Two shepherds who were brothers went walking with their dogs on the moor. The snow lay glittering cold under the ashen moon. The barren tors cast lean black shadows. And the shepherds shivered inside their warm coats.
“A night unfit,” said the elder shepherd. He could scarcely wait to leave his brother and return to his big stone house. There, the fire would be blazing steadily in the hearth, and the table laden with a fine supper.
“Aye, brother,” replied the younger shepherd, pushing his hands deep into his pockets. His house was made of thatch. And when he returned to it, there would be no blazing fire in the grate, no fine meal on the table. But all this he could bear, if only he were not so lonely.
A gust of wind swept by, slapping the brothers’ backs. The elder shepherd pulled up his collar. “It’s time to go home, ” he said.
Suddenly, one of the dogs dashed into a bush and began to howl.
“Don’t go near that bush,” said the elder shepherd. “Nothing worth knowing will be about on such a night.”
But the younger shepherd went.
And there on the hard ground lay a maiden, her white gown laden with snow, her black hair crowned with ice. And when she breathed, but barely, a thin mist rose from her mouth.