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WHAT BROKE THE CHINA PITCHER
From "Cat-Tails, and Other Tales," by Mary Howliston,
by permission of A. Flanagan Co.
 IT was a winter night—still, bright, and cold. The
wagon wheels and footsteps creaked loudly as they
ground into the crisp snow, and even the great, solemn
moon looked frosty and cold.
Katrina stood by the sitting-room window, looking out.
"It is going to be a dreadful night," said father,
stirring the fire; "it is growing colder every minute."
"Is it?" said mother. "Then, Katrina, you must run
upstairs and empty the china pitcher in the spare
"Yes," said Katrina, but she did not go, for she was
looking out at the moonlight, and mother was rocking
baby to sleep.
Fifteen minutes passed. Baby was going to "By-low
Land" fast, and mother spoke again:
"Come, Katrina, go and see to the pitcher. It was
grandma's Christmas present, and we shouldn't like to
have it broken."
"Yes, mother," said Katrina. "I will go in a minute."
"Well, dear, be sure and remember," said mother, and
she went off to put baby into her crib. At that moment
in came Jamie with a pair of shining new skates, and
Katrina forgot all about the pitcher as soon as she saw
them. Just outside the window stood the Cold,
listening and watching; and now he chuckled and snapped
his icy fingers.
"That little girl will never empty the pitcher," he
said to himself; "she's one of the careless kind. Oh,
 I know them. Let me see—the spare room—that's
for company. I'll go and spend the night in it. Where
is it, I wonder? I will hunt it up."
He knew better than to try to get into the cozy
sitting-room, with its bright fire, so he slipped
softly around the house and peeped in through the
kitchen window. Inside was a large stove glowing with
coal, and a tea-kettle sending out a cloud of steam.
He shook his head and muttered: "That is no place for
me; the heat in there would kill me in a minute; I
must look farther."
He went on, peeping in one window after another, until
he saw a room with no fire. "Ah," he whispered, "this
must be the place. Yes; that is the very pitcher I am
going to break; and, if here isn't a fine crack to let
me in!" So in he went.
"It is a pretty room," he said, "and it seems a pity to
spoil such a handsome pitcher; but Katrina should not
have left the water in it."
He stole noiselessly along, chilling everything he
touched, until he reached the wash stand. Up the stand
he went, near and nearer to the pitcher, until he could
look into it. "Not much water," he whispered, "but I
can make it do"; and he spread his icy fingers over it.
The water shivered and drew back, but the icy fingers
pressed harder. "Oh," cried the water, "I am so cold!"
And it shrank more and more.
Very soon it called out: "If you don't go away, Cold,
I shall certainly freeze!"
"Good," laughed the Cold, "that is just what I want you
All at once the air was filled with many little voices
 that seemed to come from the pitcher—sharp and
clear like tinkling sleigh bells in Fairyland.
"Hurrah!" they cried; "the Cold is making us into
beautiful crystals. Oh, won't it be jolly, jolly!"
At that, the Cold pushed his finger straight into the
water and it began to freeze. Then such a wonderful
thing happened. The drops began arranging themselves
in rows and lines that everywhere crossed each other;
but they pushed so hard that the pitcher cried out:
"Please stop pushing me so hard; I am afraid I shall
"We can't stop," said the drops. "We are freezing, and
we must have more room"; and they kept on spreading and
The poor pitcher groaned, and called again: "Don't,
don't. I can't stand it." But it did no good. The
drops kept on saying: "We must have more room." And
they pushed steadily and so hard that, at last, with a
loud cry, the poor pitcher cracked.
The Cold looked around to see if there was any more
mischief he could do. When he found there was none, he
stole softly away through the crack in the window.
Just outside was Jack Frost, looking for a good place
to hang his pictures. The Cold told him about the
pitcher, and away they went together, laughing as if it
were a good joke.
Upstairs in her snug little bed Katrina lay, and
dreamed that grandma's pitcher was dancing on the
counterpane, in brother Jamie's new skates.