Mary Christmas, a holiday story


The store of rosy apples

Mary Christmas

By Carolyn S Bailey

Illustrated by Arthur G Dove

IT was a green day before Christmas at the Island The harbor reflected a sky as blue as any that ever shone above Italy the wonderful sky line of the great metropolis glowed and glinted with a luster that only a New York sun atop a sky scraper knows the lawns of the Island were still green and gay with their carpet of grass and athwart it all towered Liberty her uplifted finger pointing to an open port and a straggle for existence in which the battle goes always to the man who elbows most and seldom to the weak Three ships were in harbor Etruria 501 New York 1104 Caledonia 767 in steerage the government official checked them off on the bulletin board The examining physicians and nurses took their stands the attendants gave a final sweeping to the long pens which were soon to hold their lines of would be citizens the captain of the Caledonia bustled in with his lists the barges began to unload their masses of humanity and Mary Christmas put by her knitting She was a little bent old Danish woman of sixty five Her flowered petticoat and starched apron were not long enough to cover her white stockings and hobnailed shoes Over her head was tied a red kerchief upon her back was strapped the red and white counterpane into which were knotted all her worldly goods including the store of rosy apples that were to furnish her fruit stand and make her fortune in the land of the free In one hand she tightly clasped her shining copper teakettle that rattled its fat cover defiantly as she tramped along in the other was her knitting and her eyes twinkled with a joy beyond words as the barge drew near the shore and she saw the line of immigrants setting foot in America The Domkirke will now soon be lighted for Christmas eve she said to a neighbor as she joined the crowd which was slowly making its way to the offices They will have let my lame Hans trim the altar


Don t go mother Don t go to America he say but I say to Hans I have one strong pair of legs and two strong arms and I will find a corner in the city for my apples Then oh so many rich peoples will come to me and buy ana I will send for you Hans and you will have the doctoring But her soliloquy was cut short by the pushing and jostling about her Stand in line there Numbers 16 in this row Numbers 17 wait outside Numbers 19 for the medical inspector Mary Christmas dropped so low a courtesy that the cover of the teakettle fell off entirely as the physician pushed off her kerchief inverted her eyelids to samine for possible trachoma and Lame Hans s cys by home M l v Tt was such a long time to wait marked her good wool shawl with strange chalk hieroglyphics pointing her to a line of sixty Italians Russians and Slavs waiting to be measured and checked off the Caledonia lists It was such a long time to wait and it was a little lonely Hans will be boiling the potatoes now she thought to herself and then he will go over the wood bridge to the choir practice She softly hummed to herself Watchman tell us of the night What its signs of wonder are But she was interrupted Mary Christmas Able to read yes Hight foui feet eleven inches Ribe Denmark Steamship Caledonia How much money have you Mary Christmas Money Ah that was safe Had the not sold all the geese to get it Man Christmas carefully rolled up her knitting and put it in her apron pocket set her teakettle on the inspector’s desk sat down upon her counterpane bundle turned down one white stocking and took out a wad of paper One dollar two three five dollars thirteen fifteen fifteen dollars and forty five cent Surely a fortune Have you friends to meet you Mary Christmas asked the inspector sharply My lame Hans stays by home He Have you friends in America is what I want tc know said the inspector No Deportation room said the inspector glibly Mary Christmas to be detained and deported at the expense of the Caledonia for lack of funds Detained and deported The apple stand so near realization 630 GOOD HOUSEKEEPING

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