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Birdie’s Pet

From Ailenroc鈥檚 Book, by Cornelia Alexander

Quietness reigned in the town of C鈥斺. The hum of busy everyday life was hushed in the streets, while the closed doors and the sound of church bells proclaimed to the traveler that it was the Lord鈥檚 day. Even the green parrot which hung in its gay cage over Jim Carter鈥檚 door seemed subdued by the sweet stillness of the morning, and held its tongue where it belonged鈥攊n its head.

I said the doors were closed. They were, all but one, and that was where the parrot hung. 鈥淏ar鈥 was written over it in big letters, and there was a tall green screen standing just inside to hide the thirsty caller from the passers-by.

鈥淏ut,鈥 says one, 鈥渢he law of the land does not allow whisky shops open on Sunday.鈥 But the law only imposes a fine, you see, for so doing; and Jim Carter didn鈥檛 care for fines.

鈥淚 makes it up in the long run, he said, winking his one eye. 鈥淏less you, Sunday is as good a day as any! I buys my liquors, and sells when I gets ready. I pays my fines, and it鈥檚 nobody鈥檚 business. Old Jim and the law has a tussle occasionally; but what of it? I does as I pleases.鈥

On this particular morning he sat sunning himself, like a great, big, bloated spider at the door of his den, and, as usual, a crowd of loafers had collected to keep him company.

鈥淭he new parson holds forth to-day, I suppose,鈥 said Joe Bently, a young limb of the law, whose shaky hands and watery eyes proclaimed his habits. He did not add that he had fled from home by the way of a back window, fearing that his pious widowed mother would ask his company to the house of God.

鈥淵es,鈥 drawled old Jim, 鈥渁nd I thought you鈥檇 a-been there; but 鈥榖irds of a feather,鈥 you know,鈥 he added, with a wink of his eye, giving Joe, at the same time, a dig in the ribs. Read More

Bedtime Hour

From Ailenroc鈥檚 Book, by Cornelia Alexander

鈥楾is the children鈥檚 bedtime hour;
They are murmuring sleepy prayers,
While my thoughts go straying backward
Down the path of the vanished years;
And, evolved from their misty shadows,
One face and form I see:
A dear little boy, with serious look,
Saying his prayers at my knee.

With brown hands closely folded
And dark head bended low,
I hear again the murmur
That the childish lips o鈥檈rflow.
鈥淟ead me not into any temptation,
From all evil deliver me,鈥
Was the nightly prayer of the little boy
Who said his prayers at my knee.

Ah me! with an aching heart beat,
I think how the years have flown
Since that time, and my firstborn
From his mother鈥檚 home is gone;
And to-night I pray: 鈥溾極ur Father,鈥
Wherever he may be,
Make him again the good little boy
Who said his prayers at my knee.鈥

At St. Roque’s

From Ailenroc鈥檚 Book, by Cornelia Alexander. Note from the blogger: St. Roch’s chapel still exists in New Orleans, and greatly resembles the description given by Mrs. Alexander more than a century ago. Here is more information about the cemetery and chapel, and here is a collection of photographs from the place which I found very interesting.

鈥淣o visit to New Orleans is complete without a pilgrimage to St. Roque, and you must go there. I have some wishes to make, and will go with you.鈥

So said my friend, whom I will call 鈥淣ell.,鈥 for short.

鈥淪ome wishes to make?鈥 I repeated.

鈥淵es,鈥 she said. 鈥淎ccording to an old legend, one may get any wish granted by walking to St. Roque鈥攏ever stopping on the way鈥攕aying a prayer, and making a wish.鈥

鈥淗ow easy! And who, pray, might St. Roque be?鈥 I asked.

鈥淥, he was just a saint,鈥 she said, lightly, 鈥渁 very holy man. I don鈥檛 know much about him, but I do know that wishes are granted at St. Roque鈥檚 Church. I鈥檝e tried it. I wished once for money, and got it.鈥

Nell. was not raised a Catholic, but has drifted that way from superstition and association.

Seeing that I was still unbelieving, she appealed to Miss Cecilia, a lovely Creole girl, a native of the city, and a pure and tender lamb of the Catholic fold. Read More

Is It I?

From Ailenroc鈥檚 Book, by Cornelia Alexander

Once I knew a joyous maiden,
Happy as a summer bird,
Laughing, singing 鈥榤ong the flowers;
Her young heart with pleasure stirred.
O the happy days of childhood!
How they flit like phantoms by!
While I retrospect those hours,
Wondering vaguely: Was it I?

How I marveled then at faces
Growing graver with the years,
And at eyes that lost their brightness,
Quenched their light in bitter tears!
Now I marvel at the gladness
Of the days so long gone by,
While I sit a silent weeper,
Wondering: Can this be I?

Happy hours鈥攖hey have fled forever;
Happy heart has left my breast;
Childhood鈥檚 days have fled like shadows,
Womanhood hath brought no rest.
All alone in wintry darkness
Sit I as the days go by,
Thinking of my happy girlhood,
Wondering: Can this be I?

The Tale of a Dinner

From Ailenroc鈥檚 Book, by Cornelia Alexander

鈥淢atilda,鈥 said Mr. Sanders, putting his head in at the kitchen door, 鈥淏rother Grice and Brother Lee, from Bumbleton, are here, and will remain to dinner.鈥

Mr. Sanders was a preacher, who preached at Bumbleton once a month; Matilda was his wife.

鈥淢ercy on me!鈥 she said, staring at him; but in a moment her gaze wandered past him across the field鈥攕till farther. She was wondering what she would have for dinner.

鈥淲ell,鈥 said Mr. Sanders, fidgeting about the door, 鈥渢hey are in the sitting room, and I must go back. It is ten o鈥檆lock, Matilda.鈥

鈥淚 know,鈥 she said, trying to smile. 鈥淚鈥檒l have dinner on time; never fear. Go back to your company.鈥

He looked back as he turned to go, saying, in a hesitating sort of way: 鈥淵ou鈥攜ou can make out, Matilda.鈥

鈥淚 think so,鈥 she answered. 鈥淒id I ever fail?鈥 Read More