The Snow Image and Other Stories
The Snow-Image: A Childish Miracle
One afternoon of a cold winter's day, when the sun shone forth with chilly brightness,
after a long storm, two children asked leave of their mother to run out and play in the
new-fallen snow. The elder child was a little girl, whom, because she was of a tender and
modest disposition, and was thought to be very beautiful, her parents, and other people
who were familiar with her, used to call Violet. But her brother was known by the style
and title of Peony, on account of the ruddiness of his broad and round little phiz, which
made everybody think of sunshine and great scarlet flowers. The father of these two
children, a certain Mr. Lindsey, it is important to say, was an excellent but exceedingly
matter-of-fact sort of man, a dealer in hardware, and was sturdily accustomed to take
what is called the common-sense view of all matters that came under his consideration.
With a heart about as tender as other people's, he had a head as hard and impenetrable,
and therefore, perhaps, as empty, as one of the iron pots which it was a part of his
business to sell. The mother's character, on the other hand, had a strain of poetry in it, a
trait of unworldly beauty,--a delicate and dewy flower, as it were, that had survived out of
her imaginative youth, and still kept itself alive amid the dusty realities of matrimony and
So, Violet and Peony, as I began with saying, besought their mother to let them run out
and play in the new snow; for, though it had looked so dreary and dismal, drifting
downward out of the gray sky, it had a very cheerful aspect, now that the sun was shining
on it. The children dwelt in a city, and had no wider play-place than a little garden before
the house, divided by a white fence from the street, and with a pear-tree and two or three
plum-trees overshadowing it, and some rose-bushes just in front of the parlor-windows.
The trees and shrubs, however, were now leafless, and their twigs were enveloped in the
light snow, which thus made a kind of wintry foliage, with here and there a pendent icicle
for the fruit.
"Yes, Violet,--yes, my little Peony," said their kind mother, "you may go out and play in
the new snow."
Accordingly, the good lady bundled up her darlings in woollen jackets and wadded sacks,
and put comforters round their necks, and a pair of striped gaiters on each little pair of
legs, and worsted mittens on their hands, and gave them a kiss apiece, by way of a spell
to keep away Jack Frost. Forth sallied the two children, with a hop-skip-and-jump, that
carried them at once into the very heart of a huge snow-drift, whence Violet emerged like
a snow-bunting, while little Peony floundered out with his round face in full bloom. Then
what a merry time had they! To look at them, frolicking in the wintry garden, you would
have thought that the dark and pitiless storm had been sent for no other purpose but to
provide a new plaything for Violet and Peony; and that they themselves had beer created,
as the snow-birds were, to take delight only in the tempest, and in the white mantle which
it spread over the earth.