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One little maiden, in that cottage home,
Dwelt with her parents, light of heart and limb,
Bright, restless, thoughtless, flitting here and there

Like sunsbine on the uneasy ocean waves,
50 And sometimes she forgot what she was bid,
As Alice does.

Alice. Or Willy, quite as oft.
Uncle John. But you are older, Alice, two good

And should be wiser. Eva was the name

Of this young maiden, now twelve summers old. 55 Now you must know that, in those early times,

When autumn days grew pale, there came a troop
Of childlike forms from that cold mountain top;
With trailing garments through the air they came,

Or walked the ground with girded loins, and threw 60 Spangles of silvery frost upon the grass,

And edged the brook with glistening parapets,
And built it crystal bridges, touched the pool,
And turned its face to glass, or, rising thence,
They shook, from their full laps, the soft, ligbt

65 And buried the great earth, as autumn winds
Bury the forest floor in heaps of leaves.

A beautiful race were the, with baby brows, And fair, bright locks, and voices like the sound

Of steps on the crisp snow, in which they talked vo With man, as friend with friend. A merry sight

It was, when, crowding round the traveller,
They smote him with their heaviest snow flakes,

Needles of frost in handfuls at his cheeks,

And, of the light wreaths of his smoking breath, 75 Wove a white fringe for his brown beard, and


Their slender laugh to see him wink and grin
And make grim faces as he floundered on.
But, when the spring came on, what terror

reigned Among these Little People of the Snow! 80 To them the sun's warm beams were shafts of fire,

And the soft south wind was the wind of death.
Away they flew, all with a pretty scowl
Upon their childish faces, to the north,

Or scampered upward to the mountain's top, 85 And there defied eir enemy, the Spring;

Skipping and dancing on the frozen peaks,
And moulding little snow-balls in their palms,
And rolling them, to crush her flowers below,
Down the steep snow-fields.

That, too, must have been A merry sight to look at. 90 Uncle John.

You are right,
But I must speak of graver matters now.

Mid-winter was the time, and Eva stood
Within the cottage, all prepared to dare

The outer cold, with ample furry robe
95 Close belted round her waist, and boots of fur,

And a broad kerchief, which her mother's hand
Had closely drawn about her ruddy cheek.
" Now, stay not long abroad,” said the good dame,

“ For sharp is the outer air, and, mark me well, 100 Go not upon the snow beyond the spot Where the great linden bounds the neighboring

field.The little maiden promised, and went forth, And climbed the rounded snow-swells firm with

frost Beneath her feet, and slid, with balancing arms, 105 Into the hollows. Once, as up a drift

She slowly rose,

before her, in the way,
She saw a little creature lily-cheeked,
With flowing flaxen locks, and faint blue eyes,

That gleamed like ice, and robe that only seemed 110 Of a more shadowy whiteness than her cheek.

On a smooth bank she sat.

She must have been
One of your Little People of the Snow.

Uncle John. She was so, and, as Eva now

drew near,

The tiny creature bounded from her seat; 115 “ And come,” she said, “ 'my pretty friend; to

We will be playmates. I have watched thee long,
And seen how well thou lov'st to walk these drifts,
And scoop their fair sides into little cells,
And carve them with quaint figures, huge-limbed

120 Lions, and grislins. We will have, to-day,

A merry ramble over these bright fields,
And thou shalt see what thou hast never seen."

On went the pair, until they reached the bound Where the great linden stood, set deep in snow, 25 Up to the lower branches.

“ Here we stop,”
Said Eva; “ for my mother has my word
That I will go no further than this tree.
Then the snow-maiden laughed; ** And what is

this? This fear of the pure snow, the innocent snow, 130 That never harmed ought living? Thou may'st


For leagues beyond this garden, and return
In safety; here the grim wolf never prowls,
And here the eagle of our mountain crags
Preys not in winter. I will show the way

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135 And bring thee safely home. Thy mother, sure,

Counselled thee thus because thou hadst no guide."

By such smooth words was Eva won to break Her promise, and went on with her new friend,

Over the glistening snow and down a bank 140 Where a white shelf, wrought by the eddying wind

Like to a billow's crest in the great sea,
Curtained an opening. “Look, we enter here."
And straight, beneath the fair o'erhanging fold,

Entered the little pair that hill of snow, 145 Walking along a passage with white walls,

And a white vault above where snow-stars shed
A wintry twilight. Eva moved in awe,
And held her peace, but the snow-maiden smiled,

And talked and tripped along, as, down the way, 150 Deeper they went into that mountainous drift.

And now the white walls widened, and the vault Swelled upward, like some vast cathedral dome, Such as the Florentine, who bore the name

Of Heaven's most potent angel, reared, long since, 155 Or the unknown builder of that wondrous fane,

The glory of Burgos. Here a garden lay,
In which the Little People of the Snow
Were wont to take their pastime when their tasks

137. The idea of sin is very lightly touched in the poem,

and there is no conscious temptation to evil on the part of the Snowmaiden. The absence of a moral sense in the Little People of the Snow is very delicately assumed here. It is with fairies that the poet is dealing, and not with diininutive human beings.

146. The star form of the snow-crystal gives a peculiar truth fulness to the poet's fancy

154. Michael Angelo, the great Florentine architect, sculptor, and painter.

156. In Bryant's Letters of a Traveller, second series, will be found an account of Burgos Cathedral.

Upon the mountain's side and in the clouds 160 Were ended. Here they taught the silent frost

To mock, in stem and spray, and leaf and flower,
The growths of summer. Here the palm up

Its white columnar trunk and spotless sheaf

Of plume-like leaves; here cedars, huge as those 165 Of Lebanon, stretched far their level bouglis,

Yet pale and shadowless; the sturdy oak
Stood, with its huge gnarled roots of seeming

Fast anchored in the glistening bank ; light sprays

Of myrtle, roses in their bud and bloom, 170 Drooped by the winding walks; yet all seemed

Of stainless alabaster; up the trees
Ran the lithe jessamine, with stalk and leaf
Colorless as her flowers. 6. Go softly on,”

Said the snow-maiden ; “touch not, with thy hand, 175 The frail creation round thee, and beware

To sweep it with thy skirts. Now look above.
How sumptuously these bowers are lighted up
With shifting gleams that softly come and go.

These are the northern lights, such as thou seest 180 In the midwinter nights, cold, wandering flames,

That float, with our processions, through the air;
And, here within our winter palaces,
Mimic the glorious daybreak.” Then she told

How, when the wind, in the long winter nights, 185 Swept the light snows into the hollow dell,

She and her comrades guided to its place
Each wandering flake, and piled them quaintly up,
In shapely colonnade and glistening arch,

With shadowy aisles between, or bade them grow 190 Beneath their little hands, to bowery walks

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