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HE golden days of October passed away, as so many
other Octobers have, and brown November likewise, and
the greater part of chill December, too. At last came
merry Christmas, and Eustace Bright along with it,
making it all the merrier by his presence. And, the day
after his arrival from college, there came a mighty
snow-storm. Up to this time, the winter had held back,
and had given us a good many mild days, which were like
smiles upon its wrinkled visage. The grass had kept
itself green, in sheltered places, such as the nooks of
southern hill-slopes, and along the lee of the stone
fences. It was but a week or two ago, and since the
beginning of the month, that the children had found a
dandelion in bloom, on the margin of Shadow Brook,
where it glides out of the dell.
But no more green grass and dandelions now.
 This was
such a snow-storm! Twenty miles of it might have been
visible at once, between the windows of Tanglewood and
the dome of Taconic, had it been possible to see so far
among the eddying drifts that whitened all the
atmosphere. It seemed as if the hills were giants, and
were flinging monstrous handfuls of snow at one
another, in their enormous sport. So thick were the
fluttering snow-flakes, that even the trees, midway
down the valley, were hidden by them the greater part
of the time. Sometimes, it is true, the little
prisoners of Tanglewood could discern a dim outline of
Monument Mountain, and the smooth whiteness of the
frozen lake at its base, and the black or gray tracts
of woodland in the nearer landscape. But these were
merely peeps through the tempest.
children rejoiced greatly in the snow-storm. They had
already made acquaintance with it, by tumbling heels
over head into its highest drifts, and flinging snow at
one another, as we have just fancied the Berkshire
mountains to be doing. And now they had come back to
their spacious playroom, which was as big as the great
drawing-room, and was lumbered with all sorts of
playthings, large and small. The biggest was a
rocking-horse, that looked like a real pony; and there
was a whole family of wooden, waxen, plaster, and china
dolls, besides rag-babies; and blocks enough to build
Bunker Hill Monument, and nine-pins, and balls, and
humming-tops, and battledores, and grace-sticks, and
skipping-ropes, and more of such valuable
 property than
I could tell of in a printed page. But the children
liked the snow-storm better than them all. It suggested
so many brisk enjoyments for to-morrow, and all the
remainder of the winter. The sleigh-ride; the slides
down hill into the valley; the snow-images that were to
be shaped out; the snow-fortresses that were to be
built; and the snowballing to be carried on!
little folks blessed the snow-storm, and were glad to
see it come thicker and thicker, and watched hopefully
the long drift that was piling itself up in the avenue,
and was already higher than any of their heads.
"Why, we shall be blocked up till spring!" cried they,
with the hugest delight. "What a pity that the house is
too high to be quite covered up! The little red house,
down yonder, will be buried up to its eaves."
"You silly children, what do you want of more snow?"
asked Eustace, who, tired of some novel that he was
skimming through, had strolled into the play-room. "It
has done mischief enough already, by spoiling the only
skating that I could hope for through the winter. We
shall see nothing more of the lake till April; and this
was to have been my first day upon it! Don't you pity
"Oh, to be sure!" answered Primrose, laughing. "But,
for your comfort, we will listen to another of your old
stories, such as you told us under the porch, and down
in the hollow, by Shadow Brook. Perhaps I shall like
them better now, when there is nothing to do, than
while there were
 nuts to be gathered, and beautiful
weather to enjoy."
Hereupon, Periwinkle, Clover, Sweet Fern, and as many
others of the little fraternity and cousinhood as were
still at Tanglewood, gathered about Eustace, and
earnestly besought him for a story. The student yawned,
stretched himself, and then, to the vast admiration of
the small people, skipped three times back and forth
over the top of a chair, in order, as he explained to
them, to set his wits in motion.
"Well, well, children," said he, after these
preliminaries, "since you insist, and Primrose has set
her heart upon it, I will see what can be done for you.
And, that you may know what happy days there were
before snow-storms came into fashion, I will tell you a
story of the oldest of all old times, when the world
was as new as Sweet Fern's bran-new humming-top. There
was then but one season in the year, and that was the
delightful summer; and but one age for mortals, and
that was childhood."
"I never heard of that before," said Primrose.
"Of course, you never did," answered Eustace. "It shall
be a story of what nobody but myself ever dreamed
of,—a Paradise of children,—and how, by the
naughtiness of just such a little imp as Primrose here,
it all came to nothing."
So Eustace Bright sat down in the chair which he had
just been skipping over, took Cowslip upon his knee,
ordered silence throughout the auditory, and began a
story about a sad naughty
 child, whose name was
Pandora, and about her playfellow Epimetheus.
read it, word for word, in the pages that come next.