Snow-Flakes I.

Home Up Reminiscences Victorian Memories Literary Rambles Unfrequented France Home Life in France Little Bird Red Main Index Site Search


 

COME to the window, little folks,
And read these tiny Story-books!
The Fairy times will never go,
Whilst we have a fall of snow;
Whilst Spring comes with all its flowers,
We shall want no Fairy bowers.
Lots of Fairies flit about,
To those who will but seek them out;
If the Winter has so many,
Don't you think the Spring has any?
Only wait for sunny weather,
And we'll look for them together!



 

We love you so; we want to hear
How ye live from year to year.
Tell us how the clouds enfold
Little stars of gleaming gold,
That between each misty peak,
Twinkling play at hide-and-seek.
Tell us how the sky is spread,
With pearly islands overhead;
Where the skylark sometimes rests,
On its weary wing,
And catches, through the golden mists,
Songs that angels sing.
Tell us how the winter's sun,
Puts its warm red mantle on:
And how the moon does bravely hold,
Her post of duty through the cold;
In the heavens set to be,
What a lighthouse is at sea;
Guiding through the midnight gloom,
All poor wanderers safely home.
Pretty Snow-flakes, we know well,
What fairy stories ye could tell!
All things else make friends with us,
Will ye keep silence ever thus?
Each little wood-bird in the land,
Sings songs that we can understand;
Our favourite dogs and pusses grow
Playmates, because we love them so;
The little lambs soon learn to find,
Our garden gates, when we are kind;
The chicks and ducklings crowd to eat
From out our hands the grains of wheat:
The gentle lizards love to crawl,
Beneath our sunny schoolroom wall;
And every lovely living thing
Welcomes us gladly in the Spring.
The hedge-rows deck themselves with flowers,
And make us shady fairy bowers;
The banks amid their tufts of moss
Hide up wild strawberries for us;
The buttercups and daisies grow
Thickest where we love most to go.
Pretty Snow-flakes, won't ye stay,
And be our little friends to-day?
Tell us where ye went last year,
And if ye found some children there?
And if they left their story-books,
To watch your flight with eager looks?
And did they long, as we do now,
To know the Fairies of the Snow?


――――♦――――

 

 
THE FIRST SNOW-FLAKE'S STORY.

WALDMANN AND HIS MASTERS.


1.


OH! merrily, in Switzerland, live Fairies of the Snow!
There we can perch on big Mont Blanc, and view the world below;
Or gallop on the north-wind's back from lofty peak to peak,
Or below, amid the crannies, play a game of hide-and-seek.


2.


So near we live unto the sun, our robes are always bright
With the jewels that he scatters every morning, every night;
Sometimes a shower of diamonds, as clear and fine as dew,
Or of rubies, orange topaz, rainbow pearl, and turquoise blue.


3.


So near we live unto the moon, when sleeping on Mont Blanc,
That her silken silver curtain is around us all night long;
Cool and pleasant 'tis to rest one 'neath a coverlid so light,
With a rosy cloud for pillow, and the whole wide world in sight.


4.


So near we live unto the stars, we see their merry game;
Every night they gambol gaily, and their play is all the same,
Save when one, with daring frolic, will shoot far into the gloom,
Leaving all the rest in terror till they see it dancing home.


5.


After all, the world is better than these palaces of air,
And the valleys we love dearly, and the peasants living there;
For their simple ways we love them, for their hearts so brave and true,
For their noble dogs, who rescue sinking travellers from the snow.


6.


Never was a dog like Waldmann, for his strength, and love, and duty,
Not handsome, mind you—'tis no good to think so much of beauty;
If his shape were somewhat bony, if his hind legs wanted grace,
You could read a world of wisdom in his dear old honest face.


7.


Two masters had old Waldmann, shepherd Moritz and his son,
But the wise dog's best affections centered in the younger one;
For stern and gruff was Moritz, sweet and gentle was the boy,
And old Waldmann was his treasure, his sole playmate and sole joy.


8.


If he could not frame a sentence, he could wag his tail with meaning,
And his looks to little Felix stood in need of no explaining;
As a school-girl loves her class friend, as a boy reveres his brother,
Did Felix and his Waldmann love and trust in one another.


9.


Moritz loved the dog, and fed him, as a master would a slave,
Knowing all the money-value of the services he gave;
Felix loved the dog for love's sake, as the good God loveth man,
Caring not so much for service as the love he gets again.


10.


For God loves us when we're infants, and cannot love at all;
God loves us when we're children, and the love we give is small,
Having grown to girls and striplings, do we love our Master then,
With a love so whole and perfect as the love dogs give to men?


11.


I'm thinking it were better if the children learned more love,
From the dog and horse and kitten, from the skylark and the dove;
From the beast who loves and labours, from the birds who love and
        sing,
From the loving instincts witnessed in each God-made living thing.


12.


There came an awful tempest on a late autumnal night,
With the rapid sheets of lightning every mountain seemed alight;
Quiet, pensive, Waldmann rested at his master's cottage door,
One ear pricking up intently at the thunder's frequent roar.


13.


On a sudden, as if arrows had been sent into his side,
Up he sprang, and, like a chamois, bounded o'er the ravines wide;
Ere Felix reached the basement rock, no tiny rabbit rambling,
Ere looked so small as Waldmann, 'mid the glacier masses scrambling.



 

15.


Digging, digging, as the settler, when he sees the gold below—
Striving, forcing, puffing, panting, Waldmann battles with the snow.
"Hard the fight, but sure the conquest"—clear as A B C was said,
In the nervous way his tail wagged, in his glowing eager head.


16.


And that night the village people saw old Waldmann's master come,
Bearing safely on his shoulders, Waldmann's rescued traveller home;
That night, an English lady wept and prayed with thankful joy,
Kissing big, shy, sturdy Waldmann, who had saved her darling boy.


17.


Rich and gentle was the lady, with blue eyes so tearful tender,
With a hand like lily petals, 'twas so glossy, white, and slender;
Said she, "Oh, Herdsman, give me but your Waldmann, and I'll be,
In spite of regal payment, ever debtor unto thee."


18.


Gold she gave as clouds give rain-drops; Moritz oped his hand and
        smiled.
"Take the dog and welcome, lady—well for me he saved your child;
Only go before the sunrise, ere my own son wakes from sleep,
For he loves the dog to folly—and I hate to see him weep."


19.


Ere the sun had crowned the mountains with its jewels and its gold,
Ere the goats were fetched for milking, ere the sheep were loosed from
        fold,
Miles and miles the English lady on her onward way had sped;
On a carriage cushion sleeping, rested Waldmann's shaggy head.


20.


Oh! all ye happy children, blest with sister or with brother—
Oh! all ye loving children, who delight to please each other—
Think of little herdsman Felix, rising gaily with the sun,
Weep with little herdsman Felix, when he finds his friend is gone:


21.


"Father," he said, in passion of the meekest, saddest kind,
"Oh! father, such another friend, we'll never, never find!
Could you sell him when he's agèd, when his eyes are growing dim?
Father, you should have sold me too, so that I kept with him!


22.


"Oh! dogs are not so brutish but they love and grieve like men;
I know he'll ne'er be happy or his own old self again;
Oh! father, when he'd proved to us so loving and so true,
Was it human—was it Christian, to make barter of him so?


23.


"He'll be delicately handled, petted, kindly housed and fed;
Think you he would not rather share my garlic and black bread?
In that rich and wondrous England he'll be showed about with pride;
Can they love him as we loved him, who had no dear friends beside?"


24.


Then he wept in patient silence through the long and weary day,
Up and down he wandered listless, all the night he wakeful lay;
Thinking, ever sadly thinking, of his Waldman, tried and dear,
With a wish that he were older—that the lady's land was near.


25.


Slowly, slowly passed the Autumn—Felix languished week by week,
Every day took from the roundness and the freshness of his cheek;
"Courage, boy," said Moritz, cheerly, "here are sweets and books and toys,
Here is silver to go fairing with our neighbour Hölty's boys."


26.


To the Zurich Fair went Felix, but he came back pale and sad;
All his toys he handled gently, but they did not make him glad;
When he talked, his words came slowly, when he smiled, his smile was
        dim;
'Twas as if the world were losing all its smiles and joys for him.


27.


One night old Moritz heard him wailing in his little bed,
And the father's stern heart melted when he heard the words he said—
"Waldmann, Waldmann, I'm so lonely—oh! my father little knew
How my heart would break, old darling, for the love and loss of you!"


28.


"Oh! my boy, my Felix, love me," said the father, weeping sadly,
"Could I cancel that ill-doing, I would do it, oh, so gladly!
Had I guessed how bad and bitter I should find the lady's gold,
Not for riches—not for kingdoms, should our Waldmann have been sold.


29.


"Hard and heartless 'twas, my Felix—all repentance is now vain,
But I know my good dog's fellow I shall never find again.
Wilt thou render grief still stronger by thy silent look of woe?
Oh! my boy, my little Felix! I am too much punished so!"




31.


How he licked his master's features—how his dear old tail expressed,
In its ecstasy of wagging, all the gladness of his breast—
How he slept that night triumphant in the home he loved so well—
'Twould be pleasant in the telling, but we lack the time to tell.


32.


Little thought the English lady, as, the evening of that day,
She had passed near Waldmann's birthplace, bound upon her home-
       ward way,
That the dog would smell the sweetness of his native village air,
And forsake his new rich owner for the old ones living there!


33.


Happy Felix! happy Waldmann! as ye climb the hills in gladness,
Ye will love each other better for the parting and the sadness;
Ye will soon forget completely all the autumn days of pain,
Feeling blessèd past expression in the joy come back again!


――――♦――――

 

THE SECOND SNOW-FLAKE'S STORY.

FLOSI, THE FOUNDLING.


MANY and many a year I lay
In the kingdom of Norway;
Spilt, like a tiny drop of cream,
On a dark-brown mountain seam;
Till, one hot morning, kindly broke
A sunbeam o'er my little nook—
Then, changed into a drop of dew,
Through airy regions soft and blue,
Up to the cloudland's silver brim,
I travelled gaily home with him.
Alas! I often wish to go
Back to the land of frost and snow;
I loved to see the eagle fly
Across the never-clouding sky—
I loved to see the reindeer bound,
Over the gold-green mossy ground—
To watch the sparkling waters play,
Down by the hill-sides far away—
To hear the merry, merry bells
Of sledges, crashing by the fells—
To see the wondrous Northern lights
Flash through the sky on winter nights;
I loved my neighbours in the vale,
As all will do who hear my tale.
Hard, although cheerful, was the life,
Of fisher Erling and his wife.
When the heavens dusky grew,
And the sea-gulls inward flew,
Then the wife would weep and pray,
If his boat had left the bay.
One night there came a fearful storm,
When both were housed and glad and warm
"I hear a cry of woe," said he,
"'Tis some one shipwrecked out at sea;
God bless thee, wife!—I go to save,
Perhaps, some Christian from the grave;
Pray for me till I come again,
Or, if that may not be,
I die to save my fellow-men;
And God will care for thee."

He kissed her, and put off from shore,
She heard the billows seethe and roar;
Then kneeling, wept and prayed for him,
Till morning's light broke faint and dim
And Erling came; his voice was sad,
And yet his smile was soft and glad—
"Oh! Helga, from the ocean wild,
God saved for us this little child.
Do you remember how we cried,
When little Flosi drooped and died?
And now God sends for you and me
Another Flosi from the sea.




 

Sometimes, from their icy home,
Troops of little Lapps would come—
Those comic swarthy Brownie folks,
You read of in your story-books;
Then Flosi was all eyes and ears
For them and their warm winter wares.
Shoes and cloaks of reindeer hide,
Caps of fur-skin, dressed and dyed,
They brought, and many a story told,
When their goods were changed or sold.
Sometimes came pedlars from Drontheim,
And then it was a fairy time;
Books they showed, and knives and toys,
(Only in reach of richer boys,)
Gown-pieces red and blue and green,
Fitting, he thought, for any Queen;
Coffee and sugar, nuts and spice,
Looking and smelling very nice;
Yet Flosi never gave a sigh,
For all this wealth he could not buy,
And Helga sighed, but Erling smiled,
To think how happy God made their child.

Time passed.   I saw, one summer day,
A yacht cast anchor in the bay.
"A Russian Prince," old Erling cried,
"Waits for a favouring wind and tide;
Haste, Helga, haste and fry fresh brill,
We'll welcome him with right good-will;
Curl Flosi's hair and make him trim,
A Prince might well be proud of him."
The Prince nor ate, nor drank, nor smiled,
But wistful gazed upon the child;
At last, as one who dreams, he said—
"Why do I look?—my boy is dead!
Oh! fisher, 'tis six years ago,
A ship was wrecked off Ringwaldsoe;
My wife and little son were there—
He'd just your boy's brown eyes and hair."
Then weepingly, and sad and pale,
Helga told little Flosi's tale;
And, ere the tale was half-way done,
The Prince embraced his long-lost son.
Ah! sad and lonely was the day,
When Erling's Flosi went away—
Away to schools and friends and toys,
To unknown luxuries and joys.
Erling and Helga mourned and cried,
As when their baby Flosi died.
The Prince gave gold and thanks—in vain,
He could not make them smile again;
And when the child, with tear-wet face,
Clung to them in a last embrace,
All he could muster strength to say,
Was, "Think of Flosi every day!
Do not weep for me, mother dear,
I'll come and see you every year,
And fish with father out at sea:
Think, dear, how happy we shall be !"

He kept his word.   I saw him come
A Prince, to his Norwegian home;
In velvet tunic trimmed with gold,
But with the smile and voice of old.
How Erling glowed with pride and joy,
To see how wealth became the boy—
How Helga's heart sweet peace did fill,
To find her darling loved her still—
I have no leisure time to say;
Perhaps I'll come another day.

 

 

3.


"My pets, who learned to know my voice, and loved me so last year,
Ye'll crowd upon the laurel hedge and dread to come too near;
Thinking, perhaps I've gone away, or that I've grown to be
Forgetful of my darlings, when they most have need of me.


4.


"Ye'll be so cold and hungry, and ye'll watch the entrance door
Every day with expectation, hoping I shall come once more;
Ever looking, ever longing, as the weary hours go by,
Till ye grow quite sad and hopeless—till ye droop your heads and die.


5.


"Oh, my darlings ! oh, my darlings! must ye starve with want and cold?
Soon the garden will be glowing with its silver and its gold,
With its snowdrop stars and crocuses—and will you not be there,
To welcome back the sunshine and the soft flower-scented air ?


6.


"Soon the spring will bring your playmates from the regions of the sun—
How their little hearts will sadden when they find that you are gone!
How their notes will pause and tremble as they view an empty nest!
How they'll flit in silent sorrow by the spots you loved the best!


7.


"All the woodlands will be ringing by the budding of the May—
First will come the merry cuckoo as a leader of the way,
Then the starlings from Algeria, the nightingales from Spain,
And the martins flying gaily to their old eave-nests again.


8.


"In the merry building season, when the travellers will tell,
All the wondrous haps and chances that their outward way befell—
Of the lovely southern cities, of the ships and heaving waves—
Oh! my robins, ye'll not hear them, in your silent little graves!


9.


"Whilst the birdlings sport and flutter at the setting of the sun,
And the old birds chat together when the daily work is done—
They will think of you with fondness and talk sadly of last Spring,
When you were bright and busy, and could build and brood and sing.


10.


"Oh, my robins! with the fever and the coughing and the pain,
Sometimes I can't help thinking I shall ne'er get well again;
But I feel I can be happy, if the children only take
Compassion on my darlings, for poor little Elsie's sake."


11.


When I heard sick little Elsie moaning, weeping, wailing so,
(I am very tender-hearted, though a Fairy of the Snow,)
Said I, "To all the children I will straightway haste, and tell
How Elsie wants their kindness for the birds she loves so well."


12.


Said I, "Poor little Elsie lies in bed so ill and weak;
They will think of her and love her—they will listen when I speak ;
They will feed the birds in winter, and protect them in the spring,
For the children should be loving to each tender living thing."


――――♦――――


[Next Page]

 


 [Home] [Up] [Reminiscences] [Victorian Memories] [Literary Rambles] [Unfrequented France] [Home Life in France] [Little Bird Red] [Main Index] [Site Search]

Correspondence should be addressed to.... Webmaster@Gerald-Massey.org.uk