I’m trying to read some Christmas stories to get in the mood for the season and I’ve had this book, aptly titled Christmas Stories, waiting for me since I saw O’s postings last year, and I decided to order it immediately. It’s a lovely collection of stories, mostly from classic authors like Dickens, Gogol, Trollope, Tolstoy, Cather, etc. The Story of the Goblins Who Stole the Sexton is the first story in the collection and it goes like this …
The Story of the Goblins Who Stole a Sexton
Gabriel Grubb lives in an “old Abbey town” and is employed as the sexton and grave-digger. While many of his trade are jovial and lighthearted, Gabriel, in contrast, is “ill-conditioned, cross-grained, and surly …. a morose and lonely man …. who eyed each merry face as it passed him by, with such a deep scowl of malice and ill-humour, as it was difficult to meet without feeling something the worse for.”
One Christmas Eve, Gabriel takes himself to the graveyard to work on an unfinished grave, seeming to take joy at a “coffin for Christmas.” About to take a drink from his wicker bottle, he hears a voice crying, “Ho! ho! ho!” At first, Gabriel is loathe to believe he heard anything, but soon the king of the Goblins appears to startle him. The shrieking, chanting Goblins kidnap the unfortunate man and force Gabriel to watch scenes that should stir Gabriel’s empathy and compassion but his reaction is muted, and the Goblins label him “a miserable man” and thump him soundly each time.
Finally, Gabriel awakes in the churchyard and, determined to change his ways, set off for parts unknown.
The next story is by Nikolai Gogol and entitled, The Night Before Christmas.