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There were six falcons living in a nest, five of whom were still too young to fly, when it so happened that both the parent birds were shot in one day. The young brood waited anxiously for their return; but night came, and they were left without parents and without food.

Gray Eagle, the eldest, and the only one whose feathers had become stout enough to enable him to leave the nest, took his place at the head of the family, and assumed the duty of stifling their cries and providing the little household with food, in which he was very successful. But, after a short time had passed, by an unlucky mischance, while out on a foraging excursion, he got one of his wings broken. This was the more to be regretted, as the season had arrived when they were soon to go to a southern country to pass the winter, and the children were only waiting to become a little stronger and more expert on the wing to set out on the journey.

Finding that their elder brother did not return, they resolved to go in search of him. After beating up and down the country for the better part of a whole day, they at last found him, sorely wounded and unable to fly, lodged in the upper branches of a sycamore-tree.

“Brothers,” said Gray Eagle, as soon as they were gathered around, and questioned him as to the extent of his injuries, “an accident has befallen me, but let not this prevent your going to a warmer climate. Winter is rapidly approaching, and you cannot remain here. It is better that I alone should die, than for you all to suffer on my account.”

“No, no,” they replied, with one voice. “We will not forsake you. We will share your sufferings; we will abandon our journey, and take care of you as you did of us before we were able to take care of ourselves. If the chill climate kills you, it shall kill us. Do you think we can so soon forget your brotherly care, which has equalled a father’s, and even a mother’s kindness? Whether you live or die, we will live or die with you.”

They sought out a hollow tree to winter in, and contrived to carry their wounded nest-mate thither; and before the rigor of the season had set in, they had, by diligence and economy, stored up food enough to carry them through the winter months.

To make the provisions they had laid in last the better, it was agreed among them that two of their number should go south; leaving the other three to watch over, feed, and protect their wounded brother. The travelers set forth, sorry to leave home, but resolved that the first promise of spring should bring them back again. At the close of day, the three brothers who remained, mounting to the very peak of the tree, and bearing Gray Eagle in their arms, watched them, as they vanished away southward, till their forms blended with the air and were wholly lost to sight.

Their next business was to set the household in order, and this, with the judicious direction of Gray Eagle, who was propped up in a snug fork, with soft cushions of dry moss, they speedily accomplished. One of the sisters, for there were two of these, took upon herself the charge of nursing Gray Eagle, preparing his food, bringing him water, and changing his pillows when he grew tired of one position. She also looked to it that the house itself was kept in a tidy condition, and that the pantry was supplied with food. The second brother was assigned the duty of physician, and he was to prescribe such herbs and other medicines as the state of the health of Gray Eagle seemed to require. As the second brother had no other invalid on his visiting-list, he devoted the time not given to the cure of his patient, to the killing of game wherewith to stock the house-keeper’s larder; so that, whatever he did, he was always busy in the line of professional dutykilling or curing. On his hunting excursions, Doctor Falcon carried with him his youngest brother, who, being a foolish young fellow, and inexperienced in the ways of the world, it was not thought safe to trust alone.

In due time, what with good nursing, and good feeding, and good air, Gray Eagle recovered from his wound, and he repaid the kindness of his brothers by giving them such advice and instruction in the art of hunting as his age and experience qualified him to impart. As spring advanced, they began to look about for the means of replenishing their store-house, whose supplies were running low; and they were all quite successful in their quest except the youngest, whose name was Peepi, or the Pigeon-Hawk, and who had of late begun to set up for himself.

Being small and foolish, and feather-headed, flying hither and yonder without any set purpose, it so happened that Peepi always came home, so to phrase it, with an empty game-bag, and his pinions terribly rumpled.

At last Gray Eagle spoke to him, and demanded the cause of his ill-luck.

“It is not my smallness nor weakness of body,” Peepi answered, “that prevents my bringing home provender as well as my brothers. I am all the time on the wing, hither and thither. I kill ducks and other birds every time I go out; but just as I get to the woods, on my way home, I am met by a large ko-ko-ho, who robs me of my prey; and,” added Peepi, with great energy, “it’s my settled opinion that the villain lies in wait for the very purpose of doing so.”

“I have no doubt you are right, Brother Peepi,” rejoined Gray Eagle. “I know this pirate his name is White Owl; and now that I feel my strength fully recovered, I will go out with you to-morrow and help you look after this greedy bush-ranger.”

The next day they went forth in company, and arrived at a fine fresh-water lake. Gray Eagle seated himself hard by, while Peepi started out, and soon pounced upon a duck.

“Well done!” thought his brother, who saw his success; but just as little Peepi was getting to land with his prize, up sailed a large white owl from a tree where he, too, had been watching, and laid claim to it. He was on the point of wresting it from Peepi, when Gray Eagle, calling out to the intruder to desist, rushed up, and, fixing his talons in both sides of the owl, without further introduction or ceremony, flew away with him.

The little Pigeon-Hawk followed closely, with the duck under his wing, rejoiced and happy to think that he had something to carry home at last. He was naturally much vexed with the owl, and had no sooner delivered over the duck to his sister, the housekeeper, than he flew in the owl’s face, and, venting an abundance of reproachful terms, would, in his passion, have torn the very eyes out of the White Owl’s head.

“Softly, Peepi,” said the Gray Eagle, stepping in between them. “Don’t be in such a huff, my little brother, nor exhibit so revengeful a temper. Do you not know that we are to forgive our enemies? White Owl, you may go; but let this be a lesson to you, not to play the tyrant over those who may chance to be weaker than yourself.”

So, after adding to this much more good advice, and telling him what kind of herbs would cure his wounds, Gray Eagle dismissed White Owl, and the four brothers and sisters sat down to supper.

The next day, betimes, in the morning, before the household had fairly rubbed the cobwebs out of the corners of their eyes, there came a knock at the front doorwhich was a dry branch that lay down before the hollow of the tree in which they lodgedand being called to come in, who should make their appearance but the two nest-mates, who had just returned from the South, where they had been wintering. There was great rejoicing over their return, and now that they were all happily re-united, each one soon chose a mate and began to keep house in the woods for himself.

Spring had now revisited the North. The cold winds had all blown themselves away, the ice had melted, the streams were open, and smiled as they looked at the blue sky once more; and the forests, far and wide, in their green mantle, echoed every cheerful sound.

But it is in vain that spring returns, and that the heart of Nature is opened in bounty, if we are not thankful to the Master of Life, who has preserved us through the winter. Nor does that man answer the end for which he was made who does not show a kind and charitable feeling to all who are in want or sickness, especially to his blood relations.

The love and harmony of Gray Eagle and his brothers continued. They never forgot each other. Every week, on the fourth afternoon of the week (for that was the time when they had found their wounded elder brother), they had a meeting in the hollow of the old sycamore-tree, when they talked over family matters, and advised with each other, as brothers should, about their affairs.

ISBN: 978-1-907302-65-5

URL: http://abelapublishing.com/the-american-indian-fairy-book–26-native-american-tales-and-legends_p26555202.htm

 

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THE STORY OF A SHEPHERD WHO SLEPT ALL WINTER 

Story Frontispiece

Story Frontispiece

Once upon a time there was a shepherd who was called Batcha. During the summer he pastured his flocks high up on the mountain where he had a little hut and a sheepfold.

One day in autumn while he was lying on the ground, idly blowing his pipes, he chanced to look down the mountain slope. There he saw a most amazing sight. A great army of snakes, hundreds and hundreds in number, was slowly crawling to a rocky cliff not far from where he was lying.

When they reached the cliff, every serpent bit off a leaf from a plant that was growing there. They then touched the cliff with the leaves and the rock opened. One by one they crawled inside. When the last one had disappeared, the rock closed.

Batcha blinked his eyes in bewilderment.

“What can this mean?” he asked himself. “Where are they gone? I think I’ll have to climb up there myself and see what that plant is. I wonder will the rock open for me?”

He whistled to Dunay, his dog, and left him in charge of the sheep. Then he made his way over to the cliff and examined the mysterious plant. It was something he had never seen before.

He picked a leaf and touched the cliff in the same place where the serpents had touched it. Instantly the rock opened.

Batcha stepped inside. He found himself in a huge cavern the walls of which glittered with gold and silver and precious stones. A golden table stood in the center and upon it a monster serpent, a very king of serpents, lay coiled up fast asleep. The other serpents, hundreds and hundreds of them, lay on the ground around the table. They also were fast asleep. As Batcha walked about, not one of them stirred.

Batcha sauntered here and there examining the walls and the golden table and the sleeping serpents. When he had seen everything he thought to himself:

“It’s very strange and interesting and all that, but now it’s time for me to get back to my sheep.”

It’s easy to say: “Now I’m going,” but when Batcha tried to go he found he couldn’t, for the rock had closed. So there he was locked in with the serpents.

He was a philosophical fellow and so, after puzzling a moment, he shrugged his shoulders and said:

“Well, if I can’t get out I suppose I’ll have to stay here for the night.”

With that he drew his cape about him, lay down, and was soon fast asleep.

He was awakened by a rustling murmur. Thinking that he was in his own hut, he sat up and rubbed his eyes. Then he saw the glittering walls of the cavern and remembered his adventure.

The old king serpent still lay on the golden table but no longer asleep. A movement like a slow wave was rippling his great coils. All the other serpents on the ground were facing the golden table and with darting tongues were hissing:

“Is it time? Is it time?”

The old king serpent slowly lifted his head and with a deep murmurous hiss said:

“Yes, it is time.”

He stretched out his long body, slipped off the golden table, and glided away to the wall of the cavern. All the smaller serpents wriggled after him.

Batcha followed them, thinking to himself:

“I’ll go out the way they go.”

The old king serpent touched the wall with his tongue and the rock opened. Then he glided aside and the serpents crawled out, one by one. When the last one was out, Batcha tried to follow, but the rock swung shut in his face, again locking him in.

The old king serpent hissed at him in a deep breathy voice:

“Hah, you miserable man creature, you can’t get out! You’re here and here you stay!”

“But I can’t stay here,” Batcha said. “What can I do in here? I can’t sleep forever! You must let me out! I have sheep at pasture and a scolding wife at home in the valley. She’ll have a thing or two to say if I’m late in getting back!”

Batcha pleaded and argued until at last the old serpent said:

“Very well, I’ll let you out, but not until you have made me a triple oath that you won’t tell anyone how you came in.”

Batcha agreed to this. Three times he swore a mighty oath not to tell anyone how he had entered the cavern.

“I warn you,” the old serpent said, as he opened the wall, “if you break this oath a terrible fate will overtake you!”

Without another word Batcha hurried through the opening.

Once outside he looked about him in surprise. Everything seemed changed. It was autumn when he had followed the serpents into the cavern. Now it was spring!

“What has happened?” he cried in fright. “Oh, what an unfortunate fellow I am! Have I slept through the winter? Where are my sheep? And my wife—what will she say?”

With trembling knees he made his way to his hut. His wife was busy inside. He could see her through the open door. He didn’t know what to say to her at first, so he slipped into the sheepfold and hid himself while he tried to think out some likely story.

While he was crouching there, he saw a finely dressed gentleman come to the door of the hut and ask his wife where her husband was.

The woman burst into tears and explained to the stranger that one day in the previous autumn her husband had taken out his sheep as usual and had never come back.

“Dunay, the dog,” she said, “drove home the sheep and from that day to this nothing has ever been heard of my poor husband. I suppose a wolf devoured him, or the witches caught him and tore him to pieces and scattered him over the mountain. And here I am left, a poor forsaken widow! Oh dear, oh dear, oh dear!”

Her grief was so great that Batcha leaped out of the sheepfold to comfort her.

“There, there, dear wife, don’t cry! Here I am, alive and well! No wolf ate me, no witches caught me. I’ve been asleep in the sheepfold—that’s all. I must have slept all winter long!”

At sight and sound of her husband, the woman stopped crying. Her grief changed to surprise, then to fury.

“You wretch!” she cried. “You lazy, good-for-nothing loafer! A nice kind of shepherd you are to desert your sheep and yourself to idle away the winter sleeping like a serpent! That’s a fine story, isn’t it, and I suppose you think me fool enough to believe it! Oh, you—you sheep’s tick, where have you been and what have you been doing?”

She flew at Batcha with both hands and there’s no telling what she would have done to him if the stranger hadn’t interfered.

“There, there,” he said, “no use getting excited! Of course he hasn’t been sleeping here in the sheepfold all winter. The question is, where has he been? Here is some money for you. Take it and go along home to your cottage in the valley. Leave Batcha to me and I promise you I’ll get the truth out of him.”

The woman abused her husband some more and then, pocketing the money, went off.

As soon as she was gone, the stranger changed into a horrible looking creature with a third eye in the middle of his forehead.

“Good heavens!” Batcha gasped in fright. “He’s the wizard of the mountain! Now what’s going to happen to me!”

Batcha had often heard terrifying stories of the wizard, how he could himself take any form he wished and how he could turn a man into a ram.

“Aha!” the wizard laughed. “I see you know me! Now then, no more lies! Tell me: where have you been all winter long?”

At first Batcha remembered his triple oath to the old king serpent and he feared to break it. But when the wizard thundered out the same question a second time and a third time, and grew bigger and more horrible looking each time he spoke, Batcha forgot his oath and confessed everything.

“Now come with me,” the wizard said. “Show me the cliff. Show me the magic plant.”

What could Batcha do but obey? He led the wizard to the cliff and picked a leaf of the magic plant.

“Open the rock,” the wizard commanded.

Batcha laid the leaf against the cliff and instantly the rock opened.

“Go inside!” the wizard ordered.

But Batcha’s trembling legs refused to move.

The wizard took out a book and began mumbling an incantation. Suddenly the earth trembled, the sky thundered, and with a great hissing whistling sound a monster dragon flew out of the cavern. It was the old king serpent whose seven years were up and who was now become a flying dragon. From his huge mouth he breathed out fire and smoke. With his long tail he swished right and left among the forest trees and these snapped and broke like little twigs.

The wizard, still mumbling from his book, handed Batcha a bridle.

“Throw this around his neck!” he commanded.

Batcha took the bridle but was too terrified to act. The wizard spoke again and Batcha made one uncertain step in the dragon’s direction. He lifted his arm to throw the bridle over the dragon’s head, when the dragon suddenly turned on him, swooped under him, and before Batcha knew what was happening he found himself on the dragon’s back and he felt himself being lifted up, up, up, above the tops of the forest trees, above the very mountains themselves.

On they went riding high up into the heavens

On they went riding high up into the heavens

For a moment the sky was so dark that only the fire, spurting from the dragon’s eyes and mouth, lighted them on their way.

The dragon lashed this way and that in fury, he belched forth great floods of boiling water, he hissed, he roared, until Batcha, clinging to his back, was half dead with fright.

Then gradually his anger cooled. He ceased belching forth boiling water, he stopped breathing fire, his hisses grew less terrifying.

“Thank God!” Batcha gasped. “Perhaps now he’ll sink to earth and let me go.”

But the dragon was not yet finished with punishing Batcha for breaking his oath. He rose still higher until the mountains of the earth looked like tiny ant-hills, still up until even these had disappeared. On, on they went, whizzing through the stars of heaven.

At last the dragon stopped flying and hung motionless in the firmament. To Batcha this was even more terrifying than moving.

“What shall I do? What shall I do?” he wept in agony. “If I jump down to earth I’ll kill myself and I can’t fly on up to heaven! Oh, dragon, have mercy on me! Fly back to earth and let me go and I swear before God that never again until death will I offend you!”

Batcha’s pleading would have moved a stone to pity but the dragon, with an angry shake of his tail, only hardened his heart.

Suddenly Batcha heard the sweet voice of the skylark that was mounting to heaven.

“Skylark!” he called. “Dear skylark, bird that God loves, help me, for I am in great trouble! Fly up to heaven and tell God Almighty that Batcha, the shepherd, is hung in midair on a dragon’s back. Tell Him that Batcha praises Him forever and begs Him to deliver him.”

The skylark carried this message to heaven and God Almighty, pitying the poor shepherd, took some birch leaves and wrote on them in letters of gold. He put them in the skylark’s bill and told the skylark to drop them on the dragon’s head.

So the skylark returned from heaven and, hovering over Batcha, dropped the birch leaves on the dragon’s head.

The dragon instantly sank to earth, so fast that Batcha lost consciousness.

When he came to himself he was sitting before his own hut. He looked about him. The dragon’s cliff had disappeared. Otherwise everything was the same.

It was late afternoon and Dunay, the dog, was driving home the sheep. There was a woman coming up the mountain path.

Batcha heaved a great sigh.

“Thank God I’m back!” he said to himself. “How fine it is to hear Dunay’s bark! And here comes my wife, God bless her! She’ll scold me, I know, but even if she does, how glad I am to see her!”

————–

From: THE SHOEMAKER’S APRON – 20 Czech & Slovak Folk Tales

ISBN: 9781909302440

URL: http://abelapublishing.com/the-shoemakers-apron–20-czech-and-slovak-folk-tales_p25032987.htm

eBooks: http://abelapublishing.com/the-shoemakers-apron–20-czech-and-slovak-folk-tales_p24975669.htm PDF & ePub formats – only US$0.50 or GBP0.25

Now that its winter time for those of us who live in the Northern hemisphere, here is a poignant story about a snowflake.
———–
SNOWFLAKE – A SLAVONIC STORY.

(Contes Populaires Slaves, traduits par Louis Leger.
Paris: Leroux, Editeur.)

Once upon a time there lived a peasant called Ivan, and he had a wife whose name was Marie. They would have been quite happy except for one thing: they had no children to play with, and as they were now old people they did not find that watching the children of their neighbours at all made up to them for having one of their own.
One winter, which nobody living will ever forget, the snow lay so deep that it came up to the knees of even the tallest man. When it had all fallen, and the sun was shining again, the children ran out into the street to play, and the old man and his wife sat at their window and gazed at them. The children first made a sort of little terrace, and stamped it hard and firm, and then they began to make a snow woman. Ivan and Marie watched them, the while thinking about many things.
Suddenly Ivan’s face brightened, and, looking at his wife, he said, ‘Wife, why shouldn’t we make a snow woman too?’
‘Why not?’ replied Marie, who happened to be in a very good temper; ‘it might amuse us a little. But there is no use making a woman. Let us make a little snow child, and pretend it is a living one.’
‘Yes, let us do that,’ said Ivan, and he took down his cap and went into the garden with his old wife.
Then the two set to work with all their might to make a doll out of the snow. They shaped a little body and two little hands and two little feet. On top of all they placed a ball of snow, out of which the head was to be.
‘What in the world are you doing?’ asked a passer-by.
‘Can’t you guess?’ returned Ivan.
‘Making a snow-child,’ replied Marie.
They had finished the nose and the chin. Two holes were left for the eyes, and Ivan carefully shaped out the mouth. No sooner had he done so than he felt a warm breath upon his cheek. He started back in surprise and looked—and behold! the eyes of the child met his, and its lips, which were as red as raspberries, smiled at him!
‘What is it?’ cried Ivan, crossing himself. ‘Am I mad, or is the thing bewitched?’
The snow-child bent its head as if it had been really alive. It moved its little arms and its little legs in the snow that lay about it just as the living children did theirs.
‘Ah! Ivan, Ivan,’ exclaimed Marie, trembling with joy, ‘heaven has sent us a child at last!’ And she threw herself upon Snowflake (for that was the snow-child’s name) and covered her with kisses. And the loose snow fell away from Snowflake as an egg shell does from an egg, and it was a little girl whom Marie held in her arms.
‘Oh! my darling Snowflake!’ cried the old woman, and led her into the cottage.
And Snowflake grew fast; each hour as well as each day made a difference, and every day she became more and more beautiful. The old couple hardly knew how to contain themselves for joy, and thought of nothing else. The cottage was always full of village children, for they amused Snowflake, and there was nothing in the world they would not have done to amuse her. She was their doll, and they were continually inventing new dresses for her, and teaching her songs or playing with her. Nobody knew how clever she was! She noticed everything, and could learn a lesson in a moment. Anyone would have taken her for thirteen at least! And, besides all that, she was so good and obedient; and so pretty, too! Her skin was as white as snow, her eyes as blue as forget-me-nots, and her hair was long and golden. Only her cheeks had no colour in them, but were as fair as her forehead.
So the winter went on, till at last the spring sun mounted higher in the heavens and began to warm the earth. The grass grew green in the fields, and high in the air the larks were heard singing. The village girls met and danced in a ring, singing, ‘Beautiful spring, how came you here? How came you here? Did you come on a plough, or was it a harrow?’ Only Snowflake sat quite still by the window of the cottage.
‘What is the matter, dear child?’ asked Marie. ‘Why are you so sad? Are you ill? or have they treated you unkindly?’
‘No,’ replied Snowflake, ‘it is nothing, mother; no one has hurt me; I am well.’
The spring sun had chased away the last snow from its hiding place under the hedges; the fields were full of flowers; nightingales sang in the trees, and all the world was gay. But the gayer grew the birds and the flowers the sadder became Snowflake. She hid herself from her playmates, and curled herself up where the shadows were deepest, like a lily amongst its leaves. Her only pleasure was to lie amid the green willows near some sparkling stream. At the dawn and at twilight only she seemed happy. When a great storm broke, and the earth was white with hail, she became bright and joyous as the Snowflake of old; but when the clouds passed, and the hail melted beneath the sun, Snowflake would burst into tears and weep as a sister would weep over her brother.
The spring passed, and it was the eve of St. John, or Midsummer Day. This was the greatest holiday of the year, when the young girls met in the woods to dance and play. They went to fetch Snowflake, and said to Marie: ‘Let her come and dance with us.’
But Marie was afraid; she could not tell why, only she could not bear the child to go. Snowflake did not wish to go either, but they had no excuse ready. So Marie kissed the girl and said: ‘Go, my Snowflake, and be happy with your friends, and you, dear children, be careful of her. You know she is the light of my eyes to me.’
‘Oh, we will take care of her,’ cried the girls gaily, and they ran off to the woods. There they wore wreaths, gathered nosegays, and sang songs some sad, some merry. And whatever they did Snowflake did too.
When the sun set they lit a fire of dry grass, and placed themselves in a row, Snowflake being the last of all. ‘Now, watch us,’ they said, ‘and run just as we do.’
And they all began to sing and to jump one after another across the fire.
Suddenly, close behind them, they heard a sigh, then a groan. ‘Ah!’ They turned hastily and looked at each other. There was nothing. They looked again. Where was Snowflake? She has hidden herself for fun, they thought, and searched for her everywhere. ‘Snowflake! Snowflake!’ But there was no answer. ‘Where can she be? Oh, she must have gone home.’ They returned to the village, but there was no Snowflake.
For days after that they sought her high and low. They examined every bush and every hedge, but there was no Snowflake. And long after everyone else had given up hope Ivan and Marie would wander through the woods crying ‘Snowflake, my dove, come back, come back!’ And sometimes they thought they heard a call, but it was never the voice of Snowflake.
And what had become of her? Had a fierce wild beast seized her and dragged her into his lair in the forest? Had some bird carried her off across the wide blue sea?
No, no beast had touched her, no bird had borne her away. With the first breath of flame that swept over her when she ran with her friends Snowflake had melted away, and a little soft haze floating upwards was all that remained of her.

From: Andrew Lang’s Pink Fairy Book – now part of a 3 book set

ISBN:978-1-907256-75-2

URL: http://abelapublishing.com/andrew-langs-coloured-fairy-tales-3-book-set_p24618764.htm

Andrew Lang's Coloured Fairy Tales 3 Book Set

‘How astonishingly cold it is! My body is cracking all over!’ said the Snow-man. ‘The wind is really cutting one’s very life out! And how that fiery thing up there glares!’ He meant the sun, which was just setting. ‘It sha’n’t make me blink, though, and I shall keep quite cool and collected.’

Instead of eyes he had two large three-cornered pieces of slate in his head; his mouth consisted of an old rake, so that he had teeth as well. He was born amidst the shouts and laughter of the boys, and greeted by the jingling bells and cracking whips of the sledges.The sun went down, the full moon rose, large, round, clear and beautiful, in the dark blue sky.

‘There it is again on the other side!’ said the Snow-man, by which he meant the sun was appearing again. ‘I have become quite accustomed to its glaring. I hope it will hang there and shine, so that I may be able to see myself. I wish I knew, though, how one ought to see about changing one’s position. I should very much like to move about. If I only could, I would glide up and down the ice there, as I saw the boys doing; but somehow or other, I don’t know how to run.’

‘Bow-wow!’ barked the old yard-dog; he was rather hoarse and couldn’t bark very well. His hoarseness came on when he was a house-dog and used to lie in front of the stove.

‘The sun will soon teach you to run! I saw that last winter with your predecessor, and farther back still with his predecessors! They have all run away!’

‘I don’t understand you, my friend,’ said the Snow-man. ‘That thing up there is to teach me to run?’ He meant the moon.
‘Well, it certainly did run just now, for I saw it quite plainly over there, and now here it is on this side.’
‘You know nothing at all about it,’ said the yard-dog. ‘Why, you have only just been made. The thing you see there is the moon; the other thing you saw going down the other side was the sun. He will come up again tomorrow morning, and will soon teach you how to run away down the gutter. The weather is going to change; I feel it already by the pain in my left hind-leg; the weather is certainly going to change.”I can’t understand him,’ said the Snow-man; ‘but I have an idea that he is speaking of something unpleasant. That thing that glares so, and then disappears, the sun, as he calls it, is not my friend. I know that by instinct.’

‘Bow-wow!’ barked the yard-dog, and walked three times round himself, and then crept into his kennel to sleep.

The weather really did change. Towards morning a dense damp fog lay over the whole neighbourhood; later on came an icy wind, which sent the frost packing. But when the sun rose, it was a glorious sight. The trees and shrubs were covered with rime, and looked like a wood of coral, and every branch was thick with long white blossoms. The most delicate twigs, which are lost among the foliage in summer-time, came now into prominence, and it was like a spider’s web of glistening white. The lady-birches waved in the wind; and when the sun shone, everything glittered and sparkled as if it were sprinkled with diamond dust, and great diamonds were lying on the snowy carpet.
‘Isn’t it wonderful?’ exclaimed a girl who was walking with a young man in the garden. They stopped near the Snow-man, and looked at the glistening trees. ‘Summer cannot show a more beautiful sight,’ she said, with her eyes shining.
‘And one can’t get a fellow like this in summer either,’ said the young man, pointing to the Snow-man. ‘He’s a beauty!’
The girl laughed, and nodded to the Snow-man, and then they both danced away over the snow.
‘Who were those two?’ asked the Snow-man of the yard dog.
‘You have been in this yard longer than I have. Do you know who they are?’
‘Do I know them indeed?’ answered the yard-dog. ‘She has often stroked me, and he has given me bones. I don’t bite either of them!’
‘But what are they?’ asked the Snow-man.
‘Lovers!’ replied the yard-dog. ‘They will go into one kennel and gnaw the same bone!’
“Are they the same kind of beings that we are?’ asked the Snow-man.
‘They are our masters,’ answered the yard-dog. ‘Really people who have only been in the world one day know very little.’ That’s the conclusion I have come to. Now I have age and wisdom; I know everyone in the house, and I can remember a time when I was not lying here in a cold
kennel. Bow-wow!’
‘The cold is splendid,’ said the Snow-man. ‘Tell me some more. But don’t rattle your chain so, it makes me crack!’
‘Bow-wow!’ barked the yard-dog. ‘They used to say I was a pretty little fellow; then I lay in a velvet-covered chair in my master’s house. My mistress used to nurse me, and kiss and fondle me, and call me her dear, sweet little Alice! But by-and-by I grew too big, and I was given to the
housekeeper, and I went into the kitchen. You can see into it from where you are standing; you can look at the room in which I was master, for so I was when I was with the housekeeper. Of course it was a smaller place than upstairs, but it was more comfortable, for I wasn’t chased about and teased by the children as I had been before. My food was just as good, or even better. I had my own pillow, and there was a stove there, which at this time of year is the most beautiful thing in the world. I used to creep right under that stove. Ah me! I often dream of that stove still! Bow-wow!’
‘Is a stove so beautiful?’ asked the Snow-man. ‘Is it anything like me?’
‘It is just the opposite of you! It is coal-black, and has a long neck with a brass pipe. It eats firewood, so that fire spouts out of its mouth. One has to keep close beside it quite underneath is the nicest of all. You can see it through the window from where you are standing.’
And the Snow-man looked in that direction, and saw a smooth polished object with a brass pipe. The flicker from the fire reached him across the snow. The Snow-man felt wonderfully happy, and a feeling came over him which he could not express; but all those who are not snow-men
know about it.
‘Why did you leave her?’ asked the Snow-man. He had a feeling that such a being must be a lady. ‘How could you leave such a place?’
‘I had to!’ said the yard-dog. ‘They turned me out of doors, and chained me up here. I had bitten the youngest boy in the leg, because he took away the bone I was gnawing; a bone for a bone, I thought! But they were very angry, and from that time I have been chained here, and I have lost
my voice. Don’t you hear how hoarse I am? Bow-wow! I can’t speak like other dogs. Bow-wow! That was the end of happiness!’
The Snow-man, however, was not listening to him anymore; he was looking into the room where the housekeeper lived, where the stove stood on its four iron legs, and seemed to be just the same size as the Snow-man. ‘How something is cracking inside me!’ he said. ‘Shall I never be able to get in there? It is certainly a very innocent wish, and our innocent wishes ought to be fulfilled. I must
get there, and lean against the stove, if I have to break the window first!’
‘You will never get inside there!’ said the yard-dog; ‘and if you were to reach the stove you would disappear. Bowwow!’
‘I’m as good as gone already!’ answered the Snow-man. ‘I believe I’m breaking up!’
The whole day the Snow-man looked through the window; towards dusk the room grew still more inviting; the stove gave out a mild light, not at all like the moon or even the sun; no, as only a stove can shine, when it has something to feed upon. When the door of the room was open, it flared up-this was one of its peculiarities; it flickered quite red upon the Snow-man’s white face.
‘I can’t stand it any longer!’ he said. ‘How beautiful it looks with its tongue stretched out like that!’
It was a long night, but the Snow-man did not find it so; there he stood, wrapt in his pleasant thoughts, and they froze, so that he cracked.
Next morning the panes of the kitchen window were covered with ice, and the most beautiful ice-flowers that even a snow-man could desire, only they blotted out the stove. The window would not open; he couldn’t see the stove which he thought was such a lovely lady. There was a cracking and cracking inside him and all around; there was just such a frost as a snow-man would delight in. But this Snow-man was different: how could he feel happy?
‘Yours is a bad illness for a Snow-man!’ said the yard-dog. ‘I also suffered from it, but I have got over it. Bow-wow!’ he barked. ‘The weather is going to change!’ he added.

The weather did change. There came a thaw. When this set in the Snow-man set off. He did not say
anything, and he did not complain, and those are bad signs. One morning he broke up altogether. And lo! where he had stood there remained a broomstick standing upright, round which the boys had built him!
‘Ah! now I understand why he loved the stove,’ said the yard-dog. ‘That is the raker they use to clean out the stove! The Snow-man had a stove-raker in his body! That’s what was the matter with him! And now it’s all over with him! Bow-wow!’

And before long it was all over with the winter too! ‘Bowwow!’ barked the hoarse yard-dog.
But the young girl sang: Woods, your bright green garments don! Willows, your woolly gloves put on! Lark and cuckoo, daily sing—February has brought the spring! My heart joins in your song so sweet; Come out, dear sun, the world to greet!

And no one thought of the Snow-man.

————-
From “The Pink Fairy Book”
ISBN: 978-1-907256-75-2
URL: http://www.abelapublishing.com/the-pink-fairy-book_p23332676.htm

Here is a tale from Yaqui Myths and Legends which I have yet to replublish as a book. The Yaqui are an American Indian people.

It is titled THE KU BIRD.

AMONG the Yaquis there was once a bird who, from birth, was very poor. So poor was this little one that he had not one single feather on his whole body. Often he sighed, especially in the winter time, because of his lack of protecting feathers. Many years passed, until one day he spoke to the Owl, saying,
“My brother, do me a favor and I will help you as long as I live. Help me to dress myself by lending me just a few of your feathers, even if they should cover only a part of my body. With the cold weather, I suffer.”
And the Owl answered him. “Have no worry about my helping you. I am going to ask all the birds to lend you one feather. In that way, you may clothe your whole body.”
“You speak well,” said the Ku Bird to the Owl. “When I have many feathers, I shall return a feather to each who lent me one.”
“Good,” said the Owl, “I shall send messengers to all the birds both large and small, to every single bird, in order that not one shall fail to attend the council. By early tomorrow morning we shall all be gathered to consider the matter of your clothes.”
“Many, many thanks,” answered the Ku Bird.
“Good-by for a while,” said the Owl. And he went away to make arrangements with the other birds.

Immediately they all wanted to see Ku Bird. At their petition, although with great shame, he presented himself.
Everyone was very sorry for him. And each bird presented him with one feather. Everyone contributed until Ku’s costume, was complete.
After thanking them all, Ku said, “To brother Owl I shall return all of the loaned feathers. He will return them to each of you in one year.”
A few days later the Ku Bird visited a spring filled with crystal-clear water. Here, many birds with beautiful plumes often came to visit. When the Ku Bird arrived all the birds surrounded him and looked at him in admiration and joy. They believed that he was a prince, and all rendered him homage. They did not recognize him beneath his beautiful, unusual plumage. He looked like a garden of flowers. Some called him the bird of a thousand colors, for he was wonderfully colorful with all his many feathers.

But within a year Ku was lost completely. He was never again seen, although all the birds searched for him, even in distant regions. Never again did he appear.
To this day, the Owl is still hunting for him. He searches and he calls. That is why Owl sings: “Ku, Ku, Ku, Ku,” nothing more. He is not able to say Ku Bird, but he can sing “Ku Ku Ku.”

Many centuries have passed and no one has ever heard anything about Ku. It is said that he is enchanted, that he now dwells in a waterhole which lies west of Potam near the sea. Yaquis say they have been there and heard him singing.
Ku never paid for his shirt, the Ku Bird, the bird of a thousand colors.

So ends the tale.

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