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PREFACE.

IN submitting a Christmas Story, and blending with it the sports and pastimes of the olden time at this festival period of the year, the writer has endeavoured to “point a moral to adorn his tale;" and should some links in the chain of events require a reference to the fertile imaginations of his readers, let them remember that it is one of fancy and not of fact. Assured, however, that if he has failed to please to the full bent of his earnest desires, at least he cannot have given offence to the most fastidious of tastes; and therefore, with both hope and confidence, he trusts for that encouraging and lenient consideration on the part of his critics and patrons, with which his humble efforts hitherto have been received.

CHRISTMAS IN THE OLDEN TIME.

CHAPTER I.

« 'Tis winter cold and rude!
Heap, heap the warming wood;
The wild wind hums his sullen song to-night:
Haste, boy! this gloomy hour
Demands relief; the cheerful tapers light.”

crown.

'Tis Christmas! the season of hope, of joy, and revelry! see where he comes, hoarylocked and bleached with age, crowned with wreaths of winter evergreens! Ivy, holly, and rosemary are twined and blended in his

In his hand he bears the wassail bowl ; deep and full. From his lips quaint ballads, carols, and ditties are crooned, and good old customs rummaged from the stores of his memory. 'Tis Christmas, right merry Christmas! Light, glad hearts beat the lighter to his approach, and those sinking

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with lank necessities and sorrow may, haply, cease to throb with anguish. The young, the loving and beloved, and those whose lives are waning with the year, solitary and lonely, alike hail his coming. For the one the future has no fear; the past no sigh. For the other, should the recollection of days gone by be mingled with sorrow and regret, still they will think of careless childhood, when the dear old home was the first and priceless thought, and its fireside the sanctuary of all most earthly dear. Yes, it was here the prayer was taught in early infancy. It was here that the fond mother blessed her child, and, with bended knee, joined in his lisping petition. It was here the joyous winter games were played, the marvellous tales and stories told, songs sung, pranks played, and the jest and joke went round. Musing thoughts produce the scenes as fresh as those of yesterday; but the actors in them have passed, and passed away for

The old man is friendless and alone. The yule log and a pile of faggots blazed upon the hearth, casting a glowing but fitful

ever.

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