**** ROTATE **** **** ROTATE **** **** ROTATE **** **** ROTATE ****

Find this Story

Print, a form you can hold

Wireless download to your Amazon Kindle

Look for a summary or analysis of this Story.

Enjoy this? Share it!

Midwinter In New York
by [?]

The very earliest impression I received of America’s metropolis was through a print in my child’s picture-book that was entitled “Winter in New York.” It showed a sleighing party, or half a dozen such, muffled to the ears in furs, and racing with grim determination for some place or another that lay beyond the page, wrapped in the mystery which so tickles the childish fancy. For it was clear to me that it was not accident that they were all going the same way. There was evidently some prize away off there in the waste of snow that beckoned them on. The text gave me no clew to what it was. It only confirmed the impression, which was strengthened by the introduction of a half-naked savage who shivered most wofully in the foreground, that New York was somewhere within the arctic circle and a perfect paradise for a healthy boy, who takes to snow as naturally as a duck takes to water. I do not know how the discovery that they were probably making for Gabe Case’s and his bottle of champagne, which always awaited the first sleigh on the road, would have struck me in those days. Most likely as a grievous disappointment; for my fancy, busy ever with Uncas and Chingachgook and Natty Bumppo, had certainly a buffalo hunt, or an ambush, or, at the very least, a big fire, ready at the end of the road. But such is life. Its most cherished hopes have to be surrendered one by one to the prosy facts of every-day existence. I recall distinctly how it cut me to the heart when I first walked up Broadway, with an immense navy pistol strapped around my waist, to find it a paved street, actually paved, with no buffaloes in sight and not a red man or a beaver hut.

However, life has its compensations also. At fifty I am as willing to surrender the arctic circle as I was hopeful of it at ten, with the price of coal in the chronic plight of my little boy when he has a troublesome hitch in his trousers: “O dear me! my pants hang up and don’t hang down.” And Gabe Case’s is a most welcome exchange to me for the ambush, since I have left out the pistol and the rest of the armament. I listen to the stories of the oldest inhabitant, of the winters when “the snow lay to the second-story windows in the Bowery,” with the fervent wish that they may never come back, and secretly gloat over his wail that the seasons have changed and are not what they were. The man who exuberantly proclaims that New York is getting to have the finest winter-resort climate in the world is my friend, and I do not care if I never see another snowball. Alas, yes! though Deerslayer and I are still on the old terms, I fear the evidence is that I am growing old.

In the midst of the rejoicing comes old Boreas, as last winter, for instance, and blows down my house of cards. Just when we thought ourselves safe in referring to the great blizzard as a monstrous, unheard-of thing, and were dwelling securely in the memory of how we gathered violets in the woods out in Queens and killed mosquitoes in the house in Christmas week, comes grim winter and locks the rivers and buries us up to the neck in snow, before the Thanksgiving dinner is cold. Then the seasons when Gabe’s much-coveted bottle stood unclaimed on the shelf in its bravery of fine ribbons till far into the New Year, and was won then literally “by a scratch” on a road hardly downy with white, seem like a tale that is told, and we realize that latitude does not unaided make temperature. It is only in exceptional winters, after all, that we class for a brief spell with Naples. Greenland and the polar stream are never long in asserting their claim and Santa Claus’s to unchecked progress to our hearths.