Wlliam Gilmore Simms
Stories and Tales >> Maize in Milk: A Christmas Story of the South >> Page 317

image of pageExplore Inside

Page 317

Short Stories | U of South Carolina P | 1974
Transcription MAIZE IN MILK317
the dripping tea-cup. I am not sure that the comprehensive glance
of Colonel Openheart fails to notice the nice little juvenile episode
which escapes the eyes of the ladies, and which presents itself upon
the great and antique sofa gracing the opposite end of the apartment.
There, but scarcely enough in the foreground to constitute a portion
of the picture, you may see Tom Openheart, a stout lad of nine or
ten years, exhausted by a long day's squirrel hunt, with his own
rifle and on his own pony, drowsing into gradual obliviousness of
life and all its excitements, his arms thrown above his head, one of
his legs secure on the sofa with his trunk, while the other wanders
off, quietly conducted to a neighboring chair, to the- leg of which
Dick Openheart, a mischievous urchin of seven or eight, busily fastens
it by the aid of his sister's handkerchief. The father's and mother's
have already been disposed of in making secure the other equally
pliant members of Tom Openheart; and anon, when the fastenings
are all complete, you may look for some cunning explosion by which
the Gulliver will be made to start from his slumbers in terror only
to be taught the strangeness of his captivity.
I will not pretend to say that our excellent colonel sees this
episode. The pleasant twinkle which lights the corner of his eye, and
which is somewhat at variance with the words of his mouth, may be
due to other influences; but it must be admitted, for the sake of his-
tory, that even were he to see the practice of Dick in this transaction,
it is still not unlikely that he would suffer it to pass unchallenged.
The good man would ascribe it to the season to a natural levity
to any but a heinous and evil nature which called for rebuke and
punishment. He had a queer notion that children were—only chil-
dren, and that play was as necessary to their hearts, their growth,
nay, their morals, as birch, logic and religion doctrines which, in
this era of juvenile progress, cannot be supposed likely to diffuse
themselves greatly, and of which we venture therefore to speak
without emotion. It is probable that Colonel Openheart's attention
was wholly given to his good lady and his lovely daughter. They
at least were his only listeners. There was an air of sadness upon the
features of the excellent matron, which, however, were not wholly
unlighted by a smile; while, on the other hand, the lips of the
damsel were parted with an undisguised expression of merriment
positively on the verge of open laughter the pearls of her mouth