The SNOW-CHILD ブログトップ



ONE afternoon of a cold winter's day, when the sun shone with chilly brightness after a long storm, two children asked leave of their mother to ran out and play in the new-fallen snow.

The elder child was a little girl called Violet, and her brother was known as Poeny, on account of the ruddiness of his round little face.

The children lived in a city, and had no wider play-place than a little garden in front of 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 parlour windows.

The trees and shrubs, however, were now leafless, and their twigs were enveloped in the light snow.

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

Nathaniel Hawthone (1804ー1864)(Wikipedia)



Out went the two children, with a hop-skip-jump that carried them at once into the heart fo a huge snowdrift.

At last, when they had frosted one another all over with handfuls of snow, Violet was struck with a new idea.

" Peony, " said she.
" Let's make a figure out of snow ー a little snow girlー and it shall be our sister, and shall run about and play with us all winter. Won't it be nice ? "

" oh, yes ! " cried Peony, as plainly as he could speak. for he was a very little boy.
" That will be nice ! "

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




And at once the children began this great business of making a snow-child that should run about.

Violet told Peony what to do, while 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.

" Oh, Violet, how beau-ti-ful she looks ! " exclaimed Peony.

" Yes, " said Violet.
" It did not know, Peony, that we could make such a sweet little girl as this. Now bring me those light wreaths of snow from the lower branches of the pear-tree. I must have them to make our snow-sister's hair. "

" Here they are ! " answered the little boy.
" Take care you do not break them. "

"Now, " said Violet in a very satisfied voice, " we must have some little shining bits of ice to make the brightness of her eyes. "




" Let us call Mamma to look out, " said Peony; and then he shouted loudly:" Mamma !, Mamma !, Mamma ! Look out and see what a nice little girl we are making ! "

The mother put down her work for an instant, and looked out of the window.
Through the bright, blinking dazzle of the sun and the snow, she saw the two children at work.

Indistinctly, she saw the snow-child, and thought to herself that never before was there a snow-figure so cleverly made.

She sat down again to her work, and the children, too, kept busily at work in the garden.

" 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 very much, Peony ? "

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




" Oh, no, Peony ! " answered Violet.
" That will not do at all. Warm milk will not be good for our little snow-sister. Little snow-people like her eat nothing but icicles. "

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There was a minute or two of silence; then all of a sudden, Violet cried out:
" Look, Peony ! A light has been shining on her cheek out of that rose-coloured cloud ! And the colour does not go away. Isn't that beautiful ? "

" Yes; it is beau-ti-ful, " answered Peony.
" Oh, Violet, look at her hair ! It is all like gold ! "

" Oh, yes, " said Violet.
" That colour, you know, comes from the golden clouds that we see up there in the sky. "




Just then there came a breeze of the purest west wind, sweeping through the garden and ratting the parlour windows.

It sounded so wintry cold, that the mother was about to tap on the window-pane with her thimble finger to bring the two children in, when they both cried out to her.

" Mamma ! Mamma ! We have finished our little snow-sister, and she is running about the garden with us ! Please look out and see ! "

The sun had now gone out of the sky and there was not the slightest gleam or dazzle, so that the mother could look all over the garden and see everything and everybody in it. 

Besides Violet and Peony, there was a small figure of a girl, dressed all in white, with rose-tinged cheeks and ringlets of golden hue, playing about the garden with the two children !




The mother thought to herself that it must certainly be the daughter of one of the neighbours, and that, seeing Violet and Peony in the garden, the child had run across the street to play with them.

So she went to the door, intending to invite the little runaway into her comfortable parlour.

But after opening the house door, she stood an instant on the threshold, hesitating.

Indeed, she almost doubted whether it were a real child, after all, or a only a light wreath of the new-fallen snow, blown  hither and thither about the garden by the intensely cold west wind.




Among all the children of the neighbourhood, the lady could remember no such face, with its pure white and delicate rose-colour.

And as for her dress, which was entirely of white and fluttering in the breeze, it was such as no reasonable woman would put on 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, the child seemed not to feel the cold but danced so lightly over the snow that the tips of her toes left hardly on its surface.




At this instant a flock of snow-birds came flitting through the air.

They flew at once to the snow-child, fluttered eagerly about her head and alighted on her shoulders.

She was as glad and to see these little birds as they were to see her, and welcomed them by holding out both her hands.

" Violet, " said her mother, greatly perplexed, " tell me the truth. Who is this little girl ? "

"Mamma, " answered Violet, looking into her mother's face, and surprised that she should need any further explanation, " I have told you truly who she is. It is our little snow-figure which Peony and I have been making. "




Once, in the course of their play, the strange child put herself between Violet and Peony, and took a hand of each; but Peony pulled away his little fist and began  to rub it as if the fingers were tingling with cold; while Violet remarked that it was better not to take hold of hands.

All this time the mother stood on the threshold, wondering how a little girl could look so much like a flying snowdrift, or how a snowdrift could look so very like a little girl.

She called Violet to her and whispered:
" Violet, my dear, what is this child's name ? Does she live near us ? "

" Why, Mamma, " answered Violet, laughing, " this is our little snow-sister whom we have just been making ! "




While Mamma still hesitated what to think and what to do, the street-gate was thrown open and the father of Violet and Peony appeared, a fur cup drawn down over his ears and the thickest of gloves on his hands.

His eyes brightened at the sight of his wife and children, although he could not help uttering a word or two of surprise at finding the whole family in the open air on so black a day, and after sunset too.

He soon perceived the little white stranger, and the flock of snow-birds fluttering above her head.

" What little girl is this ? " he inquirely.




" Surely her mother must be crazy to let her go out in such bitter weather with only that flimsy white dress and those thin slippers !"

" My dear, " said his wife, " I know no more about the little thing than you do. Some neighbour's child, I suppose. Our Violet and Peony, " she added, " insist that she is nothing but a snow-figure which they have been busy making in the garden almost all the afternoon. "

As she said that, the mother glanced towards the spot where the children's snow-figure had been made.




What was her surprise to see not the slightest trace of so much labour!

No piled-up heap of snow !
Only the prints of little footsteps around an empty space !

" This is very strange ! " said she.

" What is strange ? " asked Violet.
" Father, do you not see how it is ? This is our snow-figure which Peony and I have made because we wanted another playmate. "

" Pooh, nonsense, child ! " cried their father.




" Do not tell me of making live figures out of snow. Come, wife; this little stranger must not stay out in the cold a moment longer. We will bring her into the parlour, 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 neighbours; or, if necessary, send the city-crier about the streets to give notice of a lost child. "

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

" Nonsense, child, nonsense, nonsense ! " cried the father.
" Run into the house  this moment ! It is too late to play any longer. I must take care of this little girl immediately, or she will catch her death of cold ! "




The little white creature fled backwards, shaking her head as if to say,
" Please do not touch me ! "

Some of the neighbours, seeing him from their windows, wondered what could possess the poor man to be running about his garden in pursuit of a snowdrift.

At length, he chased the little stranger into a corner where she could not possibly escape him.

His wife had been looking on, and, it being nearly twilight, was wonder-struck to observe how the snow-child gleamed and sparkled, and when driven into the corner, she positively glistened like a star ! 




" Come, you odd little thing ! " cried the children's father, seizing her by the hand, and with a smile, he led the snow-child towards the house.

As she followed him, all the glow and sparkle went out of her figure and she looked as dull and drooping as a thaw.

Violet and Peony, their eyes full of tears, entranced him not to bring their snow-sister into the house.

" Not bring her in ! " exclaimed the kind-hearted man.
" Why 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 ? "

The little white figure was led
ー drooping more and more ー out of the frosty air, and into the comfortable parlour.

A stove, filled to the brim with intensely burning coal, was sending a bright gleam through the glassof its iron door.

The parlour was hung with red curtains and covered with a red carpet, and looked just as warm as it felt.

The father placed the snow-child on the hearth-rug, right in front of the hissing and fuming stove.




Now she will be comfortable ! " he cried, rubbing his hands and looking about him with the pleasantest smile you ever saw.

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.

Once she threw a glance towards the windows and caught a glimpse of the snow-covered roofs, and the stars glimmering frostily.

" Come, wife, give her some warm supper as soon as the milk boils, " said the good man and turning the collar of his coat up over his ears, he went out of the house, and had barely reached the street-gate when he was recalled by the scream of Violet and peony.

" husband ! Husband ! " cried his wife.
" 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 parlour.
" You would bring her in : and now our poor ーdear ー little snow-sister is thawed ! "

In the utmost perplexity, he demanded an explanation of his wife.


The SNOW-CHILD ブログトップ