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1 @h c |kbon Jllimir. J | I. ’/V"y’V V' Vol. 2. No. 19. [Selected.] (HRIST-tIAS IN OLDEN TIME. Heap on more wood, the w nd is eh 11; But let it whistle as it will: We'll keep our Christmas merry still. And well our Christian sires of old Loved, when tne year its course had rolled. And brought blithe Christmas back again. With all its hospitable train. Domestic and religious rite Gave honor to the holy night. On Christmas Eve the bells were rung; On Christmas Eve the mass was sung; That only night in all the year Saw the stoled priest the chalice rear. The damsel donned her kirtle Bheen; The hall was dressed with holly green; Forth to the wood d.d merry men go To gather in the mistletoe. Then opened wide the baron’s hall To vassal, tenant, serf and all; Power laid his rod of rule aside, And Ceremony doffed his pride; The heir, with roses in his shoes. That night might village partner choose; The lord underogating share The vulgar game of “post and pair,” All hail with uncontrolled delight And general voice the happy night That to the cottage, as the crown. Brought tidings of salvation down. —Sir Walter Scott. CHEAT EXPECTATIONS. A Christmas Story BY ALEXIS. As we grow older how tiiue past does contract. It seems but a short time ago when 1 was a little boy living with my grandparents in a distant state. What a mystery is memory! What seem ingly trilling tilings it gathers into its store house! I lemember more clearly the events of that Christmas of twenty years ago than 1 do those of last Christmas. I will tell you of that Christmas; but first 1 will make you acquainted with the family in which 1 lived at that time. The family consisted of the old folks, two elderly daughters, a son, two Spitz dogs and myself. I cannot say we were a happy or prosperous family —in fact the contrary would be nearer the truth. The home was the largest and best furnished — excepting the larder —in the town. All, except grandfather and I, managed to make an outward show 7 of prosperous gentility, and were very aristocratic in their bearing toward the other people of the town. They were very exclusive and associated but little w ith their neighbors. And if their claim was well founded they had a good reason to be exclusive, for the blue blood of royalty coursed through their veins. Yes, grand mother, according to her own reckoning was a descendent of England’s famous Henry VIII, therefore a relative of the regal Eliza beth, of whom she never tired talking. She had a piece of one of Elizabeth’s royal robes that she preserved as a sacred heirloom, and which she exhibited only on rare occasions to her most intimate acquaintances. Excepting grandfather, they were firm believers in their royal descent. Dear old grandfather, I will never forget his amused look when I once asked him if 1, too. belonged to royalty. He and 1 were only poor plebeians in the eyes of the rest of the family; but to my mind, grandfather was the noblest man living. As I said before, we were not a happy family. I was not a welcomed member, except by grandfather, and I was often made to feel it, too. Dissensions were fre quent and sometimes slightly violent. It was always grandfather or I or both who were the offending parties, and the others, even to the dogs, were united against us. Grandfather, though never aggressive in the “ IT IS NEVER TOO LATE TO MEND.” Stillwater, Minn.,Thursday, Dec. 20,1585. periodical dissensions, would set their royal blood boiling by some cool, smiling, sar castic comparison of their excited condition to tiiat of Elizabeth, their royal relative, on some similar occasion. He made such a telling comparison one time, that his eldest daughter, whom it hit. so far forgot herself as to throw her slipper in his face; but it did not ruffle his temper in the least —it only suggested another mote striking simile. The old man was well read in the history of their royal house. Whenever it became too warm in the “castle” grandfather and l would retreat to the old house at the back of the grounds. If in the winter time, we would build a tire in the old fireplace and parch corn. His teeth were too poor to eat the corn in the kernel so 1 would grind his portion in an old eotfeemilt; then we would sit down and he would tell good stones. Grandfather was too old to do much toward supporting the home, the son was a dude, so the burden of providing fur the family fell upon the two. daughters. They conducted a store for the sale of books, musical instruments, toys, etc. One evening, a few weeks before Christ mas. aunt said to me; “Tommy, if you will do something for me I will make you a nice present, Christmas. If you will go down to the store every morning and build a tire, carry in wood and sweep out. I’ll put something real nice on the Christmas tree that is to be at the church.” 1 agreed to her proposition and began the work the next morning. 1 began early to speculate as to what ex-. tent aunt’s generosity would enter into the prospective gilt. Now, the wish of my heart was for a pair of skates, and I had often expressed tny wish in her presence. 1 felt pretty certain that a pair of skates would be the present. The stock in the store iucluded skates, and while doing my morning chores 1 selected a pair that I thought would just about suit me. 1 took occasion to admire them in aunt’s presence and say how much I would be pleased to have a pair like them. She was very conservative, but I thought 1 could detect a look of benevolence in her eyes. 1 confided my fond expectation to grandfather; but lie seemed unwilling to anticipate the result of aunt’s generosity. At last the afternoon of the long-wished - for day arrived. I made an excuse to visit the store. The skates were gone. That settled it. 1 went out and informed all my young friends that 1 was going to get a pair of skates oft' of the Christmas tree. I went around to the church to see how matters were progressing; but the good people would not let me inside. So 1 went round to the side and climbed up a board and had a peep through a window. Everything looked promising. At the proper time aunt and 1 were mingling with the merry crowd of old and young in the beautitied church. There, attracting all eyes, stood tiie beau tiful tree —the little wax tapers twinkling amidst its dark boughs like midnight stars in the dark vault of heaven. Good feeling, peace, good will toward man, could be read on every face there. I felt, for the first time, like throwing my arms about dear old aunt and giving her a loving embrace; but prudence forbade. During the opening exercises, we chil dren were all impatience. Finally old Santa Claus made his appearance amid the wel coming shouts of the merry children, and the distribution of gifts began. I could see several pairs of skates and felt sure one pair was for me. As each name was called, the lucky one ran forward and received his present. I thought my turn would never come; but while I was turned about looking at another boy’s prize, I heard —“Tommy Gallop.” I sprang out of my seat, and as I rushed forward, old Santa was holding high a big jumping jack, making him dance to the merry shouts of old and young. I took one look at it and my heart sank, the blood rushed to my head, the whole aspect of things changed, and what had been merry laughter now sounded like mockery; for I recognized it as the identical old jack that I had often seen hanging on a string in aunt’s show-window. “Here you are my little man,” said Santa, and I took - r* * * ■* it by one leg. as one would a dead rat by the tail, and somehow found the way back and dropped into the seat beside aunt — heart broken, humiliated, crushed ! I could not look aunt in the face. 1 just sat there holding old jack by the leg, out of sight. 1 had lost all interest in what was goour on about me. Presently aunt spoke to me, and 1 saw a look of reproach on her face. She asked me what ailed me. but I could not answer. She took jack out of my hand, and said; “Tommy, look!” 1 raised my eyes. She held jack up with one hand, the string witli She jerked the string, up went his Ibgs, up went liet eyebrows, out spread her mouth —but —I wouldn’t enthuse —I couldn’t. Was I angry? No. 1 was only disap pointed. 1 felt the most profound pity for poor aunt. We did not speak on the way home. 1 heard her tell grandmother that l was an ungrateful little wretch. I did not show my present to grandfather, nor did he ask to see it that night. Dear, considerate old grandfather, he knew aunt better than I did. The next morning he brought down his shotgun and gave it to me. saying he was to old to use it any more. Then we went out into our retreat where he asked ine what I had received from the Christinas tree. 1 went and got it, and when he saw what it was, he sat down and laughed until his poor old sides ached. That was the last good, hearty laugh he ever enjoyed, for. a few months later he went to meet, I hope, his first love, who had gone before —mv true grandmother. P. S. After grandfather’s death, grand mother took the shotgun away from me say ing I was too young to have a gun. The Life of an English Convict. 1 wish through the columns of The Mik itoß to relate to the inmates, the treatment of a convict in an English prison. A great many have asked me to do so, as they would like to know all about them, and as I am fully qualified, having partaken of that bit ter cup, 1 have no feeling of hesitation in accommodating my friends. There is no necessity of going over the modes operandi of the trial, as the method pursued is somewhat similar to the Ameri can plan, witli a few features favorable to England; but we will at once imagine our selves arrived at the prison. Think of getting up the following morn ing from your downy, couch, consisting of the soft side of a plank, in a room 9x18! as our friend P. H. has it. To read it fast, “9x18” would not seem very large for a cell, but read it slow and you will see that it is an exaggeration. In reality, the cells are about the same as thev are in the American prisons. The prisoner lias a bed from the first day of incarceration. Remember. I am writing of the penal institutions —there are establishments where the tramp element is shielded from winter’s biting blasts, sim ilar to that P. H. has described; in those places there are rooms probably 9xlß, in which a number of self-committed beggars find a plank on which to lay their weary heads, but the convict establishments as they are called there are far different places. Contrary to what our friend says, a convict is allowed the privilege of the library from the start. The treatment of a man in the English dungeon, where he only gets four ounces of bread three times a day, and has to sleep on a plank is, no doubt, a relic of bararism, but we will not have to leave this country to find a worse state of things: for in one dungeon that I know’ of, the man gets three ounces of bread twice a day. and sleeps on the floor; and even this is ahead of another American dungeon that 1 have been in. where the man gets two ounces of bread every twent-four hours, and is tied up all day. My friend, when you are comparing the English prison with the American, give us both sides. Another point about the old country pris on is this; no one but the warden can order Five Gents. a man to the dungeon nor does a man go to the dungeon without having his side of the ease heard. He can only be kept in the dungeon three days without being brought before the commissioners, and before going into the dungeon the convict is examined by the doctor, to see if he is tit. physically and mentally for punishment. P. 11. says there is no such tiling as a holiday in the English prison, but that the convicts are worked the same all the year. Now, I say. there is not a wheel turned in an English prison on Chr stmas day. The convict is locked in his cell the same as in a great many prisons in this country, and is given a better dinner than usual. As to the costume. P. H. has it all right, except the smock and cap; there is no smock or tile cap in the prison I am acquainted with. The convict wears the same kind of a coat that 1 have on at present except that there are more colors in it, and instead of a tile cap he wears a turban. The bill of fare is as follows: Mondays, Wednesdays and Saturdays—breakfast: eight ounces of bread and one pint of cocoa: dinner; one pint of good soup, six ounces of meat (without bone), one pound of potatoes and eight ounces of bread: supper; eight ounces of bread and one pint of skilly. Sunday: sup per; instead of skilly, four ounces of cheese. The other four days: breakfast; eight ounces of bread and one pint of skilly: din ner; eight ounces of suet pudding, six ounces of meat and eight ounces of bread: supper, same as breakfast. P. 11. says they.flog the men. Now, to my knowledge, flogging was abolished in the English prisons in 1872 —the same time that it ceased in the army; but even allow ing that they do flog over there, in what respect would they be behind this country? Five years ago they used, in prisons in this country, strands of leather with lead tips, as persuaders, and I have no knowledge that it has been discontinued. In the model reformatory at Elmira, New York, the whipping-post is still used. In the descrip tion of the Elmira institution Superintend ent Myers of the St. Cloud reformatory says: “Instead of the oldfashioned cat-o’- nine tails, they use a short-handled whip with a very broad leather lash which is soaked in water previous to being used and which blisters without cutting the flesh.” How very humane! As to a man serving out a life sentence, I have this to say: Very few serve twenty years, and none more titan that. A convict upon his release is allowed from five to thirty dollars, according to his conduct while in prison, no matter how long he has served. If P. H. has found a home (compared with the English prison), I wislt him joy in it but, my experience has been that the best part of prisons, whether here or there, is the outside of them. P. H. says he would “sooner be a dog than an English con vict.” Every man to his liking. I would rather be a convict and a man anywhere, than to be even the dearest little “tootsy-wootsy” of a lap dog inexistence. Don’t think that I am lauding the English prisons; there are many things connected with prison management in this country that England might adopt with credit to herself; but on the other hand there are many tilings in England in connection with prisons that America would do well to copy, and I assure you, England would not toler ate for a moment the treatment of convicts pursued by southern prison keepers. I know the prisons in this country, both north and south, and I know the English prisons, but the wildest stretch of imagina tion would never make me compare any of them to an hotel. I have found some worse than others, but all tough. The prison is one of the things of which you cannot say, “good, better, best.” You might reverse the matter and say. “worse, worser, worst.” I have tried my hand at nearly everything, Mr. Editor, but this is my first attempt at journalism and no doubt it is very poor, biit I trust that I will learn as 1 have in other matters—by E. Xperience. The greatest events of an age are its best thoughts. Thought finds its way into action. —Boice.