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of the Snow
When it was done, all the children threw snowballs at it, till it fell to pieces. And the little snow girl laughed and laughed, and was so quick she threw more snowballs than any of them.
The old man and the old woman watched her, and were very proud.
"She is all our own," said the old woman.
"Our little white pigeon," said the old man.
In the evening she had another bowl of ice porridge, and then she went off again to play by herself in the yard.
"You'll be tired, my dear," says the old man.
"You'll sleep in the hut tonight, won't you, my love," says the old woman, "after running about all day long?"
But the little daughter of the Snow only laughed. "By frosty night and frosty day," she sang, and ran out of the door, laughing back at them with shining eyes.
And so it went on all through the winter. The little daughter of the Snow was singing and laughing and dancing all the time. She always ran out into the night and played by herself till dawn. Then she'd come in and have her ice porridge. Then she'd play with the children. Then she'd have ice porridge again, and off she would go, out into the night.
She was very good. She did everything the old woman told her. Only she would never sleep indoors. All the children of the village loved her. They did not know how they had ever played without her.
It went on so till just about this time of year. Perhaps it was a little earlier. Anyhow the snow was melting, and you could get about the paths. Often the children went together a little way into the forest in the sunny part of the day. The little snow girl went with them. It would have been no fun without her.
And then one day they went too far into the wood, and when they said they were going to turn back, little snow girl tossed her head under her little fur hat, and ran on laughing among the trees. The other children were afraid to follow her. It was getting dark. They waited as long as they dared, and then they ran home, holding each other's hands.
And there was the little daughter of the Snow out in the forest alone.
She looked back for the others, and could not see them. She climbed up into a tree; but the other trees were thick round her, and she could not see farther than when she was on the ground.
She called out from the tree,
"Ai, ai, little friends, have pity on the little snow girl."
An old brown bear heard her, and came shambling up on his heavy paws.
"What are you crying about, little daughter of the Snow?"
"O big bear," says the little snow girl, "How can I help crying? I have lost my way, and dusk is falling, and all my little friends are gone."
"I will take you home," says the old brown bear.
"O big bear," says the little snow girl, "I am afraid of you. I think you would eat me. I would rather go home with some one else."
So the bear shambled away and left her.