The Little Robber Girl
The Boy Who Cried Wolf
AMERICAN INDIAN STORIES
Animal Sketches And Stories
Blondine Bonne Biche and Beau Minon
BRER RABBIT and HIS NEIGHBORS
CHINESE MOTHER-GOOSE RHYMES
FABLES FOR CHILDREN
FABLES FROM INDIA
FATHER PLAYS AND MOTHER PLAYS
FIRST STORIES FOR VERY LITTLE FOLK
For Classes Ii. And Iii.
For Classes Iv. And V.
For Kindergarten And Class I.
FUN FOR VERY LITTLE FOLK
Good Little Henry
JAPANESE AND OTHER ORIENTAL TALES]
Jean De La Fontaine
King Alexander's Adventures
KINGS AND WARRIORS
LAND AND WATER FAIRIES
Lessons From Nature
LITTLE STORIES that GROW BIG
MODERN FAIRY TALES
MOTHER GOOSE CONTINUED
MOTHER GOOSE JINGLES
MOTHER GOOSE SONGS AND STORIES
Myths And Legends
NEGLECT THE FIRE
ON POPULAR EDUCATION
PLACES AND FAMILIES
Poems Of Nature
RESURRECTION DAY (EASTER)
RHYMES CONCERNING "MOTHER"
RIDING SONGS for FATHER'S KNEE
ROMANCES OF THE MIDDLE AGES
SAINT VALENTINE'S DAY
Selections From The Bible
SLEEPY-TIME SONGS AND STORIES
Some Children's Poets
Songs Of Life
STORIES BY FAVORITE AMERICAN WRITERS
STORIES FOR CHILDREN
STORIES for LITTLE BOYS
STORIES FROM BOTANY
STORIES FROM GREAT BRITAIN
STORIES FROM IRELAND
STORIES FROM PHYSICS
STORIES FROM SCANDINAVIA
STORIES FROM ZOOLOGY
STORIES _for_ LITTLE GIRLS
THE DAYS OF THE WEEK
The King Of The Golden River; Or, The Black Brothers
The Little Grey Mouse
THE OLD FAIRY TALES
The Princess Rosette
THE THREE HERMITS
THE TWO OLD MEN
UNCLES AND AUNTS AND OTHER RELATIVES
VERSES ABOUT FAIRIES
WHAT MEN LIVE BY
WHERE LOVE IS, THERE GOD IS ALSO
The Thunder Oak
from Good Stories For Great Holidays
- CHRISTMAS DAY
A SCANDINAVIAN LEGEND
WILLIAM S. WALSH AND OTHER SOURCES
When the heathen raged through the forests of the ancient Northland
there grew a giant tree branching with huge limbs toward the clouds. It
was the Thunder Oak of the war-god Thor.
Thither, under cover of night, heathen priests were wont to bring
their victims--both men and beasts--and slay them upon the altar of the
thunder-god. There in the darkness was wrought many an evil deed, while
human blood was poured forth and watered the roots of that gloomy tree,
from whose branches depended the mistletoe, the fateful plant that
sprang from the blood-fed veins of the oak. So gloomy and terror-ridden
was the spot on which grew the tree that no beasts of field or forest
would lodge beneath its dark branches, nor would birds nest or perch
among its gnarled limbs.
Long, long ago, on a white Christmas Eve, Thor's priests held their
winter rites beneath the Thunder Oak. Through the deep snow of the
dense forest hastened throngs of heathen folk, all intent on keeping
the mystic feast of the mighty Thor. In the hush of the night the folk
gathered in the glade where stood the tree. Closely they pressed around
the great altar-stone under the overhanging boughs where stood the
white-robed priests. Clearly shone the moonlight on all.
Then from the altar flashed upward the sacrificial flames, casting their
lurid glow on the straining faces of the human victims awaiting the blow
of the priest's knife.
But the knife never fell, for from the silent avenues of the dark forest
came the good Saint Winfred and his people. Swiftly the saint drew from
his girdle a shining axe. Fiercely he smote the Thunder Oak, hewing a
deep gash in its trunk. And while the heathen folk gazed in horror and
wonder, the bright blade of the axe circled faster and faster around
Saint Winfred's head, and the flakes of wood flew far and wide from the
deepening cut in the body of the tree.
Suddenly there was heard overhead the sound of a mighty, rushing wind. A
whirling blast struck the tree. It gripped the oak from its foundations.
Backward it fell like a tower, groaning as it split into four pieces.
But just behind it, unharmed by the ruin, stood a young fir tree,
pointing its green spire to heaven.
Saint Winfred dropped his axe, and turned to speak to the people.
Joyously his voice rang out through the crisp, winter air:--
"This little tree, a young child of the forest, shall be your holy tree
to-night. It is the tree of peace, for your houses are built of fir. It
is the sign of endless life, for its leaves are forever green. See how
it points upward to heaven! Let this be called the tree of the Christ
Child. Gather about it, not in the wildwood, but in your own homes.
There it will shelter no deeds of blood, but loving gifts and rites of
kindness. So shall the peace of the White Christ reign in your hearts!"
And with songs of joy the multitude of heathen folk took up the little
fir tree and bore it to the house of their chief, and there with good
will and peace they kept the holy Christmastide.
Next: The Christmas Thorn Of Glastonbury
Previous: The Three Purses