Christmas Eve on Lonesome

Posted by | December 12, 2017

It was Christmas Eve on Lonesome. But nobody on Lonesome knew that it was Christmas Eve, although a child of the outer world could have guessed it, even out in those wilds where Lonesome slipped from one lone log cabin high up the steeps, down through a stretch of jungled darkness to another lone cabin at the mouth of the stream.

There was the holy hush in the gray twilight that comes only on Christmas Eve. There were the big flakes of snow that fell as they never fall except on Christmas Eve. There was a snowy man on horseback in a big coat, and with saddle-pockets that might have been bursting with toys for children in the little cabin at the head of the stream.

man in snow on horsebackBut not even he knew that it was Christmas Eve. He was thinking of Christmas Eve, but it was of the Christmas Eve of the year before, when he sat in prison with a hundred other men in stripes, and listened to the chaplain talk of peace and good will to all men upon earth, when he had forgotten all men upon earth but one, and had only hatred in his heart for him.
—Excerpt from Christmas Eve on Lonesome and Other Stories, John Fox, Jr. New Hampshire: Ayer Co., 1904.

John Fox Jr. (1862-1919) wrote primarily on life in rural Kentucky, Tennessee, and Virginia. Born in Stony Point, KY, he made his name as a novelist after settling in Big Stone Gap, VA, where he spent the last 29 years of his life.

His wildly popular romance/coming-of-age story The Trail of the Lonesome Pine (1908) tells the vivid story of coal engineer Jack Hale falling in love with mountain girl June Tolliver. That bestseller, and The Little Shepherd of Kingdom Come (1903), were adapted for the big screen in a few different versions in 1912, 1916, and 1936.

Fox gave public lectures to raise money and during one such lecture met Theodore Roosevelt, who later invited Fox to give readings at the White House. Roosevelt became a life-long friend of Fox’s.

Counting among his friends other such popular writers as Richard Harding Davis, Jack London, and Booth Tarkington, Fox was awarded many honors in his lifetime. These included election to membership in the National Institute of Arts and Letters in 1899 and a medal for his literary contributions from the Emperor of Japan. His dedication and lobbying led to the passing of the Federal Copyright Act.


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