« PoprzedniaDalej »
Carl was a noisy, rough little fellow. He liked to look at the mountain, and tell Pieretto and his mother how he meant to have his chalet built upon it when he grew to be a man; then he would pasture sheep, his wife would make cheese, and he would go off whole days, scaling the mountain passes, and come home, his hat trimmed with Alpine roses, to surprise them all with the chamois he had shot. His gentle mother, who was sick a great deal, only smiled sadly at Carl and his plans ; but his old grandfather would frequently tell him about little boys who had grown up to do a great deal to make their friends happy, encouraging all his dreams, and even adding to them some which Carl was obliged to declare could never take place.
Pieretto never said what he should do when he became a man; perhaps his boy-life was too busy for him to think much of what was beyond it; perhaps he noticed that his mother looked sad when Carl talked of his mountain life ; for the little boys' father had been such a bold mountaineer as Carl longed to be, and had been killed in one of the perilous passes, leaving his wife and old father to support themselves and the two boys.
The sun shining in Pieretto's eyes early in the morning always waked him ; then he would dress quietly, that Carl might sleep longer and not disturb his mother in the next room, and creep softly down stairs to feed the goat and pigs his grandfather owned. There were many things he found to do in the mornings, but in the afternoon, if his mother was well, he went out with Carl to play, or carried him down to the base of the mountain, where Pastor Josephen Meagher lived in the chalet next the church.
On one of these play afternoons in winter, Carl, being tired of the games of running and jumping with which Pieretto had so many times amused him, sat down on the lower step of the staircase, saying discontentedly, “ If I only had playthings now like Louis and Adelia Meagher, I 'd rather stay indoors than out this freezing afternoon. Why does n’t the Christ-child bring as nice things to us as to them, Pierro ?”
“Did n't you have a chalet on the Christmas-tree last year ?" asked Pieretto good-naturedly. “I don't want any nicer playthings than I find out of doors. I guess the Christ-child himself had no others, for you know they tell us in Sunday school that his father and mother were poor." “But God was his Father !” cried Carl, with great round eyes of surprise.
“ Yes, and God is our Father; so all the playthings he makes belong to us.”
“God make playthings! I'm sure I don't know what you mean, Pierro, and I think you 're saying real wicked things !” said Carl.
“Wicked things ? no indeed. Who makes the stones we build our castles of, and the little rivers we sail our ships on ?” asked Pieretto. “And besides, there 's a real ice palace up in the glen, prettier than any toy Louis has.”
“O, is there really, Pierro ? Show it to me, Pierro!” cried Carl, jumping up and catching hold of Pieretto's hand.
"A run up the mountain will do you good, after sitting so still in the cold,” returned Pieretto gravely. “So come on."
Both boys were too much excited, Carl with curiosity, and Pieretto with the pride and pleasure of gratifying it, to continue their talk. So they ran, stopped a moment for breath, then ran on again, that they might, as Pieretto said, reach the ice palace two hours before sunset.
They reached the glen, which was almost enclosed by fir-trees, and where the snow and ice began to form, and tossed itself in wilder and wilder shapes, until on the summit it seemed at a distance like a part of the soft, fleecy clouds which so often hung in the air around it.
There in the glen were the tiny rivers and waterfalls which amused the boys so much in summer. Now they were still and cold, - as different from themselves when Carl had last seen them, as the bright, playful child differs from the little body still and cold when God has taken the spirit to himself.
Carl must have thought so too, for he exclaimed as soon as he saw them, “0, they are dead, Pierro ! all our beautiful rivers and waterfalls are dead."
“No more dead than you when you are asleep, and can't talk," laughed Pieretto. “Winter is night for the flowers and brooks; but I know how to wake them up and show you the fairies of the ice palace."
Pieretto's eye sparkled with conscious power, and his cheek was unusually flushed, while Carl jumped about crying, “Do, Pierro, O please do !”
“Well, throw yourself down here on the ice-palace. Do you see its spires and turrets, and all the queer shapes we find on our window-panes cold mornings ?”
“Yes, I see,” whispered Carl.
His warm breath melted the doorway, and Carl stooped down to look in. There was a room looking as if made of glass, but really a crystal palace of pure shining ice, with icicles hanging from its roof, and delicate tracery of frost-work frescoing its walls. This room was filled with fairies about as large as your thumb, pure and white as snow-flakes, and dancing about as those fall in a snow-storm ; others, of a more dazzling transparency and a more elfish look, were spirits of the hail-shower. Only one, the largest of all, had a touch of color about his face, which seemed to be made of a juniper-berry and covered with a white frost. He had two shining black eyes, and was clothed in ermine, with sparkling diamond ornaments of frozen water-drops. He was a jolly little frost-king, and had a tiny icicle in one hand, which he held as a sceptre, or used, as we shall see, as a brush or pencil.
The fairies danced more slowly, and began to droop even while Pieretto and Carl were looking at them; and Jack Frost seeing it, and feeling badly himself, turned to see what was the cause. When he caught sight of Pieretto and Carl at the doorway, he exclaimed, “No wonder you feel so faint, my little elves; the hot air is pouring in upon us from a fiery furnace outside. Look here, my giant friends," he added, turning to the boys, “if you want to see how we live, you must n't hold your mouths open with astonishment. Your warm breath is as unpleasant to us as this would be to you.” With that the mischievous king jumped quite unexpectedly on Carl's nose, and gave it such a nip that it ached with the cold. “Don't cry,” said the king
in a cheery voice, the laughs falling from him like water-drops from a cascade. “I only wanted to let you see what I could do, but I am ready to be as polite as you wish. After sundown I will show you how I pass the nights ; it is too hot for me to venture out now. My children here will go soon, one more dance first"; -and seizing castanets of ice, he played a tinkling melody, to which the fairies few round again.
Then the boys noticed that, though the faces of the fairies were white, their dresses were often of the most brilliant colors, — rose and violet and blue ; they shaded all colors of the rainbow, and as they whirled in and out amid the mazes of the dance, they formed figures like those of the kaleidoscope.
“You see that sheet of ice before you?” said Jack Frost. The boys looked, and noticed as he spoke the various colors of the different parts of it. “Well, when you want to see any of these fairies,” continued King John, as his subjects respectfully called him, “just breathe gently over the roofs of their tiny houses. There in a corner, amid firs and sprays of delicate fern, shrouded in ice, lives Violet Water; and by the rock is the Waterfall Fairy, whom you play with in summer without knowing her One day last autumn the Brook Fairy, who is a sturdy fellow, and goes babbling over all the stones out to the sea, asked her to marry him. Sumachs and other shrubs blushed at the very idea, but they peeped over the mossy brink to see her fall into his arms for all that. Did n’t we have a gay wedding ? Come, children,” he called to the fairies, “be away for the night. We 'll have many a merry meeting before spring, and then be off to the higher mountain. Be sure and hold those purple-belled Alpine flowers down tight, or some of these warm noons they 'll pop their heads up out of the snow, and then you 'll find your ice-palace won't stand long.".
Then the fairies — Violet Water and Waterfall, Icy Blue and Rosedrop, with many, many more — knelt in a circle around their king, who kissed them rather coldly, as was his nature. Then they sprang up, and, forming a procession, turned to go through a long avenue, which led beneath its ice roof down the mountain, singing as they went to the clink of their tiny icicles,
“You boys should be the friends always
At these last words the fairies, with a merry glance and bow, shot suddenly farther into the silver aisle, and Carl clapped his hands with delight when he saw its diamond ceiling, through which at night the cold gleam of the stars sent flashes of light. It had columns of shining ice, and on these, in place of gas-fixtures, were opals, whose mild and changing color gave a strange beauty to the scene. The Alpine blossoms too, which they chained down by threads of ice fine as spun glass, showed their bright colors here, and Alpine roses blushed a tender bride-like pink beneath their snowy veils.
The boys would have gazed here for hours ; but the king began to work busily, building a solid wall against the opening; then, stooping down, he clasped some skates of ice upon his feet, and, bidding them follow, glided swiftly over the frozen stream, which fell almost down to the pasture-land where their mother's chalet stood. As he skated, he stopped occasionally to touch the shrubs along the brink-juniper and bilberry and rhododendron, still fresh in sheltered spots — with his ice-pencil, robbing them of every faint trace of green living color, — they turned brown and withered at each touch.
It was still an hour before sunset, but the light was dim among the giant shadows of the Alps, for dark gray clouds covered the sky. It was very cold too, or Jack Frost would not have ventured away from his ice palace so early. He stopped at the chalet with his young friends, who watched him, especially Carl, with amazement, as, climbing like a squirrel up to the sitting-room window, he pulled a seat of ice from beneath his fir mantle, and, fastening it on the sash, began to draw one of those pictures you see on the pane every cold morning. There were mountains, and pine forests, and deep ravines, such as he was familiar with in his Alpine home. He would perhaps have pencilled every window in the house, but a sudden gleam of sunlight fell on him, and, slipping from his seat to the ground like a tiny avalanche, he complained of feeling tired, and lay down to rest.
You can't tell how funny he looked with his pointed icicle hat and white fur coat! So the boys thought, and ran into the house to call their mother and grandfather to see him ; but when they came back, the sun was out more warmly still, and on the spot where he had lain, it shone upon a small pool of water, which never dried up, but became the source of a mountain rivulet, running down to the parsonage, and making the boys think, when the grass bordered it in summer, of their tiny friend, who had dropped his silver belt, and vanished up the mountain at the approach of sunshine,
“ Our Frost-King is gone,” cried Carl. “O Pierro, I do believe he was nothing but an icicle after all !” he added, discontentedly.
“Well, well, don't feel so badly my boy,” said Pastor Meagher, who had come to take tea at the cottage, and stood beside them now. “I have brought a knife for Pieretto, and mean to teach him how to carve the Swiss chalets. You can have some toys then, and he can sell many besides to travellers who pass this way."
Pieretto looked up and smiled joyfully at his mother ; then turned to thank the Pastor ; and never, after he learned the art of carving, did his mother or grandfather want any comfort for sickness or old age.
Mary L. Smith.
LESSONS IN MAGIC.
CROM the bottom of my heart, my dear young readers, I wish you all the T pleasures of this holiday season; and in the hope of adding something to your amusement I offer you this Lesson, for the first part of which I will choose
The Herrmann Bran-Trick. This trick, which bears the name of its inventor, is as follows. A large glass vessel, shaped like a mammoth goblet, is brought forward and handed to the audience for examination. It is then filled with bran from a box on the stage, by placing it in the box, which hides it for the moment from view. It is then covered with a brass cap, which reaches only to the leg or stand of it, so that the audience may see that the bran does not pass through the leg. A small box, perfectly empty, is now shown, which is next closed, and at the word of command the bran changes its place; for on removing the cap, the goblet is found empty, while the box, which but a moment before contained nothing, is filled with bran.
Have a round pasteboard box made, shaped like the upper part of a goblet, and of such size as will admit of its just slipping inside the goblet you use for the trick. On each side of the top of this box, just at the edge, have two stout wires fastened, which must be bent so as to come over the edge of the goblet when the box is inside it. Now cover the outside of the box with strong glue or paste; and before it dries sprinkle it over with bran, taking care to leave no part uncovered.
When about to show the trick, secretly place the pasteboard box in the box containing the bran. Now fill your goblet; hold it up high, and pour the bran back into the box; repeat this several times, and at last, when pretending to fill it, slip the pasteboard box, mouth downward, into the goblet; cover the bottom of the box with some loose bran, and bring the goblet forward. Shake off some of the loose bran, and your audience will suppose the goblet to be full. On the inside of the brass cap are two grooves, extending the whole length of the cap and terminating each in a hole, just large enough to admit the wires which are fastened to the top of the pasteboard box. When the cap is placed over the goblet, care is taken that those wires fit in the grooves; the cap is now pushed down, and when it fairly covers the goblet the wires will be at the end of the grooves and push through the holes. All that is to be done now is to raise the cap, and the pasteboard box comes out with it, leaving the goblet empty. • The box, which is shown empty, and afterwards found filled with bran, it is very difficult clearly to describe. As it is absolutely necessary, however, for the proper performance of conjuring tricks, to have a box which can be empty or full at pleasure, and as this one is the most simple known and a