: The Stories Mother Nature Told Her Children
Can you imagine a beautiful oval-shaped bay, almost encircled by a long
arm of sand stretching out from the mainland? In its deep water the
largest vessels might ride at anchor, but at the time of my story a
lonelier place could scarcely be found. Now and then Indian canoes
glided over the water, and at long intervals some vessel from the great
island away yonder to the North visited the little settlement upon the
of the bay. It is indeed a very little settlement,--a few houses
clustered together upon the sandy beach close to the blue water; behind
the houses rises a cliff crowned with great fir-trees, standing tall and
dark in thick ranks, making a dense forest; and beyond this forest,
cold, snow-covered mountains lift their peaks against the sky,--a
fitting home for the Frost Giants.
Three streams, straying from the far-away mountains, and fed by their
melted snows and hidden springs, find their way through the forest, leap
and tumble over the cliff, and, passing through the little settlement,
reach the sea. The people who live here call these little streams RUNS,
and one of them is Nannie's Run.
And, now, who is Nannie? Why, Nannie is Nannie Dwight,--a little girl
not yet five years old, who lives in the small square house standing
under the cliff. She sits even now on the door-step, and her red dress
looks like one gay flower brightening the sombre shadow of the firs. Her
father and mother came here to live when she was but a baby, and before
there was a single house built in the place; and it is out of compliment
to her that one of the streams has been named Nannie's Run.
While Nannie sits on the doorstep, and looks out at the sea, watching
for the vessel that will bring her father home from Victoria, we will go
through the forest, and up the mountain-sides, till we find the home of
the Frost Giants, and see what they are about to-day.
They have been working all winter, but not quite so busily as now; for
since yesterday they have cracked that big rock in two, and dug the
great cave under the hill, and now they are gathered in council on the
mountain-side that overlooks a dashing little stream. As we followed
this stream from the seashore, we happen to know that it is no other
than Nannie's Run. And as we have already begun to care for the little
girl, and therefore for her namesake, we are anxious to know what the
giants think of doing. We have not long to wait before we shall see, and
hear too; for a great creaking and cracking begins, and, while we gaze
astonished, the mountain-side begins to slide, and presently, with a
rush and a roar, dashes into the stream, and chokes it with a huge dam
of earth and rocks and trees.
What will the stream do now? For a moment the water leaps into the air,
all foam and sparkle, as if it would jump over the barrier, and find its
way to the sea at any rate. But this proves entirely unsuccessful; and
at last, after whirling and tumbling, trying to creep under; trying to
leap over, it settles itself quietly in its prison, as if to think about
Now, if you will stay and watch it day after day, you will see what good
result will come from this waiting; for every hour more and more water
is running to its aid, and, as its forces increase, we begin to feel
sure, that, although it can neither pass over nor under, it will some
day be strong enough to break through the Frost Giants' dam. And the day
comes at last, when, summoning all its waters to the attack, it makes a
breach in the great earth wall, and in a strong, grand column, as high
as this room, marches away towards the sea.
As we have the wings of thought to travel with, let us hurry back to the
settlement, and see where Nannie is now, and tell the people, if we only
can, what a wall of water is marching down upon them; for you see the
little channel that used to hold Nannie's Run is not a quarter large
enough for this torrent, that has gathered so long behind the dam.
Peep in at the window, and see how Nannie stands at the kitchen table,
cutting out little cakes from a bit of dough that her mother has given
her; she is all absorbed in her play, and her mother has gone to look
into the oven at the nicely browning loaves.
Oh, don't we wish the house had been built up on the cliff among the
fir-trees, safe above the reach of the water! But, alas! here it stands,
just in the path that the torrent will take, and we have no power to
tell of the danger that is approaching.
Mrs. Dwight turns from the oven, and, passing the window on her way to
the table, suddenly sees the great wall of water only a few rods from
her house. With one step she reaches the bedroom, seizes the blankets
from the bed, wraps Nannie in them, and with the little girl on one arm,
grasps Frankie's hand, and, telling Harry to run beside her, opens the
door nearest the cliff, and almost flies up its steep side.
Five minutes afterwards, sitting breathless on the roots of an old tree,
with her children safe beside her, she sees the whole shore covered with
surging water, and the houses swept into the bay, tossing and drifting
there like boats in a stormy sea. And this is what the Frost Giants did
to Nannie's Run.