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A Napa Christchild; and Benicia's Letters

Exclaimed Crescimir as he kissed the rosy face


"I

am glad that thou art come, little one," said Crescimir, as he held the child in his arms, seated in the wooden armchair before the fire. "Thou hast made my Christmas Eve a very pleasant one, but I wish that I could know who thou art and whether thy parents are anxiously searching for thee this stormy night. Canst thou not speak?"

The child shook his golden head solemnly and began throwing bits of the hemlock into the flames, watching the blaze they made as if he could read in it.

Crescimir had spoken in German and the little waif understood him, but it seemed that he was unable to answer except in a cooing sound expressive of his sensations; however, he could sing most sweetly, not articulating, but singing as a bird and making beautiful melody. The song which Crescimir had been singing when he entered, seemed to please his ear greatly and he warbled it over again in his strangely sweet tones. Crescimir sung the song a number of times to him and also many others, some of which with their merry music, breathing fresh from the high Alps, caused his little hand to keep time with the hemlock branch as he joined in the songs with his curious notes.

"Thou art a little elf!" exclaimed Crescimir as he kissed the rosy face. "Thou bringest back all the old days and makest me feel as merry as I used in far off Illyria. Bless thee little Christchild."

The

mysterious guest laughed gaily pulling Crescimir's hair and drawing his smooth fingers over the dark, weather beaten face of the man. Then he played horse, riding on Crescimir's knee using the branch for a whip, while Crescimir sang little verses which came to his mind, verses which set to rolicking music he had sung in his old home on feast days at dances in the tavern, accompanied by zither or hackbretl.

"My girl has ta'en her love away, I'm easier now I guess, Don't have to go so oft to church, Nor half so oft confess-- Nor half so oft confess."

The wind blew harder but neither Crescimir nor his guest heeded it, while the roaring of the arroyo and river and the steady pouring of the rain on the roof did not mar their merry making in the least, and they laughed and sung regardless of it all.

"Now I have two girls, An old one and a new, So now I need two hearts, A false one and a true."

He continued:

"Here Heavenly Father, 'T were fine to remain If for just half an hour 'T would gold dollars rain."

Just then the little cabin shook.

"Strong wind to-night; it is lucky for thee, Christchild, that thou hast found shelter and lucky for me that the evening which promised to be so dull has been a very merry one.

"Don't be so sad, boy, If she did treat thee rough, The world is like a hen-roost, Has pullets quite enough."

Crescimir ceased singing, for the Christchild stopped suddenly in his romping, gazing fixedly with his large, wondering eyes upon the floor.


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