Bitter Bonds

The Life of a Day,
page 6 of 7

the great glowing hearth, a group of dusky picturesque forms, —friendly Mohawks, who, when their furs were safely sold, could be welcomed, and were ever tolerated and harbored by the kindly Swannekins; and as the shadows gathered into the “fore-night,” and the fierce wind screamed down the great chimney and drew out into the darkness long tongues of orange and scarlet flames from the oak and hickory fires (burning, says one early traveller, half up the chimney), there was homely comfort within, and peace in the white man’s wigwam.

                    “What matter how the North-wind raved,—
                    Blow high, blow low, not all its snow
                    Could quench that hearth-fire’s ruddy glow.”

And the blanketed squaw felt in her savage breast the spirit of that home, and gently nursed her swaddled pappoose; and the silent Wilden, ever smoking, listened to the Dutch huys-moeder, who, undressing little Hybertje and Jan and Goosje for their long night’s sleep, sang to them the nursery song of the Hollanders, of the Fatherland:—

                    “Trip a troup a tronjes,
                    De vaarken in de boonjes,
                    De koejes in de klaver,
                    De paarden in de haver,
                    De kalver in de lang gras,
                    De eenjes in de water plas,
                    So groot myn klein poppetje was.”

Or if it were mid-December, the children sang to Kriss-Kringle:—

                    “Saint Nicholaes, goed heilig man,
                    Trekt uw’ besten tabbard aan,
                    En reist daamee naar Amsterdam,
                    Von Amsterdam naar Spange,
                    Waar Appellen von Orange
                    En Appellen von Granaten
                    Rollen door de straaten.

                    “Saint Nicholaes, myn goeden vriend,
                    Ik heb uwe altyd wel gediend,
                    Als gy my nu wat wilt geben
                    Zal ik un dienen als myn leben.”

Then the warming-pan was filled with hot coals, and thrust warily between the ice-cold sheets of the children’s beds, and perhaps they were given a drink of mulled cider or simmering beer; and scarcely were they sleeping in their warm flannel cosyntjes, or nightcaps with long capes, when the curfew rang out from the church belfry. It was eight o’clock,— -----’t Is tijdt te bedde te gaen. The housewife carefully covered “the dull red brands with ashes over” for the fire of the


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