The Story of the Year
It was in the latter part of January, and a heavy snowfall was driving down. It whirled through the streets and the lanes, and the outsides of the windowpanes seemed plastered with snow. It fell down in masses from the roofs of the houses. A sudden panic seized the people. They ran, they flew, and they fell into each other's arms and felt that at least for that little moment they had a foothold. The coaches and horses seemed covered with sugar frosting, and the footmen stood with their backs to the carriages, to protect their faces from the wind.
The pedestrians kept in the shelter of the carriages, which could move only slowly through the deep snow. When the storm at last ceased, and a narrow path had been cleared near the houses, the people as they met would stand still in this path, for neither wanted to take the first step into the deep snow to let the other pass. So they would stand motionless, until by silent consent each would sacrifice one leg and, stepping aside, bury it in the snowdrift.
By evening it had grown calm. The sky looked as if it had been swept and had become very lofty and transparent. The stars seemed quite new, and some of them were wonderfully blue and bright. It was freezing so hard that the snow creaked, and the upper crust of it was strong enough by morning to support the sparrows. These little birds were hopping up and down where the paths had been cleared, but they found very little to eat and were shivering with cold.
"Peep," said one to another. "They call this the new year, but it's much worse than the old one! We might just as well have kept the other year. I'm completely dissatisfied, and I have a right to be, too!"
"Yes," agreed a little shivering sparrow. "The people ran about firing off shots to celebrate the new year. And they banged pans and pots against the doors, and were quite noisy with joy because the old year was over. I was glad too, because I thought that meant we would have warm days, but nothing like that has happened yet.