Wlliam Gilmore Simms
Stories and Tales >> Maize in Milk: A Christmas Story of the South >> Page 329

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Page 329

Short Stories | U of South Carolina P | 1974
Transcription MAIZE IN MILK329
his own heart caught up their echoes, and even while his boys were
breaking into his chamber with their clamorous exhortations, he
might have been heard to murmur in his sleep broken fragments of
one of the ancient English carols
"Now thrice welcome Christmas
Which brings us good cheer,
Minced-pies and plum-porridge,
Good ale and strong beer," &c.
And this was the boys' welcome as they bounced into the chamber,
and dispelled, with a single shout, all the visions of his sleep.
"Why, what a mischief, boys, is the matter, that you rout me up
at midnight?"
"Midnight, father—why, the sun's a-rising ! "
"Well, what then? Is that any good reason that the father
shouldn't sleep? You don't know what fine dreams you have driven
away by your uproar."
"Oh, this is no time for dreaming, father. Come, up with you,
and let's go to the river, and shoot off the big cannon."
"Well, I suppose there's no resisting you," said the indulgent sire,
as he prepared to obey the requisition.
"You will ruin those boys, Colonel Openheart," murmured his
excellent help-meet, with some querulousness of accent, occasioned by
the rude disturbance of a slumber which had been as precious full of
dreams in her case as in that of her husband.
"Nay, never fear," was the reply; "the boys are not so easily
spoiled. The danger is with the girls. Boys are naturally good —a
little more boisterous than their sisters, but better on the whole. You
women are always apt to confound honest impulse with misdoing.
We must let them play. Childhood is the season for play, and play
is necessary for the heart; and so, boys, let's go to play heartily, as
others go to work. Now that you have roused me, get you gone till
I get up and dress myself. I shan't stay long."
In a moment, their merry voices might have been heard upon the
lawn in front, ringing clearly out in the dry sweet atmosphere. A
gentler song suddenly took wing in an adjoining chamber, and the
eyes of father and mother both twinkled with a lustre that came