Image provided by: University of Oregon Libraries; Eugene, OR
About The new Northwest. (Portland, Or.) 1871-1887 | View This Issue
: i - k . ' '-v;,v - " . . . . " - - . . - ! " . .' -: . j . - A
. , " . --i. .r - ' . - . . . : --
; 3 : ' ' ;" -v.. -v , .; , . ; - v ;- , ., '
.. . , .. , x-.v - . . . .; v - , - . v
' - r . ' , ' " ' .,'. ' ," r . ' - . -e . - ,' J, .
' pT " 'j " J t""i'v";..t1 '..;. . - -', .' . , ' "' j ' r,l,t,t "fK'u, rasa iiijj,KEirf'ricoHi.it.'' . . r - ." .-' , - . . . .
VOLUME XI. NO. 15.
IXRTXANBy.. OREtlON, THURSDAY, , DECEMBER
ER YEA It $3 00.
A-CHRIST MAS, LETTE R,
AND WHAT CAME OK
BY ABIGAIL ICOTT UIKIWAT,
. "Answer the door-bell, Eva," said Mrs. Marcli-
.roupol, najero'-ruuKemiU-xnftaiJaciouii pariora,
and the Itevererid Hitaa Itayniond pauaed In the
midst of unloadlngand distributing the numerous
. rmjkapes from a bountifully furnitthed and beau ll-
fuTlyTllumlnated Christ ma tree., ' - '
' "Let the Ijell-boy do It," wai the petulant reply
. of the spoiled young lady.. .1:,
Tlng-a-linr-lInk:Ung-K-g ! v , ' '
"Obey me Instantly M said Mrs. Maxch mount,
'I lei the . bell-boy go ah hour "since. He, too,
wanted a holidny."
. Minn Eva.Marchmount, as she hastily unclasped
the new diamond necklace her Uncle Silas. Ray
mond's gift- and handed It to her mother. "Or,
worse yet, It may be a thief or a robber. Take
care of my diamonds.!' , f V .' ,
Tlng-a-ling-ltng-llng-ling-g-g ! ... ..;
The uoiof "opened and a stranger entered.
The children paused In the midst of their merry
making, and gazed In mute bewilderment at the
Ult form oTKomir1n"tattered "gaf menU.'soJderr
with the rain. : 1
"Khe would persist In entering," aaid Eva, with
an apologetic air. "I told her we were haVI ng a
family party, and we didn't want Intruders on
Christmas Eve." -1 i. X.
"My business Js urgent," said ibe woman." "1
knew It-was-Christmas-Jye And that Is why r
came. Don't let me disturb your festivities, pray.
I only hope that you will not forget those jWho art
worse offthan yourselves, who are without a place
to lay their heads to-night. Verily it Is a bitter
gospel of the Hon of Man, who had not where to
lay hjs heal. . Yes', Hllas, put this pernon Into the
street." 7 ' .., '' r---:
'Poo' 'idy 1 - 'Oo may have my Tismas. 'attle.
fake It to laby Margie," wild Fairy Relle, as she
tripped fearlessly toward the eieitel woman and
placed the toy In her horny hands.
"Ood : bless -you, .child ! - You're rone-of -the
iiavior' lainUtU.4txlA4itMd tli' womanrwlpingir
tear 1 ronrher'yef "wlttf her "threadbare sliawlTT "I
did' nt tell you I had a baby Margie, I was speak
ing of yjpur cousin your .mother's sister's babyi,
Her name is Margaret." ' 1 '
"IK you know my pour4 sister?',' tisked Mrs.
"T can bring you tiding of. her, If you are dis
posed to listen." .' !""
"J,She was a stray sheep,'said Uncle Silas, In a
sepulchral tone. "She married! badly, and her
husband, always a scapegrace, alienated himself
Hoiitli and took sides with the rebels, and his wife,'
our sister, forever estranged herself from us by her
affiliation with his Interests through all that fear
ful struggle. She was the youngest bur family,
Its pet and pHdeut jshejwo
Ktilckerman In spite of us, and so she went to the
dogs, with mm.-
I don't care to be disturbed by
memories of her. I have my widowed sister, Mrs.
that Is all I feel able to do. Our father disinherit
ed her. He had good reason for so doing; I never
feel pleasant, when anybody revives the thought
of her. She made her bed ; let her occupy It and
be satisfied." , . . '
"Her husbaud is dead," said the woman, sol
emnly , . -rr
"Mooi riddance to bad rubbage I" exclaimed
Uncle Silas. "Here, Martin, show this woman
the door." '
"No, Silas,", pleaded Mrs. Marchmount; "let
her stay. She may be an Impostor I frankly ad
mit that she has the look of one but she won't.
Yes, yeayes I"
"Another ring "it3 the door-bell !' exclaimed
Mrs.' Marchuioiint, petulantly. . "Eva, answer it,
"What possesses people to call on Christmas
Eve, when the .bell-boy's away?" fretfully ex
claimed the glrL "I. should think everybody
X-would- WsHwiwto-fl I ght.JJ -; " !
"playing with 'hemcrhgluwl harwls a mass of au
-iUfhadjremovH wr liood whH speaMug, U- hurt u IHre'reHrlgllantr WreCTemberjntrx,lastyw sleepas m express in reel ton. -A nu owr you were a captive and he a eaptor. Did you not
tell me that he onoe rtskefl bin life to give you
food when you were starving, on a never to-bo-forgotten
Christmas Eve, when you were in his
xwer ?" " -I
burn hair, poorly , kept and tinged with gray K but
glossy and U-autiful In spite of the ravages of time
'and poverty. -
"Can I do anything to serve. you?" asked Mrs.
"Not yetr" warming and ehartng her Jabor-
stai'iietl hands before the glowing grate, and plao
ing her ragged, soiled and damp shoes upon the
fender ' ; . ' ' ..: : '
:X "Then why this Intrusion, pray1?'' , '
-' "I do not mean to intrude; at least, I cherish
-- the hope that you will not deem mean Intruder
when you know the errand upon which I have
- come," '. "-'' r: :"' '.
. - "Eva, take this person down to the kitchen and
give her a seat by tfie range." And tetl Helgar to
give Iter a bountiful supper and a place to sleep in
the attic chamber." T -
"I'm not hungry, ma'am ; I'm not asking for a
"place to sleep. This seat by the Are Is good enough.
' Do I look like a beggar?' j
Tlie woman straightened her form and tossed
her head haughtily. '
Mrs. Marchmount and Uncle Silas exchanged
glances. t ' "
"I'm afraid she's an escaped lunatic," whispered
Eva. ' -
"Silas," said Mrs. MarchmountfVall Martin,
the coachman, to put this person In the street.'
. - Uncle Silas looked regretfully at the half un-
loaded Christmas tree and hesitated, but obeyed
the order. ' .
" "Yes, Silas," said the woman, rising ; to her feet,
and addressing the clergyman as he reentered the
and put (Ma person in the street. This Is Christ
mas Kvev and every Christian must, be charitable
t such a Mine, you know. ;Versilast put this
person in the street,'' mimlcing Mrs. March
mount's tone. 'You'll enjoy these presents bet
terall of you when you know" there's a stray
sheep from somebody's fold 'wandering away Into
the storm and darkness at your command, out
through the mountains thunder riven,' that the
aong tells of. And then, after your costly presents
have all been bestowed; after Eva and Ruth and
George itnd Johnny and Fairy Belle have all had
their share "
x VHow did she know all our names?" whispered
Ruth and Oergff In t"l mother's ear.
'After your sister's children, Mary and Susan
"! and Bessie and Margaret, have gone to their scanty
beds supperless," continued the stranger; "after
they get up to-morrow morning and gaze hope
lessly Into their empty and ragged stockings for
the gifts Bant'a Claus has forgotten to bestow he
"Tnyvr viMits lue poor, you know then you, Uncle
Silas, will enjoy standing up in your velvet-lined
pulpit and preaching the gospel of charity, the
Kerlptiire lesson' was about 'entertaining angels
unawares.'" Suppose we vary the usual routine of
our Christmas services by bidding this hitherto
uninvited guest to remain with us durlitgthe hol
ldays." ! . :,J '
"You're a strange mortal, "Sarah : always full of
. whluis-auj-.croolu't. IK aw you llkyrbot-tlorr "lirTrteeehiit-letteTtcaW, worn
bore me with any of your sentimentalising"
"Am I not to put the vagrant out! sir?" asked
the coachman, with a disappointed air,
"No, Martin. It's Christmas Eve, and for once
.I'll yfeld to a woman's whim."
"An' prove yerself a foof for all o' yer yieldlti' 1"
echoel the suborfiate, totto fore, as helescended
to (he subterranean regions to resume the bounti
ful repast which he had already been enjoying for
an hour with Helgar, the rubicund Norwegian
, 4Ye'd better be afther lock in' up the spoons an'
other val'ables, me chicken, for the mlsthress has
ta'eif It Into her headto harbor a thafe or a tramp
o' some sort for the next fortnight. An' mind,
-me darllnt," chucking the blushing ilamsel under
the chin and speaking In a tone that carried with
It the thought of acloser Hibernian caress, "mind
that ye don't let no beggar's. Imp put On , airs
over the future Mlsthress Mulhooney."
"Drust me for geebln up de dlgnidy of Mlslur
Mulhooney, I understands my bls'dess," replied
the happy .servant, as she helped her lover to
another.huge slice of roast turkey.
"This Is better than I expected," exclaimed the
stranger, as the. servant departed, resuming heir
seat before the glowing grate Vud replacing her
feet on the fender. "Pray go on with vour .jglft-,
room, ''call'vour fatted and pain pered coachman 1 WakIngT ami get It over. I have business with
you, Mr. luymonu, anu you too, Airs. Aiarcn
mount, to-night, after the young folks are abed."
"Wouldn't you : like some of our Christmas
candy V asked Master ( Jeorge, ailvariclng toward
her with his chubby hands full of bonbon papers.
( "No, child ; I don't care to eat your bonbons. I
am not a beggar. Goon with yur merry-making
and leave me to ray reflections.! But remember,
the stranger thanks you, all the ame."
"Who are you, madam ? and what Is your busi
ness?"! said Mrs. Marchmount Impatiently.-
"I can't tell you till the children are abed." .
' "lat her alone, Sarah," said the reverend gen
tleman. "Who she is Is none of our business."
The woman relapsed liituslfeneg; pthd the work"
of distributing presents went on. ...
Reverend Silas Raymond's brother-in-law, Colo
nel Phillip Marchmount, had been dead for three
years, and he, the sole Inheritor of his deceased
to the paternal homestead and given .them shelter
and support In a style which the pension of a sol
dier's widow .would not have sustained. Mrs.
Colonel Marchmount looked loftily from her supe
rior station upon all who had been less fortunate
than herself, and, lite her brother, had long been
self-deluded Into the fancy that the memory of
her sister,- Mrs. Diedrich Knlckerman, was up
rooted from her affections. All knowledge of this
wandering sheep had been studiously kept from
her - children's- ear,and "proud and pretty "Eva
stranger guest had given them the unwelcome
tidings that proclaimed her the niece of a poverty
stricken and probably degraded aunt,
"Lieutenant Knickerbocker will proposewhen
he sees that diamond necklace," said Mir. March
mount, in a playful whisper, Intended for her
daughter's ear alone. "'I don't know the worth of
it, but of course it's valuable. You must wear it
and look your prettiest when hejitakes his New
Year's call." - -
"IJeuteiiant Knickerbocker 1" muttered the
j tenant- Knickerbocker 1
" "Everybody hasn't a home," said Uie stranger,
still gazing into the, fire. . ' ,
. "It was only the postman," said Eva, shivering
as she entered the'balniy apartment after her brief,
absence at the door. . "The wind blows a hurri
cane, and the rain and sleet are Just horrible f' I.
wfiler-why-thether-can't btf" pleasant on
Christmas Eve." , '
"Storms come to teach us charity," said Uncle
Silas; blandly. - '1
"The letter Is for you, mamma, and the post
man said It was to be delivered to you only, He
was quite emphatic about it. 'To be' read before
JL'Then, what -have you toeompUiuof T1
( "My inability to help my sister Ilaldec. Here
Is this strange woman, this tempest-tossed, un-
L bidden guest at our fireside, Silas; whom I've been
longing to see alone for the past two hours, be
cause she told me she could bring me news of her.
I feel that I cannot rest In peace till I have learned
all that she can tell me. Oh, SI la I if father had
only been just with me I need not have been left a
dependent upon iyour ytwrotltyf It would have
been so much .more pleasant and righteous If
he had left W a great deal more that was mine,:
for then I would have had need of a great ileal leas
that -waayours.V" ::: ''..;'
' . "I will retire if you wlll-ahow me where I am to
sleep," said the stranger, rising to her feet and
wearily stretching her stiffened limbs. "I don't
wish. to Intrude upon your business and family,
matters." , '
"You are not. Intruding,'! replied Mraj, March
mount. "Please remain with me tof awhile. I
hTusTTalwHliuT"-- . -Then,"
said the reverend Hllas, "will retire."
"Stay t" exclaimed Mra, Marchmount. - "I en
treat you, Silas, to hear me read our sister's letter."
"I have no sister except yourself." -
'Doti't say such a r cruel thing, brother. W
three are children of the same mother. . You have
a' warm heart, only you lon't know it. .You
remember our sister as a young, Inexperienced
and willful girl, who ran away with a dashing,
unprincipled cadet and joined his fortune In a
loyal way more than twenty-five years ago. You
have not met her since, nor have I. .'But you did
meet Diedrich Knlckerman In IJbby prison, where.
by -your leave, I will retire, for I'm tired andl
s A maid was summoned, and the younger mem
bers of the family were consigned to her keeping,
leaving the brother and sister ami, the stranger
guest alone. ... .. .
an, eyeing It .eagerly
"Thai's an mid, Und I may say ah impudent re.
quest," replIcd.MrH..Marchmount, giving her. the
letter as though reluctantly Impelled to obey.
'' 'jt vo mes through the dead letter office from
Mobile, and has been a long time on the Journey.
Wonder why you didn't get It sooner 7"
'We were abHcnt from -the State In the Au
tumn, and some post-office clerk who didn't un
derstand his duty must have forwarded It to
Washington under the 'head of 'uncalled for.'
(live It back to me, please."
- Mrs. Marchmount broke , the seal and settled
herself to read the contents. A shudder passed
through her frame as the chlrography of a well
known hand met her gaze, and tears dimmed her
vision as she followed page after page to conclu
sion, while the' wind howled around the gables of
the great house", and the mingled rain and sleet
played a mad tattoo upon the window panes.
"I must close the blinds," said Mr. Raymond,
rising to his feet and crossing over to his sister's
side, where he stopped for an instant and gazed at
her Inquiringly. '
'It's from Haldee," sfie said, sadly. .
"Botheration 1" was the gentleman's abrupt re-.
Joinder, as he turned away and slammed the shut-
'Let me read my letter aloud to you, brother,"
said Mrs. Marchmount. ''Pfease do..
"I don't want to hear it."
"It's Christmas Eve, you know, Silas. You are
to preach a Christmas sermon to-morrow.- Would
It not be well for you to get your own heart right
first? Who knows but the Lord put this letter
Into my hands, on this night of all nights, on pur
pose to open the door of your heart to receive your
houseless, homeless, wandering sister ?"
"What have I for her .tojdo. if I should receive
her ? M)f course she has a groat houseful bf young
ones. Your bad matches are always prolific ones
-more's 'the pity."
"If she lias chlMrenlhaLJs-Only-aa much the
more reason why we should elp her, Silas.'!
"How can you help her. Sarah ?'L
Mrs. Marchmount blushed, winced, and burst
"It is true, Silas, that I am a pensioner upon
father' Northern 'city home and handwmej I ,n.t ,i i...p.i. ' i m if bu wuuhttooir
come, had clieerfuHyjfrJtcjLlh
But I would ratheril ve on half my allowance and
give the remainder to Haldee. I would, Indeed I"
she exctalmedtlhrough her sob. '
"Remember, Silas," she continued, hesitatingly,
"that I might have beeirwealtfiy, llSe yourself, if
our father hadn't disinherited me, Just as he did
".VaryiA','. aud the voice ofthe clergyman was
stern and reproachful, "have" I not In all things
treatetl you as generously as though I had been
your own, rather T'
- Reverend Silas Raymond grew red In the face
ami nervously stlrrel the glowing cinlcrs-4n the
To-morrow," continued his sister, "you will
preach a sermon on '("lifts.' You will tell of the
wise men of the -East, who, when they saW the
star that guided them to the. birth-place of the
young child, rejoiced with exceeding great Joy;
You will tell about the gifts of gold and frankin
cense and myrrh that were brought by them and
offered at the feet of the infant Saviour. You
Will extol the munificence of those oriental sages,
and will urge your congregation to renounce every
feeling of selfishness and obstinacy,' and In the
name of the lowly One of -Nazareth, give good
gifts unto men. I do hot. ask you to give good
gifts directly to Haldee, for I; know your jnasou
line will too well to waste my breath In making
such a request. But I do wish, dear brother, that
you would bestow enough of my rightful portion
of our father's estate upon roe to enable me to
make her and her children comfortable. Christ
inas Eve Is a grand good time to turn over new
leaves, you know."
The ejaculations of the reverend gentleman were
sufficiently emphatlo to border on the profane, If
they had been uttered by a less exemplary person.
For some minute he paced the floor nervously,
while neither of them spoke. Then, turning to
her, he said, abruptly :
"Iteai the letter ! Jiang the luckr
. Mrs. Marchmount did not wait fork repetition
of the command. The sister wrote : , .
I do not know bow voa will rscslveildinfs of ta, bat'm
heart so warms to yoa to-dsjr that 1 cannot tones r forbear
to chronicle the lovs I ttmi tor you and the longing that
sometimes poMNHi m when I wonder Jf f will tvrr be
permitted to took upon our.fae strain.
I will not trpabls yon about mr own sad revsrsM. HU
atad as on arel In th lap or plenty, with no breath of
hvn Ut blow upon yon oept In balmy bressM of wel
eome, you oould not realls my lot If I boa Id aUmpt in
depict It; nor would I pain you for an Instant by a picture
iba sis hi of 'r titan would- glv you orrow and do snesM
earthly good. Hlne IHedrlch's death, I bsv become v
wanderer, Ilk thsdovs from the ark,ontytbr ths simili
tude ceases; for the dov found an oil brancb aailrs
t Umed with It to a place of shelter. wU41 I and no- olive
braurh, and should I ever succeed, I should hae no ark to
which to carry IL ... p. .' .
While laths pursnit of a mercantile agency, upon which
I rely for the precarious business that brings bread to my
babies, I pakl a visit recently to th old plantation where
you and Milne and I were born.
Dear brothefi I hear that be has grown lo be a great and
fdi'ail an opportanlty to go to th old home to help the
women folks through th cotton harvest. -Ton know the
slaves are free now, and many of their former mistresses,
who never did any menial labor befor the war, have be-