Page images
PDF

CHRISTMAS TIMES.

CHRISTMAS TIMES. — Howard.

'T was the night before Christmas, and all through

the house Not a creature was stirring, not even a mouse; The stockings were hung by the chimney with care, In the hope that St. Nicholas soon would be there. The children were nestled all snug in their beds, While visions of sugar-plums danced in their heads, And mamma in her kerchief, and I in my cap, Had just settled our brains for a long winter's nap; When out on the lawn there arose such a clatter, I sprang from the bed to see what was the matter. Away to the window I flew like a flash, Tore open the shutters and threw up the sash, The moon on the breast of the new-fallen snow Gave the lustre of mid-day to objects below, — When what to my wondering eyes should appear But a miniature sleigh, and eight tiny reindeer, With a little old driver so lively and quick I knew in a moment it must be St. Nick. More rapid than eagles his coursers they came, And he whistled, and shouted, and called them by

name:“ Now, Dasher! now, Dancer! now, Prancer! now,

Vixen! On, Comet! on, Cupid ! on, Dunder and Blixen! To the top of the porch, to the top of the wall, Now, dash away! dash away! dash away, all !” As dry leaves before the wild hurricane fly, When they meet with an obstacle mount to the sky, So up to the house-top the coursers they flew, With the sleigh full of toys, and St. Nicholas too.

And then, in a twinkling, I heard on the roof
The prancing and pawing of each tiny hoof;
As I drew in my head, and was turning around,
Down the chimney St. Nicholas came with a bound.
He was dressed all in fur, from his head to his foot,
And his clothes were all tarnished with ashes and

soot;
A bundle of toys was flung on his back,
And he looked like a pedler just opening his pack.
His eyes — how they twinkled! his dimples how

merry! His cheeks were like roses, his nose like a cherry; His droll little mouth was drawn up like a bow, And the beard of his chin was as white as the snow; The stump of a pipe he held tight in his teeth, And the smoke it encircled his head like a wreath. He was chubby and plump, a right jolly old elf, And I laughed when I saw him, in spite of myself. A wink of his eye, and a twist of his head, Soon gave me to know I had nothing to dread. He spoke not a word, but went straight to his work, And filled all his stockings, – then turned with a jerk, And laying his finger aside of his nose, And giving a nod, up the chimney he rose. He sprang to his sleigh, to his team gave a whistle, And away they all flew, like the down of a thistle ; But I heard him exclaim, ere he drove out of sight, “ Merry Christmas to all, and to all a good night!"

THE PET LAMB. — Wordsworth.

The dew was falling fast, the stars began to blink;
I heard a voice; it said, “ Drink, pretty creature,

drink."

THE PET LAMB.

And, looking o'er the hedge, before me I espied
A snow-white mountain lamb, with a maiden at its

side.

No other sheep were near, the lamb was all alone,
And by a slender cord was tethered to a stone;
With one knee on the grass did the little maiden

kneel, While to that mountain lamb she gave its evening

meal.

The lamb, while from her hand he thus his supper

took, Seemed to feast with head and ears, and his tail with

pleasure shook ; “Drink, pretty creature, drink,” she said, in such a

tone, That I almost received her heart into my own.

'T was little Barbara Lethwaite, a child of beauty

rare! I watched them with delight, they were a lovely pair. Now with her empty can the maiden turned away; But ere ten yards were gone, her footsteps she did

stay.

Towards the lamb she looked; and from that shady

place I unobserved could see the workings of her face; If nature to her tongue could measured numbers

bring, Thus, thought I, to her lamb that little maid might

sing:

“What ails thee, young one? what? why pull so at

thy cord ? Is it not well with thee? well both for bed and

board ? Thy plot of grass is soft, and green as grass can be ; Rest, little, young one, rest; what is 't that aileth

thee?

“What is it thou wouldst seek? what is wanting to

thy heart? Thy limbs are they not strong ? and beautiful thou

art. This grass is tender grass; these flowers they have no

peers, And that green corn all day long is rustling in thy

ears!

“If the sun be shining hot, do but stretch thy woollen

chain, This birch is standing by, its covert thou canst gain ; For rain and mountain storms - the like thou need'st

not fearThe rain and storm are things that scarcely can come

here.

“Rest, little, young one, rest; thou hast forgot the

day When my father found thee first, in places far away; Many flocks were on the hills, but thou wert owned

by none, And thy mother from thy side forevermore was

gone.

“He took thee in his arms, and in pity brought thee

home; O blessed day for thee! then whither wouldst thou

roam ?

60

THE PET LAMB.

A faithful nurse thou hast, the dam that did thee yean Upon the mountain-tops no kinder could have been..

“ Thou knowest that twice a day I have brought thee

in this can Fresh water from the brook, as clear as ever ran; And twice in the day, when the ground is wet with

dew, I bring thee draughts of milk, warm milk it is, and

new.

“Thy limbs will shortly be twice as stout as they are

now; Then I'll yoke thee to my cart, like a pony in the

plough; My playmate thou shalt be; and when the wind is Our hearth shall be thy bed, our house shall be thy

fold.

cold

“ Alas! the mountain-tops that look so green and

fair, I've heard of fearful winds and darkness that come

there; The little brooks that seem all pastime and all play, When they are angry roar like lions for their prey.

“Here thou need'st not dread the raven in the sky; Night and day thou art safe — our cottage is hard by. Why bleat so after me? why pull so at thy chain ? Sleep- and at break of day I will come to thee

again."

As homeward through the lane I went, with lazy feet, This song to myself did I oftentimes repeat;

« PreviousContinue »