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The Hope pioneer. [volume] (Hope, N.D.) 1882-1964, December 19, 1901, Image 3

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Persistent link: https://chroniclingamerica.loc.gov/lccn/sn87096037/1901-12-19/ed-1/seq-3/

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THE BEST HOLIDAY.
There's a Fourth o' July 'ith its fireworks
An' crackers, an* rockets that hiss
It's a glorious day in its noisy old way.
A day that is fine—all but this:
You've got to watch out fer burnt fin
gers!
That sort of cuts into the fun.
So, though it's a day to be longed fer, I
say
I know of a dandier one.
Thanksglvin', 'ith spareribs an' turkey,
'Ith pies of about ever' kind
'Ith its apples to eat an' .its cider so
sweet,
Is a bully old day, to my mind.
But about all there's to it is dinner,
An' when you're filled up that's a bore,
But you get a big dinner at Chris'mas,
An' my! such a lot of things more!
There's presents of toys that are pretty
Of books most delightful to read
Of skates fer to slide, an' bicycles to
ride
Geared up to a wonderful speed.
An' then there are bags full of candy,
An' sugar plums 'long 'ith the rest!
So, of all holidays that you long fer an'
praise
I'm thinkin' that Chris'mas is best.
—Arthur J. Burdick.
A Soldier Santa Claw.
BY M. QUAD.
Just outside the lines of the Third
Army Corps as we went into camp
for the winter of 1863-4 was a log
farm house inhabited by a woman and
three children—the wife and children
of a Virginia farmer who had shoul
dered his musket and marched away
with the Confederates two years be
fore. There were other farm houses
further away—other farm houses in
front of other corps—hundreds of oth
er Confederate war-widows and help
less children on that neutral ground,
and we of the blue used to pity them
as the nights came down dark and
lonely and the north winds made one
shiver and chill. We were not war
ring against women and children, and
yet war had laid a heavy hand on
them. arTheir scant crops had been
trampled into the earth—their live
stock driven off—their fences and
barns burned—little left to satisfy
their hunger or cover their nakedness.
Many a soldier's rations were divided
with gaunt-faced women and wolfish
looking children, and if it was "aiding
and comforting" the enemy we were
willing to take the chances.
The farm house I have especially
referred to was not different from
many others, but the woman and chil
dren were different. We offered again
and again, but they would accept no
food at our hands. Now and then
the men on picket near the house saw
the children searching in the frozen
ground for potatoes, or the woman
digging roots and wandering afar for
stray ears of corn, but when coffee,
bacon, sugar and hard-tack were of
fered them in kindliness they turned
away their heads. Even if left on the
door-step the food was not taken in.
We were their enemies. They were
hungry and cold and ragged, but they
could not conscientiously accept aid at
our hands. It was only ,when Com
pany "B" of the Tenth took its turn
on outpost duty near the house that
we got a word from woman or chil­
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dren. Then it was Corporal O'Toole,
big, good-natured and always wearing
a smile on his face, who broke down
Jyj the womanly reserve of the little ten
year-old girl. He found her half a
mile from home one day and she was
so overcome with the cold that she
made no resistance when he picked
her up in his arms and carried her to
the house. When he kissed the frozen
tears from her cheeks and said he
had left a kid of her age back in the
North who was motherless, the child
reached up and put her arms around
his neck. The corporal had conquered
the child, but not the mother.
"It is kind of you, sir," she said as
the soldier entered the house with his
burden.
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"And you must let me gather some
wood and supply you with food," he
replied.
"No, sir. I can accept nothing from
your hands."
"But the children, ma'am."
"They must suffer with me, sir."
The corporal came out to the post
and crammed a haversack full of food
and returned and begged the woman
to accept it, but she was firm. She
even chided the children for the hun
gry look in their eyes. The woman
had softened a bit, however, at least
towards one of us, and from that day
on little Susie was permitted to speak
and walk with the corporal, and she
did not hide from the rest of us as be
fore. Kindness had converted her.
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Three days before Christmas we got
orders on the front to be unusually
vigilant, as it was known that a num
ber of Confederates whose families
lived withlft tyosr lines had been fur
loughed to pay a brief visit. Our pick
et was doubled, and every post had
three men on it, and it was certain
that we turned back quite a number,
flark! The herald angels sing. Glor/ to new-born King
earth and mercy nild God and sinners reconciled."
CHARLES WESLEY
though our hearts were not in the
work. As Corporal O'Toole said one
night when he turned out to head the
midnight relief:'
"It's our dii'ty io pbey orders, and
we'll be shot if we don't, but this
turning back a poor soldier who hasn't
bad sight of his wife or kids for a
couple of years, and who wants noth
ing now except to pass a Christmas
with 'em, is no work for a soldier."
The day before Christmas the cor
poral made up a haversack of food,
brought out a few simple toys and a
box of candy he had sent up to Wash
ington for, and he put on a wig and
false whiskers and showed himself oft
as a pretty good Santa Claus. He had
the help and encouragement of a
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"Never you mind," the corporal
would reply when we guyed him a bit
over his failure to soften the mother's
pride. "Christmas is coming along,
and I'll play Santa Claus in a way to
melt her heart. Pride or no pride, she
can't stand up agin Christmas. I'll fill
the stockings of them kids if I'm
court-martialed and shot for It next
day."
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dozen of us, and all day long we in
dulged in the hope that the woman's
pride might give way on this one
occasion, at least. The day had dragged
along until an hour before dusk with
everything quiet on our front, when
a bushwhacker fired upon and wound
ed one of our pickets. This brought
out a fresh order for vigilance, and a
sergeant and his squad beat up the
forest and captured two Confederate
soldiers who were trying to enter our
lines to visit their families. It was
known that a third one had escaped,
and just after dark Corporal O'Toole
was ordered to picket the highway a
quarter of a mile from our farm
house. When he had reached the spot
and posted his men he said:
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"It's all happened just right. Now
I'll rig up and play the Santa Claus
act, and you'll see me. back here with
in half an hour. Keep your eyes
peeled, and if there's anything sus
picious send Jones along to notify
me."
With the long, gray hair of his Wig
tossing in the tfrind, his venerable
whiskers lying on his breast, his fur
cap on his head, and a score of bells
tinkling as he walked, the corporal
passed up the road amidst the whirl
ing snow with his packages on his
back. He entered the farm house
without knocking. The wife sat hov
ered over the poor fire, and the chil
dren sat on the floor quarreling over
a bit of food. Santa Claus swung
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IT 7
his package to the floor, cut the string,
and the frightened children gasped
out exclamations of joy. Then he
placed his haversack on the table and
was turning away without a word
when the woman rose up and said:
"Stop! I know you. You are the
corporal. I—I thank you kindly,
but
"It's Christmas eve, ma'am," inter
rupted the soldier, "and children are
children the world over."
"But this food," she said, "I cannot
accept it."
"You must. Confound it, woman
I beg your pardon, ma'am, but don't
I know that you haven't had a square
meal for weeks past? I'm no enemy
to you and the kids."
"But you must take it away."
"But it's Christmas eve, woman—
it's the time to forget and forgive,
and
At that instant the door opened and
a stranger entered. No, not a strang
er, but the husband and father—the
Confederate soldier on a furlough to
pass Christmas with his family. The
corporal spotted him for what he was
in an instant, and before anyone had
moved or spoken he turned to the
woman and said:
"It's Christmas eve and I present
you with your husband and my best
wishes!"
He strode to the other door and
opened it and passed out to run into
the arms of Jones, who had hurried up
to say:
"Corporal, I've just tracked one of
them Confeds to this house, and he's
now inside!"
"Jones!" exclaimed the corporal as
he laid his big fist against the other's
cold nose, "you're a confounded liar!"
"But I tell you I saw
"And you are stone blind! You
haven't seen a Johnny for six months,
and if you or Williams or Finegan say
that you have I'll lam the three of ye
within an inch of yer lives! Do you
tumble to me or no?"
"Oh, well if old Santa Claus puts it
that way it's not for the likes of me
to dispute him," replied Jones.
"That's better—a heap better!"
chuckled O'Toole, "and now by the
right flank—forward, march!"
And four days later little Susie
came out to the corporal and shyly
put her hand in his and whispered:
"Pa thanks you, and ma thanks you,
and we all thank you, and pa went
away last night and ma says it was
the best Santa Claus she ever heard
of!"
(Copyright, 1901.)
The festival of the twelfth month
is not, as the name would indicate, ex
clusively a Christmas holiday. It was
celebrated in much the same fashion
as it is now centuries before the Chris
tian era. By the early Romans it was
celebrated as the saturnalia, or festi
val to Saturn, and was marked by the
prevalence of merry-making among
all classes, rich, poor, old and young.
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