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- The Children's Book of Christmas Stories - 1/46 -


Etext prepared by Dianne Bean, Prescott Valley, Arizona.

THE CHILDREN'S BOOK OF CHRISTMAS STORIES

Edited by Asa Don Dickinson and Ada M. Skinner

THE CHILDREN'S BOOK OF CHRISTMAS STORIES

PREFACE

Many librarians have felt the need and expressed the desire for a select collection of children's Christmas stories in one volume. This books claims to be just that and nothing more.

Each of the stories has already won the approval of thousands of children, and each is fraught with the true Christmas spirit.

It is hoped that the collection will prove equally acceptable to parents, teachers, and librarians.

Asa Don Dickinson.

CONTENTS (Note.--The stories marked with a star (*) will be most enjoyed by younger children; those marked with a two stars (**) are better suited to older children.)

Christmas at Fezziwig's Warehouse. By Charles Dickens * The Fir-Tree. By Hans Christian Andersen The Christmas Masquerade. By Mary E. Wilkins Freeman * The Shepherds and the Angels. Adapted from the Bills ** The Telltale Tile. By Olive Thorne Miller * Little Girl's Christmas. By Winnifred E. Lincoln ** A Christmas Matinee. By M.A.L. Lane * Toinette and the Elves. By Susan Coolidge The Voyage of the Wee Red Cap. By Ruth Sawyer Durand * A Story of the Christ-Child (a German Legend for Christmas Eve). As told by Elizabeth Harrison * Jimmy Scarecrow's Christmas. By Mary E. Wilkins Freeman Why the Chimes Rang. By Raymond McAlden The Birds'Christmas (founded on fact). By F.E. Mann ** The Little Sister's Vacation. By Winifred M. Kirkland * Little Wolff's Wooden Shoes. By Francois Coppee, adapted and translated by Alma J. Foster ** Christmas in the Alley. By Olive Thorne Miller * A Christmas Star. By Katherine Pyle ** The Queerest Christmas. By Grace Margaret Gallaher Old Father Christmas. By J.H. Ewing A Christmas Carol. By Charles Dickens How Christmas Came to the Santa Maria Flats. By Elia W. Peattie The Legend of Babouscka. From the Russian Folk Tale * Christmas in the Barn. By F. Arnstein The Philanthropist's Christmas. By James Weber Linn * The First Christmas-Tree. By Lucy Wheelock The First New England Christmas. By G.L. Stone and M.G. Fickett The Cratchits' Christmas Dinner. By Charles Dickens Christmas in Seventeen Seventy-Six. By Anne Hollingsworth Wharton * Christmas Under the Snow. By Olive Thorne Miller Mr. Bluff's Experience of Holidays. By Oliver Bell Bunce ** Master Sandy's Snapdragon. By Elbridge S. Brooks A Christmas Fairy. By John Strange Winter The Greatest of These. By Joseph Mills Hanson * Little Gretchen and the Wooden Shoe. By Elizabeth Harrison ** Big Rattle. By Theodore Goodridge Roberts

I. CHRISTMAS AT FEZZIWIG'S WAREHOUSE

CHARLES DICKENS

"Yo Ho! my boys," said Fezziwig. "No more work to-night! Christmas Eve, Dick! Christmas, Ebenezer! Let's have the shutters up!" cried old Fezziwig with a sharp clap of his hands, "before a man can say Jack Robinson. . . ."

"Hilli-ho!" cried old Fezziwig, skipping down from the high desk with wonderful agility. "Clear away, my lads, and let's have lots of room here! Hilli-ho, Dick! Cheer-up, Ebenezer!"

Clear away! There was nothing they wouldn't have cleared away, or couldn't have cleared away with old Fezziwig looking on. It was done in a minute. Every movable was packed off, as if it were dismissed from public life forevermore; the floor was swept and watered, the lamps were trimmed, fuel was heaped upon the fire; and the warehouse was as snug, and warm, and dry, and bright a ballroom as you would desire to see on a winter's night.

In came a fiddler with a music book, and went up to the lofty desk and made an orchestra of it and tuned like fifty stomach-aches. In came Mrs. Fezziwig, one vast substantial smile. In came the three Misses Fezziwig, beaming and lovable. In came the six followers whose hearts they broke. In came all the young men and women employed in the business. In came the housemaid with her cousin the baker. In came the cook with her brother's particular friend the milkman. In came the boy from over the way, who was suspected of not having board enough from his master, trying to hide himself behind the girl from next door but one who was proved to have had her ears pulled by her mistress; in they all came, anyhow and everyhow. Away they all went, twenty couple at once; hands half round and back again the other way; down the middle and up again; round and round in various stages of affectionate grouping, old top couple always turning up in the wrong place; new top couple starting off again, as soon as they got there; all top couples at last, and not a bottom one to help them.

When this result was brought about the fiddler struck up "Sir Roger de Coverley." Then old Fezziwig stood out to dance with Mrs. Fezziwig. Top couple, too, with a good stiff piece of work cut out for them; three or four and twenty pairs of partners; people who were not to be trifled with; people who would dance and had no notion of walking.

But if they had been thrice as many--oh, four times as many--old Fezziwig would have been a match for them, and so would Mrs. Fezziwig. As to her, she was worthy to be his partner in every sense of the term. If that's not high praise, tell me higher and I'll use it. A positive light appeared to issue from Fezziwig's calves. They shone in every part of the dance like moons. You couldn't have predicted at any given time what would become of them next. And when old Fezziwig and Mrs. Fezziwig had gone all through the dance, advance and retire; both hands to your partner, bow and courtesy, corkscrew, thread the needle, and back again to your place; Fezziwig "cut"--cut so deftly that he appeared to wink with his legs, and came upon his feet again with a stagger.

When the clock struck eleven the domestic ball broke up. Mr. and Mrs. Fezziwig took their stations, one on either side of the door, and shaking hands with every person individually, as he or she went out, wished him or her a Merry Christmas!

II. THE FIR-TREE*

*Reprinted by permission of the Houghton-Mifflin Company.

HANS CHRISTIAN ANDERSEN

Out in the woods stood a nice little Fir-tree. The place he had was a very good one; the sun shone on him; as to fresh air, there was enough of that, and round him grew many large-sized comrades, pines as well as firs. But the little Fir wanted so very much to be a grown-up tree.

He did not think of the warm sun and of the fresh air; he did not care for the little cottage children that ran about and prattled when they were in the woods looking for wild strawberries. The children often came with a whole pitcher full of berries, or a long row of them threaded on a straw, and sat down near the young tree and said, "Oh, how pretty he is! what a nice little fir!" But this was what the Tree could not bear to hear.

At the end of a year he had shot up a good deal, and after another year he was another long bit taller; for with fir-trees one can always tell by the shoots how many years old they are.

"Oh, were I but such a high tree as the others are!" sighed he. "Then I should be able to spread out my branches, and with the tops to look into the wide world! Then would the birds build nests among my branches; and when there was a breeze, I could bend with as much stateliness as the others!"

Neither the sunbeams, nor the birds, nor the red clouds, which morning and evening sailed above them, gave the little Tree any pleasure.

In winter, when the snow lay glittering on the ground, a hare would often come leaping along, and jump right over the little Tree. Oh, that made him so angry! But two winters were past, and in the third the tree was so large that the hare was obliged to go round it. "To grow and grow, to get older and be tall," thought the Tree--"that, after all, is the most delightful thing in the world!"

In autumn the wood-cutters always came and felled some of the largest trees. This happened every year; and the young Fir-tree, that had now grown to a very comely size, trembled at the sight; for the magnificent great trees fell to the earth with noise and cracking, the branches were lopped off, and the trees looked long and bare; they were hardly to be recognized; and then they were laid in carts, and the horses dragged them out of the woods.

Where did they go to? What became of them?

In spring, when the Swallows and the Storks came, the Tree asked them, "Don't you know where they have been taken? Have you not met them anywhere?"

The Swallows did not know anything about it; but the Stork looked musing, nodded his head, and said: "Yes, I think I know; I met many ships as I was flying hither from Egypt; on the ships were magnificent masts, and I venture to assert that it was they that smelt so of fir. I may congratulate you, for they lifted themselves on high most


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