The Story of the Goblins Who Stole a Sexton by Charles Dickens

Christmas StoriesI’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.”

The Goblins Who Stole a Sexton

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.

This story is an excerpt from The Pickwick Papers, told by Mr. Wardle, and is a reminder of Scrooge’s moral rehabilitation in A Christmas Carol.  

The next story is by Nikolai Gogol and entitled, The Night Before Christmas.

                                                                                    The Night Before Christmas ⇒

14 thoughts on “The Story of the Goblins Who Stole a Sexton by Charles Dickens

  1. I thought the story was familiar and I was like I have read this, I have read this and now I remember. Pickwick Papers of course! I like the sound of the collection but will not attempt any more additional reading for now until I finish everything that is unfinished!

  2. The only Christmas stories I’ve read by Dickens is “A Christmas Carol.” I’ve not read “Pickwick Papers” either…..Did you like “Pickwick Papers”?

    • I liked The Pickwick Papers but I read it in serial version so it took almost 2 years. Because of the way Dickens set it up, sort of the adventures of the 4 Pickwickians, it worked well but I wouldn’t want to read most books stretched over so long a time. However, with The Pickwick Papers, it’s the opposite. I don’t think it works well read in a short time, or at least, it wouldn’t be as enjoyable.

      I read Sir Gawain and the Green Knight as a Christmas story. It was fun! But I can’t recall an absolutely stellar Christmas story, other than A Christmas Carol and Sir Gawain, that I’ve read yet. Although I haven’t even read a smattering of what’s out there. Let me know if you find a good one!

  3. I read the Pickwick Papers a few years ago, but I don’t remember this story so thanks for the reminder! I’ve never read seasonally but I do have a copy of Dicken’s “A Christmas Carol” that I really should read. I am a big fan of Dickens but haven’t read his (probably) most famous story.

    • Oh, you would enjoy A Christmas Carol so much! It’s definitely a favourite and highly recommended! Do you think you might be able to fit it in this Christmastime?

  4. I started reading The Christmas Mystery by Jostein Gaarder but gave up after the first chapter. Maybe it was just my frame of mind but I just didn’t connect with it so I actually haven’t read a Christmas themed book this year & I haven’t got around to re-reading any of my favourites either.

    • I’ve haven’t read many Christmas books either and The Christmas Mystsery has kind of fallen by the wayside. I’ve had too many read-alongs to concentrate on and I still have one to finish up. Going to do that now. If we don’t connect before the 25th, have a wonderful Christmas, Carol!

  5. Hmm. I started Pickwick Papers a few years back, but definitely never got this far. A reminder that I should really read more Dickens, though. I do have some of his Christmas Stories around somewhere…

    • I still need to read A Christmas Carol! It’s been a tradition and I haven’t got to it yet. I do feel drawn towards reading some different Christmas stories this year, though.

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