HE snow-storm lasted another day; but what became of
it afterwards, I cannot possibly imagine. At any rate,
it entirely cleared away during the night; and when the
sun arose the next morning, it shone brightly down on
as bleak a tract of
No sooner was breakfast over, than the whole party,
well muffled in furs and woolens, floundered forth
into the midst of the snow. Well, what a day of frosty
sport was this! They slid down hill into the valley, a
hundred times, nobody knows how far; and, to make it
all the merrier, upsetting their sledges, and tumbling
head over heels, quite as often as they came safely to
the bottom. And, once, Eustace Bright took Periwinkle,
Sweet Fern, and Squash-Blossom, on the sledge with him,
by way of insuring a safe passage; and down they went,
full speed. But, behold, halfway down, the sledge hit
against a hidden stump, and flung all four of its
passengers into a heap; and, on gathering themselves
up, there was no little Squash-Blossom to be found!
Why, what could have become of the child? And while
they were wondering and staring about, up started
Squash-Blossom out of a
When they had grown tired of sliding down hill, Eustace
set the children to digging a cave in the biggest
So he ran away, and went into the woods, and thence to the margin of Shadow Brook, where he could hear the streamlet grumbling along, under great overhanging banks of snow and ice, which would scarcely let it see the light of day. There were adamantine icicles glittering around all its little cascades. Thence he strolled to the shore of the lake, and beheld a white, untrodden plain before him, stretching from his own feet to the foot of Monument Mountain. And, it being now almost sunset, Eustace thought that he had never beheld anything so fresh and beautiful as the scene. He was glad that the children were not with him; for their lively spirits and tumble-about activity would quite have chased away his higher and graver mood, so that he would merely have been merry (as he had already been, the whole day long), and would not have known the loveliness of the winter sunset among the hills.
When the sun was fairly down, our friend Eustace went home to eat his supper. After the meal was over, he betook himself to the study, with a purpose, I rather imagine, to write an ode, or two or three sonnets, or verses of some kind or other, in praise of the purple and golden clouds which he had seen around the setting sun. But, before he had hammered out the very first rhyme, the door opened, and Primrose and Periwinkle made their appearance.
"Go away, children! I can't be troubled with you now!" cried the student, looking over his shoulder, with the pen between his fingers. "What in the world do you want here? I thought you were all in bed!"
"Hear him, Periwinkle, trying to talk like a grown man!" said Primrose. "And he seems to forget that I am now thirteen years old, and may sit up almost as late as I please. But, Cousin Eustace, you must put off your airs, and come with us to the drawing-room. The children have talked so much about your stories, that my father wishes to hear one of them, in order to judge whether they are likely to do any mischief."
"Poh, poh, Primrose!" exclaimed the student, rather
vexed. "I don't believe I can tell one of my stories in
the presence of grown people. Besides, your father is a
classical scholar; not that I am much afraid of his
scholarship, neither, for I doubt not it is as rusty as
"All this may be very true," said Primrose, "but come you must! My father will not open his book, nor will mamma open the piano, till you have given us some of your nonsense, as you very correctly call it. So be a good boy, and come along."
Whatever he might pretend, the student was rather glad
than otherwise, on second thoughts, to catch at the
opportunity of proving to
It was a large, handsome apartment, with a semicircular
window at one end, in the recess of which stood a
marble copy of Greenough's Angel and Child. On one side
of the fireplace there were many shelves of books,
gravely but richly bound. The white light of the
astral-lamp, and the red glow of the bright
Mr. Pringle turned towards the student benignly enough, but in a way that made him feel how uncombed and unbrushed he was, and how uncombed and unbrushed, likewise, were his mind and thoughts.
"Eustace," said Mr. Pringle, with a smile, "I find that
you are producing a great sensation among the little
public of Tanglewood, by the exercise of your gifts of
narrative. Primrose here, as the little folks choose to
call her, and the rest of the children, have been so
loud in praise of your stories, that
"You are not exactly the auditor that I should have chosen, sir," observed the student, "for fantasies of this nature."
"Possibly not," replied Mr. Pringle. "I suspect, however, that a young author's most useful critic is precisely the one whom he would be least apt to choose. Pray oblige me, therefore."
"Sympathy, methinks, should have some little share in the critic's qualifications," murmured Eustace Bright. "However, sir, if you will find patience, I will find stories. But be kind enough to remember that I am addressing myself to the imagination and sympathies of the children, not to your own."
Accordingly, the student snatched hold of the first theme which presented itself. It was suggested by a plate of apples that he happened to spy on the mantel-piece.