Wlliam Gilmore Simms
Stories and Tales >> Maize in Milk: A Christmas Story of the South >> Page 318

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Short Stories | U of South Carolina P | 1974
Transcription 318MAIZE IN MILK
showing the white tips through their crimson setting, with a good
humor and an arch delight that were clearly quite irresistible. Very
sweet and very pretty was this expression of the face of Bessy
Openheart, and the jade knew it. She was a blonde, and with features
of wondrous regularity. Full of life and vivacity, there was yet a
rich fountain of gushing waters at her heart, and her large blue eyes
had learned how to fill with tears even before the happy smile could
make its escape from her pretty little mouth. But we must not speak
of her too soon. She is a mere child as yet scarcely fifteen just at
that age when girlhood begins to falter with its own gaze, and when
we begin to look upon it with as much trepidation as delight. But
Colonel Openheart is about to resume.
"Not keep Christmas, Mrs. Openheart not keep Christmas? Why,
what in the world should I do with myself, my dear, or with you,
or Bessy there, or Tom, Dick, Harry and the rest, from Christmas
eve till New Year's? And what should we do with the neighbors
with Whitfield, and Jones, and Whipple, and Bond, and poor old
Kinsale, and all their wives and little ones, all of whom have spent
Christmas and New Years with us for the last hundred years or
more. Some of them certainly did with my grandfather. Old Kinsale
can tell you of the first dinner he ever took on this estate in the time
of Grandfather Openheart, and that was a Christmas dinner. He
can tell you every dish upon the table. There were ham and turkey
just as now there was roast and boiled—there was a round of beef
there were sausages and pillau—there were sundry pairs of ducks,
cabbage and turnips, and potatoes; and for dessert, nuts, apples,
mince-pies, plum-puddings, and more preserves than you could shake
a stick at. More than thirty persons sat down to table, and to speak
of the old man's Madeira brings tears of pleasure into the eyes of
Daddy Kinsale to this moment. I tell you, old Billy Openheart is
venerated to this day on account of his Christmas cheer. Not keep
Christmas! Why, how would you avoid it, I'd like to know? They'd
be here, all of them, fresh and fasting, I may say, before you could
roll the Christmas log behind the dogs and dress up your windows
with the holly and cacina. They'd be here to help you as they have
been for the last fifty years. Bond and Whipple always came early
for that purpose, and I think I have heard you say that little Susan
Bond was the cleverest little creature in the world at dressing up