Wlliam Gilmore Simms
Stories and Tales >> Maize in Milk: A Christmas Story of the South >> Page 327

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Page 327

Short Stories | U of South Carolina P | 1974
Transcription MAIZE IN MILK327
So now is come our joyful'st feast,
Let every man be jolly;
Each room with ivy leaves be drest,
And every post with holly.
Though some churls at our mirth repine,
Round your foreheads garlands twine;
Drown sorrow in a cup of wine,
And down with melancholy.
Slightly altered from George Wither, 1622.
The day of Christmas eve dawned propitiously upon the broad
fields and groves of "Maize-in-milk." There never had been, in
all the south, a brighter or sweeter December sunshine. Nature
seemed to have yielded herself wholly to the moral of the season.
She had put on her gayest habiliments; the earth sent up a perfume
less penetrating and diffusive, perhaps, but not less sweet and persua-
sive than in the spring time, and the woods wore such robes as
autumn had bestowed upon them glorious, rich investitures of crim-
son and yellow, which made gum, oak and poplar look each like a
sovereign prince begirt by his obsequious courtiers. Christmas in Caro-
lina is very apt to be vexed with storm and rain, a fatal conjunction
for thousands of schemes of juvenile delight and delinquency. But
the present promises to be quite as favorable to the plans of happy-
hearted creatures as the most amiable and philanthropic spirits could
pray for; and, with the dawn, the three sons of Colonel Openheart,
Tom, the good-fellow, Dick, the mischievous, and Harry, the little,
starting from a sleep which teemed with the most happy dreams of
turbulent enjoyment, had darted into the chamber of their excellent
sire, and were hauling him out of sleep and bed at the same moment.
He, too, had been in the enjoyment of the happiest heart fancies,
such as are natural to the fond and hopeful parent. In his sleeping
visions, he had beheld the return of his son Edward, now traveling
in Europe, a tall and handsome youth, refined by foreign observation,
and with a mind generously expanded to the appreciation of all that
was excellent and noble in foreign standards. William and John were
also returned from college, availing themselves of the brief respite