A Christmas Garland by Max Beerbohm

A Christmas Garland

subjects: Short Stories

Description

17 parodies with a Christmas theme of some of the most renowned authors of the period - including Kipling, Henry James, Thomas Hardy, H.G. Wells and Conrad - written by Max Beerbohm, whose reputation as a humourist and writer remains high. It is regarded as one of the finest collection of parodies in the English language.

Excerpt

It was with the sense of a, for him, very memorable something that he peered now into the immediate future, and tried, not without compunction, to take that period up where he had, prospectively, left it. But just where the deuce had he left it? The consciousness of dubiety was, for our friend, not, this morning, quite yet clean–cut enough to outline the figures on what she had called his “horizon,” between which and himself the twilight was indeed of a quality somewhat intimidating. He had run up, in the course of time, against a good number of “teasers;” and the function of teasing them back—of, as it were, giving them, every now and then, “what for”—was in him so much a habit that he would have been at a loss had there been, on the face of it, nothing to lose. Oh, he always had offered rewards, of course—had ever so liberally pasted the windows of his soul with staring appeals, minute descriptions, promises that knew no bounds. But the actual recovery of the article—the business of drawing and crossing the cheque, blotched though this were with tears of joy—had blankly appeared to him rather in the light of a sacrilege, casting, he sometimes felt, a palpable chill on the fervour of the next quest. It was just this fervour that was threatened as, raising himself on his elbow, he stared at the foot of his bed. That his eyes refused to rest there for more than the fraction of an instant, may be taken—was, even then, taken by Keith Tantalus—as a hint of his recollection that after all the phenomenon wasn’t to be singular. Thus the exact repetition, at the foot of Eva’s bed, of the shape pendulous at the foot of his was hardly enough to account for the fixity with which he envisaged it, and for which he was to find, some years later, a motive in the (as it turned out) hardly generous fear that Eva had already made the great investigation “on her own.” Her very regular breathing presently reassured him that, if she had peeped into “her” stocking, she must have done so in sleep. Whether he should wake her now, or wait for their nurse to wake them both in due course, was a problem presently solved by a new development. It was plain that his sister was now watching him between her eyelashes. He had half expected that. She really was—he had often told her that she really was—magnificent; and her magnificence was never more obvious than in the pause that elapsed before she all of a sudden remarked “They so very indubitably are, you know!”