Puslapio vaizdai
[graphic][ocr errors][ocr errors][merged small]


aware that he is a founder of the So- thumbs into his Sam Browne belt, and ciety of the Enemies of Santa Claus?”' then in a gruff military voice he called

Mollie and her new husband burst out: into shouts of laughter. They laughed “Angus MacLeod! 'Tenshun!” till the tears came.

Angus leaped to his feet and saluted We heard of nothing else for a week stiffly. Angus had not been a Boy Scout before we left England," the colonel on active duty for four years for nothexplained.

“It 's no laughing matter,” said Mar- Yes, sir," he said. tha. She was laughing, too, but there You are accused of being a secret were tears in her eyes, and she went enemy of Santa Claus," said the colon to tell them the whole story of the onel, sternly, and you are about to agonizing week we had put in since receive a public reprimand." Angus told us that Christmas was a The colonel turned away, his shouldfilthy Boche performance. We all talked ers heaving, and Mollie took charge of at once.

proceedings. “Wallas dear,” said Mollie, when we "A week before I sailed," said she, had finished, " I know how to buy the “

"a deputation of angry mothers called boy's consent to our marriage."

upon me at my home in Edinburgh and “How is that, Mollie?”

stated that my son had inveigled their “Wait until after breakfast to-mor- sons into pledging an oath that they row morning," was all she would say. would have nothing to do with the so

We were almost apprehensively silent called German Christmas. These young at the table the next morning. Finally men had become alarmed at the prosColonel Grahame exchanged signals pect of receiving no gifts and also at with Mollie. Breakfast was over for the anger displayed by their parents everybody except our Betsy Greedy- when informed of the secret society inkins. Colonel Grahame arose, stuck his to which they had been initiated by

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

Angus MacLeod. But some of them don't know what you 're going to do felt bound by the solemn oath which about it, I really don't." had been administered to them. Two “You 'll have to think up something days later I gathered them all into my very handsome to do for poor Mrs. Ferdrawing-room."

guson,” said the colonel.

Get your “How many came, Mother?” Angus cap, and we 'll go for a long tramp and asked.

see what we can think of.” "All twenty-five of the Enemies of “By the way, Angus,” said his mother, Christmas and Kultur were present. I “I have n't told you that Wallas and I had the honor to explain to them that were married in Edinburgh on Decemthey had taken an oath without know- ber tenth. We've each had secrets. ing what it was for, and that it was We 'll just have to forgive each other." not binding, and that I forthwith ab- “I don't know what to say," said solved them of all obligations, in your Angus, "except that I'm very proud name. I explained that Christmas is a indeed, sir, to have you for a father, Christian festival, originating with the and I am Scotch enough to relish the three wise men who brought gifts to prospect of inheriting your lovely place the Christ child. I informed these young in the Trossachs." He and the colonel ignoramuses that Santa Claus is not a shook hands warmly. German, but a Scandinavian, saint, who "Let's take that tramp I suggested," has been adopted wherever the Norse- said the colonel, and they started toward men have ever gone, including our own the door behind which I was shamelessScotland. And I urged them never to ly eavesdropping. I fled up-stairs and belong to another society which was so watched them from a window as they ashamed of itself that it had to be kept swung down the drive side by side. a secret."

They were gone all day. By nine Angus was quite crushed.

o'clock we decided they were not going “Oh, I am an ass!” he said in a to eat the dinner we had saved for smothered voice.

them. The children went up to bed at “Further,” his mother continued im- nine-thirty, and William declared that placably, “I pointed out to those splen- this would be a fine time for him to try did young gentlemen that Christmas on his “Santa rig.” Martha tiptoed upwas a time devoted to 'peace on earth stairs and brought it down, but when and good will toward men,' a time for she and William unfolded it and spread ‘forgiving those who have trespassed it out, their faces fell terribly. It had against you,' a time for universal lov- shrunk away almost to nothing. We ing-kindness.

were aghast. “Please don't say any more, Mother!” “Is n't there some way you can boil Angus begged.

me down to the dimensions of a quartThere was a silence, and the rest of cup?” he asked breathlessly. us stole out of the room. I confess I At that moment Colonel Grahame and lingered in the hallway and listened, but Angus came in together, laden with everybody else sneaked away, feeling many of packages. They evidently had whipped. I was fascinated by that put in a day in New York. woman's power over the boy, and I “Look what Santa Claus has to could n't believe she would keep it up. wear,” said William, holding out the As a matter of fact she could n't. shrunken costume. Through the crack I saw that Colonel Angus dropped his bundles to the Grahame had taken up a position be- floor and leaped at him. He snatched hind her chair.

the costume and dashed over to Martha. "Angus," said his mother, gently, "I “I have it!” he shouted. “Cousin have just been abusing my power as a Martha, I want to ask a perfectly tregrown person over a child. I did it de- mendous favor, a perfectly tremendous liberately. I did it to show you that you favor. This—this will fit me! Will must learn not to abuse your power over you please let me be Santa Claus?other children or their parents. You 've I must say it was the merriest Christbeen tyrannizing over this house. I Ι mas we have ever had.


[graphic][merged small][merged small][merged small]


RE all of us potentially de-der if in all the other people of this ques

votees, I wonder, Now, I tioning generation whose thoughts have am an unbeliever, a her- separated them from the firm, sustaining etic, a backslider from the certainties of the past the same ghostly tried ancestral Presbyte allegiance rises, the same vague emo

, rianism of my grandfathers. I do not tions stir and quiver at the evoking of know by what ill name you would the Sunday bells. I should think it altocall me; I do not know how to gether likely, for I have never found classify myself; only I find my- that in anything very real in me I am self disbelieving almost everything I at all different from everybody else I hear when I sit under the Sunday bells. meet My reason moves in a different world of I suppose all our grandfathers would thought. It is nevertheless

recognize it as pointing to true that when the bells

the invincible truth of the ring and I look up to the

body of doctrine we denyaspiring steeples against

the spirit wrestling within the sky in the middle of a

us to bring us back out of Sunday morning, or when I

our wilful

darkness into hear them sounding upon

light. But we heretics, we the quiet of the Sunday eve

misbelievers, we see it ning dusk or sending their

otherwise. We do not find clear-toned invitation out

ourselves able to substitute through the secular bustle

an emotion for an arguof the mid-week streets and

ment. The genesis of our in at doors and windows,

emotions is too complex. summoning, summoning,

How can what we know has there is that in me that

been variously molded, howhears them and starts up

ever poignantly we feel itand would obey. It must be

how can it stand to us for something my grandmoth,

proof of the world and the ers left there—my long line

world to come? of untraceable grandmoth

The Sunday bells! I sit ers back, back through the

in the morning quiet of the hundreds of years. I won

old Moravian Cemetery and

[ocr errors]

I hear them ringing near. They are lifelong habit or childhood teaching or not so golden-voiced, those first bells, the tradition of the race; the source out as if they had been more lately made; of which all these came in their dim but I think it may be they go the beginnings. deeper into my feelings for that. Some But how multiform the expression of people pass, leisurely at first, starting that instinct! In how many moods and early and strolling at ease through the understandings the various public walks peaceful Sunday morning on the way to to church! Here in the Moravian church, talking together as they go: Church I know how they sit, sprinkled ladies, middle-aged and elderly, the somewhat sparsely through the pews, black-dressed Sunday ladies whose se- devout, but seeming chill, austerely rene wontedness suggests that they other-worldly, the unitcs fratrum, but have passed this very way to that very not making one feel brotherhood domgoal one morning in seven since their nant in their gray-walled, cool-lighted, lives began; a father

earnest church; individwith his boy and girl;

ualistic, rather, each liftthree frolicsome young

ing his soul to his God sters together in their

within his own self-conSunday clothes loitering

tained and inexpressive through the sunny

consciousness, sitting a square with many diva

little apart from his next gations, and chattering

neighbor. Down on the happily as they go, I

other side of the river, am not sure their

where the Slovaks come blithe steps will end at

to their Catholic Church, the church door,—but

there is scarcely room yet they may; a young

for them all within the girl, fluttering pink ruf

doors; they sit close, as fles and hurrying. I

many as the pews will think she is going to

hold, and the rest kneel sing in the choir and

on the bare floor to the must be there early. She

very doors. The air is has the manner of one

thick with the candles who fears she is already

and the prayers and the least moment late

breaths and crowding of for flawless earliness.

so many, many people, Other young girls with

day after day. The chiltheir young men are

dren of this faith must walking consciously to- "Each lifting his soul to his Cod. not stay

away from within his own self-contained and gether in tempered Sun

church, or their souls,

inexpressive consciousness" day sweethearting. And

they know, are threatso on and on till the bell has rung a last ened. It is the one rigid rule of life. summons, and the music has risen, and One half the crowded, colorful great given way to silence, and the last be- room is packed with women and girls, lated comers have hurried by, looking the other side is packed as close with at accusing watches, and gone within the boys and men, and there is no mingto lose their consciousness of guilt in ling. The color is along the walls, in that cool interior whose concern is with the painted holy sculptures; in the richeternity, not time. Along all the other colored silken banners hanging from streets of the diverse town I fancy them their standards down the long side streaming, gathering in at the various aisles, with holy pictures on them, too; doors, on one business bent, obeying one in the glittering high altar; in the inimpulse in their many ways, one com- numerable yellow jewel points of canmon, deep-planted instinct that not one dle-flames. It is not in the women of them can philosophize back to its kneeling there. They come soberly to ultimate, sure source, though it masters church, dressed for the most part in them all—the source that is deeper than dark colors, and many of them in black.

[ocr errors]

their heads black-shawled or black- of Europe emotionality and fervor of veiled with devout humility. There is expression. The church, you feel, is more variety of color, or at least of high poetry, romance, the fullness and richlights and shadows, on the men's side, ness of life. The glow of color feasts where the bared heads give the variety these hungering, black-veiled communiof flesh tints, at least, above the black cants, irradiating the whole fabric of shoulders, and of different hues of hair.

gray years. The imagery is not meloIt is a strangely somber congregation drama, but release, all that poor life in a church vivid with color and candle- denies. light. The black-robed priest stands Amidst the Moravians the antipodal before the altar, speaking to his dense, mood is about you, and shows you its silent people in an eloquent voice in the beauty in turn, austere, repressed. Light Slovak tongue. Beside him, high over comes restrained through windows him, hangs a tortured, realistic Christ, whose long lattice takes away its outfascinating, compelling, terrible. Its door sparkle and lets it enter cool and painted, life-sized reality is a thing to nun-like, a disciplined and sober light. haunt the imagination. To

No stained glass paints it me, the heretic, it is an im

with deluding color; no canage of gruesome horror, an

dles burn. It is a beautiful unforgiving symbol for a

interior, gray, quiet, spareligion of eternal resent

cious, restrained, remindment, not tenderness. But

ing one of the sober seriunder it the people kneel

ousness of life, they duty of humbly and

pray; lips

morality, of calm patience, move, and the beads of ro

of the abnegation of things saries slip through accus

wordly, of the stable soul. tomed fingers. Far in the

Sitting there, one knows dim, outer aisle a little old,

"Going ungovernably gradually that the church is old woman, a black wraith

to sleep"

for a stronghold against with veiled head, drifts like

the buzzing, petty, transia silent shadow to the altar of a saint ent, foolish things, the sanctuary where and kneels and whispers her supplica- man may keep unmarred and unforgottion. In all the pews and in the kneeling ten that higher inner dignity that susgroup in the space behind the pews work- tains his life amidst unmeaning cirroughened, knotted, swollen hands hold cumstance. worn Slovak prayer-books, their covers hat it is, I wonder, to the Mennolimp with long handling, though they nites in their little, bare wooden chapel came to church and will go home again at the far other end of town. Is all wrapped in clean handkerchiefs, rever- beauty a snare of this world and danently. The old and the young are here, gerous that it should be so sternly exand babies in arms; but so many old!

cluded here? Or is beauty expensive, People are old after few years among and the Mennonites so few, and a dollar the hard-working; women especially, so big to give and so little to buy things for they bear many children quickly. with? Or did nature leave out that

This is not in America. It is thou- hunger when she fashioned the Mennosands of miles and a wide ocean away nite soul? from the Moravian Church on the other “You go to Main Street and go down side of the river, farther still removed it, and there's a street, and you turn from the Lutheran and the Presby- yourself to the left," and half a block terian and the Methodist on their sev- before you have arrived you hear the eral corners up the street. As you preacher thundering denunciation .He stand there, an alien, on the edge of the preaches not only vehemently, but very congregation, and feel that solemn bell long, and I don't know how early you of the service sounding again and again would have to start to get to the real through the hidden deeps of the re- beginning. His is a little congregation, sponding multitude and your own self, sitting close, in a little room that is the thick air is vibrant with the South- only a few pews long from pulpit tɔ



« AnkstesnisTęsti »