Wlliam Gilmore Simms
Stories and Tales >> Maize in Milk: A Christmas Story of the South >> Page 320

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Short Stories | U of South Carolina P | 1974
Transcription 320MAIZE IN MILK
good crop, at good prices, and I pay for that; and that I should give
up the acquaintance of my old neighbors, Tom Whipple, Elias Bond
and Daddy Kinsale, because my eldest son is frolicking on the con-
tinent and two others have just had an introduction to those gray-
beards, Cicero and Homer
"Now, husband, you know I don't mean that you should give
up the acquaintance of anybody"
"You do, Emily, if you mean anything. It would amount to the
same thing. Not to have my house full of my old friends, as usual,
at Christmas, would be such a strangeness as would make them all
feel strange. They'd look upon me as a broken man, or as a changed
one, and in either case they'd become changed also; and then, in
place of the cheerful household and pleasant neighborhood that we
have had all along, there would be doubt, and coldness, and restraint
and all for what? Really, Emily, I can't see what you'd be driving
at.
"But you could still see your neighbors."
"Not as before, Emily. A people so sparsely settled as our own,
so very unsophisticated, and with that fierce sort of pride which
distinguishes a life of comparative seclusion, are very easily made
suspicious. They are, in particular, exceedingly jealous of any eccen-
tricities on the part of the wealthy. Change your habit toward them
in any respect let your demeanor change in however slight degree,
and they resent it as a something sinister, which is always personal to
themselves. It wouldn't do to go out and see them at the fence; I
must ask them in—and once in, the horse must be put up. And I can't
say, `Well, Bond' or Whipple, or Jones, or Daddy Kinsale, as the
case may be `very glad to see you always, but sorry I can offer you
nothing. Truth is, times are very hard, and that lark of mine in
Europe and those two dogs, Jack and Will, they cost me a pretty
penny now-a-days. Have to haul in my horns lest the sheriff pulls
them off."
"Now, husband, you know I allude to nothing of this sort. It's
only the usual waste that I'd have you avoid until you've got out of
debt."
"Debt! Why, Mrs. Openheart, you speak as if I were over head
and ears! What do I owe that I can't pay off with a single good crop?"
"You said the same thing last year."