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Ice Warm

There was once a young serving maid who lived in a frozen house. She worked hard from dawn to dusk but no matter how she toiled she shivered with bitter cold.

The house was made of hard-packed snow with shining ice for windows. Icicles formed decorative chimneys and ledges and a patterned porch, but the house still seemed bleak. The ice windows did not let in much light so the rooms were dark.

The little serving maid’s hands ached unbearably as she swept the frosty carpets and polished the frozen furniture. She shook with the cold and even her fiery red hair could not warm her.

The chill did not seem to affect the Master and Mistress and Head Housekeeper. They went about their business briskly and never complained, so the little servant maid did not like to complain either. A pain started in her chest and grew steadily worse. She started crying and found she could not stop.

The Master, Mistress and Head Housekeeper treated kindly at first but when she started to shriek they lost their patience and bundled her out of the house. The serving maid lay down in the snow, still shrieking.

When the dawn came at last the pain suddenly stopped. She felt an immense explosion in her chest. She looked down and saw scarlet shards sticking out of her nightdress. Her heart had frozen fast and broken into fragments.

She fingered them in astonishment. There was now such a strange hollow feel to her chest that she took a lump of coal and swallowed it. It stuck fast in the cavity and started beating of its own accord. And as it beat it sent new black blood around her body, new black thoughts into her brain.

She went inside the house with a new black gleam in her eyes. Her hair crackled like fire. She was warm for the first time in her life. The snow melted wherever she took a step. There was a steady drip drip drip.

The Master, Mistress and the Head Housekeeper cowered away from the little serving maid, as if scared she might scorch them.


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