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The Snow-daughter And The Fire-son

from The Yellow Fairy Book





From the Bukowinaer Tales and Legends. Von Wliolocki.

There was once upon a time a man and his wife, and they had no
children, which was a great grief to them. One winter's day,
when the sun was shining brightly, the couple were standing
outside their cottage, and the woman was looking at all the
little icicles which hung from the roof. She sighed, and turning
to her husband said, 'I wish I had as many children as there are
icicles hanging there.' 'Nothing would please me more either,'
replied her husband. Then a tiny icicle detached itself from the
roof, and dropped into the woman's mouth, who swallowed it with a
smile, and said, 'Perhaps I shall give birth to a snow child
now!' Her husband laughed at his wife's strange idea, and they
went back into the house.

But after a short time the woman gave birth to a little girl, who
was as white as snow and as cold as ice. If they brought the
child anywhere near the fire, it screamed loudly till they put it
back into some cool place. The little maid throve wonderfully,
and in a few months she could run about and speak. But she was
not altogether easy to bring up, and gave her parents much
trouble and anxiety, for all summer she insisted on spending in
the cellar, and in the winter she would sleep outside in the
snow, and the colder it was the happier she seemed to be. Her
father and mother called her simply 'Our Snow-daughter,' and this
name stuck to her all her life.

One day her parents sat by the fire, talking over the
extraordinary behaviour of their daughter, who was disporting
herself in the snowstorm that raged outside. The woman sighed
deeply and said, 'I wish I had given birth to a Fire-son!' As she
said these words, a spark from the big wood fire flew into the
woman's lap, and she said with a laugh, 'Now perhaps I shall give
birth to a Fire-son!' The man laughed at his wife's words, and
thought it was a good joke. But he ceased to think it a joke
when his wife shortly afterwards gave birth to a boy, who
screamed lustily till he was put quite close to the fire, and who
nearly yelled himself into a fit if the Snow-daughter came
anywhere near him. The Snow-daughter herself avoided him as much
as she could, and always crept into a corner as far away from him
as possible. The parents called the boy simply 'Our Fire-son,' a
name which stuck to him all his life. They had a great deal of
trouble and worry with him too; but he throve and grew very
quickly, and before he was a year old he could run about and
talk. He was as red as fire, and as hot to touch, and he always
sat on the hearth quite close to the fire, and complained of the
cold; if his sister were in the room he almost crept into the
flames, while the girl on her part always complained of the great
heat if her brother were anywhere near. In summer the boy always
lay out in the sun, while the girl hid herself in the cellar: so
it happened that the brother and sister came very little into
contact with each other--in fact, they carefully avoided it.

Just as the girl grew up into a beautiful woman, her father and
mother both died one after the other. Then the Fire-son, who had
grown up in the meantime into a fine, strong young man, said to
his sister, 'I am going out into the world, for what is the use
of remaining on here?'

'I shall go with you,' she answered, 'for, except you, I have no
one in the world, and I have a feeling that if we set out
together we shall be lucky.'

The Fire-son said, 'I love you with all my heart, but at the same
time I always freeze if you are near me, and you nearly die of
heat if I approach you! How shall we travel about together
without being odious the one to the other?'

'Don't worry about that,' replied the girl, 'for I've thought it
all over, and have settled on a plan which will make us each able
to bear with the other! See, I have had a fur cloak made for
each of us, and if we put them on I shall not feel the heat so
much nor you the cold.' So they put on the fur cloaks, and set
out cheerfully on their way, and for the first time in their
lives quite happy in each other's company.

For a long time the Fire-son and the Snow-daughter wandered
through the world, and when at the beginning of winter they came
to a big wood they determined to stay there till spring. The
Fire-son built himself a hut where he always kept up a huge
fire, while his sister with very few clothes on stayed outside
night and day. Now it happened one day that the King of the land
held a hunt in this wood, and saw the Snow-daughter wandering
about in the open air. He wondered very much who the beautiful
girl clad in such garments could be, and he stopped and spoke to
her. He soon learnt that she could not stand heat, and that her
brother could not endure cold. The King was so charmed by the
Snow-daughter, that he asked her to be his wife. The girl
consented, and the wedding was held with much state. The King
had a huge house of ice made for his wife underground, so that
even in summer it did not melt. But for his brother-in-law he
had a house built with huge ovens all round it, that were kept
heated all day and night. The Fire-son was delighted, but the
perpetual heat in which he lived made his body so hot, that it
was dangerous to go too close to him.

One day the King gave a great feast, and asked his brother-in-
law among the other guests. The Fire-son did not appear till
everyone had assembled, and when he did, everyone fled outside to
the open air, so intense was the heat he gave forth. Then the
King was very angry and said, 'If I had known what a lot of
trouble you would have been, I would never have taken you into my
house.' Then the Fire-son replied with a laugh, 'Don't be angry,
dear brother! I love heat and my sister loves cold--come here
and let me embrace you, and then I'll go home at once.' And
before the King had time to reply, the Fire-son seized him in a
tight embrace. The King screamed aloud in agony, and when his
wife, the Snow-daughter, who had taken refuge from her brother
in the next room, hurried to him, the King lay dead on the ground
burnt to a cinder. When the Snow-daughter saw this she turned on
her brother and flew at him. Then a fight began, the like of
which had never been seen on earth. When the people, attracted
by the noise, hurried to the spot, they saw the Snow-daughter
melting into water and the Fire-son burn to a cinder. And so
ended the unhappy brother and sister.





Next: The Story Of King Frost

Previous: The Flying Ship



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