Abbildungen der Seite
PDF
EPUB

though the old respectable burghers and their wives, who had held up their heads time out of mind, continued the good custom, and laughed at the presumption of these upstart interlopers who were followed only by a few people of silly pretensions, who had no more soul than Amos Shuttle himself. The three wicked women grew to be almost perfect skeletons, on account of the vehemence with which they strove to outdo each other, and the terrible exertions necessary to keep up the appearance of being the best friends in the world. In short, they became the laughingstock of the town; and sensible, well-bred folks cut their acquaintance, except when they sometimes accepted an invitation to a party, just to make merry with their folly and conceitedness.

The excellent St. Nicholas, finding they still persisted in their opposition to his rites and ceremonies, determined to inflict on them the last and worst punishment that can befall the sex. He decreed that they should be deprived of all the delights springing from the domestic affections, and all taste for the innocent and virtuous enjoyments of a happy fireside. Accordingly they lost all relish for home; they were continually gadding about from one place to another in search of pleasure, and worried themselves to death to find happiness where it is never to be found. Their whole lives became one long series of disappointed hopes, galled pride, and gnawing envy. They lost their health, they lost their time, and their days became days of harassing impatience, their nights nights of sleeplessness, feverish excitement, ending in weariness and disappointment. The good saint sometimes felt sorry for them, but their continued obstinacy determined him to persevere in his plan to punish the upstart pride of these rebellious females.

Young Shuttle, who had a soul, which I suppose he inherited from his mother, all this while continued his attentions to little Susan Varian, which added to the miseries inflicted on his wicked mother. Mrs. Shuttle insisted that Amos should threaten to disinherit his son, unless he gave up this attachment.

“Lord bless your soul, Abby!” said Amos. “ What's the use of my threatening; the boy knows as well as I do that I've no will of my own. Why, bless my soul, Abby

“Bless your soul!” interrupted Mrs. Shuttle; "I wonder who'd take the trouble to bless it but yourself? However, if you don't I will."

Accordingly she threatened the young man with being disinherited unless he turned his back on little Susan Varian, which no man ever did without getting a heartache. If my

father goes on as he has done lately,” sighed the youth, "he won't have anything left to disinherit me of but his affection, I fear. But if he had millions I would not abandon Susan.”

" Are you not ashamed of such a low-lived attachment? You that have been to Europe! But, once for all, remember this, renounce this low-born upstart, or quit your father's house for ever.”

“Upstart !” thought young Shuttle; "one of the oldest families in the city." He made his mother a respectful bow, bade Heaven bless her, and left the house. however, met by his father at the door, who said to him,

“ Johnny, I give my consent; but mind don't tell your mother a word of the matter. I'll let her know I've a soul as well as other people,” and he tossed his head like a warhorse.

The night after this Johnny was married to little Susan, and the blessing of affection and beauty lighted upon his pillow. Her old father, who was in a respectable business, took his son-in-law into partnership, and they prospered so well that in a few years Johnny was independent of all the world, with the prettiest wife and children in the land. But

He was,

Mrs. Shuttle was inexorable, while the knowledge of his prosperity and happiness only worked her up to a higher pitch of anger, and added to the pangs of jealousy perpetually inflicted on her by the rivalry of Mrs. Hubblebubble and Mrs. Doubletrouble, who suffered under the like affliction from the wrathful St. Nicholas, who was resolved to make them an example to all posterity.

No fortune, be it ever so great, can stand the eternal sapping of wasteful extravagance, engendered and stimulated by the baleful passion of envy. In less than ten years from the hatching of the diabolical conspiracy of these three wicked women against the supremacy of the excellent St. Nicholas, their spendthrift rivalship had ruined the fortunes of their husbands, and entailed upon themselves misery and remorse. Rich Amos Shuttle became at last as poor as a church mouse, and would have been obliged to take to the loom again in his old age, had not Johnny, now rich, and a worshipful magistrate of the city, afforded him and his better half a generous shelter under his own happy roof. Mrs. Hubblebubble and Mrs. Doubletrouble had scarcely time to condole with Mrs. Shuttle, and congratulate each other, when their husbands went the way of all fleshthat is to say, failed for a few tens of thousands, and called their creditors together to hear the good news. The two wicked women lived long enough after this to repent of their offence against St. Nicholas; but they never imported any more French curtains, and at last perished miserably in an attempt to set the fashions in Pennypot Alley.

Mrs. Abigail Shuttle might have lived happily the rest of her life with her children and grand-children, who all treated her with reverent courtesy and affection, now that the wrath of mighty St. Nicholas was appeased by her exemplary punishment; but she could not get over her bad habits and feelings, or forgive her lovely daughter-inlaw for treating her so kindly when she so little deserved

it. She gradually pined away; and though she revived at hearing of the catastrophe of Mrs. Hubblebubble and Mrs. Doubletrouble, it was only for a moment. The remainder of the life of this wicked woman was a series of disappointments and heartburnings, and when she died, Amos tried to shed a few tears, but he found it impossible, I suppose, because, as his wife always said, " he had no soul.”

Such was the terrible revenge of St. Nicholas, which ought to be a warning to all who attempt to set themselves up against the venerable customs of their ancestors, and backslide from the hallowed institutions of the blessed saint, to whose good offices, without doubt, it is owing that this, his favourite city, has transcended all others of the universe in beautiful damsels, valorous young men, mincepies, and New Year cookies. The catastrophe of these three wicked women had a wonderful influence in the city, insomuch that from this time forward no grey mares were ever known, no French furniture was ever used, and no woman was hardy enough to set herself up in opposition to the good customs of St. Nicholas. And so wishing many happy New Years to all my dear countrywomen and countrymen, saving those who shut their doors to old friends, high or low, rich or poor, on that blessed anniversary which makes more glad hearts than all others put together,-I say, wishing a thousand happy New Years to all, with this single exception, I lay down my pen, with a caution to all wicked women to beware of the revenge of St. Nicholas.

DOMINIE NICHOLAS ÆGIDIUS OUDENARDE.

James K. Paulding,

AN APHORISM AND A LECTURE.

ONE
NE of the Boys mentioned, the other evening, in the

course of a very pleasant poem he read us, a little trick of the Commons table-boarders, which I, nourished ai the parental board, had never heard of. Young fellows being always hungry- Allow me to stop dead-short, in order to utter an aphorism which has been forming itself in one of the blank interior spaces of my intelligence, like a crystal in the cavity of a geode.

APHORISM BY THE PROFESSOR. In order to know whether a human being is young or old, offer it food of different kinds at short intervals. If young, it will eat anything at any hour of the day or night. If old, it observes stated periods, and you might as well attempt to regulate the time of high-water to suit a fishingparty as to change these periods.

The crucial experiment is this. Offer a bulky and boggy bun to the suspected individual just ten minutes before dinner. If this is eagerly accepted and devoured, the fact of youth is established. If the subject of the question starts back and expresses surprise and incredulity, as if you could not possibly be in earnest, the fact of maturity is no less clear.

-Excuse me, -I return to my story of the Commonstable. Young fellows being always hungry, and tea and dry toast being the meagre fare of the evening meal, it was a trick of some of the Boys to impale a slice of meat upon a fork, at dinner-time, and stick the fork, holding it, beneath the table, so that they could get it at tea-time. The dragons that guarded this table of the Hesperides

« ZurückWeiter »