The tale is soon told, but it takes time to happen, and the sledge was white all over long before they turned off into the forest.
They came in the end deep into the forest, and left the road, and over the deep snow through the trees to the great fir. There the old man stopped, told his daughter to get out of the sledge, set her little box under the fir, and said, "Wait here for your bridegroom, and when he comes be sure to receive him with kind words." Then he turned the mare round and drove home, with the tears running from his eyes and freezing on his cheeks before they had had time to reach his beard.
The little maid sat and trembled. Her sheepskin coat was worn through, and in her blue bridal dress she sat, while fits of shivering shook her whole body. She wanted to run away; but she had not strength to move, or even to keep her little white teeth from chattering between her frozen lips.
Suddenly, not far away, she heard Frost crackling among the fir trees, just as he is crackling now. He was leaping from tree to tree, crackling as he came.
He leapt at last into the great fir tree, under which the little maid was sitting. He crackled in the top of the tree, and then called; down out of the topmost branches,—
"Are you warm, little maid?"
"Warm, warm, little Father Frost."
Frost laughed, and came a little lower in the tree and crackled and crackled louder than before. Then he asked,—
"Are you still warm, little maid? Are you warm, little red cheeks?"
The little maid could hardly speak. She was nearly dead, but she answered,—
"Warm, dear Frost; warm, little father."
Frost climbed lower in the tree, and crackled louder than ever, and asked,—
"Are you still warm, little maid? Are you warm, little red cheeks? Are you warm, little paws?"
The little maid was benumbed all over, but she whispered so that Frost could just hear her,—
"Warm, little pigeon, warm, dear Frost,"
And Frost was sorry for her, leapt down with a tremendous crackle and a scattering of frozen snow, wrapped the little maid up in rich furs, and covered her with warm blankets.