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Full text of "The snow-image: a childish miracle"

CHILDREN'S BOOK 
COLLECTION 

* 

LIBRARY OF THE 

UNIVERSITY OF CALIFORNIA 

LOS ANGELES 




(52 







iu* 1 <J*^ 

> H, ^ ^^ 



r~s 



THE 

S 1ST O "W-IM AGE: 

A CHILDISH MIRACLE. 

BY 

NATHANIEL HAWTHORNE. 

S&itlj Illustrations bjj Patens SSlaterman. 



NEW YORK: 
JAMES G. GREGORY, 540, BROADWAY. 

M DCCC LXIV. 




O. A.. AJ.VOKU, STF.RKOTYPKR 4 PRINTER, NEW YORK. 



t jiiifllu-f map: 

A CHILDISH MIRACLE. 




NE afternoon of a cold winter's day, when the 



sun shone forth with chilly brightness, after a 
s -' long storm, two children asked leave of their 
i v mother to run out and play in the new-fallen 
x snow. The elder child was a little girl, whom, 
because she was of a tender and modest disposition, 
and was thought to be very beautiful, her parents, and 
other people who were familiar with her, used to call 
Yiolet. But her brother was known by the style and 
title of Peony, on account of the ruddiness of his broad 
and round little phiz, which made everybody think of 
sunshine and great scarlet flowers. The father of these 
two children, a certain Mr. Lindsey, it is important to 
say, was an excellent, but exceedingly matter-of-fact sort 
of man, a dealer in hardware, and was sturdily accustomed 






THE SNOW-IMAGE: 

to take what is called the common-sense view of all matters 
that came under his consideration. With a heart about 
as tender as other people's, he had a head as hard and im- 
penetrable, and therefore, perhaps, as empty, as one of the 
iron pots which it was a part of his business to sell. The 
mother's character, on the other hand, had a strain of 
poetry in it, a trait of unworldly beauty a delicate and 
dewy flower, as it were, that had survived out of her 
imaginative youth, and still kept itself alive amid the 
dusty realities of matrimony and motherhood. 

So, Violet and Peony, as I began with saying, besought 
their mother to let them run out and play in the new 
snow ; for, though it had looked so dreary and dismal, 
drifting downward out of the gray sky, it had a very 
cheerful aspect, now that the sun was shining on it. The 
children dwelt in a city, and had no wider play-place than 
a little garden before the house, divided by a white fence 
from the street, and with a pear-tree and two or three 
plum-trees overshadowing it, and some rose-bushes just 
in front of the parlor windows. The trees and shrubs, 
however, were now leafless, and their twigs were enveloped 
in the light snow, which thus made a kind of wintry 
foliage, with here and there a pendent icicle for the 
fruit. 

4 



A CHILDISH MIRACLE. 



"Yes, Violet, yes, my little Peony," said their kind 
mother ; " you may go out and play in the new snow." 

Accordingly, the good lady bundled up her darlings in 
woollen jackets and wadded sacks, and put comforters 
round their necks, and a pair of striped gaiters on each 
little pair of legs, and worsted mittens on their hands, and 
gave them a kiss apiece, by way of a spell to keep away 
Jack Frost. Forth sallied the two children, with a hop- 
skip-and-jump, that carried them at once into the very heart 
of a huge snow-drift, whence Violet emerged like a snow- 
bunting, while little Peony floundered out with his round 
face in full bloom. Then what a merry time had they ! 
To look at them, frolicking in the wintry garden, you 
would have thought that the dark and pitiless storm had 
been sent for no other purpose but to provide a new play- 
thing for Violet and Peony ; and that they themselves had 
been created, as the snow-birds were, to take delight only 
in the tempest, and in the white mantle which it spread 
over the earth. 

At last, when they had frosted one another all over 
with handfuls of snow, Violet, after laughing heartily at 
little Peony's figure, was struck with a new idea. 

" You look exactly like a snow-image, Peony," said 
she, " if your cheeks were not so red. And that puts me 

5 



THE SNOW-IMAGE: 

in mind ! Let us make an image out of snow, an image 
of a little girl, and it shall be our sister, and shall run 
about and play with us all winter long. Won't it be 
nice?" 

" O, yes !" cried Peony, as plainly as he could speak, 
for he was but a little boy. " That will be nice ! And 
mamma shall see it !" 

" Yes," answered Violet ; " mamma shall see the new 
little girl. But she must not make her come into the 
warm parlor ; for, you know, our little snow-sister will not 
love the warmth." 

And forthwith the children began this great business 
of making a snow-image that should run about; while 
their mother, who was sitting at the window and over- 
heard some of their talk, could not help smiling at the 
gravity with which they set about it. They really seemed 
to imagine that there would be no difficulty whatever in 
creating a live little girl out of the snow. And, to say 
the truth, if miracles are ever to be wrought, it will be by 
putting our hands to the work in precisely such a simple 
and undoubting frame of mind as that in which Violet and 
Peony now undertook to perform one, without so much as 
knowing that it was a miracle. So thought the mother ; 
and thought, likewise, that the new snow, just fallen from 



A CHILDISH MIRACLE. 



heaven, would be excellent material to make new beings 
of, if it were not so very cold. She gazed at the children 
a moment longer, delighting to watch their little figures, 
the girl, tall for her age, graceful and agile, and so deli- 
cately colored, that she looked like a cheerful thought, 
more than a physical reality, while Peony expanded in 
breadth rather than height, and rolled along on his short 
and sturdy legs, as substantial as an elephant, though not 
quite so big. Then the mother resumed her work. What 
it was I forget; but she was either trimming a silken 
bonnet for Yiolet, or darning a pair of stockings for little 
Peony's short legs. Again, however, and again, and yet 
other agains, she could not help turning her head to the 
window, to see how the children got on with their snow- 
image. 

Indeed, it was an exceedingly pleasant sight, those 
bright little souls at their tasks ! Moreover, it was really 
wonderful to observe how knowingly and skilfully they 
managed the matter. Violet assumed the chief direction, 
and told Peony what to do, while, with her own delicate 
fingers, she shaped out all the nicer parts of the snow- 
figure. It seemed, in fact, not so much to be made by the 
children, as to grow up under their hands, while they were 
playing and prattling about it Their mother was quite 



THE SXOW-IMAGE: 

surprised at this ; and the longer she looked, the more 
and more surprised she grew. 

" What remarkable children mine are !" thought she, 
smiling with a mother's pride ; and smiling at herself, too, 
for being so proud of them. " What other children could 
have made any thing so like a little girl's figure out of 
snow, at the first trial ? Well ; but now I must finish 
Peony's new frock, for his grandfather is coming to- 
morrow, and I want the little fellow to look handsome." 

So she took up the frock, and was soon as busily at 
work again with her needle as the two children with their 
snow-image. But still, as the needle travelled hither and 
thither through the seams of the dress, the mother made 
her toil light and happy by listening to the airy voices of 
Violet and Peony. They kept talking to one another all 
the time, their tongues being quite as active as their feet 
and hands. Except at intervals, she could not distinctly 
hear what was said, but had merely a sweet impression 
that they were in a most loving mood, and were enjoying 
themselves highly, and that the business of making the 
snow-image went prosperously on. Now and then, how- 
ever, when Violet and Peony happened to raise their 
voices, the words were as audible as if they had been 
spoken in the very parlor, where the mother sat. O, how 



A CHILDISH MIRACLE. 



delightfully those words echoed in her heart, even though 
they meant nothing so very wise or wonderful, after all ! 

But you must know a mother listens with her heart, 
much more than with her ears ; and thus she is often 
delighted with the trills of celestial music, when other 
people can hear nothing of the kind. 

" Peony, Peony !" cried Violet to her brother, who had 
gone to another part of the garden, " bring me some of 
that fresh snow, Peony, from the very furthest corner, 
where we have not been trampling. I want it to shape our 
little snow-sister's bosom with. You know that part must 
be quite pure, just as it came out of the sky !" 

"Here it is, Violet!" answered Peony, in his bluff 
tone, but a very sweet tone, too, as he came floundering 
through the half-trodden drifts. " Here is the snow for 
her little bosom. 0, Violet, how beau-ti-ful she begins to 
look !" 

" Yes," said Violet, thoughtfully and quietly ; " our 
snow-sister does look very lovely. I did not quite know, 
Peony, that we could make such a sweet little girl as 
this." 

The mother, as she listened, thought how fit and delight- 
ful an incident it would be, if fairies, or, still better, if 
angel-children were to come from paradise, and play in- 



THE SISTOW-IMAGE: 

visibly with her own darlings, and help them to make 
their snow-image, giving it the features of celestial baby- 
hood ! Violet and Peony would not be aware of their im- 
mortal playmates, only they would see that the image 
grew very beautiful while they worked at it, and would 
think that they themselves had done it all. 

"My little girl and boy deserve such playmates, if 
mortal children ever did !" said the mother to herself; and 
then she smiled again at her own motherly pride. 

Nevertheless, the idea seized upon her imagination ; 
and, ever and anon, she took a glimpse out of the window, 
half dreaming that she might see the golden-haired chil- 
dren of paradise sporting with her own golden-haired 
Violet and bright-cheeked Peony. 

Now, for a few moments, there was a busy and earnest, 
but indistinct hum of the two children's voices, as Violet 
and Peony wrought together with one happy consent 
Violet still seemed to be the guiding spirit ; while Peony 
acted rather as a laborer, and brought her the snow from 
far and near. And yet the little urchin evidently had a 
proper understanding of the matter, too ! 

"Peony, Peony!" cried Violet; for her brother was 
again at the other side of the garden, " bring me those 

light wreaths of snow that have rested on the lower 
10 



A CHILDISH MIRACLE. 



branches of the pear-tree. You can clamber on the snow- 
drift, Peony, and reach them easily. I must have them to 
make some ringlets for our snow-sister's head 1" 

"Here they are, Violet!" answered the little boy. 
" Take care you do not break them. Well done 1 Well 
done ! How pretty !" 

"Does she not look sweetly ?" said Yiolet, with a very 
satisfied tone; "and now we must have some little 
shining bits of ice, to make the brightness of her eyes. 
She is not finished yet. Mamma will see how very beauti- 
ful she is ; but papa will say, ' Tush ! nonsense ! come in 
out of the cold !'" 

" Let us call mamma to look out," said Peony ; and 
then he shouted lustily, "Mamma! mamma!! mamma!!! 
Look out, and see what a nice 'ittle girl we are making !" 

The mother put down her work, for an instant, and 
looked out of the window. But it so happened that the 
sun for this was one of the shortest days of the whole 
year had sunken so nearly to the edge of the world, that 
his setting shine came obliquely into the lady's eyes. So 
she was dazzled, you must understand, and could not very 
distinctly observe what was in the garden. Still, how- 
ever, through all that bright, blinding da/zle of the sun 
and the new snow, she beheld a small white figure in the 



THE 



garden, that seemed to have a wonderful deal of Imman 
likeness about it. And she saw Violet and Peony, in- 
deed, she looked more at them than at the image, she 
saw the two children still at work ; Peony bringing fresh 
snow, and Violet applying it to the figure as scientifically 
as a sculptor adds clay to his model. Indistinctly as she 
discerned the snow-child, the mother thought to herseli 
that never before was there a snow-figure so cunningly 
made, nor ever such a dear little girl and boy to make it. 

" They do every thing better than other children," said 
she, very complacently. "No wonder they make better 
snow-images !" 

She sat down again to her work, and made as much 
haste with it as possible; because twilight would soon 
come, and Peony's frock was not yet finished, and grand- 
father was expected, by railroad, pretty early in the morn- 
ing. Faster and faster, therefore, went her flying fingers. 
The children, likewise, kept busily at work in the garden, 
and still the mother listened, whenever she could catch 
a word. She was amused to observe how their little 
imaginations had got mixed up with what they were 
doing, and were carried away by it. They seemed posi- 
tively to think that the snow-child would run about and 
play with them. 



A CHILDISH MIRACLE. 



" What a nice playmate she will be for us, all winter 
long !" said Violet. " I hope papa will not be afraid of 
her giving us a cold ! Shan't you love her dearly, 
Peony?" 

" O, yes !" cried Peony. " And I will hug her, and she 
shall sit down close by me, and drink some of my warm 
milk !" 

" no, Peony !" answered Violet, with grave wisdom. 
" That will not do at all. Warm milk will not be whole- 
some for our little snow-sister. Little snow -people, like 
her, eat nothing but icicles. No, no, Peony ; we must not 
give her any thing warm to drink !" 

There was a minute or two of silence ; for Peony, whose 
short legs were never weary, had gone on a pilgrimage 
again to the other side of the garden. All of a sudden, 
Violet cried out, loudly and joyfully, 

" Look here, Peony ! Come quickly ! A light has been 
shining on her cheek out of that rose-colored cloud ! and 
the color does not go away ! Is not that beautiful ?" 

"Yes, it is beau-ti-ful," answered Peony, pronouncing 
the three syllables with deliberate accuracy. " 0, Violet, 
only look at her hair ! it is all like gold!" 

" 0, certainly," said Violet, with tranquillity, as if it 
were very much a matter of course. " That color, you 

13 



THE SNOW-IMAGE: 

know, comes from the golden clouds, that we see up there 
in the sky. She is almost finished now. But her lips 
must be made very red, redder than her cheeks. Perhaps, 
Peony, it will make them red, if we both kiss them !" 

Accordingly, the mother heard two smart little smacks, 
as if both her children were kissing the snow-image on 
its frozen mouth. But, as this did not seem to make the 
lips quite red enough, Violet next proposed that the snow- 
child should be invited to kiss Peony's scarlet cheek. 

" Come, 'ittle snow-sister, kiss me !" cried Peony. 

"There! she has kissed you," added Violet, "and now 
her lips are very red. And she blushed a little, too !" 

"O, what a cold kiss !" cried Peony. 

Just then there came a breeze of the pure west wind, 
sweeping through the garden and rattling the parlor 
windows. It sounded so wintry cold, that the mother 
was about to tap on the window-pane with her thimbled 
finger, to summon the two children in, when they both 
cried out to her with one voice. The tone was not a tone 
of surprise, although they were evidently a good deal 
excited ; it appeared rather as if they were very much 
rejoiced at some event that had now happened, but which 
they had been looking for, and had reckoned upon all 
along. 

u 






A CHILDISH MIRACLE. 



" Mamma ! mamma ! We have finished our little snow 
sister, and she is running about the garden with us !" 

" What imaginative little beings my children are !'' 
thought the mother, putting the last few stitches into 
Peony's frock. " And it is strange, too, that they make 
me almost as much a child as they themselves are ! I can 
hardly help believing, now, that the snow-image has really 
come to life !" 

" Dear mamma !" cried Violet, "pray look out, and see 
what a sweet playmate we have !" 

The mother, being thus entreated, could no longer delay 
to look forth from the window. The sun was now gone 
out of the sky, leaving, however, a rich inheritance of his 
brightness among those purple and golden clouds which 
make the sunsets of winter so magnificent But there was 
not the slightest gleam or dazzle, either on the window or 
on the snow ; so that the good lady could look all over 
the garden, and see every thing and everybody in it. 
And what do you think she saw there? Violet and 
Peony, of course, her own two darling children. Ah, but 
whom or what did she besides ? Why, if you will believe 
me, there was a small figure of a girl, dressed all in white, 
with rose-tinged cheeks and ringlets of golden hue, play- 
ing about the garden with the two children ! A stranger 

15 



THE SNOW-IMAGE: 

though she was, the child seemed to be on as familiar 
terms with Violet and Peony, and they with her, as if all 
the three had been playmates during the whole of their 
little lives. The mother thought to herself that it must 
certainly be the daughter of one of the neighbors, and 
that, seeing Violet and Peony in the garden, the child 
had run across the street to play with them. So this kind 
lady went to the door, intending to invite the little run- 
away into her comfortable parlor ; for, now that the sun- 
shine was withdrawn, the atmosphere, out of doors, was 
already growing very cold. 

But, after opening the house door, she stood an instant 
on the threshold, hesitating whether she ought to ask the 
child to come in, or whether she should even speak to her. 
Indeed, she almost doubted whether it were a real child, 
after all, or only a light wreath of the new-fallen snow, 
blown hither and thither about the garden by the intensely 
cold west wind. There was certainly something very 
singular in the aspect of the little stranger. Among all 
the children of the neighborhood, the lady could remember 
no such face, with its pure white, and delicate rose-color, 
and the golden ringlets tossing about the forehead and 
cheeks. And as for her dress, which was entirely of 
white, and fluttering in the breeze, it was such as no rea- 



A CHILDISH MIKACLE. 



sonable woman would put upon a little girl, when sending 
her out to play, in the depth of winter. It made this kind 
and careful mother shiver only to look at those small feet, 
with nothing in the world on them, except a very thin pair 
of white slippers. Nevertheless, airily as she was clad, the 
child seemed to feel not the slightest inconvenience from 
the cold, but danced so lightly over the snow, that the 
tips of her toes left hardly a print in its surface ; while 
Violet could but just keep pace with her, and Peony's 
short legs compelled him to lag behind. 

Once, in the course of their play, the strange child 
placed herself between Violet and Peony, and taking a 
hand of each, skipped merrily forward, and they along 
with her. Almost immediately, however, Peony pulled 
away his little fist, and began to rub it as if the fingers 
were tingling with cold ; while Violet also released herself, 
though with less abruptness, gravely remarking that it 
was better not to take hold of hands. The white-robed 
damsel said not a word, but danced about just as merrily 
as before. If Violet and Peony did not choose to play 
with her, she could make just as good a playmate of the 
brisk and cold west wind, which kept blowing her all 
about the garden, and took such liberties with her, that 
they seemed to have been friends for a long time. All 



THE SNOW-IMAGE: 

this while, the mother stood on the threshold, wondering 
how a little girl could look so much like a flying snow- 
drift, or how a snow-drift could look so very like a little 
girl. 

She called Violet, and whispered to her. 

" Violet, my darling, what is this child's name ?" asked 
she. " Does she live near us ?" 

" Why, dearest mamma," answered Violet, laughing to 
think that her mother did not comprehend so very plain 
an affair, "this is our little snow-sister, whom we have just 
been making I" 

"Yes, dear mamma," cried Peony, running to his 
mother, and looking up simply into her face. " This is 
our snow-image ! Is it not a nice 'ittle child ?" 

At this instant a flock of snow-birds came flitting 
through the air. As was very natural, they avoided Vio- 
let and Peony. But, and this looked strange, they flew 
at once to the white-robed child, fluttered eagerly about 
her head, alighted on her shoulders, and seemed to claim 
her as an old acquaintance. She, on her part, was evi- 
dently as glad to see these little birds, old Winter's grand- 
children, as they were to see her, and welcomed them by 
holding out both her hands. Hereupon, they each and all 

tried to alight on her two palms and ten small fingers and 
18 



A CHILDISH MIRACLE. 



thumbs, crowding one another off, with an immense flut- 
tering of their tiny wings. One dear little bird nestled 
tenderly in her bosom ; another put its bill to her lips. 
They were as joyous, all the while and, seemed as much in 
their element, as you may have seen them when sporting 
with a snow-storm. 

Violet and Peony stood laughing at this pretty sight ; 
for they enjoyed the merry time which their new play- 
mate was having with these small- winged visitants, almost 
as much as if they themselves took part in it. 

" Violet," said her mother, greatly perplexed, " tell me 
the truth, without any jest. Who is this little girl ?" 

" My darling mamma," answered Violet, looking seri- 
ously into her mother's face, and apparently surprised that 
she should need any further explanation, " I have told you 
truly who she is. It is our little snow-image, which Peony 
and I have been making. Peony will tell you so, as well 
as I." 

" Yes, mamma," asseverated Peony, with much gravity 
in his crimson little phiz ; " this is 'ittle snow-child. Is not 
she a nice one ? But, mamma, her hand is, oh, so very 
cold!" 

While mamma still hesitated what to think and what to 
do, the street-gate was thrown open, and the father of Vio- 

19 



THE SNOW -I M AGE: 

let and Peony appeared, wrapped in a pilot-cloth sack, with 
a fur cap drawn down over his ears, and the thickest of 
gloves upon his hands. Mr. Lindsey was a middle-aged 
man, with a weary and yet a happy look in his wind -flushed 
and frost-pinched face, as if he had been busy all the day 
long, and was glad to get back to his quiet home. His eyes 
brightened at the sight of his wife and children, although 
he could not help uttering a word or two of surprise, at find- 
ing the whole family in the open air, on so bleak a day, 
and after sunset too. He soon perceived the little white 
stranger, sporting to and fro in the garden, like a dancing 
snow-wreath, and the flock of snow-birds fluttering about 
her head. 

"Pray, what little girl may that be ?" inquired this very 
sensible man. " Surely her mother must be crazy, to let 
her go out in such bitter weather as it has been to-day, 
with only that flimsy white gown, and those thin slippers !" 

"My dear husband," said his wife, "I know no more 
about the little thing than you do. Some neighbor's child. 
I suppose. Our Violet and Peony," she added, laughing 
at herself for repeating so absurd a story, "insist that she 
is nothing but a snow-image, which they have been busy 
about in the garden, almost all the afternoon." 

As she said this, the mother glanced her eyes toward 
20 



A CHILDISH MIRACLE. 



the spot where the children's snow-image had been made. 
AVhat was her surprise, on perceiving that there was not 
the slightest trace of so much labor ! no image at all ! 
no piled-up heap of snow ! nothing whatever, save the 
prints of little footsteps around a vacant space ! 

" This is very strange !" said she. 

"What is strange, dear mother?" asked Violet. "Dear 
father, do not you see how it is? This is our snow-image, 
which Peony and I have made, because we wanted another 
playmate. Did not we, Peony?" 

" Yes, papa," said crimson Peony. " This be our 'ittle 
snow-sister. Is she not beau-ti-ful? But she gave me 
such a cold kiss !" 

"Poh, nonsense, children!" cried their good, honest 
father, who, as we have already intimated, had an exceed- 
ingly common-sensible way of looking at matters. "Do. 
not tell me of making live figures out of snow. Come, 
wife ; this little stranger must not stay out in the bleak 
air a moment longer. We will bring her into the parlor; 
and you shall give her a supper of warm bread and milk, 
and make her as comfortable as you can. Meanwhile, 
I will inquire among the neighbors; or, if necessary, 
send the city-crier about the streets, to give notice of a 

lost child." 

21 



THE SNOW-IMAGE: 

So saying, this honest and very kind-hearted man -was 
going toward the little white damsel, with the best inten- 
tions in the world. But Violet and Peony, each seizing 
their father by the hand, earnestly besought him not to 
make her come in. 

"Dear father," cried Yiolet, putting herself before him, 
" it is true what I have been telling you ! This is our 
little snow-girl, and she cannot live any longer than while 
she breathes the cold west wind. Do not make her come 
into the hot room !" 

"Yes, father," shouted Peony, stamping his little foot, 
so mightily was he in earnest, " this be nothing but our 
'ittle snow-child ! She will not love the hot fire !" 

"Nonsense, children, nonsense, nonsense!" cried the 
father, half vexed, half laughing at what he considered 
their foolish obstinacy. " Eun into the house, this mo- 
ment ! It is too late to play any longer now. I must 
take care of this little girl immediately, or she will catch 
her death-a-cold !" 

" Husband ! dear husband !" said his wife, in a low 
voice, for she had been looking narrowly at the snow- 
child, and was more perplexed than ever, "there is 
something very singular in all this. You will think me 
foolish, but but may it not be that some invisible 



A CHILDISH MIRACLE. 



angel has been attracted by the simplicity and good faitli 
with which our children set about their undertaking? 
May he not have spent an hour of his immortality in 
playing with those dear little souls ? and so the result is 
what we call a miracle. No, no ! Do not laugh at me ; I 
see what a foolish thought it is !" 

'"My dear wife," replied the husband, laughing heartily, 
"you are as much a child as Violet and Peony." 

And in one sense so she was, for all through life she 
had kept her heart full of childlike simplicity and faith, 
which was as pure and clear as crystal ; and, looking at all 
matters through this transparent medium, she sometimes 
saw truths so profound, that other people laughed at them 
as nonsense and absurdity. 

But now kind Mr. Lindsey had entered the garden, 
breaking away from his two children, who still sent their 
shrill voices after him, beseeching him to let the snow- 
child stay and enjoy herself in the cold west wind. As he 
approached, the snow-birds took to flight. The little white 
damsel, also, fled backward, shaking her head, as if to say, 
u Pray, do not touch me !" and roguishly, as it appeared, 
leading him through the deepest of the snow. Once, the 
good man stumbled, and floundered down upon his face, 
so that, gathering himself up again, with the snow sticking 



THE SNOW-IMAGE: 

to his rough pilot-cloth sack, he looked as white and win- 
try as a snow-image of the largest size. Some of the 
neighbors, meanwhile, seeing him from their windows, 
wondered what could possess poor Mr. Lindsey to be run- 
ning about his garden in pursuit of a snow-drift, which the 
west wind was driving hither and thither ! At length, 
after a vast deal of trouble, he chased the little stranger 
in a corner, where she could not possibly escape him. 
His wife had been looking on, and, it being nearly twi- 
light, was wonderstruck to observe how the snow-child 
gleamed and sparkled, and how she seemed to shed a glow 
all round about her ; and when driven into the corner, she 
positively glistened like a star ! It was a frosty kind of 
brightness, too, like that of an icicle in the moonlight. 
The wife thought it strange that good Mr. Lindsey should 
see nothing remarkable in the snow-child's appearance. 

" Come, you odd little thing !" cried the honest man, 
seizing her by the hand, <( I have caught you at last, and 
will make you comfortable in spite of yourself. We will 
put a nice warm pair of worsted stockings on your frozen 
little feet, and you shall have a good thick shawl to wrap 
yourself in. Your poor white nose, I am afraid, is actually 
frost-bitten. But we will make it all right. Come along 



A CHILDISH MIKACLE. 



And so, with a most benevolent srnile on his sagacious 
visage, all purple as it was with the cold, this very well- 
meaning gentleman took the snow-child by the hand, and 
led her towards the house. She followed him, droopingly 
and reluctant ; for all the glow and sparkle was gone out 
of her figure ; and whereas just before she had resembled 
a bright, frosty, star-gemmed evening, with a crimson 
gleam on the cold horizon, she now looked as dull and 
languid as a thaw. As kind Mr. Lindsey led her up the 
steps of the door, Violet and Peony looked into his face, 
their eyes full of tears, which froze before they could run 
down their cheeks, and again entreated him not to bring 
their snow-image into the house. 

"Not bring her in 1" exclaimed the kind-hearted man. 
" "Why, you are crazy, my little Violet ! quite crazy, my 
small Peony ! She is so cold, already, that her hand has 
almost frozen mine, in spite of my thick gloves. Would 
you have her freeze to death ?" 

His wife, as he came up the steps, had been taking an- 
other long, earnest, almost awe-stricken gaze at the little 
white stranger. She hardly knew whether it was a dream 
or no ; but she could not help fancying that she saw the 
delicate print of Violet's fingers on the child's neck. It 
looked just as if, while Violet was shaping out the image, 



THE SNOW-IMAGE: 

she had given it a gentle pat with, her hand, and had neg- 
lected to smooth the impression quite away. 

" After all, husband," said the mother, recurring to her 
idea that the angels would be as much delighted to play 
with Violet and Peony as she herself was, " after all, sho 
does look strangely like a snow-image ! I do believe she 
is made of snow !" 

A puff of the west wind blew against the snow-child, 
and again she sparkled like a star. 

" Snow !" repeated good Mr. Lindsey, drawing the reluc- 
tant guest over his hospitable threshold. " No wonder she 
looks like snow. She is half frozen, poor little thing ! 
But a good fire will put every thing to rights." 

Without further talk, and always with the same best 
intentions, this highly benevolent and common-sensible 
individual led the little white damsel drooping, drooping, 
drooping, more and more out of the frosty air, and into 
his comfortable parlor. A Heidenberg stove, filled to the 
brim with, intensely burning anthracite, was sending a 
bright gleam through the isinglass of its iron door, and 
causing the vase of water on its top to fume and bub- 
ble with excitement. A warm, sultry smell was diffused 
throughout the room. A thermometer on the wall furthest 
from the stove stood at eighty degrees. The parlor was 



A CHILDISH MIRACLE. 



hung with red curtains, and covered with a red carpet, and 
looked just as warm as it felt The difference betwixt the 
atmosphere here and the cold, wintry twilight out of doors, 
was like stepping at once from Nova Zembla to the hottest 
part of India, or from the North Pole into an oven. O, 
this was a line place for the little white stranger! 

The common-sensible man placed the snow-child on 
the hearth-rag, right in front of the hissing and fuming 
stove. 

"Now she will be comfortable!" cried Mr. Lind?ey, 
rubbing his hands and looking about him, with the plcas- 
antest smile you ever saw. " Make yourself at home, my 
child." 

Sad, sad and drooping, looked the little white maiden, 
as she stood on the hearth-rug, with the hot blast of the 
stove striking through her like a pestilence. Once, she 
threw a glance wistfully toward the windows, and caught a 
glimpse, through its red curtains, of the snow-covered 
roofs, and the stars glimmer ing frostily, and all the delicious 
intensity of the cold night. The bleak wind rattled the 
window-panes, as if it were summoning her to come forth. 
But there stood the snow-child, drooping, before the hot 
stove ! 

But the common-sensible man saw nothing amiss. 



THE SXOW-IMAGE: 

" Come, wife," said he, " let her have a pair of thick 
stockings and a woollen shawl or blanket directly ; and tell 
Dora to give her some warm supper as soon as the milk 
boils. You, Violet and Peony, amuse your little friend. 
She is out of spirits, you see, at finding herself in a strange 
place. For my part, I will go around among the neigh~ 
bors, and find out where she belongs." 

The mother, meanwhile, had gone in search of the shawl 
and stockings ; for her own view of the matter, however 
subtle and delicate, had given way, as it always did, to the 
stubborn materialism of her husband. Without heeding 
the remonstrances of his two children, who still kept 
murmuring that their little snow-sister did not love the 
warmth, good Mr. Lindsey took his departure, shutting 
the parlor door carefully behind him. Turning up the 
collar of his sack over his ears, he emerged from the house, 
and had barely reached the street-gate, when he was 
recalled by the screams of Violet and Peony, and the 
rapping of a thimbled finger against the parlor window. 

"Husband! husband!" cried his wife, showing her 
horror-stricken face through the window-panes. "There 
is no need of going for the child's parents !" 

"We told you so, father!" screamed Violet and Peony, 
as he re-entered the parlor. "You would bring her in; 

28 



A CHILDISH MIRACLE. 



and now our poor dear beau-ti-ful little snow-sister is 
thawed !" 

And their own sweet little faces were already dissolved 
in tears ; so that their father, seeing what strange things 
occasionally happen in this every day world, felt not a 
little anxious lest his children might he going to thaw too ! 
In the utmost perplexity, he demanded an explanation of 
his wife. She could only reply, that, being summoned to 
the parlor by the cries of Violet and Peony, she foiind no 
trace of the little white maiden, unless it were the remains 
of a heap of snow, which, while she was gazing at it, 
melted quite away upon the hearth-rug. 

"And there you see all that is left of it!" added she, 
pointing to a pool of water, in front of the stove. 

" Yes, father," said Violet, looking reproachfully at him, 
through her tears, "there is all that is left of our dear 
little snow-sister 1" 

"Naughty father!" cried Peony, stamping his foot, and 
I shudder to say shaking his little fist at the common- 
sensible man, " we told you how it would be. What for 
did you bring her in?" 

And the Heidenberg stove, through the isinglass of its 
door, seemed to glare at good Mr. Lindsey, like a red-eyed 
demon, triumphing in the mischief which it had done ! 






THE SNOW-IMAGE: 

This, you will observe, was one of those rare cases, which 
yet will occasionally happen, where common sense finds 
itself at fault. The remarkable story of the snow-image, 
though to that sagacious class of people to whom good 
Mr. Lindsey belongs it may seem bat a, childish affair, 
is, nevertheless, capable of being moralized in various 
methods, greatly for their edification. One of its lessons, 
for instance, might be, that it behooves men, and especially 
men of benevolence, to consider well what they are about, 
and, before acting on their philanthropic purposes, to be 
quite sure that they comprehend the nature and all the 
relations of the business in hand. What has been estab- 
lished as an element of good to one being, may prove 
absDlute mischief to another; even as the warmth of the 
parlor was proper enough for children of flesh and blood, 
like Violet and Peony, though by no means very whole- 
some, even for them, but involved nothing short of anni- 
hilation to the unfortunate snow-image. 

But, after all, there is no teaching any thing to wise 
men of good Mr. Lindsey's stamp. They know every 
thing oh, to be sure ! every thing that has been, and 
every thing that is, and every thing that, by any future 
possibilit} r , can be. And, should some phenomenon of 
nature or providence transcend their system, they will 



A CHILDISH MIRACLE. 



not recognize it, even if it come to pass under their very 
noses. 

" Wife," said Mr. Lindsey, after a fit of silence, " see 
what a quantity of snow the children have brought in on 
their feet! It has made quite a puddle here before the 
stove. Pray tell Dora to bring some towels and sop it 



up!" 



31