THE SNOW MAN
T is so wonderfully cold that my whole body crackles!"
said the Snow Man. "This is a kind of wind that can
blow life into one; and how the gleaming one up yonder
is staring at me." That was the sun he meant, which was
just about to set. "It shall not make me
wink—I shall manage to keep the pieces."
He had two triangular pieces of tile in his head
instead of eyes. His mouth was made of an old rake, and
consequently was furnished with teeth.
He had been born amid the joyous shouts of the boys,
and welcomed by the sound of sledge-bells and the
slashing of whips.
The sun went down and the full moon rose, round, large,
clear, and beautiful in the blue air.
"There it comes again from the other side," said the
Snow Man. He intended to say the sun is showing himself
again. "Ah! I have cured him of staring. Now let him
hang up there and shine that I may see myself. If I
only knew how I could manage to move from this place I
should like so much to move. If I could I would slide
along yonder on the ice, just as I see the boys slide;
but I don't understand it; I don't know how to run."
"Away! Away!" barked the old Yard Dog. He was quite
hoarse and could not pronounce the genuine "Bow,
[should be wow instead of bow]." He had got the
hoarseness from the time when he was an indoor dog and
lay by the fire. "The sun will teach you to run! I saw
 that last winter in your predecessor, and before that
in his predecessor. Away! away! and away they all
"I don't understand you, comrade," said the Snow Man.
"That thing up yonder is to teach me to run?" He meant
the moon. "Yes, it was running itself when I saw it a
little while ago, and now it comes creeping from the
"You know nothing at all," retorted the Yard Dog. "But
then you've only just been patched up. What you see
yonder is the moon, and the one that went before was
the sun. It will come again to-morrow and will teach
you to run down into the ditch by the wall. We shall
soon have a change of weather; I can feel that in my
left hind leg, for it pricks and pains me—the
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
disagreeable. The one who stared so just now, and whom
he called the sun, is not my friend. I can feel that."
"Away! away!" barked the Yard Dog; and he turned round
three times and then crept into his kennel to sleep.
The weather really changed. Toward morning a thick,
damp fog lay over the whole region; later there came a
wind, an icy wind. The cold seemed quite to seize upon
one; but when the sun rose what splendor! Trees and
bushes were covered with hoar-frost and looked like a
complete forest of coral, and every twig seemed covered
with gleaming white buds. The many delicate
ramifications, concealed in summer by the wreath of
leaves, now made their appearance; it seemed like a
lace-work gleaming white. A snowy radiance sprang from
every twig. The birch waved in the wind—it had
life like the rest of the trees in summer. It was
wonderfully beautiful. And when the sun shone, how it
all gleamed and sparkled, as if diamond dust had been
strewn everywhere and big diamonds had been dropped on
the snow carpet of earth! Or one could imagine that
countless little lights were gleaming whiter than even
the snow itself!
"That is wonderfully beautiful," said a young girl who
 with a young man into the garden. They both stood still
near the Snow Man and contemplated the glittering
trees. "Summer cannot show a more beautiful sight,"
said she; and her eyes sparkled.
"And we can't have such a fellow as this in
summer-time," replied the young man, and he pointed to
the Snow Man. "He is capital."
The girl laughed, nodded to the Snow Man, and then
danced away over the snow with her friend—over
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 I. Do you
"Of course I know them," replied the Yard Dog. "She has
stroked me, and he has thrown me a meat-bone. I don't
bite those two."
"But what are they?" asked the Snow Man.
"Lovers!" replied the Yard Dog. "They will go to live
in the same kennel and gnaw at the same bone. Away!
"Are they the same kind of beings as you and I?" asked
the Snow Man.
"Why, they belong to the master!" retorted the Yard
Dog. "People certainly know very little who were only
born yesterday. I can see that in you. I have age and
information. I know every one here in the house, and I
know a time when I did not lie out here in the cold
fastened to a chain. Away! away!"
"The cold is charming," said the Snow Man. "Tell me,
tell me. But you must not clank your chain, for it jars
within me when you do that."
"Away! away!" barked the Yard Dog. "They told me I was
a pretty little fellow; then I used to lie in a chair
covered with velvet up in master's house, and sit in
the lap of the mistress of all. They used to kiss my
nose and wipe my paws with an embroidered handkerchief.
I was called 'Ami—dear Ami—sweet Ami.' But
afterward I grew too big for them and they
 gave me away to the housekeeper. So I came to live in
the basement story. You can look into that from where
you are standing, and you can see into the room where I
was master; for I was master at the housekeeper's. It
was certainly a smaller place than up-stairs, but I was
more comfortable, and was not continually taken hold of
and pulled about by children as I had been. I received
just as much good food as ever, and even better. I had
my own cushion, and there was a stove, the finest thing
in the world at this season. I went under the stove,
and could lie down quite beneath it. Ah! I still
sometimes dream of that stove. Away! away!"
"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 crow,
and has a long neck and a brazen drum. It eats firewood
so that the fire spurts out of its mouth. One must keep
at its side or under it, and there one is very
comfortable. You can see it through the window from
where you stand."
And the Snow Man looked and saw a bright, polished
thing with a brazen drum, and the fire gleamed from the
lower part of it. The Snow Man felt quite strangely; an
odd emotion came over him; he knew not what it meant
and could not account for it; but all people who are
not snow men know the feeling.
"And why did you leave her?" asked the Snow Man, for 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 doors and chained me up here. I had bitten the
youngest young master in the leg because he kicked away
the bone I was gnawing. 'Bone for bone,' I thought.
They took that very much amiss, and from that time I
have been fastened to a chain and have lost my voice.
Don't you hear how hoarse I am? Away! away! I can't
talk any more like other dogs. Away! away! That was the
end of the affair."
But the Snow Man was no longer listening to him. He was
 looking in at the housekeeper's basement lodging, into
the room where the stove stood on its four iron legs,
just the same size as the Snow Man himself.
"What a strange crackling within me!" he said. "Shall I
ever get in there? It is an innocent wish, and our
innocent wishes are certain to be fulfilled. I must go
in there and lean against her, even if I have to break
through a window."
"You'll never get in there," said the Yard Dog; "and if
you approach the stove you'll melt away—away!"
"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
window. In the twilight hour the room became still more
inviting; from the stove came a mild gleam, not like
the sun nor like the moon; no, it was only as the stove
can glow when he has something to eat. When the room
door opened the flame started out of his mouth; this
was a habit the stove had. The flame fell distinctly on
the white face of the Snow Man and gleamed red upon his
"I can endure it no longer," said he. "How beautiful it
looks when it stretches out its tongue!"
The night was long; but it did not appear long to the
Snow Man, who stood there lost in his own charming
reflections, crackling with the cold.
In the morning the window-panes of the basement lodging
were covered with ice. They bore the most beautiful ice
flowers that any snow man could desire; but they
concealed the stove. The window-panes would not thaw;
he could not see the stove, which he pictured to
himself as a lovely female. It crackled and whistled in
him and around him; it was just the kind of frosty
weather a snow man must thoroughly enjoy.
But he did not enjoy it; and, indeed, how 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 myself, but I got
over it. Away! away!" he barked; and he added, "The
weather is going to change."
 And the weather did change; it began to thaw. The
warmth increased, and the Snow Man decreased. He made
no complaint—and that's an infallible sign.
One morning he broke down. And, behold, where he had
stood something like a broomstick remained sticking up
out of the ground. It was the pole around which the
boys had built him up.
"Ah! now I understand why he had such an intense
longing," said the Yard Dog. "Why, there's a shovel for
cleaning out the stove fastened to the pole. The Snow
Man had a stove-rake in his body, and that's what moved
within him. Now he has got over that, too. Away! away!"
And soon they had got over winter.
"Away! away!" barked the hoarse Yard Dog; but the girls
in the house sang:
"Green thyme, from your house come out;
Willow, your woolly fingers stretch out;
Lark and cuckoo, cheerfully sing,
For in February is coming the spring;
Come thou, dear sun, come out, cuckoo!"
And nobody thought any more of the Snow Man.
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