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Title: Christmas Eve and Christmas Day - Ten Christmas stories
Author: Hale, Edward Everett, 1822-1909
Language: English
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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.

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CHRISTMAS EVE AND CHRISTMAS DAY.



[Illustration: DAILY BREAD.--PAGE 120.]



    CHRISTMAS EVE
    AND
    CHRISTMAS DAY.

    Ten Christmas Stories.

    BY EDWARD E. HALE,

    AUTHOR OF "TEN TIMES ONE IS TEN," ETC.


    _WITH ILLUSTRATION BY F. O. C. DARLEY_.


    BOSTON:
    ROBERTS BROTHERS.
    1873.



    Entered according to Act of Congress, in the year 1872, by
    EDWARD E. HALE,
    In the Office of the Librarian of Congress, at Washington.


    CAMBRIDGE:
    PRESS OF JOHN WILSON AND SON.



PREFACE.


This is a collection of ten Christmas Stories, some of which have been
published before. I have added a little essay, written on the occasion
of the first Christmas celebrated by the King of Italy in Rome.

The first story has never before been published.

It is but fair to say that I have not drawn on imagination for Laura's
night duty, alone upon her island. This is simply the account of what a
brave New-England woman did, under like circumstances, because it was
the duty next her hand.

If any reader observes a resemblance between her position and that of a
boy in another story in this volume, I must disarm censure, by saying,
that she had never heard of him when she was called to this duty, and
that I had never heard of her when I wrote his story.

    E. E. H.



CONTENTS.


    THEY SAW A GREAT LIGHT                                1

    CHRISTMAS WAITS IN BOSTON                            40

    ALICE'S CHRISTMAS-TREE                               74

    DAILY BREAD                                          98

    STAND AND WAIT                                      140

    THE TWO PRINCES                                     188

    THE STORY OF OELLO                                  205

    LOVE IS THE WHOLE                                   218

    CHRISTMAS AND ROME                                  232

    THE SURVIVOR'S STORY                                238

    THE SAME CHRISTMAS IN OLD ENGLAND AND NEW           263



THEY SAW A GREAT LIGHT.


CHAPTER I.

ANOTHER GENERATION.

"Here he comes! here he comes!"

"He" was the "post-rider," an institution now almost of the past. He
rode by the house and threw off a copy of the "Boston Gazette." Now the
"Boston Gazette," of this particular issue, gave the results of the
drawing of the great Massachusetts State Lottery of the Eastern Lands in
the Waldo Patent.

Mr. Cutts, the elder, took the "Gazette," and opened it with a smile
that pretended to be careless; but even he showed the eager anxiety
which they all felt, as he tore off the wrapper and unfolded the fatal
sheet. "Letter from London," "Letter from Philadelphia," "Child with two
heads,"--thus he ran down the columns of the little page,--uneasily.
"Here it is! here it is!--Drawing of the great State Lottery. 'In the
presence of the Honourable Treasurer of the Commonwealth, and of their
Honours the Commissioners of the Honourable Council,--was drawn
yesterday, at the State House, the first distribution of
numbers'----here are the numbers,--'First combination, 375-1. Second,
421-7. Third, 591-6. Fourth, 594-1. Fifth,'"--and here Mr. Cutts started
off his feet,--"'Fifth, 219-7.' Sybil, my darling! it is so! 219-7! See,
dear child! 219-7! 219-7! O my God! to think it should come so!"

And he fairly sat down, and buried his head in his hands, and cried.

The others, for a full minute, did not dare break in on excitement so
intense, and were silent; but, in a minute more, of course, little
Simeon, the youngest of the tribes who were represented there, gained
courage to pick up the paper, and to spell out again the same words
which his father had read with so much emotion; and, with his sister
Sally, who came to help him, to add to the store of information, as to
what prize number 5--219-7--might bring.

For this was a lottery in which there were no blanks. The old
Commonwealth of Massachusetts, having terrible war debts to pay after
the Revolution, had nothing but lands in Maine to pay them with. Now
lands in Maine were not very salable, and, if the simple and ordinary
process of sale had been followed, the lands might not have been sold
till this day. So they were distributed by these Lotteries, which in
that time seemed gigantic. Every ticket-holder had some piece of land
awarded to him, I think,--but to the most, I fear, the lands were hardly
worth the hunting up, to settle upon. But, to induce as many to buy as
might, there were prizes. No. 1, I think, even had a "stately mansion"
on the land,--according to the advertisement. No. 2 had some special
water-power facilities. No. 5, which Mr. Cutts's ticket had drawn, was
two thousand acres on Tripp's Cove,--described in the programme as that
"well-known Harbor of Refuge, where Fifty Line of Battle Ship could lie
in safety." To this cove the two thousand acres so adjoined that the
programme represented them as the site of the great "Mercantile
Metropolis of the Future."

Samuel Cutts was too old a man, and had already tested too critically
his own powers in what the world calls "business," by a sad satire, to
give a great deal of faith to the promises of the prospectus, as to the
commercial prosperity of Tripp's Cove. He had come out of the Revolution
a Brigadier-General, with an honorable record of service,--with
rheumatism which would never be cured,--with a good deal of paper money
which would never be redeemed, which the Continent and the Commonwealth
had paid him for his seven years,--and without that place in the world
of peace which he had had when these years began. The very severest
trial of the Revolution was to be found in the condition in which the
officers of the army were left after it was over. They were men who had
distinguished themselves in their profession, and who had done their
very best to make that profession unnecessary in the future. To go back
to their old callings was hard. Other men were in their places, and
there did not seem to be room for two. Under the wretched political
system of the old Confederation there was no such rapid spring of the
material prosperity of the country as should find for them new fields in
new enterprise. Peace did any thing but lead in Plenty. Often indeed, in
history, has Plenty been a little coy before she could be tempted, with
her pretty tender feet, to press the stubble and the ashes left by the
havoc of War. And thus it was that General Cutts had returned to his old
love whom he had married in a leave of absence just before Bunker Hill,
and had begun his new life with her in Old Newbury in Massachusetts, at
a time when there was little opening for him,--or for any man who had
spent seven years in learning how to do well what was never to be done
again.

And in doing what there was to do he had not succeeded. He had just
squeezed pork and potatoes and Indian meal enough out of a worn-out farm
to keep Sybil, his wife, and their growing family of children alive. He
had, once or twice, gone up to Boston to find what chances might be open
for him there. But, alas, Boston was in a bad way too, as well as Samuel
Cutts. Once he had joined some old companions, who had gone out to the
Western Reserve in Northern Ohio, to see what opening might be there.
But the outlook seemed unfavorable for carrying so far, overland, a
delicate woman and six little children into a wilderness. If he could
have scraped together a little money, he said, he would buy a share in
one of the ships he saw rotting in Boston or Salem, and try some
foreign adventure. But, alas! the ships would not have been rotting had
it been easy for any man to scrape together a little money to buy them.
And so, year in and year out, Samuel Cutts and his wife dressed the
children more and more plainly, bought less sugar and more molasses,
brought down the family diet more strictly to pork and beans, pea-soup,
hasty-pudding, and rye-and-indian,--and Samuel Cutts looked more and
more sadly on the prospect before these boys and girls, and the life for
which he was training them.

Do not think that he was a profligate, my dear cousin Eunice, because he
had bought a lottery ticket. Please to observe that to buy lottery
tickets was represented to be as much the duty of all good citizens, as
it was proved to be, eleven years ago, your duty to make Havelocks and
to knit stockings. Samuel Cutts, in the outset, had bought his lottery
ticket only "to encourage the others," and to do his honorable share in
paying the war debt. Then, I must confess, he had thought more of the
ticket than he had supposed he would. The children had made a romance
about it,--what they would do, and what they would not do, if they drew
the first prize. Samuel Cutts and Sybil Cutts themselves had got drawn
into the interest of the children, and many was the night when they had
sat up, without any light but that of a pine-torch, planning out the
details of the little colony they would form at the East-ward,--if--if
only one of the ten great prizes should, by any marvel, fall to him. And
now Tripp's Cove--which, perhaps, he had thought of as much as he had
thought of any of the ten--had fallen to him. This was the reason why he
showed so much emotion, and why he could hardly speak, when he read the
numbers. It was because that had come to him which represented so
completely what he wanted, and yet which he had not even dared to pray
for. It was so much more than he expected,--it was the dream of years,
indeed, made true.

For Samuel Cutts had proved to himself that he was a good leader of men.
He knew he was, and many men knew it who had followed him under Carolina
suns, and in the snows of Valley Forge. Samuel Cutts knew, equally well,
that he was not a good maker of money, nor creator of pork and potatoes.
Six years of farming in the valley of the Merrimac had proved that to
him, if he had never learned it before. Samuel Cutts's dream had been,
when he went away to explore the Western Reserve, that he would like to
bring together some of the best line officers and some of the best
privates of the old "Fighting Twenty-seventh," and take them, with his
old provident skill, which had served them so well upon so many
camping-grounds, to some region where they could stand by each other
again, as they had stood by each other before, and where sky and earth
would yield them more than sky and earth have yet yielded any man in
Eastern Massachusetts. Well! as I said, the Western Reserve did not seem
to be the place. After all, "the Fighting Twenty-seventh" were not
skilled in the tilling of the land. They furnished their quota when the
boats were to be drawn through the ice of the Delaware, to assist in
Rahl's Christmas party at Trenton. Many was the embarkation at the "head
of Elk," in which the "Fighting Twenty-seventh" had provided half the
seamen for the transport. It was "the Fighting Twenty-seventh" who cut
out the "Princess Charlotte" cutter in Edisto Bay. But the "Fighting
Twenty-seventh" had never, so far as any one knew, beaten one sword
into one plough-share, nor one spear into one pruning-hook. But Tripp's
Cove seemed to offer a different prospect. Why not, with a dozen or two
of the old set, establish there, not the New Jerusalem, indeed, but
something a little more elastic, a little more helpful, a little more
alive, than these kiln-dried, sun-dried, and time-dried old towns of the
seaboard of Massachusetts? At any rate, they could live together in
Tripp's Cove, as they wintered together at Valley Forge, at Bennett's
Hollow, by the Green Licks, and in the Lykens Intervale. This was the
question which Samuel Cutts wanted to solve, and which the fatal figures
219-7 put him in the way of solving.

"Tripp's Cove is our Christmas present," said Sybil Cutts to her
husband, as they went to bed. But so far removed were the habits of New
England then from the observance of ecclesiastical anniversaries, that
no one else had remembered that day that it was Christmas which was
passing.


CHAPTER II.

TRIPP'S COVE.

Call this a long preface, if you please, but it seems to me best to tell
this story so that I may explain what manner of people those were and
are who lived, live, and will live, at Tripp's Cove,--and why they have
been, are, and will be linked together, with a sort of family tie and
relationship which one does not often see in the villages self-formed or
formed at hap-hazard on the seaside, on the hillside, or in the prairies
of America. Tripp's Cove never became "the Great Mercantile City of the
Future," nor do I believe it ever will. But there Samuel Cutts lived in
a happy life for fifty years,--and there he died, honored, blessed, and
loved. By and by there came the second war with England,--the "Endymion"
came cruising along upon the coast, and picking up the fishing-boats and
the coasters, burning the ships on the stocks, or compelling the owners
to ransom them. Old General Cutts was seventy years old then; but he
was, as he had always been, the head of the settlement at Tripp's,--and
there was no lack of men younger than he, the sergeants or the
high-privates of the "Fighting Twenty-seventh," who drilled the boys of
the village for whatever service might impend. When the boys went down
to Runkin's and sent the "Endymion's" boats back to her with half their
crews dead or dying, faster than they came, old General Cutts was with
them, and took sight on his rifle as quickly and as bravely as the best
of them. And so twenty years more passed on,--and, when he was well nigh
ninety, the dear old man died full of years and full of blessings, all
because he had launched out for himself, left the life he was not fit
for, and undertaken life in which he was at home.

Yes! and because of this also, when 1861 came with its terrible alarm to
the whole country, and its call to duty, all Tripp's Cove was all right.
The girls were eager for service, and the boys were eager for service.
The girls stood by the boys, and the boys stood by the girls. The
husbands stood by the wives, and the wives stood by the husbands. I do
not mean that there was not many another community in which everybody
was steadfast and true. But I do mean that here was one great family,
although the census rated it as five-and-twenty families,--which had
one heart and one soul in the contest, and which went into it with one
heart and one soul,--every man and every woman of them all bearing each
other's burdens.

Little Sim Cutts, who broke the silence that night when the post-man
threw down the "Boston Gazette," was an old man of eighty-five when they
all got the news of the shots at Fort Sumter. The old man was as hale
and hearty as are half the men of sixty in this land to-day. With all
his heart he encouraged the boys who volunteered in answer to the first
call for regiments from Maine. Then with full reliance on the traditions
of the "Fighting Twenty-seventh," he explained to the fishermen and the
coasters that Uncle Abraham would need them for his web-footed service,
as well as for his legions on the land. And they found out their ways to
Portsmouth and to Charlestown, so that they might enter the navy as
their brothers entered the army. And so it was, that, when Christmas
came in 1861, there was at Tripp's Cove only one of that noble set of
young fellows, who but a year before was hauling hemlock and spruce and
fir and pine at Christmas at the girls' order, and worked in the
meeting-house for two days as the girls bade them work, so that when
Parson Spaulding came in to preach his Christmas sermon, he thought the
house was a bit of the woods themselves. Only one!

And who was he?

How did he dare stay among all those girls who were crying out their
eyes, and sewing their fingers to the bones,--meeting every afternoon in
one sitting-room or another, and devouring every word that came from the
army? They read the worst-spelled letter that came home from Mike Sawin,
and prized it and blessed it and cried over it, as heartily as the
noblest description of battle that came from the pen of Carleton or of
Swinton.

Who was he?

Ah! I have caught you, have I? That was Tom Cutts,--the old General's
great-grandson,--Sim Cutts's grandson,--the very noblest and bravest of
them all. He got off first of all. He had the luck to be at Bull
Run,--and to be cut off from his regiment. He had the luck to hide under
a corn crib, and to come into Washington whole, a week after the
regiment. He was the first man in Maine, they said, to enlist for the
three-years' service. Perhaps the same thing is said of many others. He
had come home and raised a new company,--and he was making them fast
into good soldiers, out beyond Fairfax Court-House. So that the
Brigadier would do any thing Tom Cutts wanted. And when, on the first of
December, there came up to the Major-General in command a request for
leave of absence from Tom Cutts, respectfully referred to Colonel This,
who had respectfully referred it to General That, who had respectfully
referred it to Adjutant-General T'other,--all these dignitaries had
respectfully recommended that the request be granted. For even in the
sacred purlieux of the top Major-General's Head-quarters, it was
understood that Cutts was going home for no less a purpose than the
being married to the prettiest and sweetest and best girl in Eastern
Maine.

Well! for my part I do not think that the aids and their informants were
in the wrong about this. Surely that Christmas Eve, as Laura Marvel
stood up with Tom Cutts in front of Parson Spaulding, in presence of
what there was left of the Tripp's Cove community, I would have said
that Laura was the loveliest bride I ever saw. She is tall; she is
graceful; she has rather a startled look when you speak to her,
suddenly or gently, but the startled look just bewitches you. Black
hair,--she got that from the Italian blood in her grandmother's
family,--exquisite blue eyes,--that is a charming combination with black
hair,--perfect teeth,--and matchless color,--and she had it all, when
she was married,--she was a blushing bride and not a fainting one. But
then what stuff this is,--nobody knew he cared a straw for Laura's hair
or her cheek,--it was that she looked "just lovely," and that she was
"just lovely,"--so self-forgetful in all her ways, after that first
start,--so eager to know just where she could help, and so determined to
help just there. Why! she led all the girls in the village, when she was
only fourteen, because they loved her so. She was the one who made the
rafts when there was a freshet,--and took them all out together on the
mill-pond. And, when the war came, she was of course captain of the
girl's sewing,--she packed the cans of pickles and fruit for the
Sanitary,--she corresponded with the State Adjutant:--heavens! from
morning to night, everybody in the village ran to Laura,--not because
she was the prettiest creature you ever looked upon,--but because she
was the kindest, truest, most loyal, and most helpful creature that ever
lived,--be the same man or woman.

Now had you rather be named Laura Cutts or Laura Marvel? Marvel is a
good name,--a weird, miraculous sort of name. Cutts is not much of a
name. But Laura had made up her mind to be Laura Cutts after Tom had
asked her about it,--and here they are standing before dear old Parson
Spaulding, to receive his exhortation,--and to be made one before God
and man.

Dear Laura! How she had laughed with the other girls, all in a
good-natured way, at the good Parson's exhortation to the young couples.
Laura had heard it twenty times,--for she had "stood up" with twenty of
the girls, who had dared The Enterprise of Life before her! Nay, Laura
could repeat, with all the emphasis, the most pathetic passage of the
whole,--"And above all,--my beloved young friends,--first of all and
last of all,--let me beseech you as you climb the hill of life together,
hand with hand, and step with step,--that you will look beyond the
crests upon its summit to the eternal lights which blaze in the
infinite heaven of the Better Land beyond." Twenty times had Laura heard
this passage,--nay, ten times, I am afraid, had she, in an honest and
friendly way, repeated it, under strict vows of secrecy, to the
edification of circles of screaming girls. But now the dear child looked
truly and loyally into the old man's face, as he went on from word to
word, and only thought of him, and of how noble and true he was,--and of
the Great Master whom he represented there,--and it was just as real to
her and to Tom Cutts that they must look into the Heaven of heavens for
life and strength, as Parson Spaulding wanted it to be. When he prayed
with all his heart, she prayed; what he hoped, she hoped; what he
promised for her, she promised to her Father in heaven; and what he
asked her to promise by word aloud, she promised loyally and eternally.

And Tom Cutts? He looked so handsome in his uniform,--and he looked like
the man he was. And in those days, the uniform, if it were only a
flannel fatigue-jacket on a private's back, was as beautiful as the
flag; nothing more beautiful than either for eyes to look upon. And
when Parson Spaulding had said the benediction, and the Amen,--and when
he had kissed Laura, with her eyes full of tears,--and when he had given
Tom Cutts joy,--then all the people came up in a double line,--and they
all kissed Laura,--and they shook hands with Tom as if they would shake
his hands off,--and in the half-reticent methods of Tripp's Cove, every
lord and lady bright that was in Moses Marvel's parlor there, said,
"honored be the bravest knight, beloved the fairest fair."

And there was a bunch of laurel hanging in the middle of the room, as
make-believe mistletoe. And the boys, who could not make believe even
that they were eighteen, so that they had been left at home, would catch
Phebe, and Sarah, and Mattie, and Helen, when by accident they crossed
underneath the laurel,--and would kiss them, for all their screaming.
And soon Moses Marvel brought in a waiter with wedding-cake, and Nathan
Philbrick brought in a waiter with bride-cake, and pretty Mattie Marvel
brought in a waiter with currant wine. And Tom Cutts gave every girl a
piece of wedding-cake himself, and made her promise to sleep on it. And
before they were all gone, he and Laura had been made to write names
for the girls to dream upon, that they might draw their fortunes the
next morning. And before long Moses Cutts led Mrs. Spaulding out into
the great family-room, and there was the real wedding supper. And after
they had eaten the supper, Bengel's fiddle sounded in the parlor, and
they danced, and they waltzed, and they polkaed to their hearts'
content. And so they celebrated the Christmas of 1861.

Too bad! was not it? Tom's leave was only twenty days. It took five to
come. It took five to go. After the wedding there were but seven little
days. And then he kissed dear Laura good-by,--with tears running from
his eyes and hers,--and she begged him to be sure she should be all
right, and he begged her to be certain nothing would happen to him. And
so, for near two years, they did not see each other's faces again.

       *       *       *       *       *

CHRISTMAS EVE again!

Moses Marvel has driven out his own bays in his own double cutter to
meet the stage at Fordyce's. On the back seat is Mattie Marvel, with a
rosy little baby all wrapped up in furs, who has never seen his father.
Where is Laura?

"Here she comes! here she comes!" Sure enough! Here is the stage at
last. Job Stiles never swept round with a more knowing sweep, or better
satisfied with his precious freight at Fordyce's, than he did this
afternoon. And the curtains were up already. And there is Laura, and
there is Tom! He is pale, poor fellow. But how pleased he is! Laura is
out first, of course. And then she gives him her hand so gently, and the
others all help. And here is the hero at Marvel's side, and he is
bending over his baby, whom he does not try to lift with his one
arm,--and Mattie is crying, and I believe old Moses Marvel is
crying,--but everybody is as happy as a king, and everybody is talking
at one time,--and all the combination has turned out well.

Tom Cutts had had a hole made through his left thigh, so that they
despaired of his life. And, as he lay on the ground, a bit of a shell
had struck his left forearm and knocked that to pieces. Tom Cutts had
been sent back to hospital at Washington, and reported by telegraph as
mortally wounded. But almost as soon as Tom Cutts got to the Lincoln
Hospital himself, Laura Cutts got there too, and then Tom did not mean
to die if he could help it, and Laura did not mean to have him. And the
honest fellow held to his purpose in that steadfast Cutts way. The blood
tells, I believe. And love tells. And will tells. How much love has to
do with will! "I believe you are a witch, Mrs. Cutts," the doctor used
to say to her. "Nothing but good happens to this good-man of yours."
Bits of bone came out just as they were wanted to. Inflammation kept
away just as it was told to do. And the two wounds ran a race with each
other in healing after their fashion. "It will be a beautiful stump
after all," said the doctor, where poor Laura saw little beauty. But
every thing was beautiful to her, when at last he told her that she
might wrap her husband up as well as she knew how, and take him home and
nurse him there. So she had telegraphed that they were coming, and that
was the way in which it happened that her father and her sister had
brought out the baby to meet them both at Fordyce's. Mattie's surprise
had worked perfectly.

And now it was time for Laura's surprise! After she had her baby in her
own arms, and was on the back seat of the sleigh; after Tom was well
wrapped up by her side, with his well arm just supporting the little
fellow's head; after Mattie was all tucked in by her father, and Mr.
Marvel himself had looked round to say, "All ready?" then was it that
Jem Marvel first stepped out from the stage, and said, "Haven't you one
word for me, Mattie?" Then how they screamed again! For everybody
thought Jem was in the West Indies. He was cruising there, on board the
"Greywing," looking after blockaders who took the Southern route. Nobody
dreamed of Jem's being at Christmas. And here he had stumbled on Tom and
Laura in the New Haven train as they came on! Jem had been sent into New
York with a prize. He had got leave, and was on his way to see the rest
of them. He had bidden Laura not say one word, and so he had watched one
greeting from the stage, before he broke in to take his part for
another.

Oh! what an uproarious Christmas that was when they all came home! No!
Tom Cutts would not let one of them be sad! He was the cheeriest of them
all. He monopolized the baby, and showed immense power in the way of
baby talk and of tending. Laura had only to sit on the side of the room
and be perfectly happy. It was very soon known what the arrivals were.
And Parson Spaulding came in, and his wife. Of course the Cuttses had
been there already. Then everybody came. That is the simplest way of
putting it. They all would have wanted to come, because in that
community there was not one person who did not love Laura and Tom and
Jem. But whether they would have come, on the very first night, I am not
sure. But this was Christmas Eve, and the girls were finishing off the
meeting-house just as the stage and the sleigh came in. And, in a
minute, the news was everywhere. And, of course, everybody felt he might
just go in to get news from the fleet or the army. Nor was there one
household in Tripp's Cove which was not more or less closely represented
in the fleet or the army. So there was really, as the evening passed, a
town-meeting in Moses Marvel's sitting-room and parlor; and whether
Moses Marvel were most pleased, or Mrs. Marvel, or Laura,--who sat and
beamed,--or old General Simeon Cutts, I am sure I do not know.

That was indeed a merry Christmas!

But after that I must own it was hard sledding for Tom Cutts and for
pretty Laura. A hero with one blue sleeve pinned neatly together, who,
at the best, limps as he walks, quickens all your compassion and
gratitude;--yes! But when you are selecting a director of your lumber
works, or when you are sending to New York to buy goods, or when you are
driving a line of railway through the wilderness, I am afraid you do not
choose that hero to do your work for you. Or if you do, you were not
standing by when Tom Cutts was looking right and looking left for
something to do, so that he might keep the wolf from the door. It was
sadly like the life that his great-grandfather, Samuel Cutts, led at the
old farm in old Newbury after the old war. Tom lost his place when he
went to the front, and he could not find it again.

Laura, sweet girl, never complained. No, nor Moses Marvel. He never
complained, nor would he complain if Tom and his wife and children had
lived with him till doomsday. "Good luck for us," said Moses Marvel, and
those were many words for him to say in one sentence. But Tom was proud,
and it ground him to the dust to be eating Moses Marvel's bread when he
had not earned it, and to have nothing but his major's pension to buy
Laura and the babies their clothes with, and to keep the pot a-boiling.

Of course Jem joined the fleet again. Nor did Jem return again till the
war was over. Then he came, and came with prize-money. He and Tom had
many talks of going into business together, with Tom's brains and Jem's
money. But nothing came of this. The land was no place for Jem. He was a
regular Norse man, as are almost all of the Tripp's Cove boys who have
come from the loins of the "Fighting Twenty-seventh." They sniff the
tempest from afar off; and when they hear of Puget Sound, or of Alaska,
or of Wilkes's Antarctic Continent, they fancy that they hear a voice
from some long-lost home, from which they have strayed away. And so
Laura knew, and Tom knew, that any plans which rested on Jem's staying
ashore were plans which had one false element in them. The raven would
be calling him, and it might be best, once for all, to let him follow
the raven till the raven called no more.

So Jem put his prize-money into a new bark, which he found building at
Bath; and they called the bark the "Laura," and Tom and Laura Cutts went
to the launching, and Jem superintended the rigging of her himself; and
then he took Tom and Laura and the babies with him to New York, and a
high time they had together there. Tom saw many of the old army boys,
and Laura hunted up one or two old school friends; and they saw Booth in
Iago, and screamed themselves hoarse at Niblo's, and heard Rudolphsen
and Johannsen in the German opera; they rode in the Park, and they
walked in the Park; they browsed in the Astor and went shopping at
Stewart's, and saw the people paint porcelain at Haighwout's; and, by
Mr. Alden's kindness, went through the wonders of Harper's. In short,
for three weeks, all of which time they lived on board ship, they saw
the lions of New York as children of the public do, for whom that great
city decks itself and prepares its wonders, albeit their existence is
hardly known to its inhabitants.

Meanwhile Jem had chartered the "Laura" for a voyage to San Francisco.
And so, before long, her cargo began to come on board; and she and Tom
and the babies took a mournful farewell, and came back to Tripp's Cove
again, to Moses Marvel's house. And poor Tom thought it looked smaller
than ever, and that he should find it harder than ever to settle down to
being of no use to anybody, and to eat Moses Marvel's bread,--without
house or barn, or bin or oven, or board or bed, even the meanest, of his
own. Poor Tom! and this was the reward of being the first man in Maine
to enter for three years!

And then things went worse and worse. Moses Marvel was as good and as
taciturn as ever. But Moses Marvel's affairs did not run as smoothly as
he liked. Moses held on, upon one year's cutting of lumber, perfectly
determined that lumber should rise, because it ought to; and Moses paid
very high usury on the money he borrowed, because he would hold on.
Moses was set in his way,--like other persons whom you and I know,--and
to this lumber he held and held, till finally the bank would not renew
his notes. No; and they would not discount a cent for him at Bangor, and
Moses came back from a long, taciturn journey he had started on in
search of money, without any money; and with only the certainty that if
he did not mean to have the sheriff sell his lumber, he must sell it for
himself. Nay! he must sell it before the fourth of the next month, and
for cash; and must sell at the very bottom of a long falling market!
Poor Moses Marvel! That operation served to show that he joined all the
Cutts want of luck with the Marvel obstinacy. It was a wretched
twelvemonth, the whole of it; and it made that household, and made Tom
Cutts, more miserable and more.

Then they became anxious about the "Laura," and Jem. She made almost a
clipper voyage to California. She discharged her cargo in perfect order.
Jem made a capital charter for Australia and England, and knew that from
England it would be easy to get a voyage home. He sailed from
California, and then the letters stopped. No! Laura dear, no need in
reading every word of the ship-news in the "Semi-weekly Advertiser;" the
name of your namesake is not there. Eight, nine, ten months have gone
by, and there is no port in Christendom which has seen Jem's face, or
the Laura's private signal. Do not strain your eyes over the
"Semi-weekly" more.

No! dear Laura's eyes will be dimmed by other cares than the ship-news.
Tom's father, who had shared Tom's wretchedness, and would gladly have
had them at his home, but that Moses Marvel's was the larger and the
less peopled of the two,--Tom's father was brought home speechless one
day, by the men who found him where he had fallen on the road, his yoke
of oxen not far away, waiting for the voice which they were never to
hear again. Whether he had fallen from the cart, in some lurch it made,
and broken his spine, or whether all this distress had brought on of a
sudden a stroke of paralysis, so that he lost his consciousness before
he fell, I do not know. Nor do I see that it matters much, though the
chimney-corners of Tripp's Cove discuss the question quite eagerly to
this hour. He lay there month after month, really unconscious. He smiled
gently when they brought him food. He tried to say "Thank you," they
thought, but he did not speak to the wife of his bosom, who had been the
Laura Marvel of her day, in any different way from that in which he
tried to speak to any stranger of them all. A living death he lay in as
those tedious months went by.

Yet my dear Laura was as cheerful, and hopeful, and buoyant as ever. Tom
Cutts himself was ashamed to brood when he got a sight of her. Mother
Cutts herself would lie down and rest herself when Laura came round,
with the two children, as she did every afternoon. Moses Marvel himself
was less taciturn when Laura put the boys, one at one side, one at the
other, of his chair, at the tea-table. And in both of those broken
households, from one end to the other, they knew the magic of dear
Laura's spells. So that when this Christmas came, after poor Mr. Cutts
had been lying senseless so long,--when dear Laura bade them all take
hold and fit up a Christmas-tree, with all the adornments, for the
little boys, and for the Spaulding children, and the Marvel cousins, and
the Hopkinses, and the Tredgolds, and the Newmarch children,--they all
obeyed her loyally, and without wondering. They obeyed her, with her own
determination that they would have one merry Christmas more. It seems a
strange thing to people who grew up outside of New England. But this was
the first Christmas tree ever seen at Tripp's Cove, for all such
festivities are of recent importation in such regions. But there was
something for every child. They heaped on more wood, and they kept a
merry Christmas despite the storm without. This was Laura's will, and
Laura had her way.

And she had her reward. Job Stiles came round to the door, when he had
put up his horses, and called Tom out, and gave him a letter which he
had brought from Ellsworth. And Tom read the letter, and he called Laura
to read it. And Laura left the children, and sat at the kitchen table
with him and read it, and said, "Thank God! this is a Christmas present
indeed. Could any thing in this world be better?"

This is the letter:--

    JOHN WILDAIR TO TOM CUTTS.

    DEAR TOM,--I am just back from Washington. I have seen them all,
    and have done my best, and have failed. They say and I believe
    that the collectorship was promised to Waters before the old
    man's death,--that Waters had honest claims,--he has but one
    leg, you know,--and that it must go to him. As for the
    surveyorship, the gift of that is with Plumptre. And you know
    that I might as well ask the Pope to give me any thing as he.
    And if he hates anybody more than me, why it is your wife's
    father. So I could do nothing there.

    Let me say this, though it seems nothing. If, while we are
    waiting to look round, you like to take the Bell and Hammer
    Light-house, you may have the place to-morrow. Of course I know
    it is exile in winter. But in summer it is lovely. You have your
    house, your stores, two men under you (they are double lights),
    and a thousand dollars. I have made them promise to give it to
    no one till they hear from me. Though I know you ought not take
    any such place, I would not refuse it till I let you know. I
    send this to Ellsworth for the stage-driver to take, and you
    must send your answer by special messenger, that I may telegraph
    to Washington at once.

    I am very sorry, dear Tom, to have failed you so. But I did my
    best, you know. Merry Christmas to Laura and the babies.

        Truly yours,
            JOHN WILDAIR.

    PORTLAND, Dec. 24, 1868.

That was Laura and Tom's Christmas present. An appointment as
light-house keeper, with a thousand a year!

       *       *       *       *       *

BUT even if they had made Tom a turnpike keeper, they would not have
made Laura a misanthrope. He, poor fellow, gladly accepted the
appointment. She, sweet creature, as gladly accepted her part of it.
Early March saw them on the Bell and Hammer. April saw the early flowers
come,--and May saw Laura with both her babies on the beach, laughing at
them as they wet their feet,--digging holes in the sand for them,--and
sending the bigger boy to run and put salt upon the tails of the peeps
as they ran along the shore. And Tom Cutts, when his glass was clear to
his mind, and the reflectors polished to meet even his criticism, would
come down and hunt up Laura and the children. And when she had put the
babies to sleep, old Mipples, who was another of the descendants of the
"Fighting Twenty-seventh," would say, "Just you go out with the Major,
mum, and if they wake up and I can't still them, I'll blow the horn."
Not that he ever did blow the horn. All the more certain was Laura that
she could tramp over the whole island with Tom Cutts, or she could sit
and knit or sew, and Tom could read to her, and these days were the
happiest days of her married life, and brought back the old sunny days
of the times before Fort Sumter again. Ah me! if such days of summer and
such days of autumn would last forever!

But they will not last forever. November came, and the little colony
went into winter quarters. December came. And we were all double-banked
with sea-weed. The stoves were set up in-doors. The double doors were
put on outside, and we were all ready for the "Osprey." The "Osprey" was
the Government steamer which was to bring us our supplies for the
winter, chiefly of colza oil,--and perhaps some coal. But the "Osprey"
does not appear. December is half gone, and no "Osprey." We can put the
stoves on short allowance, but not our two lanterns. They will only run
to the 31st of January, the nights are so long, if the "Osprey" does not
come before then.

That is our condition, when old Mipples, bringing back the mail, brings
a letter from Boston to say that the "Osprey" has broken her
main-shaft, and may not be repaired before the 15th of January,--that
Mr. Cutts, will therefore, if he needs oil, take an early opportunity to
supply himself from the light at Squire's,--and that an order on the
keeper at Squire's is enclosed.

To bring a cask of oil from Squire's is no difficult task to a Tripp's
Cove man. It would be no easy one, dear reader, to you and me. Squire's
is on the mainland,--our nearest neighbor at the Bell and Hammer,--it
revolves once a minute, and we watch it every night in the horizon. Tom
waited day by day for a fine day,--would not have gone for his oil
indeed till the New Year came in, but that Jotham Fields, the other
assistant, came down with a fever turn wholly beyond Laura's management,
and she begged Tom to take the first fine day to carry him to a doctor.
To bring a doctor to him was out of the question.

"And what will you do?" said Tom.

"Do? I will wait till you come home. Start any fine day after you have
wound up the lights on the last beat,--take poor Jotham to his mother's
house,--and if you want you may bring back your oil. I shall get along
with the children very well,--and I will have your dinner hot when you
come home."

Tom doubted. But the next day Jotham was worse. Mipples voted for
carrying him ashore, and Laura had her way. The easier did she have it,
because the south wind blew softly, and it was clear to all men that the
run could be made to Squire's in a short two hours. Tom finally agreed
to start early the next morning. He would not leave his sick man at his
mother's, but at Squire's, and the people there could put him home. The
weather was perfect, and an hour before daylight they were gone. They
were all gone,--all three had to go. Mipples could not handle the boat
alone, nor could Tom; far less could one of them manage the boat, take
the oil, and see to poor Jotham also. Wise or not, this was the plan.

An hour before daylight they were gone. Half an hour after sunrise they
were at Squire's. But the sun had risen red, and had plumped into a
cloud. Before Jotham was carried up the cliff the wind was northwest,
and the air was white with snow. You could not see the house from the
boat, nor the boat from the house. You could not see the foremast of
the boat from your seat in the stern-sheets, the air was so white with
snow. They carried Jotham up. But they told John Wilkes, the keeper at
Squire's, that they would come for the oil another day. They hurried
down the path to the boat again, pushed her off, and headed her to the
northeast determined not to lose a moment in beating back to the Bell
and Hammer. Who would have thought the wind would haul back so without a
sign of warning?

"Will it hold up, Simon?" said Tom to Mipples, wishing he might say
something encouraging.

And all Simon Mipples would say was,--

"God grant it may!"

       *       *       *       *       *

And Laura saw the sun rise red and burning. And Laura went up into the
tower next the house, and put out the light there. Then she left the
children in their cribs, and charged the little boy not to leave till
she came back, and ran down to the door to go and put out the other
light,--and as she opened it the blinding snow dashed in her face. She
had not dreamed of snow before. But her water-proof was on, she pulled
on her boots, ran quickly along the path to the other light, two
hundred yards perhaps, climbed the stairway and extinguished that, and
was at home again before the babies missed her.

For an hour or two Laura occupied herself with her household cares, and
pretended to herself that she thought this was only a snow flurry that
would soon clear away. But by the time it was ten o'clock she knew it
was a stiff north-wester, and that her husband and Mipples were caught
on shore. Yes, and she was caught with her babies alone on the island.
Wind almost dead ahead to a boat from Squire's too, if that made any
difference. That crossed Laura's mind. Still she would not brood. Nay,
she did not brood, which was much better than saying she would not
brood. It crossed her mind that it was the day before Christmas, and
that the girls at Tripp's were dressing the meeting-house for dear old
Parson Spaulding. And then there crossed her mind the dear old man's
speech at all weddings, "As you climb the hill of life together, my dear
young friends," and poor Laura, as she kissed the baby once again, had
courage to repeat it all aloud to her and her brother, to the infinite
amazement of them both. They opened their great eyes to the widest as
Laura did so. Nay, Laura had the heart to take a hatchet, and work out
to leeward of the house, into a little hollow behind the hill, and cut
up a savin bush from the thicket, and bring that in, and work for an
hour over the leaves so as to make an evergreen frame to hang about
General Cutts's picture. She did this that Tom might see she was not
frightened when he got home.

_When_ he got home! Poor girl! at the very bottom of her heart was the
other and real anxiety,--_if_ he got home. Laura knew Tom, of course,
better than he knew himself, and she knew old Mipples too. So she knew,
as well as she knew that she was rubbing black lead on the stove, while
she thought these things over,--she knew that they would not stay at
Squire's two minutes after they had landed Jotham Fields. She knew they
would do just what they did,--put to sea, though it blew guns, though
now the surf was running its worst on the Seal's Back. She knew, too,
that if they had not missed the island, they would have been here, at
the latest, before eleven o'clock. And by the time it was one she could
no longer doubt that they had lost the island, and were tacking about
looking for it in the bay, if, indeed, in that gale they dared to tack
at all. No! Laura knew only too well, that where they were was beyond
her guessing; that the good God and they two only knew.

"Come here, Tom, and let me tell you a story! Once there was a little
boy, and he had two kittens. And he named one kitten Muff, and he named
one kitten Buff!"--

Whang!

What was that?

"Tom, darling, take care of baby; do not let her get out of the cradle,
while mamma goes to the door." Downstairs to the door. The gale has
doubled its rage. How ever did it get in behind the storm-door outside?
That "_whang_" was the blow with which the door, wrenched off its
hinges, was flung against the side of the wood-house. Nothing can be
done but to bolt the storm-door to the other passage, and bolt the outer
window shutters, and then go back to the children.

"Once there was a little boy, and he had two kittens, and he named one
Minna, and one Brenda"--

"No, mamma, no! one Muff, and one"--

"Oh, yes! my darling! once there was a little boy, and he had two
kittens, and he named one Buff, and one Muff. And one day he went to
walk"--

Heavens! the lanterns! Who was to trim the lamps? Strange to say,
because this was wholly out of her daily routine, the men always caring
for it of course, Laura had not once thought of it till now. And now it
was after one o'clock. But now she did think of it with a will. "Come,
Tommy, come and help mamma." And she bundled him up in his thickest
storm rig. "Come up into the lantern." Here the boy had never come
before. He was never frightened when he was with her. Else he might well
have been frightened. And he was amazed there in the whiteness; drifts
of white snow on the lee-side and the weather-side; clouds of white snow
on the south-west sides and north-east sides; snow; snow everywhere;
nothing but whiteness wherever he looked round.

Laura made short shift of those wicks which had burned all through the
night before. But she had them ready. She wound up the carcels for their
night's work. Again and again she drew her oil and filled up her
reservoirs. And as she did so, an old text came on her, and she wondered
whether Father Spaulding knew how good a text it would be for
Christmas. And the fancy touched her, poor child, and as she led little
Tom down into the nursery again, she could not help opening into the
Bible Parson Spaulding gave her and reading:--

"'But the wise took oil in their vessels with their lamps. While the
bridegroom tarried, they all slumbered and slept.' Dear Tommy, dear
Tommy, my own child, we will not sleep, will we? 'While the bridegroom
tarried,' O my dear Father in Heaven, let him come. 'And at midnight
there was a cry made, Behold, the bridegroom cometh, go ye out to meet
him;'" and she devoured little Tommy with kisses, and cried, "We will
go, my darling, we will go, if he comes at the first hour,--or the
second,--or the third! But now Tommy must come with mamma, and make
ready for his coming." For there were the other lamps to trim in the
other tower, with that heavy reach of snow between. And she did not dare
leave the active boy alone in the house. Little Matty could be caged in
her crib, and, even if she woke, she would at best only cry. But Tom was
irrepressible.

So they unbolted the lee-door, and worked out into the snow. Then poor
Laura, with the child, crept round into the storm. Heavens! how it
raged and howled! Where was her poor bridegroom now? She seized up Tom,
and turned her back to the wind, and worked along, go,--step sideway,
sideway, the only way she could by step,--did it ever seem so far
before? Tommy was crying. "One minute more, dear boy. Tommy shall see
the other lantern. And Tommy shall carry mamma's great scissors up the
stairs. Don't cry, my darling, don't cry."

Here is the door;--just as she began to wonder if she were dreaming or
crazy. Not so badly drifted in as she feared. At least she is under
cover. "Up-a-day, my darling, up-a-day. One, two, what a many steps for
Tommy! That's my brave boy." And they were on the lantern deck again,
fairly rocking in the gale,--and Laura was chopping away on her stiff
wicks, and pumping up her oil again, and filling the receivers, as if
she had ever done it till this Christmas before. And she kept saying
over to herself,--

"Then those virgins arose and trimmed their lamps."

"And I will light them," said she aloud. "That will save another walk at
sundown. And I know these carcels run at least five hours." So she
struck a match, and with some little difficulty coaxed the fibres to
take fire. The yellow light flared luridly on the white snow-flakes, and
yet it dazzled her and Tommy as it flashed on them from the reflectors.
"Will anybody see it, mamma?" said the child. "Will papa see it?" And
just then the witching devil who manages the fibres of memory, drew from
the little crypt in Laura's brain, where they had been stored unnoticed
years upon years, four lines of Leigh Hunt's, and the child saw that she
was Hero:--

    "Then at the flame a torch of fire she lit,
    And, o'er her head anxiously holding it,
    Ascended to the roof, and, leaning there,
    Lifted its light into the darksome air."

If only the devil would have been satisfied with this. But of course she
could not remember that, without remembering Schiller:--

    "In the gale her torch is blasted,
      Beacon of the hoped-for strand:
    Horror broods above the waters,
      Horror broods above the land."

And she said aloud to the boy, "Our torch shall not go out, Tommy,--come
down, come down, darling, with mamma." But all through the day horrid
lines from the same poem came back to her. Why did she ever learn it!
Why, but because dear Tom gave her the book himself; and this was his
own version, as he sent it to her from the camp in the valley,--

    "Yes, 'tis he! although he perished,
    Still his sacred troth he cherished."

"Why did Tom write it for me?"

    "And they trickle, lightly playing
    O'er a corpse upon the sand."

"What a fool I am! Come, Tommy. Come, Matty, my darling. Mamma will tell
you a story. Once there was a little boy, and he had two kittens. And he
named one Buff and one Muff"-- But this could not last for ever. Sundown
came. And then Laura and Tommy climbed their own tower,--and she lighted
her own lantern, as she called it. Sickly and sad through the storm, she
could see the sister lantern burning bravely. And that was all she could
see in the sullen whiteness. "Now, Tommy, my darling, we will come and
have some supper." "And while the bridegroom tarried, they all slumbered
and slept." "Yes, 'tis he; although he perished, still his sacred troth
he cherished." "Come, Tommy,--come Tommy,--come, Tommy, let me tell you
a story."

But the children had their supper,--asking terrible questions about
papa,--questions which who should answer? But she could busy herself
about giving them their oatmeal, and treating them to ginger-snaps,
because it was Christmas Eve. Nay, she kept her courage, when Tommy
asked if Santa Claus would come in the boat with papa. She fairly
loitered over the undressing them. Little witches, how pretty they were
in their flannel nightgowns! And Tommy kissed her, and gave her--ah
me!--one more kiss for papa. And in two minutes they were asleep. It
would have been better if they could have kept awake one minute longer.
Now she was really alone. And very soon seven o'clock has come. She does
not dare leave the clock-work at the outer lantern a minute longer. Tom
and Mipples wind the works every four hours, and now they have run five.
One more look at her darlings. Shall she ever see them again in this
world? Now to the duty next her hand!

Yes, the wind is as fierce as ever! A point more to the north, Laura
notices. She has no child to carry now. She tumbles once in the drift.
But Laura has rolled in snow before. The pile at the door is three feet
thick. But she works down to the latch,--and even her poor numb hand
conquers it,--and it gives way. How nice and warm the tower is! and how
well the lights burn! Can they be of any use this night to anybody? O my
God, grant that they be of use to him!

She has wound them now. She has floundered into the snow again. Two or
three falls on her way home,--but no danger that she loses the line of
march. The light above her own house is before her. So she has only to
aim at that. Home again! And now to wait for five hours,--and then to
wind that light again--at midnight!

"And at midnight there was a cry made"--"oh dear!--if he would come,--I
would not ask for any cry!"--

       *       *       *       *       *

And Laura got down her choice inlaid box, that Jem brought her from
sea,--and which held her treasures of treasures. And the dear girl did
the best thing she could have done. She took these treasures out.--You
know what they were, do not you? They were every letter Tom Cutts ever
wrote her--from the first boy note in print,--"Laura,--these hedgehog
quills are for you. I killed him. TOM." And Laura opened them all,--and
read them one by one, each twice,--and put them back, in their order,
without folding, into the box. At ten she stopped,--and worked her way
upstairs into her own lantern,--and wound its works again. She tried to
persuade herself that there was less wind,--did persuade herself so. But
the snow was as steady as ever. Down the tower-stairs again,--and then a
few blessed minutes brooding over Matty's crib, and dear little Tom who
has kicked himself right athwart her own bed where she had laid him.
Darlings! they are so lovely, their father must come home to see them!
Back then to her kitchen fire. There are more of dear Tom's letters yet.
How manly they are,--and how womanly. She will read them all!--will she
ever dare to read them all again?

Yes,--she reads them all,--each one twice over,--and his soldier
diary,--which John Wildair saved and sent home, and, as she lays it
down, the clock strikes twelve. Christmas day is born!--

"And at midnight there was a cry made, Behold, the bridegroom cometh."
Laura fairly repeated this aloud. She knew that the other carcel must be
wound again. She dressed herself for the fight thoroughly. She ran in
and trusted herself to kiss the children. She opened the lee-door
again, and crept round again into the storm,--familiar now with such
adventure. Did the surf beat as fiercely on the rocks? Surely not. But
then the tide is now so low! So she came to her other tower, crept up
and wound her clock-work up again, wiped off, or tried to wipe off, what
she thought was mist gathering on the glasses, groped down the stairway,
and looked up on the steady light above her own home. And the Christmas
text came back to her. "The star went before them, and stood above the
place where the young child was."

"A light to lighten the Gentiles,--and the glory of my people Israel!"

"By the way of the sea,"--and this Laura almost shouted aloud,--"Galilee
of the Gentiles, the people who sat in darkness saw a great light, and
to them who sat in the region and shadow of death light is sprung up."
"Grant it, merciful Father,--grant it for these poor children!" And she
almost ran through the heavy drifts, till she found the shelter again of
her friendly tower. Her darlings had not turned in their bed, since she
left them there.

And after this Laura was at rest. She took down her Bible, and read the
Christmas chapters. It was as if she had never known before what
darkness was,--or what the Light was, when it came. She took her Hymn
Book and read all the Christmas Hymns. She took her Keble,--and read
every poem for Advent and the hymn for Christmas morning. She knew this
by heart long ago. Then she took Bishop Ken's "Christian Year,"--which
Tom had given for her last birthday present,--and set herself bravely to
committing his "Christmas Day" to memory:--

      "Celestial harps, prepare
      To sound your loftiest air;
    You choral angels at the throne,
    Your customary hymns postpone;"

and thus, dear girl, she kept herself from thinking even of the wretched
Hero and Leander lines, till her clock struck three. Upstairs then to
her own tower, and to look out upon the night. The sister flame was
steady. The wind was all hushed. But the snow was as steady, right and
left, behind and before. Down again, one more look at the darlings, and
then, as she walked up and down her little kitchen, she repeated the
verses she had learned, and then sat down to--

    "You with your heavenly ray
    Gild the expanse this day;

    "You with your heavenly ray
    Gild--the expanse--this day;

    "You--with--your--heavenly--ray"--

Dear Laura, bless God, she is asleep. "He giveth his beloved sleep."

       *       *       *       *       *

Her head is thrown back on the projecting wing of grandmamma's tall
easy-chair, her arms are resting relaxed on its comfortable arms, her
lips just open with a smile, as she dreams of something in the kingdom
of God's heaven, when, as the lazy day just begins to grow gray, Tom,
white with snow to his middle, holding the boat's lantern before him as
he steals into her kitchen, crosses the room, and looks down on
her,--what a shame to wake her,--bends down and kisses her!

Dear child! How she started,--"At midnight there is a cry made, Behold,
the bridegroom cometh,"--"Why, Tom! Oh! my dearest, is it you?"

       *       *       *       *       *

"Have I been asleep on duty?" This was her first word when she came
fairly to herself.

"Guess not," said old Mipples, "both lanterns was burning when I come
in. 'Most time to put 'em out, Major! 'Keepers must be diligent to save
oil by all reasonable prevision.'"

"Is the north light burning?" said poor Laura. And she looked guiltily
at her tell-tale clock.

"Darling," said Tom, reverently, "if it were not burning, we should not
be here."

And Laura took her husband to see the babies, not willing to let his
hand leave hers, nor he, indeed, to let hers leave his. Old Mipples
thought himself one too many, and went away, wiping his eyes, to the
other light. "Time to extinguish it," he said.

But before Tom and Laura had known he was gone, say in half an hour,
that is, he was back again, hailing them from below.

"Major! Major! Major! An English steamer is at anchor in the cove, and
is sending her boat ashore."

Tom and Laura rushed to the window; the snow was all over now, and they
could see the monster lying within half a mile. "Where would they be,
Miss Cutts, if somebody had not wound up the lamps at midnight? Guess
they said 'Merry Christmas' when they see 'em." And Laura held her
breath when she thought what might have been. Tom and Mipples ran down
to the beach to hail them, and direct the landing. Tom and Mipples shook
the hand of each man as he came ashore, and then Laura could see them
hurrying to the house together. Steps on the landing; steps on the
stairway,--the door is open, and,--not Tom this time,--but her dear lost
brother Jem, in the flesh, and in a heavy pea-coat.

"Merry Christmas! Laura!"

       *       *       *       *       *

"Laura," said Jem, as they sat at their Christmas dinner, "what do you
think I thought of first, when I heard the cable run out so like blazes;
when I rushed up and saw your yellow lanterns there?"

"How should I know, Jem?"

"'They that dwell in the shadow of death, upon them the light hath
shined.'"

"But I did not think it was you, Laura."



CHRISTMAS WAITS IN BOSTON.


I.

I always give myself a Christmas present. And on this particular year
the present was a Carol party,--which is about as good fun, all things
consenting kindly, as a man can have.

Many things must consent, as will appear. First of all there must be
good sleighing,--and second, a fine night for Christmas eve. Ours are
not the carollings of your poor shivering little East Angles or South
Mercians, where they have to plod round afoot in countries where they do
not know what a sleigh-ride is.

I had asked Harry to have sixteen of the best voices in the chapel
school to be trained to eight or ten good Carols without knowing why. We
did not care to disappoint them if a February thaw setting in on the
24th of December should break up the spree before it began. Then I had
told Rowland that he must reserve for me a span of good horses, and a
sleigh that I could pack sixteen small children into, tight-stowed.
Howland is always good about such things, knew what the sleigh was for,
having done the same in other years, and doubled the span of horses of
his own accord, because the children would like it better, and "it would
be no difference to him." Sunday night as the weather nymphs ordered,
the wind hauled round to the northwest and everything froze hard. Monday
night, things moderated and the snow began to fall steadily,--so
steadily;--and so Tuesday night the Metropolitan people gave up their
unequal contest, all good men and angels rejoicing at their
discomfiture, and only a few of the people in the very lowest _Bolgie_,
being ill-natured enough to grieve. And thus it was, that by Thursday
evening was one hard compact roadway from Copp's Hill to the
Bone-burner's Gehenna, fit for good men and angels to ride over, without
jar, without noise and without fatigue to horse or man. So it was that
when I came down with Lycidas to the chapel at seven o'clock, I found
Harry had gathered there his eight pretty girls and his eight jolly
boys, and had them practising for the last time,

    "Carol, carol, Christians,
    Carol joyfully;
    Carol for the coming
    Of Christ's nativity."

I think the children had got inkling of what was coming, or perhaps
Harry had hinted it to their mothers. Certainly they were warmly
dressed, and when, fifteen minutes afterwards, Howland came round
himself with the sleigh, he had put in as many rugs and bear-skins as if
he thought the children were to be taken new born from their respective
cradles. Great was the rejoicing as the bells of the horses rang beneath
the chapel windows, and Harry did not get his last _da capo_ for his
last carol. Not much matter indeed, for they were perfect enough in it
before midnight.

Lycidas and I tumbled in on the back seat, each with a child in his lap
to keep us warm; I was flanked by Sam Perry, and he by John Rich, both
of the mercurial age, and therefore good to do errands. Harry was in
front somewhere flanked in likewise, and the twelve other children lay
in miscellaneously between, like sardines when you have first opened
the box. I had invited Lycidas, because, besides being my best friend,
he is the best fellow in the world, and so deserves the best Christmas
eve can give him. Under the full moon, on the snow still white, with
sixteen children at the happiest, and with the blessed memories of the
best the world has ever had, there can be nothing better than two or
three such hours.

"First, driver, out on Commonwealth Avenue. That will tone down the
horses. Stop on the left after you have passed Fairfield Street." So we
dashed up to the front of Haliburton's palace, where he was keeping his
first Christmas tide. And the children, whom Harry had hushed down for a
square or two, broke forth with good full voice under his strong lead in

    "Shepherd of tender sheep,"

singing with all that unconscious pathos with which children do sing,
and starting the tears in your eyes in the midst of your gladness. The
instant the horses' bells stopped, their voices began. In an instant
more we saw Haliburton and Anna run to the window and pull up the
shades, and, in a minute more, faces at all the windows. And so the
children sung through Clement's old hymn. Little did Clement think of
bells and snow, as he taught it in his Sunday school there in
Alexandria. But perhaps to-day, as they pin up the laurels and the palm
in the chapel at Alexandria, they are humming the words, not thinking of
Clement more than he thought of us. As the children closed with

    "Swell the triumphant song
    To Christ, our King,"

Haliburton came running out, and begged me to bring them in. But I told
him, "No," as soon as I could hush their shouts of "Merry Christmas;"
that we had a long journey before us, and must not alight by the way.
And the children broke out with

    "Hail to the night,
    Hail to the day,"

rather a favorite,--quicker and more to the childish taste perhaps than
the other,--and with another "Merry Christmas" we were off again.

Off, the length of Commonwealth Avenue, to where it crosses the
Brookline branch of the Mill-Dam,--dashing along with the gayest of the
sleighing-parties as we came back into town, up Chestnut Street, through
Louisburg Square,--we ran the sleigh into a bank on the slope of
Pinckney Street in front of Walter's house,--and, before they suspected
there that any one had come, the children were singing

    "Carol, carol, Christians,
    Carol joyfully."

Kisses flung from the window; kisses flung back from the street. "Merry
Christmas" again with a good-will, and then one of the girls began

    "When Anna took the baby,
    And pressed his lips to hers"--

and all of them fell in so cheerily. O dear me! it is a scrap of old
Ephrem the Syrian, if they did but know it! And when, after this, Harry
would fain have driven on, because two carols at one house was the rule,
how the little witches begged that they might sing just one song more
there, because Mrs. Alexander had been so kind to them, when she showed
them about the German stitches. And then up the hill and over to the
North End, and as far as we could get the horses up into Moon Court,
that they might sing to the Italian image-man who gave Lucy the boy and
dog in plaster, when she was sick in the spring. For the children had,
you know, the choice of where they would go; and they select their best
friends, and will be more apt to remember the Italian image-man than
Chrysostom himself, though Chrysostom should have "made a few remarks"
to them seventeen times in the chapel. Then the Italian image-man heard
for the first time in his life

    "Now is the time of Christmas come,"

and

    "Jesus in his babes abiding."

And then we came up Hanover Street and stopped under Mr. Gerry's chapel,
where they were dressing the walls with their evergreens, and gave them

    "Hail to the night,
    Hail to the day";

and so down State Street and stopped at the Advertiser office, because,
when the boys gave their "Literary Entertainment," Mr. Hale put in their
advertisement for nothing, and up in the old attic there the
compositors were relieved to hear

    "Nor war nor battle sound,"

and

    "The waiting world was still."

Even the leading editor relaxed from his gravity, and the "In General"
man from his more serious views, and the Daily the next morning wished
everybody a merry Christmas with even more unction, and resolved that in
coming years it would have a supplement, large enough to contain all the
good wishes. So away again to the houses of confectioners who had given
the children candy,--to Miss Simonds's house, because she had been so
good to them in school,--to the palaces of millionnaires who had prayed
for these children with tears if the children only knew it,--to Dr.
Frothingham's in Summer Street, I remember, where we stopped because the
Boston Association of Ministers met there,--and out on Dover Street
Bridge, that the poor chair-mender might hear our carols sung once more
before he heard them better sung in another world where nothing needs
mending.

    "King of glory, king of peace!"
    "Hear the song, and see the Star!"
    "Welcome be thou, heavenly King!"
    "Was not Christ our Saviour?"

and all the others, rung out with order or without order, breaking the
hush directly as the horses' bells were stilled, thrown into the air
with all the gladness of childhood, selected sometimes as Harry happened
to think best for the hearers, but more often as the jubilant and
uncontrolled enthusiasm of the children bade them break out in the most
joyous, least studied, and purely lyrical of all. O, we went to twenty
places that night, I suppose! We went to the grandest places in Boston,
and we went to the meanest. Everywhere they wished us a merry Christmas,
and we them. Everywhere a little crowd gathered round us, and then we
dashed away far enough to gather quite another crowd; and then back,
perhaps, not sorry to double on our steps if need were, and leaving
every crowd with a happy thought of

    "The star, the manger, and the Child!"

At nine we brought up at my house, D Street, three doors from the
corner, and the children picked their very best for Polly and my six
little girls to hear, and then for the first time we let them jump out
and run in. Polly had some hot oysters for them, so that the frolic was
crowned with a treat. There was a Christmas cake cut into sixteen
pieces, which they took home to dream upon; and then hoods and muffs on
again, and by ten o'clock, or a little after, we had all the girls and
all the little ones at their homes. Four of the big boys, our two
flankers and Harry's right and left hand men, begged that they might
stay till the last moment. They could walk back from the stable, and
"rather walk than not, indeed." To which we assented, having gained
parental permission, as we left younger sisters in their respective
homes.


II.

Lycidas and I both thought, as we went into these modest houses, to
leave the children, to say they had been good and to wish a "Merry
Christmas" ourselves to fathers, mothers, and to guardian aunts, that
the welcome of those homes was perhaps the best part of it all. Here
was the great stout sailor-boy whom we had not seen since he came back
from sea. He was a mere child when he left our school years on years
ago, for the East, on board Perry's vessel, and had been round the
world. Here was brave Mrs. Masury. I had not seen her since her mother
died. "Indeed, Mr. Ingham, I got so used to watching then, that I cannot
sleep well yet o' nights; I wish you knew some poor creature that wanted
me to-night, if it were only in memory of Bethlehem." "You take a deal
of trouble for the children," said Campbell, as he crushed my hand in
his; "but you know they love you, and you know I would do as much for
you and yours,"--which I knew was true. "What can I send to your
children?" said Dalton, who was finishing sword-blades. (Ill wind was
Fort Sumter, but it blew good to poor Dalton, whom it set up in the
world with his sword-factory.) "Here's an old-fashioned tape-measure for
the girl, and a Sheffield wimble for the boy. What, there is no boy? Let
one of the girls have it then; it will count one more present for her."
And so he pressed his brown-paper parcel into my hand. From every house,
though it were the humblest, a word of love, as sweet, in truth, as if
we could have heard the voice of angels singing in the sky.

I bade Harry good-night; took Lycidas to his lodgings, and gave his wife
my Christmas wishes and good-night; and, coming down to the sleigh
again, gave way to the feeling which I think you will all understand,
that this was not the time to stop, but just the time to begin. For the
streets were stiller now, and the moon brighter than ever, if possible,
and the blessings of these simple people and of the grand people, and of
the very angels in heaven, who are not bound to the misery of using
words when they have anything worth saying,--all these wishes and
blessings were round me, all the purity of the still winter night, and I
didn't want to lose it all by going to bed to sleep. So I put the boys
all together, where they could chatter, took one more brisk turn on the
two avenues, and then, passing through Charles Street, I believe I was
even thinking of Cambridge, I noticed the lights in Woodhull's house,
and, seeing they were up, thought I would make Fanny a midnight call.
She came to the door herself. I asked if she were waiting for Santa
Claus, but saw in a moment that I must not joke with her. She said she
had hoped I was her husband. In a minute was one of these contrasts
which make life, life. God puts us into the world that we may try them
and be tried by them. Poor Fanny's mother had been blocked up on the
Springfield train as she was coming on to Christmas. The old lady had
been chilled through, and was here in bed now with pneumonia. Both
Fanny's children had been ailing when she came, and this morning the
doctor had pronounced it scarlet fever. Fanny had not undressed herself
since Monday, nor slept, I thought, in the same time. So while we had
been singing carols and wishing merry Christmas, the poor child had been
waiting, and hoping that her husband or Edward, both of whom were on the
tramp, would find for her and bring to her the model nurse, who had not
yet appeared. But at midnight this unknown sister had not arrived, nor
had either of the men returned. When I rang, Fanny had hoped I was one
of them. Professional paragons, dear reader, are shy of scarlet fever. I
told the poor child that it was better as it was. I wrote a line for Sam
Perry to take to his aunt, Mrs. Masury, in which I simply said: "Dear
mamma, I have found the poor creature who wants you to-night. Come back
in this carriage." I bade him take a hack at Barnard's, where they were
all up waiting for the assembly to be done at Papanti's. I sent him over
to Albany Street; and really as I sat there trying to soothe Fanny, it
seemed to me less time than it has taken me to dictate this little story
about her, before Mrs. Masury rang gently, and I left them, having made
Fanny promise that she would consecrate the day, which at that moment
was born, by trusting God, by going to bed and going to sleep, knowing
that her children were in much better hands than hers. As I passed out
of the hall, the gas-light fell on a print of Correggio's Adoration,
where Woodhull had himself written years before,

    "Ut appareat iis qui in tenebris et umbra mortis positi sunt."

"Darkness and the shadow of death" indeed, and what light like the light
and comfort such a woman as my Mary Masury brings!

And so, but for one of the accidents, as we call them, I should have
dropped the boys at the corner of Dover Street, and gone home with my
Christmas lesson.

But it happened, as we irreverently say,--it happened as we crossed Park
Square, so called from its being an irregular pentagon of which one of
the sides has been taken away, that I recognized a tall man, plodding
across in the snow, head down, round-shouldered, stooping forward in
walking, with his right shoulder higher than his left; and by these
tokens I knew Tom Coram, prince among Boston princes. Not Thomas Coram
that built the Foundling Hospital, though he was of Boston too; but he
was longer ago. You must look for him in Addison's contribution to a
supplement to the Spectator,--the old Spectator, I mean, not the
Thursday Spectator, which is more recent. Not Thomas Coram, I say, but
Tom Coram, who would build a hospital to-morrow, if you showed him the
need, without waiting to die first, and always helps forward, as a
prince should, whatever is princely, be it a statue at home, a school at
Richmond, a newspaper in Florida, a church in Exeter, a steam-line to
Liverpool, or a widow who wants a hundred dollars. I wished him a merry
Christmas, and Mr. Howland, by a fine instinct, drew up the horses as I
spoke. Coram shook hands; and, as it seldom happens that I have an empty
carriage while he is on foot, I asked him if I might not see him home.
He was glad to get in. We wrapped him up with spoils of the bear, the
fox, and the bison, turned the horses' heads again,--five hours now
since they started on this entangled errand of theirs,--and gave him his
ride. "I was thinking of you at the moment," said Coram,--"thinking of
old college times, of the mystery of language as unfolded by the Abbé
Faria to Edmond Dantes in the depths of the Chateau d'If. I was
wondering if you could teach me Japanese, if I asked you to a Christmas
dinner." I laughed. Japan was really a novelty then, and I asked him
since when he had been in correspondence with the sealed country. It
seemed that their house at Shanghae had just sent across there their
agents for establishing the first house in Edomo, in Japan, under the
new treaty. Everything looked promising, and the beginnings were made
for the branch which has since become Dot and Trevilyan there. Of this
he had the first tidings in his letters by the mail of that afternoon.
John Coram, his brother, had written to him, and had said that he
enclosed for his amusement the Japanese bill of particulars, as it had
been drawn out, on which they had founded their orders for the first
assorted cargo ever to be sent from America to Edomo. Bill of
particulars there was, stretching down the long tissue-paper in
exquisite chirography. But by some freak of the "total depravity of
things," the translated order for the assorted cargo was not there. John
Coram, in his care to fold up the Japanese writing nicely, had left on
his own desk at Shanghae the more intelligible English. "And so I must
wait," said Tom philosophically, "till the next East India mail for my
orders, certain that seven English houses have had less enthusiastic and
philological correspondents than my brother."

I said I did not see that. That I could not teach him to speak the
Taghalian dialects so well, that he could read them with facility before
Saturday. But I could do a good deal better. Did he remember writing a
note to old Jack Percival for me five years ago? No, he remembered no
such thing; he knew Jack Percival, but never wrote a note to him in his
life. Did he remember giving me fifty dollars, because I had taken a
delicate boy, whom I was going to send to sea, and I was not quite
satisfied with the government outfit? No, he did not remember that,
which was not strange, for that was a thing he was doing every day.
"Well, I don't care how much you remember, but the boy about whom you
wrote to Jack Percival, for whose mother's ease of mind you provided the
half-hundred, is back again,--strong, straight, and well; what is more
to the point, he had the whole charge of Perry's commissariat on shore
at Yokohama, was honorably discharged out there, reads Japanese better
than you read English; and if it will help you at all, he shall be here
at your house at breakfast." For as I spoke we stopped at Coram's door.
"Ingham," said Coram, "if you were not a parson, I should say you were
romancing." "My child," said I, "I sometimes write a parable for the
Atlantic; but the words of my lips are verity, as all those of the
Sandemanians. Go to bed; do not even dream of the Taghalian dialects; be
sure that the Japanese interpreter will breakfast with you, and the next
time you are in a scrape send for the nearest minister. George, tell
your brother Ezra that Mr. Coram wishes him to breakfast here to-morrow
morning at eight o'clock; don't forget the number, Pemberton Square, you
know." "Yes, sir," said George; and Thomas Coram laughed, said "Merry
Christmas," and we parted.

It was time we were all in bed, especially these boys. But glad
enough am I as I write these words that the meeting of Coram set us
back that dropped-stitch in our night's journey. There was one more
delay. We were sweeping by the Old State House, the boys singing
again, "Carol, carol, Christians," as we dashed along the still
streets, when I caught sight of Adams Todd, and he recognized me. He
had heard us singing when we were at the Advertiser office. Todd is
an old fellow-apprentice of mine,--and he is now, or rather was that
night, chief pressman in the Argus office. I like the Argus
people,--it was there that I was South American Editor, now many
years ago,--and they befriend me to this hour. Todd hailed me, and
once more I stopped. "What sent you out from your warm steam-boiler?"
"Steam-boiler, indeed," said Todd. "Two rivets loose,--steam-room
full of steam,--police frightened,--neighborhood in a row,--and we
had to put out the fire. She would have run a week without hurting a
fly,--only a little puff in the street sometimes. But there we are,
Ingham. We shall lose the early mail as it stands. Seventy-eight
tokens to be worked now." They always talked largely of their edition
at the Argus. Saw it with many eyes, perhaps; but this time, I am
sure, Todd spoke true. I caught his idea at once. In younger and more
muscular times, Todd and I had worked the Adams press by that
fly-wheel for full five minutes at a time, as a test of strength; and
in my mind's eye, I saw that he was printing his paper at this moment
with relays of grinding stevedores. He said it was so. "But think of
it to-night," said he. "It is Christmas eve, and not an Irishman to
be hired, though one paid him ingots. Not a man can stand the grind
ten minutes." I knew that very well from old experience, and I
thanked him inwardly for not saying "the demnition grind," with
Mantilini. "We cannot run the press half the time," said he; "and the
men we have are giving out now. We shall lose all our carrier
delivery." "Todd," said I, "is this a night to be talking of ingots,
or hiring, or losing, or gaining? When will you learn that Love rules
the court, the camp, and the Argus office." And I wrote on the back
of a letter to Campbell: "Come to the Argus office, No. 2 Dassett's
Alley, with seven men not afraid to work"; and I gave it to John and
Sam, bade Howland take the boys to Campbell's house,--walked down
with Todd to his office,--challenged him to take five minutes at the
wheel, in memory of old times,--made the tired relays laugh as they
saw us take hold; and then,--when I had cooled off, and put on my
Cardigan,--met Campbell, with his seven sons of Anak, tumbling down
the stairs, wondering what round of mercy the parson had found for
them this time. I started home, knowing I should now have my Argus
with my coffee.


III.

And so I walked home. Better so, perhaps, after all, than in the lively
sleigh, with the tinkling bells.

    "It was a calm and silent night!--
      Seven hundred years and fifty-three
    Had Rome been growing up to might,
      And now was queen of land and sea!
    No sound was heard of clashing wars,--
      Peace brooded o'er the hushed domain;
    Apollo, Pallas, Jove, and Mars
      Held undisturbed their ancient reign
        In the solemn midnight,
          Centuries ago!"

What an eternity it seemed since I started with those children singing
carols. Bethlehem, Nazareth, Calvary, Rome, Roman senators, Tiberius,
Paul, Nero, Clement, Ephrem, Ambrose, and all the singers,--Vincent de
Paul, and all the loving wonder-workers, Milton and Herbert and all the
carol-writers, Luther and Knox and all the prophets,--what a world of
people had been keeping Christmas with Sam Perry and Lycidas and Harry
and me; and here were Yokohama and the Japanese, the Daily Argus and its
ten million tokens and their readers,--poor Fanny Woodhull and her sick
mother there, keeping Christmas too! For a finite world, these are a
good many "waits" to be singing in one poor fellow's ears on one
Christmas tide.

    "'Twas in the calm and silent night!--
      The senator of haughty Rome,
    Impatient urged his chariot's flight,
      From lordly revel, rolling home.
    Triumphal arches gleaming swell
      His breast, with thoughts of boundless sway.
    What recked the _Roman_ what befell
      A paltry province far away,
        In the solemn midnight,
          Centuries ago!

    "Within that province far away
      Went plodding home a weary boor;
    A streak of light before him lay,
      Fallen through a half-shut stable door
    Across his path. He passed,--for naught
      Told _what was going on within_;
    How keen the stars, his only thought,
      The air how calm and cold and thin,
        In the solemn midnight,
          Centuries ago!"

"Streak of light"--Is there a light in Lycidas's room? They not in bed!
That is making a night of it! Well, there are few hours of the day or
night when I have not been in Lycidas's room, so I let myself in by the
night-key he gave me, ran up the stairs,--it is a horrid seven-storied,
first-class lodging-house. For my part, I had as lief live in a steeple.
Two flights I ran up, two steps at a time,--I was younger then than I am
now,--pushed open the door which was ajar, and saw such a scene of
confusion as I never saw in Mary's over-nice parlor before. Queer! I
remember the first thing that I saw was wrong was a great ball of white
German worsted on the floor. Her basket was upset. A great
Christmas-tree lay across the rug, quite too high for the room; a large
sharp-pointed Spanish clasp-knife was by it, with which they had been
lopping it; there were two immense baskets of white papered presents,
both upset; but what frightened me most was the centre-table. Three or
four handkerchiefs on it,--towels, napkins, I know not what,--all brown
and red and almost black with blood! I turned, heart-sick, to look into
the bedroom,--and I really had a sense of relief when I saw somebody.
Bad enough it was, however. Lycidas, but just now so strong and well,
lay pale and exhausted on the bloody bed, with the clothing removed from
his right thigh and leg, while over him bent Mary and Morton. I learned
afterwards that poor Lycidas, while trimming the Christmas-tree, and
talking merrily with Mary and Morton,--who, by good luck, had brought
round his presents late, and was staying to tie on glass balls and
apples,--had given himself a deep and dangerous wound with the point of
the unlucky knife, and had lost a great deal of blood before the
hemorrhage could be controlled. Just before I entered, the stick
tourniquet which Morton had improvised had slipped in poor Mary's
unpractised hand, at the moment he was about to secure the bleeding
artery, and the blood followed in such a gush as compelled him to give
his whole attention to stopping its flow. He only knew my entrance by
the "Ah, Mr. Ingham," of the frightened Irish girl, who stood useless
behind the head of the bed.

"O Fred," said Morton, without looking up, "I am glad you are here."

"And what can I do for you?"

"Some whiskey,--first of all."

"There are two bottles," said Mary, who was holding the candle,--"in the
cupboard, behind his dressing-glass."

I took Bridget with me, struck a light in the dressing-room (how she
blundered about the match), and found the cupboard door locked! Key
doubtless in Mary's pocket,--probably in pocket of "another dress." I
did not ask. Took my own bunch, willed tremendously that my account-book
drawer key should govern the lock, and it did. If it had not, I should
have put my fist through the panels. Bottle of bedbug poison; bottle
marked "bay rum"; another bottle with no mark; two bottles of Saratoga
water. "Set them all on the floor, Bridget." A tall bottle of Cologne.
Bottle marked in MS. What in the world is it? "Bring that candle,
Bridget." "Eau destillée. Marron, Montreal." What in the world did
Lycidas bring distilled water from Montreal for? And then Morton's clear
voice in the other room, "As quick as you can, Fred." "Yes! in one
moment. Put all these on the floor, Bridget." Here they are at last.
"Bourbon whiskey." "Corkscrew, Bridget."

"Indade, sir, and where is it?" "Where? I don't know. Run down as quick
as you can, and bring it. His wife cannot leave him." So Bridget ran,
and the first I heard was the rattle as she pitched down the last six
stairs of the first flight headlong. Let us hope she has not broken her
leg. I meanwhile am driving a silver pronged fork into the Bourbon
corks, and the blade of my own penknife on the other side.

"Now, Fred," from George within. (We all call Morton "George.") "Yes, in
one moment," I replied. Penknife blade breaks off, fork pulls right out,
two crumbs of cork come with it. Will that girl never come?

I turned round; I found a goblet on the washstand; I took Lycidas's
heavy clothes-brush, and knocked off the neck of the bottle. Did you
ever do it, reader, with one of those pressed glass bottles they make
now? It smashed like a Prince Rupert's drop in my hand, crumbled into
seventy pieces,--a nasty smell of whiskey on the floor,--and I, holding
just the hard bottom of the thing with two large spikes running
worthless up into the air. But I seized the goblet, poured into it what
was left in the bottom, and carried it in to Morton as quietly as I
could. He bade me give Lycidas as much as he could swallow; then showed
me how to substitute my thumb for his, and compress the great artery.
When he was satisfied that he could trust me, he began his work again,
silently; just speaking what must be said to that brave Mary, who seemed
to have three hands because he needed them. When all was secure, he
glanced at the ghastly white face, with beads of perspiration on the
forehead and upper lip, laid his finger on the pulse, and said: "We will
have a little more whiskey. No, Mary, you are overdone already; let Fred
bring it." The truth was that poor Mary was almost as white as Lycidas.
She would not faint,--that was the only reason she did not,--and at the
moment I wondered that she did not fall. I believe George and I were
both expecting it, now the excitement was over. He called her Mary, and
me Fred, because we were all together every day of our lives. Bridget,
you see, was still nowhere.

So I retired for my whiskey again,--to attack that other bottle. George
whispered quickly as I went, "Bring enough,--bring the bottle." Did he
want the bottle corked? Would that Kelt ever come up stairs? I passed
the bell-rope as I went into the dressing-room, and rang as hard as I
could ring. I took the other bottle, and bit steadily with my teeth at
the cork, only, of course, to wrench the end of it off. George called
me, and I stepped back. "No," said he, "bring your whiskey."

Mary had just rolled gently back on the floor. I went again in despair.
But I heard Bridget's step this time. First flight, first passage;
second flight, second passage. She ran in in triumph at length, with a
_screw-driver_!

"No!" I whispered,--"no. The crooked thing you draw corks with," and I
showed her the bottle again. "Find one somewhere and don't come back
without it." So she vanished for the second time.

"Frederic!" said Morton. I think he never called me so before. Should I
risk the clothes-brush again? I opened Lycidas's own drawers,--papers,
boxes, everything in order,--not a sign of a tool.

"Frederic!" "Yes," I said. But why did I say "Yes"? "Father of Mercy,
tell me what to do."

And my mazed eyes, dim with tears,--did you ever shed tears from
excitement?--fell on an old razor-strop of those days of shaving, made
by C. WHITTAKER, SHEFFIELD. The "Sheffield" stood in black letters out
from the rest like a vision. They make corkscrews in Sheffield too. If
this Whittaker had only made a corkscrew! And what is a "Sheffield
wimble"?

Hand in my pocket,--brown paper parcel.

"Where are you, Frederic?" "Yes," said I, for the last time. Twine off!
brown paper off. And I learned that the "Sheffield wimble" was one of
those things whose name you never heard before, which people sell you in
Thames Tunnel, where a hoof-cleaner, a gimlet, a screw-driver, and a
_corkscrew_ fold into one handle.

"Yes," said I, again. "Pop," said the cork. "Bubble, bubble, bubble,"
said the whiskey. Bottle in one hand, full tumbler in the other, I
walked in. George poured half a tumblerful down Lycidas's throat that
time. Nor do I dare say how much he poured down afterwards. I found that
there was need of it, from what he said of the pulse, when it was all
over. I guess Mary had some, too.

This was the turning-point. He was exceedingly weak, and we sat by him
in turn through the night, giving, at short intervals, stimulants and
such food as he could swallow easily; for I remember Morton was very
particular not to raise his head more than we could help. But there was
no real danger after this.

As we turned away from the house on Christmas morning,--I to preach and
he to visit his patients,--he said to me, "Did you make that whiskey?"

"No," said I, "but poor Dod Dalton had to furnish the corkscrew."

And I went down to the chapel to preach. The sermon had been lying ready
at home on my desk,--and Polly had brought it round to me,--for there
had been no time for me to go from Lycidas's home to D Street and to
return. There was the text, all as it was the day before:--

    "They helped every one his neighbor, and every one said to his
    brother, Be of good courage. So the carpenter encouraged the
    goldsmith, and he that smootheth with the hammer him that smote
    the anvil."

And there were the pat illustrations, as I had finished them yesterday;
of the comfort Mary Magdalen gave Joanna, the court lady; and the
comfort the court lady gave Mary Magdalen, after the mediator of a new
covenant had mediated between them; how Simon the Cyrenian, and Joseph
of Arimathea, and the beggar Bartimeus comforted each other, gave each
other strength, common force, _com-fort_, when the One Life flowed in
all their veins; how on board the ship the Tent-Maker proved to be
Captain, and the Centurion learned his duty from his Prisoner, and how
they "_All_ came safe to shore," because the New Life was there. But as
I preached, I caught Frye's eye. Frye is always critical; and I said to
myself, "Frye would not take his illustrations from eighteen hundred
years ago." And I saw dear old Dod Dalton trying to keep awake, and
Campbell hard asleep after trying, and Jane Masury looking round to see
if her mother did not come in; and Ezra Sheppard, looking, not so much
at me, as at the window beside me, as if his thoughts were the other
side of the world. And I said to them all, "O, if I could tell you, my
friends, what every twelve hours of my life tells me,--of the way in
which woman helps woman, and man helps man, when only the ice is
broken,--how we are all rich so soon as we find out that we are all
brothers, and how we are all in want, unless we can call at any moment
for a brother's hand,--then I could make you understand something, in
the lives you lead every day, of what the New Covenant, the New
Commonwealth, the New Kingdom is to be."

But I did not dare tell Dod Dalton what Campbell had been doing for
Todd, nor did I dare tell Campbell by what unconscious arts old Dod had
been helping Lycidas. Perhaps the sermon would have been better had I
done so.

But, when we had our tree in the evening at home, I did tell
all this story to Polly and the bairns, and I gave Alice her
measuring-tape,--precious with a spot of Lycidas's blood,--and
Bertha her Sheffield wimble. "Papa," said old Clara, who is the
next child, "all the people gave presents, did not they, as they
did in the picture in your study?"

"Yes," said I, "though they did not all know they were giving them."

"Why do they not give such presents every day?" said Clara.

"O child," I said, "it is only for thirty-six hours of the three hundred
and sixty-five days, that all people remember that they are all brothers
and sisters, and those are the hours that we call, therefore, Christmas
eve and Christmas day."

"And when they always remember it," said Bertha, "it will be Christmas
all the time! What fun!"

"What fun, to be sure; but, Clara, what is in the picture?"

"Why, an old woman has brought eggs to the baby in the manger, and an
old man has brought a sheep. I suppose they all brought what they had."

"I suppose those who came from Sharon brought roses," said Bertha. And
Alice, who is eleven, and goes to the Lincoln School, and therefore
knows every thing, said,--"Yes, and the Damascus people brought Damascus
wimbles."

"This is certain," said Polly, "that nobody tried to give a straw, but
the straw, if he really gave it, carried a blessing."



ALICE'S CHRISTMAS-TREE.


CHAPTER I.

Alice MacNeil had made the plan of this Christmas-tree, all by herself
and for herself. She had a due estimate of those manufactured trees
which hard-worked "Sabbath Schools" get up for rewards of merit for the
children who have been regular, and at the last moment have saved
attendance-tickets enough. Nor did Alice MacNeil sit in judgment on
these. She had a due estimate of them. But for her Christmas-tree she
had two plans not included in those more meritorious buddings and
bourgeonings of the winter. First, she meant to get it up without any
help from anybody. And, secondly, she meant that the boys and girls who
had anything from it should be regular laners and by-way farers,--they
were to have no tickets of respectability,--they were not in any way to
buy their way in; but, for this once, those were to come in to a
Christmas-tree who happened to be ragged and in the streets when the
Christmas-tree was ready.

So Alice asked Mr. Williams, the minister, if she could have one of the
rooms in the vestry when Christmas eve came; and he, good saint, was
only too glad to let her. He offered, gently, his assistance in sifting
out the dirty boys and girls, intimating to Alice that there was dirt
and dirt; and that, even in those lowest depths which she was plunging
into, there were yet lower deeps which she might find it wise to shun.
But here Alice told him frankly that she would rather try her experiment
fairly through. Perhaps she was wrong, but she would like to see that
she was wrong in her own way. Any way, on Christmas eve, she wanted no
distinctions.

That part of her plan went bravely forward.

Her main difficulty came on the other side,--that she had too many to
help her. She was not able to carry out the first part of her plan, and
make or buy all her presents herself. For everybody was pleased with
this notion of a truly catholic or universal tree; and everybody wanted
to help. Well, if anybody would send her a box of dominos, or a
jack-knife, or an open-eye-shut-eye doll, who was Alice to say it should
not go on the tree? and when Mrs. Hesperides sent round a box of Fayal
oranges, who was Alice to say that the children should not have oranges?
And when Mr. Gorham Parsons sent in well-nigh a barrel full of
Hubbardston None-such apples, who was Alice to say they should not have
apples? So the tree grew and grew, and bore more and more fruit, till it
was clear that there would be more than eighty reliable presents on it,
besides apples and oranges, almonds and raisins galore.

Now you see this was a very great enlargement of Alice's plan; and it
brought her to grief, as you shall see. She had proposed a cosey little
tree for fifteen or twenty children. Well, if she had held to that, she
would have had no more than she and Lillie, and Mr. Williams, and Mr.
Gilmore, and John Flagg, and I, could have managed easily, particularly
if mamma was there too. There would have been room enough in the chapel
parlor; and it would have been, as I believe, just the pretty and
cheerful Christmas jollity that Alice meant it should be. But when it
came to eighty presents, and a company of eighty of the unwashed and
unticketed, it became quite a different thing.

For now Alice began to fear that there would not be children enough in
the highways and by-ways. So she started herself, as evening drew on,
with George, the old faithful black major-domo, and she walked through
the worst streets she knew anything of, of all those near the chapel;
and, whenever she saw a brat particularly dirty, or a group of brats
particularly forlorn, she sailed up gallantly, and, though she was
frightened to death, she invited them to the tree. She gave little
admittance cards, that said, "7 o'clock, Christmas Eve, 507 Livingstone
Avenue," for fear the children would not remember. And she told Mr.
Flagg that he and Mr. Gilmore might take some cards and walk out toward
Williamsburg, and do the same thing, only they were to be sure that they
asked the dirtiest and most forlorn children they saw. There was a
friendly policeman with whom Alice had been brought into communication
by the boys in her father's office, and he also was permitted to give
notice of the tree. But he was also to be at the street door, armed
with the strong arm of "The People of New York," and when the full quota
of eighty had been admitted he was to admit no more.

Ah me! My poor Alice issued her cards only too freely. Better indeed, it
seemed, had she held to her original plan; at least she thought so, and
thinks so to this day. But I am not so certain. A hard time she had of
it, however. Quarter of seven found the little Arabs in crowds around
the door, with hundreds of others who thought they also were to find out
what a "free lunch" was. The faithful officer Purdy was in attendance
also; he passed in all who had the cards; he sent away legions, let me
say, who had reason to dread him; but still there assembled a larger and
larger throng about the door. Alice and Lillie, and the young gentlemen,
and Mrs. MacNeil, were all at work up stairs, and the tree was a perfect
beauty at last. They lighted up, and nothing could have been more
lovely.

"Let them in!" said John Flagg rushing to the door, where expectant
knocks had been heard already. "Let them in,--the smallest girls
first!"

"Smallest girls," indeed! The door swung open, and a tide of boy and
girl, girl and boy, boy big to hobble-de-hoy-dom, and girl big to
young-woman-dom, came surging in, wildly screaming, scolding, pushing,
and pulling. Omitting the profanity, these are the Christmas carols that
fell on Alice's ear.

"Out o' that!" "Take that, then!" "Who are you?" "Hold your jaw!"
"Can't you behave decent?" "You lie!" "Get out of my light!" "Oh,
dear! you killed me!" "Who's killed?" "Golly! see there!" "I say, ma'am,
give me that pair of skates!" "Shut up--" and so on, the howls being
more and more impertinent, as the shepherds who had come to adore became
more and more used to the position they were in.

Young Gilmore, who was willing to oblige Alice, but was not going to
stand any nonsense, and would have willingly knocked the heads together
of any five couples of this rebel rout, mounted on a corner of the
railing, which, by Mr. Williams's prescience had been built around the
tree, and addressed the riotous assembly.

They stopped to hear him, supposing he was to deliver the gifts, to
which they had been summoned.

He told them pretty roundly that if they did not keep the peace, and
stop crowding and yelling, they should all be turned out of doors; that
they were to pass the little girls and boys forward first, and that
nobody would have any thing to eat till this was done.

Some approach to obedience followed. A few little waifs were found, who
in decency could be called _little_ girls and boys. But, alas! as she
looked down from her chair, Alice felt as if most of her guests looked
like shameless, hulking big boys and big girls, only too well fitted to
grapple with the world, and only too eager to accept its gifts without
grappling. She and Lillie tried to forget this. They kissed a few little
girls, and saw the faintest gleam of pleasure on one or two little
faces. But there, also, the pleasure was almost extinct, in fear of the
big boys and big girls howling around.

So the howling began again, as the distribution went forward. "Give me
that jack-knife!" "I say, Mister, I'm as big as he is," "He had one
before and hid it," "Be down, Tom Mulligan,--get off that fence or I'll
hide you," "I don't want the book, give me them skates," "You sha'n't
have the skates, I'll have 'em myself--" and so on. John Flagg finally
knocked down Tom Mulligan, who had squeezed round behind the tree, in an
effort to steal something, and had the satisfaction of sending him
bellowing from the room, with his face covered with blood from his nose.
Gilmore, meanwhile, was rapidly distributing an orange and an apple to
each, which, while the oranges were sucked, gave a moment's quiet. Alice
and the ladies, badly frightened, were stripping the tree as fast as
they could, and at last announced that it was all clear, with almost as
eager joy as half an hour before they had announced that it was all
full. "There's a candy horn on top, give me that." "Give me that little
apple." "Give me the old sheep." "Hoo! hurrah, for the old sheep!" This
of a little lamb which had been placed as an appropriate ornament in
front. Then began a howl about oranges. "I want another orange." "Bill's
got some, and I've got none." "I say, Mister, give me an orange."

To which Mister replied, by opening the window, and speaking into the
street,--"I say, Purdy, call four officers and come up and clear this
room."

The room did not wait for the officers: it cleared itself very soon on
this order, and was left a scene of wreck and dirt. Orange-peel trampled
down on the floor; cake thrown down and mashed to mud, intermixed with
that which had come in on boots, and the water which had been slobbered
over from hasty mugs; the sugar plums which had fallen in scrambles, and
little sprays of green too, trodden into the mass,--all made an aspect
of filth like a market side-walk. And poor Alice was half crying and
half laughing; poor Lillie was wholly crying. Gilmore and Flagg were
explaining to each other how gladly they would have thrashed the whole
set.

The thought uppermost in Alice's mind was that she had been a clear, out
and out fool! And that, probably, is the impression of the greater part
of the readers of her story,--or would have been the impression of any
one who only had her point of view.


CHAPTER II.

Perhaps the reader is willing to take another point of view.

As the group stood there, talking over the riot as Mrs. MacNeil called
it,--as John Flagg tried to make Alice laugh by bringing her a
half-piece of frosted pound-cake, and proving to her that it had not
been on the floor,--as she said, her eyes streaming with tears, "I tell
you, John! I am a fool, and I know I am, and nobody but a fool would
have started such a row,"--as all this happened, Patrick Crehore came
back for his little sister's orange which he had wrapped in her
handkerchief and left on one of the book-racks in the room. Patrick was
alone now, and was therefore sheepish enough, and got himself and his
orange out of the room as soon as he well could. But he was sharp enough
to note the whole position, and keen enough to catch Alice's words as
she spoke to Mr. Flagg. Indeed, the general look of disappointment and
chagrin in the room, and the contrast between this filthy ruin and the
pretty elegance of half an hour ago, were distinct enough to be
observed by a much more stupid boy than Patrick Crehore. He went down
stairs and found Bridget waiting, and walked home with the little
toddler, meditating rather more than was his wont on Alice's phrase, "I
tell you, I am a fool." Meditating on it, he hauled Bridget up five
flights of stairs and broke in on the little room where a table spread
with a plentiful supply of tea, baker's bread, butter, cheese, and
cabbage, waited their return. Jerry Crehore, his father, sat smoking,
and his mother was tidying up the room.

"And had ye a good time, me darling? And ye 've brought home your
orange, and a doll too, and mittens too. And what did you have, Pat?"

So Pat explained, almost sulkily, that he had a checker-board, and a set
of checker-men, which he produced; but he put them by as if he hated the
sight of them, and for a minute dropped the subject, while he helped
little Biddy to cabbage. He ate something himself, drank some tea, and
then delivered his rage with much unction, a little profanity, great
incoherency,--but to his own relief.

"It's a mean thing it is, all of it," said he, "I'll be hanged but it
is! I dunno who the lady is; but we've made her cry bad, I know that;
and the boys acted like Nick. They knew that as well as I do. The man
there had to knock one of the fellows down, bedad, and served him right,
too. I say, the fellows fought, and hollared, and stole, and sure ye 'd
thought ye was driving pigs down the Eighth Avenue, and I was as bad as
the worst of 'em. That's what the boys did when a lady asked 'em to
Christmas."

"That was a mean thing to do," said Jerry, taking his pipe from his
mouth for a longer speech than he had ever been known to make while
smoking.

Mrs. Crehore stopped in her dish-wiping, sat down, and gave her opinion.
She did not know what a Christmas-tree was, having never seed one nor
heared of one. But she did know that those who went to see a lady should
show manners and behave like jintlemen, or not go at all. She expressed
her conviction that Tom Mulligan was rightly served, and her regret that
he had not two black eyes instead of one. She would have been glad,
indeed, if certain Floyds, and Sullivans, and Flahertys with whose
names of baptism she was better acquainted than I am, had shared a
similar fate.

This oration, and the oracle of his father still more, appeased Pat
somewhat; and when his supper was finished, after long silence, he said,
"We'll give her a Christmas present. We will. Tom Mulligan and Bill
Floyd and I will give it. The others sha'n't know. I know what we'll
give her. I'll tell Bill Floyd that we made her cry."


CHAPTER III.

After supper, accordingly, Pat Crehore repaired to certain rendezvous of
the younger life of the neighborhood, known to him, in search of Bill
Floyd. Bill was not at the first, nor at the second, there being indeed
no rule or principle known to men or even to archangels by which Bill's
presence at any particular spot at any particular time could be
definitely stated. But Bill also, in his proud free-will, obeyed certain
general laws; and accordingly Pat found him inspecting, as a volunteer
officer of police, the hauling out and oiling of certain hose at the
house of a neighboring hose company. "Come here, Bill. I got something
to show you."

Bill had already carried home and put in safe keeping a copy of
Routledge's "Robinson Crusoe," which had been given to him.

He left the hose inspection willingly, and hurried along with Pat, past
many attractive groups, not even stopping where a brewer's horse had
fallen on the ground, till Pat brought him in triumph to the gaudy
window of a shoe-shop, lighted up gayly and full of the wares by which
even shoe-shops lure in customers for Christmas.

"See there!" said Pat, nearly breathless. And he pointed to the very
centre of the display, a pair of slippers made from bronze-gilt kid, and
displaying a hideous blue silk bow upon the gilding. For what class of
dancers or of maskers these slippers may have been made, or by what
canon of beauty, I know not. Only they were the centre of decoration in
the shoe-shop window. Pat looked at them with admiration, as he had
often done, and said again to Bill Floyd, "See there, ain't them
handsome?"

"Golly!" said Bill, "I guess so."

"Bill, let's buy them little shoes, and give 'em to her."

"Give 'em to who?" said Bill, from whose mind the Christmas-tree had for
the moment faded, under the rivalry of the hose company, the brewer's
horse, and the shop window. "Give 'em to who?"

"Why, her, I don't know who she is. The gal that made the
what-do-ye-call-it, the tree, you know, and give us the oranges, where
old Purdy was. I say, Bill, it was a mean dirty shame to make such a row
there, when we was bid to a party; and I want to make the gal a present,
for I see her crying, Bill. Crying cos it was such a row." Again, I omit
certain profane expressions which did not add any real energy to the
declaration.

"They is handsome," said Bill, meditatingly. "Ain't the blue ones
handsomest?"

"No," said Pat, who saw he had gained his lodgment, and that the
carrying his point was now only a matter of time. "The gould ones is the
ones for me. We'll give 'em to the gal for a Christmas present, you and
I and Tom Mulligan."

Bill Floyd did not dissent, being indeed in the habit of going as he
was led, as were most of the "rebel rout" with whom he had an hour ago
been acting. He assented entirely to Pat's proposal. By "Christmas" both
parties understood that the present was to be made before Twelfth Night,
not necessarily on Christmas day. Neither of them had a penny; but both
of them knew, perfectly well, that whenever they chose to get a little
money they could do so.

They soon solved their first question, as to the cost of the coveted
slippers. True, they knew, of course, that they would be ejected from
the decent shop if they went in to inquire. But, by lying in wait, they
soon discovered Delia Sullivan, a decent-looking girl they knew, passing
by, and having made her their confidant, so far that she was sure she
was not fooled, they sent her in to inquire. The girl returned to
announce, to the astonishment of all parties, that the shoes cost six
dollars.

"Hew!" cried Pat, "six dollars for them are! I bought my mother's new
over-shoes for one." But not the least did he 'bate of his
determination, and he and Bill Floyd went in search of Tom Mulligan.

Tom was found as easily as Bill. But it was not so easy to enlist him.
Tom was in a regular corner liquor store with men who were sitting
smoking, drinking, and telling dirty stories. Either of the other boys
would have been whipped at home if he had been known to be seen sitting
in this place, and the punishment would have been well bestowed. But Tom
Mulligan had had nobody thrash him for many a day till John Flagg had
struck out so smartly from the shoulder. Perhaps, had there been some
thrashing as discriminating as Jerry Flaherty's, it had been better for
Tom Mulligan. The boys found him easily enough, but, as I said, had some
difficulty in getting him away. With many assurances, however, that they
had something to tell him, and something to show him, they lured him
from the shadow of the comfortable stove into the night.

Pat Crehore, who had more of the tact of oratory than he knew, then
boldly told Tom Mulligan the story of the Christmas-tree, as it passed
after Tom's ejection. Tom was sour at first, but soon warmed to the
narrative, and even showed indignation at the behavior of boys who had
seemed to carry themselves less obnoxiously than he did. All the boys
agreed, that but for certain others who had never been asked to come,
and ought to be ashamed to be there with them as were, there would have
been no row. They all agreed that on some suitable occasion unknown to
me and to this story they would take vengeance on these Tidds and
Sullivans. When Pat Crehore wound up his statement, by telling how he
saw the ladies crying, and all the pretty room looking like a pig-sty,
Tom Mulligan was as loud as he was in saying that it was all wrong, and
that nobody but blackguards would have joined in it, in particular such
blackguards as the Tidds and Sullivans above alluded to.

Then to Tom's sympathizing ear was confided the project of the gold
shoes, as the slippers were always called, in this honorable company.
And Tom completely approved. He even approved the price. He explained to
the others that it would be mean to give to a lady any thing of less
price. This was exactly the sum which recommended itself to his better
judgment. And so the boys went home, agreeing to meet Christmas morning
as a Committee of Ways and Means.

To the discussions of this committee I need not admit you. Many plans
were proposed: one that they should serve through the holidays at
certain ten-pin alleys, known to them; one that they should buy off
Fogarty from his newspaper route for a few days. But the decision was,
that Pat, the most decent in appearance, should dress up in a certain
Sunday suit he had, and offer the services of himself, and two unknown
friends of his, as extra cork-boys at Birnebaum's brewery, where Tom
Mulligan reported they were working nights, that they might fill an
extra order. This device succeeded. Pat and his friends were put on
duty, for trial, on the night of the 26th; and, the foreman of the
corking-room being satisfied, they retained their engagements till New
Year's eve, when they were paid three dollars each, and resigned their
positions.

"Let's buy her three shoes!" said Bill, in enthusiasm at their success.
But this proposal was rejected. Each of the other boys had a private
plan for an extra present to "her" by this time. The sacred six dollars
was folded up in a bit of straw paper from the brewery, and the young
gentlemen went home to make their toilets, a process they had had no
chance to go through, on Christmas eve. After this, there was really no
difficulty about their going into the shoe-shop, and none about
consummating the purchase,--to the utter astonishment of the dealer. The
gold shoes were bought, rolled up in paper, and ready for delivery.

Bill Floyd had meanwhile learned, by inquiry at the chapel, where she
lived, though there were doubts whether any of them knew her name. The
others rejected his proposals that they should take street cars, and
they boldly pushed afoot up to Clinton Avenue, and rang, not without
terror, at the door.

Terror did not diminish when black George appeared, whose acquaintance
they had made at the tree. But fortunately George did not recognize them
in their apparel of elegance. When they asked for the "lady that gave
the tree," he bade them wait a minute, and in less than a minute Alice
came running out to meet them. To the boys' great delight, she was not
crying now.

"If you please, ma'am," said Tom, who had been commissioned as
spokesman,--"if you please, them's our Christmas present to you, ma'am.
Them's gold shoes. And please, ma'am, we're very sorry there was such
a row at the Christmas, ma'am. It was mean, ma'am. Good-by, ma'am."

Alice's eyes were opening wider and wider, nor at this moment did she
understand. "Gold shoes," and "row at the Christmas," stuck by her,
however; and she understood there was a present. So, of course, she said
the right thing, by accident, and did the right thing, being a lady
through and through.

"No, you must not go away. Come in, boys, come in. I did not know you,
you know." As how should she. "Come in and sit down."

"Can't ye take off your hat?" said Tom, in an aside to Pat, who had
neglected this reverence as he entered. And Tom was thus a little
established in his own esteem.

And Alice opened the parcel, and had her presence of mind by this time;
and, amazed as she was at the gold shoes, showed no amazement,--nay,
even slipped off her own slipper, and showed that the gold shoe fitted,
to the delight of Tom, who was trying to explain that the man would
change them if they were too small. She found an apple for each boy,
thanked and praised each one separately; and the interview would have
been perfect, had she not innocently asked Tom what was the matter with
his eye. Tom's eye! Why, it was the black eye John Flagg gave him. I am
sorry to say Bill Floyd sniggered; but Pat came to the front this time,
and said "a man hurt him." Then Alice produced some mittens, which had
been left, and asked whose those were. But the boys did not know.

"I say, fellars, I'm going down to the writing-school, at the Union,"
said Pat, when they got into the street, all of them being in the mood
that conceals emotion. "I say, let's all go."

To this they agreed.

"I say, I went there last week Monday, with Meg McManus. I say, fellars,
it's real good fun."

The other fellows, having on the unfamiliar best rig, were well aware
that they must not descend to their familiar haunts, and all consented.

To the amazement of the teacher, these three hulking boys allied
themselves to the side of order, took their places as they were bidden,
turned the public opinion of the class, and made the Botany Bay of the
school to be its quietest class that night.

To his amazement the same result followed the next night. And to his
greater amazement, the next.

To Alice's amazement, she received on Twelfth Night a gilt valentine
envelope, within which, on heavily ruled paper, were announced these
truths:--

    MARM,--The mitins wur Nora Killpatrick's. She lives inn Water
    street place behind the Lager Brewery.

        Yours to command,
                        WILLIAM FLOYD.
                        THOMAS MULLIGAN.
                        PATRICK CREHORE.

The names which they could copy from signs were correctly spelled.

To Pat's amazement, Tom Mulligan held on at the writing-school all
winter. When it ended, he wrote the best hand of any of them.

To my amazement, one evening when I looked in at Longman's, two years to
a day after Alice's tree, a bright black-eyed young man, who had tied up
for me the copy of Masson's "Milton," which I had given myself for a
Christmas present, said: "You don't remember me." I owned innocence.

"My name is Mulligan--Thomas Mulligan. Would you thank Mr. John Flagg,
if you meet him, for a Christmas present he gave me two years ago, at
Miss Alice MacNeil's Christmas-tree. It was the best present I ever had,
and the only one I ever deserved."

And I said I would do so.

       *       *       *       *       *

I told Alice afterward never to think she was going to catch all the
fish there were in any school. I told her to whiten the water with
ground-bait enough for all, and to thank God if her heavenly fishing
were skilful enough to save one.



DAILY BREAD.


I.

A QUESTION OF NOURISHMENT.

"And how is he?" said Robert, as he came in from his day's work, in
every moment of which he had thought of his child. He spoke in a whisper
to his wife, who met him in the narrow entry at the head of the stairs.
And in a whisper she replied.

"He is certainly no worse," said Mary: "the doctor says, maybe a shade
better. At least," she said, sitting on the lower step, and holding her
husband's hand, and still whispering,--"at least he said that the
breathing seemed to him a shade easier, one lung seemed to him a little
more free, and that it is now a question of time and nourishment."

"Nourishment?"

"Yes, nourishment,--and I own my heart sunk as he said so. Poor little
thing, he loathes the slops, and I told the doctor so. I told him the
struggle and fight to get them down his poor little throat gave him more
flush and fever than any thing. And then he begged me not to try that
again, asked if there were really nothing that the child would take, and
suggested every thing so kindly. But the poor little thing, weak as he
is, seems to rise up with supernatural strength against them all. I am
not sure, though, but perhaps we may do something with the old milk and
water: that is really my only hope now, and that is the reason I spoke
to you so cheerfully."

Then poor Mary explained more at length that Emily had brought in Dr.
Cummings's Manual[1] about the use of milk with children, and that they
had sent round to the Corlisses', who always had good milk, and had set
a pint according to the direction and formula,--and that though dear
little Jamie had refused the groats and the barley, and I know not what
else, that at six he had gladly taken all the watered milk they dared to
give him, and that it now had rested on his stomach half an hour, so
that she could not but hope that the tide had turned, only she hoped
with trembling, because he had so steadily refused cow's milk only the
week before.

    [1] Has the reader a delicate infant? Let him send for
        Dr. Cummings's little book on Milk for Children.

This rapid review in her entry, of the bulletins of a day, is really the
beginning of this Christmas story. No matter which day it was,--it was a
little before Christmas, and one of the shortest days, but I have
forgotten which. Enough that the baby, for he was a baby still, just
entering his thirteenth month,--enough that he did relish the milk, so
carefully measured and prepared, and hour by hour took his little dole
of it as if it had come from his mother's breast. Enough that three or
four days went by so, the little thing lying so still on his back in his
crib, his lips still so blue, and his skin of such deadly color against
the white of his pillow, and that, twice a day, as Dr. Morton came in
and felt his pulse, and listened to the panting, he smiled and looked
pleased, and said, "We are getting on better than I dared expect." Only
every time he said, "Does he still relish the milk?" and every time was
so pleased to know that he took to it still, and every day he added a
teaspoonful or two to the hourly dole,--and so poor Mary's heart was
lifted day by day.

This lasted till St. Victoria's day. Do you know which day that is? It
is the second day before Christmas; and here, properly speaking, the
story begins.


II.

ST. VICTORIA'S DAY.

St. Victoria's day the doctor was full two hours late. Mary was not
anxious about this. She was beginning to feel bravely about the boy, and
no longer counted the minutes till she could hear the door-bell ring.
When he came he loitered in the entry below,--or she thought he did. He
was long coming up stairs. And when he came in she saw that he was
excited by something,--was really even then panting for breath.

"I am here at last," he said. "Did you think I should fail you?"

Why, no,--poor innocent Mary had not thought any such thing. She had
known he would come,--and baby was so well that she had not minded his
delay.

Morton looked up at the close drawn shades, which shut out the light,
and said, "You did not think of the storm?"

"Storm? no!" said poor Mary. She had noticed, when Robert went to the
door at seven and she closed it after him, that some snow was falling.
But she had not thought of it again. She had kissed him, told him to
keep up good heart, and had come back to her baby.

Then the doctor told her that the storm which had begun before daybreak
had been gathering more and more severely; that the drifts were already
heavier than he remembered them in all his Boston life; that after half
an hour's trial in his sleigh he had been glad to get back to the stable
with his horse; and that all he had done since he had done on foot, with
difficulty she could not conceive of. He had been so long down stairs
while he brushed the snow off, that he might be fit to come near the
child.

"And really, Mrs. Walter, we are doing so well here," he said
cheerfully, "that I will not try to come round this afternoon, unless
you see a change. If you do, your husband must come up for me, you know.
But you will not need me, I am sure."

Mary felt quite brave to think that they should not need him really for
twenty-four hours, and said so; and added, with the first smile he had
seen for a fortnight: "I do not know anybody to whom it is of less
account than to me, whether the streets are blocked or open. Only I am
sorry for you."

Poor Mary, how often she thought of that speech, before Christmas day
went by! But she did not think of it all through St. Victoria's day. Her
husband did not come home to dinner. She did not expect him. The
children came from school at two, rejoicing in the long morning session
and the half holiday of the afternoon which had been earned by it. They
had some story of their frolic in the snow, and after dinner went
quietly away to their little play-room in the attic. And Mary sat with
her baby all the afternoon,--nor wanted other company. She could count
his breathing now, and knew how to time it by the watch, and she knew
that it was steadier and slower than it was the day before. And really
he almost showed an appetite for the hourly dole. Her husband was not
late. He had taken care of that, and had left the shop an hour early.
And as he came in and looked at the child from the other side of the
crib, and smiled so cheerfully on her, Mary felt that she could not
enough thank God for his mercy.


III.

ST. VICTORIA'S DAY IN THE COUNTRY.

Five and twenty miles away was another mother, with a baby born the same
day as Jamie. Mary had never heard of her and never has heard of her,
and, unless she reads this story, never will hear of her till they meet
together in the other home, look each other in the face, and know as
they are known. Yet their two lives, as you shall see, are twisted
together, as indeed are all lives, only they do not know it--as how
should they?

A great day for Huldah Stevens was this St. Victoria's day. Not that she
knew its name more than Mary did. Indeed it was only of late years that
Huldah Stevens had cared much for keeping Christmas day. But of late
years they had all thought of it more; and this year, on Thanksgiving
day, at old Mr. Stevens's, after great joking about the young people's
housekeeping, it had been determined, with some banter, that the same
party should meet with John and Huldah on Christmas eve, with all
Huldah's side of the house besides, to a late dinner or early supper, as
the guests might please to call it. Little difference between the meals,
indeed, was there ever in the profusion of these country homes. The men
folks were seldom at home at the noon-day meal, call it what you will.
For they were all in the milk-business, as you will see. And, what with
collecting the milk from the hill-farms, on the one hand, and then
carrying it for delivery at the three o'clock morning milk-train, on the
other hand, any hours which you, dear reader, might consider systematic,
or of course in country life, were certainly always set aside. But,
after much conference, as I have said, it had been determined at the
Thanksgiving party that all hands in both families should meet at John
and Huldah's as near three o'clock as they could the day before
Christmas; and then and there Huldah was to show her powers in
entertaining at her first state family party.

So this St. Victoria's day was a great day of preparation for Huldah,
if she had only known its name, as she did not. For she was of the kind
which prepares in time, not of the kind that is caught out when the
company come with the work half done. And as John started on his
collection beat that morning at about the hour Robert, in town, kissed
Mary good-by, Huldah stood on the step with him, and looked with
satisfaction on the gathering snow, because it would make better
sleighing the next day for her father and mother to come over. She
charged him not to forget her box of raisins when he came back, and to
ask at the express if anything came up from town, bade him good-by, and
turned back into the house, not wholly dissatisfied to be almost alone.
She washed her baby, gave him his first lunch and put him to bed. Then,
with the coast fairly clear,--what woman does not enjoy a clear coast,
if it only be early enough in the morning?--she dipped boldly and wisely
into her flour-barrel, stripped her plump round arms to their work, and
began on the pie-crust which was to appear to-morrow in the fivefold
forms of apple, cranberry, Marlboro', mince, and squash,--careful and
discriminating in the nice chemistry of her mixtures and the nice
manipulations of her handicraft, but in nowise dreading the issue. A
long, active, lively morning she had of it. Not dissatisfied with the
stages of her work, step by step she advanced, stage by stage she
attained of the elaborate plan which was well laid out in her head, but,
of course, had never been intrusted to words, far less to tell-tale
paper. From the oven at last came the pies,--and she was satisfied with
the color; from the other oven came the turkey, which she proposed to
have cold,--as a relay, or _pièce de résistance_, for any who might not
be at hand at the right moment for dinner. Into the empty oven went the
clove-blossoming ham, which, as it boiled, had given the least
appetizing odor to the kitchen. In the pretty moulds in the woodshed
stood the translucent cranberry hardening to its fixed consistency. In
other moulds the obedient calf's foot already announced its willingness
and intention to "gell" as she directed. Huldah's decks were cleared
again, her kitchen table fit to cut out "work" upon,--all the pans and
plates were put away, which accumulate so mysteriously where cooking is
going forward; on its nail hung the weary jigger, on its hook the spicy
grater, on the roller a fresh towel. Everything gave sign of victory,
the whole kitchen looking only a little nicer than usual. Huldah herself
was dressed for the afternoon, and so was the baby; and nobody but as
acute observers as you and I would have known that she had been in
action all along the line and had won the battle at every point, when
two o'clock came, the earliest moment at which her husband ever
returned.

Then for the first time it occurred to Huldah to look out doors and see
how fast the snow was gathering. She knew it was still falling. But the
storm was a quiet one, and she had had too much to do to be gaping out
of the windows. She went to the shed door, and to her amazement saw that
the north wood-pile was wholly drifted in! Nor could she, as she stood,
see the fences of the roadway!

Huldah ran back into the house, opened the parlor door and drew up the
curtain, to see that there were indeed no fences on the front of the
house to be seen. On the northwest, where the wind had full
sweep,--between her and the barn, the ground was bare. But all that
snow--and who should say how much more?--was piled up in front of her;
so that unless Huldah had known every landmark, she would not have
suspected that any road was ever there. She looked uneasily out at the
northwest windows, but she could not see an inch to windward: dogged
snow--snow--snow--as if it would never be done.

Huldah knew very well then that there was no husband for her in the next
hour, nor most like in the next or the next. She knew very well too what
she had to do; and, knowing it, she did it. She tied on her hood, and
buttoned tight around her her rough sack, passed through the shed and
crossed that bare strip to the barn, opened the door with some
difficulty, because snow was already drifting into the doorway, and
entered. She gave the cows and oxen their water and the two night horses
theirs,--went up into the loft and pitched down hay enough for
all,--went down stairs to the pigs and cared for them,--took one of the
barn shovels and cleared a path where she had had to plunge into the
snow at the doorway, took the shovel back, and then crossed home again
to her baby. She thought she saw the Empsons' chimney smoking as she
went home, and that seemed companionable. She took off her over-shoes,
sack, and hood, said aloud, "This will be a good stay-at-home day,"
brought round her desk to the kitchen table, and began on a nice long
letter to her brother Cephas in Seattle.

That letter was finished, eight good quarto pages written, and a long
delayed letter to Emily Tabor, whom Huldah had not seen since she was
married; and a long pull at her milk accounts had brought them up to
date,--and still no John. Huldah had the table all set, you may be sure
of that; but, for herself, she had had no heart to go through the
formalities of lunch or dinner. A cup of tea and something to eat with
it as she wrote did better, she thought, for her,--and she could eat
when the men came. It is a way women have. Not till it became quite
dark, and she set her kerosene lamp in the window that he might have a
chance to see it when he turned the Locust Grove corner, did Huldah once
feel herself lonely, or permit herself to wish that she did not live in
a place where she could be cut off from all her race. "If John had gone
into partnership with Joe Winter and we had lived in Boston." This was
the thought that crossed her mind. Dear Huldah,--from the end of one
summer to the beginning of the next, Joe Winter does not go home to his
dinner; and what you experience to-day, so far as absence from your
husband goes, is what his wife experiences in Boston ten months, save
Sundays, in every year.

I do not mean that Huldah winced or whined. Not she. Only she did think
"if." Then she sat in front of the stove and watched the coals, and for
a little while continued to think "if." Not long. Very soon she was
engaged in planning how she would arrange the table to-morrow,--whether
Mother Stevens should cut the chicken-pie, or whether she would have
that in front of her own mother. Then she fell to planning what she
would make for Cynthia's baby,--and then to wondering whether Cephas was
in earnest in that half nonsense he wrote about Sibyl Dyer,--and then
the clock struck six!

No bells yet,--no husband,--no anybody. Lantern out and lighted. Rubber
boots on, hood and sack. Shed-shovel in one hand, lantern in the other.
Roadway still bare, but a drift as high as Huldah's shoulders at the
barn door. Lantern on the ground; snow-shovel in both hands now. One,
two, three!--one cubic foot out. One, two, three!--another cubic foot
out. And so on, and so on, and so on, till the doorway is clear again.
Lantern in one hand, snow-shovel in the other, we enter the barn, draw
the water for cows and oxen,--we shake down more hay, and see to the
pigs again. This time we make beds of straw for the horses and the
cattle. Nay, we linger a minute or two, for there is something
companionable there. Then we shut them in, in the dark, and cross the
well-cleared roadway to the shed, and so home again. Certainly Mrs.
Empson's kerosene lamp is in her window. That must be her light which
gives a little halo in that direction in the falling snow. That looks
like society.

And this time Huldah undresses the baby, puts on her yellow flannel
night-gown,--makes the whole as long as it may be,--and then, still
making believe be jolly, lights another lamp, eats her own supper,
clears it away, and cuts into the new Harper which John had brought up
to her the day before.

But the Harper is dull reading to her, though generally so attractive.
And when her Plymouth-Hollow clock consents to strike eight at last,
Huldah, who has stinted herself to read till eight, gladly puts down the
"Travels in Arizona," which seem to her as much like the "Travels in
Peru," of the month before, as those had seemed like the "Travels in
Chinchilla." Rubber boots again,--lantern again,--sack and hood again.
The men will be in no case for milking when they come. So Huldah brings
together their pails,--takes her shovel once more and her lantern,--digs
out the barn drift again, and goes over to milk little Carry and big
Fanchon. For, though the milking of a hundred cows passes under those
roofs and out again every day, Huldah is far too conservative to abandon
the custom which she inherits from some Thorfinn or some Elfrida, and
her husband is well pleased to humor her in keeping in that barn always,
at least two of the choicest three-quarter blood cows that he can
choose, for the family supply. Only, in general, he or Reuben milks
them; as duties are divided there, this is not Huldah's share. But on
this eve of St. Spiridion the gentle creatures were glad when she came
in; and in two journeys back and forth Huldah had carried her
well-filled pails into her dairy. This helped along the hour, and just
after nine o'clock struck, she could hear the cheers of the men at last.
She ran out again with the ready lighted lantern to the shed-door,--in
an instant had on her boots and sack and hood, had crossed to the barn,
and slid open the great barn door,--and stood there with her
light,--another Hero for another Leander to buffet towards, through the
snow. A sight to see were the two men, to be sure! And a story, indeed,
they had to tell! On their different beats they had fought snow all day,
had been breaking roads with the help of the farmers where they could,
had had to give up more than half of the outlying farms, sending such
messages as they might, that the outlying farmers might bring down
to-morrow's milk to such stations as they could arrange, and, at last,
by good luck, had both met at the dépôt in the hollow, where each had
gone to learn at what hour the milk-train might be expected in the
morning. Little reason was there, indeed, to expect it at all. Nothing
had passed the station-master since the morning express, called
lightning by satire, had slowly pushed up with three or four engines
five hours behind its time, and just now had come down a messenger from
them that he should telegraph to Boston that they were all blocked up at
Tyler's Summit,--the snow drifting beneath their wheels faster than they
could clear it. Above, the station-master said, nothing whatever had yet
passed Winchendon. Five engines had gone out from Fitchburg eastward,
but in the whole day they had not come as far as Leominster. It was very
clear that no milk-train nor any other train would be on time the next
morning.

Such was, in brief, John's report to Huldah, when they had got to that
state of things in which a man can make a report; that is, after they
had rubbed dry the horses, had locked up the barn, after the men had
rubbed themselves dry, and had put on dry clothing, and after each of
them, sitting on the fire side of the table, had drunk his first cup of
tea, and eaten his first square cubit of dipped-toast. After the
dipped-toast, they were going to begin on Huldah's fried potatoes and
sausages.

Huldah heard their stories with all their infinite little details; knew
every corner and turn by which they had husbanded strength and life; was
grateful to the Corbetts and Varnums and Prescotts and the rest, who,
with their oxen and their red right hands, had given such loyal help for
the common good; and she heaved a deep sigh when the story ended with
the verdict of the failure of the whole,--"No trains on time to-morrow."

"Bad for the Boston babies," said Reuben bluntly, giving words to what
the others were feeling. "Poor little things!" said Huldah, "Alice has
been so pretty all day." And she gulped down just one more sigh,
disgusted with herself, as she remembered that "if" of the
afternoon,--"if John had only gone into partnership with Joe Winter."


IV.

HOW THEY BROKE THE BLOCKADE.

Three o'clock in the morning saw Huldah's fire burning in the stove, her
water boiling in the kettle, her slices of ham broiling on the gridiron,
and quarter-past three saw the men come across from the barn, where they
had been shaking down hay for the cows and horses, and yoking the oxen
for the terrible onset of the day. It was bright star-light
above,--thank Heaven for that. This strip of three hundred thousand
square miles of snow cloud, which had been drifting steadily cast over a
continent, was, it seemed, only twenty hours wide,--say two hundred
miles, more or less,--and at about midnight its last flecks had fallen,
and all the heaven was washed black and clear. The men were well rested
by those five hours of hard sleep. They were fitly dressed for their
great encounter and started cheerily upon it, as men who meant to do
their duty, and to both of whom, indeed, the thought had come, that life
and death might be trembling in their hands. They did not take out the
pungs to-day, nor, of course, the horses. Such milk as they had
collected on St. Victoria's day they had stored already at the station,
and at Stacy's; and the best they could do to-day would be to break open
the road from the Four Corners to the station, that they might place as
many cans as possible there before the down-train came. From the house,
then, they had only to drive down their oxen that they might work with
the other teams from the Four Corners; and it was only by begging him,
that Huldah persuaded Reuben to take one lunch-can for them both. Then,
as Reuben left the door, leaving John to kiss her "good-by," and to tell
her not to be alarmed if they did not come home at night,--she gave to
John the full milk-can into which she had poured every drop of Carry's
milk, and said, "It will be one more; and God knows what child may be
crying for it now."

So they parted for eight and twenty hours; and in place of Huldah's
first state party of both families, she and Alice reigned solitary that
day, and held their little court with never a suitor. And when her
lunch-time came, Huldah looked half-mournfully, half-merrily, on her
array of dainties prepared for the feast, and she would not touch one of
them. She toasted some bread before the fire, made a cup of tea, boiled
an egg, and would not so much as set the table. As has been before
stated, this is the way with women.

And of the men, who shall tell the story of the pluck and endurance, of
the unfailing good-will, of the resource in strange emergency, of the
mutual help and common courage with which all the men worked that day
on that well-nigh hopeless task of breaking open the highway from the
Corners to the station? Well-nigh hopeless, indeed; for although at
first, with fresh cattle and united effort, they made in the hours,
which passed so quickly up to ten o'clock, near two miles headway, and
had brought yesterday's milk thus far,--more than half way to their
point of delivery,--at ten o'clock it was quite evident that this sharp
northwest wind, which told so heavily on the oxen and even on the men,
was filling in the very roadway they had opened, and so was cutting them
off from their base, and, by its new drifts, was leaving the roadway for
to-day's milk even worse than it was when they began. In one of those
extemporized councils, then,--such as fought the battle of Bunker Hill,
and threw the tea into Boston harbor,--it was determined, at ten
o'clock, to divide the working parties. The larger body should work back
to the Four Corners, and by proper relays keep that trunk line of road
open, if they could; while six yoke, with their owners, still pressing
forward to the station, should make a new base at Lovejoy's, where, when
these oxen gave out, they could be put up at his barn. It was quite
clear, indeed, to the experts that that time was not far distant.

And so, indeed, it proved. By three in the afternoon, John and Reuben
and the other leaders of the advance party--namely, the whole of it, for
such is the custom of New England--gathered around the fire at
Lovejoy's, conscious that after twelve hours of such battle as Pavia
never saw, nor Roncesvalles, they were defeated at every point but one.
Before them the mile of road which they had made in the steady work of
hours was drifted in again as smooth as the surrounding pastures, only
if possible a little more treacherous for the labor which they had
thrown away upon it. The oxen which had worked kindly and patiently,
well handled by good-tempered men, yet all confused and half dead with
exposure, could do no more. Well, indeed, if those that had been stalled
fast, and had had to stand in that biting wind after gigantic effort,
escaped with their lives from such exposure. All that the men had gained
was that they had advanced their first dépôt of milk--two hundred and
thirty-nine cans--as far as Lovejoy's. What supply might have worked
down to the Four Corners behind them, they did not know and hardly
cared, their communications that way being well-nigh cut off again. What
they thought of, and planned for, was simply how these cans at Lovejoy's
could be put on any downward train. For by this time they knew that all
trains would have lost their grades and their names, and that this milk
would go into Boston by the first engine that went there, though it rode
on the velvet of a palace car.

What train this might be, they did not know. From the hill above
Lovejoy's they could see poor old Dix, the station-master, with his wife
and boys, doing his best to make an appearance of shovelling in front of
his little station. But Dix's best was but little, for he had but one
arm, having lost the other in a collision, and so as a sort of pension
the company had placed him at this little flag-station, where was a roof
over his head, a few tickets to sell, and generally very little else to
do. It was clear enough that no working parties on the railroad had
worked up to Dix, or had worked down; nor was it very likely that any
would before night, unless the railroad people had better luck with
their drifts than our friends had found. But, as to this, who should
say? Snow-drifts are "mighty onsartain." The line of that road is in
general northwest, and to-day's wind might have cleaned out its gorges
as persistently as it had filled up our crosscuts. From Lovejoy's barn
they could see that the track was now perfectly clear for the half mile
where it crossed the Prescott meadows.

I am sorry to have been so long in describing thus the aspect of the
field after the first engagement. But it was on this condition of
affairs that, after full conference, the enterprises of the night were
determined. Whatever was to be done was to be done by men. And after
thorough regale on Mrs. Lovejoy's green tea, and continual return to her
constant relays of thin bacon gilded by unnumbered eggs; after cutting
and coming again upon unnumbered mince-pies, which, I am sorry to say,
did not in any point compare well with Huldah's,--each man thrust many
doughnuts into his outside pockets, drew on the long boots again, and
his buckskin gloves and mittens, and, unencumbered now by the care of
animals, started on the work of the evening. The sun was just taking his
last look at them from the western hills, where Reuben and John could
see Huldah's chimney smoking. The plan was, by taking a double hand-sled
of Lovejoy's, and by knocking together two or three more,
jumper-fashion, to work their way across the meadow to the railroad
causeway, and establish a milk dépôt there, where the line was not half
a mile from Lovejoy's. By going and coming often, following certain
tracks well known to Lovejoy on the windward side of walls and fences,
these eight men felt quite sure that by midnight they could place all
their milk at the spot where the old farm crossing strikes the railroad.
Meanwhile, Silas Lovejoy, a boy of fourteen, was to put on a pair of
snow-shoes, go down to the station, state the case to old Dix, and get
from him a red lantern and permission to stop the first train where it
swept out from the Pitman cut upon the causeway. Old Dix had no more
right to give this permission than had the humblest street-sweeper in
Ispahan, and this they all knew. But the fact that Silas had asked for
it would show a willingness on their part to submit to authority, if
authority there had been. This satisfied the New England love of law, on
the one hand. On the other hand, the train would be stopped, and this
satisfied the New England determination to get the thing done any way.
To give additional force to Silas, John provided him with a note to Dix,
and it was generally agreed that if Dix wasn't ugly, he would give the
red lantern and the permission. Silas was then to work up the road and
station himself as far beyond the curve as he could, and stop the first
down-train. He was to tell the conductor where the men were waiting with
the milk, was to come down to them on the train, and his duty would be
done. Lest Dix should be ugly, Silas was provided with Lovejoy's only
lantern, but he was directed not to show this at the station until his
interview was finished. Silas started cheerfully on his snow-shoes; John
and Lovejoy, at the same time, starting with the first hand-sled of the
cans. First of all into the sled, John put Huldah's well-known can, a
little shorter than the others, and with a different handle. "Whatever
else went to Boston," he said, "that can was bound to go through."

They established the basis of their pyramid, and met the three new
jumpers with their makers as they went back for more. This party
enlarged the base of the pyramid; and, as they worked, Silas passed them
cheerfully with his red lantern. Old Dix had not been ugly, had given
the lantern and all the permission he had to give, and had communicated
some intelligence also. The intelligence was, that an accumulated force
of seven engines, with a large working party, had left Groton Junction
downward at three. Nothing had arrived upward at Groton Junction; and,
from Boston, Dix learned that nothing more would leave there till early
morning. No trains had arrived in Boston from any quarter for
twenty-four hours. So long the blockade had lasted already.

On this intelligence, it was clear that, with good luck, the down-train
might reach them at any moment. Still the men resolved to leave their
milk, while they went back for more, relying on Silas and the "large
working party" to put it on the cars, if the train chanced to pass
before any of them returned. So back they fared to Lovejoy's for their
next relay, and met John and Reuben working in successfully with their
second. But no one need have hurried; for, as trip after trip they built
their pyramid of cans higher and higher, no welcome whistle broke the
stillness of the night, and by ten o'clock, when all these cans were in
place by the rail, the train had not yet come.

John and Reuben then proposed to go up into the cut, and to relieve poor
Silas, who had not been heard from since he swung along so cheerfully
like an "Excelsior" boy on his way up the Alps. But they had hardly
started, when a horn from the meadow recalled them, and, retracing their
way, they met a messenger who had come in to say that a fresh team from
the Four Corners had been reported at Lovejoy's, with a dozen or more
men, who had succeeded in bringing down nearly as far as Lovejoy's
mowing-lot near a hundred more cans; that it was quite possible in two
or three hours more to bring this over also,--and, although the first
train was probably now close at hand, it was clearly worth while to
place this relief in readiness for a second. So poor Silas was left for
the moment to his loneliness, and Reuben and John returned again upon
their steps. They passed the house where they found Mrs. Lovejoy and
Mrs. Stacy at work in the shed, finishing off two more jumpers, and
claiming congratulation for their skill, and after a cup of tea
again,--for no man touched spirit that day nor that night,--they
reported at the new station by the mowing-lot.

And Silas Lovejoy--who had turned the corner into the Pitman cut, and so
shut himself out from sight of the station light, or his father's
windows, or the lanterns of the party at the pyramid of cans--Silas
Lovejoy held his watch there, hour by hour, with such courage as the
sense of the advance gives boy or man. He had not neglected to take the
indispensable shovel as he came. In going over the causeway he had
slipped off the snow-shoes and hung them on his back. Then there was
heavy wading as he turned into the Pitman cut, knee deep, middle deep,
and he laid his snow-shoes on the snow and set the red lantern on them,
as he reconnoitred. Middle deep, neck deep, and he fell forward on his
face into the yielding mass. "This will not do, I must not fall like
that often," said Silas to himself, as he gained his balance and threw
himself backward against the mass. Slowly he turned round, worked back
to the lantern, worked out to the causeway, and fastened on the shoes
again. With their safer help he easily skimmed up to Pitman's bridge,
which he had determined on for his station. He knew that thence his
lantern could be seen for a mile, and that yet there the train might
safely be stopped, so near was the open causeway which he had just
traversed. He had no fear of an up-train behind him.

So Silas walked back and forth, and sang, and spouted "pieces," and
mused on the future of his life, and spouted "pieces" again, and sang in
the loneliness. How the time passed, he did not know. No sound of clock,
no baying of dog, no plash of waterfall, broke that utter stillness. The
wind, thank God, had at last died away; and Silas paced his beat in a
long oval he made for himself, under and beyond the bridge, with no
sound but his own voice when he chose to raise it. He expected, as they
all did, that every moment the whistle of the train, as it swept into
sight a mile or more away, would break the silence; so he paced, and
shouted, and sang.

"This is a man's duty," he said to himself: "they would not let me go
with the fifth regiment,--not as a drummer boy; but this is duty such as
no drummer boy of them all is doing. Company, march!" and he "stepped
forward smartly" with his left foot. "Really I am placed on guard here
quite as much as if I were on picket in Virginia." "Who goes there?"
"Advance, friend, and give the countersign." Not that any one did go
there, or could go there; but the boy's fancy was ready, and so he
amused himself during the first hours. Then he began to wonder whether
they were hours, as they seemed, or whether this was all a wretched
illusion,--that the time passed slowly to him because he was nothing but
a boy, and did not know how to occupy his mind. So he resolutely said
the multiplication-table from the beginning to the end, and from the end
to the beginning,--first to himself, and again aloud, to make it slower.
Then he tried the ten commandments. "Thou shalt have none other Gods
before me:" easy to say that beneath those stars; and he said them
again. No, it is no illusion. I must have been here hours long! Then he
began on Milton's hymn:--

      "It was the winter wild,
      While the heaven-born child,
    All meanly wrapt, in the rude manger lies."

"Winter wild, indeed," said Silas aloud; and, if he had only known it,
at that moment the sun beneath his feet was crossing the meridian,
midnight had passed already, and Christmas day was born!

        "Only with speeches fair
        She wooes the gentle air
    To hide her guilty front with innocent snow."

"Innocent, indeed," said poor Silas, still aloud, "much did he know of
innocent snow!" And vainly did he try to recall the other stanzas, as he
paced back and forth, round and round, and began now to wonder where his
father and the others were, and if they could have come to any
misfortune. Surely, they could not have forgotten that he was here.
Would that train never come?

If he were not afraid of its coming at once, he would have run back to
the causeway to look for their lights,--and perhaps they had a fire. Why
had he not brought an axe for a fire? "That rail fence above would have
served perfectly,--nay, it is not five rods to a load of hickory we left
the day before Thanksgiving. Surely one of them might come up to me with
an axe. But maybe there is trouble below. They might have come with an
axe--with an axe--with an axe--with an--axe"--"I am going to sleep,"
cried Silas,--aloud again this time,--as his head dropped heavily on the
handle of the shovel he was resting on there in the lee of the stone
wall. "I am going to sleep,--that will never do. Sentinel asleep at his
post. Order out the relief. Blind his eyes. Kneel, sir. Make ready.
Fire. That, sir, for sentinels asleep." And so Silas laughed grimly, and
began his march again. Then he took his shovel and began a great pit
where he supposed the track might be beneath him. "Anything to keep warm
and to keep awake. But why did they not send up to him? Why was he here?
Why was he all alone? He who had never been alone before. Was he alone?
Was there companionship in the stars,--or in the good God who held the
stars? Did the good God put me here? If he put me here, will he keep me
here? Or did he put me here to die! To die in this cold? It is cold,--it
is very cold! Is there any good in my dying? The train will run down,
and they will see a dead body lying under the bridge,--black on the
snow, with a red lantern by it. Then they will stop. Shall I--I
will--just go back to see if the lights are at the bend. I will leave
the lantern here on the edge of this wall!" And so Silas turned, half
benumbed, worked his way nearly out of the gorge, and started as he
heard, or thought he heard, a baby's scream. "A thousand babies are
starving, and I am afraid to stay here to give them their life," he
said. "There is a boy fit for a soldier! Order out the relief! Drum-head
court-martial! Prisoner, hear your sentence! Deserter, to be shot!
Blindfold,--kneel, sir! Fire! Good enough for deserters!" And so poor
Silas worked back again to the lantern.

And now he saw and felt sure that Orion was bending downward, and he
knew that the night must be broken; and, with some new hope, throwing
down the shovel with which he had been working, he began his soldier
tramp once more,--as far as soldier tramp was possible with those
trailing snow-shoes,--tried again on "No war nor battle sound," broke
down on "Cynthia's seat" and the "music of the spheres;" but at
last,--working on "beams," "long beams," and "that with long beams,"--he
caught the stanzas he was feeling for, and broke out exultant with,--

      "At last surrounds their sight,
      A globe of circular light
    That with long beams the shame-faced night arrayed;
      The helmed cherubim
      And sworded seraphim
    Are seen in glittering ranks--"

"Globe of circular light--am I dreaming, or have they come!"--

Come they had! The globe of circular light swept full over the valley,
and the scream of the engine was welcomed by the freezing boy as if it
had been an angel's whisper to him. Not unprepared did it find him. The
red lantern swung to and fro in a well-practised hand, and he was in
waiting on his firmest spot as the train _slowed_ and the engine passed
him.

"Do not stop for me," he cried, as he threw his weight heavily on the
tender side, and the workmen dragged him in. "Only run slow till you are
out of the ledge: we have made a milk station at the cross-road."

"Good for you!" said the wondering fireman, who in a moment understood
the exigency. The heavy plough threw out the snow steadily still, in ten
seconds they were clear of the ledge, and saw the fire-light shimmering
on the great pyramids of milk-cans. Slower and slower ran the train,
and by the blazing fire stopped, for once, because its masters chose to
stop. And the working party on the train cheered lustily as they tumbled
out of the cars, as they apprehended the situation, and were cheered by
the working party from the village.

Two or three cans of milk stood on the embers of the fire, that they
might be ready for the men on the train with something that was at least
warm. An empty passenger car was opened and the pyramids of milk-cans
were hurried into it,--forty men now assisting.

"You will find Joe Winter at the Boston station," said John Stevens to
the "gentlemanly conductor" of the express, whose lightning train had
thus become a milk convoy. "Tell Winter to distribute this among all the
carts, that everybody may have some. Good luck to you. Good-by!" And the
engines snorted again, and John Stevens turned back, not so much as
thinking that he had made his Christmas present to a starving town.


V.

CHRISTMAS MORNING.

The children were around Robert Walter's knees, and each of the two
spelled out a verse of the second chapter of Luke, on Christmas morning.
And Robert and Mary kneeled with them, and they said together, "Our
Father who art in heaven." Mary's voice broke a little when they came to
"daily bread," but with the two, and her husband, she continued to the
end, and could say "thine is the power," and believe it too.

"Mamma," whispered little Fanny, as she kissed her mother after the
prayer, "when I said my prayer up stairs last night, I said 'our daily
milk,' and so did Robert." This was more than poor Mary could bear. She
kissed the child, and she hurried away.

For last night at six o'clock it was clear that the milk was sour, and
little Jamie had detected it first of all. Then, with every one of the
old wiles, they had gone back over the old slops; but the child, with
that old weird strength, had pushed them all away. Christmas morning
broke, and poor Robert, as soon as light would serve, had gone to the
neighbors all,--their nearest intimates they had tried the night
before,--and from all had brought back the same reply; one friend had
sent a wretched sample, but the boy detected the taint and pushed it,
untasted, away. Dr. Morton had the alarm the day before. He was at the
house earlier than usual with some condensed milk, which his wife's
stores had furnished; but that would not answer. Poor Jamie pushed this
by. There was some smoke or something,--who should say what?--it would
not do. The doctor could see in an instant how his patient had fallen
back in the night. That weird, anxious, entreating look, as his head lay
back on the little pillow, had all come back again. Robert and Robert's
friends, Gaisford and Warren, had gone down to the Old Colony, to the
Worcester, and to the Hartford stations. Perhaps their trains were doing
better. The door-bell rang yet again. "Mrs. Appleton's love to Mrs.
Walter, and perhaps her child will try some fresh beef-tea." As if poor
Jamie did not hate beef-tea; still Morton resolutely forced three
spoonfuls down. Half an hour more and Mrs. Dudley's compliments. "Mrs.
Dudley heard that Mrs. Walter was out of milk, and took the liberty to
send round some very particularly nice Scotch groats, which her brother
had just brought from Edinburgh." "Do your best with it, Fanny," said
poor Mary, but she knew that if Jamie took those Scotch groats it was
only because they were a Christmas present. Half an hour more! Three
more spoonfuls of beef-tea after a fight. Door-bell again. Carriage at
the door. "Would Mrs. Walter come down and see Mrs. Fitch? It was really
very particular." Mary was half dazed, and went down, she did not know
why.

"Dear Mrs. Walter, you do not remember me," said this eager girl,
crossing the room and taking her by both hands.

"Why, no--yes--do I?" said Mary, crying and laughing together.

"Yes, you will remember, it was at church, at the baptism. My Jennie and
your Jamie were christened the same day. And now I hear,--we all know
how low he is,--and perhaps he will share my Jennie's breakfast. Dear
Mrs. Walter, do let me try."

Then Mary saw that the little woman's cloak and hat were already thrown
off,--which had not seemed strange to her before,--and the two passed
quietly up stairs together; and Julia Fitch bent gently over him, and
cooed to him, and smiled to him, but could not make the poor child
smile. And they lifted him so gently on the pillow,--but only to hear
him scream. And she brought his head gently to her heart, and drew back
the little curtain that was left, and offered to him her life; but he
was frightened, and did not know her, and had forgotten what it was she
gave him, and screamed again; and so they had to lay him back gently
upon the pillow. And then,--as Julia was saying she would stay, and how
they could try again, and could do this and that,--then the door-bell
rang again, and Mrs. Coleman had herself come round with a little white
pitcher, and herself ran up stairs with it, and herself knocked at the
door!

The blockade was broken, and

THE MILK HAD COME!

       *       *       *       *       *

Mary never knew that it was from Huldah Stevens's milk-can that her boy
drank in the first drop of his new life. Nor did Huldah know it. Nor
did John know it, nor the paladins who fought that day at his side. Nor
did Silas Lovejoy know it.

But the good God and all good angels knew it. Why ask for more?

And you and I, dear reader, if we can forget that always our daily bread
comes to us, because a thousand brave men and a thousand brave women are
at work in the world, praying to God and trying to serve him, we will
not forget it as we meet at breakfast on this blessed Christmas day!



STAND AND WAIT.


I.

CHRISTMAS EVE.

"They've come! they've come!"

This was the cry of little Herbert as he ran in from the square stone
which made the large doorstep of the house. Here he had been watching, a
self-posted sentinel, for the moment when the carriage should turn the
corner at the bottom of the hill.

"They've come! they've come!" echoed joyfully through the house; and the
cry penetrated out into the extension, or ell, in which the grown
members of the family were, in the kitchen, "getting tea" by some
formulas more solemn than ordinary.

"Have they come?" cried Grace; and she set her skillet back to the
quarter-deck, or after-part of the stove, lest its white contents
should burn while she was away. She threw a waiting handkerchief over
her shoulders, and ran with the others to the front door, to wave
something white, and to be in at the first welcome.

Young and old were gathered there in that hospitable open space where
the side road swept up to the barn on its way from the main road. The
bigger boys of the home party had scattered half-way down the hill by
this time. Even grandmamma had stepped down from the stone, and walked
half-way to the roadway. Every one was waving something. Those who had
no handkerchiefs had hats or towels to wave; and the more advanced boys
began an undefined or irregular cheer.

But the carryall advanced slowly up the hill, with no answering
handkerchief, and no bonneted head stretched out from the side. And, as
it neared Sam and Andrew, their enthusiasm could be seen to droop, and
George and Herbert stopped their cheers as it came up to them; and
before it was near the house, on its grieved way up the hill, the bad
news had come up before it, as bad news will,--"She has not come, after
all."

It was Huldah Root, Grace's older sister, who had not come. John Root,
their father, had himself driven down to the station to meet her; and
Abner, her oldest brother, had gone with him. It was two years since she
had been at home, and the whole family was on tiptoe to welcome her.
Hence the unusual tea preparation; hence the sentinel on the doorstep;
hence the general assembly in the yard; and, after all, she had not
come! It was a wretched disappointment. Her mother had that heavy,
silent look, which children take as the heaviest affliction of all, when
they see it in their mother's faces. John Root himself led the horse
into the barn, as if he did not care now for anything which might happen
in heaven above or in earth beneath. The boys were voluble in their
rage: "It is too bad!" and, "Grandmamma, don't you think it is too bad?"
and, "It is the meanest thing I ever heard of in all my life!" and,
"Grace, why don't you say anything? did you ever know anything so mean?"
As for poor Grace herself, she was quite beyond saying anything. All the
treasured words she had laid up to say to Huldah; all the doubts and
hopes and guesses, which were secret to all but God, but which were to
be poured out in Huldah's ear as soon as they were alone, were coming
up one by one, as if to choke her. She had waited so long for this
blessed fortnight of sympathy, and now she had lost it. Grace could say
nothing. And poor grandmamma, on whom fell the stilling of the boys, was
at heart as wretched as any of them.

Somehow, something got itself put on the supper-table; and, when John
Root and Abner came in from the barn, they all sat down to pretend to
eat something. What a miserable contrast to the Christmas eve party
which had been expected!

The observance of Christmas is quite a novelty in the heart of New
England among the lords of the manor. Winslow and Brewster, above
Plymouth Rock, celebrated their first Christmas by making all hands work
all day in the raising of their first house. It was in that way that a
Christian empire was begun. They builded better than they knew. They and
theirs, in that hard day's work, struck the key-note for New England for
two centuries and a half. And many and many a New Englander, still in
middle life, remembers that in childhood, though nurtured in Christian
homes, he could not have told, if he were asked, on what day of the
year Christmas fell. But as New England, in the advance of the world,
has come into the general life of the world, she has shown no inaptitude
for the greater enjoyments of life; and, with the true catholicity of
her great Congregational system, her people and her churches seize, one
after another, all the noble traditions of the loftiest memories. And so
in this matter we have in hand; it happened that the Roots, in their
hillside home, had determined that they would celebrate Christmas, as
never had Roots done before since Josiah Root landed at Salem, from the
"Hercules," with other Kentish people, in 1635. Abner and Gershom had
cut and trimmed a pretty fir-balsam from the edge of the Hotchkiss
clearing; and it was now in the best parlor. Grace, with Mary Bickford,
her firm ally and other self, had gilded nuts, and rubbed lady apples,
and strung popped corn; and the tree had been dressed in secret, the
youngsters all locked and warned out from the room. The choicest turkeys
of the drove, and the tenderest geese from the herd, and the plumpest
fowls from the barnyard, had been sacrificed on consecrated altars. And
all this was but as accompaniment and side illustration of the great
glory of the celebration, which was, that Huldah, after her two years'
absence,--Huldah was to come home.

And now she had not come,--nay, was not coming!

As they sat down at their Barmecide feast, how wretched the assemblage
of unrivalled dainties seemed! John Root handed to his wife their
daughter's letter; she read it, and gave it to Grace, who read it, and
gave it to her grandmother. No one read it aloud. To read aloud in such
trials is not the custom of New England.

        Boston, Dec. 24, 1848.

    DEAR FATHER AND MOTHER,--It is dreadful to disappoint you all,
    but I cannot come. I am all ready, and this goes by the carriage
    that was to take me to the cars. But our dear little Horace has
    just been brought home, I am afraid, dying; but we cannot tell,
    and I cannot leave him. You know there is really no one who can
    do what I can. He was riding on his pony. First the pony came
    home alone; and, in five minutes after, two policemen brought
    the dear child in a carriage. His poor mother is very calm, but
    cannot think yet, or do anything. We have sent for his father,
    who is down town. I try to hope that he may come to himself; but
    he only lies and draws long breaths on his little bed. The
    doctors are with him now; and I write this little scrawl to say
    how dreadfully sorry I am. A merry Christmas to you all. Do not
    be troubled about me.

        Your own loving
            HULDAH.

    P.S. I have got some little presents for the children; but they
    are all in my trunk, and I cannot get them out now. I will make
    a bundle Monday. Good-by. The man is waiting.

This was the letter that was passed from hand to hand, of which the
contents slowly trickled into the comprehension of all parties,
according as their several ages permitted them to comprehend. Sam, as
usual, broke the silence by saying,--

"It is a perfect shame! She might as well be a nigger slave! I suppose
they think they have bought her and sold her. I should like to see 'em
all, just for once, and tell 'em that her flesh and blood is as good as
theirs; and that, with all their airs and their money, they've no
business to"--

"Sam," said poor Grace, "you shall not say such things. Huldah has
stayed because she chose to stay; and that is the worst of it. She will
not think of herself, not for one minute; and so--everything happens."

And Grace was sobbing beyond speech again; and her intervention
amounted, therefore, to little or nothing. The boys, through the
evening, descanted among themselves on the outrage. Grandmamma, and at
last their mother, took successive turns in taming their indignation;
but, for all this, it was a miserable evening. As for John Root, he took
a lamp in one hand, and "The Weekly Tribune" in the other, and sat
before the fire, and pretended to read; but not once did John Root
change the fold of the paper that evening. It was a wretched Christmas
eve; and, at half-past eight, every light was out, and every member of
the household was lying stark awake, in bed.

       *       *       *       *       *

Huldah Root, you see, was a servant with the Bartletts, in Boston. When
she was only sixteen, she was engaged at her "trade," as a vest-maker,
in that town; and, by some chance, made an appointment to sew as a
seamstress at Mrs. Bartlett's for a fortnight. There were any number of
children to be clothed there; and the fortnight extended to a month.
Then the month became two months. She grew fond of Mrs. Bartlett,
because Mrs. Bartlett grew fond of her. The children adored her; and she
kept an eye to them; and it ended in her engaging to spend the winter
there, half-seamstress, half-nurse, half-nursery-governess, and a little
of everything. From such a beginning, it had happened that she had lived
there six years, in confidential service. She could cook better than
anybody in the house,--better than Mrs. Bartlett herself; but it was not
often that she tried her talent there. On a birthday perhaps, in August,
she would make huckleberry cakes, by the old homestead "receipt," for
the children. She had the run of all their clothes as nobody else did;
took the younger ones to be measured; and saw that none of the older
ones went out with a crack in a seam, or a rough edge at the foot of a
trowser. It was whispered that Minnie had rather go into the sewing-room
to get Huldah to "show her" about "alligation" or "square-root," than
to wait for Miss Thurber's explanations in the morning. In fifty such
ways, it happened that Huldah--who, on the roll-call of the census-man,
probably rated as a nursery-maid in the house--was the confidential
friend of every member of the family, from Mr. Bartlett, who wanted to
know where "The Intelligencer" was, down to the chore-boy who came in to
black the shoes. And so it was, that, when poor little Horace was
brought in with his skull knocked in by the pony, Huldah was--and
modestly knew that she was--the most essential person in the stunned
family circle.

While her brothers and sisters were putting out their lights at New
Durham, heart-sick and wounded, Huldah was sitting in that still room,
where only the rough broken breathing of poor Horace broke the sound.
She was changing, once in ten minutes, the ice-water cloths; was feeling
of his feet sometimes; wetting his tongue once or twice in an hour;
putting her finger to his pulse with a native sense, which needed no
second-hand to help it; and all the time, with the thought of him, was
remembering how grieved and hurt and heart-broken they were at home.
Every half-hour or less, a pale face appeared at the door; and Huldah
just slid across the room, and said, "He is really doing nicely, pray
lie down;" or, "His pulse is surely better, I will certainly come to you
if it flags;" or "Pray trust me, I will not let you wait a moment if he
needs you;" or, "Pray get ready for to-morrow. An hour's sleep now will
be worth everything to you then." And the poor mother would crawl back
to her baby and her bed, and pretend to try to sleep; and in half an
hour would appear again at the door. One o'clock, two o'clock, three
o'clock. How companionable Dr. Lowell's clock seems when one is sitting
up so, with no one else to talk to! Four o'clock at last; it is really
growing to be quite intimate. Five o'clock. "If I were in dear Durham
now, one of the roosters would be calling,"--Six o'clock. Poor Horace
stirs, turns, flings his arm over. "Mother--O Huldah! is it you? How
nice that is!" And he is unconscious again; but he had had sense enough
to know her. What a blessed Christmas present that is, to tell that to
his poor mother when she slides in at daybreak, and says, "You shall go
to bed now, dear child. You see I am very fresh; and you must rest
yourself, you know. Do you really say he knew you? Are you sure he knew
you? Why, Huldah, what an angel of peace you are!"

So opened Huldah's Christmas morning.

       *       *       *       *       *

Days of doubt, nights of watching. Every now and then the boy knows his
mother, his father, or Huldah. Then will come this heavy stupor which is
so different from sleep. At last the surgeons have determined that a
piece of the bone must come away. There is the quiet gathering of the
most skilful at the determined hour; there is the firm table for the
little fellow to lie on; here is the ether and the sponge; and, of
course, here and there, and everywhere, is Huldah. She can hold the
sponge, or she can fetch and carry; she can answer at once if she is
spoken to; she can wait, if it is waiting; she can act, if it is acting.
At last the wretched little button, which has been pressing on our poor
boy's brain, is lifted safely out. It is in Morton's hand; he smiles and
nods at Huldah as she looks inquiry, and she knows he is satisfied. And
does not the poor child himself, even in his unconscious sleep, draw
his breath more lightly than he did before? All is well.

"Who do you say that young woman is?" says Dr. Morton to Mr. Bartlett,
as he draws on his coat in the doorway after all is over. "Could we not
tempt her over to the General Hospital?"

"No, I think not. I do not think we can spare her."

The boy Horace is new-born that day; a New Year's gift to his mother. So
pass Huldah's holidays.


II.

CHRISTMAS AGAIN.

Fourteen years make of the boy whose pony has been too much for him a
man equal to any prank of any pony. Fourteen years will do this, even to
boys of ten. Horace Bartlett is the colonel of a cavalry regiment,
stationed just now in West Virginia; and, as it happens, this
twenty-four-year-old boy has an older commission than anybody in that
region, and is the Post Commander at Talbot C. H., and will be, most
likely, for the winter. The boy has a vein of foresight in him; a good
deal of system; and, what is worth while to have by the side of system,
some knack of order. So soon as he finds that he is responsible, he
begins to prepare for responsibility. His staff-officers are boys too;
but they are all friends, and all mean to do their best. His
Surgeon-in-Charge took his degree at Washington last spring; that is
encouraging. Perhaps, if he has not much experience, he has, at least,
the latest advices. His head is level too; he means to do his best, such
as it is; and, indeed, all hands in that knot of boy counsellors will
not fail for laziness or carelessness. Their very youth makes them
provident and grave.

So among a hundred other letters, as October opens, Horace writes
this:--

        TALBOT COURT HOUSE, VA.,
            Oct. 3, 1863.

    DEAR HULDAH,--Here we are still, as I have been explaining to
    father; and, as you will see by my letter to him, here we are
    like to stay. Thus far we are doing sufficiently well. As I have
    told him, if my plans had been adopted we should have been
    pushed rapidly forward up the valley of the Yellow Creek;
    Badger's corps would have been withdrawn from before Winchester;
    Wilcox and Steele together would have threatened Early; and
    then, by a rapid flank movement, we should have pounced down on
    Longstreet (not the great Longstreet, but little Longstreet),
    and compelled him to uncover Lynchburg; we could have blown up
    the dams and locks on the canal, made a freshet to sweep all the
    obstructions out of James River, and then, if they had shown
    half as much spirit on the Potomac, all of us would be in
    Richmond for our Christmas dinner. But my plans, as usual, were
    not asked for, far less taken. So, as I said, here we are.

    Well, I have been talking with Lawrence Worster, my
    Surgeon-in-Charge, who is a very good fellow. His sick-list is
    not bad now, and he does not mean to have it bad; but he says
    that he is not pleased with the ways of his ward-masters; and it
    was his suggestion, not mine, mark you, that I should see if one
    or two of the Sanitary women would not come as far as this to
    make things decent. So, of course, I write to you. Don't you
    think mother could spare you to spend the winter here? It will
    be rough, of course; but it is all in the good cause. Perhaps
    you know some nice women,--well, not like you, of course; but
    still, disinterested and sensible, who would come too. Think of
    this carefully, I beg you, and talk to father and mother.
    Worster says we may have three hundred boys in hospital before
    Christmas. If Jubal Early should come this way, I don't know how
    many more. Talk with mother and father.

        Always yours,
            HORACE BARTLETT.

    P. S. I have shown Worster what I have written; he encloses a
    sort of official letter which may be of use. He says, "Show this
    to Dr. Hayward; get them to examine you and the others, and then
    the government, on his order, will pass you on." I enclose this,
    because, if you come, it will save time.

Of course Huldah went. Grace Starr, her married sister, went with her,
and Mrs. Philbrick, and Anna Thwart. That was the way they happened to
be all together in the Methodist Church that had been, of Talbot Court
House, as Christmas holidays drew near, of the year of grace, 1863.

She and her friends had been there quite long enough to be wonted to the
strangeness of December in the open air. On her little table in front of
the desk of the church were three or four buttercups in bloom, which she
had gathered in an afternoon walk, with three or four heads of
hawksweed. "The beginning of one year," Huldah said, "with the end of
the other." Nay, there was even a stray rose which Dr. Sprigg had found
in a farmer's garden. Huldah came out from the vestry, where her own bed
was, in the gray of the morning, changed the water for the poor little
flowers, sat a moment at the table to look at last night's memoranda,
and then beckoned to the ward-master, and asked him, in a whisper, what
was the movement she had heard in the night,--"Another alarm from
Early?"

"No, Miss; not an alarm. I saw the Colonel's orderly as he passed. He
stopped here for Dr. Fenno's case. There had come down an express from
General Mitchell, and the men were called without the bugle, each man
separately; not a horse was to neigh, if they could help it. And really,
Miss, they were off in twenty minutes."

"Off, who are off?"

"The whole post, Miss, except the relief for to-day. There are not fifty
men in the village besides us here. The orderly thought they were to go
down to Braxton's; but he did not know."

Here was news indeed! news so exciting that Huldah went back at once,
and called the other women; and then all of them together began on that
wretched business of waiting. They had never yet known what it was to
wait for a real battle. They had had their beds filled with this and
that patient from one or another post, and had some gun-shot wounds of
old standing among the rest; but this was their first battle if it were
a battle. So the covers were taken off that long line of beds, down on
the west aisle, and from those under the singers' seat; and the sheets
and pillow-cases were brought out from the linen room, and aired, and
put on. Our biggest kettles are filled up with strong soup; and we have
our milk-punch, and our beef-tea all in readiness; and everybody we can
command is on hand to help lift patients and distribute food. But there
is only too much time. Will there never be any news? Anna Thwart and
Doctor Sprigg have walked down to the bend of the hill, to see if any
messenger is coming. As for the other women, they sit at their table;
they look at their watches; they walk down to the door; they come back
to the table. I notice they have all put on fresh aprons, for the sake
of doing something more in getting ready.

Here is Anna Thwart. "They are coming! they are coming! somebody is
coming. A mounted man is crossing the flat, coming towards us; and the
doctor told me to come back and tell." Five minutes more, ten minutes
more, an eternity more, and then, rat-tat-tat, rat-tat-tat, the mounted
man is here. "Wagons right behind. We bagged every man of them at
Wyatt's. Got there before daylight. Colonel White's men from the Yellows
came up just at the same time, and we pitched in before they knew
it,--three or four regiments, thirteen hundred men, and all their guns."

"And with no fighting?"

"Oh, yes! fighting of course. The colonel has got a train of wagons down
here with the men that are hurt. That's why I am here. Here is his
note." Thus does the mounted man discharge his errand backward.

    DEAR DOCTOR,--We have had great success. We have surprised the
    whole post. The company across the brook tried hard to get away;
    and a good many of them, and of Sykes's men, are hit; but I
    cannot find that we have lost more than seven men. I have
    nineteen wagons here of wounded men,--some hurt pretty badly.

        Ever yours,      H.

So there must be more waiting. But now we know what we are waiting for;
and the end will come in a finite world. Thank God, at half-past three,
here they are! Tenderly, gently. "Hush, Sam! Hush, Cæsar! You talk too
much." Gently, tenderly. Twenty-seven of the poor fellows, with
everything the matter, from a burnt face to a heart stopping its beats
for want of more blood.

"Huldah, come here. This is my old classmate, Barthow; sat next me at
prayers four years. He is a major in their army, you see. His horse
stumbled, and pitched him against a stone wall; and he has not spoken
since. Don't tell me he is dying; but do as well for him, Huldah,"--and
the handsome boy smiled,--"do as well for him as you did for me." So
they carried Barthow, senseless as he was, tenderly into the church; and
he became E, 27, on an iron bedstead. Not half our soup was wanted, nor
our beef-tea, nor our punch. So much the better.

Then came day and night, week in and out, of army system, and womanly
sensibility; that quiet, cheerful, _homish_, hospital life, in the
quaint surroundings of the white-washed church; the pointed arches of
the windows and the faded moreen of the pulpit telling that it is a
church, in a reminder not unpleasant. Two or three weeks of hopes and
fears, failures and success, bring us to Christmas eve.

       *       *       *       *       *

It is the surgeon-in-chief, who happens to give our particular Christmas
dinner,--I mean the one that interests you and me. Huldah and the other
ladies had accepted his invitation. Horace Bartlett and his staff, and
some of the other officers, were guests; and the doctor had given his
own permit that Major Barthow might walk up to his quarters with the
ladies. Huldah and he were in advance, he leaning, with many apologies,
on her arm. Dr. Sprigg and Anna Thwart were far behind. The two married
ladies, as needing no escort, were in the middle. Major Barthow enjoyed
the emancipation, was delighted with his companion, could not say enough
to make her praise the glimpses of Virginia, even if it were West
Virginia.

"What a party it is, to be sure!" said he. "The doctor might call on us
for our stories, as one of Dickens's chiefs would do at a Christmas
feast. Let's see, we should have

    THE SURGEON'S TALE;
    THE GENERAL'S TALE;

for we may at least make believe that Hod's stars have come from
Washington. Then we must call in that one-eyed servant of his; and we
will have

    THE ORDERLY'S TALE.

Your handsome friend from Wisconsin shall tell

    THE GERMAN'S TALE.

I shall be encouraged to tell

    THE PRISONER'S TALE.

And you"--

"And I?" said Huldah laughing, because he paused.

"You shall tell

    THE SAINT'S TALE."

Barthow spoke with real feeling, which he did not care to disguise. But
Huldah was not there for sentiment; and without quivering in the least,
nor making other acknowledgment, she laughed as she knew she ought to
do, and said, "Oh, no! that is quite too grand, the story must end with

    THE SUPERINTENDENT OF SPECIAL RELIEF'S
    TALE.

It is a little unromantic to the sound; but that's what it is."

"I don't see," persisted the major, "if Superintendent of Special Relief
means Saint in Latin, why we should not say so."

"Because we are not talking Latin," said Huldah. "Listen to me; and,
before we come to dinner, I will tell you a story pretty enough for
Dickens, or any of them; and it is a story not fifteen minutes old.

"Have you noticed that black-whiskered fellow, under the gallery, by the
north window?--Yes, the same. He is French, enlisted, I think, in New
London. I came to him just now, managed to say _étrennes_ and _Noël_ to
him, and a few other French words, and asked if there were nothing we
could do to make him more at home. Oh, no! there was nothing; madame
was too good, and everybody was too good, and so on. But I persisted. I
wished I knew more about Christmas in France; and I staid by. 'No,
madame, nothing; there is nothing. But, since you say it,--if there were
two drops of red wine,--_du vin de mon pays, madame_; but you could not
here in Virginia.' Could not I? A superintendent of special relief has
long arms. There was a box of claret, which was the first thing I saw in
the store-room the day I took my keys. The doctor was only too glad the
man had thought of it; and you should have seen the pleasure that red
glass, as full as I could pile it, gave him. The tears were running down
his cheeks. Anna, there, had another Frenchman; and she sent some to
him: and my man is now humming a little song about the _vin rouge_ of
Bourgogne. Would not Mr. Dickens make a pretty story of that for
you,--'THE FRENCHMAN'S STORY'?"

Barthow longed to say that the great novelist would not make so pretty a
story as she did. But this time he did not dare.

You are not going to hear the eight stories. Mr. Dickens was not there;
nor, indeed, was I. But a jolly Christmas dinner they had; though they
had not those eight stories. Quiet they were, and very, very happy. It
was a strange thing,--if one could have analyzed it,--that they should
have felt so much at home, and so much at ease with each other, in that
queer Virginian kitchen, where the doctor and his friends of his mess
had arranged the feast. It was a happy thing, that the recollections of
so many other Christmas homes should come in, not sadly, but pleasantly,
and should cheer, rather than shade the evening. They felt off
soundings, all of them. There was, for the time, no responsibility. The
strain was gone. The gentlemen were glad to be dining with ladies, I
believe: the ladies, unconsciously, were probably glad to be dining with
gentlemen. The officers were glad they were not on duty; and the
prisoner, if glad of nothing else, was glad he was not in bed. But he
was glad for many things beside. You see it was but a little post. They
were far away; and they took things with the ease of a detached command.

"Shall we have any toasts?" said the doctor, when his nuts and raisins
and apples at last appeared.

"Oh, no! no toasts,--nothing so stiff as that."

"Oh, yes! oh, yes!" said Grace. "I should like to know what it is to
drink a toast. Something I have heard of all my life, and never saw."

"One toast, at least, then," said the doctor. "Colonel Bartlett, will
you name the toast?"

"Only one toast?" said Horace; "that is a hard selection: we must vote
on that."

"No, no!" said a dozen voices; and a dozen laughing assistants at the
feast offered their advice.

"I might give 'The Country;' I might give 'The Cause;' I might give 'The
President:' and everybody would drink," said Horace. "I might give
'Absent friends,' or 'Home, sweet home;' but then we should cry."

"Why do you not give 'The trepanned people'?" said Worster, laughing,
"or 'The silver-headed gentlemen'?"

"Why don't you give 'The Staff and the Line'?" "Why don't you give
'Here's Hoping'?" "Give 'Next Christmas.'" "Give 'The Medical
Department; and may they often ask us to dine!'"

"Give 'Saints and Sinners,'" said Major Barthow, after the first outcry
was hushed.

"I shall give no such thing," said Horace. "We have had a lovely dinner;
and we know we have; and the host, who is a good fellow, knows the first
thanks are not to him. Those of us who ever had our heads knocked open,
like the Major and me, do know. Fill your glasses, gentlemen; I give you
'the Special Diet Kitchen.'"

He took them all by surprise. There was a general shout; and the ladies
all rose, and dropped mock courtesies.

"By Jove!" said Barthow to the Colonel, afterwards, "It was the best
toast I ever drank in my life. Anyway, that little woman has saved my
life. Do you say she did the same to you?"


III.

CHRISTMAS AGAIN.

So you think that when the war was over Major Barthow, then
Major-General, remembered Huldah all the same, and came on and persuaded
her to marry him, and that she is now sitting in her veranda, looking
down on the Pamunkey River. You think that, do not you?

Well! you were never so mistaken in your life. If you want that story,
you can go and buy yourself a dime novel. I would buy "The Rescued
Rebel;" or, "The Noble Nurse," if I were you.

After the war was over, Huldah did make Colonel Barthow and his wife a
visit once, at their plantation in Pocataligo County; but I was not
there, and know nothing about it.

Here is a Christmas of hers, about which she wrote a letter; and, as it
happens, it was a letter to Mrs. Barthow.

        HULDAH ROOT TO AGNES BARTHOW.

            VILLERS-BOCAGE, Dec. 27, 1868.

    ... Here I was, then, after this series of hopeless blunders,
    sole alone at the _gare_ [French for station] of this little
    out-of-the-way town. My dear, there was never an American here
    since Christopher Columbus slept here when he was a boy. And
    here, you see, I was like to remain; for there was no
    possibility of the others getting back to me till to-morrow, and
    no good in my trying to overtake them. All I could do was just
    to bear it, and live on, and live through from Thursday to
    Monday; and, really, what was worst of all was that Friday was
    Christmas day.

    Well, I found a funny little carriage, with a funny old man who
    did not understand my _patois_ any better than I did his; but he
    understood a franc-piece. I had my guide-book, and I said
    _auberge_; and we came to the oddest, most outlandish, and
    old-fashioned establishment that ever escaped from one of Julia
    Nathalie woman's novels. And here I am.

    And the reason, my dear Mrs. Barthow, that I take to-day to
    write to you, you and the Colonel will now understand. You see
    it was only ten o'clock when I got here; then I went to walk,
    many _enfans terribles_ following respectfully; then I came
    home, and ate the funny refection; then I got a nap; then I went
    to walk again, and made a little sketch in the churchyard: and
    this time, one of the children brought up her mother, a funny
    Norman woman, in a delicious costume,--I have a sketch of
    another just like her,--and she dropped a courtesy, and in a
    very mild _patois_ said she hoped the children did not trouble
    madame. And I said, "Oh, no!" and found a sugar-plum for the
    child and showed my sketch to the woman; and she said she
    supposed madame was _Anglaise_.

    I said I was not _Anglaise_,--and here the story begins; for I
    said I was _Americaine_. And, do you know, her face lighted up
    as if I had said I was St. Gulda, or St. Hilda, or any of their
    Northmen Saints.

    "Americaine! est-il possible? Jeannette, Gertrude, faites vos
    révérences. Madame est Americaine."

    And, sure enough, they all dropped preternatural courtesies. And
    then the most eager enthusiasm; how fond they all were of _les
    Americaines_, but how no _Americaines_ had ever come before! And
    was madame at the Three Cygnets? And might she and her son and
    her husband call to see madame at the Three Cygnets? And might
    she bring a little _étrenne_ to madame? And I know not what
    beside.

    I was very glad the national reputation had gone so far. I
    really wished I were Charles Sumner (pardon me, dear Agnes),
    that I might properly receive the delegation. But I said, "Oh,
    certainly!" and, as it grew dark, with my admiring _cortége_
    whispering now to the street full of admirers that madame was
    _Americaine_, I returned to the Three Cygnets.

    And in the evening they all came. Really, you should see the
    pretty basket they brought for an _étrenne_. I could not guess
    then where they got such exquisite flowers; these lovely
    stephanotis blossoms, a perfect wealth of roses, and all
    arranged with charming taste in a quaint country basket, such as
    exists nowhere but in this particular section of this quaint old
    Normandy. In came the husband, dressed up, and frightened, but
    thoroughly good in his look. In came my friend; and then two
    sons and two wives, and three or four children: and, my dear
    Agnes, one of the sons, I knew him in an instant, was a man we
    had at Talbot Court House when your husband was there. I think
    the Colonel will remember him,--a black-whiskered man, who used
    to sing a little song about _le vin rouge_ of Bourgogne.

    He did not remember me; that I saw in a moment. It was all so
    different, you know. In the hospital, I had on my cap and apron,
    and here,--well, it was another thing. My hostess knew that they
    were coming, and had me in her largest room, and I succeeded in
    making them all sit down; and I received my formal welcome; and
    I thanked in my most Parisian French; and then the conversation
    hung fire. But I took my turn now, and turned round to poor
    Louis.

    "You served in America, did you not?" said I.

    "Ah, yes, madame! I did not know my mother had told you."

    No more did she, indeed; and she looked astonished. But I
    persevered,--

    "You seem strong and well."

    "Ah, yes, madame!"

    "How long since you returned?"

    "As soon as there was peace, madame. We were mustered out in
    June, madame."

    "And does your arm never trouble you?"

    "Oh, never, madame! I did not know my mother had told you."

    New astonishment on the part of the mother.

    "You never had another piece of bone come out?"

    "Oh, no, madame! how did madame know? I did not know my mother
    had told you!"

    And by this time I could not help saying, "You Normans care
    more for Christmas than we Americans; is it not so, my brave?"

    And this he would not stand; and he said stoutly, "Ah, no,
    madame! no, no, _jamais_!" and began an eager defence of the
    religious enthusiasm of the Americans, and their goodness to all
    people who were good, if people would only be good. But still he
    had not the least dream who I was. And I said,--

    "Do the Normans ever drink Burgundy?" and to my old hostess,
    "Madame, could you bring us a flask _du vin rouge de
    Bourgogne_?" and then I hummed his little chanson, I am sure
    Colonel Barthow will remember it,--"_Deux--gouttes--du vin rouge
    du Bourgogne._"

    My dear Mrs. Barthow, he sprang from his chair, and fell on his
    knees, and kissed my hands, before I could stop him. And when
    his mother and father, and all the rest, found that I was the
    particular _soeur de la charité_ who had had the care of dear
    Louis when he was hurt, and that it was I he had told of that
    very day,--for the thousandth time, I believe,--who gave him
    that glass of claret, and cheered up his Christmas, I verily
    believe they would have taken me to the church to worship me.
    They were not satisfied,--the women with kissing me, or the men
    with shaking hands with each other,--the whole _auberge_ had to
    be called in; and poor I was famous. I need not say I cried my
    eyes out; and when, at ten o'clock, they let me go to bed, I was
    worn out with crying, and laughing, and talking, and listening;
    and I believe they were as much upset as I.

    Now that is just the beginning; and yet I see I must stop. But,
    for forty-eight hours, I have been simply a queen. I can hardly
    put my foot to the ground. Christmas morning, these dear
    Thibault people came again; and then the _curé_ came; and then
    some nice Madame Perrons came, and I went to mass with them;
    and, after mass, their brother's carriage came; and they would
    take no refusals; but with many apologies to my sweet old
    hostess, at the Three Cygnets, I was fain to come up to M.
    Firmin's lovely _château_ here, and make myself at home till my
    friends shall arrive. It seems the poor Thibaults had come here
    to beg the flowers for the _étrenne._ It is really the most
    beautiful country residence I have seen in France; and they live
    on the most patriarchal footing with all the people round them.
    I am sure I ought to speak kindly of them. It is the most
    fascinating hospitality. So here am I, waiting, with my little
    _sac de nuit_ to make me _aspettabile_; and here I ate my
    Christmas dinner. Tell the Colonel that here is "THE TRAVELLER'S
    TALE;" and that is why the letter is so long.

        Most truly yours,
            HULDAH ROOT.


IV.

ONE CHRISTMAS MORE.

This last Christmas party is Huldah's own. It is hers, at least, as much
as it is any one's. There are five of them, nay, six, with equal right
to precedence in the John o' Groat's house, where she has settled down.
It is one of those comfortable houses which are still left three miles
out from the old State House in Boston. It is not all on one floor; that
would be, perhaps, too much like the golden courts of heaven. There are
two stories; but they are connected by a central flight of stairs of
easy tread (designed by Charles Cummings); so easy, and so stately
withal, that, as you pass over them, you always bless the builder, and
hardly know that you go up or down. Five large rooms on each floor give
ample room for the five heads of the house, if, indeed, there be not
six, as I said before.

Into this Saints' Rest, there have drifted together, by the eternal law
of attraction,--Huldah, and Ellen Philbrick (who was with her in
Virginia, and in France, and has been, indeed, but little separated from
her, except on duty, for twenty years), and with them three other
friends. These women,--well, I cannot introduce them to you without
writing three stories of true romance, one for each. This quiet, strong,
meditative, helpful saint, who is coming into the parlor now, is Helen
Touro. She was left alone with her baby when "The Empire State" went
down; and her husband was never heard of more. The love of that baby
warmed her to the love of all others; and, when I first knew her, she
was ruling over a home of babies, whose own mothers or fathers were
not,--always with a heart big enough to say there was room for one more
waif in that sanctuary. That older woman, who is writing at the
Davenport in the corner, lightened the cares and smoothed the daily
life of General Schuyler in all the last years of his life, when he was
in the Cabinet, in Brazil, and in Louisiana. His wife was long ill, and
then died. His children needed all a woman's care; and this woman
stepped to the front, cared for them, cared for all his household, cared
for him: and I dare not say how much is due to her of that which you and
I say daily we owe to him. Miss Peters, I see you know. She served in
another regiment; was at the head of the sweetest, noblest, purest
school that ever trained, in five and twenty years, five hundred girls
to be the queens in five hundred happy and strong families. All of these
five,--our Huldah and Mrs. Philbrick too, you have seen before,--all of
them have been in "the service;" all of them have known that perfect
service is perfect freedom. I think they know that perfect service is
the highest honor. They have together taken this house, as they say, for
the shelter and home of their old age. But Huldah, as she plays with
your Harry there, does not look to me as if she were superannuated yet.

"But you said there were six in all."

Did I? I suppose there are. "Mrs. Philbrick, are there five captains in
your establishment, or six?"

"My dear Mr. Hale, why do you ask me? You know there are five captains
and one general. We have persuaded Seth Corbet to make his home
here,--yes, the same who went round the world with Mrs. Cradock. Since
her death, he has come home to Boston; and he reports to us, and makes
his head-quarters here. He sees that we are all right every morning; and
then he goes his rounds to see every grandchild of old Mr. Cradock, and
to make sure that every son and daughter of that house is 'all right.'
Sometimes he is away over night. This is when somebody in the whole
circle of all their friends is more sick than usual, and needs a man
nurse. That old man was employed by old Mr. Cradock, in 1816, when he
first went to housekeeping. He has had all the sons and all the
daughters of that house in his arms; and now that the youngest of them
is five and twenty, and the oldest fifty, I suppose he is not satisfied
any day until he has seen that they and theirs, in their respective
homes, are well. He thinks we here are babies; but he takes care of us
all the more courteously."

"Will he dine with you to-day?"

"I am afraid not; but we shall see him at the Christmas-tree after
dinner. There is to be a tree."

You see, this house was dedicated to the Apotheosis of Noble Ministry.
Over the mantel-piece hung Raphael Morghen's large print of "The
Lavatio," Caracci's picture of "The Washing of the Feet,"--the only copy
I ever saw. We asked Huldah about it.

"Oh, that was a present from Mr. Burchstadt, a rich manufacturer in
Würtemberg, to Ellen. She stumbled into one of those villages when
everybody was sick and dying of typhus, and tended and watched and
saved, one whole summer long, as Mrs. Ware did at Osmotherly. And this
Mr. Burchstadt wanted to do something, and he sent her this in
acknowledgment."

On the other side was Kaulbach's own study of Elizabeth of Hungary,
dropping her apron full of roses.

    "Oh! what a sight the apron discloses;
    The viands are changed to real roses!"

When I asked Huldah where that came from, she blushed, and said, "Oh,
that was a present to me!" and led us to Steinler's exquisite "Good
Shepherd," in a larger and finer print than I had ever seen. Six or
eight gentlemen in New York, who, when they were dirty babies from the
gutter, had been in Helen Touro's hands, had sent her a portfolio of
beautiful prints, each with this same idea, of seeking what was lost.
This one she had chosen for the sitting-room.

And, on the fourth side, was that dashing group of Horace Vernet's,
"Gideon crossing Jordan," with the motto wrought into the frame, "Faint,
yet pursuing." These four pictures are all presents to the "girls," as I
find I still call them; and, on the easel, Miss Peters had put her copy
of "The Tribute Money." There were other pictures in the room; but these
five unconsciously told its story.

The five "girls" were always all together at Christmas; but, in
practice, each of them lived here only two-fifths of her time. "We make
that a rule," said Ellen laughing. "If anybody comes for anybody when
there are only two here, those two are engaged to each other; and we
stay. Not but what they can come and stay here if we cannot go to them."
In practice, if any of us in the immense circles which these saints had
befriended were in a scrape,--as, if a mother was called away from home,
and there were some children left, or if scarlet fever got into a house,
or if the children had nobody to go to Mt. Desert with them, or if the
new house were to be set in order, and nobody knew how,--in any of the
trials of well-ordered families, why, we rode over to the Saints' Rest
to see if we could not induce one of the five to come and put things
through. So that, in practice, there were seldom more than two on the
spot there.

But we do not get to the Christmas dinner. There were covers for four
and twenty; and all the children besides were in a room upstairs,
presided over by Maria Munro, who was in her element there. Then our
party of twenty-four included men and women of a thousand romances, who
had learned and had shown the nobility of service. One or two of us were
invited as novices, in the hope perhaps that we might learn.

Scarcely was the soup served when the door-bell rang. Nothing else ever
made Huldah look nervous. Bartlett, who was there, said in an aside to
me, that he had seen her more calm when there was volley firing within
hearing of her store-room. Then it rang again. Helen Touro talked more
vehemently; and Mrs. Bartlett at her end, started a great laugh. But,
when it rang the third time, something had to be said; and Huldah asked
one of the girls, who was waiting, if there were no one attending at the
door.

"Yes 'm, Mr. Corbet."

But the bell rang a fourth time, and a fifth.

"Isabel, you can go to the door. Mr. Corbet must have stepped out."

So Isabel went out, but returned with a face as broad as a soup-plate.
"Mr. Corbet is there, ma'am."

Sixth door-bell peal,--seventh, and eighth.

"Mary, I think you had better see if Mr. Corbet has gone away."

Mary returns, face one broad grin.

"No, ma'am, Mr. Corbet is there."

Heavy steps in the red parlor. Side door-bell--a little gong, begins to
ring. Front bell rings ninth time, tenth, and eleventh.

Saint John, as we call him, had seen that something was amiss, and had
kindly pitched in with a dissertation on the passage of the Red-River
Dam, in which the gravy-boats were steamships, and the cranberry was
General Banks, and the aids were spoons. But, when both door-bells rang
together, and there were more steps in the hall, Huldah said, "If you
will excuse me," and rose from the table.

"No, no, we will not excuse you," cried Clara Hastings. "Nobody will
excuse you. This is the one day of the year when you are not to work.
Let me go." So Clara went out. And after Clara went out, the door-bells
rang no more. I think she cut the bell-wires. She soon came back, and
said a man was inquiring his way to the "Smells;" and they directed him
to "Wait's Mills," which she hoped would do. And so Huldah's and Grace's
stupendous housekeeping went on in its solid order, reminding one of
those well-proportioned Worcester teas which are, perhaps, the crown and
glory of the New England science in this matter. I ventured to ask Sam
Root, who sat by me, if the Marlborough were not equal to his mother's.

And we sat long; and we laughed loud. We talked war and poetry and
genealogy. We rallied Helen Touro about her housekeeping; and Dr.
Worster pretended to give a list of Surgeons and Majors and
Major-Generals who had made love to Huldah. By and by, when the grapes
and the bonbons came, the sixteen children were led in by Maria Munro,
who had, till now, kept them at games of string and hunt the slipper.
And, at last, Seth Corbet flung open the door into the red parlor to
announce "The Tree."

Sure enough, there was the tree, as the five saints had prepared it for
the invited children,--glorious in gold, and white with wreaths of
snow-flakes, and blazing with candles. Sam Root kissed Grace, and said,
"O Grace! do you remember?" But the tree itself did not surprise the
children as much as the five tables at the right and the left, behind
and before, amazed the Sainted Five, who were indeed the children now. A
box of the _vin rouge de Bourgogne_, from Louis, was the first thing my
eye lighted on, and above it a little banner read, "Huldah's table." And
then I saw that there were these five tables, heaped with the Christmas
offerings to the five saints. It proved that everybody, the world over,
had heard that they had settled down. Everybody in the four
hemispheres,--if there be four,--who had remembered the unselfish
service of these five, had thought this a fit time for commemorating
such unselfish love, were it only by such a present as a lump of coal.
Almost everybody, I think, had made Seth Corbet a confidant; and so,
while the five saints were planning their pretty tree for the sixteen
children, the North and the South, and the East and the West, were
sending myrrh and frankincense and gold to them. The pictures were hung
with Southern moss from Barthow. Boys, who were now men, had sent coral
from India, pearl from Ceylon, and would have been glad to send ice from
Greenland, had Christmas come in midsummer; there were diamonds from
Brazil, and silver from Nevada, from those who lived there; there were
books, in the choicest binding, in memory of copies of the same word,
worn by travel, or dabbled in blood; there were pictures, either by the
hand of near friendship, or by the master hand of genius, which brought
back the memories, perhaps, of some old adventure in "The
Service,"--perhaps, as the Kaulbach did, of one of those histories which
makes all service sacred. In five and twenty years of life, these women
had so surrounded themselves, without knowing it or thinking of it, with
loyal, yes, adoring friends, that the accident of their finding a fixed
home had called in all at once this wealth of acknowledgment from those
whom they might have forgotten, but who would never forget them. And, by
the accident of our coming together, we saw, in these heaps on heaps of
offerings of love, some faint record of the lives they had enlivened,
the wounds they had stanched, the tears they had wiped away, and the
homes they had cheered. For themselves, the five saints--as I have
called them--were laughing and crying together, quite upset in the
surprise. For ourselves, there was not one of us who, in this little
visible display of the range of years of service, did not take in
something more of the meaning of,--

"He who will be chief among you, let him be your servant."

The surprise, the excitement, the laughter, and the tears found vent in
the children's eagerness to be led to their tree; and, in three minutes,
Ellen was opening boxes, and Huldah pulling fire-crackers, as if they
had not been thrown off their balance. But, when each boy and girl had
two arms full, and the fir balsam sent down from New Durham was nearly
bare, Edgar Bartlett pointed to the top bough, where was a brilliant
not noticed before. No one had noticed it,--not Seth himself,--who had
most of the other secrets of that house in his possession. I am sure
that no man, woman, or child knew how the thing came there: but Seth
lifted the little discoverer high in air, and he brought it down
triumphant. It was a parcel made up in shining silvered paper. Seth cut
the strings.

It contained twelve Maltese crosses of gold, with as many jewels, one in
the heart of each,--I think the blazing twelve of the Revelations. They
were displayed on ribbons of blue and white, six of which bore Huldah's,
Helen's, Ellen Philbrick's, Hannah's, Miss Peters's, and Seth Corbet's
names. The other six had no names; but on the gold of these was
marked,--"From Huldah, to ----" "From Helen, to -----" and so on, as if
these were decorations which they were to pass along. The saints
themselves were the last to understand the decorations; but the rest of
us caught the idea, and pinned them on their breasts. As we did so, the
ribbons unfolded, and displayed the motto of the order:--

"Henceforth I call you not servants, I have called you friends."

It was at that Christmas that the "ORDER OF LOVING SERVICE" was born.



THE TWO PRINCES.

A STORY FOR CHILDREN.


I.

There was a King of Hungary whose name was Adelbert.

When he lived at home, which was not often, it was in a castle of many
towers and many halls and many stairways, in the city of Buda, by the
side of the river Donau.

He had four daughters, and only one son, who was to be the King after
him, whose name was Ladislaus. But it was the custom of those times, as
boys and girls grew up, to send them for their training to some distance
from their home, even for many months at a time, to try a little
experiment on them, and see how they fared; and so, at the time I tell
you of, there was staying in the castle of Buda the Prince Bela, who
was the son of the King of Bohemia; and he and the boy Ladislaus studied
their lessons together, and flew their kites, and hunted for otters, and
rode with the falconers together.

One day as they were studying with the tutor, who was a priest named
Stephen, he gave to them a book of fables, and each read a fable.

Ladislaus read the fable of the


SKY-LARK.

The sky-lark sat on the topmost bough of the savy-tree, and was waked by
the first ray of the sun. Then the sky-lark flew and flew up and up to
the topmost arch of the sky, and sang the hymn of the morning.

But a frog, who was croaking in the cranberry marsh, said, "Why do you
take such pains and fly so high? the sun shines here, and I can sing
here."

And the bird said, "God has made me to fly. God has made me to see. I
will fly as high as He will lift me, and sing so loud that all shall
hear me."

       *       *       *       *       *

And when the little Prince Ladislaus had read the fable, he cried out,
"The sky-lark is the bird for me, and I will paint his picture on my
shield after school this morning."

Then the Prince Bela read the next fable,--the fable of the


WATER-RAT.

A good beaver found one day a little water-rat almost dead. His father
and mother had been swept away by a freshet, and the little rat was
almost starved. But the kind beaver gave him of her own milk, and
brought him up in her own lodge with her children, and he got well, and
could eat, and swim, and dive with the best of them.

But one day there was a great alarm, that the beavers' dam was giving
way before the water. "Come one, come all," said the grandfather of the
beavers, "come to the rescue." So they all started, carrying sticks and
bark with them, the water-rat and all. But as they swam under an old
oak-tree's root, the water-rat stopped in the darkness, and then he
quietly turned round and went back to the hut. "It will be hard work,"
said he "and there are enough of them." There were enough of them. They
mended the dam by working all night and by working all day. But, as
they came back, a great wave of the freshet came pouring over the dam
and, though the dam stood firm, the beavers were swept away,--away and
away, down the river into the sea, and they died there.

And the water-rat lived in their grand house by himself, and had all
their stores of black-birch bark and willow bark and sweet poplar bark
for his own.

       *       *       *       *       *

"That was a clever rat," said the Prince Bela. "I will paint the rat on
my shield, when school is done." And the priest Stephen was very sad
when he said so; and the Prince Ladislaus was surprised.

So they went to the play-room and painted their shields. The shields
were made of the bark of hemlock-trees. Ladislaus chipped off the rough
bark till the shield was white, and made on the place the best sky-lark
he could paint there. And Bela watched him, and chipped off the rough
bark from his shield, and said, "You paint so well, now paint my
water-rat for me." "No," said Ladislaus, though he was very
good-natured, "I cannot paint it well. You must paint it yourself." And
Bela did so.


II.

So the boys both grew up, and one became King of Hungary, and one was
the King of the Bohemians. And King Ladislaus carried on his banner the
picture of a sky-lark; and the ladies of the land embroidered sky-larks
for the scarfs and for the pennons of the soldiers, and for the motto of
the banner were the Latin words "Propior Deo," which mean "Nearer to
God." And King Bela carried the water-rat for his cognizance; and the
ladies of his land embroidered water-rats for the soldiers; and his
motto was "Enough."

And in these times a holy man from Palestine came through all the world;
and he told how the pilgrims to the tomb of Christ were beaten and
starved by the Saracens, and how many of them were dying in dungeons.
And he begged the princes and the lords and ladies, for the love of God
and the love of Christ, that they would come and rescue these poor
people, and secure the pilgrims in all coming time. And King Ladislaus
said to his people, "We will do the best we can, and serve God as He
shows us how!" And the people said, "We will do the best we can, and
save the people of Christ from the infidel!" And they all came together
to the place of arms; and the King chose a hundred of the bravest and
healthiest of the young men, all of whom told the truth, and no one of
whom was afraid to die, and they marched with him to the land of Christ;
and as they marched they sang, "Propior Deo,"--"Nearer to Thee."

And Peter the Hermit went to Bohemia, and told the story of the cruel
Saracens and the sufferings of the pilgrims to King Bela and his people.
And the King said, "Is it far away?" And the Hermit said, "Far, far
away." And the King said, "Ah, well,--they must get out as they got in.
We will take care of Bohemia." So the Hermit went on to Saxony, to tell
his story.

And King Ladislaus and his hundred true young men rode and rode day by
day, and came to the Mount of Olives just in time to be at the side of
the great King Godfrey, when he broke the Paynim's walls, and dashed
into the city of Jerusalem. And King Ladislaus and his men rode together
along the Way of Tears, where Christ bore the cross-beam upon his
shoulder, and he sat on the stone where the cross had been reared, and
he read the gospel through again; and there he prayed his God that he
might always bear his cross bravely, and that, like the Lord Jesus, he
might never be afraid to die.


III.

And when they had all come home to Hungary, their time hung very heavy
on their hands. And the young men said to the King, "Lead us to war
against the Finns, or lead us to war against the Russ."

But the King said, "No! if they spare our people, we spare their people.
Let us have peace." And he called the young men who had fought with him,
and he said, "The time hangs heavy with us; let us build a temple here
to the living God, and to the honor of his Son. We will carve on its
walls the story we have seen, and while we build we will remember Zion
and the Way of Tears."

And the young men said, "We are not used to building."

"Nor am I," said the King; "but let us build, and build as best we can,
and give to God the best we have and the best we know."

So they dug the deep trenches for the foundations, and they sent north
and south, and east and west for the wisest builders who loved the Lord
Christ; and the builders came, and the carvers came, and the young men
learned to use the chisel and the hammer; and the great Cathedral grew
year by year, as a pine-tree in the forest grows above the birches and
the yew-trees on the ground.

And once King Bela came to visit his kinsman, and they rode out to see
the builders. And King Ladislaus dismounted from his horse, and asked
Bela to dismount, and gave to him a chisel and a hammer.

"No," said the King Bela, "it will hurt my hands. In my land we have
workmen whom we pay to do these things. But I like to see you work."

So he sat upon his horse till dinner-time, and he went home.

And year by year the Cathedral grew. And a thousand pinnacles were built
upon the towers and on the roof and along the walls; and on each
pinnacle there fluttered a golden sky-lark. And on the altar in the
Cathedral was a scroll of crimson, and on the crimson scroll were
letters of gold, and the letters were in the Latin language, and said
"Propior Deo," and on a blue scroll underneath, in the language of the
people they were translated, and it said, "Nearer to Thee."


IV.

And another Hermit came, and he told the King that the Black Death was
ravaging the cities of the East; that half the people of Constantinople
were dead; that the great fair at Adrianople was closed; that the ships
on the Black Sea had no sailors; and that there would be no food for the
people on the lower river.

And the King said, "Is the Duke dead, whom we saw at Bucharest; is the
Emperor dead, who met me at Constantinople?"

"No, your Grace," said the Hermit, "it pleases the Lord that in the
Black Death only those die who live in hovels and in towns. The Lord has
spared those who live in castles and in palaces."

"Then," said King Ladislaus, "I will live as my people live, and I will
die as my people die. The Lord Jesus had no pillow for his head, and no
house for his lodging; and as the least of his brethren fares so will I
fare, and as I fare so shall they."

So the King and the hundred braves pitched their tents on the high land
above the old town, around the new Cathedral, and the Queen and the
ladies of the court went with them. And day by day the King and the
Queen and the hundred braves and their hundred ladies went up and down
the filthy wynds and courts of the city, and they said to the poor
people there, "Come, live as we live, and die as we die."

And the people left the holes of pestilence and came and lived in the
open air of God.

And when the people saw that the King fared as they fared, the people
said, "We also will seek God as the King seeks Him, and will serve Him
as he serves Him."

And day by day they found others who had no homes fit for Christian men,
and brought them upon the high land and built all together their tents
and booths and tabernacles, open to the sun and light, and to the smile
and kiss and blessing of the fresh air of God. And there grew a new and
beautiful city there.

And so it was, that when the Black Death passed from the East to the
West, the Angel of Death left the city of Buda on one side, and the
people never saw the pestilence with their eyes. The Angel of Death
passed by them, and rested upon the cities of Bohemia.


V.

And King Ladislaus grew old. His helmet seemed to him more heavy. His
sleep seemed to him more coy. But he had little care, for he had a
loving wife, and he had healthy, noble sons and daughters, who loved
God, and who told the truth, and who were not afraid to die.

But one day, in his happy prosperity, there came to him a messenger
running, who said in the Council, "Your Grace, the Red Russians have
crossed the Red River of the north, and they are marching with their
wives and their children with their men of arms in front, and their
wagons behind, and they say they will find a land nearer the sun, and to
this land are they coming."

And the old King smiled; and he said to those that were left of the
hundred brave men who took the cross with him, "Now we will see if our
boys could have fought at Godfrey's side. For us it matters little. One
way or another way we shall come nearer to God."

And the armorers mended the old armor, and the young men girded on
swords which had never been tried in fight, and the pennons that they
bore were embroidered by their sweethearts and sisters as in the old
days of the Crusades, and with the same device of a sky-lark in
mid-heaven, and the motto, "Nearer, my God, to Thee."

And there came from the great Cathedral the wise men who had come from
all the lands. They found the King, and they said to him, "Your Grace,
we know how to build the new defences for the land, and we will guard
the river ways, that the barbarians shall never enter them."

And when the people knew that the Red Russians were on the way, they met
in the square and marched to the palace, and Robert the Smith mounted
the steps of the palace and called the King. And he said, "The people
are here to bid the King be of good heart. The people bid me say that
they will die for their King and for his land."

And the King took from his wife's neck the blue ribbon that she wore,
with a golden sky-lark on it, and bound it round the blacksmith's arm,
and he said, "If I die, it is nothing; if I live, it is nothing; that is
in God's hand. But whether we live or die, let us draw as near Him as we
may."

And the Blacksmith Robert turned to the people, and with his loud voice,
told what the King had said.

And the people answered in the shout which the Hungarians shout to this
day, "Let us die for our king! Let us die for our king!"

And the King called the Queen hastily, and they and their children led
the host to the great Cathedral.

And the old priest Stephen, who was ninety years old, stood at the
altar, and he read the gospel where it says, "Fear not, little flock, it
is your Father's good pleasure to give you the kingdom."

And he read the other gospel where the Lord says, "And I, if I be lifted
up, will draw all men unto me." And he read the epistle where it says,
"No man liveth to himself, and no man dieth to himself." And he chanted
the psalm, "The Lord is my rock, my fortress, and my deliverer."

And fifty thousand men, with one heart and one voice, joined with him.
And the King joined, and the Queen to sing, "The Lord is my rock, my
fortress, and my deliverer."

And they marched from the Cathedral, singing in the language of the
country, "Propior Deo," which is to say in our tongue, "Nearer, my God,
to Thee."

And the aged braves who had fought with Godfrey, and the younger men who
had learned of arms in the University, went among the people and divided
them into companies for the war. And Robert the Blacksmith, and all the
guild of the blacksmiths, and of the braziers, and of the coppersmiths,
and of the whitesmiths, even the goldsmiths, and the silversmiths, made
weapons for the war; and the masons and the carpenters, and the ditchers
and delvers marched out with the cathedral builders to the narrow passes
of the river, and built new the fortresses.

And the Lady Constance and her daughters, and every lady in the land,
went to the churches and the convents, and threw them wide open. And in
the kitchens they baked bread for the soldiers; and in the churches they
spread couches for the sick or for the wounded.

And when the Red Russians came in their host, there was not a man, or
woman, or child in all Hungary but was in the place to which God had
called him, and was doing his best in his place for his God, for the
Church of Christ, and for his brothers and sisters of the land.

And the host of the Red Russians was turned aside, as at the street
corner you have seen the dirty water of a gutter turned aside by the
curbstone. They fought one battle against the Hungarian host, and were
driven as the blackbirds are driven by the falcons. And they gathered
themselves and swept westward; and came down upon the passes to Bohemia.

And there were no fortresses at the entrance to Bohemia; for King Bela
had no learned men who loved him. And there was no army in the plains of
Bohemia; for his people had been swept away in the pestilence. And there
were no brave men who had fought with Godfrey, and knew the art of arms,
for in those old days the King had said, "It is far away; and we have
'enough' in Bohemia."

So the Red Russians, who call themselves the Szechs, took his land from
him; and they live there till this day. And the King, without a battle,
fled from the back-door of his palace, in the disguise of a
charcoal-man; and he left his queen and his daughters to be cinder-girls
in the service of the Chief of the Red Russians.

And the false charcoal-man walked by day, and walked by night, till he
found refuge in the castle of the King Ladislaus; and he met him in the
old school-room where they read the fables together. And he remembered
how the water-rat came to the home of the beavers.

And he said to King Ladislaus,--

"Ah, me! do you remember when we were boys together? Do you remember the
fable of the Sky-lark, and the fable of the Water-rat?"

"I remember both," said the King. And he was silent.

"God has been very kind to you," said the beggar; "and He has been very
hard to me."

And the King said nothing.

But the old priest Stephen, said,--

"God is always kind. But God will not give us other fruit than we sow
seed for. The King here has tried to serve God as he knew how; with one
single eye he has looked on the world of God, and he has made the best
choice he knew. And God has given him what he thought not of: brave men
for his knights; wise men for his council; a free and loving people for
his army. And you have not looked with a single eye; your eye was
darkened. You saw only what served yourself. And you said, 'This is
enough;' and you had no brave men for your knights; no wise men for your
council; no people for your army. You chose to look down, and to take a
selfish brute for your adviser. And he has led you so far. We choose to
look up; to draw nearer God; and where He leads we follow."

Then King Ladislaus ordered that in the old school-room a bed should be
spread for Bela; and that every day his breakfast and his dinner and his
supper should be served to him; and he lived there till he died.



THE STORY OF OELLO.


Once upon a time there was a young girl, who had the pretty name of
Oello. I say, once upon a time, because I do not know when the time
was,--nor do I know what the place was,--though my story, in the main,
is a true story. I do not mean that I sat by and saw Oello when she wove
and when she spun. But I know she did weave and did spin. I do not mean
that I heard her speak the word I tell of; for it was many, many hundred
years ago. But I do know that she must have said some such words; for I
know many of the things which she did, and much of what kind of girl she
was.

She grew up like other girls in her country. She did not know how to
read. None of them knew how to read. But she knew how to braid straw,
and to make fish-nets and to catch fish. She did not know how to spell.
Indeed, in that country they had no letters. But she knew how to split
open the fish she had caught, how to clean them, how to broil them on
the coals, and how to eat them neatly. She had never studied the
"analysis of her language." But she knew how to use it like a lady; that
is, prettily, simply, without pretence, and always truly. She could sing
her baby brother to sleep. She could tell stories to her sisters all day
long. And she and they were not afraid when evening came, or when they
were in any trouble, to say a prayer aloud to the good God. So they got
along, although they could not analyze their language. She knew no
geography. She could count her fingers, and the stars in the Southern
Cross. She had never seen Orion, or the stars in the Great Bear, or the
Pole-Star.

Oello was very young when she married a young kinsman, with whom she had
grown up since they were babies. Nobody knows much about him. But he
loved her and she loved him. And when morning came they were not afraid
to pray to God together,--and when night came she asked her husband to
forgive her if she had troubled him, and he asked her to forgive
him,--so that their worries and trials never lasted out the day. And
they lived a very happy life, till they were very old and died.

There is a bad gap in the beginning of their history. I do not know how
it happened. But the first I knew of them, they had left their old home
and were wandering alone on foot toward the South. Sometimes I have
thought a great earthquake had wrecked their old happy home. Sometimes I
have thought there was some horrid pestilence, or fire. No matter what
happened, something happened,--so that Oello and her husband, of a hot,
very hot day, were alone under a forest of laurels mixed with palms,
with bright flowering orchids on them, looking like a hundred
butterflies; ferns, half as high as the church is, tossing over them;
nettles as large as trees, and tangled vines, threading through the
whole. They were tired, oh, how tired! hungry, oh, how hungry! and hot
and foot-sore.

"I wish so we were out of this hole," said he to her, "and yet I am
afraid of the people we shall find when we come down to the lake side."

"I do not know," said Oello, "why they should want to hurt us."

"I do not know why they should want to," said he, "but I am afraid they
will hurt us."

"But we do not want to hurt them," said she. "For my part, all I want is
a shelter to live under; and I will help them take care of their
children, and

    'I will spin their flax,
      And weave their thread,
    And pound their corn,
      And bake their bread.'"

"How will you tell them that you will do this?" said he.

"I will do it," said Oello, "and that will be better than telling them."

"But do not you just wish," said he, "that you could speak five little
words of their language, to say to them that we come as friends, and not
as enemies?"

Oello laughed very heartily. "Enemies," said she, "terrible enemies, who
have two sticks for their weapons, two old bags for their stores, and
cotton clothes for their armor. I do not believe more than half the army
will turn out against us." So Oello pulled out the potatoes from the
ashes, and found they were baked; she took a little salt from her
haversack or scrip, and told her husband that dinner would be ready, if
he would only bring some water. He pretended to groan, but went, and
came in a few minutes with two gourds full, and they made a very merry
meal.

       *       *       *       *       *

The same evening they came cautiously down on the beautiful meadow land
which surrounded the lake they had seen. It is one of the most beautiful
countries in the world. It was an hour before sunset,--the hour, I
suppose, when all countries are most beautiful. Oello and her husband
came joyfully down the hill, through a little track the llamas had made
toward the water, wondering at the growth of the wild grasses, and,
indeed, the freshness of all the green; when they were startled by
meeting a horde of the poor, naked, half-starved Indians, who were just
as much alarmed to meet with them.

I do not think that the most stupid of them could have supposed Oello an
enemy, nor her husband. For they stepped cheerfully down the path,
waving boughs of fresh cinchona as tokens of peace, and looking kindly
and pleasantly on the poor Indians, as I believe nobody had looked on
them before. There were fifty of the savages, but it was true that they
were as much afraid of the two young Northerners as if they had been an
army. They saw them coming down the hill, with the western sun behind
them, and one of the women cried out, "They are children of the sun,
they are children of the sun!" and Oello and her husband looked so as if
they had come from a better world that all the other savages believed
it.

But the two young people came down so kindly and quickly, that the
Indian women could not well run away. And when Oello caught one of the
little babies up, and tossed it in her arms, and fondled it, and made it
laugh, the little girl's mother laughed too. And when they had all once
laughed together, peace was made among them all, and Oello saw where the
Indian women had been lying, and what their poor little shelters were,
and she led the way there, and sat down on a log that had fallen there,
and called the children round her, and began teaching them a funny game
with a bit of crimson cord. Nothing pleases savage people or tame people
more than attention to their children, and in less time than I have
been telling this they were all good friends. The Indian women produced
supper. Pretty poor supper it was. Some fresh-water clams from the lake,
some snails which Oello really shuddered at, but some bananas which were
very nice, and some ulloco, a root Oello had never seen before, and
which she thought sickish. But she acted on her motto. "I will do the
best I can," she had said all along; so she ate and drank, as if she had
always been used to raw snails and to ulloco, and made the wild women
laugh by trying to imitate the names of the strange food. In a few
minutes after supper the sun set. There is no twilight in that country.
When the sun goes down,

      "Like battle target red,--
    He rushes to his burning bed,
    Dyes the whole wave with ruddy light,
    Then sinks at once, and all is night."

The savage people showed the strangers a poor little booth to sleep in,
and went away to their own lairs, with many prostrations, for they
really thought them "children of the sun."

Oello and her husband laughed very heartily when they knew they were
alone. Oello made him promise to go in the morning early for potatoes,
and oca, and mashua, which are two other tubers like potatoes which grow
there. "And we will show them," said she, "how to cook them." For they
had seen by the evening feast, that the poor savage people had no
knowledge of the use of fire. So, early in the morning, he went up a
little way on the lake shore, and returned with strings of all these
roots, and with another string of fish he had caught in a brook above.
And when the savage people waked and came to Oello's hut, they found her
and her husband just starting their fire,--a feat these people had never
seen before.

He had cut with his copper knife a little groove in some soft palm-wood,
and he had fitted in it a round piece of iron-wood, and round the
iron-wood had bound a bow-string, and while Oello held the palm-wood
firm, he made the iron-wood fly round and round and round, till the pith
of the palm smoked, and smoked, and at last a flake of the pith caught
fire, and then another and another, and Oello dropped other flakes upon
these, and blew them gently, and fed them with dry leaves, till they
were all in a blaze.

The savage people looked on with wonder and terror. They cried out when
they saw the blaze, "They are children of the sun,--they are children of
the sun!"--and ran away. Oello and her husband did not know what they
said, and went on broiling the fish and baking the potatoes, and the
mashua, and the oca, and the ulloco.

And when they were ready, Oello coaxed some of the children to come
back, and next their mothers came and next the men. But still they said,
"They are children of the sun." And when they ate of the food that had
been cooked for them, they said it was the food of the immortals.

Now, in Oello's home, this work of making the fire from wood had been
called menial work, and was left to servants only. But even the princes
of that land were taught never to order another to do what they could
not do themselves. And thus it happened that the two young travellers
could do it so well. And thus it was, that, because they did what they
could, the savage people honored them with such exceeding honor, and
because they did the work of servants they called them gods. As it is
written: "He who is greatest among you shall be your servant."

And this was much the story of that day and many days. While her husband
went off with the men, taught them how he caught the fish, and how they
could catch huanacos, Oello sat in the shade with the children, who were
never tired of pulling at the crimson cord around her waist, and at the
tassels of her head-dress. All savage children are curious about the
dress of their visitors. So it was easy for Oello to persuade them to go
with her and pick tufts of wild cotton, till they had quite a store of
it, and then to teach them to spin it on distaffs she made for them from
laurel-wood, and at last to braid it and to knit it,--till at last one
night, when the men came home, Oello led out thirty of the children in
quite a grand procession, dressed all of them in pretty cotton suits
they had knit for themselves, instead of the filthy, greasy skins they
had always worn before. This was a great triumph for Oello; but when the
people would gladly have worshipped her, she only said, "I did what I
could,--I did what I could,--say no more, say no more."

And as the year passed by, she and her husband taught the poor people
how, if they would only plant the maize, they could have all they wanted
in the winter, and if they planted the roots of the ulloco, and the oca,
and the mashua, and the potato, they would have all they needed of them;
how they might make long fish-ways for the fish, and pitfalls for the
llama. And they learned the language of the poor people, and taught them
the language to which they themselves were born. And year by year their
homes grew neater and more cheerful. And year by year the children were
stronger and better. And year by year the world in that part of it was
more and more subdued to the will and purpose of a good God. And
whenever Manco, Oello's husband, was discouraged, she always said, "We
will do the best we can," and always it proved that that was all that a
good God wanted them to do.

It was from the truth and steadiness of those two people, Manco and
Oello, that the great nation of Peru was raised up from a horde of
savages, starving in the mountains, to one of the most civilized and
happy nations of their times. Unfortunately for their descendants, they
did not learn the use of iron or gunpowder, so that the cruel Spaniards
swept them and theirs away. But for hundreds of years they lived
peacefully and happily,--growing more and more civilized with every
year, because the young Oello and her husband Manco had done what they
could for them.

They did not know much. But what they knew they could do. They were not,
so far as we know, skilful in talking. But they were cheerful in acting.

They did not hide their light under a bushel. They made it shine on all
that came around. Their duties were the humblest, only making a fire in
the morning, cleaning potatoes and cooking them, spinning, braiding,
twisting, and weaving. This was the best Oello could do. She did that,
and in doing it she reared an empire. We can contrast her life with that
of the savages around her. As we can see a drop of blood when it falls
into a cup of water, we can see how that one life swayed theirs. If she
had lived among her kindred, and done at home these simple things, we
should never have heard her name. But none the less would she have done
them. None the less, year in and year out, century in and century out,
would that sweet, loving, true, unselfish life have told in God's
service. And he would have known it, though you and I--who are we?--had
never heard her name!

Forgotten! do not ever think that anything is forgotten!



LOVE IS THE WHOLE.

A STORY FOR CHILDREN.


This is a story about some children who were living together in a
Western State, in a little house on the prairie, nearly two miles from
any other. There were three boys and three girls; the oldest girl was
seventeen, and her oldest brother a year younger. Their mother had died
two or three years before, and now their father grew sick,--more sick
and more, and died also. The children were taking the best care they
could of him, wondering and watching. But no care could do much, and so
he told them. He told them all that he should not live long; but that
when he died he should not be far from them, and should be with their
dear mother. "Remember," he said, "to love each other. Be kind to each
other. Stick together, if you can. Or, if you separate, love one
another as if you were together." He did not say any more then. He lay
still awhile, with his eyes closed; but every now and then a sweet smile
swept over his face, so that they knew he was awake. Then he roused up
once more, and said, "Love is the whole, George; love is the
whole,"--and so he died.

I have no idea that the children, in the midst of their grief and
loneliness, took in his meaning. But afterwards they remembered it again
and again, and found out why he said it to them.

Any of you would have thought it a queer little house. It was not a log
cabin. They had not many logs there. But it was no larger than the log
cabin which General Grant is building in the picture. There was a little
entry-way at one end, and two rooms opening on the right as you went. A
flight of steps went up into the loft, and in the loft the boys slept in
two beds. This was all. But if they had no rooms for servants, on the
other hand they had no servants for rooms. If they had no hot-water
pipes, on the other hand a large kettle hung on the crane above the
kitchen fire, and there was but a very short period of any day that one
could not dip out hot water. They had no gas-pipes laid through the
house. But they went to bed the earlier, and were the more sure to enjoy
the luxury of the great morning illumination by the sun. They lost but
few steps in going from room to room. They were never troubled for want
of fresh air. They had no door-bell, so no guest was ever left waiting
in the cold. And though they had no speaking-tubes in the house, still
they found no difficulty in calling each other if Ethan were up stairs
and Alice wanted him to come down.

Their father was buried, and the children were left alone. The first
night after the funeral they stole to their beds as soon as they could,
after the mock supper was over. The next morning George and Fanny found
themselves the first to meet at the kitchen hearth. Each had tried to
anticipate the other in making the morning fire. Each confessed to the
other that there had been but little sleep, and that the night had
seemed hopelessly long.

"But I have thought it all over," said the brave, stout boy. "Father
told us to stick together as long as we can. And I know I can manage it.
The children will all do their best when they understand it. And I
know, though father could not believe it, I know that I can manage with
the team. We will never get in debt. I shall never drink. Drink and
debt, as he used to say, are the only two devils. Never you cry, darling
Fanny, I know we can get along."

"George," said Fanny, "I know we can get along if you say so. I know it
will be very hard upon you. There are so many things the other young men
do which you will not be able to do; and so many things which they have
which you might have. But none of them has a sister who loves them as I
love you. And, as he said, 'Love is the whole.'"

I suppose those words over the hearth were almost the only words of
sentiment which ever passed between those two about their plans. But
from that moment those plans went forward more perfectly than if they
had been talked over at every turn, and amended every day. That is the
way with all true stories of hearth and home.

For instance, it was only that evening, when the day's work of all the
six was done--and for boys and girls, it was hard work, too--Fanny and
George would have been glad enough, both of them, to take each a book,
and have the comfort of resting and reading. But George saw that the
younger girls looked down-cast and heavy, and that the boys were
whispering round the door-steps as if they wanted to go down to the
blacksmith's shop by way of getting away from the sadness of the house.
He hated to have them begin the habit of loafing there, with all the
lazy boys and men from three miles round. And so he laid down his book,
and said, as cheerily as if he had not laid his father's body in the
grave the day before,--

"What shall we do to-night that we can all do together? Let us have
something that we have never had before. Let us try what Mrs. Chisholm
told us about. Let us act a ballad."

Of course the children were delighted with acting. George knew that, and
Fanny looked across so gratefully to him, and laid her book away also;
and, in a minute, Ethan, the young carpenter of the family, was putting
up sconces for tallow candles to light the scenes, and Fanny had Sarah
and Alice out in the wood-house, with the shawls, and the old ribbons,
and strips of bright calico, which made up the dresses, and George
instructed Walter as to the way in which he should arrange his armor and
his horse, and so, after a period of preparation, which was much longer
than the period of performance, they got ready to act in the kitchen the
ballad of Lochinvar.

The children had a happy evening. They were frightened when they went to
bed--the little ones--because they had been so merry. They came together
with George and Fanny, and read their Bible as they had been used to do
with their father, and the last text they read was, "Love is the
fulfilling of the law." So the little ones went to bed, and left George
and Fanny again together.

"Pretty hard, was it not?" said she, smiling through her tears. "But it
is so much best for them that home should be the happiest place of all
for them. After all, 'Love is the whole.'"

And that night's sacrifice, which the two older children made to the
younger brothers and sisters as it were over their father's grave, was
the beginning of many such nights, and of many other joint amusements
which the children arranged together. They read Dickens aloud. They
cleared out the corn-room at the end of the wood-house for a place for
their dialogues and charades. The neighbors' children liked to come in,
and, under very strict rules of early hours and of good behavior, they
came. And George and Fanny found, not only that they were getting a
reputation for keeping their own little flock in order, but that the
nicest children all around were intrusted to their oversight, even by
the most careful fathers and mothers. All this pleasure to the children
came from the remembrance that "Love is the whole."

Far from finding themselves a lonely and forsaken family, these boys and
girls soon found that they were surrounded with friends. George was
quite right in assuming that he could manage the team, and could keep
the little farm up, not to its full production under his father, but to
a crop large enough to make them comfortable. Every little while there
had to be a consultation. Mr. Snyder came down one day to offer him
forty dollars a month and his board, if he would go off on a surveying
party and carry chain for the engineers. It would be in a good line for
promotion. Forty dollars a month to send home to Fanny was a great
temptation. And George and Fanny put an extra pine-knot on the fire,
after the children had gone to bed, that they might talk it over. But
George declined the proposal, with many thanks to Mr. Snyder. He said to
him, "that, if he went away, the whole household would be very much
weakened. The boys could not carry on the farm alone, and would have to
hire out. He thought they were too young for that. After all, Mr.
Snyder, 'Love is the whole.'" And Mr. Snyder agreed with him.

Then, as a few years passed by, after another long council, in which
another pine-knot was sacrificed on the hearth, and in which Walter
assisted with George and Fanny, it was agreed that Walter should "hire
out." He had "a chance," as they said, to go over to the Stacy Brothers,
in the next county. Now the Stacy Brothers had the greatest stock farm
in all that part of Illinois. They had to hire a great deal of help, and
it was a great question to George and Fanny whether poor Walter might
not get more harm than good there. But they told Walter perfectly
frankly their doubts and their hopes. And he said boldly, "Never you
fear me. Do you think I am such a fool as to forget? Do I not know that
'Love is the whole'? Shall I ever forget who taught us so?" And so it
was determined that he should go.

Yes, and he went. The Stacys' great establishment was different indeed
from the little cabin he had left. But the other boys there, and the men
he met, Norwegians, Welshmen, Germans, Yankees, all sorts of people, all
had hearts just like his heart. And a helpful boy, honest as a clock and
brave as St. Paul, who really tried to serve every one as he found
opportunity, made friends on the great stock farm just as he had in the
corn-room at the end of the wood-house. And once a month, when their
wages were paid, he was able to send home the lion's share of his to
Fanny, in letters which every month were written a little better, and
seemed a little more easy for him to write. And when Thanksgiving came,
Mr. George Stacy sent him home for a fortnight, with a special message
to his sister, "that he could not do without him, and he wished she
would send him a dozen of such boys. He knew how to raise oxen, he said;
but would Miss Fanny tell him how she brought up boys like Walter?"

"I could have told him," said Walter, "but I did not choose to; I could
have told him that love was the whole."

And that story of Walter is only the story of the way in which Ethan
also kept up the home tie, and came back, when he got a chance, from his
voyages. His voyages were not on the sea. He "hired out" with a
canal-boatman. Sometimes they went to the lake, and once they set sail
there and came as far as Cleveland. Ethan made a great deal of fun in
pretending to tell great sea-stories, like Swiss Family Robinson and
Sinbad the Sailor. Fresh-water voyaging has its funny side, as has the
deep-sea sailing. But Ethan did not hold to it long. His experience with
grain brought him at last to Chicago, and he engaged there in the work
of an elevator. But he lived always the old home life. There were three
other boys he got acquainted with, one at Mr. Eggleston's church, one at
the Custom House, and one at the place where he got his dinner, and they
used to come up to his little room in the seventh story of the McKenzie
House, and sit on his bed and in his chairs, just as the boys from the
blacksmith's came into the corn-room. These four boys made a literary
club "for reading Shakespeare and the British essayists." Often did they
laugh afterwards at its title. They called it the Club of the Tetrarchy,
because they thought it grand to have a Greek name. Whatever its name
was, it kept them out of mischief. These boys grew up to be four ruling
powers in Western life. And when, years after, some one asked Ethan how
it was that he had so stanch a friend in Torrey, Ethan told the history
of the seventh-story room at the McKenzie House, and he said, "Love is
the whole."

Central in all his life was the little cabin of two rooms and a loft
over it. There is no day of his life, from that time to this, of which
Fanny cannot tell you the story from his weekly letters home. For though
she does not live in the cabin now, she keeps the old letters filed and
in order, and once a week steadily Ethan has written to her, and the
letters are all sealed now with his own seal-ring, and on the seal-ring
is carved the inscription, "Love is the whole."

I must not try to tell you the story of Alice's fortunes, or Sarah's.
Every day of their lives was a romance, as is every day of yours and
mine. Every day was a love-story, as may be every day of yours and
mine, if we will make it so. As they all grew older their homes were all
somewhat parted. The boys became men and married. The girls became women
and married. George never pulled down the old farm-house, not even when
he and Mr. Vaux built the beautiful house that stands next to it to-day.
He put trellises on the sides of it. He trained cotoneaster and Roxbury
wax-work over it. He carved a cross himself, and fastened it in the
gable. Above the door, as you went in, was a picture of Mary Mother and
her Child, with this inscription:--

      "Holy cell and holy shrine,
      For the Maid and Child divine!
      Remember, thou that seest her bending
        O'er that babe upon her knee,
      All heaven is ever thus extending
        Its arms of love round thee.
    Such love shall bless our archèd porch;
    Crowned with his cross, our cot becomes a church."

And in that little church he gathered the boys and girls of the
neighborhood every Sunday afternoon, and told them stories and they sang
together. And on the week days he got up children's parties there, which
all the children thought rather the best experiences of the week, and
he and his wife and his own children grew to think the hours in the
cabin the best hours of all. There were pictures on the walls; they
painted the windows themselves with flower-pictures, and illuminated
them with colored leaves. But there were but two inscriptions. These
were over the inside of the two doors, and both inscriptions were the
same,--"Love is the whole."

They told all these stories, and a hundred more, at a great Thanksgiving
party after the war. Walter and his wife and his children came from
Sangamon County; and the General and all his family came down from
Winetka; and Fanny and the Governor and all their seven came all the way
from Minnesota; and Alice and her husband and all her little ones came
up the river, and so across from Quincy; and Sarah and Gilbert, with the
twins and the babies, came in their own carriage all the way from
Horace. So there was a Thanksgiving dinner set for all the six, and the
six husbands and wives, and the twenty-seven children. In twenty years,
since their father died, those brothers and sisters had lived for each
other. They had had separate houses, but they had spent the money in
them for each other. No one of them had said that anything he had was
his own. They had confided wholly each in each. They had passed through
much sorrow, and in that sorrow had strengthened each other. They had
passed through much joy, and the joy had been multiplied tenfold because
it was joy that was shared. At the Thanksgiving they acted the ballad of
Lochinvar again, or rather some of the children did. And that set Fanny
the oldest and Sarah the youngest to telling to the oldest nephews and
nieces some of the stories of the cabin days. But Fanny said, when the
children asked for more, "There is no need of any more,--'Love is the
whole.'"



CHRISTMAS AND ROME.


The first Christmas this in which a Roman Senate has sat in Rome since
the old-fashioned Roman Senates went under,--or since they "went up," if
we take the expressive language of our Chicago friends.

And Pius IX. is celebrating Christmas with an uncomfortable look
backward, and an uncomfortable look forward, and an uncomfortable look
all around. It is a suggestive matter, this Italian Parliament sitting
in Rome. It suggests a good deal of history and a good deal of prophecy.

"They say" (whoever they may be) that somewhere in Rome there is a range
of portraits of popes, running down from never so far back; that only
one niche was left in the architecture, which received the portrait of
Pius IX., and that then that place was full. Maybe it is so. I did not
see the row. But I have heard the story a thousand times. Be it true, be
it false, there are, doubtless, many other places where portraits of
coming popes could be hung. There is a little wall-room left in the City
Hall of New York. There are, also, other palaces in which popes could
live. Palaces are as plenty in America as are Pullman cars. But it is
possible that there are no such palaces in Rome.

So this particular Christmas sets one careering back a little, to look
at that mysterious connection of Rome with Christianity, which has held
on so steadily since the first Christmas got itself put on historical
record by a Roman census-maker. Humanly speaking, it was nothing more
nor less than a Roman census which makes the word Bethlehem to be a
sacred word over all the world to-day. To any person who sees the
humorous contrasts of history there is reason for a bit of a smile when
he thinks of the way this census came into being, and then remembers
what came of it. Here was a consummate movement of Augustus, who would
fain have the statistics of his empire. Such excellent things are
statistics! "You can prove anything by statistics," says Mr. Canning,
"except--the truth." So Augustus orders his census, and his census is
taken. This Quirinus, or Quirinius, pro-consul of Syria, was the first
man who took it there, says the Bible. Much appointing of marshals and
deputy-marshals,--men good at counting, and good at writing, and good at
collecting fees! Doubtless it was a great staff achievement of Quirinus,
and made much talk in its time. And it is so well condensed at last and
put into tables with indexes and averages as to be very creditable, I
will not doubt, to the census bureau. But alas! as time rolls on, things
change, so that this very Quirinus, who with all a pro-consul's power
took such pains to record for us the number of people there were in
Bethlehem and in Judah, would have been clean forgotten himself, and his
census too, but that things turned bottom upward. The meanest child born
in Bethlehem when this census business was going on happened to prove to
be King of the World. It happened that he overthrew the dynasty of Cæsar
Augustus, and his temples, and his empire. It happened that everything
which was then established tottered and fell, as the star of this child
arose. And the child's star did rise. And now this Publius Sulpicius
Quirinus or Quirinius,--a great man in his day, for whom Augustus asked
for a triumph,--is rescued from complete forgetfulness because that baby
happened to be born in Syria when his census was going on!

I always liked to think that some day when Augustus Cæsar was on a state
visit to the Temple of Fortune some attentive clerk handed him down the
roll which had just come in and said, "From Syria, your Highness!" that
he might have a chance to say something to the Emperor; that the Emperor
thanked him, and, in his courtly way, opened the roll so as to seem
interested; that his eye caught the words "Bethlehem--village near
Jerusalem," and the figures which showed the number of the people and of
the children and of all the infants there. Perhaps. No matter if not.
Sixty years after, Augustus' successor, Nero, set fire to Rome in a
drunken fit. The Temple of Fortune caught the flames, and our roll, with
Bethlehem and the count of Joseph's possessions twisted and crackled
like any common rag, turned to smoke and ashes, and was gone. That is
what such statistics come to!

Five hundred years after, the whole scene is changed. The Church of
Christ, which for hundreds of years worshipped under-ground in Rome, has
found air and sunlight now. It is almost five hundred years after Paul
enters Rome as a prisoner, after Nero burned Rome down, that a monk of
St. Andrew, one of the more prominent monasteries of the city of Rome,
walking through that great market-place of the city--which to this hour
preserves most distinctly, perhaps, the memory of what Rome was--saw a
party of fair-haired slaves for sale among the rest. He stops to ask
where they come from, and of what nation they are; to be told they are
"Angli." "Rather Angeli," says Gregory,--"rather angels;" and with other
sacred _bon-mots_ he fixes the pretty boys and pretty girls in his
memory. Nor are these familiar plays upon words to be spoken of as mere
puns. Gregory was determined to attempt the conversion of the land from
which these "angels" came. He started on the pilgrimage, which was then
a dangerous one; but was recalled by the pope of his day, at the
instance of his friends, who could not do without him.

A few years more and this monk is Bishop of Rome. True to the promise of
the market-place, he organizes the Christian mission which fulfils his
prophecy. He sends Austin with his companions to the island of the
fair-haired slave boys; and that new step in the civilization of that
land comes, to which we owe it that we are met in this church, nay, that
we live in this land this day.

So far has the star of the baby of Bethlehem risen in a little more than
five centuries. A Christian dominion has laid its foundations in the
Eternal City. And you and I, gentle reader, are what we are and are
where we are because that monk of St. Andrew saw those angel boys that
day in a Roman market-place.



THE SURVIVOR'S STORY.


Fortunately we were with our wives.

It is in general an excellent custom, as I will explain if opportunity
is given.

First, you are thus sure of good company.

For four mortal hours we had ground along, and stopped and waited and
started again, in the drifts between Westfield and Springfield. We had
shrieked out our woes by the voices of fire-engines. Brave men had dug.
Patient men had sate inside, and waited for the results of the digging.
At last, in triumph, at eleven and three-quarters, as they say in
Cinderella, we entered the Springfield station.

It was Christmas eve!

Leaving the train to its devices, Blatchford and his wife (her name was
Sarah), and I with mine (her name was Phebe), walked quickly with our
little sacks out of the station, ploughed and waded along the white
street, not to the Massasoit,--no, but to the old Eagle and Star, which
was still standing, and was a favorite with us youngsters. Good waffles,
maple syrup _ad lib._, such fixings of other sorts as we preferred, and
some liberty. The amount of liberty in absolutely first-class hotels is
but small. A drowsy boy waked, and turned up the gas. Blatchford entered
our names on the register, and cried at once, "By George, Wolfgang is
here, and Dick! What luck!" for Dick and Wolfgang also travel with their
wives. The boy explained that they had come up the river in the
New-Haven train, were only nine hours behind time, had arrived at ten,
and had just finished supper and gone to bed. We ordered rare
beef-steak, waffles, dip-toast, omelettes with kidneys, and omelettes
without; we toasted our feet at the open fire in the parlor; we ate the
supper when it was ready; and we also went to bed; rejoicing that we had
home with us, having travelled with our wives; and that we could keep
our merry Christmas here. If only Wolfgang and Dick and their wives
would join us, all would be well. (Wolfgang's wife was named Bertha, and
Dick's was named Hosanna,--a name I have never met with elsewhere.)

Bed followed; and I am a graceless dog that I do not write a sonnet here
on the unbroken slumber that followed. Breakfast, by arrangement of us
four, at nine. At 9.30, to us enter Bertha, Dick, Hosanna, and Wolfgang,
to name them in alphabetical order. Four chairs had been turned down for
them. Four chops, four omelettes, and four small oval dishes of fried
potatoes had been ordered, and now appeared. Immense shouting, immense
kissing among those who had that privilege, general wondering, and great
congratulating that our wives were there. Solid resolution that we would
advance no farther. Here, and here only, in Springfield itself, would we
celebrate our Christmas day.

It may be remarked in parenthesis that we had learned already that no
train had entered the town since eleven and a quarter; and it was known
by telegraph that none was within thirty-four miles and a half of the
spot, at the moment the vow was made.

We waded and ploughed our way through the snow to church. I think Mr.
Rumfry, if that is the gentleman's name who preached an admirable
Christmas sermon, in a beautiful church there is, will remember the
platoon of four men and four women, who made perhaps a fifth of his
congregation in that storm,--a storm which shut off most church-going.
Home again; a jolly fire in the parlor, dry stockings, and dry slippers.
Turkeys, and all things fitting for the dinner; and then a general
assembly, not in a caravanserai, not in a coffee-room, but in the
regular guests' parlor of a New-England second-class hotel, where, as it
was ordered, there were no "transients" but ourselves that day; and
whence all the "boarders" had gone either to their own rooms, or to
other homes.

For people who have their wives with them, it is not difficult to
provide entertainment on such an occasion.

"Bertha," said Wolfgang, "could you not entertain us with one of your
native dances?"

"Ho! slave," said Dick to Hosanna, "play upon the virginals." And
Hosanna played a lively Arab air on the tavern piano, while the fair
Bertha danced with a spirit unusual. Was it indeed in memory of the
Christmas of her own dear home in Circassia?

All that, from "Bertha" to "Circassia," is not so. We did not do this at
all. That was all a slip of the pen. What we did was this. John
Blatchford pulled the bell-cord till it broke (they always break in
novels, and sometimes they do in taverns). This bell-cord broke. The
sleepy boy came; and John said, "Caitiff, is there never a barber in the
house?" The frightened boy said there was; and John bade him send him.
In a minute the barber appeared,--black, as was expected,--with a
shining face, and white teeth, and in shirt sleeves, and broad grins.
"Do you tell me, Cæsar," said John, "that in your country they do not
wear their coats on Christmas day?"--"Sartin, they do, sir, when they go
out doors."

"Do you tell me, Cæsar," said Dick, "that they have doors in your
country?"--"Sartin, they do," said poor Cæsar, flurried.

"Boy," said I, "the gentlemen are making fun of you. They want to know
if you ever keep Christmas in your country without a dance."

"Never, sar," said poor Cæsar.

"Do they dance without music?"

"No, sar; never."

"Go, then," I said in my sternest accents,--"go fetch a zittern, or a
banjo, or a kit, or a hurdy-gurdy, or a fiddle."

The black boy went, and returned with his violin. And as the light grew
gray, and crept into the darkness, and as the darkness gathered more
thick and more, he played for us and he played for us, tune after tune;
and we danced,--first with precision, then in sport, then in wild
holiday frenzy. We began with waltzes,--so great is the convenience of
travelling with your wives,--where should we have been, had we been all
sole alone, four men? Probably playing whist or euchre. And now we began
with waltzes, which passed into polkas, which subsided into round
dances; and then in very exhaustion we fell back in a grave quadrille. I
danced with Hosanna; Wolfgang and Sarah were our _vis-à-vis_. We went
through the same set that Noah and his three boys danced in the ark with
their four wives, and which has been danced ever since, in every moment,
on one or another spot of the dry earth, going round it with the sun,
like the drumbeat of England,--right and left, first two forward, right
hand across, _pastorale_,--the whole series of them; we did them with
as much spirit as if it had been on a flat on the side of Ararat, ground
yet too muddy for croquet. Then Blatchford called for "Virginia Reel,"
and we raced and chased through that. Poor Cæsar began to get exhausted,
but a little flip from down stairs helped him amazingly. And, after the
flip, Dick cried, "Can you not dance 'Money-Musk'?" And in one wild
frenzy of delight we danced "Money-Musk" and "Hull's Victory" and "Dusty
Miller" and "Youth's Companion," and "Irish Jigs" on the closet-door
lifted off for the occasion, till the men lay on the floor screaming
with the fun, and the women fell back on the sofas, fairly faint with
laughing.

       *       *       *       *       *

All this last, since the sentence after "Circassia," is a mistake. There
was not any bell, nor any barber, and we did not dance at all. This was
all a slip of my memory.

What we really did was this:--

John Blatchford said,--"Let us all tell stories." It was growing dark
and he had put more logs on the fire.

Bertha said,--

    "Heap on more wood, the wind is chill;
    But let it whistle as it will,
    We'll keep our merry Christmas still."

She said that because it was in "Bertha's Visit," a very stupid book
which she remembered.

Then Wolfgang told


THE PENNY-A-LINER'S STORY.

[Wolfgang is a reporter, or was then, on the staff of the "Star."]

When I was on the "Tribune" (he never was on the "Tribune" an hour,
unless he calls selling the "Tribune" at Fort Plains being on the
"Tribune"). But I tell the story as he told it. He said,--

When I was on the "Tribune," I was despatched to report Mr. Webster's
great reply to Hayne. This was in the days of stages. We had to ride
from Baltimore to Washington early in the morning to get there in time.
I found my boots were gone from my room when the stage-man called me,
and I reported that speech in worsted slippers my wife had given me the
week before. As we came into Bladensburg it grew light, and I recognized
my boots on the feet of my fellow-passenger,--there was but one other
man in the stage. I turned to claim them, but stopped in a moment, for
it was Webster himself. How serene his face looked as he slept there! He
woke soon, passed the time of day, offered me a part of a sandwich,--for
we were old friends,--I was counsel against him in the Ogden case. Said
Webster to me,--"Steele, I am bothered about this speech: I have a
paragraph in it which I cannot word up to my mind." And he repeated it
to me. "How would this do?" said he. "'Let us hope that the sense of
unrestricted freedom may be so intertwined with the desire to preserve a
connection of the several parts of the body politic, that some
arrangement, more or less lasting, may prove in a measure satisfactory.'
How would that do?"

I said I liked the idea, but the expression seemed involved.

"And it is involved," said Webster; "but I can't improve it."

"How would this do?" said I.

"'LIBERTY AND UNION, NOW AND FOREVER, ONE AND INSEPARABLE!'"

"Capital!" he said, "capital! write that down for me." At that moment
we arrived at the Capitol steps. I wrote down the words for him, and
from my notes he read them, when that place in the speech came along.

All of us applauded the story.

Phebe then told


THE SCHOOLMISTRESS'S STORY.

You remind me of the impression that very speech made on me, as I heard
Henry Chapin deliver it at an exhibition at Leicester Academy. I
resolved then that I would free the slave, or perish in the attempt. But
how? I, a woman,--disfranchised by the law? Ha! I saw!

I went to Arkansas. I opened a "Normal College, or Academy for
Teachers." We had balls every second night, to make it popular. Immense
numbers came. Half the teachers of the Southern States were trained
there. I had admirable instructors in Oil Painting and Music,--the most
essential studies. The Arithmetic I taught myself. I taught it well. I
achieved fame. I achieved wealth; invested in Arkansas Five per Cents.
Only one secret device I persevered in. To all,--old and young, innocent
girls and sturdy men,--I so taught the multiplication-table, that one
fatal error was hidden in its array of facts. The nine line is the
difficult one. I buried the error there. "Nine times six," I taught
them, "is fifty-six." The rhyme made it easy. The gilded falsehood
passed from lip to lip, from State to State,--one little speck in a
chain of golden verity. I retired from teaching. Slowly I watched the
growth of the rebellion. At last the aloe blossom shot up,--after its
hundred years of waiting. The Southern heart was fired. I brooded over
my revenge. I repaired to Richmond. I opened a first-class
boarding-house, where all the Cabinet, and most of the Senate, came for
their meals; and I had eight permanents. Soon their brows clouded. The
first flush of victory passed away. Night after night, they sat over
their calculations, which all came wrong. I smiled,--and was a villain!
None of their sums would prove. None of their estimates matched the
performance! Never a muster-roll that fitted as it should do! And
I,--the despised boarding-mistress,--I alone knew why! Often and often,
when Memminger has said to me, with an oath, "Why this discordancy in
our totals?" have my lips burned to tell the secret! But no! I hid it
in my bosom. And when, at last, I saw a black regiment march into
Richmond, singing "John Brown," I cried, for the first time in twenty
years, "Nine times six is fifty-four;" and gloated in my sweet revenge.

Then was hushed the harp of Phebe, and Dick told his story.


THE INSPECTOR OF GAS-METERS' STORY.

Mine is a tale of the ingratitude of republics. It is well-nigh thirty
years since I was walking by the Owego and Ithaca Railroad,--a crooked
road, not then adapted to high speed. Of a sudden I saw that a long
cross timber, on a trestle, high above a swamp, had sprung up from its
ties. I looked for a spike with which to secure it. I found a stone with
which to hammer the spike. But, at this moment, a train approached, down
hill. I screamed. They heard! But the engine had no power to stop the
heavy train. With the presence of mind of a poet, and the courage of a
hero, I flung my own weight on the fatal timber. I would hold it down,
or perish. The engine came. The elasticity of the pine timber whirled
me in the air! But I held on. The tender crossed. Again I was flung in
wild gyrations. But I held on. "It is no bed of roses," I said; "but
what act of Parliament was there that I should be happy." Three
passenger cars, and ten freight cars, as was then the vicious custom of
that road, passed me. But I held on, repeating to myself texts of
Scripture to give me courage. As the last car passed, I was whirled into
the air by the rebound of the rafter. "Heavens!" I said, "if my orbit is
a hyperbola, I shall never return to earth." Hastily I estimated its
ordinates, and calculated the curve. What bliss! It was a parabola!
After a flight of a hundred and seventeen cubits, I landed, head down,
in a soft mud-hole.

In that train was the young U. S. Grant, on his way to West Point for
examination. But for me the armies of the Republic would have had no
leader.

I pressed my claim, when I asked to be appointed to England. Although no
one else wished to go, I alone was forgotten. Such is gratitude with
republics!

He ceased. Then Sarah Blatchford told


THE WHEELER AND WILSON'S OPERATIVE'S STORY.

My father had left the anchorage of Sorrento for a short voyage, if
voyage it may be called. Life was young, and this world seemed heaven.
The yacht bowled on under close-reefed stay-sails, and all was happy.
Suddenly the corsairs seized us: all were slain in my defence; but
I,--this fatal gift of beauty bade them spare my life!

Why linger on my tale! In the Zenana of the Shah of Persia I found my
home. "How escape his eye?" I said; and, fortunately, I remembered that
in my reticule I carried one box of F. Kidder's indelible ink. Instantly
I applied the liquid in the large bottle to one cheek. Soon as it was
dry, I applied that in the small bottle, and sat in the sun one hour. My
head ached with the sunlight, but what of that? I was a fright, and I
knew all would be well.

I was consigned, so soon as my hideous deficiencies were known, to the
sewing-room. Then how I sighed for my machine! Alas! it was not there;
but I constructed an imitation from a cannon-wheel, a coffee-mill, and
two nut-crackers. And with this I made the under-clothing for the palace
and the Zenana.

I also vowed revenge. Nor did I doubt one instant how; for in my youth I
had read Lucretia Borgia's memoirs, and I had a certain rule for slowly
slaying a tyrant at a distance. I was in charge of the shah's own linen.
Every week, I set back the buttons on his shirt collars by the width of
one thread; or, by arts known to me, I shrunk the binding of the collar
by a like proportion. Tighter and tighter with each week did the vice
close around his larynx. Week by week, at the high religious festivals,
I could see his face was blacker and blacker. At length the hated tyrant
died. The leeches called it apoplexy. I did not undeceive them. His
guards sacked the palace. I bagged the diamonds, fled with them to
Trebizond, and sailed thence in a caïque to South Boston. No more! such
memories oppress me.

Her voice was hushed. I told my tale in turn.


THE CONDUCTOR'S STORY.

I was poor. Let this be my excuse, or rather my apology. I entered a
Third Avenue car at Thirty-sixth Street, and saw the conductor
sleeping. Satan tempted me, and I took from him his badge, 213. I see
the hated figures now. When he woke, he knew not he had lost it. The car
started, and he walked to the rear. With the badge on my coat, I
collected eight fares within, stepped forward, and sprang into the
street. Poverty is my only apology for the crime. I concealed myself in
a cellar where men were playing with props. Fear is my only excuse. Lest
they should suspect me, I joined their game, and my forty cents were
soon three dollars and seventy. With these ill-gotten gains, I visited
the gold exchange, then open evenings. My superior intelligence enabled
me to place well my modest means, and at midnight I had a competence.
Let me be a warning to all young men. Since that night, I have never
gambled more.

I threw the hated badge into the river. I bought a palace on Murray
Hill, and led an upright and honorable life. But since that night of
terror the sound of the horse-cars oppresses me. Always since, to go up
town or down, I order my own coupé, with George to drive me; and never
have I entered the cleanly, sweet, and airy carriage provided for the
public. I cannot; conscience is too much for me. You see in me a
monument of crime.

I said no more. A moment's pause, a few natural tears, and a single sigh
hushed the assembly; then Bertha, with her siren voice, told--


THE WIFE OF BIDDEFORD'S STORY.

At the time you speak of, I was the private governess of two lovely
boys, Julius and Pompey,--Pompey the senior of the two. The black-eyed
darling! I see him now. I also see, hanging to his neck, his blue-eyed
brother, who had given Pompey his black eye the day before. Pompey was
generous to a fault; Julius, parsimonious beyond virtue. I therefore
instructed them in two different rooms. To Pompey, I read the story of
"Waste not, want not." To Julius, on the other hand, I spoke of the
All-love of his great Mother Nature, and her profuse gifts to her
children. Leaving him with grapes and oranges, I stepped back to Pompey,
and taught him how to untie parcels so as to save the string. Leaving
him winding the string neatly, I went back to Julius, and gave to him
ginger-cakes. The dear boys grew from year to year. They outgrew their
knickerbockers, and had trousers. They outgrew their jackets, and became
men; and I felt that I had not lived in vain. I had conquered nature.
Pompey, the little spendthrift, was the honored cashier of a savings
bank, till he ran away with the capital. Julius, the miser, became the
chief croupier at the New Crockford's. One of those boys is now in
Botany Bay, and the other is in Sierra Leone!

"I thought you were going to say in a hotter place," said John
Blatchford; and he told his story:--


THE STOKER'S STORY.

We were crossing the Atlantic in a Cunarder. I was second stoker on the
starboard watch. In that horrible gale we spoke of before dinner, the
coal was exhausted, and I, as the best-dressed man, was sent up to the
captain to ask what we should do. I found him himself at the wheel. He
almost cursed me and bade me say nothing of coal, at a moment when he
must keep her head to the wind with her full power, or we were lost. He
bade me slide my hand into his pocket, and take out the key of the after
freight-room, open that, and use the contents for fuel. I returned
hastily to the engine-room, and we did as we were bid. The room
contained nothing but old account books, which made a hot and effective
fire.

On the third day the captain came down himself into the engine-room,
where I had never seen him before, called me aside, and told me that by
mistake he had given me the wrong key; asking me if I had used it. I
pointed to him the empty room: not a leaf was left. He turned pale with
fright. As I saw his emotion he confided to me the truth. The books were
the evidences or accounts of the British national debt; of what is
familiarly known as the Consolidated Fund, or the "Consols." They had
been secretly sent to New York for the examination of James Fiske, who
had been asked to advance a few millions on this security to the English
Exchequer, and now all evidence of indebtedness was gone!

The captain was about to leap into the sea. But I dissuaded him. I told
him to say nothing; I would keep his secret; no man else knew it. The
Government would never utter it. It was safe in our hands. He
reconsidered his purpose. We came safe to port and did--nothing.

Only on the first quarter-day which followed, I obtained leave of
absence, and visited the Bank of England, to see what happened. At the
door was this placard,--"Applicants for dividends will file a written
application, with name and amount, at desk A, and proceed in turn to the
Paying Teller's Office." I saw their ingenuity. They were making out new
books, certain that none would apply but those who were accustomed to.
So skilfully do men of Government study human nature.

I stepped lightly to one of the public desks. I took one of the blanks.
I filled it out, "John Blatchford, £1747 6_s._ 8_d._," and handed it in
at the open trap. I took my place in the queue in the teller's room.
After an agreeable hour, a pile, not thick, of Bank of England notes was
given to me; and since that day I have quarterly drawn that amount from
the maternal government of that country. As I left the teller's room, I
observed the captain in the queue. He was the seventh man from the
window, and I have never seen him more.

We then asked Hosanna for her story.


THE N. E. HISTORICAL GENEALOGIST'S STORY.

"My story," said she, "will take us far back into the past. It will be
necessary for me to dwell on some incidents in the first settlement of
this country, and I propose that we first prepare and enjoy the
Christmas-tree. After this, if your courage holds, you shall hear an
over-true tale." Pretty creature, how little she knew what was before
us!

As we had sat listening to the stories, we had been preparing for the
tree. Shopping being out of the question, we were fain from our own
stores to make up our presents, while the women were arranging nuts, and
blown egg-shells, and pop-corn strings from the stores of the "Eagle and
Star." The popping of corn in two corn-poppers had gone on through the
whole of the story-telling. All being so nearly ready, I called the
drowsy boy again, and, showing him a very large stick in the wood-box,
asked him to bring me a hatchet. To my great joy he brought the axe of
the establishment, and I bade him farewell. How little did he think what
was before him! So soon as he had gone I went stealthily down the
stairs, and stepping out into the deep snow, in front of the hotel,
looked up into the lovely night. The storm had ceased, and I could see
far back into the heavens. In the still evening my strokes might have
been heard far and wide, as I cut down one of the two pretty Norways
that shaded Mr. Pynchon's front walk, next the hotel. I dragged it over
the snow. Blatchford and Steele lowered sheets to me from the large
parlor window, which I attached to the larger end of the tree. With
infinite difficulty they hauled it in. I joined them in the parlor, and
soon we had as stately a tree growing there as was in any home of joy
that night in the river counties.

With swift fingers did our wives adorn it. I should have said above,
that we travelled with our wives, and that I would recommend that custom
to others. It was impossible, under the circumstances, to maintain much
secrecy; but it had been agreed that all who wished to turn their backs
to the circle, in the preparation of presents, might do so without
offence to the others. As the presents were wrapped, one by one, in
paper of different colors, they were marked with the names of giver and
receiver, and placed in a large clothes-basket. At last all was done. I
had wrapped up my knife, my pencil-case, my letter-case, for Steele,
Blatchford, and Dick. To my wife I gave my gold watch-key, which
fortunately fits her watch; to Hosanna, a mere trifle, a seal ring I
wore; to Bertha, my gold chain; and to Sarah Blatchford, the watch which
generally hung from it. For a few moments, we retired to our rooms while
the pretty Hosanna arranged the forty-nine presents on the tree. Then
she clapped her hands, and we rushed in. What a wondrous sight! What a
shout of infantine laughter and charming prattle! for in that happy
moment were we not all children again?

I see my story hurries to its close. Dick, who is the tallest, mounted a
step-ladder, and called us by name to receive our presents. I had a nice
gold watch-key from Hosanna, a knife from Steele, a letter-case from
Phebe, and a pretty pencil-case from Bertha. Dick had given me his
watch-chain, which he knew I fancied; Sarah Blatchford, a little toy of
a Geneva watch she wore; and her husband, a handsome seal ring, a
present to him from the Czar, I believe; Phebe, that is my wife,--for we
were travelling with our wives,--had a pencil-case from Steele, a
pretty little letter-case from Dick, a watch-key from me, and a French
repeater from Blatchford; Sarah Blatchford gave her the knife she
carried, with some bright verses, saying that it was not to cut love;
Bertha, a watch-chain; and Hosanna a ring of turquoise and amethysts.
The other presents were similar articles, and were received, as they
were given, with much tender feeling. But at this moment, as Dick was on
the top of the flight of steps, handing down a red apple from the tree,
a slight catastrophe occurred.

The first I was conscious of was the angry hiss of steam. In a moment I
perceived that the steam-boiler, from which the tavern was warmed, had
exploded. The floor beneath us rose, and we were driven with it through
the ceiling and the rooms above,--through an opening in the roof into
the still night. Around us in the air were flying all the other contents
and occupants of the Star and Eagle. How bitterly was I reminded of
Dick's flight from the railroad track of the Ithaca & Owego Railroad!
But I could not hope such an escape as his. Still my flight was in a
parabola; and, in a period not longer than it has taken to describe it,
I was thrown senseless, at last, into a deep snow-bank near the United
States Arsenal.

Tender hands lifted me and assuaged me. Tender teams carried me to the
City Hospital. Tender eyes brooded over me. Tender science cared for me.
It proved necessary, before I recovered, to amputate my two legs at the
hips. My right arm was wholly removed, by a delicate and curious
operation, from the socket. We saved the stump of my left arm, which was
amputated just below the shoulder. I am still in the hospital to recruit
my strength. The doctor does not like to have me occupy my mind at all;
but he says there is no harm in my compiling my memoirs, or writing
magazine stories. My faithful nurse has laid me on my breast on a
pillow, has put a camel's-hair pencil in my mouth, and, feeling almost
personally acquainted with John Carter, the artist, I have written out
for you, in his method, the story of my last Christmas.

I am sorry to say that the others have never been found.



THE SAME CHRISTMAS IN OLD ENGLAND AND NEW.


The first Christmas in New England was celebrated by some people who
tried as hard as they could not to celebrate it at all. But looking back
on that year 1620, the first year when Christmas was celebrated in New
England, I cannot find that anybody got up a better _fête_ than did
these Lincolnshire weavers and ploughmen who had got a little taste of
Dutch firmness, and resolved on that particular day, that, whatever else
happened to them, they would not celebrate Christmas at all.

Here is the story as William Bradford tells it:

"Ye 16. _day_ ye winde came faire, and they arrived safe in this harbor.
And after wards tooke better view of ye place, and resolved wher to
pitch their dwelling; and ye 25. _day_ begane to erecte ye first house
for comone use to receive them and their goods."

You see, dear reader, that when on any 21st or 22d of December you give
the children parched corn, and let them pull candy and swim candles in
nut-shells in honor of the "landing of the Forefathers"--if by good luck
you be of Yankee blood, and do either of these praiseworthy things--you
are not celebrating the anniversary of the day when the women and
children landed, wrapped up in water-proofs, with the dog and John
Carver in headpiece, and morion, as you have seen in many pictures. That
all came afterward. Be cool and self-possessed, and I will guide you
through the whole chronology safely--Old Style and New Style, first
landing and second landing, Sabbaths and Sundays, Carver's landing and
Mary Chilton's landing, so that you shall know as much as if you had
fifteen ancestors, a cradle, a tankard, and an oak chest in the
Mayflower, and you shall come out safely and happily at the first
Christmas day.

Know then, that when the poor Mayflower at last got across the Atlantic,
Massachusetts stretched out her right arm to welcome her, and she came
to anchor as early as the 11th of November in Provincetown Harbor. This
was the day when the compact of the cabin of the Mayflower was signed,
when the fiction of the "social compact" was first made real. Here they
fitted their shallop, and in this shallop, on the sixth of December, ten
of the Pilgrims and six of the ship's crew sailed on their exploration.
They came into Plymouth harbor on the tenth, rested on Watson's island
on the eleventh,--which was Sunday,--and on Monday, the twelfth, landed
on the mainland, stepping on Plymouth rock and marching inland to
explore the country. Add now nine days to this date for the difference
then existing between Old Style and New Style, and you come upon the
twenty-first of December, which is the day you ought to celebrate as
Forefathers' Day. On that day give the children parched corn in token of
the new provant, the English walnut in token of the old, and send them
to bed with Elder Brewster's name, Mary Chilton's, Edward Winslow's, and
John Billington's, to dream upon. Observe still that only these ten men
have landed. All the women and children and the other men are over in
Provincetown harbor. These ten, liking the country well enough, go
across the bay to Provincetown where they find poor Bradford's wife
drowned in their absence, and bring the ship across into Plymouth harbor
on the sixteenth. Now you will say of course that they were so glad to
get here that they began to build at once; but you are entirely
mistaken, for they did not do any such thing. There was a little of the
John Bull about them and a little of the Dutchman. The seventeenth was
Sunday. Of course they could not build a city on Sunday. Monday they
explored, and Tuesday they explored more. Wednesday,

"After we had called on God for direction, we came to this resolution,
to go presently ashore again, and to take a better view of two places,
which we thought most fitting for us; for we could not now take time for
further search or consideration, our victuals being much spent,
especially our beer."

Observe, this is the Pilgrims' or Forefathers' beer, and not the beer of
the ship, of which there was still some store. Acting on this resolution
they went ashore again, and concluded by "most voices" to build Plymouth
where Plymouth now is. One recommendation seems to have been that there
was a good deal of land already clear. But this brought with it the
counter difficulty that they had to go half a quarter of a mile for
their wood. So there they left twenty people on shore, resolving the
next day to come and build their houses. But the next day it stormed,
and the people on shore had to come back to the ship, and Richard
Britteridge died. And Friday it stormed so that they could not land, and
the people on the shallop who had gone ashore the day before could not
get back to the ship. Saturday was the twenty-third, as they counted,
and some of them got ashore and cut timber and carried it to be ready
for building. But they reserved their forces still, and Sunday, the
twenty-fourth, no one worked of course. So that when Christmas day came,
the day which every man, woman and child of them had been trained to
regard as a holy day--as a day specially given to festivity and
specially exempted from work, all who could went on shore and joined
those who had landed already. So that William Bradford was able to close
the first book of his history by saying: "Ye 25. _day_ begane to erect
ye first house for comone use to receive them and their goods."

Now, this all may have been accidental. I do not say it was not. But
when I come to the record of Christmas for next year and find that
Bradford writes: "One ye day called Chrismas-day, ye Gov'r caled them
out to worke (as was used)," I cannot help thinking that the leaders had
a grim feeling of satisfaction in "secularizing" the first Christmas as
thoroughly as they did. They wouldn't work on Sunday, and they would
work on Christmas.

They did their best to desecrate Christmas, and they did it by laying
one of the cornerstones of an empire.

Now, if the reader wants to imagine the scene,--the Christmas
celebration or the Christmas desecration, he shall call it which he
will, according as he is Roman or Puritan himself,--I cannot give him
much material to spin his thread from. Here is the little story in the
language of the time:

"Munday the 25. day, we went on shore, some to fell tymber, some to saw,
some to riue, and some to carry, so no man rested all that day, but
towards night some as they were at worke, heard a noyse of some Indians,
which caused vs all to goe to our Muskets, but we heard no further, so
we came aboord againe, and left some twentie to keepe the court of gard;
that night we had a sore storme of winde and rayne.

"Munday the 25. being Christmas day, we began to drinke water aboord,
but at night the Master caused vs to have some Beere, and so on board we
had diverse times now and then some Beere, but on shore none at all."

There is the story as it is told by the only man who chose to write it
down. Let us not at this moment go into an excursus to inquire who he
was and who he was not. Only diligent investigation has shown beside
that this first house was about twenty feet square, and that it was for
their common use to receive them and their goods. The tradition says
that it was on the south side of what is now Leyden street, near the
declivity of the hill. What it was, I think no one pretends to say
absolutely. I am of the mind of a dear friend of mine, who used to say
that, in the hardships of those first struggles, these old forefathers
of ours, as they gathered round the fires (which they did have--no
Christian Registers for them to warm their cold hands by), used to
pledge themselves to each other in solemn vows that they would leave to
posterity no detail of the method of their lives. Posterity should not
make pictures out of them, or, if it did, should make wrong ones; which
accordingly, posterity has done. What was the nature, then, of this
twenty-foot-square store-house, in which, afterward, they used to sleep
pretty compactly, no man can say. Dr. Young suggests a log cabin, but I
do not believe that the log cabin was yet invented. I think it is more
likely that the Englishmen rigged their two-handled saws,--after the
fashion known to readers of Sanford and Merton in an after age,--and
made plank for themselves. The material for imagination, as far as
costume goes, may be got from the back of a fifty-dollar national
bank-note, which the well-endowed reader will please take from his
pocket, or from a roll of Lorillard's tobacco at his side, on which he
will find the good reduction of Weir's admirable picture of the
embarkation. Or, if the reader has been unsuccessful in his investment
in Lorillard, he will find upon the back of the one-dollar bank-note a
reduced copy of the fresco of the "Landing" in the Capitol, which will
answer his purpose equally well. Forty or fifty Englishmen, in hats and
doublets and hose of that fashion, with those odd English axes that you
may see in your Æsop's fable illustrations, and with their
double-handled saws, with a few beetles, and store of wedges, must make
up your tableau, dear reader. Make it _vivant_, if you can.

To help myself in the matter, I sometimes group them on the bank there
just above the brook,--you can see the place to-day, if it will do you
any good--at some moment when the women have come ashore to see how the
work goes on--and remembering that Mrs. Hemans says "they sang"--I throw
the women all in a chorus of soprano and contralto voices on the left,
Mrs. Winslow and Mrs. Carver at their head, Mrs. W. as _prima assoluta
soprano_ and Mrs. Carver as _prima assoluta contralto_,--I range on the
right the men with W. Bradford and W. Brewster as leaders--and between,
facing us, the audience,--who are lower down in the valley of the brook,
I place Giovanni Carver (tenor) and Odoardo Winslow (basso) and have
them sing in the English dialect of their day,

    Suoni la tromba,

Carver waving the red-cross flag of England, and Winslow swinging a
broadaxe above his head in similar revolutions. The last time I saw any
Puritans doing this at the opera, one had a star-spangled banner and the
other an Italian tricolor,--but I am sure my placing on the stage is
more accurate than that. But I find it very hard to satisfy myself that
this is the correct idealization. Yet Mrs. Hemans says the songs were
"songs of lofty cheer," which precisely describes the duet in Puritani.

It would be an immense satisfaction, if by palimpsest under some old
cash-book of that century, or by letters dug out from some family
collection in England, one could just discover that "John Billington,
having become weary with cutting down a small fir-tree which had been
allotted to him, took his snaphance and shot with him, and calling a dog
he had, to whom in the Low Countries the name Crab had been given, went
after fowle. Crossing the brook and climbing up the bank to an open
place which was there, he found what had been left by the savages of one
of their gardens,--and on the ground, picking at the stalkes of the
corne, a flocke of large blacke birds such as he had never seen before.
His dogge ran at them and frightened them, and they all took wing
heavily, but not so quick but that Billington let fly at them and
brought two of them down,--one quite dead and one hurt so badly that he
could not fly. Billington killed them both and tyed them together, and
following after the flocke had another shot at them, and by a good
Providence hurte three more. He tyed two of these together and brought
the smallest back to us, not knowing what he brought, being but a poor
man and ignorant. Hee is but a lazy Fellowe, and was sore tired with the
weight of his burden, which was nigh fortie pounds. Soe soon as he saw
it, the Governour and the rest knew that it was a wild Turkie, and
albeit he chid Billington sharply, he sent four men with him, as it were
Calebs and Joshuas, to bring in these firstlings of the land. They found
the two first and brought them to us; but after a long search they could
not find the others, and soe gave them up, saying the wolves must have
eaten them. There were some that thought John Billington had never seen
them either, but had shot them with a long bowe. Be this as it may,
Mistress Winslow and the other women stripped them they had, cleaned
them, spytted them, basted them, and roasted them, and thus we had fresh
foule to our dinner."

I say it would have been very pleasant to have found this in some
palimpsest, but if it is in the palimpsest, it has not yet been found.
As the Arab proverb says, "There is news, but it has not yet come."

I have failed, in just the same way, to find a letter from that
rosy-cheeked little child you see in Sargent's picture, looking out of
her great wondering eyes, under her warm hood, into the desert. I
overhauled a good many of the Cotton manuscripts in the British Museum
(Otho and Caligula, if anybody else wants to look), and Mr. Sainsbury
let me look through all the portfolios I wanted in the State Paper
Office, and I am sure the letter was not there then. If anybody has
found it, it has been found since I was there. If it ever is found, I
should like to have it contain the following statement:--

"We got tired of playing by the fire, and so some of us ran down to the
brook, and walked till we could find a place to cross it; and so came up
to a meadow as large as the common place in Leyden. There was a good
deal of ice upon it in some places, but in some places behind, where
there were bushes, we found good store of berries growing on the ground.
I filled my apron, and William took off his jerkin and made a bag of it,
and we all filled it to carry up to the fire. But they were so sour,
that they puckered our mouths sadly. But my mother said they were
cranberries, but not like your cranberries in Lincolnshire. And, having
some honey in one of the logs the men cut down, she boiled the
cranberries and the honey together, and after it was cold we had it with
our dinner. And besides, there were some great pompions which the men
had brought with them from the first place we landed at, which were not
like Cinderella's, but had long tails to them, and of these my mother
and Mrs. Brewster and Mrs. Warren, made pies for dinner. We found
afterwards that the Indians called these pompions, _askuta squash_."

But this letter, I am sorry to say, has not yet been found.

Whether they had roast turkey for Christmas I do not know. I do know,
thanks to the recent discovery of the old Bradford manuscript, that
they did have roast turkey at their first Thanksgiving. The veritable
history, like so much more of it, alas! is the history of what they had
not, instead of the history of what they had. Not only did they work on
the day when all their countrymen played, but they had only water to
drink on the day when all their countrymen drank beer. This deprivation
of beer is a trial spoken of more than once; and, as lately as 1824, Mr.
Everett, in his Pilgrim oration, brought it in high up in the climax of
the catalogue of their hardships. How many of us in our school
declamations have stood on one leg, as bidden in "Lovell's Speaker,"
raised the hand of the other side to an angle of forty-five degrees, as
also bidden, and repeated, as also bidden, not to say compelled, the
words, "I see them, escaped from these perils, pursuing their almost
desperate undertaking, and landed at last, after a five-months' passage,
on the ice-clad rocks of Plymouth, weak and exhausted from the voyage,
poorly armed, scantily provisioned, depending on the charity of their
ship-master for a draught of beer on board, drinking nothing but water
on shore, without shelter, without means, surrounded by hostile
tribes."

Little did these men of 1620 think that the time would come when ships
would go round the world without a can of beer on board; that armies
would fight through years of war without a ration of beer or of spirit,
and that the builders of the Lawrences and Vinelands, the pioneer towns
of a new Christian civilization, would put the condition into the
title-deeds of their property that nothing should be sold there which
could intoxicate the buyer. Poor fellows! they missed the beer, I am
afraid, more than they did the play at Christmas; and as they had not
yet learned how good water is for a steady drink, the carnal mind almost
rejoices that when they got on board that Christmas night, the
curmudgeon ship-master, warmed up by his Christmas jollifications, for
he had no scruples, treated to beer all round, as the reader has seen.
With that tankard of beer--as those who went on board filled it, passed
it, and refilled it--ends the history of the first Christmas in New
England.

       *       *       *       *       *

It is a very short story, and yet it is the longest history of that
Christmas that I have been able to find. I wanted to compare this
celebration of Christmas, grimly intended for its desecration, with some
of the celebrations which were got up with painstaking intention. But,
alas, pageants leave little history, after the lights have smoked out,
and the hangings have been taken away. Leaving, for the moment, King
James's Christmas and Englishmen, I thought it would be a pleasant thing
to study the contrast of a Christmas in the countries where they say
Christmas has its most enthusiastic welcome. So I studied up the war in
the Palatinate,--I went into the chronicles of Spain, where I thought
they would take pains about Christmas,--I tried what the men of "la
religion," the Huguenots, were doing at Rochelle, where a great assembly
was gathering. But Christmas day would not appear in memoirs or annals.
I tried Rome and the Pope, but he was dying, like the King of Spain, and
had not, I think, much heart for pageantry. I looked in at Vienna, where
they had all been terribly frightened by Bethlem Gabor, who was a great
Transylvanian prince of those days, a sort of successful Kossuth, giving
much hope to beleaguered Protestants farther west, who, I believe,
thought for a time that he was some sort of seal or trumpet, which,
however, he did not prove to be. At this moment of time he was
retreating I am afraid, and at all events did not set his
historiographer to work describing his Christmas festivities.

Passing by Bethlem Gabor then, and the rest, from mere failure of their
chronicles to make note of this Christmas as it passed, I returned to
France in my quest. Louis XIII. was at this time reigning with the
assistance of Luynes, the short-lived favorite who preceded Richelieu.
Or it would, perhaps, be more proper to say that Luynes was reigning
under the name of Louis XIII. Louis XIII. had been spending the year in
great activity, deceiving, thwarting, and undoing the Protestants of
France. He had made a rapid march into their country, and had spread
terror before him. He had had mass celebrated in Navarreux, where it had
not been seen or heard in fifty years. With Bethlem Gabor in the
ablative,--with the Palatinate quite in the vocative,--these poor
Huguenots here outwitted and outgeneralled, and Brewster and Carver
freezing out there in America, the Reformed Religion seems in a bad way
to one looking at that Christmas. From his triumphal and almost
bloodless campaign, King Louis returns to Paris, "and there," says
Bassompierre, "he celebrated the _fêtes_ this Christmas." So I thought I
was going to find in the memoirs of some gentleman at court, or
unoccupied mistress of the robes, an account of what the most Christian
King was doing, while the blisters were forming on John Carver's hands,
and while John Billington was, or was not, shooting wild turkeys on that
eventful Christmas day.

But I reckoned without my king. For this is all a mistake, and
whatever else is certain, it seems to be certain that King Louis
XIII. did not keep either Christmas in Paris, either the Christmas
of the Old Style, or that of the New. Such, alas, is history, dear
friend! When you read in to-night's "Evening Post" that your friend
Dalrymple is appointed Minister to Russia, where he has been so
anxious to go, do not suppose he will make you his Secretary of
Legation. Alas! no; for you will read in to-morrow's "Times" that it
was all a mistake of the telegraph, and that the dispatch should
have read "O'Shaughnessy," where the dispatch looked like
"Dalrymple." So here, as I whetted my pencil, wetted my lips, and
drove the attentive librarian at the Astor almost frantic as I sent
him up stairs for you five times more, it proved that Louis XIII.
did not spend Christmas in Paris, but that Bassompierre, who said
so, was a vile deceiver. Here is the truth in the _Mercure
Française_,--flattering and obsequious Annual Register of those
days:

"The King at the end of this year, visited the frontiers of Picardy. In
this whole journey, which lasted from the 14th of December to the 12th
of January (New Style), the weather was bad, and those in his Majesty's
suite found the roads bad." Change the style back to the way our
Puritans counted it, and observe that on the same days, the 5th of
December to the 3d of January, Old Style, those in the suite of John
Carver found the weather bad and the roads worse. Let us devoutly hope
that his most Christian Majesty did not find the roads as bad as his
suite did.

"And the King," continues the _Mercure_, "sent an extraordinary
Ambassador to the King of Great Britain, at London, the Marshal Cadenet"
(brother of the favorite Luynes). "He departed from Calais on Friday,
the first day of January, very well accompanied by _noblesse_. He
arrived at Dover the same evening, and did not depart from Dover until
the Monday after."

Be pleased to note, dear reader, that this Monday, when this Ambassador
of a most Christian King departs from Dover, is on Monday the 25th day
of December, of Old Style, or Protestant Style, when John Carver is
learning wood-cutting, by way of encouraging the others. Let us leave
the King of France to his bad roads, and follow the fortunes of the
favorite's brother, for we must study an English Christmas after all. We
have seen the Christmas holidays of men who had hard times for the
reward of their faith in the Star of Bethlehem. Let us try the fortunes
of the most Christian King's people, as they keep their second Christmas
of the year among a Protestant people. Observe that a week after their
own Christmas of New Style, they land in Old Style England, where
Christmas has not yet begun. Here is the _Mercure Français's_ account of
the Christmas holidays,--flattering and obsequious, as I said:

"Marshal Cadenet did not depart from Dover till the Monday after"
(Christmas day, O. S.). "The English Master of Ceremonies had sent
twenty carriages and three hundred horses for his suite." (If only we
could have ten of the worst of them at Plymouth! They would have drawn
our logs for us that half quarter of a mile. But we were not born in the
purple!) "He slept at Canterbury, where the Grand Seneschal of England,
well accompanied by English noblemen, received him on the part of the
King of England. Wherever he passed, the officers of the cities made
addresses to him, and offers, even ordering their own archers to march
before him and guard his lodgings. When he came to Gravesend, the Earl
of Arundel visited him on the part of the King, and led him to the Royal
barge. His whole suite entered into twenty-five other barges, painted,
hung with tapestry, and well adorned" (think of our poor, rusty shallop
there in Plymouth bay), "in which, ascending the Thames, they arrived in
London Friday the 29th December" (January 8th, N. S.). "On disembarking,
the Ambassador was led by the Earl of Arundel to the palace of the late
Queen, which had been superbly and magnificently arranged for him. The
day was spent in visits on the part of his Majesty the King of Great
Britain, of the Prince of Wales, his son, and of the ambassadors of
kings and princes, residing in London." So splendidly was he
entertained, that they write that on the day of his reception he had
four tables, with fifty covers each, and that the Duke of Lennox, Grand
Master of England, served them with magnificent order.

"The following Sunday" (which we could not spend on shore), "he was
conducted to an audience by the Marquis of Buckingham," (for shame,
Jamie! an audience on Sunday! what would John Knox have said to that!)
"where the French and English nobility were dressed as for a great feast
day. The whole audience was conducted with great respect, honor, and
ceremony. The same evening, the King of Great Britain sent for the
Marshal by the Marquis of Buckingham and the Duke of Lennox; and his
Majesty and the Ambassador remained alone for more than two hours,
without any third person hearing what they said. The following days were
all receptions, banquets, visits, and hunting-parties, till the embassy
departed."

That is the way history gets written by a flattering and obsequious
court editor or organ at the time. That is the way, then, that the dread
sovereign of John Carver and Edward Winslow spent his Christmas
holidays, while they were spending theirs in beginning for him an
empire. Dear old William Brewster used to be a servant of Davison's in
the days of good Queen Bess. As he blows his fingers there in the
twenty-foot storehouse before it is roofed, does he tell the rest
sometimes of the old wassail at court, and the Christmas when the Earl
of Southampton brought Will. Shakespeare in? Perhaps those things are
too gay,--at all events, we have as much fuel here as they have at St.
James's.

Of this precious embassy, dear reader, there is not a word, I think, in
Hume, or Lingard, or the "Pictorial"--still less, if possible, in the
abridgments. Would you like, perhaps, after this truly elegant account
thus given by a court editor, to look behind the canvas and see the
rough ends of the worsted? I always like to. It helps me to understand
my morning "Advertiser" or my "Evening Post," as I read the editorial
history of to-day. If you please, we will begin in the Domestic State
Papers of England, which the good sense of somebody, I believe kind Sir
Francis Palgrave, has had opened for you and me and the rest of us.

Here is the first notice of the embassy:

Dec. 13. Letter from Sir Robert Naunton to Sir George Calvert.... "The
King of France is expected at Calais. The Marshal of Cadenet is to be
sent over to calumniate those of the religion (that is, the
Protestants), and to propose Madme. Henriette for the Prince."

So they knew, it seems, ten days before we started, what we were coming
for.

Dec. 22. John Chamberlain to Sir Dudley Carleton. "In spite of penury,
there is to be a masque at Court this Christmas. The King is coming in
from Theobalds to receive the French Ambassador, Marshal Cadenet, who
comes with a suite of 400 or 500."

What was this masque? Could not Mr. Payne Collier find up the libretto,
perhaps? Was it Faith, Valor, Hope, and Love, founding a kingdom,
perhaps? Faith with a broadaxe, Valor and Hope with a two-handled saw,
while Love dug post-holes and set up timbers? Or was it a less
appropriate masque of King James' devising?

Dec. 25. This is our day. Francis Willisfourd, Governor of Dover Castle
to Lord Zouch, Warden of the Cinque Ports. "A French Ambassador has
landed with a great train. I have not fired a salute, having no
instructions, and declined showing them the fortress. They are
entertained as well as the town can afford."

Observe, we are a little surly. We do not like the French King very
well, our own King's daughter being in such straits yonder in the
Palatinate. What do these Papists here?

That is the only letter written on Christmas day in the English
"Domestic Archives" for that year! Christmas is for frolic here, not for
letter-writing, nor house-building, if one's houses be only built
already!

But on the 27th, Wednesday, "Lord Arundel has gone to meet the French
Ambassador at Gravesend." And a very pretty time it seems they had at
Gravesend, when you look on the back of the embroidery. Arundel called
on Cadenet at his lodgings, and Cadenet did not meet him till he came to
the stair--head of his chamber-door--nor did he accompany him further
when he left. But Arundel was even with him the next morning. He
appointed his meeting for the return call _in the street_; and when the
barges had come up to Somerset House, where the party was to stay,
Arundel left the Ambassador, telling him that there were gentlemen who
would show him his lodging. The King was so angry that he made Cadenet
apologize. Alas for the Court of Governor John Carver on this
side,--four days old to-day--if Massasoit should send us an ambassador!
_We_ shall have to receive him in the street, unless he likes to come
into a palace without a roof! But, fortunately, he does not send till we
are ready!

The Domestic Archives give another glimpse:

Dec. 30. Thomas Locke to Carleton: "The French Ambassador has arrived at
Somerset House with a train so large that some of the seats at
Westminster Hall had to be pulled down to make room at their audience."
And in letters from the same to the same, of January 7, are accounts of
entertainments given to the Ambassador at his first audience (on that
Sunday), on the 4th at Parliament House, on the 6th at a masque at
Whitehall, where none were allowed below the rank of a Baron--and at
Lord Doncaster's entertainment--where "six thousand ounces of gold are
set out as a present," says the letter, but this I do not believe. At
the Hampton entertainment, and at the masque there were some disputes
about precedency, says John Chamberlain in another letter. Dear John
Chamberlain, where are there not such disputes? At the masque at
Whitehall he says, "a Puritan was flouted and abused, which was thought
unseemly, considering the state of the French Protestants." Let the
Marshal come over to Gov. John Carver's court and see one of our masques
there, if he wants to know about Puritans. "At Lord Doncaster's house
the feast cost three thousand pounds, beside three hundred pounds worth
of ambergris used in the cooking," nothing about that six thousand
ounces of gold. "The Ambassador had a long private interview with the
king; it is thought he proposed Mad. Henriette for the Prince. He left
with a present of a rich jewel. He requested liberation of all the
imprisoned priests in the three kingdoms, but the answer is not yet
given."

By the eleventh of January the embassy had gone, and Thomas Locke says
Cadenet "received a round answer about the Protestants." Let us hope it
was so, for it was nearly the last, as it was. Thomas Murray writes that
he "proposed a match with France,--a confederation against Spanish
power, and asked his Majesty to abandon the rebellious princes,--but he
refused unless they might have toleration." The Ambassador was followed
to Rochester for the debts of some of his train,--but got well home to
Paris and New Style.

And so he vanishes from English history.

His king made him Duke of Chaulnes and Peer of France, but his brother,
the favorite died soon after, either of a purple fever or of a broken
heart, and neither of them need trouble us more.

At the moment the whole embassy seemed a failure in England,--and so it
is spoken of by all the English writers of the time whom I have seen.
"There is a flaunting French Ambassador come over lately," says Howel,
"and I believe his errand is naught else but compliment.... He had an
audience two days since, where he, with his train of ruffling
long-haired Monsieurs, carried himself in such a light garb, that after
the audience the king asked my Lord Keeper Bacon what he thought of the
French Ambassador. He answered, that he was a tall, proper man. 'Aye,'
his Majesty replied, 'but what think you of his head-piece? Is he a
proper man for the office of an ambassador?' 'Sir,' said Bacon, 'tall
men are like houses of four or five stories, wherein commonly the
uppermost room is worst furnished.'"

Hard, this, on us poor six-footers. One need not turn to the biography
after this, to guess that the philosopher was five feet four.

I think there was a breeze, and a cold one, all the time, between the
embassy and the English courtiers. I could tell you a good many stories
to show this, but I would give them all for one anecdote of what Edward
Winslow said to Madam Carver on Christmas evening. They thought it all
naught because they did not know what would come of it. We do know.

And I wish you to observe, all the time, beloved reader, whom I press to
my heart for your steadiness in perusing so far, and to whom I would
give a jewel had I one worthy to give, in token of my consideration (how
you would like a Royalston beryl or an Attleboro topaz).[A] I wish you
to observe, I say, that on the Christmas tide, when the Forefathers
began New England, Charles and Henrietta were first proposed to each
other for that fatal union. Charles, who was to be Charles the First,
and Henrietta, who was to be mother of Charles the Second, and James the
Second. So this was the time, when were first proposed all the precious
intrigues and devisings, which led to Charles the Second, James the
Second, James the Third, so called, and our poor friend the Pretender.
Civil War--Revolution--1715--1745--Preston-Pans, Falkirk and
Culloden--all are in the dispatches Cadenet carries ashore at Dover,
while we are hewing our timbers at the side of the brook at Plymouth,
and making our contribution to Protestant America.

    [A] Mrs. Hemans says they did not seek "bright jewels of the
        mine," which was fortunate, as they would not have found
        them. Attleboro is near Plymouth Rock, but its jewels are
        not from mines. The beryls of Royalston are, but they are
        far away. Other good mined jewels, I think, New England
        has none. Her garnets are poor, and I have yet seen no
        good amethysts.

On the one side Christmas is celebrated by fifty outcasts chopping wood
for their fires--and out of the celebration springs an empire. On the
other side it is celebrated by the _noblesse_ of two nations and the
pomp of two courts. And out of the celebration spring two civil wars,
the execution of one king and the exile of another, the downfall twice
repeated of the royal house, which came to the English throne under
fairer auspices than ever. The whole as we look at it is the tale of
ruin. Those are the only two Christmas celebrations of that year that I
have found anywhere written down!

You will not misunderstand the moral, dear reader, if, indeed, you
exist; if at this point there be any reader beside him who corrects the
proof! Sublime thought of the solemn silence in which these words may be
spoken! You will not misunderstand the moral. It is not that it is
better to work on Christmas than to play. It is not that masques turn
out ill, and that those who will not celebrate the great anniversaries
turn out well. God forbid!

It is that these men builded better than they knew, because they did
with all their heart and all their soul the best thing that they knew.
They loved Christ and feared God, and on Christmas day did their best to
express the love and the fear. And King James and Cadenet,--did they
love Christ and fear God? I do not know. But I do not believe, nor do
you, that the masque of the one, or the embassy of the other, expressed
the love, or the hope, or the faith of either!

So it was that John Carver and his men, trying to avoid the celebration
of the day, built better than they knew indeed, and, in their faith,
laid a corner-stone for an empire.

And James and Cadenet trying to serve themselves--forgetful of the
spirit of the day, as they pretended to honor it--were so successful
that they destroyed a dynasty.

There is moral enough for our truer Christmas holidays as 1867 leads in
the new-born sister.



Cambridge: Press of John Wilson and Son.



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There are few books for children which we can recommend so thoroughly
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Transcriber's Notes:

Page numbering in the original goes from 39 to 39^1 through to 39^{14}
before recommencing the sequence from 40.

Variations in hyphenation have been retained as they appear in the
original publication. Changes to the original have been made as
follows:

Title Page

    Comma changed to fullstop at the end of the line
    _WITH ILLUSTRATION BY F. O. C. DARLEY_.

Page 19

    polked to their hearts' content _changed to_
    polkaed to their hearts' content

Page 39^{12}

    Quotation mark removed from the end of the line
    down and kisses her!

Page 48

    Single quotation mark replaced by double before
    "The star, the manger, and the Child!"

Page 60

    Quotation mark added at the end of
    the court, the camp, and the Argus office."

Page 72

    Quotation mark added at the end of
    What fun!"

Page 79

    Quotation mark added before
    "Can't you behave

Page 84

    haled Bridget up five flights of stairs _changed to_
    hauled Bridget up five flights of stairs

Page 98

    docter says, maybe a shade _changed to_
    doctor says, maybe a shade

Page 158

    three or four regiments, thirteeen _changed to_
    three or four regiments, thirteen

Page 208

    words of their langauge _changed to_
    words of their language

Page 225

    And Mr. Sydner agreed with _changed to_
    And Mr. Snyder agreed with

In the promotional pages at the end of the book:

    A $ sign has been added to
    670 pages. Price $1.75.

    A fullstop has been added after the initial G in
    A NURSERY RHYME BOOK. By CHRISTINA G.

    A fullstop has been added after
    of the Apostle of the Gentiles.





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can't offer guidance on whether any specific use of any specific book is
allowed. Please do not assume that a book's appearance in Doctrine Publishing
ISYS search  means it can be used in any manner anywhere in the world.
Copyright infringement liability can be quite severe.

About ISYS® Search Software
Established in 1988, ISYS Search Software is a global supplier of enterprise
search solutions for business and government.  The company's award-winning
software suite offers a broad range of search, navigation and discovery
solutions for desktop search, intranet search, SharePoint search and embedded
search applications.  ISYS has been deployed by thousands of organizations
operating in a variety of industries, including government, legal, law
enforcement, financial services, healthcare and recruitment.



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