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aware that he is a founder of the Society of the Enemies of Santa Claus?" Mollie and her new husband burst into shouts of laughter. They laughed till the tears came.
"We heard of nothing else for a week before we left England," the colonel explained.
"It's no laughing matter," said Martha. She was laughing, too, but there were tears in her eyes, and she went on to tell them the whole story of the agonizing week we had put in since Angus told us that Christmas was a filthy Boche performance. We all talked at once.
"Wallas dear," said Mollie, when we had finished, "I know how to buy the boy's consent to our marriage."
"How is that, Mollie?"
"Wait until after breakfast to-morrow morning," was all she would say.
We were almost apprehensively silent at the table the next morning. Finally Colonel Grahame exchanged signals with Mollie. Breakfast was over for everybody except our Betsy Greedykins. Colonel Grahame arose, stuck his
The colonel turned away, his shoulders heaving, and Mollie took charge of proceedings.
"A week before I sailed," said she, "a deputation of angry mothers called upon me at my home in Edinburgh and stated that my son had inveigled their sons into pledging an oath that they would have nothing to do with the socalled German Christmas. These young men had become alarmed at the prospect of receiving no gifts and also at the anger displayed by their parents when informed of the secret society into which they had been initiated by
Angus MacLeod. But some of them felt bound by the solemn oath which had been administered to them. Two days later I gathered them all into my drawing-room."
"How many came, Mother?" Angus asked.
"All twenty-five of the Enemies of Christmas and Kultur were present. I had the honor to explain to them that they had taken an oath without knowing what it was for, and that it was not binding, and that I forthwith absolved them of all obligations, in your name. I explained that Christmas is a Christian festival, originating with the three wise men who brought gifts to the Christ child. I informed these young ignoramuses that Santa Claus is not a German, but a Scandinavian, saint, who has been adopted wherever the Norsemen have ever gone, including our own Scotland. And I urged them never to belong to another society which was so ashamed of itself that it had to be kept a secret."
Angus was quite crushed.
"Oh, I am an ass!" he said in a smothered voice.
"Further," his mother continued implacably, "I pointed out to those splendid young gentlemen that Christmas was a time devoted to 'peace on earth and good will toward men,' a time for 'forgiving those who have trespassed against you,' a time for universal loving-kindness."
"Please don't say any more, Mother!" Angus begged.
There was a silence, and the rest of us stole out of the room. I confess I lingered in the hallway and listened, but everybody else sneaked away, feeling whipped. I was fascinated by that woman's power over the boy, and I could n't believe she would keep it up. As a matter of fact she could n't. Through the crack I saw that Colonel Grahame had taken up a position behind her chair.
"Angus," said his mother, gently, “I have just been abusing my power as a grown person over a child. I did it deliberately. I did it to show you that you must learn not to abuse your power over other children or their parents. You've been tyrannizing over this house. I
don't know what you 're going to do about it, I really don't."
"You'll have to think up something very handsome to do for poor Mrs. Ferguson," said the colonel. "Get your
cap, and we 'll go for a long tramp and see what we can think of."
"By the way, Angus," said his mother, "I have n't told you that Wallas and I were married in Edinburgh on December tenth. We've each had secrets. We'll just have to forgive each other."
"I don't know what to say," said Angus, "except that I'm very proud indeed, sir, to have you for a father, and I am Scotch enough to relish the prospect of inheriting your lovely place in the Trossachs." He and the colonel shook hands warmly.
"Let's take that tramp I suggested," said the colonel, and they started toward the door behind which I was shamelessly eavesdropping. I fled up-stairs and watched them from a window as they swung down the drive side by side.
They were gone all day. By nine o'clock we decided they were not going to eat the dinner we had saved for them. The children went up to bed at nine-thirty, and William declared that this would be a fine time for him to try on his "Santa rig." Martha tiptoed upstairs and brought it down, but when she and William unfolded it and spread it out, their faces fell terribly. It had shrunk away almost to nothing. We were aghast.
"Is n't there some way you can boil me down to the dimensions of a quartcup?" he asked breathlessly.
At that moment Colonel Grahame and Angus came in together, laden with many of packages. They evidently had put in a day in New York.
"Look what Santa Claus has to wear," said William, holding out the shrunken costume.
Angus dropped his bundles to the floor and leaped at him. He snatched the costume and dashed over to Martha.
"I have it!" he shouted. "Cousin Martha, I want to ask a perfectly tremendous favor, a perfectly tremendous favor. This-this will fit me! Will you please let me be Santa Claus?"
I must say it was the merriest Christmas we have ever had.
Illustrations by John R. Neill
RE all of us potentially devotees, I wonder, Now, I am an unbeliever, a heretic, a backslider from the tried ancestral Presbyterianism of my grandfathers. I do not know by what ill name you would call me; I do not know how to classify myself; only I find myself disbelieving almost everything I hear when I sit under the Sunday bells. My reason moves in a different world of thought. It is nevertheless true that when the bells ring and I look up to the aspiring steeples against the sky in the middle of a Sunday morning, or when I hear them sounding upon the quiet of the Sunday evening dusk or sending their clear-toned invitation out through the secular bustle of the mid-week streets and in at doors and windows, summoning, summoning, there is that in me that hears them and starts up and would obey. It must be something my grandmoth ers left there my long line of untraceable grandmothers back, back through the hundreds of years. I won
der if in all the other people of this questioning generation whose thoughts have separated them from the firm, sustaining certainties of the past the same ghostly allegiance rises, the same vague emotions stir and quiver at the evoking of the Sunday bells. I should think it altogether likely, for I have never found that in anything very real in me I am at all different from everybody else I meet
I suppose all our grandfathers would
recognize it as pointing to the invincible truth of the body of doctrine we denythe spirit wrestling within us to bring us back out of our wilful darkness into light. But we heretics, we misbelievers, we see it otherwise. We do not find ourselves able to substitute an emotion for an argument. The genesis of our emotions is too complex. How can what we know has been variously molded, however poignantly we feel ithow can it stand to us for proof of the world and the world to come?
The Sunday bells! I sit in the morning quiet of the old Moravian Cemetery and
I hear them ringing near. They are not so golden-voiced, those first bells, as if they had been more lately made; but I think it may be they go the deeper into my feelings for that. Some people pass, leisurely at first, starting early and strolling at ease through the peaceful Sunday morning on the way to church, talking together as they go: ladies, middle-aged and elderly, the black-dressed Sunday ladies whose serene wontedness suggests that they have passed this very way to that very goal one morning in seven since their lives began; a father with his boy and girl; three frolicsome youngsters together in their Sunday clothes loitering through the sunny square with many divagations, and chattering happily as they go,-I am not so sure their blithe steps will end at the church door,-but yet they may; a young girl, fluttering pink ruffles and hurrying. I think she is going to sing in the choir and must be there early. She has the manner of one who fears she is already the least moment late for flawless earliness. Other young girls with their young men are walking consciously together in tempered Sunday sweethearting. And so on and on till the bell has_rung a last summons, and the music has risen, and given way to silence, and the last belated comers have hurried by, looking at accusing watches, and gone within, to lose their consciousness of guilt in that cool interior whose concern is with eternity, not time. Along all the other streets of the diverse town I fancy them streaming, gathering in at the various doors, on one business bent, obeying one impulse in their many ways, one common, deep-planted instinct that not one of them can philosophize back to its ultimate, sure source, though it masters them all-the source that is deeper than
lifelong habit or childhood teaching or the tradition of the race; the source out of which all these came in their dim beginnings.
But how multiform the expression of that instinct! In how many moods and understandings the various public walks to church! Here in the Moravian Church I know how they sit, sprinkled somewhat sparsely through the pews, devout, but seeming chill, austerely other-worldly, the unitcs fratrum, but not making one feel brotherhood domnant in their gray-walled, cool-lighted,
earnest church; individualistic, rather, each lifting his soul to his God within his own self-contained and inexpressive consciousness, sitting a little apart from his next neighbor. Down on the other side of the river, where the Slovaks come to their Catholic Church, there is scarcely room for them all within the doors; they sit close, as many as the pews will hold, and the rest kneel on the bare floor to the very doors. The air is thick with the candles and the prayers and breaths and crowding of so many, many people, day after day. The children of this faith must not stay away from church, or their souls, they know, are threatened. It is the one rigid rule of life.
One half the crowded, colorful great room is packed with women and girls, the other side is packed as close with the boys and men, and there is no mingling. The color is along the walls, in the painted holy sculptures; in the richcolored silken banners hanging from their standards down the long side aisles, with holy pictures on them, too; in the glittering high altar; in the innumerable yellow jewel points of candle-flames. It is not in the women kneeling there. They come soberly to church, dressed for the most part in dark colors, and many of them in black,
"Each lifting his soul to his God
within his own self-contained and inexpressive consciousness"
their heads black-shawled or blackveiled with devout humility. There is more variety of color, or at least of high lights and shadows, on the men's side, where the bared heads give the variety of flesh tints, at least, above the black shoulders, and of different hues of hair. It is a strangely somber congregation in a church vivid with color and candlelight. The black-robed priest stands before the altar, speaking to his dense, silent people in an eloquent voice in the Slovak tongue. Beside him, high over him, hangs a tortured, realistic Christ, fascinating, compelling, terrible. Its painted, life-sized reality is a thing to haunt the imagination. To me, the heretic, it is an image of gruesome horror, an unforgiving symbol for a religion of eternal resentment, not tenderness. But under it the people kneel humbly and pray; lips move, and the beads of rosaries slip through accustomed fingers. Far in the dim, outer aisle a little old, old woman, a black wraith with veiled head, drifts like a silent shadow to the altar of a saint and kneels and whispers her supplication. In all the pews and in the kneeling group in the space behind the pews workroughened, knotted, swollen hands hold worn Slovak prayer-books, their covers limp with long handling, though they came to church and will go home again wrapped in clean handkerchiefs, reverently. The old and the young are here, and babies in arms; but so many old! People are old after few years among the hard-working; women especially, for they bear many children quickly.
This is not in America. It is thousands of miles and a wide ocean away from the Moravian Church on the other side of the river, farther still removed from the Lutheran and the Presbyterian and the Methodist on their several corners up the street. As you stand there, an alien, on the edge of the congregation, and feel that solemn bell of the service sounding again and again through the hidden deeps of the responding multitude and your own self, the thick air is vibrant with the South
of-Europe emotionality and fervor of expression. The church, you feel, is poetry, romance, the fullness and richness of life. The glow of color feasts these hungering, black-veiled communicants, irradiating the whole fabric of gray years. The imagery is not melodrama, but release, all that poor life denies.
Amidst the Moravians the antipodal mood is about you, and shows you its beauty in turn, austere, repressed. Light comes restrained through windows whose long lattice takes away its outdoor sparkle and lets it enter cool and nun-like, a disciplined and sober light. No stained glass paints it with deluding color; no candles burn. It is a beautiful interior, gray, quiet, spacious, restrained, reminding one of the sober seriousness of life, they duty of morality, of calm patience, of the abnegation of things wordly, of the stable soul. Sitting there, one knows gradually that the church is for a stronghold against the buzzing, petty, transient, foolish things, the sanctuary where man may keep unmarred and unforgotten that higher inner dignity that sustains his life amidst unmeaning circumstance.
What it is, I wonder, to the Mennonites in their little, bare wooden chapel at the far other end of town. Is all beauty a snare of this world and dangerous that it should be so sternly excluded here? Or is beauty expensive, and the Mennonites so few, and a dollar so big to give and so little to buy things with? Or did nature leave out that hunger when she fashioned the Mennonite soul?
"You go to Main Street and go down it, and there's a street, and you turn yourself to the left," and half a block before you have arrived you hear the preacher thundering denunciation .He preaches not only vehemently, but very long, and I don't know how early you would have to start to get to the real beginning. His is a little congregation, sitting close, in a little room that is only a few pews long from pulpit to