Wlliam Gilmore Simms
Stories and Tales >> Maize in Milk: A Christmas Story of the South >> Page 322

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Page 322

Short Stories | U of South Carolina P | 1974
Transcription 322MAIZE IN MILK
alone: your Madeira, and Sherry, and Champagne your beeves,
your hogs, your turkies, and the horses of a dozen idle and worthless
people eating at your corn-crib, and that not the fullest in the
world"
"It is full, Emily; but I must stop you before you go too far.
We can't always say who are the worthless in this world. I am some-
times disposed to think that the most worthless have their uses, and
to suspect that the most worthy are not always of the value we put
upon them. When I recollect how little I do myself in the way of
work, and of how little real service I am to myself or to anybody
else, in comparison with what I might be, I feel as if some malicious
devil was jerking at my elbow in mockery, at those moments when I
suffer myself to talk of the little worth or value of my neighbors.
I tell you, Emily, I can't any longer bring myself to feel contempt
for any human being, though I may sicken at the viciousness of
some and sorrow over the idleness of others."
"Now, really, Edward, you shall not speak so slightingly of your-
self. Are you not always busy? Do you not manage your own
plantation?"
"After a fashion—but I'm not sure that my management is at all
creditable to me or serviceable to my interests."
"You are never idle."
"I make chips enough, I grant you; but I am not sure that I am
always profitably busy."
"Your negroes improve, increase, become more honest, sober, in-
dustrious, happy, more human every year."
"Thank God, I can conscientiously believe all that ! "
"They love you, thank you, and go cheerfully to their tasks."
"Ay, ay; so they do, and so far. But what is that fellow about?
As usual, busy in tormenting his brother. Ho there, you dog—get
you to bed, and wake up Tom that he may go along with you. What
are you doing with the boy?"
"Only you call him up, papa," was the sly response of the dutiful
urchin.
"Call him up yourself push him rout him up."
The boy stooped over the elder brother, and, with a closer eye,
the worthy sire might have seen with what delicate consideration
he introduced a feather of broom-straw into the ears and nostrils of