« הקודםהמשך »
LAMONI, IOWA, JANUARY, 1894.
We have seen the light of Judah
Shine across the deser: far, And have come to worship Jesus
As the bright and morning star. With our foreheads burned and dusty,
By the desert sun and sand, We have come a weary journey
Through a desolated land. For we beard a voice that called us,
"Come up higher, come up higher! While the autumn leaves are falling,
Quit the world with its desire. “Leave the lowland and the valley
Of your selfish aim and portion, And ascend the mighty highland
Of the mountain of devotion."
We have heard the mystic music
From the grand march of the ages, And have read the testimony
Of the years upon its pages. And we know the signs and seasons
In their variations sing With a voice still unmistaken,
The coming of the King. We have come as came the wise men
In the mystic days of old, With our incense, myrrh, and spices,
With our silver and our gold. But no gift of any nation
Is the brightest gift we bring, 'Tis the pure heart's adoration
That we offer to our King.
CHRISTMAS EVE AT THE CORNER GROCERY.
HE boss had not returned; in
truth, the probability was the
boss would not return that night, inasmuch as he had generously offered the bookkeeper, who was clerk as well, permission to go to his supper first. True, the subordinate had declined the honor; it being Christmas eve, Saturday night, close upon the heels of the new year, and the books of the establishment sadly in need of posting. The subordinate did not relish the prospect of a lonely Christmas, Sunday at that, on the tall stool behind the big desk among the cobwebs, mackerel and onion scents, sardine boxes, nail kegs, coils of barbed wire, soap-smelling cotton stuffs, molasses and coal oil. So he gave up his sup
per, and the half hour with the cripple, (he sighed for the half hour more than for the supper,) contented himself with a bite of cheese and a cracker, which he forth with entered upon the book, as he had been ordered to do, in a clear, clerical hand: “To S. Riley, cheese and crackers, .07." He wrote it in his best hand, to cover up: the smallness of it, perhaps, for it was a very small entry. The subordinate's face wore something very like a sneer as he made it, although he had the consolation of knowing the smallness of the transaction was upon the side of the creditor.
It was a general kind of a store, was the grocery on the corner; a little out of the way, beyond the regular beat
of the city folk, but convenient to the “Sixty cents a bushel. How is the people of the suburbs. It wasn't a little boy to-night, Mrs. Elkins? Is mammoth concern, although its stock he getting well for Christmas?” was varied. The boss, the real owner “Yes," said the woman. "He's of the establishment, and Riley, the a'ready well; well an' happy. I bookkeeper, ran it, without other help fetched him to the graveyard this than that of black Ben, the porter. mornin'."
Riley was both bookkeeper, clerk, Riley dropped the potato he had and, he sometimes suspected, general taken from the tub, and looked up to scapegoat to the proprietor. To-night see the woman's lip quiver. he was left to attend to everything, **What's the price o' them potafor he knew the boss would not leave toes?" his warm hearth to trudge back Fifteen cents a peck." through the snow to the little corner She laid a silver dime upon the grocery that night. His daughter had counter. come for him in a sleigh, and had car- Gimme them many," she said; ried him off, amid warm furs and the “there's four more lef' to feed besides jingle of sleigh bells, to a cheery the dead one, though,” she added Christmas eve with his family.
quickly. "I-aint begrudgin' of 'em The bookkeeper sighed as he victuals." munched his cheese. There was a Riley measured a peck of the potalittle lame girl away up in the attic on toes, and emptied them into her Water Street that Riley called home. basket. Four mouths besides her She would hear the sleigh bells go by own, and one little starveling left that and peep down from her dingy little day, that blessed Christmas eve," in window, and clap her hands, and wish the graveyard. He found himself "daddy would come home for Christ- hoping, as he went back to the ledger, mas too." There wasn't any mother that they had buried the baby near up there in the attic; for out in the his own dead. The big graveyard cemetery, in the portion allotted to wouldn't feel so desolate, so weirdly the common people, the snow was lonesome, as he thought it must, to falling softly on the little mother's the dead baby, if the little childgrare.
mother, his young wife, could find it The clerk ate his cheese in silence. out there among all that array of the Suddenly he dropped his fist upon the common dead. "To S. Rileyl, 1-.} of desk heavily. Sometimes I wish she peek of potatoes, .0.7," the blue blotter was out there with her mother," he had copied, or absorbed the entry, said. Sometimes I wish it, 'spe. made it double, as if the debt had alcially at Christmas times.
ready begun to draw interest. The see: she is ten years old to-night; we clerk, however, had not noticed the called her our Christmas gift,' and blotter; other customers came in and never a step have the little feet taken. claimed his attention. They were imPoor Julia! poor little Christmas patient too. It was a very busy night, snowbird! poor little Christmas spar- and the books, he feared, would not row! I always think of her somehow be balanced after all. It was shabby. when the boys go by in the holidays downright mean, of the boss not to with a string of dead birds they've come back at a time like this. shot. Poor little daughter!"
The new customer was old man He sighed, and took up his pen: it Murdock from across the river, the was a busy season. A step caused suburbs. He had been rich once, him to look up; then he arose and owned a house up town, and belonged went to wait upon a customer. It was to the aristocracy. He had possessed a woman, and Riley saw that she had the appurtenances to wealth, such as been weeping
influence, leisure, at one time. He Howdy do, Mrs. Elkins," he said. still was a gentleman, since nature, “What can I do for you?”
not circumstance, had had the care of "I want to know the price of pota- that. Every movement, every word, toes, Mr. Riley,” she replied.
the very set of the threadbare broad
cloth, spoke the proud, the “well the white finger touch the hat brim as raised" gentleman of the Old South the customer passed out into the time. “Good evening,” Mr. Riley, snow, then climbed back to his perch, he said, when the clerk stumbled thinking, as he did so, that of all down from his perch. The male poverty the poverty that follows fallen customers – they learned it from the fortunes must be the very hardest to boss, doubtless - called him “Riley." endure. There is the battle against They generally said, "Hello, Riley.” old longings, long-indulged luxuries, But the old Southerner was neither so past pleasures, faded grandeurs, dead rude nor so familiar. He said, "Good dreams, living sneers, and pride, that evening, Mr. Riley,” much the same indomitable blessing, or curse, that as he would have said to the president, never, nerer dies.
God pity those *Good evening. Mr.-_"; and he poor who have once seen better days! touched his long, white, scholarly “To S. Riley, 2 lbs. bacon, at 1.2 1-2 looking finger to the brim of his hat, cts., .25." The book bore another though the hat was not lifted. Riley entry. Riley put the blotter over it said. "Good evening" back agin, and very quickly; he had a fancy the late wanted to know “what Mr. Murdock customer was looking over his shoulwould look at.” He would have put der. He shouldn't like the old gentlethe question in the same way had Mr. man to see that entry, not by any Murdock still possessed his thousands; means. and he would have put it no less re- 'Chris'mus gif', marster." spectfully had the gentleman of fallen Another customer had entered. fortunes come a begging. There is Riley closed the big ledger, and that about a gentleman commands re- thrust it into the safe. The daybook spect; great Nature willed it so. would take up the balance of the even
The customer was not hurried; he ing. remarked upon the weather, and “What can I do for you, Aunt thawed himself before the big stove Angie!” he said, going behind the (he never once broached the object of counter to wait upon the old colored Christmas, nor became at all familiar), woman, who had passed the complipitied the homeless such a night, ments of the season after the old slave hoped it would freeze out the tariff custom. upon wool; then he asked, carelessly, She laughed, albeit her clothing as men of leisure might. “What is the was in rags, and the thin shawl price of bacon. Mr. Riley? - by the gathered about her shoulders bore hundred."
patches in blue and yellow and white. Eight dollars a hundred, Mr. Mur- I kotched yer Chris'mus gif', good dock," said Riley.
marster; yer knows I did.” The ex-millionaire slipped his white *But you're a little early, Aunt forefinger into his vest porket. After Angie,” said the clerk; “this is only a moment's silence. during which Christmas eve." Riley knew the proud old heart was "Aw, git out, marster. De ole breaking, though the calm face gare nigger got ter cook all day ter-morrer no sign of the struggle, "Put me up a big Chris'mus dinner fur de whi' dime's worth of the bacon, if you folks. No res' fur de old nigger, not please.”
even et Chris'mus. Bress de Lord, it Riley obeyed silently; he would no ain' come but onc't a year." more have presumed to cover up the She laughed again, but under the pathos of the proceeding by talk than strange merriment Riley detected the he would have thought of offering a weariness that was thankful; aye, that penny, in charity, to the mayor in the thanked God that Christmas, the holicity. He put the transaction as purely day of the Christ child, came but upon a business footing as if the cus- once a year." tomer had ordered a round ton of Christmas! Christmas! old season something He wrapped the meat in of mirth and misery! Who really ena sheet of brown paper, and received joys it, after all? Lazarus in the the stately “Good evening, sir,” saw gutter or D'ves among his coffers?