Page:Our American Holidays - Christmas.djvu/147

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119
FESTIVAL OF ST. NICHOLAS

their eyes meanwhile; for the saint to whom they were about to address themselves was yet in mysterious quarters.

Mevrouw commenced playing softly upon the piano; soon the voices rose,—gentle, youthful voices, rendered all the sweeter for their tremor,—

  "Welcome, friend! St. Nicholas, welcome!
    Bring no rod for us to-night!
  While our voices bid thee welcome,
    Every heart with joy is light.

      "Tell us every fault and failing;
      We will bear thy keenest railing
      So we sing, so we sing:
      Thou shalt tell us everything!

  "Welcome, friend! St. Nicholas, welcome!
    Welcome to this merry band!
  Happy children greet thee, welcome!
    Thou art gladdening all the land.

      "Fill each empty hand and basket;
      'T is thy little ones who ask it.
      So we sing, so we sing:
      Thou wilt bring us everything!"

During the chorus, sundry glances, half in eagerness, half in dread, had been cast towards the polished folding-doors. Now a loud knocking was heard. The circle was broken in an instant. Some of the little ones, with a strange mixture of fear and delight, pressed