Star of wonder, p.1
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       Star of Wonder, p.1

Star of Wonder


  Star of Wonder

  Christmas in the greater galaxy:

  Holidays with Anne, Special Edition

  Anne B. Walsh

  Copyright 2016 Anne B. Walsh

  Cover picture: Mirfak by Egres73 - own work, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=30248438

  Please note: All stories in this collection have been previously published as part of the “Holidays with Anne” series. As such, this unitary edition is being made available to readers for free.

  This ebook is licensed for your personal enjoyment only. This ebook may not be re-sold or given away to other people. If you would like to share this book with another person, please purchase an additional copy for each recipient. If you're reading this book and did not purchase it, or it was not purchased for your use only, then please return to your favorite e-book retailer and purchase your own copy. Thank you for respecting the hard work of this author.

  Table of Contents

  Title Page

  Dedication

  Foreword

  Glorious Song of Old

  Enough

  The Tenth Lady

  Sun and Moon and Stars of Light

  Also by Anne B. Walsh

  Dedication

  For my brother Dominic.

  One of the bravest people I know.

  Foreword

  Raise your hand if you hate it when authors re-release old writing in new editions, seemingly without rhyme or reason, just to make more money.

  Pretty much everybody’s hand is up, am I right? Which is why this e-book, Star of Wonder, is the very first collection of my original writing that I am publishing 100% permanently FREE. (You’re welcome.)

  The four stories in this volume, “Glorious Song of Old”, “Enough”, “The Tenth Lady”, and “Sun and Moon and Stars of Light”, have all been previously published in my holiday collections, each in a different year. In order of appearance: Sing We Now of Christmas (2012), In the Bleak Midwinter (2013), Tomorrow Shall Be My Dancing Day (2014), and Masters in This Hall (2015).

  Who, me? Know a lot of Christmas carols? No idea what you’re talking about.

  In any case, these four stories are much more closely linked than that. They all come from the same universe, “the greater galaxy” as it’s known to the characters, or “Killdeer-verse” as some of my readers call it, after my 2013 soft science fiction novel. The Christmas stories mentioned above are sequels to Killdeer, and to one another, in the order of their writing, so technically this book does contain spoilers if you’re minded to care about such things. Fair warning.

  Why put out a collection like this now? Well, it struck me as I was finishing up this year’s holiday collection, I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day, that anyone who happened across it might find the greater-galaxy tale contained within rather difficult to follow without the backstory. But was it really fair to expect new readers to go out and buy four different holiday collections, some of which (let’s be honest) have certain other less-than-fantastic pieces in them, just to brush up on what happened before?

  So, here they are, together for the first time! (I’ve always wanted to say that.) The four earliest Killdeer­-verse Christmas stories, all yours! Please enjoy, whether you’ve read them many times before or this is your first visit to the greater galaxy, and as always, O readers, happy holidays!

  Anne B. Walsh

  Glorious Song of Old

  “Settle down, now,” Albina, Queen Mother of the planet of Buonarroti, told her seven-year-old granddaughters over the applause from the rest of the royal family. “It’s rude to the musicians to make noise all through the beautiful music they bring us for Christmas!”

  “Si, Nonna,” the little girls said in unison, Elena settling into her red plush seat and tucking a strand of ash blonde hair back into its braided crown while Gabriela leaned forward to watch the singers filing off the stage, her glossy brunette curls threatening to fall out of their elaborate knot high on her head.

  “Just look at what’s coming next!” Albina’s finger, gnarled with age, pointed at a line on the program she held open on her lap. “Such a special treat—a song by the twin princesses!”

  Gabriela gasped, and Elena’s soft hazel eyes went very wide. “Twin princesses?” she repeated. “I thought we were the only twin princesses!”

  “We can’t be, silly,” said Gabriela, regaining her composure in the face of this entirely foolish remark by her sister. “There are hundreds of planets in the galaxy, and thousands of countries on the planets, and I don’t know how many of them are mon…” She trailed off, giving her grandmother an imploring look from deep brown eyes. “Have kings and queens?” she ventured.

  “Monarchies,” Albina supplied, smiling.

  “Monarchies,” Gabriela recited carefully. “Grazie, Nonna.” She peered back at the stage, onto which had just emerged two dark-haired figures gowned in flowing white, a few years older than herself and her sister but still shy of their young womanhood. “Are those the princesses?”

  “Yes, the princesses Sundance and Starsong.” Albina’s voice made music of the two names. “Watch and see what they do, now, how they draw all the eyes to themselves before they even begin. Someday you will have to speak to many people, and you will need to know these things.”

  Fascinated, Elena and Gabriela leaned forward to watch as one princess seated herself at the side of the stage with her harp in her lap, as the other stepped forward into the cool white spotlight which gave the impression that the moon was shining through the ceiling of the royal theater. A brief, flowing introduction by the harp, intricately plucked by slender fingers, and the standing princess began to sing, her voice trembling slightly but true and pure as her sister’s playing.

  “It came upon the midnight clear,

  “That glorious song of old…”
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