'Twas the Day Before Christmas,
Account of a Visit from St. Nicholas
By Wilfrid de Freitas and Susan Ravdin
Wilfrid M. de Freitas - Bookseller
(With apologies to Clement Moore
and Major Henry Livingston)
First published in the ABA's 2005 Christmas Newsletter
'Twas the day before Christmas, and all through the shop|
Not a buyer was stirring, just me with my mop;
The punch and the cookies were laid out with care,
In hopes that a customer soon would be there.
The books were all nestled and snug on their shelves,
Their stories and essays still kept to themselves.
The tidying finished, I fell into the trap,
And found myself dozing, the cat in my lap.
When all of a sudden there arose such a clatter,|
I looked up from my desk to see what was the matter.
Through my glasses I peered at the door now ajar,
But no one could I see, not even a car.
The rays of the sunset on the window display
Made the gilt dance like tree lights, all twinkling away,
When what to my wondering eyes should appear,
But a red-suited gent, all brimming with cheer.
With his beard and his step, so lively and quick,|
The thought crossed my mind, "He's just like St. Nick!"
More rapid than eagles, his queries they came,
"I want certain authors," and he called them by name:
"There's DANTE, and DARWIN, and MILTON, and AUSTEN!
Then DICKENS, and NEWTON, and STEINBECK and RUSKIN!
Signed first editions, triple-deckers," he called,
"In the finest condition, I must have them all!"
As quick as I could to my shelves I did fly,
In the hopes that I had what he wanted to buy.
Then up on the ladder, to the shelf at the top,
Where I thought I had seen them last week in the shop.
Sure enough, there they were, all nice in a row|
A beautiful binding on an early Inferno;
The Nature of Gothic, a vellum delight;
And Tale of Two Cities with gilt nice and bright.
In Dubious Battle, one of ninety-nine signed;
Both Paradises -they're two of a kind.
The Origin in its gilt cloth was like new;
Triple-decked Emma, and Principia, too.
The books were all perfect, the volumes how many
They sat on my counter, and worth every penny.
As I totted them up, I thought with good cheer,
"This'll be quite a Christmas, not one like last year!"
He examined them all, and checked with great care,|
That the plates were all clean, and the points were all there.
He looked at the bindings, and at each of the ends;
And said,"They're all gifts for my family and friends."
He was smiling and pleased, a right jolly old elf,
He laughed as he told me, "Just one's for myself."
When I saw what they came to, I was nearly struck dumb;
My banker will love it; oh, what a nice sum!
When I told him the total, he did not protest,|
But reached for his cheque-book - no discout request!
Each carefully wrapped, they made quite a load,
He just took up the bags, out the doorway he strode.
I woke with a start, as a customer coughed,
And handed me books from the paperback loft.
She paid me in cash, and I sighed, but was bright,
"HAPPY CHRISTMAS TO YOU, AND TO YOU A GOOD-NIGHT!"