Newspaper Page Text
Our Holiday Supplement A Merry Christmas and Happy New Year
THE BEST HOLIDAY. There’s n 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 line—all but this: You’ve not to watch out for burnt tin ners! That sort of cuts Into the fun. So. thounh it’s a day to be longed for, I say 1 know of a dandler one. Thnnksnlvln'. ’lth sparerlbs an’ turke>, 'llh pi« s of nbnut over' kind; ’lth 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 tilled up that -a bore. But you get a bln 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’ blcvcles 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 S'anta Claus. BY M. QUAD. Just outside the lines of the Third Army Corps as we went Into camp for the winter of ISG3-4 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 woof 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. Their 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 rtitlons wore divided with gaunt-faced women and wolfish looking children, and if it was “aiding and comforting" the enemy wo 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 f r 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 dren. Then It was Corporal O'Toole, big. good-natured and always wearing a smile on his face, who broke down • the womanly reserve of the little ten f year-old girl. He found her half a i mile from home one day and she was r 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 kiss, d the frozen tears from her cheeks and said he had left a kid of her ago back in the North who was motherloss. 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. Hoik! Tbr biTolil novels sing. (ilor* to tin: ix;« Ixjrn King; I »•.>(:<! on riM’lh «'\nd m«MV> mild; God and sinners rvtoi>t:il«:d. * h ARLES V/fcSLEY^x^ “And you must let me gather some 1 wood and supply you with food." he t 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 bogged 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. “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 away to molt 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." Three days before Christmas we got orders on the front to bo unusually vigilant, as it was known that a num ber of Confederates whose families lived within our 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, though our hearts were not in the work. As Corporal O’Toolo said one night when he turned out to head the midnight relief: "It’s our duty to obey orders, and we’ll be shot if we don’t, but this turning back a poor soldier who hasn’t had sight of his wife or kids for a couple of years, and who wants noth ing now except to ptiss 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. lie had the help and encouragement of a dozen of us. and all day long we in dulged in the hope that the woman's pride might give way on this ono occasion, at least. Th • day had dragged along until an hour before dusk with everything quiet on our front, when a bushwhacker tired upon and wound ed one of our pickets. This brought out a fresh order for vigilance, and a sergeant and his squad beat up tho 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’Toolo 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: "It’s all happened Just right. Now I’ll rig up and play the Santa Claus act, and you'll see me hack 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 tho wind, 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 his package to the floor, cut the string, and the frightened children gasped out exclamations of joy. Then he placed his haversack on the tuble and was turning away without a word when tho woman rose up and said: "Stop! 1 know you. You are tho corporal. I—l thank you kindly, but ’’ “It's Christmas eve. ma’am.” inter rupted the soldier, “and children aro children the world over." "But this food." she said. “1 cannot accept if." “You must. Confound it. woman ! I beg your pardon, ma'am, but don’t I know that you haven't had a squaro 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, ami ” At that instant the door opened and a stranger entered. No. not a strang er. but the husband and father—tho Confederate soldier on a furlough to pass Christmas with his family. Tho corporal spotted him for what he was in an instant, and before anyone had moved or spoken he turned to tho woman and said: “It's Christmas eve and T 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 nre stone blind! You haven't seen a Johnny for six months, and If you or Williams or Flnegan say that you have I'll lam the three of yo 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 mo to dispute him,” replied Jones. "That's better —a heap better!” chuckled O’Toole, "and now by tho right flank—forward, march!” And four days Inter little Suslo came out to the corporal and shyly put her hand in his and whispered: "Pa thanks you, and mu 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 tho 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 Homans it was celebrated as the saturnalia, or festi val to Saturn, and was marked by tho prevalence of merry-making among ull classes, rich, poor, old and young.