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'Twas Christmas ove, and all the day
The snow had fallen tine and fast;
Along the streets. A piercing blast
The pompous banker, fat and sleek,
The merchant trim, the churchman meek, Forgetful now of hate and spite, For all the world is glad to-night! All, did I say? Ah, no, not all, For sorrow throws on some its pall; And here, within the broad, fair city,
The Christmas time no beauty brings
To those who cherish but the stings
You might have seen him standing where The city's streets so interweave
They form that somewhat famous square Called Printing House. His face was bright,
And at this gala, festive season
I'll tell you in a word the reason :
Patrician shoes and Wall street boots,
A dollar and a half-the fruits
And with those hoarded dimes and nickels What Christmas pleasures may be bought!
A dollar and a half! It tickles
The boy to say it over, musing Upon the money's proper using; “I'll go a gobbler, leg and breast,
With cranberry sauce and fixin's nice,
And puddin'--say a double slice
Clutching his money with grasp yet tighter,
With a heart as light as his clothes--or lighter. Through Centre street he makes his way,
When, just as he turns the corner at Pearl, He hears a voice cry out in dismay,
And sees before him a slender girl,
With hand stretched forth for charity.
He caught a glimpse of the pale, pinched faceSo gaunt and wasted, yet strangely fair,
With a lingering touch of childhood's grace On her delicate features. Her head was bare,
And over her shoulders disordered there hung A mass of tangled, nut-brown hair.
In misery old as in years she was young,
That were fixed in a desperate frightened stare. Hundreds have jostled her by to-night
The rich, the great, the good, and the wise,
Is Rocket-this youngster of coarser clay,
The beautiful story of Him who lay
In the manger of old on Christmas day! With artless pathos and simple speech,
She stands and tells him her pitiful tale; Ah, well if those who pray and preach
Could catch an echo of that sad wail!
She tells of the terrible battle for bread,
Tells of a father brutal with crime, Tells of a mother lying dead,
At this, the gala Christmas-time;
Of Rocket-can it be a tear?
He thinks again of that good cheer
Visions of turkey, steaming pies, The play-bills-then, in place of these,
The girl's beseeching, hungry eyes; One mighty effort, gulping down
The disappointment in his breast,
And then, while pity pleads her best,
No ticket for the matinee,
In truth, a very dismal day.
And not a penny in his pocket, A friendly ash-box for a bed
Thus came the Christmas day to Rocket, And yet-and here's the strangest thing
As best befits the festive season, The boy was happy as a king
I wonder can you guess the reason ?
WHEN SHALL WE THREE MEET AGAIN
When shall we three meet again-
Oft shall death and sorrow reign,
THE BEWITCHED CLOCK.
About half past eleven o'clock on Sunday night a human leg, en veloped in blue broadeloth, might have been seen entering Cephas Barberry's kitchen window. The leg was followed finally by the entire person of a lively Yankee, attired in his Sunday-go-to-meetin' clothes. It was, in short, Joe Mayweed, who thus burglariously, in the dead of night, won his way into the deacon's kitchen.
“Wonder how much the old deacon made by orderin' me not to darken his door again ?" soliloquized the young man. "Promised him I wouldn't but didn't say nothin' about winders. Winders is just as good as doors, if there ain't no nails to tear your trousers onto. Wonder if Sal 'll come down? The critter promised me. I'm afraid to move here, 'cause I might break my shins over somethin' or 'nother, and wake the old folks. Cold enough to freeze a polar-bear here. Oh, here comes Sally!"
The beautiful maiden descended with a pleasant smile, a tallow candle, and a box of matches.
After receiving a rapturous greeting, she made up a roaring fire in the cooking-stove, and the happy couple sat down to enjoy the sweet interchange of views and hopes. But the course of true love ran no smoother in old Barberry's kitchen than it did elsewhere, and Joe, who was making up mind to treat himself to a kiss, was startled by the voice of the deacon, her father, shouting from her chamber door:
"Sally, what are you getting up in the middle of the night for?"
"Tell him it's most morning," whispered Joe. "I can't tell a fib,” said Sally.
"I'll make it a truth, then," said Joe, and running to the huge old-fashioned clock that siva in wea:
he set it at five.
“Look at the clock and tell me what time it is," cried the old gentleman up stairs.
“It's five by the clock," answered Sally, and, corroborating the words, the clock struck five.
The lovers sat down again, and resumed the conversation. Suddenly the staircase began to creak.
“Good gracious! it's father.” “The deacon, by jingo!" cried Joe; “ hide me, Sal!" “Where can I hide you?” cried the distracted girl. “Oh, I know,” said he; “ I'll squeeze into the clock-case.”
And without another word he concealed himself in the case, and drew to the door behind him.
The deacon was dressed, and sitting himself down by the cooking-stove, pulled out his pipe, lighted it, and commenced smoking very deliberately and calmly.
“ Five o'clock, eh ?" said he. “Well, I shall have time to smoke three or four pipes; then I'll go and feed the critters.”
“Hadn't you better go and feed the critters first, sir, and smoke afterward ?" suggested the dutiful Sally.
"No; smokin' clears my head and wakes me up,” answered the deacon, who seemed not a whit disposed to hurry his enjoyment.
Bur-r-r-r-whiz-z-ding-ding! went the clock.
“ Torinented lightning !" cried the deacon, starting up, and dropping his pipe on the stove. “What in creation is that?":
Whiz! ding! ding! ding! went the old clock, furiously. " It's only the clock striking five," said Sally, tremulously.