a-victorian-christmas-cover

ISBN: 978-1-910882-83-2

Herein are 32 Victorian Christmas poems and stories for children. The 16 stories are drawn from that bountiful library of French, Spanish and English authors. You will find stories like:

 

THE CHRISTMAS CUCKOO,

THE LOUIS-D’OR,

THE PRINCESS AND THE RAGAMUFFIN and

THE YULE LOG.

 

There are even three relatively unknown Christmas stories from the pen of that master of storytelling – CHARLES DICKENS.

 

The 16 Christmas poems are an extract from THE BELLS OF CHRISTMAS by various poets collated by Kate Douglas Wiggin and Nora Archibald Smith originally published in 1906 with poems like Let the Holly Be Hung by Frank Dempster Sherman, The Adoration of the Wise Men by Cecil Frances Alexander and The Christmas Silence by Margaret Deland.

 

So download and read this volume of festive goodwill which brings out the real meaning of Christmas.

 

eBook Link on Google Play: https://play.google.com/store/books/details/Various_A_VICTORIAN_CHRISTMAS?id=3JikDQAAQBAJ

 

Below is a FREE excerpt:

CHRISTMAS IN THE FOREST.

From the French of André Theuriet.

 

Christmas Eve that year was bleak and cold, and the village seemed benumbed. The houses were closed hermetically, and so were the stables, from which came the muffled sound of animals chewing the cud. From time to time the clacking of wooden shoes on the hardened ground resounded through the deserted streets, then a door was hastily opened and closed, and all relapsed into silence. It was evident from the thick smoke rising through the chimneys into the gray air that every family was huddled around its hearth while the housewife prepared the Christmas supper. Stooping forward, with their legs stretched out to the fire, their countenances beaming with pleasure at the prospect of the morrow’s festival and the foretaste of the fat and juicy blood-sausages, the peasants laughed at the north wind that swept the roads, at the frost that powdered the trees of the forest, and the ice that seemed to vitrify the streams and the river. Following their example, my friend Tristan and I spent the livelong day in the old house of the Abbatiale at the corner of the hearth, smoking our pipes and reading poetry. At sundown we had grown tired of seclusion and determined to venture out.

 

“The forest must be a strange sight with this heavy frost,” said I to Tristan. “Suppose we take a turn through the wood after supper; besides, I must see the sabotiers from Courroy about a little matter.”

 

So we pulled on our gaiters, stuffed our pipes, wrapped ourselves in our cloaks and mufflers, and penetrated into the wood.

 

We walked along cheerfully over the rugged, hardened soil of the trenches furrowed with deep, frozen ruts. Through the copse on either side we saw mysterious white depths. After a damp night the north wind had transformed the mists and vapors that overhung the branches into a tangle of snowy lace. In the half light of the gloaming we could still distinguish the sparkling needles of the junipers, the frosted puffs of the clematis, the bluish crystallizations of the beech, and the silver filigree of the nut-trees. The silence was broken by the occasional creaking of the frozen limbs, and every now and then a breath of impalpable white dust dampened our cheeks as it melted there.

 

We walked along at a steady pace, and in less than an hour caught sight of the red and flickering glow of the sabotiers’ camp pitched on the edge of the forest above a stream that flowed down toward the valley of Santonge. The settlement consisted of a spacious, cone-shaped, dirt-coated hut and a cabin with board walls carefully sealed with moss. The hut answered the combined purposes of dormitory and kitchen; the cabin was used for the stowing away of tools and wooden shoes, and also for the two donkeys employed in the transportation of goods. The sabotiers, masters, apprentices, friends, and children were seated on beech logs around the fire in front of the hut, and their mobile silhouettes formed intensely black profiles against the red of the fire. Three short posts driven into the ground and drawn together at the top formed the crane, from which hung an iron pot that simmered over the coals. An appetizing odor of stewed hare escaped from the tin lid as it rose and fell under the puffs of vapor. The master, a lively, nervous, hairy little man, welcomed us with his usual cordiality.

 

“Sit down and warm yourselves,” said he. “You find us preparing the Christmas supper. I’m afraid we’ll not sleep over soundly to-night. My old woman is ill. I’ve fixed her a bed in the cabin where she’ll be more comfortable, and warmer on account of the animals. My boy has gone to Santonge to get the doctor. There’s no time to be lost. My little girl is kept busy running from the cabin to the hut.”

 

We had no sooner taken our seats around the fire than the snowflakes began to whirl about in the stillness above us. They fell so thick and fast that in less than a quarter of an hour we were compelled to protect the fire with a hurdle covered with sackcloth.

 

“By my faith! gentlemen,” said the sabotier, “you’ll not be able to start out again in this storm. You’ll have to stay and have your Christmas supper with us,—and taste of our stew.”

 

The weather was certainly not tempting, and we accepted the invitation. Besides, the adventure amused us, and we were delighted at the prospect of a Christmas supper in the heart of the forest. An hour later we were in the hut, and by the light of a miserable little candle-end we had our Christmas supper, devouring our hare-stew with a sharp appetite and washing it down with a draught of unfermented wine that scraped our throats. The snow fell thicker and thicker, wrapping the forest in a soft white wadding that deadened every sound. Now and then the sabotier rose and went into the cabin, then came back looking worried, listening anxiously for the good woman from Santonge. Suddenly a few metallic notes, muffled by the snow, rose softly from the depth of the valley. A similar sound from an opposite direction rang out in answer, then followed a third and a fourth, and soon a vague confusion of Christmas chimes floated over the forest.

 

Our hosts, without interrupting the process of mastication and while they passed around the wine-jug, tried to recognize the various chimes by the fulness of the sounds.

 

“Those—now—those are the bells from Vivey. They are hardly any louder than the sound of the donkey’s hoofs on the stones.”

 

“That is the bell of Auberive!”

 

“Yes; and that peal that sounds like the droning of a swarm of beetles, that’s the Grancey chimes.”

 

During this discussion Tristan and I began to succumb to the combined action of warmth and fully satisfied appetite. Our eyes blinked, and before we knew it we fell asleep on the moss of the hut, lulled by the music of the Christmas chimes. A piercing shriek followed by a sound of joyful voices woke us with a start.

 

It had ceased snowing. The night was growing pale, and through the little skylight we could see above the fleecy trees a faint light in the sky, where a belated star hung quivering.

 

“It is a boy!” shouted the master, bursting in upon us. “Gentlemen, if you think you would like to see him, why, I should be very glad; and it might bring him luck.”

 

We went crunching over the snow after him to the cabin, lighted by a smoky lamp. On her bed of laths and moss lay the young mother, weak and exhausted, her head thrown back, her pale face framed in by a mass of frowzy auburn hair. The “good woman,” assisted by the little girl, was bundling up the new-comer, who wailed feebly. The two donkeys, amazed at so much stir and confusion, turned their kindly gray faces toward the bed, shook their long ears, and gazed around them with wide, intelligent eyes, blowing through their nostrils puffs of warm vapor that hung like a thin mist on the air. At the foot of the bed stood a young shepherd, with a black and white she-goat and a new-born kid.

 

“I have brought you the she-goat, Ma’am Fleuriot,” said he, in his Langrois drawl. “You can have her for the boy as long as you wish.”

 

The goat was baaing, the new-born child wailed, and the donkeys breathed loudly. There was something primitive and biblical about the whole scene.

 

Without, in the violet light of the dawn, while a distant church-bell scattered its early notes through the air, one of the young apprentices, dancing in the snow to keep warm, sang out at the top of his lungs that old Christmas carol, which seemed then full of new meaning and poetry,—

 

“He is born, the little Child.

 

Ring out, hautbois! ring out, bagpipes!

 

He is born, the little Child;

 

Let us sing the happy news.”

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