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When Jack Frost Was Young

from Sandman's Goodnight Stories





Not that he is old now, for Jack is a snappy, bright fellow, and will
never really grow old--that is, in anything but experience.

And that is exactly what this story is about, the time when Jack Frost
was young in experience and would not listen to his mother, old Madam
North Wind.

One morning he awoke and hustled about with a will, and Madam North
Wind, who had not yet begun to arise early in the morning, was aroused
from her slumbers.

"Whatever are you doing, making such a noise at this time in the
morning?" she asked her son.

"It is time I was on my round," said Jack Frost, in a snappy, sharp
tone. "I mean to begin early and not let all the farmers get ahead of
me and get their corn and pumpkins and such things in the barn.

"They will have to look out for me, I tell you, mother. I am a sharp,
snappy young fellow, and they must know it."

"You go back to your bed," said old Madam North Wind. "It is not time
for frosts yet. You should not begin your rounds for another two weeks
at least."

"Oh, mother, you are so old-fashioned," said Jack Frost. "I want to be
up and doing. Those farmers think they know everything there is to
know about the weather, and I want to show them I am too smart for
them. I shall start off to-night."

"You listen to me if you do not wish to spoil all your beautiful
colored pictures, Jack," said his mother. "I may be old-fashioned, but
I know what the beauty of your work is worth, and if you do not wish to
lose your reputation as an artist you go back to your bed and wait
until I call you."

But Jack Frost, like many a son, thought his mother was far too
old-fashioned; but to keep her from fretting he crept into bed again
and kept still until he was sure his mother was asleep.

All day he kept quiet, and when the darkness came he listened to make
sure old Madam North Wind was still sleeping before he crept softly out
of his bed.

Very quietly he got out his big white coat and cap and then he filled
his big white bag with white shiny frost from his mother's chest.

He filled the bag full and then shook it down and put in more. "I'll
give them a good one to-night," he said, laughing at the thought of the
surprise he would give the farmers.

Then he crept softly past his sleeping mother, and out he went; flying
swiftly over hill and dale.

All around he spread the white frost, and when at last he finished his
work the old Sun Man, looking over the crest of the hill, was horrified
when he looked upon a white world.

"You rascal!" he shouted after Jack Frost's flying shape. "You are far
too early! You have spoiled all your pictures for this year!"

"Old silly, what does he know?" said Jack as he hurried along. "He is
just like mother--old-fashioned."

Jack got softly into bed, and not until his mother called him did he
awake again.

"Come," she said one day, "it is time now for you to be about your
work, and your pictures should be gorgeous in their colorings this
year. Be careful, my son; scatter your frost to-night lightly, and
again to-morrow night. I will go out in the morning and see how things
look."

Jack Frost did not tell his mother he had been out before. He did not
need to tell her, for the next morning before old Madam North Wind had
gone far she knew what had happened. "They are all spoiled," she said
as she looked over the landscape; "all black and dead before they had a
bit of color."

"Come out and look at your work," she said, going back for her son.
"You thought you knew more about it than your old mother."

Jack Frost had no idea what old Madam North Wind meant, but he felt
sure something was wrong, so he followed his mother very meekly; but
when they reached the forest he knew something was wrong indeed.

No bright and beautifully-colored leaves and bushes met his gaze. All
were brown and black. "What is the matter with my pictures?" he asked.
"I thought they would be very beautiful this year."

"You stole out before it was time, and you not only surprised the
farmers, but you spoiled all your gorgeous pictures and cheated all the
people who look for them. There will be none this year because you
thought you knew more than I. Go home. There is no work for you, and
perhaps you will listen to me next year and not get up until I call
you."

Jack Frost went home a sadder but wiser fellow and the next year he
slept and did not put his frosty nose out from under his blanket until
old Madam North Wind called him.





Next: The Revenge Of The Fireflies

Previous: What The Flowers Told Martha



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