A CHRISTMAS STORY OF OLD NEW YORK.
The Van Wagenen home, nearly a hundred
fears ago, was in lower Broadway, and but a
Short walk from Bowling Green and the Bat
tery. It was a broad brick mansion, with
arched white doorway, and thin iron railings,
and three big domer windows bulging forth
just below the roof. People would point to
them as they passed, and say to one another,
"The Van Wagenens live there, you know."
It was termed iii those provincial days, a great
thing to be [a Van Wagenen. Till the begin
ning of the century the head of the family had
. held open house here. He had been a Colonel
in the Revolution, and an intimate friend or
Washington, and a devoted adherent of Hamil
ton, and a fierce abominator of Burr. Though
an aristocrat by nature, he often tortured his
- wife through the indiscriminate character of
. his entertainments. She did not believe in al
lowing any guest to cross the threshold of their
plain and simple abode who could not boast the
' clearest Knickerbocker birth. She had been a
Swart before her marriage, and her
mother had been a Livingston, and some of the
Van Rensselaers were her near cousins. She
bore herself with an immense pride, and yet a
certain air of graciousness toward those whom
she esteemed her inferiors, and a lavish charity
toward the poor, somehow kept her from niak-
**,i a "^&~
"NEVER SHALL I LOOK UPON THE UNGRATE-
FUL YOUNG* WRETCH AGAIN I "
ing foes. As a girl she had been very hand
some, with peculiarly lovely auburn hair, and
the most delicately modeled hands, of a sur
passing whiteness. When her husband died
she immersed herself in the deepest mourning,
and suffered agonies of grief. It was even said
that she might have died, too, but for the
cheering offices of her son and only child,
Livingston Van Wagenen, a widower with two
little girls, Kate and Margaret.
But within the next two years fate struck
Mrs. Wagenen a second blow. This son, Liv
ingston, then a prosperous New York lawyer,
was suddenly stricken with a fever from which
he soon afterwards died. The little girls came
to dwell with their grandmother, in the big,
solemn Broadway house, once so renowned for
its gaycties and hospitalities.
A dreary childhood they both had of it. Mrs.
Van Wagenen was afflicted by a trouble with
her eyes which the oculists of that day unhesi
tatingly declared to have been brought about
by excessive weeping. She was threatened
with blindness for years, but the menace kept
hanging over her without actuaUy rendering
She adored her grandchildren, and yet she
reared them with groat strictness. It was her
desire that they should both marry with dis
tinction, and sometimes she would sharply
chide the eldest, Kate, for declaring that she
never meant to marry at all. Kate was small
of stature, and not in the least pretty, though
very gentle and engaging in manners. Mar
garet, on the other hand, was blooming and
graceful, with liquid, sparkling blue eyes «and
the same glossy auburn hair which had been
one of her grandmother's chief charms, though
every thread of Mrs. Van Wagenen's tresses
had turned white.
Margaret loved her grandmother even more
dearly than did her elder sister. But she was
wilful, sometimes recklessly vivacious, and
often stealthily disobedient as well. In her
seventeenth year she became acquainted with
a handsome young actor, named Ross Erskine,
an Englishman, who had set the town talking
of his poetic eyes and his Byronic profile and
his symmetric figure.
Mrs. Van Wagenen lived much indoors, and
her failing strength now prevented her from
using over her grandchildren the same surveil
lance as of old. Certain imprudent-friends of
Margaret's had gone with her more than once
to the theatre where Ross Erskine played.
There had come a meeting between the young
actor and his infatuated admirer. All this
Kate had concealed with tortures of conscience.
Passionately she had implored her sister to
break forever with the young adventurer who
bo captivated her girlish heart. She might as
w-ell have spoken to one of the bleak December
winds that whirled, full of powderly snow, up
along Broadway from the ice-bound parapets of
the Battery. On Christmas eve, of all other
times of the year, foolish Margaret took a mad
and irrevocable step. She eloped with Ross
Erskine, leaving a letter to her sister in which
she implored Kate to break the news to their
And on Christmas morning Kate broke it.
At first Mrs. Van Wagenen stared bewilderedly
upon her grandchild, with her dim, pathetic
eyes. Then, realizing all, she drew herself up
with a majesty that breathed strongly of her
"Never shall I look upon the ungrateful
young wretch again! " she cried. "In the name
of all the Van Wagenens, I, their head, their
representative, disown her forever! "
After that poor Kate had to spring forward
and catch her staggering form. She fainted
completely away, and on reviving",wept torrents
of fiery tears. It wa3 indeed a dolorous Christ
mas for the girl who watched over her from
morning till long past midnight. And on the
morrow, when she again stood by her grand
mother's bedside, she was pierced by the dis
covery that the old lady had become com
At first, Mrs. Van Wagenen was very help
less. After a few weeks, however, she grew
habituated to her affliction. As spring ad-
~ 7^" r "^—
" THERE GOES BLIND MRS. VAN WAGENEN."
vanced she even went out-of-doors, arm-in-arm
with Kate. They walked a certain distance up
and down Broadway, which was then a quiet
Street, with little danger, at the crossings, from
any headlong vehicle that might break upon
them. " There goes blind Mrs. Van Wagenen,"
the neighbors would say, " with her devoted
grand-child. She actually wept her sight away
because her other grandchild eloped with an
Meanwhile Kate heard from her sister two or
three times every month, but never dared to
whisper in Mrs. Van Wagenen 's hearing a sylla
ble concerning her. Margaret had promptly be
come the wife of Ross Erskine, and had then
gone with him upon the stage. She had not
succeeded well, nor, for that matter, had he.
They were trying their theatrical fortunes in
other towns. "He is very good to me," she al
ways kept writing her sister, "and I can't
regret having married him. But at times we
are dreadfully poor, and often the future looks
dismal enough. You would wonder at this new
life lam leading. People tell me I have talent,
though I lack proper dramatic training. But I
have learned to disguise my voice, to merge
my very identity in the various parts I play.
Ross teaches me all he can though the theatres
at which we manage to get engagements tax
him terribly with incessant changes of the
bills." ... And once she wrote: "Dear, dar
ling grandmamma! How I regret losing her.
and how I would love to put my arms about
her neck once more! "-C;,7 *
Kate would answer these letters, but she
never told her sister of Mrs. Van "Wagenen 's
total blindness, fearing to deal Margaret fresh
remorseful pain. And as for this blindness,
there were one or two physicians, with whom
Kate had talked concerning it, confidently as
sertive that it might in a measure be relieved.
But Mrs. Van Wagenen would never receive
their visits. " No," she said, " that rush of
tears put out the last fires of my poor failing
sight. I shall never, see again, and I shall
never weep again."
And undoubtedly it was true that she never
did weep again through six or seven succeed
ing years. Tales of distress moved her, but
they evoked no tears. Her eyes would soften,
but they never moistened.
" I perceive," she said one day to Kate, " that
I really am a drag upon you, my dear. If that
young woman of whom you have spoken
to me will come and let me talk with her
awhile, perhaps I may consent to have her walk
out with me, and read to me, and all that.
Your health does require rest, and though I
shrink from the contact of a stranger, I'll play
the selfish old beldame no longer."
The "young woman" and Mrs. Van Wag-
enen held an interview next day, and with
highly satisfactory results. "She has a very
sweet voice," said the old lady to Kate, "this
Miss . .er Miss . . ."
"Yes. . . true. I think I shaU like her. I
mean to try her, anyway. At the end of about
three days I can teU you how Miss Rivington
At the end of three days the old lady forgot
to tell. But undoubtedly Miss Rivington
pleased her a great deal. Christmas tide was
now coming, and the weather was dry and
sharp, though without a hint of snow. Mrs.
Van Wagenen took her morning walks with
Miss Rivington instead of Kate. Always on
returning she would say to Kate, however ; " I
missed you, dear, of course. And do you find
yourself better J " _ A;A'.
--"Oh, I'n*^ getting along fairly well, grand
mamma," Kate would reply.
"You wiU see the doctor to-day, Kate, of
" Oh, yes, grandmamma, of course ? " :
And at last, the very day before Christmas
Kate said :
" You find Miss Rivington most companiona
ble, do you not I " . . '
" Yes, quite. She has sweetly winning ways.
I like her far better than I expected to do."
"I'm so glad of that," said Kate. Then,
after a slight pause : " Grandmamma may I
speak to you of poor Margaret ! She found a
very good and kind husband in Ross Erskine ;
but she has written me of his death in New Or
leans from yellow fever. There have been no
children, Margaret has little money. Shall I
send her some, and ask her to come North ?— to
ome back here and live with us as before J "
Instantly the white-haired head erected it
self. Instantly the old haughtiness of the
Knickerbocker great lady became manifest.
The blind eyes grew an almost electric azure
as they fixed themselves on Kate's frightened
" Give her money. Do for her what you think
right. But never let her enter my presence
Yet, in spite of her cold repulsion, she spoke
very feelingly to Miss Rivington as they walk
ed together next morning. It was the morning
of another Christmas, and a keen, yet not too
inclement wind swept past the prim brick
houses of Broadway. Bells were tolling and
chiming in the limpid air.
" I have always accepted my blindness as a
visitation from God, Miss Rivington," said the
" IT'S I ! IT'S MARGARET ! "
old lady. " I've always tried to bear it bravely.
But on Christmas day I do so long, as the years
pass on, to see once again, if ever so little."
"'Dear Grandma— dear Mrs. Van Wag
enen !" burst from Miss Rivington. .
"Eh ? what ? How quecrly you spoke just
then ! "rang the answer. Mrs. Van Wagenen
paused in her walk. "Your voice somehow
reminded me— But no matter. . . 11l go in
doors now. I— feel somewhat unstrung."
They went Into the house together, and Mrs.
Van .Wagenen sank, somewhat tremulously in
to one of the stiff, hair-cloth chairs that stood
ranged round the big parlor, where portraits of
her own and her husband's ancestors (hideous
ly painted in the early style of American art)
looked down upon wax-flowers in glass cases
and a flre-place in which grinned the pink pol
ished lips of several mammoth conch-shells.
"Oh, grandmamma ! " suddenly cried Miss
Rivington, sinking down at the old lady's feet,
in her black dress, which brought out the pal
lor and care-worn lines of a face still lovely and
youthful. " It's I ! It's Margaret ! And Christ
mas day is a day of good will and good cheer !
—a day when we should forget our old grudges
and offenses ! —a day when we should/orfltire !
I've heard you say that again and again,
grandmamma, ever since I was a little girl. I'm
speaking in my own voice, now ! you recognize
it, don't you?"
"Yes. . yes," muttered Mrs. Van Wagenen,
brokenly. " And those player-folks taught you,
I suppose, to change it, and— so deceive
Margaret Erskine caught her withered hand
and covered it with kisses. "Oh, grandmam
ma, Kate's told you of my trouble ! But I loved
him, and he loved me, and was always good
and true to me till I lost him ! But I never for
got you. I "always longed to. see you again.
Grandmamma! I come to you in sorrow and
entreaty ! will you not take me to your heart—
your little Margaret that you used to treasure
so dearly !— and love me once again, and for
give mo for doing what I could not help."
The young widow sprang up from her knees,
and a long, sweet embrace followed. And while
it lasted Kate glided into the room, (she had
not been the least ill, but only shamming !) and
presently both the grandchildren saw that
tears were streaming from the old lady's eves.
Margaret staunched them, lovingly with "her
kerchief. And as she did so a great broke
from Mrs. Van Wagenen.
" I see you ! I see you both ! " she exclaimed.
It was true. On this Christmas morning her
sight (meagre, yet distinct enough to seem a
glorious blessing after those past years of utter
lindness !) had returned to her. And from
that hour till the day of her death it never de
parted. Both Kate and Margaret often begged
her to see an oculist and have science aid what
nature had so strangely accomplished. But her
answer was always tne same— and delivered
with a certain soft humility which differed
r^:r>*i.rkedly from the old-time chill reserve of
" No, my dear children, no ! Such as my poor
sight now is, so let it remain. I like to think
that the tears of a terrible pride took it from
me, and that the tears of lovo and pardon have
at least partially given it back ! "
,Wf*j? .-.-. .■•:- . Edgar Fawcet_£ j
>■ . : l_a ■- — _ - • . —J
PILGRIMS ENTERING- JERUSALEM AT CHRISTMAS TIME.
The Dinner One of the Most Important
Features of the Day.
Christine Terhune Herrick Gives Some Timely
Directions as to How the Dining Room Should
be Decked and How the Dishes Should be Pre
pared and Served— A Varied and Delicious
Array of Good Things to Eat "
The dinner is one of the most important fea
tures of Christmas day. Perhaps it might even
be called the most important. For while we
could imagine a Christmas without snow, with
out Church, without a tree, even without pres
ents or hanging up stockings,— although the
last requires a powerful effort of tho imagina
tion,— is almost impossible to make a mental
picture of a Christmas without a dinner.
The dinner must be of a certain sort, too. No
make-shifts will serve to-day. The best of
everything is hardly good enough, and due
respect must be observed for tradition. There
are dishse which must appear, if all precedent
is not to be violated, and everything connected,
with the feast must be brilliant with jubila
tions and good cheer.
To begin with, the dining-room should be
decked out with evergreens, holly and mistle
toe. The table wiU probably be drawn to its
full length, for this is not a day for small
parties. If the family is not large enough to
make an imposing array, the number should be
swelled by the presence of guests who have no
homes of their own.
Only the finest damask must be used to-day.
The pure white of the table-cloth should be
brightened by a centre-piece of flowers or of
holly, and a breast-knot or boutonniere of the
same should he at each plate. Pretty, fancy
dishes of candies, olives, radishes, celery,
pickles, jellies, salted nuts, etc., are placed
here and there with a judicious eye to the ef
fect. At each place is a plate,' to the left is an
array of forks, one for each course. To the
right should be the knives to match, and the
folded napkin wit h a piece of bread upon it.
The water-glass is between these and the mid
dle of the table. The soup spoon is laid at right
angles to the knives and forks, the butter or
bread-and-butter plate is at the left hand and
the salt cellar is near the glass.
But all this is the mere skeleton of the feast.
What we are to eat is of more importance than
the fashion in which it is served, but yet the
enjoyment of even the best cooked meal is
heightened if it is eaten from pretty china and
amid pleasant surroundings.
The dinner begins, of caurse, with soup, and
as to some people, a ceremonious repast of
many courses is out of place on Christmas
Day; the first and the second courses may be
merged into one by serving an oyster bisque.
This does away with the necessity for a fish
course, and we go on from that directly to the
main part of the meal, the turkey and its ad
junct. On such an occasion half the aroma of
the feast is lost if the turkey is carved on the
sideboard or in the pantry. Every one desires to
witness the operation and encourage the carver
witb praise or confuse him with banter. The
big, beautifully browned bird is placed in
front of the head of the house and kept in
countenance at the other end of the table by a
mighty Christmas pie. No one will be critical
to-day if the usual custom of passing the vege
tables from the sideboard is omitted and if
sweet potatoes, white potatoes, oyster-plant
boiled rice and other vegetables take their
place on the table along with the cranberry and
tho celery. The only advantage gained by their
absence is more room for the articles already
on the table.
After so substantial a course as this, and in
anticipation of the sweets that must follow,
nothing heavier is desirable for a salad course
than lettuce with a French dressing. AU the
other eatables are cleared from the table, except
the dishes of bon-bons and salted nuts and the
olives or radishes that are to be eaten with the
salad, crackers and cheese. A further clear
ance of dishes and the brushing off of crumbs
precede the appearance of the mince-pie and
plum-pudding of honored memory. To some
feasters.the dinner would be incomplete without
ice-cream, and this is excellent for the children
who are not permitted to eat the richer dainties
with which their elders tempt Providence and
torture their digestions. A great Christmas
cake may also accompany the ices. When all
this is finally eaten, the Event of the Day
may be concluded by fruit, nuts, raisins, bon
bons and the small cup of black coffee that is
often a saving clause a3 a "settler" after a
The hour for the dinner is to be determined
by circumstances. If children are admitted to
it, it is better to have the meal near the middle
of the day, or at least, not later than two or
three o'clock. But where grown people only
are to be considered, their preference is usually
for six, six-thirty or seven o'clock, when they
can feel that they may devote the concluding
hours of the holiday to repose and digestion.
' Chicken Pie.
White Potato Puff. Baked Sweet Potatoes.
Boiled Rice. Stewed Oyster Plant.
Celery. - . [ Cranberry Jelly.
Lettuce with French Dressing.
. Water Crackers. Cream Cheese.
Olives. Salted Almonds. Radishes.
Mince Pie. Plum Pudding.
Christmas Cake. .
Fruit. ' Nuts. Raisins. Bonbons.
Coffee^ -j^l I A
One quart oysters. - • : v. *
Four cups milk.
Juice of one lemon.
Two eggs, the yolks only. .
Two tablespoonfuls flour. _!_£ A) y "> Vy-
Two tablespoonfuls butter. '■'■
Salt, pepper, mace.
After draining the liquor from the oysters,
add to the former enough water to make a
quart of liquid. Set aside twenty medium sized
oysters and put the rest, chopped fine, and
the diluted oyster liquor on the stove, and cook
a quarter of an hour. During this time, rub the
butter and flour together, put them in a clean I
saucepan over the fire and stir them until they
begin to bubble; then pour upon them the milk,
which should be already, hot, ■stir constantly,
and when this is smooth and thick, stir the
oyster liquor into it. Now put in the whole
oysters and cook three minutes. Season with
salt, white pepper and a tiny pinch of mace.
Pour a cupful of the hot soup upon the heated
yolks of the .eggs, mix weU and turn into the
soup. Take this from the fire immediately,
add the lemon juice and serve.
Two fowls of medium size. •>■'.:■ *-. '•
One onion, sliced. ■ ' -~^V .
Two stalks celery. . * •
One bay leaf.
Three sprigs parsley. .......
Pepper and salt. ■_. ; .■■_: : ,i- :
Cut the fowls into neat joints and put them
in the pot with enough cold water to cover
them. Let them stew very gently until they are
tender, then take out the meat with a skimmer
and add the herbs, vegetables and seasoning to '
the gravy. Simmer for an hour and set aside.
Arrange the chicken in a large deep pudding
dish, piling it up towards the middle of the
dish, pour over it. the gravy, which should be
highly seasoned, cover with pastry and bake to
a delicate brown. . • . ~ ZZ.;. i
. One and a half pounds good butter.
Two pounds sifted flour. -
Enough water to make a stiff paste.
The ingredients and the utensils should be
very cold before;. work is begun. Chop the
butter into the flour until the bits of butter are
no larger them peas. _ Into a hollow in the cen
tre of the flour pour the water, and mix all
to a paste with a chopping knife. Turn this
out on a board, roll it out quickly into a sheet
about half an inch thick, flour lightly, fold into
three and roll out again, turning the rough
edges toward you. Do this three times, hand
ling the paste with the tips of the fingers and
as little as possible: Make it the day before it
is to be used and keep it on the ice. The
quantity given above is enough for four large
pies and may be used for the mince and pump
kin as weU as for the chicken pie.
WHITE POTATO PUFF.
Four cups mashed potatoes.
One cup milk.
Two tablespoonfuls butter.
Salt to taste.
Whip the potatoe s light with the butter and
salt, add the milk and the two too beaten oggs,
turn into a greased pudding-dish and bake
about twenty minutes. It should be eaten soon
after cooling as it falls quickly.
Wash half a peck of spinach in two waters
and strip the leaves from the stems. Cook for
twenty minutes in boiling water, slightly
salted, take the spinach out, drain it and chop
it until it can be made no finer. Put the spin
ach back in the sauce-pan, with two table
spoonfuls of butter, salt and pepper to taste
and a dash of nutmeg. Stir these in well and
with an egg-beater whip in two tablespoonfuls
of cream. Serve very hot and lay small tri
angles of toast around it.
Trvo pounds chopped apples.
Ti to pounds lean beef, boiled and chopped.
Oi c pound chopped suet.
Or. pint raisins seeded and chopped.
Half pint currants, carefully cleaned.
Half pound shred citron.
One pound sugar.
Half pint molasses.
One heaping tablespoonful mace. : -.
" " " " . cinnamon.
One tablespoonful allspice.
One heaping tablespoonful salt.
Two tablespoonfuls ground cloves.
Two nutmegs, grated.
Juice and rind of two small lemons.
" " " " one large orange.
One ounce each of candied lemon and orange
Half pint sherry.
One pint brandy. '
This should be made a week or two before
Christmas that it may have time to ripen.
Half pound suet. ,
Half pound sugar. .« .
Quarter pound butter.
Five cups flour. -
One pound raisins, seeded.
One pound currants. .
Two tablespoonsful shred citron.
Six eggs. ' Zy'iA''-^. ■ •_'_
One cupful milk. : • -
Half cupful brandy.
Half teacupf each mace and ground cloves.
One nutmeg. ; . .' -; V.7
: Rub the butter and sugar together, add the
beaten yolks, the milk, the flour, the beaten
whites, the spices, the liquor and the fruit, weU
dredged with flour, i Boil five hours in well
greased moulds. . After it is turned out, stick a
bit of holly into the top, pour a glassful of
brandy over it, and touch this with a match
just before the pudding is carried into the din
ing room. .r.u>'
Two cups flour.
- One and a half cups powdered sugar.
One cup butter.
Half pound each currants and raisins.
Quarter pound citron. ..__-
One teacupf ul each nutmeg and cinnamon.
. Half teacupful ground cloves.
One glass brandy.
Be sure to dredge the fruit well with flour,
and put this and the brandy in last. '.. This wiU
be a large cake and wiU require two hours bak
-i-c- in a steady oven. _
- Christine Terhune Keerick.
**— . ». . ■ — »- " — *«■ i . ■■i ■ S ____,
VAN" GELDrS CHRISTMAS.
A Romance of Fifth Avenue.
It : might be thought that Father Christmas
were a good deal of an anachronism in Fifth
Avenue ; as much out of place as though ho
had stepped down from Ben Jonson's Masque,
attired in "round hose, long stockings, a close
doublet, a high-crowned hat, with a long thin
beard, a truncheon, little ruffs," and all the
re3t according to the old stage direction. - But
although these are the days of dress suits and
gibus hats, and enthusiasms are bad form, it is
still quite the correct thing to be full of fun and
jollity and the antique joy of Christmastide. It
is the day of all the year for the poor, little rich
children. Ah! those unhappy little porphyro
genite, who do not know what it is to want
anything. They never cried for the moon, but
what they were given a very fair imitation in
green cheese. The illusion has gone out of
mechanical toys, dancing dogs and talking dolls
and trains of cars that smash up like the real
thing. Candied fruits arid honeyed figs and
bonbons are dull and common. But bless you!
here's Christmas. Here's the old chap with the
white beard and the red cheeks and the jolly
fat paunch. Here's one night when the rein
deer's bells jangle on the roofs.
You see, when one gets to be seven or eight,
dr nine even a dwarf pony with a banged tail
does not arouse much enthusiasm. It is an old
story. One has had all the fun there is in child
hood, except running away and being captured
by giants. There was once a fairy but a
fairy in Fifth Avenue would be ridiculous.
It's lucky there's Christmas left, with the
merriment that never quite dies out in the old
est heart or the worst.
Even millionaires, who are extremely million
aire, keep a memory of old Christmas times— the
jolly old times of windy mornings, when the
hearth-log blazed and snapped and love went
"DON'T LET THAT OCCUR AGAIN."
round with the loving cup. You can never quite
rub out those pastels. For three-hundred and
sixty-four days in the year, society is orchida
cious. Then it throws away orchids and blue
chrysanthemums and its, heigh! for the holly
and mistletoe. Family gatherings, roasted tur
keys, snap dragon, bobbing for apples, the post
man's knock, and the maddest sort of blind
man's-buff are all in fashion. And Christmas
is the only wise day of the year, because it is
the only merry one.
It was the ringing of the bells in the church
steeples that woke Mr. Stuyvesant Van Geldt.
As he had a touch of dyspepsia he woke with
the notion that he had swallowed a bell-factory
for the jangle seemed to go through him from
head to foot. He called feebly for Brown and
Brown came with a soda-cocktail. Now when
one's man comes in with a soda-cocktail there
should be an expression of subdued and sympa
thetic grief on bis face. But Brown was abso
"Brown," said Mr. Van Geldt, "Don't let
that occur again."
"No, Sir," said Brown, "but bein' as 'ow it
was Christmas, Sir, I thort'—
"An, so it is, Brown," Mr. Van Geldt added,
as he drank the soda cocktail, " I forgot. Merry
Christmas, Brown ! "
" Thank* y'. Sir. Merry Christmas, Sir."
Mr. Van Geldt lay on his back and looked
at the ceiling and decided that he was rather
glad of it after all. There is a pleasure in being
well-groomed and solemn-looking, in toddling
up and down Fifth avenue, which only the fash
ionable know. But it lacks variety. The ball
and the opera and the club are aU very well in
their way. The trouble is it is always the
same way. One meets the same people. One
hears the same things and says the same things
—rather monotonous. It's the poor devil who
gets lively contrasts out of life. He has the
fun of being kicked by the world and coddled
by the loving folk at home ; "he knows the
pleasure of successful work and unsuccessful
"I daresay this Christmas will be like last
Christmas," said Mr. Van Geldt— he was smok
ing a Russian cigarette by this time, " but it's
better than the usual thing."
The usual thing, of course, is brandy and
soda and the bank at Baccarat, billiards,
brandy and soda again and a toddle in Fifth
Avenue. Mr. Van Geldt dressed himself with
Brown's assistance and went down stairs. Oh,
they were aU there ; everyone of them ; sisters
and cousins and aunts ; children— it was really
remarkable how many children there were.
There was his father, a dry, matter of stocks
old gentleman who had fished up a holiday
suit. There was his mother, whose stateliness
was all pretense, bless her ! There was his mar
ried sisters who were responsible for two-thirds
of the hilarious yougsters— how those children
squealed ! —and there were cousins who were
responsible for the rest of them. I- ■ ;
The eye-glass dropped out of Mr. Stuyvesant
Van Geldt'B eye and was seen no more for the
rest of the evening. He laughed and kissed a
youngster or two and felt, upon my word, as
though he had come out clean and fresh from a
" Remarkable thing, you know," he observed
to Miss Barbara, " makes you feel as human as
As we can't all wear ragged jackets its lucky
we have not lost the trick of being happy in
frock coats. There may be 'just as much love
in the gift of diamonds and brick houses as in
the gift of red flannel petticoats and pop corn.
And if we can't be poor we can have a Christ
mas tree, where the candles snap and sputter,
good will to men and gentle love for .women
and a kiss for the children."
• Trundle the tables out of the way, Jeames,
and push the chairs back, John, the butler.
We have dined and drunk. the.last. health, to
Father Christmas. Santa Claus has come out
of Holland and here's a great log roaring up
t^.3 library chimney in token of English cheer.
There's no fun. We've been proper long
enough. Here, some of you youngsters, who's
for blind man's buff!
It was really extraordinary the way Van
Geldt— old gentleman, not the young one
tore about among those squealing children.
Oh, he caught them fast enough, but he couldn't
teU one from the other. It's a wise grandfather
that knows his own grandchildren. After all
It was Barbara he captured. .. ■
"I wouldn't have known that girl," Mr.
Stuyvesant Van Geldt remarked," really re
markable the way she comes out, you know."
He didn't know that Miss Barbara too was
out of ', a physico-mental shower-bath: that
Christmas is every whit as clever as the fairy
godmother and can change the princess into
"Er, thought she went in for music and
books," he added vaguely, "all that sort of
thing. Don't like bookish girls. Always
thought she was named after those propositions
in Logic, don't you know, Barbara Celarnnt,
Darii and the rest of them." .
For the first time in his life he was captured
by a mnemonic form and Miss Barbara led him
out and bandaged his eyes and he became the
blindest of Samsons and sport for the wild
young Philistines. Then a small boy— he will
grow up to be a sad boy— suggested the " post
man's knock." There were letters for an the
small girls; terrible noise the small postmen
made; wonderful giggling from the small girls,
when they found the letters wero kisses. The
double knock was for Miss Barbara. She went
into the hall
" Oh, no, Stuyvesant, we're not children."
" To-day we are, Barbara."
" We're geese, I think— mustn't hold my
" Y'know, Barbara '
" No, I don't know Barbara."
" I do. She's the jolliest girl. If I only had a
wife like you I wouldn't be the fellow, y'know"
" Come, I'm going in."
Not until you've had your letter. There are
three due on it one, two, three""
" Oh, Stuyvesant, you." . r i]
It was one^of the Van Geldts who manipu
lated the magic lantern, but Miss Barbara had
painted every one of the pictures and it was
she who told the story of the pantomime. The
lights were^out in the library when the Princess
Goldilocks appeared on the screen. It's terrible
to be lost in the woods when one is a small
Princess and there are lions and giants 'about.
If you fancy that the Princess Goldilockc did
not have an awful time of it, you are very much [
" And just as the giant Gruffanuff was about
to seize the poor little Princess— Oh, well, you've
got the wrong picture the fairy opened the
box and out there jumped a fairy knight.
There, sec his sword! And he rushed bravely
on the wicked giant.
"'Ho!' said Gruffanuff, 'what's that little
"'To kill you with,' said the brave fairy
"'Ho! ' said Gruffanuff ' you can't reach my
" And that was true, but — "
But you may be sure it all came right in the
end. Things always come right— pantomime.
The light went out of the magic lantern and so
of course no more trouble could come to Princess
Goldilocks. The sleepy children were tumbled
into sleepy beds and reindeers and fairy knights
danced in their dreams.
Miss Barbara held her ten white toes to the fire
—they were pink in the fire-light— her maid
brushed her hair. There was a little frown on
Miss Barbara's face and her thoughts were
" Yes, I suppose it's the best thing— mamma
always said it was. And he is handsome. I
never knew he had such frank good nature. He
is not selfish at all— how the children love him
—and I? Yes, I suppose I love him. The dear,
And somewhere or other a clock struck the
hour. It was twelve o'clock and Christmas day
"I DARESAY IT HAD TO BE SOMEONE—"
was done. The frown 'deepened on Miss Bar
bara's face and she yawned. And her last
thought before she fell asleep was, " I daresay
it had to be someone he's such a fooL"
For merry Christmas was over.
ST. NICK'S DILEMMA
A sky full of snow flakes, all fluffy and white
Just born, up in cloudland came fluttering
To muffle the sound of the swift reindeer's
flight, " ,>i
As St. Nicholas drove o'er the roofs of the
He picked out the moment when every one
Untied a big bundle and busied about
Down chimneys, up fire escapes softly he crept;
When he came, how he went, not a soul could
In the wee baby hose he put rattles and rings,
A pipe and a pouch in the big woolen sock,
He left in the grey one a score of nice things,
Then a fine silk embroidered one gave him a
He fumbled a locket of just the right size
To hold the vignette of a handsome young
Then toyed with a brilliant that dazzled his
eyes, - 'A. '.J. .".":•••
Then down in his bundle to rummage began.
A ring and a bracelet, a locket and chain, '.
For the girl fin de siecle too prosy he thought,
And he fingered the dainty silk stockings again
And feared, that for this not a thing had he
brought.' AA:^-- ' -
Then all of a sudden his little red face
• Lit up with a smile like the jolly full moon's,
As he noticed a photograph close to the place
And he . dropped in a couple of souvenir
James Clarence Harvey.
mm mi i
A Touching Story Touchingly Told
By Lillian .Russell
The Ghost of a Vanished Christmas— The For
gotten Musician to Whom a Glimpse of Youth
Brought Welcome Relief From Pain—
and Success Take Wings but Love is Eternal
Now and again, fitfully 'across the dancing
foot-lights, I see the ghost of an old Christmas.
Now and again amid the laughing riot of new
music I hear the hit of an old song.
I know it was a Christmas morning. Had not
the manager announced, "Ladies and gentle
men, you will please remember there is a mati
nee this afternoon at 2 o'clock " The fairies
and peasant girls slipped on their cloaks and
went away listlessly, grumbling at the extra
matinee. The scene-shifters and stage-hands
cracked a joke or two, as they went out. In the
street the snow was flying about like so much
paper. It is odd, by the way, what a trick of
imitating stage effects, real things have. The
air was crisp, with an undue measure of cold
in it, and even furs seemed to have lost their
warmth. I paused at the stage-entrance a mo
ment before going out and my dresser came up
hesitatingly and touched me on the arm. She
was a yellowish, dried little woman. Years
ago— it must have been a great many years ago
—she was an opera-singer. Lights, illusions,
flowers, elation, triumph, the subtle charm of
public praise— real and delicious as a lover's
breath on your cheek— she had known all these
once upon a time. The flowers faded and the
illusions vanished long ago.
" What is it . " I asked her.
"If you would do me a favor," she said, her
hand still on my arm and her voice trembling
slightly, "Ah ! if you would do me a favor. If
you would come home with me now and sing
one song for him— one song to make him a
. "For him ? " I asked, " who is he and what in
. the world does he want with a song 1 "
"I have told you, but you have forgotten,"
she said, "he is only my husband now. Once,
but that was long ago, he was Blenner. You
do not know 1 See how we are forgotten ! He
wrote so many songs. Everyone sang them,
then. Now you do not even know their names.
Is it not sad ? His fame is dead, his life is dead
and he lives on. You should have seen him
when he was young and rich and famous;
when lovers won their sweethearts by singing
his songs ; when he was king of the land of
"And I," the old woman went on, pride shin
ing in her eyes, " was I not famous, too? He
loved me the first night he saw me. It was in
' Les Cloches de Corneville.' I was Serpolette;
Look at me here, look at me there,
Criticize me everywhere
I am most sweet from head to feet
And most perfect and complete."
There in the half-lighted entrance, the walls
daubed with notices the naked stage behind
her, the old woman sang the legend of Serpo
lette. There was ghastly comedy in comedy
in the cracked voice and the little steps she
took holding her skirts and curtesying.
" Look at me here, look at me there,
"Criticize me " .• . .
She broke off suddenly and said, " The critics
said I was the ideal Serpolette. Ah! you can
not imagine! My eyes were young and my
smiles were young and my hair was bonny
and black— in the . stage-lights it was blue.
And so he loved me. Long after we. were mar
ried he called mo Serpolette. This morning I
said to him, 'It's Christmas, old hero, what
shall your present be? '
" ' One hour of youth,' he said.
" ' That's not in the Christmas bag, I'm
afraid,' I replied. ,"; .. •-
" But as I saw you standing here, I thought,"
the old woman added hesitatingly, " you might
" And sing the legend of Serpolette? " I asked
" It will give him an hour of youth," she said,
with such earnestness that the comedy went
out of her old, fanciful figure.
She lit a gas-jet and the light flickered
strangely in the little room, battling against
the daylight coming through the window.
Then she took an old guitar and began to pluck
the strings. The music took up the quaint,
tripping cadences of the legend of Serpolette.
Somehow or other the spirit of the gay, old song
came upon me and throwing aside my furs, I
sang the gossiping, teasing verses- ..-.'-
I know not much of my relations.
I never saw my mother's face,
And of my earlier generations
There doesn't exist a single trace.
I may have fallen from the sky
Or blossomed in a rose bud sweet.
But all I know is this— that I
Was found by Gaspard in his wheat.
Why should I not? There was no Yule-log
flaming for me in the room of my hotel; the
Christmas associations that cluster round a
steam radiator are not especially cheerful; and
here was a chance to do— I daresay, I went
from curiosity. It was only a few streets away
from the theatre. They lived in the back room
of an old brick house. The window I remember
looked out into a brick yard, cluttered with re
fuse and decaying snow-drifts. The room was
filled with a heavy odor, as of food and sickness
and I know not what. At first I could hardly
see in the dim fight. Then I made out a table,
a few chairs, a little stove, nursing a disordered
fire, and, in the corner, a bed. It was a bed full
of tumbled clothes and pillows and somewhere
in the welter of blanket, linen and feathers, lay
the old man. His face looked out with the un
real whiteness of Pierrot's face. His eyes
seemed merely blurs of charcoal. He looked at
me without speaking or smiling.
. " Merry Christmas, old hero," said his wife,
with a note of gaiety in her poor, old voice, and
then to me she whispered, " he does not under
stand much now. Ho has been ill so long and
he is getting old."
And I danced to the thrumming strings. The
light of youth came into the old man's eye and
the smile of youth and love was on his old lips.
And the smile did not fade. "Serpolette," he
whispered to his old woman, as she leaned over
him, kissing his hair, "we were young then,
little Serpolette and now I think it has all come
"Does it seem like a few moments out of the
famous days, old hero ? " his wife asked laugh
ing, proud of their vanished youth. -: v_:
But the old man did not answer. With the
smile on his lips he had gone in search of youth
everlasting. •':".- A; i-'-Ai
And that is the ghost of a Christmas day I see
.now and again. I see the dingy room, with the
gaslight and daylight struggling in it; the
dried, little woman bent over the guitar, strum
ming; the white face on the pillow, ghastly and
unreal as Pierrot's; and Serpolette in flutter
ing finery, singing-
Look at me here, look at me there.
Criticize me everywhere,
| lam most sweet
A PLACE FOR THEM.
Mr. Lovell.— Did you mean these silver hair
brushes for me?
Mrs. Lovell.— Yes; they're for your Christ
mas, dear. . "7 Z'~ -.-.'" .';■ ...
Mr. Lovell.— you. Puss. - That's just
what I wanted; but they're so elaborate and
beautiful that I shall hardly dare use them.
Mrs. Lovell.— Oh, never mind! ,1 thought
we.could nut them in the guest room.— Puck.
xml | txt