Wlliam Gilmore Simms
Stories and Tales >> Maize in Milk: A Christmas Story of the South >> Page 315

image of pageExplore Inside

Page 315

Short Stories | U of South Carolina P | 1974
Transcription MAIZE IN MILK315
while all is melancholy without; and show to one another how
cheerful everything may be, though the tempest blows never so
angrily against the shutter. A man may soon learn to make his sun-
shine wherever and whenever he pleases, and to carry a happy heart
under a thin jacket. He must be a man without regard to the seasons.
His affections must not alter with the weather. He mustn't blow
hot and cold because the wind does so. He must keep his soul firm
and his sympathies steadfast, and his charities must be as quick to
warm as his anger is quick to cool. His log must be kindled at
Christmas though he may have never another left in his wood-yard.
There must be a fire, you know, at Yule, and why shouldn't his
hands kindle it as well as another's? The log was cut to burn!
But he is unfortunate, you say. Well, is that any good reason why
he shouldn't warm his fingers in a cold season? But then he makes
blaze enough to warm a dozen! Exactly so; and this only proves that
even the unfortunate man is never so wholly unfortunate that he does
not possess the happy privilege, under God, of making others happy.
There's no waste if, when he sets his log ablaze, he calls in his
neighbors to enjoy it. I tell you the log must burn for some one's
comfort in the cold, bleak days of December, and it is something of a
blessing in the poor man's cup that he is permitted to raise the blaze.
But then, say you, it is his last log! Who shall say that? Who shall
dare to say that God's charity must have a limit ? that this man,
who knew so well how to warm his hearth for the blessing of his
neighbors, shall be permitted to make no more pleasant fires? I tell
you, short-sighted mortal, that even beside that last log you may
yet see some celestial visitant in fustian habit. It is thus that an
unquestioning hospitality is sometimes permitted to entertain an
angel! With the smoke of that last log, around which the unlucky
man, obedient to a custom which he learned in his better days, has
gathered his humble neighbors, there goes up to heaven a rare in-
cense which makes acceptable, and may make profitable also, that
last sacrifice of wealth. Let the log burn, then! Wouldst thou throw
water on the cheerful gleams which light up all these ruddy faces?
Wouldst thou silence the merry crackling of that flaming pile?
Wouldst thou put out those pleasant charities which thus, if only
once a year, are kindled to make one's fellow warm? Out upon
thee for a doubter of God's providence! Get thee to thy own home