Sidor som bilder

The clerk ran his eye along the counters, the shelves, and even took in the big barrels, pushed back, in the rear, out of the way.

"Well, Aunt Angie, what shall the 'gift' be?"

He could see the bare toes where her torn old shoes fell away from the stockingless feet. She needed shoes; he was about to go for a pair when she stopped him by a gesture.

"Dem ar things, marster," she said, pointing to a string of masks-gaudy, hideous things, festooned from the ceiling. "I wants one o' dem ar. De chillun 'll lack dat sho."


He allowed her to select one; it was the face of a king, fat, jovial, white. She enjoyed it like a child. Then, unwrapping a bit of soiled mus`in, she took from it three pieces of silver. three bright, precious dollars. They represented precisely three fourths of her month's wages. She purchased a tin horn "fur de baby, honey”; a candy sheep "fur Ephum, de naix un"; a string of yellow beads "fur Jinny. Dat yaller gal ain' got no reasonmint she am dat set on habin' dem beads"; a plug of tobacco "fur de ole man's Chris'mus"; a jew's harp "fur Sam; dat chile gwi l'arn music, he am"; a doll "fur Lill Ria; she's de poly one, Lill Ria am"; and last, “a dust ob corn meal ter make a hoecake fur dey alls Chris'mus dinner."

She had been lavish, poor beggar; without stint she had given her all; foolishly, perhaps, but she had apologized in full for the folly: "It am Chris'mus, marster."

Aye, Christmas! wear your masks, poor souls; fancy that you are kings, kings. Dream that pain is a myth and poverty a joke. Make grief a phantom. Set red folly in the seat of grim doubt, pay your devoirs one day! To-morrow the curtain rises on the old scene; the wheels grind on; the chariots of the rich roll by, and your throat is choked with their dust; your day is over.

The clerk made his entry in the day-book, "To S. Riley, one mask, .20,” before he waited upon three newsboys who were tapping the floor with their boot heels, just in front of the


The largest of the trio took the role of spokesman:

"I want a pack o' firecrackers, mister; an' Jim wants one, an' so does Harry. Can't we have 'em all for ten cents?"

The clerk thrust his pen behind his


"They are five cents a pack," he said.

"Can't you come down on three packs? They do up town an' we aint got another nickel."

Riley read the keen interest of the transaction in the faces before him. But he had orders. "Couldn't do it, boys, sorry."

"Well, then."--but a half sigh said it wasn't "well"-"give us gum. We can divide that up anyhows."

It was a very poor compromise—a very poor compromise. The voice, the very face of the little beggar expressed contempt. Riley hesitated. "Pshaw!" said he, "Christmas without a racket is just no Christmas to a boy. I know, for I've been a boy too. And it only comes once a year. Here, boys, take the three packs for ten cents, and run along and enjoy yourselves."

And as they scampered out. he sighed, thinking of two poor little feet that could never throw off their weight and run, as only childhood runs, not even at the Christmas time.

"To S. Riley, 1 pack of firecrackers, .05."

Then it was the clerk took himself to task. He was a poor man on a small salary. He had a little girl to look after, a cripple, who would never be able to provide for herself, and for whom, in consequence, some one else must provide. She would expect a little something for Christmas too. And the good neighbor in the attic who kept an eye on the little one while Riley was at work-he must remember her. It was so pleasant to give he wondered how a man with a full pocket must feel when he came face to face with suffering. God! if he could feel so once! just once have his pockets full! But he would never be rich; the boss had told him so often: he didn't know the value of a dollar. The head of the establishment would think so, verily, when he

glanced over the night's entries in the day-book.

"O well, Christmas comes but once a year!" he said, smiling, as he adopted the universal excuse.

Some one came in and he went forward again.

"No, he didn't keep liquor; he was outside the corporation line and came under the four-mile restriction."

"Just a Chris'mus toddy," said the customer that might have been. "Don't drink reg'lar. Sober's anybody all th' year, cep-Chris'mus. Chris'mus don't cum-don' cum but once year."

He staggered out, and Riley stepped to the door to watch him reel safely beyond the boss' big glass window.

There was another figure occupying the sheltered nook about the window. Riley discovered the pale, pinched little face pressed against the pane before he opened the door. The little waif was so utterly lost in wonder of the Christmas display set forth behind the big panes, that he did not hear the door open or know that he was observed until the clerk's voice recalled his wandering senses.

"See here, sonny, you are marring the glass with your breath. There will be ice on that pane in less than ten minutes."

The culprit started, and almost lost his balance as he grasped a little wooden crutch that slipped from his numb fingers and rolled down upon the pavement. "Hello!" The clerk stepped out into the night and rescued the poor little prop. Humanity! Humanity! When all is told, thy great heart still is master.

"Go in there," the clerk pointed to the door, "and warm yourself at the fire. It is Christmas; all the world should be warm at Christmas."

The waif said nothing; it was enough to creep near to the great stove and watch the Christmas display from his warm, safe corner.

"There's that in the sound of a child's crutch strikes away down to my boots," the clerk told himself as he made an entry after the boy had left the store. "Whenever I hear one I-Hello! what is it, sissy?"

A little girl stood at the counter. A flaxen-haired, blue-eyed little maiden; alone, at night, and beautiful. Growing up for what?

Crippled feet, at all events, are not swift to run astray. The clerk sighed. The Christmas eve was full of shadows; shadows that would be lost in the garish day of the morrow. He leaned upon the counter. "What do you want, little one?" "Bread."

Only a beggar understands that trick of asking simple bread. Ah, well! Christmas must have its starvelings too! The big blotter lingered upon the last entry. And when he did remove it to go and wait upon some new customers he quieted the voice of prudence with the reflection that his own wee one might stand at the bread counter some pitiless Christmas eve, and this loaf, sent upon the waters of mercy, might come floating back; who could tell since, and the clerk smiled,

"The world goes 'round and 'round;

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Some go up, and some go down.' The counter was crowded; it was nearing the hour of closing, and business was growing brisk. And some of the customers were provokingly slow, some of the poorer ones keeping the richer ones waiting. It isn't difficult to buy when there is no fear of the funds running short. There was one who bought oysters, fruit, and macaroni, ten dollars, all told, in less than half the time another was dividing twenty-five cents into a possible purchase of a bit of cheese, a strip of bacon, and a handful of dry beans. And old Mrs. Mottles, the shopgirl's landlady at a big yellow tenement, up town a bit, took a full twenty minutes hunting over cheap bits of steak, stale bread, and a roast that "ought to go mighty low, seeing it was tolerable tough and some gristly." Riley was pretty well tired out when the last one left the store. He glanced at the clock: eleven ten; he had permission to close at eleven, and it was ten minutes after.

He went out and put up the shutters, came back, and began putting away the books.

The big ledger had been scarcely

touched; he had been too busy to post that night.

"Mr. Riley? Mr. Riley? Just a minute before you close up, Mr. Riley.

He went back to the counter, impatiently; he was very tired. A woman with a baby in her arms stood there waiting.

"I am late," she said, "a'most too late. I want a bite for to-morrow. Give me what will go farthest for that." She laid a silver quarter upon the counter.

"How many of you?" said Riley. "It might make a lunch for one"

The woman shook her head.

"A drunkard counts for one when it comes to eatin', anyhows," she said, and laughed-a hard, bitter laugh. "He counts for somethin' when he's drunk," she went on, the poor tongue made free by misery that would repent itself the morrow. "May be man, brute likely. I've got the proofs o' it."

She set the child upon the counter and pushed back her sleeve, glanced a moment at a long, black bruise that reached from wrist to elbow, then quickly lowered the sleeve again.

"Give me somethin' to eat, Mr. Riley, for the sake o' your own wife, sir, an' the Christmas."

His own wife! Why she was safe; safe forever from misery like that. He almost shrieked it to the big blue blotter. And then he looked to see what he had written. He almost trembled, lest in his agony he had entered upon the master's well-ordered book his thought: "Safe! Elizabeth "Safe! Elizabeth Riley, under the snow- - Christmas." He had written it somewhere, upon his heart, perhaps, but surely somewhere. The entry in the boss' book was all right; it read a trifle extravagantly, however:

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Home to the little attic and the crippled nestling. She was asleep, but a tiny red stocking, worn at the heel, but thoroughly clean, hung beside the chimney.

He tiptoed to the bed, and looked down at the little sleeper. There was a smile upon the baby lips, as if in dreams the little feet were made straight, and were skipping through sunny meadows, while their owner's hand was clasped fast in the hand of the hero of all childish adoration,the mythical, magical Santa Claus.

The little hands were indeed clasped tightly upon a bit of cardboard that peeped from beneath the delicate fingers, upon the breast of the innocent sleeper. Riley drew it gently away. It was a Christmas card the neighborwoman had picked up in some home of the rich where she had gone that day to carry home some sewing. It bore a face of Christ, a multitude, eager, questioning, and underneath a text: "Inasmuch as ye did it unto one of the least of these, my brethren, ye did it unto me."

He sighed, thinking of the hungry horde, the fainting multitude at the grocery that Christmas eve.

His heart had ached for them; he understood so well what it was to be wretched, lonely, hungry. Not one of those he had helped had thanked him, in words; not one had wished him a Merry Christmas. Yet, for what he had done, because of it, the little red stocking by the chimneyplace would be half empty. He hadn't missed their thanks, poor starvelings, and to say "Merry Christmas." would have been to mock. Yet he fancied a smile touched for an instant the lips of the pale Nazarene, those lips said to have never smiled, as he slipped the card to its place under the wee hands folded upon the child's heart.

And after a little while he was lying by her side, too tired to sleep, thinking of the unbalanced ledger and the books that must be posted before the year should end.

At last he slept. But the big ledger refused to leave him; even in dreams it followed to annoy him, and drag him back to the little suburban grocery.

And when he unlocked the safe and took it out, lo! he was surrounded by a host of beggars: boys without money wanting firecrackers; women with starving babies in their arms; little girls crying for bread; old men, young men, white, black,-all the beggars of the big round world. They seized the boss' big book and began to scribble in it. until a little girl with a crutch began to beat them off. And when they were gone he could still hear the noise of them-a mighty rustle of wings; and he saw they had gathered all about him, in the air; and they no

longer begged, they laughed. And there was one who wore a mask; and when it was removed he saw that it was Christ.

Then he took back his old ledger, and lo, upon the credit side where the balance was not made, a text had been entered. It filled the page down to the bottom line: "Inasmuch as ye did it unto the least of these, ye did it unto me." And full across the page, as plain as if it had been writ in blood, ran the long red lines that showed the sheet was balanced.

-W. A. Dromgool, in December, 1892, Arena.

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TO THE EDITOR OF THE DAILY TELEGRAPH:-SHOULD like to say with reference to the question of the propriety of holding "raffles" at church bazaars, that on one occasion when engaged in procuring the necessary funds for the erection of a church in a country district we had several "picnics," "doll fairs," and a bazaar. We had raffling at these, horse-racing, at which prizes were offered by grave church officers, all of which as minister I allowed, and spent a few pounds in said raffles by way of an example

to my flock. On one occasion a Wesleyan family remonstrated with me on the bad example I was setting the young of the district, but I continued to pursue the error of my ways, as it seemed to that family, until we had our church opened free of debt and a good congregation gathered together. Then came along the very same Wesleyan family, backed up by the Wesleyan minister, and requested the use of the very church built up by what they considered unholy means, and were mightily offended with me be

cause, out of regard for their consciences, I refused the request.

I may say that we found the church quite as comfortable to worship in as a similar church built without any raffling, only the church built by raffles and horse-racing was free of debt, the other was not, and often was that debt a cause of discord. The church built by bazaars, raffles, races, etc., has ever since been a favorite resort for the people; the one with debts, minus bazaars, etc., has drawled on a very lifeless existence. "By their fruits ye shall know them."

I give it further as my opinion that gambling in itself is not an evil. Kept within proper bounds it is good, and may be used for a good purpose. The same may be said of horse racing, dancing, and drinking. The evil is not in using them, but in letting those use us. "To the pure all things are pure," saving, perhaps, hypocrisy.

Yours, etc.,


The above attracted my attention in to-day's Daily Telegraph. It is significant, coming as it does from a minister. Surely the conscience is a "creature of education." Men can tolerate almost anything under the guise of religion as long as the conscience approves. That this is not unfair, one has only to call to mind the "Inquisition," and the doctrine of "Blood Atonement," legalizing (religiously) murder; or, Freeloveism, which promotes the practice of adultery.

The above writer can quote Scripture, but the amount of it used reminds one of a certain celebrated character who tempted the Savior, and quoted Scripture to justify the ground taken. "To the pure, all things are pure" (with the possible exception of hypocrisy) It would seem that little evils are not harmful if kept within proper bounds," and not allowed to "use us.' The very admission that they must be watched "within proper bounds," and that there is a possibility of their using us, proves their dangerous


As a light in society the minister should have seen this and then he

SYDNEY, Australia, Sept. 23, 1593,

would have recognized (as did our Savior) that "it is [also] written": "Abstain from all appearance of evil.”

To me, a snake is no less venomous or dangerous, because it is a little snake. Neither would I recommend parents to procure snakes of any size for household pets, because they may be kept within proper bounds." To the thoughtful there is no truth in the statement: "Gambling in itself is not an evil," and "the same may be said of horse-racing, dancing, and drinking." It needs no comment.

Of late, Bread and Butter Dances" have been popular, for raising funds. for the poor. They were patronized only by the "Gentry," including the Governor and family, all of whom are people of means. I have often wondered why people do not contribute to charitable objects direct from the purse, instead of doing so through the medium of these various avenues of pleasure and doubtful and sinful performances. But it is a seeming fact that people usually regard a direct tax in civil affairs as more burdensome than an equal indirect tax. It may be. this same disposition is exhibited in church government.

From our standard books, I gather that our Father is pleased with a direct offering, especially, if it be a sacrifice. sacrifice. Giving is designed to promote the benevolent in our nature, and to starve out the selfish propensity. Helping the church (or gospel work) through eating at church festivals, buying articles of wear at bazaars, or purchasing pleasure in dancing, horse-racing, drinking, gambling, etc., is not giving in a gospel In so doing, we obtain "value received," and are just as selfish as before.


I am aware that it has seemed necessary in certain cases to raise funds through suppers, bazaars, etc., but does it not show a lack somewhere? Why is it that a community cannot raise a certain amount needed directly, and yet can raise it indirectly? Here are offered some thoughts for meditation, and a suggestion in some parts of the line of gospel effort, for improvement.


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