to have a
Diffa, or feast, provided,--Mary's judgment being asked in every
instance. All this time the Lieutenant had turned over the leaves of a
newspaper very meekly, and the Commandant had caressed his tame
gazelle. As soon as she could politely free herself, Mary went up to

"How pretty, and playful, and fond it is!" she said, stooping down to
stroke the little creature. The grave face of the Commandant brightened.

"Yes; it would be very _triste_ here without the little thing."

"Do you never go to France, monsieur?"

"I shall perhaps go in two years' time; but you see, mademoiselle, that
is a long time to look forward to; and if my mother should not be
living, I might as well stay here."

"Do you like fighting the Arabs in the Desert, then, monsieur?"

"Mademoiselle, when one takes up the profession of arms, fighting and
exile are _choses entendues_. I often sigh for a settled, domestic life;
but I might have been worse off. I might have gone to Mexico, for

The Commandant's manner was so simple, so manly, and so tinged with
sadness, that I think any woman would have sympathized with him as much
as my little sister Mary did. She, poor child, having lived all her life
in a school-room, was quite ready to make a hero of any man that smiled
kindly upon her; and here were four heroes, in handsome uniforms, all
smiling upon her at once! There was the sweet sense of youth drawing
her to the Lieutenant; but I think the Commandant stood next in her
favor, and she could not for a moment forget the courteous kindness of
the other two.

"It must all be a dream, Tom," she said, as she gave me her good-night
kiss; "but, oh! if it is a dream, don't let me wake yet."

We dreamed some wonderful things in the next few days. Dominique made us
get up, one morning, very early, and drove us in his little wooden gig
to an Arab encampment miles away in the Desert. It was dawn when we
started, and large, pale stars were shining in a violet sky; then, like
a gorgeous butterfly emerging from a dusky chrysalis, came the Eastern
day, and we felt as if living in a world warmed by a hundred suns. The
warm, intoxicating light took possession of our senses, and so sweet, so
rarefied, so indescribably delicious was the air, that it seemed to give
wings to our dull bodies. Every now and then we were overtaken by clouds
of locusts, their little wings glistening like diamonds against the soft
sky, or flocks of starlings darkened the air, or a serried line of wild
geese passed majestically overhead. Then we came to the tents, and at
our approach a dozen dogs rushed out to snap and snarl, and a hundred
little naked children scampered and scuttled across the way. A stately
Bedouin made us welcome, and, while Dominique transacted business with
him, his women gathered around us, chattering and grinning like
children. Then we were feasted upon cous-cous-sou and figs, and took
leave, after many "salamaleks."

Another day we went out hunting gazelles, bivouacking along a riverside,
and feasting, Arab fashion, off a sheep roasted whole. Dominique had
found a pretty little French girl, daughter of a travelling farrier, to
act as Mary's handmaid; and she now felt less isolated among so many
men, and less shy, too. The poor child stood a fair chance of being
spoiled, what with suddenly finding herself transformed from a
school-room Cinderella to a fairy-tale princess, and having four lovers,
all heroes, at once. For it was impossible to deny that the Général, the
Commandant, the Capitaine, and the Lieutenant all behaved like lovers,
presenting her with jackal skins, ostrich plumes and eggs, rare birds,
and other treasures of the Sahara. The Général went so far as to give
her a little negro boy about ten years old, though this gift we had
accepted only temporarily, not quite knowing what to do with him when we
left Teschoun.

Christmas-day came at last. Mary had artfully evaded the delicate point
about horses by declaring herself afraid of every one's beast but
Dominique's; accordingly, mounted on Dominique's ugly hack, she led the
way with the Général, her long, bright hair flowing in curls over her
shoulders, her cheeks glowing with excitement. The pleasure and
picturesqueness of the last few days--for Mary had an artistic
perception of beauty--had brought out a new side to her character; and
she quite surprised me, from time to time, with her saucy humor and
quick repartee.

We made a brilliant cavalcade, what with the uniforms of the officers,
and the richly embroidered saddles and bright-red burnouses of our
attendant spahis. After riding some miles across a monotonous tract of
stony desert, we came to a majestic sierra of crag, down which fell a
dozen water-falls, narrow and bright as sword-blades. A thin little
stream threaded the ravine, and on its banks grew clumps of the
tamarisk, the oleander, and the thuya, making an oasis grateful to the
eyes. Here we sat down and ate our Christmas breakfast, with stray
thoughts of village bells chiming at home, and school children lustily
singing their Christmas hymns.

Our host, the Capitaine, had provided a sumptuous feast of Desert
fare,--roast quails and plovers, cous-cous-sou, figs, dates, and
bananas, with the addition of champagne; and we were very merry.

"Mademoiselle," said the Capitaine, "think what our next Christmas will
be if you are not here. Persuade monsieur, your brother, to purchase
some land between Mascara and Teschoun, so that we shall not lose you

The Général nudged the Commandant.

"You see what our friend the Capitaine is dreaming of! Mon Capitaine,
your escadron is sure to be sent into the interior this spring; put all
romances out of your head, my dear fellow, and do not entice monsieur
into the committal of follies."

"I am not the only one to entertain romances," said the Capitaine,
coolly. "You, mon Général, did us all the honor to spend Christmas at
Teschoun. We can but attribute such a condescension to the gracious
influence of mademoiselle."

"Look well after the Commandant when I am gone, gentlemen," continued
the Général, looking round with a smile. "Matters are gone so far
already that he loses his temper if a fellow-officer but jests with him.
What a terrible slur it would be upon the glorious annals of
French-African conquest, if such a brave officer should show himself
fonder of stuffing birds for an English demoiselle than running swords
through ungrateful Arabs!" and the Général looked round with a very
comical expression of mock horror.

"Mademoiselle has indiscriminately accepted our tokens of homage," the
Commandant said, maliciously.

"But it yet remains to be seen whose offering has been most acceptable
to her," went on the Général, adding, _au grand sérieux_, "we won't
resort to duels unless absolutely necessary."

This sort of banter lasted so long that poor Mary's cheeks burned with
mixed vanity and mortification, and she made an excuse to leave us.

"And what does our Lieutenant advise monsieur to do?" asked the
Général,--"to settle here, or to follow his escadron to the Desert?"
Whereupon the poor Lieutenant colored, and said nothing.

What an experience it was, that Christmas-day in the Desert! The noonday
sun seemed to dissolve in the warm atmosphere, and, instead of a single
orb shining overhead, large and golden, we had melted suns innumerable
about us, and almost lost the sense of corporeity in their charmed

When the short bright day waned, and the large stars were coming out one
by one, we found ourselves near home; and when the heavens had turned to
bluish-black, and the stars to splendid silvery moons, we passed under
the gate of Teschoun, and saw our shadows, darker and deeper than real
things, fall across the white walls of mosque and fortress. For shadow
and substance lost their identity in the Desert and one is always on the
point of mistaking the one for the other: if anything, shadow is the
more real of the two.

So absorbed was I in the suggestions of this mysterious beauty, that I
had forgotten all about my sister's lovers till we were fairly in our
little sitting-room. Then Mary began to sigh and blush, and to hint that
she thought we had better leave Teschoun very soon.

"You see, Tom, dear," she said, with tears in her eyes, "the Général
says he adores me, and the Commandant says he never loved any one in the
world until he saw me, and the Capitaine says that if I go away he will
blow his brains out, and what am I to do?"

"And the Lieutenant,--what did he say?"

"He says nothing," said Mary, looking down; "and,"--here came a
sob,--"and I like him best of all!"

"But, if he does not declare the same liking for you, we must leave him
out of the question, and choose between the other three, I suppose."

"He does not speak because he is too modest: I'm sure he likes me," Mary
added, still ready to cry.

"His state of feeling does not help us much, unless expressed," I
replied. "Meantime, what am I to say to the Général, the Commandant,
and the Capitaine, if they ask to marry you?"

The little thing plucked at the folds of her riding-skirt in the
greatest perplexity.

"I like the Général and I like the Commandant, and I ought not to
dislike the Capitaine; but I cannot marry one without offending the
others; and, if I were to marry out here in the Desert, Tom, would you
stay, too?"

We had been living in such utter fairy-land lately, that I felt as if it
were quite possible for me to marry some brown-skinned, soft-eyed
Rebecca, and turn Mahometan. But, in any case, could I desire for my
sister a happier fate than to marry one of these brave gentlemen, and
live in the sunny South all the rest of her days? She would be rescued
from a life of toil and friendlessness, and have another protector
besides her Bohemian of a brother.

"My dear child," I said, "it would be impossible for me to say that our
lives should be spent together; but you may be quite sure that nothing
would utterly divide them. The chief point is, of all your lovers, whom
do you love?"

To this question I could elicit no positive reply. Mary, in fact, was
half in love with the Général and the Commandant, and wholly in love
with the Lieutenant, and was quite incapable of deciding her own fate.

"You must not laugh at me," she said, simply, as we bade each other
good-night; "it is so new to me to have lovers, and so delightful, that
I wish I could go on forever being happy, and making them happy, without
marrying either." Then she blushed and ran off to bed.

The next morning we were taking our early coffee, when we heard the
clatter of horses' feet, and, looking out, saw one of the Général's
splendid, brown-skinned, red-cloaked spahis dashing into the town at a
furious rate. He pulled up at Dominique's door, and, letting his little
barb prance and rear at will, looked towards us, showing his white teeth
and waving a letter in one hand.

I left my breakfast and ran down to him. We exchanged "salamaleks," and
then he put the letter in my hand, adding, in broken French, "Le
Général,--envoyer cela,--va faire le guerre,--la-bas." Then he put spurs
to his horse's flanks, and dashed away as fast as he had come.

I broke the seal of the Général's letter, which ran as follows:

     "Monsieur,--This morning at daybreak I received telegraphic
     information that a serious rising has taken place among the tribes
     southward of Fig-gig, and I have resolved to march upon them
     without delay. Judge, monsieur, how more than sorry I am to be
     forced to quit the society of your charming sister and yourself
     without making my adieux; but a soldier's duty forces him from the
     consummation of his fondest desires, when such a consummation seems
     close at hand, and I go, if not with joy, at least without
     soldierly reluctance. I shall never forget, monsieur, this episode,
     an oasis in the desert of my military life; and, while wishing for
     mademoiselle and yourself all possible prosperity, I hope you will
     remember Teschoun and the poor exiled officers there, who will
     never think of you both without regret.

     "I feel it right, under the grave circumstances of the revolt, to
     advise your speedy return to Mascara, and will order a trusty
     escort to be in readiness for you when you shall require it.

     "Meantime, receive, monsieur, the expression of my utmost esteem.

"De Marion."

We were both of us talking over the astounding contents of the Général's
letter, when Napoleon came in, full of news. The insurgents numbered
thousands, and there were skirmishing parties close to Teschoun.
Teschoun would be most likely besieged, as it had been more than once,
etc., etc. As the day wore on, the excitement increased. Little groups
of French or Jewish shopkeepers collected together and talked gravely,
Arabs walked about in stately fashion, smiling superciliously. In the
French camp it was the old story on a lesser scale:

  "And there was mounting in hot haste; the steed,
    The mustering squadron, and the clattering car
  Went pouring forward with impetuous speed."

And so great was the need for hurry that we doubted whether we should
see either of our gallant hosts again. Late in the afternoon, however,
the Capitaine paid us a formal, sentimental visit, and after him came
the Commandant, who stood up before us, square and stiff, and stammered
out a word or two with tears in his kind eyes. Mary held out her little
hand; but he seemed overcome with shyness or sadness, or both, and
rushed away without having taken it.

Last of all, when we had quite given him up, came the poor Lieutenant:
he had been busy on a hundred errands for his superior officers, and had
only five minutes to spare. We can never do anything with a few last
moments, and Mary and the Lieutenant had not a word to say to each
other, though I could see well enough what both would fain have said.

So I quietly left them under the pretext of fetching a cigar, and when I
returned, at the close of the fifth minute, all that was necessary had
been said. We then embraced each other after the hearty French fashion.
Mary and the Lieutenant exchanged rings, and he went off to fight the
disaffected Arabs as happy as a king!

It was a fine sight to see the troops march out of Teschoun. Color is
really color in the South, and the lines of blue zouaves and crimson
spahis against the mellow afternoon sky were vivid and picturesque
beyond description.

On they went, arms flashing, drums beating, colors flying, till the last
column had turned the hill, and then evening came on all at once, and we
felt a dreary sense of disenchantment creeping over us. It was as if we
had been dreaming during the last few weeks, and now we were waked,
indeed! Dominique recalled us to ourselves with a cynical smile.

"Bah!" he cries, "it's all play; let 'em pretend to put down
insurrection as often as they please. It is good for trade and
promotion, and the Arabs know how to defend themselves."

But events falsified this sarcasm of Monsieur Dominique's, for the
insurrection proved serious, and it was months before we heard of our
Lieutenant. When we did hear, the news was good; and the news of him and
of his English wife--dowered by our Vittoria Colonna--has been good ever


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