THE SNOW MAN
I have been fastened to a chain and-have lost my voice. Don't you hear how hoarse I am ? Off ! QJf ! that was the end of the affair.'
But the Snow Man was no longer listening to him. He was looking in at the housekeeper's basement lodging, into the room where the stove stood on its four iron legs, just the same size as the Snow Man himself.
1 What a strange crackling within me ! ' he said. ' Shall I ever get in there ? It is an innocent wish, and our innocent wishes are certain to be fulfilled. It is my highest wish, my only wish, and it would be almost an injustice if it were not satisfied. I must go in there and lean against her, even if I have to break through the window.'
' You will never get in there,' said the Yard Dog ; ' and if you approach the stove then you are off ! off !'
' I am as good as gone,' replied the Snow Man. ' I think I am breaking up.'
The whole day the Snow Man stood looking in through the window. In the twilight hour the room became still more inviting : from the stove came a mild gleam, not like the sun nor like the moon ; no, it was only as the stove can glow when he has something to eat. When the room door opened, the flame started out of his mouth ; this was a habit the stove had. The flame fell distinctly on the white face of the Snow Man, and gleamed red upon his bosom.
' I can endure it no longer,' said he ; ' how beautiful it looks when it stretches out its tongue ! '
The night was long ; but it did not appear long to the Snow Man, who stood there lost in his own charming reflections, crackling with the cold.
In the morning the window-panes of the basement lodging were covered with ice. They bore the most beautiful ice-flowers that any snow man could desire ; but they concealed the stove. The window-panes would not thaw ; he could not see her. It crackled and whistled in him and around him ; it was just the kind of frosty weather a snow man must thoroughly enjoy. But he did not enjoy it ; and, indeed, how could he enjoy himself when he was stove-sick ?
1 That's a terrible disease for a Snow Man,' said the