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THE SNOW MAN

 

ITS so beautifully cold that my whole body crackles!”said the Snow Man.“This is a kind of wind that can blow life into oneand how the gleaming one up youder is staring at me.”He meant the sunwhich was just about to set.“It shall not make me winkI shall manage to keep the pieces.”

He had two triangular pieces of tile in his head in-stead of eyesHis mouth was made of an old rakeand consequently was furnished with teeth

He had been born amid the joyous shouts of the boysand welcomed by the sound of sledge bells and the slashing of whips

The sun went downand the full moon roseroundlargeclearand beautiful in the blue air

There it comes again from the other side,”said the Snow ManHe intended to say the sun is showing himself again.“AhI have cured him of staringNow let him hang up there and shinethat I may see myselfIf I only knew how I could manage to move from this placeI should like so much to moveIf I couldI would slide along yonder on the icejust as I see the boys slidebut I don't know how to run.”

OffOff!”barked the old Yard DogHe was somewhat hoarseHe had got the hoarseness from the time when he was an indoor dogand lay by the fire.“The sun will teach you to runI saw that last winter in your predecessorand before that in his predecessorOffOff!—and they all go.”

I don't understand youcomrade,”said the Snow Man.“That thing up yonder is to teach me to run?”He meant the moon.“Yesit was running itselfwhen I looked hard at it a little while agoand now it comes creeping from the other side.”

You know nothing at all,”retorted the Yard Dog

But then you've only just beed patched upWhat you see yonder is the moonand the one that went before was the sunIt will come again tomorrowand will teach you to run down into the ditch by the wallWe shall soon have a change of weatherI can feel that in my left hind legfor it pricks and pains methe weather is going to change.”

I don't understand him,”said the Snow Man;“but I have a feeling that he's talking about something disagree-ableThe one who stared so just nowand whom he called the sunis not my friendI can feel that.”

OffOff!”barked the Yard Dogand he turned round three timesand then crept into his kennel to sleep

The weather really changedTowards morninga thick damp fog lay over the whole regionlater there came a windan icy windThe cold seemed quite to seize upon onebut when the sun rosewhat splendourTrees and bushes were covered with hoarfrostand looked like a complete forest of coraland every twig seemed covered with gleaming white budsThe many delicate ramificationsconcealed in summer by the wreath of leavesnow made their appearanceit seemed like a laceworkgleaming whiteA snowy radiance sprang from every twigThe birch waved in the windit had lifelike the trees in summerIt was wonderfully beautifulAnd when the sun shonehow it all gleamed and sparkledas if diamond dust had been strewn everywhereand big diamonds had been dropped on the snowy carpet of the earthOr one could imagine that countless little lights were gleamingwhiter than even the snow itself

That is wonderfully beautiful,”said a young girlwho came with a young man into the gardenThey both stood still near the Snow Manand contemplated the glittering trees.“Summer cannot show a more beautiful sight,”said sheand her eyes sparkled

And we can't have such a fellow as this in summer-time,”replied the young manand he pointed to the Snow Man,“He is capital.”

The girl laughednodded at the Snow Manand then danced away over the snow with her friendover the snow that cracked and crackled under her tread as if she were walking on starch

Who were those two?” the Snow Man inquired of the Yard Dog.“You've been longer in the yard than IDo you know them?”

Of course I know them,” replied the Yard Dog.“She has stroked meand he has thrown me a meat boneI don't bite those two.”

But what are they?”asked the Snow Man

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Lovers!”replied the Yard Dog.“They will go to live in the same kenneland gnaw at the same boneOffOff!”

Are they of as much consequence as you and I?”asked the Snow Man

Whythey belong to the master,”retorted the Yard Dog.“People certainly know very little who were only born yesterdayI can see that in youI have age and informationI know everyone here in the houseand I know a time when I did not lie out here in the coldfastened to a chainOffOff!”

The cold is charming,”said the Snow Man.“Tell metell meBut you must not clank with your chainfor it jars within me when you do that.”

OffOff!”barked the Yard Dog.“They told me I was a pretty little fellowthen I used to lie in a chair covered with velvetup in master's houseand sit in the lap of the mistress of allThey used to kiss my noseand wipe my paws with an embroidered handkerchiefI was calledAmidear Amisweet Ami.’But afterwards I grew too big for themand they gave me away to the housekeeperSo I came to live in the basement storyYou can look into that from where you are standingand you can see into the room where I was masterfor I was master at the housekeeper'sIt was certainly a smaller place than upstairsbut I was more comfortableand was not continually taken hold of and pulled about by children as I had beenI received just as good food as everand much moreI had my own cushionand there was a stovethe finest thing in the world at this seasonI went under the stoveand could lie down quite beneath itAhI still dream of that stoveOffOff!”

Does a stove look so beautiful?”asked the Snow Man.“Is it at all like me?”

It's just the reverse of you It's as black as a crowand has a long neck and a brazen drumIt eats firewoodso that the fire spurts out of its mouthOne must keep at its sideor under itand there one is very comfortableYou can see it through the window from where you stand.”

And the Snow Man looked and saw a bright polished thing with a brazen drumand the fire gleamed from the lower part of itThe Snow Man felt quite strangelyan odd emotion came over himhe knew not what it meantand could not account for itbut all people who are not snow men know the feeling

And why did you leave her?”asked the Snow Manfor it seemed to him that the stove must be of the female sex.“How could you quit such a comfortable place?”

I was obliged,”replied the Yard Dog.“They turned me out of doorsand chained me up hereI had bitten the youngest young master in the legbecause he kicked away the bone I was gnawing.‘Bone for bone,’I thoughtThey took that very much amissand from that time I have been fastened to a chain and have lost my voiceDon't you hear how hoarse I amOffOffThat was the end of the affair.”

But the Snow Man was no longer listening to himHe was looking in at the housekeeper's basement lodginginto the room where the stove stood on its four iron legsjust the same size as the Snow Man himself

What a strange crackling within me!”he said.“Shall I ever get in thereIt is an innocent wishand our innocent wishes are certain to be fulfilledIt is my highest wishmy only wishand it would be almost an injustice if it were not satisfiedI must go in there and lean against hereven if I have to break through the window.”

You will never get in there,”said the Yard Dog;“and if you approach the stove then you are offoff!”

I am as good as gone,”replied the Snow Man.“I think I am breaking up.”

The whole day the Snow Man stood looking in through the windowIn the twilight hour the room be-came still more invitingfrom the stove came a mild gleamnot like the sun nor like the moonnoit was only as the stove can glow when he has something to eatWhen the room door openedthe flame started out of his mouththis was a habit the stove hadThe flame fell distinctly on the white face of the Snow Manand gleamed red upon his bosom

I can endure it no longer,”said he;“how beautiful it looks when it stretches out its tongue!”

The night was longbut it did not appear long to the Snow Manwho stood there lost in his own charming reflectionscrackling with the cold

In the morning the window-panes of the basement lodging were covered with iceThey bore the most beautiful ice-flowers that any snow man could desirebut they concealed the stoveThe window-panes would not thawhe could not see herIt crackled and whistled in him and around himit was just the kind of frosty weather a snow man must thoroughly enjoyBut he did not enjoy itandindeedhow could he enjoy himself when he was stove-sick

That's a terrible disease for a Snow Man,”said the Yard Dog.“I have suffered from it myselfbut I got over itOffOff!”he barkedand he added,“the weather is going to change.”

And the weather did changeit began to thaw

The warmth increasedand the Snow Man decreasedHe said nothing and made no complaintand that's an in-fallible sign

One morning he broke downAndbeholdwhere he had stoodsomething like a broomstick remained sticking up out of the groundIt was the pole round which the boys had built him up

Ahnow I can understand why he had such an intense longing,”said the Yard Dog.“The Snow Man has had a stove-rake in his bodyand that is what moved within himNow he has got over that tooOffoff!”

And soon they had got over the winter

OffOff!”barked the Yard Dogbut the little girls in the house sang

Spring outgreen woodrufffresh and fair

Thy woolly glovesO willowbear

Comelark and cuckoocome and sing

Already now we greet the Spring

I sing as welltwit-twitcuckoo

Comedarling Sunand greet us too.”

And nobody thought any more of the Snow Man

 


 

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