The Rudder Grangers Abroad and Other Stories
The Baker Of Barnbury: A Christmas Story
It was three days before Christmas, and the baker of the little village of Barnbury sat in
the room behind his shop. He was a short and sturdy baker, a good fellow, and ordinarily
of a jolly demeanor, but this day he sat grim in his little back room.
"Christmas, indeed," he said to himself, "and what of Christmas? 'Thank you, baker, and
a merry Christmas to you,' and every one of them goes away with the present of a raisin-
cake, or a horse ginger-cake, if they like that better. All this for the good of the trade, of
course. Confound the trade, I'm tired of trade. Is there no good in this world, but the good
of the trade? 'Oh, yes,' they'll say, 'there's Christmas, and that's good.'--'But what is the
good of it to me?' say I. Christmas day is a family day, and to a man without a family it's
no day at all. I'm not even fourth cousin to a soul in the town. Nobody asks me to a
family dinner. 'Bake! baker!' they cry, 'that we may eat and love each other.' Confound
them! I am tired of it. What is Christmas to me? I have a mind to skip it."
As he said this, a smile broke out on his face. "Skip Christmas," said he; "that is a good
idea. They did not think of me last year; this would make them think of me this year."
As he said this he opened his order-book and ran his eye over the names. "Here's orders
from every one of them," said he, "from the doctor down to Cobbler John. All have
families, all give orders. It's pastry, cake, or sweetmeats, or it's meat or fowl to be baked.
What a jolly Christmas they will have without me! Orders from all of them, every one; all
sent in good time for fear of being crowded out."
Here he stopped and ran his eye again over the list.
"No, not all," he said; "the Widow Monk is not here. What is the matter with her, I
wonder. The only person in Barnbury who has not ordered either pastry, cakes, or
sweetmeats; or fowls or meat to be baked. If I skip Christmas, she'll not mind it, she'll be
the only one--the only one in all Barnbury. Ha! ha!"
The baker wanted some fresh air, and, as this was supper-time for the whole village, he
locked up his shop and went out for a walk. The night was clear and frosty. He liked this;
the air was so different from that in his bakery.
He walked to the end of the village, and at the last house he stopped.
"It's very odd," said he to himself; "no cakes, pastry, or sweetmeats; not even poultry or
meat to be baked. I'll look in and see about this," and he knocked at the door.
The Widow Monk was at supper. She was a plump little body, bright and cheerful to look
upon, and not more than thirty.
"Good evening, baker," said she; "will you sit down and have a cup of tea?"