466 The Book of Indoor and Outdoor Games
freshness that is characteristic of nearly all the great English poets. He makes us see the branches bowing in the wind, the scurrying leaves, the long brambles full of berries of autumn, the ripe luxuriance of the long, slow days of summer, and spring's "blossom-covered trees."
Never, however, could the harpers sing a song too fierce for the war-loving Saxons, who believed that only those who died in battle might find entrance to the Hall of Odin. Best liked of all, therefore, was the song of Beowulf, the hero whose deeds were known to all the Northern races, and interesting to us, too, as being the first poem ever written in the Anglo-Saxon language, though embodying a Scandinavian legend.
The "Song of Crede," the "Song of Baile the Sweet-spoken and the Princess Aillin," the "Deeds of Urien," and the legendary story of Caedmon, the first writer of Christian hymns—all these are accessible to the reader of early English literature.
Many of the ancient carols, with the notes, may be had, and any one with a pleasing voice may give much delight to an audience already predisposed to appreciation by the spirit of the hour, by singing without accompaniment one of these quaint old songs.
The realm of spirits was always thought to be nearer that of mortals on Christmas than at any other time. Hence the custom of telling around the Yule-fire stories of ghostly visitants. It would be a simple matter for one to choose from our abundant supply of uncanny literature and memorise a story that would furnish the necessary "creeps."
Those who are not fond of tales of the supernatural may appreciate the following "true ghost story ":
A young woman, visiting at a country house one