“Yes, father,” said Violet, looking reproachfully at him, through her tears, “there is all that is left of our dear little snow-sister!”
“Naughty father!” cried Peony, stamping his foot, and—I shudder to say—shaking his little fist at the common-sensible man. “We told you how it would be! What for did you bring her in?”
And the Heidenberg stove, through the isinglass of its door, seemed to glare at good Mr. Lindsey, like a red-eyed demon, triumphing in the mischief which it had done!
This, you will observe, was one of those rare cases, which yet will occasionally happen, where common-sense finds itself at fault. The remarkable story of the snow-image, though to that sagacious class of people to whom good Mr. Lindsey belongs it may seem but a childish affair, is, nevertheless, capable of being moralised in various methods, greatly for their edification. One of its lessons, for instance, might be that it behooves men, and especially men of benevolence, to consider well what they are about, and, before acting on their philanthropic purposes, to be quite sure that they comprehend the nature and all the relations of the business in hand. What has been established as an element of good to one being may prove absolute mischief to another; even as the warmth of the parlour was proper enough for children of flesh and blood, like Violet and Peony—though by no means very wholesome, even for them—involved nothing short of annihilation to the unfortunate snow-image.
But, after all, there is no teaching anything to wise men of good Mr. Lindsey’s stamp. They know everything—O, to be sure!—everything that has been, and everything that is, and everything that, by any future possibility, can be. And should some phenomenon of nature or providence transcend their system, they will not recognise it, even if it come to pass under their very noses.
“Wife,” said Mr. Lindsey, after a fit of silence, “see what a quantity of snow the children have brought in on their feet! It has made quite a puddle here before the stove. Pray tell Dora to bring some towels and sop it up!”
I.—HOW THE KNIGHT CAME TO THE FISHERMAN’S COTTAGE
Once—it may be some hundreds of years ago—there lived a good old Fisherman, who, on a fine summer’s evening, was sitting before the door mending his nets. He dwelt in a land of exceeding beauty. The green slope, upon which he had built his hut, stretched far out into a great lake; and it seemed either that the cape, enamoured of the glassy blue waters, had pressed forward into their bosom, or that the lake had lovingly folded in its arms the blooming promontory, with her waving grass and flowers, and the refreshing shade of her tall trees. Each bade the other welcome, and increased its own beauty by so doing. This lovely nook was scarcely ever visited by mankind, except