till the sky grew dark, and bleak winds whistled by. Then Ripple,
folded in the soft, warm leaf, looked sadly down on the earth,
that seemed to lie so desolate and still beneath its shroud of snow,
and thought how bitter cold the leaves and flowers must be; for the
little Water-Spirit did not know that Winter spread a soft white
covering above their beds, that they might safely sleep below till
Spring should waken them again. So she went sorrowfully on, till
Winter, riding on the strong North-Wind, came rushing by, with
a sparkling ice-crown in his streaming hair, while from beneath his
crimson cloak, where glittering frost-work shone like silver threads,
he scattered snow-flakes far and wide.
“What do you seek with me, fair little Spirit, that you come
so bravely here amid my ice and snow? Do not fear me; I am warm
at heart, though rude and cold without,” said Winter, looking kindly
on her, while a bright smile shone like sunlight on his pleasant face,
as it glowed and glistened in the frosty air.
When Ripple told him why she had come, he pointed upward, where the
sunlight dimly shone through the heavy clouds, saying,–
“Far off there, beside the sun, is the Fire-Spirits’ home; and the
only path is up, through cloud and mist. It is a long, strange path,
for a lonely little Spirit to be going; the Fairies are wild, wilful
things, and in their play may harm and trouble you. Come back with
me, and do not go this dangerous journey to the sky. I’ll gladly
bear you home again, if you will come.”
But Ripple said, “I cannot turn back now, when I am nearly there.
The Spirits surely will not harm me, when I tell them why I am come;
and if I win the flame, I shall be the happiest Spirit in the sea,
for my promise will be kept, and the poor mother happy once again.
So farewell, Winter! Speak to her gently, and tell her to hope still,
for I shall surely come.”
“Adieu, little Ripple! May good angels watch above you! Journey
bravely on, and take this snow-flake that will never melt, as MY
gift,” Winter cried, as the North-Wind bore him on, leaving a cloud
of falling snow behind.
“Now, dear Breeze,” said Ripple, “fly straight upward through the air,
until we reach the place we have so long been seeking; Sunbeam shall
go before to light the way, Yellow-leaf shall shelter me from heat and
rain, while Snow-flake shall lie here beside me till it comes of use.
So farewell to the pleasant earth, until we come again. And now away,
up to the sun!”
When Ripple first began her airy journey, all was dark and dreary;
heavy clouds lay piled like hills around her, and a cold mist
filled the air but the Sunbeam, like a star, lit up the way, the leaf
lay warmly round her, and the tireless wind went swiftly on. Higher
and higher they floated up, still darker and darker grew the air,
closer the damp mist gathered, while the black clouds rolled and
tossed, like great waves, to and fro.
“Ah!” sighed the weary little Spirit, “shall I never see the light
again, or feel the warm winds on my cheek? It is a dreary way indeed,
and but for the Seasons’ gifts I should have perished long ago; but
the heavy clouds MUST pass away at last, and all be fair again.
So hasten on, good Breeze, and bring me quickly to my journey’s end.”
Soon the cold vapors vanished from her path, and sunshine shone
upon her pleasantly; so she went gayly on, till she came up among
the stars, where many new, strange sights were to be seen. With
wondering eyes she looked upon the bright worlds that once seemed dim
and distant, when she gazed upon them from the sea; but now they moved
around her, some shining with a softly radiant light, some circled
with bright, many-colored rings, while others burned with a red,
angry glare. Ripple would have gladly stayed to watch them longer,
for she fancied low, sweet voices called her, and lovely faces