Posted on 2012-12-23
'Twas the night before Christmas in ye merry olde England
and slumbering silence lay over the snow-covered land.
The children in nurs'ries, the babes in their baskets,
the mice in their nests and the dead in their caskets,
the birds in high trees and the fish in the deep
all over the country they were fast asleep.
But hark! What is that? A choo in the distance!
Why, 't must be a fairy, one of the bewitched ones.
But still! There's another choo! Far, far away
and a light on the snow that's been falling all day.
Now we see it's a train, there's the steam in our sight,
but where can it be going at this hour of night?
But look, of a sudden, it cannot go further -
the driver jumps out and cries bloody murther!
A tree's blocking the rails, that the snow has felled down.
The train is now stuck, cannot move of its own.
It was on its way to the last stop of the night,
there's only one carriage in which there still is a light.
Six passengers sit there, with furs 'gainst the stark cold,
they all long to return to the family fold.
Or do they indeed? But where else can they be heading?
On this most holy of nights, could aught they be dreading?
The girl at the window, a timid young creature,
a cross 'round her neck th' only extravagant feature,
casts a look at the candle, that's burnt already quite low
and asks of her fellows, 'why stopped it so?'
'I suppose we are stuck,' says the gent on her right,
'We can only hope we won't be kept here all night.'
'That is quite out of the question,' says the lady in red,
'I cannot remain here - I'd rather be dead!'
'Now, now, calmez-vous, darling, it is not yet all lost,'
but she casts him who said that a look of deep frost.
Though he sits next to her, she plain does not like him,
in fact, she does look as if she'd rather strike him.
'You two know each other?' asks the sensible girl.
We see the lady's lips twist in a curl.
'Forgive me, I have quite been lacking my manners,'
says the lady's companion, 'what must you think on us?'
'I am Colonel Fitzwilliam, and this lovely young thing
is Caroline Bingley, who'll soon wear my wedding ring.'
'You wish,' says the lady, 'I am not yet that desp'rate -
now what's keeping the train, 't must be gone on half eight!'
'I am Eleanor Tilney,' says the sensible lady.
'And I'm Captain Wentworth,' says the gent of the Navy.
'Fanny Price,' says the timid girl, face all a-blush.
'And my name is Churchill, and I'm quite in a rush.'
'I think we had all rather be far 'way from here,'
says solemn Miss Tilney, 'but have ye no fear.'
''tis not fear that is driving me, I'd like you know that,'
claims young Mr Churchill and pulls low his hat.
'tis so cold in the carriage, the window's all ice,
the ladies' teeth shatter like the feet o' little mice.
'Come here,' says the Colonel and offers his shoulder
but Miss Bingley refrains from using that boulder.
Outside in the dark, the snow is still falling.
We can now hear the driver, for help he is calling.
Alack! There is no one to hear him around,
there's only dead pastures and trees and snow on the ground.
There's not e'en a farmstead around for miles and for miles,
all the country is empty except for some stiles.
'We shall be here forever,' says darkly Miss Bingley.
'The cold makes my fingers feel rather tingly,'
says the Colonel, 'say, Caro, won't you hold my hand?'
'Not even if you were the last man in the land!'
'So cold,' yelps Miss Price and tears run down her cheek,
'I shoulda staid at Mansfield and not been so meek.'
'We can share my fur cloak,' says Miss Tilney, 'now do not be shy,
'now, cover yourself and tell me, what makes you cry?'
'Henry Crawford, the villain,' says Miss Price in a hurry,
'A cad, but my uncle says that we should marry!
'I could never do that, he is nothing to Edmund,'
she says with a blush, 'and that is the end,
'of my story, there is aught else I could say,
''cept that t'escape that fate, I ran away.
'I'll only love Edmund, there won't be another,
'so now I'm going to Portsmouth, to live with my mother.
'And now I am stranded, in this mis'rably cold night,
'and I fear running away gave my fam'ly a fright.'
'Now ain't that ironic,' Miss Tilney says with a grin,
'you run 'way from marriage, and I'm rushing in!
'Yes, ladies and gentlemen, this I admit:
'I'm on my way to elopement and I don't mind one bit
'if my father don't like him, if he ain't a good catch
'I'm madly in love and I'm dead-set on this match!'
Cries Wentworth the Captain, 'oh, aye, that's the spirit!
'You love him and he you and to hell with the critics!
'See, I -' he adds warmly - 'I too once loved madly,
'illness and death for her I had suffered gladly.
'But she, cruel lady, she listened to daddy
'and he said, 'that Captain, he's a penniless laddie!'
'So Annie just dumped me, with a tear in her eye
'as if 'twould lessen my pain t' see her cry.'
There are tears in the carriage as this tale is mulled over
the candle no longer fulfills the task it was lit for.
It is all but expired as it flickers and flits,
the last bits of paraffin running to bits.
Outside, th' wind is howling, the storm's still a-blowing
and ever, and ever, and more, is it snowing.
The tree on the rails is now covered in deadliest white,
only the moon's hidden sickle brings light in the night.
'So you ne'er saw Annie again, Captain, did you?'
asks young Mr Churchill and again he says, 'did you?'
'Oh, aye, that I did, she's more lovely than ever,
''tis now eight years later and from me she turned never -'
'Then what are you waiting for? Go to her, my man!'
Cries the Colonel with fervour, 'as long as you still can!'
'Well, you make a guess why I'm here on this train on this night -
'as soon as I found out how things stood, I rushed to her side!'
'And now you're stopped here,' wryly says Mr Churchill
'I bet that you feel now like chasing a windmill.'
'Now, come, Mr Churchill, why are you so bitter?'
asks shyly Miss Price and her voice gives a twitter.
'I will tell you,' he says and he sounds like a preacher,
'because there's no woman on earth, not e'en the most gentle creature,
'who would tolerate all that he has done to her -
'and then when you crawl back will turn a new leaf over.
'I must know what I speak of, for I have done the same
'to Miss Fairfax, the perfect, my only, sweet Jane.
'I treated her callously, did not make amends,
'then she in a letter ended our engagement.
'Now I'm on my way to 'r, want to put all to right
'but instead now I'm here, on this fearful cold night!'
As he speaks, there's a tumbling, a rumbling, outside
and inside the carriage, with a flicker, out goes the light.
'Oh, John!' shrieks Miss Bingley and she clutches his arm,
'please hold my hand, then I'll come to no harm!'
And outside, in the dark, there's a loud booming call
and a figure in the shadow, big, bearded and tall,
'Come Dasher, come Dancer, come Prancer and Vixen!
'And Comet, and Cupid, come Donner and Blitzen!
'And Rudolph in front, you can light us the way
'so that everyone's home before dawn Christmas Day!'
In the train of a sudden, the lights go on again
and though no fire's burning, it gets cozier then.
And outside in the ever, and more, falling snow
the travellers can see a faint red light glow
and then, with a sudden, neigh almighty push -
the train sails up in the air, with a big forward rush!
'We're flying!' cries Wentworth, ''tis magic indeed!
'We're already upward of five hundred feet!'
'By Jove, we are flying,' shouts the Colonel, 'a toast!
'To the old friendly spirit who tonight is our host!'
And as he says this, there six glasses appear
with Christmas punch steaming, as if someone did hear
what the Colonel had said, who now raises his glass,
'to the kindly old man, who saved our Christmas!'
'Hear, hear,' say the others and to drink they are keen,
'and of course,' adds Miss Price, 'to Victoria, our queen!'
'To the Queen!' they repeat and again raise their glasses,
'and to all of our loved ones, those sweet laddies and lasses!'
And e'en as they toast, in the glasses more punch appears,
'and to all Christmas pasts, and to glorious new years!'
And on through the night, the train is still flying,
in wonder below some people are crying.
And then of a sudden, the train's getting slower
and as it gets slower, it also sinks lower,
then softly, quite careful, it comes to a stop.
From rails in front of it, they can see reindeer hop.
They've arrived in a station! There's the platform, alight.
'This is Waterloo Station, I can see it alright,'
says shrewdly Miss Tilney, 'we're in London, my dears,
'we're saved from that snow storm, have ye all no more fears!'
'There is Edmund!' cries Fanny, as she jumps from the carriage -
now see him embrace her, that's going to end in a marriage!
Now up jumps the Captain, 'there's Anne, my dear girl -
'how did she come here - how did these things unfurl?'
'And there's sweet Jenny Fairfax, I don't trust my eye -
'and yet, could the sight of her e'er be a lie?'
So up jumps Mr Churchill and Miss Tilney gies a cry
and runs out t' her fiancé so quick she might fly.
'That leaves us,' says the Colonel and he offers his arm,
'will you step out with me, I promise no harm!'
And Caroline takes it and together, they exit
and he reaches his hand out and lo! Caroline takes it!
'Now isn't that sweet,' he says, 'no one's longer forlorn,
'and that's just how things should be, just before Christmas morn.
'for isn't that just what Christmas is all about -
'to be with your loved ones and no more without?'
'Why, Colonel,' says Caro, 'are you not quite romantic?
'and I always thought you obnoxious, pedantic -'
'Just this once in the year, when the season's upon us -
'for I dearly love Christmas, I won't be dishonest -
'it makes me all mellow and fuzzy inside,
'for isn't it great to celebrate th' holy night?
'To rejoice just this once in the fortune you got -
'to be happy and merry, 'cause it's not the worst lot,
'as long as there's love in your life and not too much woe -'
and Caro points upwards and says, 'look, mistletoe!'
And she reach's out her hand to caress his face -
he pulls her close in a loving embrace -
and the spirit who brought them all safely here
mounts his sleigh again with his face beaming in cheer
and we can hear him calling as he flies out of sight,
'Happy Christmas to all, and to all a good night!'