Peter was standing in the right end of the back row of the choir. The night was cold and moist. Jacob was standing in front of him, holding the red pail while he rang the bell along with Father Clery. The boys had certainly been practicing for this night. Even before that, they practiced once a week for Mass. But this wasn’t Mass, it was more of a public place, singing to people who probably didn’t care to listen to them. The boys were nervous.
Father Clery had reassured them everything would be fine and that they were doing it to collect money for the orphanage. The boys were afraid to be shun. The first house, nothing came of it. The lights were turned off and no one came out to deposit money. By the second house it was the same greeting. The lights were turned off and staid off. They went around the whole town singing from house to house, business to business, even sang in the park and the town hall. But, they were met with the same disdain and disregard. By the end of the night, the boys were discouraged, but not Peter.
“Don’t be dishearten,” said Father Clery. “It’s only our first try. Tomorrow will be better.”
The boys only groaned. “This happened last year,” said an older boy. “We barely collected any money.”
“We can only hope,” Father Clery smiled at them. “Everybody did a good job. Let’s go home.”
Peter walked behind the group. MacFie walked behind him. “I don’t understand,” Peter said. “Didn’t we sing good enough. We always get compliments at church.”
“I guess not everybody is into the holiday cheers,” said MacFie. “Maybe they need to warm up to it.”
The next night and the night after that, the boys were addressed with the usual rejection. By the third night, they were finally received by a well wisher with a crude deprecation. “Shuddaup! Night after night you come blaring your noise,” shouted an old man from his open window. “We’re trying to sleep here!”
“Stop that caterwauling,” shouted another well wisher.
“What’s tha matter with ye,” hollered a woman. “Yer keeping my baby up!”
When the last door slammed, after being told to leave before they called the coppers, was too much for the boys to bear. Peter sighed in dismay. “Why are they acting this way?” Peter couldn’t understand the abrupt repudiation.
“What’s the matter with them!” MacFie was riled. “Where’s their holiday spirits! Why I oughta… show ’em,” that’s it, thought MacFie, he will show them and that was exactly what he was going to do. But how, he thought.