He frowned and shook his snowy head.
"Those clanging bells! they deafen quite
"With their unmeaning song," he said.
"I'm weary of it all to-night—
The gladness, sadness. I'm so old
I have no sympathy to spare,
My heart has grown so hard and cold,
So full of self, I do not care
How many laugh, or long, or grieve
In all the world this Christmas eve.
"There was a time long, long ago—
They take our best, the passing years—
For the old life, and faith, and glow.
I'd give—what's on my cheek? Not tears!
I have a whim. To-night I'll spend
Till eyes turn on me gratefully—
An old man's whim, just to pretend
That he is what he used to be;
For this one night, not want nor pain
Shall look to me for help in vain."
"A foolish whim!" he muttered oft,
The while he gave to those in need,
But strangely warm and strangely soft
His old face grew, for self and greed
Slipped from him. Ah, it made him glow
To hear the blessing, thanks, the prayer.
He looked into his heart, and lo!
The old-time faith and love were there.
"Ring out, old bells, right gladly ring!"
He said, "Full sweet the song you sing."