in Boston by Edward Everett Hale
FROM THE INGHAM PAPERS.
[When my friends of the Boston Daily Advertiser asked me last
to contribute to their Christmas number, I was very glad to
this scrap of Mr. Ingham's memoirs.
For in most modern Christmas stories I have observed that the
wake up of a sudden to befriend the poor, and that the moral
educed from such compassion. The incidents in this story show,
all life shows, that the poor befriend the rich as truly as
rich the poor: that, in the Christian life, each needs all.
I have been asked a dozen times how far the story is true. Of
course no such series of incidents has ever taken place in
order in four or five hours. But there is nothing told here
has not parallels perfectly fair in my experience or in that
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 which 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 five or six 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 Howland 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 made the span four 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 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 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 like wise, and the 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 still white snow, 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
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; 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,
Kisses flung from the window; kisses flung back from the street.
Merry Christmas again with a good-will, and then one of the girls
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,
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
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,
The waiting world was still;
so that 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 here,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!
Here 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
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
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 those
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
Gates'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 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
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
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 in 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
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.
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,
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.
'T was 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,
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,
Streak of lightIs 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
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
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
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
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
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 everything, said, Yes, and the Damascus people brought Damascus
This is certain, said Polly, that nobody tried to give a straw,
but the straw, if he really gave it, carried a blessing.