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Grating the Nutmeg

"John Norton's Vagabond," A Victorian Christmas Story


In the spirit of the season, we’re pleased to present a Victorian era Christmas story, written by the celebrated 19th century author from Guilford, Reverend William Henry Harrison Murray. Better known as “Adirondack” Murray, because his books almost single-handedly transformed that region from a New York wilderness to one of the country’s most popular tourist destinations, Murray is also known as the inventor of camping as a recreation, the coiner of the term “vacation,” and the father of the American Outdoor movement. His belief that the north woods were health giving and spiritually beneficial, and that the rustic nobility of Adirondack woodsmen was produced by their wilderness life, drew Americans by the millions to the woods, and to his books and tales. In “John Norton’s Vagabond,” fro Murray’s 1897 book “Holiday Tales: Christmas in the Adirondacks,” we meet one of those noble rustic woodsmen, the trapper John Norton, who decides, in counsel with his dogs Rover and Sport, to hold a Christmas dinner, to which he will invite even vagabonds. It might be helpful to know that in John Norton’s trapper’s world the word vagabond meant more than just a person who wanders about–it meant a person who stole other men’s traps and poached their furs, in short, the worst of the worst. So with that as background, get a cup of cocoa, grab an easy chair, and have a listen to Rev, William Henry Harrison “Adirondack Murray’s” Christmas story, “John Norton’s Vagabond.