The MAGNATE'S INSPIRATION OR THE 2000TH CHRISTMAS
Harris Merton Lyon
A Christmas Fantasy
IT was eleven o’clock of a cold Christmas Eve in the year 1999. In the little old tumble-down carpenter shop of meek old Meyer Abrams, back in a ramshackle court-yard of the Ghetto, sat the strange young. Jew, alone. All up and down Baxter street the wretched winter wind howled along, slamming the creaky tenement shutters; and the drizzling sleet pelted the roof tops and the gutters cruelly and incessantly. It was very cold in the old carpenter’s shop, a lean-to shanty without a stove in it, but the young apprentice sat in silence, heedless of the icy chill, his eyes staring straight ahead of him. He was worn out, sad, nervous, and hungry, there amidst the dead shavings and the planes and the saws, the gimlets, braces, and bits. Every now and then he would pass his hand tremulously across his forehead, or stroke his youthful, silky beard. Nobody in Baxter street, in the whole East Side of the great city of New York—not even old Meyer Abrams himself—knew from what country the young Jew with the weird, staring eyes had come.
“Are you lately landed?” Abrams had asked him quizzically when he had wanted work.
“Yes.” But he would not tell the name of his country.
“What do men call you?” the old carpenter had demanded.
That I spent, that I had ; That I gave, that I have; That I left, that I lost. —Robert Byrkes.
“Some men in my country once insisted that my name was—Josephson. That name will do me now.”
“A revolutionist,” thought Meyer, and He was a good carpenter, all that the old master demanded of him, but his mind shrugged his shoulders, seemed to be fixed on other things. For five weeks he had scarcely tasted food, and at night, when the other Jews sat about the cafes arguing hotly over anarchy and government, or stayed in their houses with their children tumbling noisily about them, the young immigrant preferred to sit alone in Abram’s dingy, cheerless shop, gnawing his nails and thinking, his long legs outspread, his head thrown back, his dreamy eyes fixed on the ceiling. Why he would eat no food, nobody knew. It is said that men with great intentions need little earthly help; that they live on something strong within them; that they even radiate some of this strength to carry everybody they meet along with them. Their eyes glow; a mysterious force comes out of them. Their nerves vibrate, and a marvelous power goes into everything they do. Josephson, the young Jew, was this sort of a man.
As he sat there on Christmas Eve, at eleven o’clock, his brain seemed bursting with great thoughts. He quivered and shook with the intensity of his feeling, and in the dimness of the old shop a glow seemed to stand around his hair, like the glow around a sick woman’s head when the pain of her suffering is exceedingly great. And all the while, as he thought, his eyes stared—unseeing, abstracted—up at the hoops and boards which lay along beneath the ceiling of the shop. He was a man hypnotized by an idea vaster, more profound than himself.
At midnight, the old church bell halfway across the frozen city boomed its hollow messages of the great new day. By ruddy fires, over cups of cheer, the millions of people laughed, looked into each other’s eyes, and were happy, sheltered within warm walls that shut out the grim, cutting winter. The whole city, where the city was rich, lolled in comfort indoors and sang songs to the coming Christmas. ,
But as the young Jew wrapped his long coat about him and strode out through the bitter Ghetto, he passed tenement after tenement where the starving poor shuddered in their chilly, bare rooms. There was no merriment there, only curses at the rich of the land. For in 1999 the rich were very rich and the poor were very poor; and the poor had no faith in anything, because they had been so often deceived. Long ago the rich had been rich
because they had held the trust of the people ; now they held only all the gold in the nation.
And the strange young Jew, as he passed along, nodded at the dismal tenements and said, over and over to himself: “That is why I am here; that is why I am here!”
At Sixth avenue he took an elevated train to One Hundred and Fifty-fifth street. There he got out and boarded a railroad train. It was the last one to leave New York City that night, and its destination was the Pocantico Hills country to the north.
Before it was two o’clock, Josephson found himself alone in a deserted railway station and among the hills. He knew no directions, but he had vaguely a sense of where he wanted to go. So he buttoned his long coat more tightly about him and struck out down a road through a wood. In the summer time the wood was made up of chestnut trees, but to-night they were gaunt gallows casting hail upon his shoulders. The fearful wind kept freezing him as he stumbled weakly along. The lonely horror of the winter night traveled at his heels, enveloped him, misled him over icy hills and hollows. Yet he kept on and on. He had no fear He did not feel the cold.
The sleet softened suddenly to a chill rain and soaked his greatcoat through. The frigid gale bit clear to his bones, and made his teeth shake ; yet a strange fever came into his veins and kept h;miraculously warm. He fell and crawled and groped and strode along, over the shivering grass, the dead bleak leaves, the frostbound stones, always in the direction he sought, always toward the great house with its wide-flung pavilions, back among its pine trees on the crest of one of those tumbling hills.
On this miraculous night the immense house, all lighted up, shone like another miracle. Its turrets and cupolas were dark, but the glass conservatories, the broad verandas, the lofty-ceilinged vestibules and rooms scattered their yellow radiance through the midnight darkness like some fairy palace blazing with jewels and lanterns.
The young Jew silently and humbly crossed the wide stretches of lawn and stood before one of the French windows of the flower room. He turned the knob and walked into the empty glare of light. From room to deserted room he passed until at length he came to the library. Here he pushed another door open and stood motionless on the threshold.
In a high-backed leathern chair before a crackling log sat an old man alone, smoking a cigar. In all that house, save for the servants, the old man was alone. For twenty years, forty years, he had been alone; and on Christmas Eve he always sat thus, late into the night, smoking and thinking before his fire. A certain birthnight, too, and a certain wedding night he celebrated in this fashion. The rest of the time he worked and gathered up money. For he was the richest man in the United States, and the most powerful.
The young Jew fixed his great, sorrowful eyes upon the old man; but the old man, lost in thought, stared into the fire.
He was a hale old man made of strong fiber, with great shoulders and sturdy chest, long arms, a big, magnificent head all covered with gray hair, and a gray beard. His eyes shone clear. His cheeks were ruddy. Life tingled in him as in a mountain brook. Yet when he thought deeply, as now, a softness spread over his face and his fiery eyes slumbered.
The young Jew looked at the old man’s face strangely, and moved his lips as if talking to himself. Then, between the two men a sudden consciousness leaped, a silent thought in the brain of each, like an incommunicable song, so that, in a moment, the old man lifted his head and stared.
“I am here,” said the young Jew.
“Look at that man,” murmured the millionaire. But it did not seem odd that he should be there.
“I must speak to you,” said the Jew.
And the old man passed his firm hand over his eyes as if in a dream, and answered :
“Come to the fire—you. Take off your coat, for you must be cold.”
“Cold? What is cold? I am not cold,” answered the other, in a poignant voice. Then he said: “I see you are thinking. That is good; for you must think still more.”
There was that in the wanderer’s face which made the millionaire curious. So he said :
“Who are you, young man?”
And the other replied: “I am the man who must make you think still more.”
The old man looked at him more closely, intently. “You have come to ask charity on Christmas Eve,” he declared. “Well, you shall have it.”
“Yes,” said the young man simply; “I shall have it,” and he drew off his coat and stood upright, facing the millionaire. “Listen to me,” he went on. “When trees and running streams and little seeds think, it is time for you also to think. But I will tell you, you must think as they do —charitably and generously toward all the people on earth. Behold, old man, you are the richest man in the land. You own running waters, transportations, harvests, the materials with which men build even their houses. You own everything inside and outside the law—everything which one man can own. When people no longer trusted your pieces of paper, the gilded front of your wealth, you took up the gold of the country. Do you know that men and women and little children are starving to death because of these things? Because of you? You enjoy your bread and meat with relish. Do you know that men are starving?”
The old man smiled. “A Socialist,” he murmured.
And the young Jew smiled, but his smile was somehow different. “This is why I am here to-night. You are an old man now and are soon to die.” The old man shrugged his shoulders as if that did not matter. “But it is not yet too late for you to begin. There is a chance to save you yet, and make you what you ought to be in this world.”
And the other asked : “Are you a madman?”
“No. You are the madman of us two. You have a chance to become sane again. But it must come from you. All from you, from the heart out. There is a spirit inside you which for forty years has been hard and cruel and bitter. Now it is Christmas time, and that spirit must be softened and made sweet. There is no other way to gain what I want. For though I could look into your eyes a long time and you would do what I tell you to, that is not enough. That would not be you who was doing it, but something outside of you. From a bubbling heart of pure good will, from the inside, must your charity come.”
As he spoke, the young Jew came over and laid his hand on the other’s shoulder, looking with wide eyes straight into the other’s eyes, whereat a fascination and a fervor came from the Jew. A queer, dazing, insistent power poured along his steady gaze. The old millionaire met it sternly, but the young man’s eyes thrilled him in his old heart.
“You are a hypnotist,” cried out the millionaire.
“I am a hypnotist. I am other things, too. I fast, and can coax the white soul from your body. I can make trees walk and the hills vocal. I can bring back the blue spirits of the dead. But these things do not matter. I came here to-night to change your soul and make it sweet, so that your charity will be real charity. Why did I select you? Because you are potential—you are that one man who holds the most power in his hands. Through you I must work. Or, it is better to say, through you must your new self work. And it is not loose charity I ask of you, the deadly giving away of wealth for nothing. No. Your charity shall be practical.”
Now the old man was amazed at the Jew’s attitude and, though he felt himself struggling in a dream, he opened his lips and asked:
“Why should I say ‘yes’ to you?” And the other spoke to him softly, but his tone filled the whole room.
“Why should you not? What do you live for? Think well before you answer.”
“I live to work; I work hard,” the old •man replied.
But the Jew said: “What does your work give you?”
And the other answered proudly: “My work gives me power.”
Then the young Jew raised his hand and pointed out the window. “You hear that gale out there, and you talk of power? Power? That wind could manifold itself and break your bones. You hear that rain? That rain could rise and drown you, and you could not flee. Do not talk to me of power, for the only power you have is as a man among men. There are other powers which make that power seem as a perfume and soft music. Now, tell me, why do you work?”
“Because the work compels me. Because I have nothing else to do. Many men and women are like me. I have nothing else to care for.” And he told how he was all alone, for his wife and daughter had died, and he added: “Why do I
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tell you this? But it is so. I am alone.”
“Especially on Christmas Eve?” asked the strange man gently.
“Especially on Christmas Eve. And on the night the baby was born and died with her mother. And on the night my wife and I were married.”
“How, after all, a great man is only a man!” exclaimed the Jew. “How, after all, he can be stripped and shown as little and sick, or old and brokenhearted!” And his hand on the old man’s shoulder seemed to throb with a wondrous sympathy. “He creeps over the ground with his two legs, a creature of bowels, brain, and heart— and we call him great! Though he sickens and dies, behold, his very monuments acclaim him great!”
The old millionaire shook his head slowly and gazed into the fire. The presence of the weird young Jew seemed somehow not at all marvelous to him, in his old age and in that pregnant night. He accepted him as he had come, in simplicity and sincerity. The very air was filled with an odd quality of wonder and belief, of sympathy and understanding between the poor man of the Ghetto and the rich man of the great house. What, after all, did life matter? The old man recalled, without emotion, that he had not fifteen years to live. The fire cast his shadow on the wall. He knew the time would come when he would cast a shadow nowhere. Not even a shadow should survive him.
Suddenly, among all his thoughts, he reached over and took the young Jew’s hand.
“I am glad you came to talk to me tonight. In some peculiar way you refresh me,” he said. “Yet you bring me strange ideas.”
“It is because you have given me the chance; yet long have we needed each other.”
The millionaire was silent again for a minute; then he asked slowly, with a tremor in his voice: “What meant you, my friend, when you said you could bring back the spirits of the dead?”
And the other answered: “That is what I meant. For I know the land of ghosts and the ghosts call to me out over their twilight. And I deal with strange hands and luminous faces, and I speak with lost voices. Even though I am in the sunlight, in forests or meadows, I hear them talking. They whisper to me, acquainting me with their happiness; for they are dead. They render me miracles; and, behold, I can cure sick men by laying my hand upon them. I fast, and straightway I am a brother to ghosts. Straightway I feel in all my nerves the tingle of the Specterforce. Before my eyes they move in myriads, or come singly, one at a time, these shadows of men, and always they murmur in my ear: ‘Brother . . . brother.’ They are like dead leaves rustling on a tree. They are like the lapping of hidden waters. They bring me messages, they bring me thoughts . . . from China, from Palestine, Alaska, Peru, everywhere. I
know, I know everything, always. For I see the world with a flying eye. To me, this earth is but a mere sign in the sky; and yet I can weep over one poor starving man. Alive he sends me messages, as dead he sends me messages. My ear is bent and ready for these things, and I hear him.”
“But—about the spirits? About bringing them back? You said you could bring back the dead. Is it nonsense? I have heard it said it was nonsense.”
“Nothing in death is nonsense.”
“Then give me my daughter, for I am old!” cried the millionaire suddenly.
“I will. And I ask no reward, for you shall do my bidding. I ask no reward, for you shall give of your own willingness. For it is commanded of us all that as I give, you shall give.” And the Jew closed his eyes and sank into a chair for the first time.
At once a tremor shook his wasted body; for a moment he groaned and grew rigid; and then his body grew supple again. His jaw fell from his jaw, his white face swam with sweat. His turning eyes rolled like bits of glass. Then slowly, on the floor by his left hand, a faint light smoked appeared strangely and clung there against the carpet, swaying like mist under the moon, building itself, blowing outward, upward. Above it hovered a dimly glowing ball, tenuous, attached to the filmy smoke beneath. Then gently, gradually, the whole gauziness molded itself like winding fog, and—lo, it took the billowing shape of a little girl with a haloed head of brilliance, her feet scarce touching the floor so light she was!
The old man looked with horror, then with pain, at what he saw. He stared in silence at the shy visitant, then at the mute young Jew. Over him rushed spasms of dread at the unknown, waves of love at the unforgotten. What worked there in his soul was exquisite. In seconds he changed as never he had changed in all the brutal years among men. He was no longer among men ; he had left the earth and floated amidst unearthly raptures. And at last he wet his lips with his tongue and fell toward the shadow, crying: Margaret! Margaret!”
But the marvelous girl drifted farther away and merely smiled. It was not like the smile of a living person; it had a deeper sweetness, like a smile from Paradise.
“Margaret! My baby!” whispered the old man in his throat. But she eddied to the young Jew’s forehead, seemingly swept and kissed it, and was gone. And the young Jew trembled and awoke.
Then, for some minutes, both were silent, looking at each other with comprehending eyes, while only the wind and rain kept up their doleful noise. In the end, the Jew held up his hand and smiled gently. “Why should she speak to you— and break your heart? You must not ask too much, old man.”
# “I—I ask nothing,” murmured the millionaire, groping his way to his chair.
“It is better that way. f or the children that are gone sow such sweet madness in men’s minds as would wreck the earth and make the heavens topple down. Dim, po-
tent, tiny mysteries who hold the hearts of all mankind in their pale, little ghostly hands ... as they wander in innocent ways through God’s eternal gardens! Look, I am but a poor Jew, and yet all children know me; and I know all children. It is the gift, the gift that does it.” ‘T would give anything for that gift,” murmured the old man.
“It is not for such as you,” said the Jew, “for you are to give, give everything, and get no worldly recompense. You are one of the great men of the earth, and therefore it is your province to give. That is your task, your duty—to give everything. More shall come to you in return; but you shall not get back that which you give. And this is real charity, that if you had but a dollar and knew you should never be able again to get another, you should give this dollar to the poor.”
The old man was amazed and cried out: “I will give—but let me think of my baby!”
And the Jew answered him softly: “As long as you live, and after, you will never be able to forget her. For she will blow eternally like fragrant pain across your soul. And so I say to you, put her by, for my time is short. It is more than two hours past midnight and I have a great deal to say.”
“Go on. I will listen to you.”
Then the Jew arose and, with his right hand in the air, spoke solemnly :
“You must sweeten that soul of yours inside your body—that little, dark soul which has never passed out of you yet.—sc that it will be pleasant in you while yet you live out your years on earth. You must soften your heart for a greatei happiness. And then you must give . . give all your millions.”
The old man threw up his head at the words and said: “No! No! I cannot. 1 am a fool to-night. There is something uncanny here. But in the morning all this will have passed. I cannot give up mj money.”
Then the Jew’s voice changed to an iroi sternness and he thundered:
“What will you do with it when youi carcass rots and flies are in your brains' Will those you leave it to have brains likt yours to keep this money close? I do no ask you to give it away in folly—as yoi will if you give it away to those you ho in your intention now. You have a grea mind. You are a wise old man. There i a wise way to be charitable. It is to plai so that the poor can have an opportunity to help themselves. Build your benefac tions on grand plans, magnificent ant vast.
“Give to the poor many schools wher they may learn their trades. You own th steel mills. See that studious apprentice are given a chance to rise. Give work t the poor and always give instruction ii that work. Find them places in shops Take every youth who will come to yoi and prepare him for life. Make an op portunity for him. All cannot make thei opportunity as you did, for times hav changed, and this is no longer oppoi tunity’s day. Do you not think that ; starving man will work if he can ge
work? ' Yet all the Ghetto to-night is starving !
“Conceive the suffering of the little children, born in the blackness of life, and remember forever the wailing of the children in filth and blindness, where the sun shines not and the slugs of poverty crawl. You must give heed to the children of the Kingdom of Man, for in them lies your hope, and never can your child come back to you should you damn the unborn and the born. Forever shall you hear the voices crying in the labyrinths of night; forever shall you feel the brushing of little, imploring hands. The children you forget shall break your pleasantest dreams and follow you in the daytime until you abominate yourself.
“Have pity on the children, for this way you shall live forever. Teach them,and make them your friends. Raise them up from where they lie cast amongst ignorance and drunkenness, licentiousness and despair. By your schools you shall come to know them, and hereafter they shall praise you because they are no longer wretched. Through all time men shall love you, for in your time you shall have loved the children.”
The old man listened to his words in silence, and over his mind came thoughts of his money. For his gold oppressed him whenever he thought of it, and it wearied him like a sickness.
“I see no way. I do not care for the money. But I see no way,” he said at last.
And the other replied : “See my way. It is the only way.”
“But I cannot,” answered the old man. And then he said : “You move me strangely with your power here to-night.”
The other said: “You must be able to hear between my lines what is not spoken in them. There is the truth. If you are the man, in your ears the truth must thunder.” Then the young Jew pleaded:
“Come, think of the roaring millions of men in the centuries to come! You have but to lift your finger now and shape a billion opportunities in those undreamedof years!”
“I must think of my present business,” said the old millionaire.
And still the Jew was not dismayed. “Your present business is already past. Let the past bargain with the past and decay in its own place. But you begin and work at the future. For the future is yours,”
“It will ruin me,” protested the old man.
“And if you have no soul,” answered the other, “you are already ruined. But I have come to save you.” As he spoke, the rich man saw the wonderful kindness in his eyes, like a thousand stars on a summer’s night shining. “You are already dead, and this is the death you have to fear. I tell you that by my plan you shall conquer death and live in men until the day of doom. For gold properly put is the happiest thing on earth. Do you die and want all men miserable? Or do you live and want all men happy?”
And when he had finished rebuking him, the old man spoke and said: “My strange new thoughts tell me that I want all men happy.”
“Then,” said the other sternly, “you know my plan. Work at It.”
And again silence fell between them.
The big, hale, gray old man took up a tablet and pencil, which always lay near him wherever he went. He bent above the paper, tapping it with the pencil. Then he drew a rough outline, which was the United States, and split it crosswise and lengthwise. And he wrote rapidly, “Eastern branch — Western — North-east — North-west — South-east — South-west — Central,” and stopped. Now, the North-east section included New York City, and under it he wrote the name of “Parsons, general manager.” Under each of the other sections also he quickly wrote a man’s name. He forgot the young Jew, gazing steadily at him. He tapped on the paper and sucked at his shaggy gray moustache for many minutes. “Yes,” he said at last, “it blight do. We would take over the Government’s Employment Agency first. They have been losing too much money on it.”
A sound old clock chimed half past two and the pencil scratched energetically on, pouring out rows of figures and groups of compact names. The bobbing pencil seemed merry at the new task. The young Jew smiled in the silence. And suddenly the old man looked up, sharp and forceful.
“This isn’t all due to you,” he said. “For you must know that every rich old man, such as I, thinks often in his old age about where and how to leave his money, and I have thought it over many times— many times. Only your idea—it hit me to-night. There is something novel, something practical about it. I could train my labor that way, and be always sure of competent workmen. I could spread out the business to take in other trades, and guarantee to furnish other men in other businesses with trained labor.” His eyes glowed and he stopped to make a note of two allied trades. His huge head shone in the light; his eyes seemed rimmed with a kind of fervor as he tapped, scratched busily, and tapped, tapped again with his pencil, staring straight into the dancing fire, or bending, burly shouldered, above the little sheets of paper. Once he chuckled and remarked : “I will give them a Christmas present that will amaze them —my men, I mean. I can see my general manager—he’s Parsons—when he reads this letter. It will be sent to him to-morrow morning.”
‘You will use your own men,” said the Jew. . .
“Certainly ! For they are the best men on earth to-day. Why not?”
And he went on at his scribbling like a man lost in a dream.
Outside, the wind and rain chilled and drowned the heavy night, battling in the skies to keep the dawn from ever coming. Inside, the clock, with its robust old heart, ticked away its monotonous greeting to the flying seconds of time. “Tick”—the second had come; “Tock”—it had gone. And the old man wrote; and the young Jew smiled.
Once the visitor interrupted: “You do what you do because you wish to?”
The old man merely nodded. He did not look up. If he had done so he would have seen the lips of the young Jew part slowly, his cheeks go paler than ever, his
head sink, and the flame die out of his tired eyes. But the Jew did not speak, and the old man figured on) and the night hung close over the rich man’s house. “In the right hands the right task has been put,” murmured the stranger. Then, in louder tones, he said: “I must go.”
The old man heard. “Go now! Impossible! You must stay here to-night.”
But the young Jew shook his head sadly. “My work is done here. I must go.” “But the night is terrible—,” protested the other. And the Jew said simply:
“No night is terrible to me.”
And still the other kept saying: “But you shall stay and help me with this plan ! You are a great man.”
And the young Jew smiled weakly and replied: “You are a greater man for your plan than I am.” He lifted his head. “I must go.”
“Wher’e must you go to-night?” asked the old man. And the young man answered: “Not far.”
Then the millionaire rose to his feet, so that the two stood looking at each other. The firelight jumped radiantly over the gray head and the great shoulders, and a brilliance flamed in the old man’s eyes like a victorious design. He stood up gladly before the haggard Jew, all wan and spent and lean.
“And you will send the letter?” asked the young man steadily.
To which he said: “I shall send seven letters.”
“It is a sign,” said the Jew. And they were silent, till the Jew put on his greatcoat and walked toward the door. At this the old man was for begging him again to stay, but the other checked him with his hand:
“Would you like to see another sign?” They stood in the glass door, by the lawn, and he pointed upward through the night to where, above the rain, a great star was shining.
“A star!” cried the rich man. “A star on a night like this!”
But the young Jew did not answer. He looked at his host and said: “Is your soul sweetened inside your body? Do you believe in your daughter’s spirit? And do you believe in mercy and charity? Do you really believe in these things? For you see that star only because you believe in it. Otherwise, there is no star. You must believe, believe. These are my last words. All the rest of your life you must believe in what has happened here to-night. Use your strength to work out your beliefs; but see to it that you believe in a strength above that strength. Though the tongues of men clash in angry denial like the beating of seas, I tell you this world is a world of souls, and there is such a thing as a soul. Though men through forty ages have forgot their souls, I tell you there are souls. The spirit rules ; and the body rots. And through all the years of your life now, you must remember these things. Work and believe!”
And the young Jew vanished in the darkness.
The clear air cooled the old man’s brain so that he stood in the late night and thought. His great chest heaved with his breathing so that his gray beard rose and fell. His big hands were clenched in unconscious purpose. His eyes stared wide into the still blackness. Like a rushing dream, full of wheeling and flashing lights, the strange incidents of this miraculous encounter swept into his brain: the advent of this startling wanderer, the uncanny words, spoken without thought, with which he himself had greeted him—“Look at that man!”—the weird building of that spirit-land bubble he had known to be his own little Margaret, the unfolding of the amazing scheme, the luster of that incredible star.
The vast night leaned above him as his dream overwhelmed him ; yet he felt strangely peaceful and calm. What had happened to him? Was it all a fantasy, full of an inscrutable meaning? A bewildering spell with some implacable intention in its exercise? Something unreal . . . something to guess at? Something from another world, from a mysterious land, compelling him at Christmas time to remold his scheme of life .. . and death? Thoughts, thoughts, millions of thoughts, immense, terrific and confounding, marched across his mind. Thoughts of life and death, of his millions, of his plan. His plan! He turned and went into his house, filled with a great sweetness and happiness of soul like unto nothing which had ever before befallen him in all his Christmases.
“William,” he said to his valet as he sat on the edge of his bed, “you don’t know that old age is really a second childhood. But it is. Somehow, we old men swing round and come back to our youth.” “Yes, sir,” said William patiently. For William was sixty years old.
“Youth!” went on his master, looking ant his window. “Glamor! Not knowing that things are impossible to begin with, !»Ut going in and doing them anyhow. Ml my life I’ve been learning what was ?0olish and what wasn’t foolish. And low—deliberately—I am going to be a tool. Isn’t that youth again? Triumph of ipirit over matter! I am snapping my ingers at every rule of ‘business’ on ¡arth; every ‘business man’ in the world s going to declare that I’m crazy, and irophesy my ruin. Why? Simply because *m letting the youth in me have its wav— he youth and all it stands for—ideals, fenerosity, poetry, wild schemes, the igor to back them up!”
“Very well, sir.”
“Wait a minute. Do you know why I m a happy old man this Christmas? )on’t say ‘No, sir.’ It is because I’ve got ilu8ions—illusions, William—and also he practical strength to carry them out. Ÿhat I needed in life was an illusion, a ream. I had all the rest of the equipment. I had to have something crazy and íagnificent to do. And a man came along nd gave it to me to-night.”
“A man came here to-night, sir?” “Yes.”
“Good Lord, sir!”
At the words, the old man stared at his alet as if fascinated. An idea came to
him quickly, plunging him into a stupid rumination. The last thing he said as he lay between the sheets was: “Perhaps you’re right, William.” And he slept.
* * ♦
In the morning, as he served the coffee, William coughed a few times, then remarked :
“Merry Christmas, sir.”
The old millionaire glowed like a giant Santa Claus. “Well, well. It has a pleasant sound this time, hasn’t it?” he saidv “Your present is in that top dresser drawer, William.”
The valet did not move for a moment. Then he coughed again: “A—er—man was found dead on the place this morning, sir.”
The cup stopped at his master’s lips. “What man?” he asked.
“A—er—strange man, sir. Head groom reported it, sir. He died down at the stables.”
“A young Jew? Poor?” continued the millionaire quickly.
“The doctors say about three o’clock,
“Down at the stables, eh? Where was he found?”
The voice that answered did not seem like the old valet’s voice, so strange, so old, so awful were the words:
“In one of the mangers, sir.”
RULES TO SUCCESS.
The following were the rules of life adopted by Robert C. Ogden, a successful business man in the U. S.
Keep faith in humanity.
A man becomes what he most desires to be.
Do not mistake a prejudice for a principle.
Keep your intellectual and spiritual life
Be energetic, wideawake, pushing, bul be patient.
The world wants men who are wel equipped and worthy.
False witness may be given by a gesture or a grimace.
Honor womanhood if you would keej faith in humanity.
What a marvel of a business men’i guide is the book of Proverbs.
The longer you live, if you live right the less you will think of yourself.
Be true. Stand up and believe in your self, then other people will believe in you
A vigorous, healthy man has really onl; one right in the world, only one thing t demand, and that is a chance to work.
In every life comes some crisis whei conscious integrity gives a power and he roic strength that can come from no othe source.
The charity that we are bidden to dis play is broad as God’s sunshine, but hi laws are fine as a razor’s edge, and quit as keen.