Consecutive version of "The Frost Fairies" and "The Frost King"
"The Frost Fairies" and "The Frost King" are given in full, as the differences are as important as the resemblances:
THE FROST FAIRIES
King Frost, or Jack Frost as he is sometimes called, lives in a cold country far to the North; but every year he takes a journey over the world in a car of golden clouds drawn by a strong and rapid steed called "North Wind." Wherever he goes he does many wonderful things; he builds bridges over every stream, clear as glass in appearance but often strong as iron; he puts the flowers and plants to sleep by one touch of his hand, and they all bow down and sink into the warm earth, until spring returns; then, lest we should grieve for the flowers, he places at our windows lovely wreaths and sprays of his white northern flowers, or delicate little forests of fairy pine-trees, pure white and very beautiful. But his most wonderful work is the painting of the trees, which look, after his task is done, as if they were covered with the brightest layers of gold and rubies; and are beautiful enough to comfort us for the flight of summer.
I will tell you how King Frost first thought of this kind work, for it is a strange story. You must know that this King, like all other kings, has great treasures of gold and precious stones in his palace; but, being a good-hearted old fellow, he does not keep his riches locked up all the time, but tries to do good and make others happy with them. He has two neighbours, who live still farther north; one is King Winter, a cross and churlish old monarch, who is hard and cruel, and delights in making the poor suffer and weep; but the other neighbour is Santa Claus, a fine, good-natured, jolly old soul, who loves to do good, and who brings presents to the poor, and to nice little children at Christmas.
Well, one day King Frost was trying to think of some good that he could do with his treasure; and suddenly he concluded to send some of it to his kind neighbour, Santa Claus, to buy presents of food and clothing for the poor, that they might not suffer so much when King Winter went near their homes. So he called together his merry little fairies, and showing them a number of jars and vases filled with gold and precious stones, told them to carry those carefully to the palace of Santa Claus, and give them to him with the compliments of King Frost. "He will know how to make good use of the treasure," added Jack Frost; then he told the fairies not to loiter by the way, but to do his bidding quickly.
The fairies promised obedience and soon started on their journey, dragging the great glass jars and vases along, as well as they could, and now and then grumbling a little at having such hard work to do, for they were idle fairies, and liked play better than work. At last they reached a great forest, and, being quite tired, they decided to rest awhile and look for nuts before going any further. But lest the treasure should be stolen from them, they hid the jars among the thick leaves of the forest trees, placing some high up near the top, and others in different parts of the various trees, until they thought no one could find them.
Then they began to wander about and hunt for nuts, and climb the trees to shake them down, and worked much harder for their own pleasure than they had done for their master's bidding, for it is a strange truth that fairies and children never complain of the toil and trouble they take in search of amusement, although they often grumble when asked to work for the good of others.
The frost fairies were so busy and so merry over their nutting frolic that they soon forgot their errand and their king's command to go quickly; but, as they played and loitered in the forest until noon, they found the reason why they were told to hasten; for although they had, as they thought, hidden the treasure so carefully, they had not secured it from the power of Mr. Sun, who was an enemy of Jack Frost, and delighted to undo his work and weaken him whenever he could.
His bright eyes found out the jars of treasure among the trees, and as the idle fairies left them there until noon, at which time Mr. Sun is the strongest, the delicate glass began to melt and break, and before long every jar and vase was cracked or broken, and the precious treasures they contained were melting, too, and dripping slowly in streams of gold and crimson over the trees and bushes of the forest.
Still, for awhile, the frost fairies did not notice this strange occurrence, for they were down on the grass, so far below the tree-tops that the wonderful shower of treasure was a long time in reaching them; but at last one of them said, "Hark! I believe it is raining; I certainly hear the falling drops." The others laughed, and told him that it seldom rained when the sun was shining; but as they listened they plainly heard the tinkling of many drops falling through the forest, and sliding from leaf to leaf until they reached the bramble-bushes beside them, when, to their great dismay, they found that the rain-drops were melted rubies, which hardened on the leaves and turned them to bright crimson in a moment. Then looking more closely at the trees around, they saw that the treasure was all melting away, and that much of it was already spread over the leaves of the oak trees and maples, which were shining with their gorgeous dress of gold and bronze, crimson and emerald. It was very beautiful; but the idle fairies were too much frightened at the mischief their disobedience had caused, to admire the beauty of the forest, and at once tried to hide themselves among the bushes, lest King Frost should come and punish them.
Their fears were well founded, for their long absence had alarmed the king, and he had started out to look for his tardy servants, and just as they were all hidden, he came along slowly, looking on all sides for the fairies. Of course, he soon noticed the brightness of the leaves, and discovered the cause, too, when he caught sight of the broken jars and vases from which the melted treasure was still dropping. And when he came to the nut trees, and saw the shells left by the idle fairies and all the traces of their frolic, he knew exactly how they had acted, and that they had disobeyed him by playing and loitering on their way through the woods.
King Frost frowned and looked very angry at first, and his fairies trembled for fear and cowered still lower in their hiding-places; but just then two little children came dancing through the wood, and though they did not see King Frost or the fairies, they saw the beautiful colour of the leaves, and laughed with delight, and began picking great bunches to take to their mother. "The leaves are as pretty as flowers," said they; and they called the golden leaves "buttercups," and the red ones "roses," and were very happy as they went singing through the wood.
Their pleasure charmed away King Frost's anger, and he, too, began to admire the painted trees, and at last he said to himself, "My treasures are not wasted if they make little children happy. I will not be offended at my idle, thoughtless fairies, for they have taught me a new way of doing good." When the frost fairies heard these words they crept, one by one, from their corners, and, kneeling down before their master, confessed their fault, and asked his pardon. He frowned upon them for awhile, and scolded them, too, but he soon relented, and said he would forgive them this time, and would only punish them by making them carry more treasure to the forest, and hide it in the trees, until all the leaves, with Mr. Sun's help, were covered with gold and ruby coats.
Then the fairies thanked him for his forgiveness, and promised to work very hard to please him; and the good-natured king took them all up in his arms, and carried them safely home to his palace. From that time, I suppose, it has been part of Jack Frost's work to paint the trees with the glowing colours we see in the autumn; and if they are not covered with gold and precious stones, I do not know how he makes them so bright; do you?
THE FROST KING
King Frost lives in a beautiful palace far to the North, in the land of perpetual snow. The palace, which is magnificent beyond description, was built centuries ago, in the reign of King Glacier. At a little distance from the palace we might easily mistake it for a mountain whose peaks were mounting heavenward to receive the last kiss of the departing day. But on nearer approach we should discover our error. What we had supposed to be peaks were in reality a thousand glittering spires. Nothing could be more beautiful than the architecture of this ice-palace. The walls are curiously constructed of massive blocks of ice which terminate in cliff-like towers. The entrance to the palace is at the end of an arched recess, and it is guarded night and day by twelve soldierly-looking white Bears.
But, children, you must make King Frost a visit the very first opportunity you have, and see for yourselves this wonderful palace. The old King will welcome you kindly, for he loves children, and it is his chief delight to give them pleasure.
You must know that King Frost, like all other kings, has great treasures of gold and precious stones; but as he is a generous old monarch, he endeavours to make a right use of his riches. So wherever he goes he does many wonderful works; he builds bridges over every stream, as transparent as glass, but often as strong as iron; he shakes the forest trees until the ripe nuts fall into the laps of laughing children; he puts the flowers to sleep with one touch of his hand; then, lest we should mourn for the bright faces of the flowers, he paints the leaves with gold and crimson and emerald, and when his task is done the trees are beautiful enough to comfort us for the flight of summer. I will tell you how King Frost happened to think of painting the leaves, for it is a strange story.
Well, one day King Frost was surveying his vast wealth and thinking what good he could do with it, he suddenly bethought him of his jolly old neighbour, Santa Claus. "I will send my treasures to Santa Claus," said the King to himself. "He is the very man to dispose of them satisfactorily, for he knows where the poor and the unhappy live, and his kind old heart is always full of benevolent plans for their relief." So he called together the merry little fairies of his household and, showing them the jars and vases containing his treasures, he bade them carry them to the palace of Santa Claus as quickly as they could. The fairies promised obedience, and were off in a twinkling, dragging the heavy jars and vases along after them as well as they could, now and then grumbling a little at having such a hard task, for they were idle fairies and loved to play better than to work. After awhile they came to a great forest and, being tired and hungry, they thought they would rest a little and look for nuts before continuing their journey. But thinking their treasure might be stolen from them, they hid the jars among the thick green leaves of the various trees until they were sure that no one could find them. Then they began to wander merrily about searching for nuts, climbing trees, peeping curiously into the empty birds' nests, and playing hide and seek from behind the trees. Now, these naughty fairies were so busy and so merry over their frolic that they forgot all about their errand and their master's command to go quickly, but soon they found to their dismay why they had been bidden to hasten, for although they had, as they supposed, hidden the treasure carefully, yet the bright eyes of King Sun had spied out the jars among the leaves, and as he and King Frost could never agree as to what was the best way of benefiting the world, he was very glad of a good opportunity of playing a joke upon his rather sharp rival. King Sun laughed softly to himself when the delicate jars began to melt and break. At length every jar and vase was cracked or broken, and the precious stones they contained were melting, too, and running in little streams over the trees and bushes of the forest.
Still the idle fairies did not notice what was happening, for they were down on the grass, and the wonderful shower of treasure was a long time in reaching them; but at last they plainly heard the tinkling of many drops falling like rain through the forest, and sliding from leaf to leaf until they reached the little bushes by their side, when to their astonishment they discovered that the rain-drops were melted rubies which hardened on the leaves, and turned them to crimson and gold in a moment. Then looking around more closely, they saw that much of the treasure was already melted, for the oaks and maples were arrayed in gorgeous dresses of gold and crimson and emerald. It was very beautiful, but the disobedient fairies were too frightened to notice the beauty of the trees. They were afraid that King Frost would come and punish them. So they hid themselves among the bushes and waited silently for something to happen. Their fears were well founded, for their long absence had alarmed the King, and he mounted North Wind and went out in search of his tardy couriers. Of course, he had not gone far when he noticed the brightness of the leaves, and he quickly guessed the cause when he saw the broken jars from which the treasure was still dropping. At first King Frost was very angry, and the fairies trembled and crouched lower in their hiding-places, and I do not know what might have happened to them if just then a party of boys and girls had not entered the wood. When the children saw the trees all aglow with brilliant colors they clapped their hands and shouted for joy, and immediately began to pick great bunches to take home. "The leaves are as lovely as the flowers!" cried they, in their delight. Their pleasure banished the anger from King Frost's heart and the frown from his brow, and he, too, began to admire the painted trees. He said to himself, "My treasures are not wasted if they make little children happy. My idle fairies and my fiery enemy have taught me a new way of doing good."
When the fairies heard this, they were greatly relieved and came forth from their hiding-places, confessed their fault, and asked their master's forgiveness.
Ever since that time it has been King Frost's great delight to paint the leaves with the glowing colors we see in the autumn, and if they are not covered with gold and precious stones I cannot imagine what makes them so bright, can you?
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