Mrs. Peterkin awoke one morning to find a heavy snow-storm raging. The wind had flung the snow against the windows, had heaped it up around the house, and thrown it into huge white drifts over the fields, covering hedges and fences.
Mrs. Peterkin went from one window to the other to look out; but nothing could be seen but the driving storm and the deep white snow. Even Mr. Bromwick’s house, on the opposite side of the street, was hidden by the swift-falling flakes.
“What shall I do about it?” thought Mrs. Peterkin. “No roads cleared out! Of course there’ll be no butcher and no milkman!”
The first thing to be done was to wake up all the family early; for there was enough in the house for breakfast, and there was no knowing when they would have anything more to eat.
It was best to secure the breakfast first.
So she went from one room to the other, as soon as it was light, waking the family, and before long all were dressed and downstairs.
And then all went round the house to see what had happened.
All the water-pipes that there were were frozen. The milk was frozen. They could open the door into the wood-house; but the wood-house door into the yard was banked up with snow; and the front door, and the piazza door, and the side door stuck. Nobody could get in or out!
Meanwhile, Amanda, the cook, had succeeded in making the kitchen fire, but had discovered there was no furnace coal.
“The furnace coal was to have come to-day,” said Mrs. Peterkin, apologetically.
“Nothing will come to-day,” said Mr. Peterkin, shivering.
But a fire could be made in a stove in the dining-room.
All were glad to sit down to breakfast and hot coffee. The little boys were much pleased to have “ice-cream” for breakfast.
“When we get a little warm,” said Mr. Peterkin, “we will consider what is to be done.”
“I am thankful I ordered the sausages yesterday,” said Mrs. Peterkin. “I was to have had a leg of mutton to-day.”
“Nothing will come to-day,” said Agamemnon, gloomily.
“Are these sausages the last meat in the house?” asked Mr. Peterkin.
“Yes,” said Mrs. Peterkin.
The potatoes also were gone, the barrel of apples empty, and she had meant to order more flour that very day.
“Then we are eating our last provisions,” said Solomon John, helping himself to another sausage.
“I almost wish we had stayed in bed,” said Agamemnon.
“I thought it best to make sure of our breakfast first,” repeated Mrs. Peterkin.
“Shall we literally have nothing left to eat?” asked Mr. Peterkin.
“There’s the pig!” suggested Solomon John.
Yes, happily, the pigsty was at the end of the wood-house, and could be reached under cover.
But some of the family could not eat fresh pork.
“We should have to ‘corn’ part of him,” said Agamemnon.
“My butcher has always told me,” said Mrs. Peterkin, “that if I wanted a ham I must keep a pig. Now we have the pig, but have not the ham!”
“Perhaps we could ‘corn’ one or two of his legs,” suggested one of the little boys.
“We need not settle that now,” said Mr. Peterkin. “At least the pig will keep us from starving.”
The little boys looked serious; they were fond of their pig.
“If we had only decided to keep a cow,” said Mrs. Peterkin.
“Alas! yes,” said Mr. Peterkin, “one learns a great many things too late!”
“Then we might have had ice-cream all the time!” exclaimed the little boys.
Indeed, the little boys, in spite of the prospect of starving, were quite pleasantly excited at the idea of being snowed-up, and hurried through their breakfasts that they might go and try to shovel out a path from one of the doors.
“I ought to know more about the water-pipes,” said Mr. Peterkin. “Now, I shut off the water last night in the bath-room, or else I forgot to; and I ought to have shut it off in the cellar.”