All through the long hours of yesterday the low clouds hung close above our heads, to pour with more unswerving aim their constant storm of sleet and snow,—sometimes working in soft silence.
sometimes with impatient, gusty breaths, but always busily at work.
Darkness brought no rest to these laborious warriors of the air, but only fiercer strife: the wild winds rose; noisy recruits, they howled beneath the eaves, or swept around the walls, like hungry wolves, now here, now there, howling at opposite doors.
Thus, through the anxious and wakeful night, the storm went on. The household lay vexed by broken dreams, with changing fancies of lost children on solitary moors, of sleighs hopelessly overturned in drifted and pathless gorges, or of icy cordage upon disabled vessels in Arctic seas; until a softer warmth, as of sheltering snow-wreaths, lulled all into deeper rest till morning.
And what a morning!
The sun, a young conqueror, sends in his glorious rays, like heralds, to rouse us for the inspection of his trophies.
The baffled foe, retiring, has left far and near the high-heaped spoils behind.
The glittering plains own the new victor.
Over all these level and wide-swept meadows, over all these drifted, spotless slopes, he is proclaimed undisputed monarch.
On the wooded hillsides the startled shadows are in motion; they flee like young fawns, bounding upward and downward over rock and dell, as through the long, gleaming arches the king comes marching to his throne.
But shade yet lingers undisturbed in the valleys, mingled with timid smoke from household chimneys; blue as the smoke, a gauzy haze is twined around the brow of every distant hill; and the same soft azure confuses the outlines of the nearer trees, to whose branches snowy wreaths are clinging, far up among the boughs, like strange new flowers.
Everywhere the unstained surface glistens in the sunbeams.
In the curves and wreaths and turrets of the drifts a blue tinge nestles.
The fresh, pure sky answers to it; every cloud has vanished, save one or two which linger near the horizon, pardoned offenders, seeming far too innocent for mischief, although their dark and sullen brothers, banished ignominiously below the horizon's verge, may be plotting nameless treachery there.
The brook still flows