"Bells ring others to church, but go not in themselves." No one saw the spirits of the bells up there in the old steeple at midnight on Christmas Eve. Six quaint figures, each wrapped in a shadowy cloak and wearing a bell-shaped cap. All were gray-headed, for they were among the oldest bell-spirits of the city, and "the light of other days" shone in their thoughtful eyes. Silently they sat, looking down on the snow-covered roofs glittering in the moonlight, and the quiet streets deserted by all but the watchmen on their chilly rounds, and such poor souls as wandered shelterless in the winter night.
"What's that sigh for, Polly dear?" "I'm tired, mother, tired of working and waiting. If I'm ever going to have any fun, I want it now while I can enjoy it." "You shouldn't wait another hour if I could have my way; but you know how helpless I am;" and poor Mrs. Snow sighed dolefully, as she glanced about the dingy room and pretty Mary turning her faded gown for the second time. "If Aunt Kipp would give us the money she is always talking about, instead of waiting till she dies, we should be so comfortable.
It was under a blue cap that I first saw the honest face of Joe Collins. In the third year of the late war a Maine regiment was passing through Boston, on its way to Washington. The Common was all alive with troops and the spectators who clustered round them to say God-speed, as the brave fellows marched away to meet danger and death for our sakes. Every one was eager to do something; and, as the men stood at ease, the people mingled freely with them, offering gifts, hearty grips of the hand, and hopeful prophecies of victory in the end.
Marjorie sat on the door-step, shelling peas, quite unconscious whata pretty picture she made, with the roses peeping at her through thelattice work of the porch, the wind playing hide-and-seek in hercurly hair, while the sunshine with its silent magic changed herfaded gingham to a golden gown, and shimmered on the bright tin panas if it were a silver shield. Old Rover lay at her feet, the whitekitten purred on her shoulder, and friendly robins hopped about herin the grass, chirping "A happy birthday, Marjorie!"
"A stitch in time saves nine." "O Pris, Pris, I'm really going! Here's the invitation--rough paper--Chapel--spreads--Lyceum Hall--everything splendid; and Jack to take care of me!" As Kitty burst into the room and performed a rapturous pas seul, waving the cards over her head, sister Priscilla looked up from her work with a smile of satisfaction on her quiet face. "Who invites you, dear?"
Dear Merrys:--As a subject appropriate to the season, I want to tell you about a New Year's breakfast which I had when I was a little girl. What do you think it was? A slice of dry bread and an apple. This is how it happened, and it is a true story, every word. As we came down to breakfast that morning, with very shiny faces and spandy clean aprons, we found father alone in the dining-room. "Happy New Year, papa! Where is mother?" we cried.
Doctor Franck came in as I sat sewing up therents in an old shirt, that Tom might go tidily to hisgrave. New shirts were needed for the living, andthere was no wife or mother to "dress him handsomewhen he went to meet the Lord," as onewoman said, describing the fine funeral she hadpinched herself to give her son. "Miss Dane, I'm in a quandary," began theDoctor, with that expression of countenance whichsays as plainly as words, "I want to ask a favor,but I wish you'd save me the trouble."
The mules were my especial delight; and an hour's study of a constant succession of them introduced me to many of their characteristics: for six of these odd little beasts drew each army wagon and went hopping like frogs through the stream of mud that gently rolled along the street. The coquettish mule had small feet, a nicely trimmed tassel of a tail, perked-up ears, and seemed much given to little tosses of the head, affected skips and prances; and, if he wore the bells or were bedizened with a bit of finery, put on as many airs as any belle.
It was a cold November storm, and everything looked forlorn. Eventhe pert sparrows were draggle-tailed and too much out of spirits tofight for crumbs with the fat pigeons who tripped through the mudwith their little red boots as if in haste to get back to their cosyhome in the dove-cot. But the most forlorn creature out that day was a small errand girl,with a bonnet-box on each arm, and both hands struggling to hold abig broken umbrella.