Page:Our American Holidays - Christmas.djvu/220

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their lot being cast within that pleasant realm, "the Golden Mean," where the dwellings are connecting links between the hut and the hall — fair edifices resembling manse or mansion-house, according as the atmosphere expands or contracts their dimensions — in which Competence is next-door neighbor to Wealth, and both of them within the daily walk of Contentment.

Merry Christmases they were indeed — one Lady always presiding, with a figure that once had been the stateliest among the stately, but then somewhat bent, without being bowed down, beneath an easy weight of most venerable years. Sweet was her tremulous voice to all her grandchildren's ears. Nor did these solemn eyes, bedimmed into a pathetic beauty, in any degree restrain the glee that sparkled in orbs that had as yet shed not many tears, but tears of joy or pity. Dearly she loved all those mortal creatures whom she was soon about to leave; but she sat in sunshine even within the shadow of death; and the "voice that called her home" had so long been whispering in her ear, that its accents had become dear to her, and consolatory every word that was heard in the silence, as from another world.

Whether we were indeed all so witty as we thought ourselves — uncles, aunts, brothers, sisters, nephews, nieces, cousins, and "the