At the Back of the North Wind
George MacDonald
Children
3:07 h
Level 2
At the Back of the North Wind is a children's book written by Scottish author George MacDonald. It was serialized in the children's magazine Good Words for the Young beginning in 1868 and was published in book form in 1871. It is a fantasy centered on a boy named Diamond and his adventures with the North Wind. Diamond travels together with the mysterious Lady North Wind through the nights. The book includes the fairy tale Little Daylight, which has been pulled out as an independent work, or separately, added to other collections of his fairy tales.In 1914, a version "Simplified for Children" by Elizabeth Lewis was published by Lippincott. This newer version shortened the original length of approx. 89,339 words to 27,605 words. It was illustrated by Maria L. Kirk.

At the Back of the North Wind

by
George MacDonald

Simplified by Elizabeth Lewis


Chapter I
Diamond Makes the Acquaintance of North Wind

There was once a little boy named Diamond and he slept in a low room over a coach house. In fact, his room was just a loft where they kept hay and straw and oats for the horses. Little Diamond’s father was a coachman and he had named his boy after a favorite horse.

Diamond’s father had built him a bed in the loft with boards all around it, because there was so little room in their own end of the coach house. So when little Diamond lay there in bed, he could hear the horses under him munching away in the dark or moving sleepily in their dreams. His father put old Diamond, the horse after whom he was named, in the stall under the bed because he was quiet and did not go to sleep standing, but lay down like a reasonable creature.

Little Diamond sometimes woke in the middle of the night and felt his bed shaking in the blasts of the north wind. Then he could not help wondering if the wind should blow the house down and he should fall down into the manger, whether old Diamond might not eat him up before he knew him in his night gown. And though old Diamond was quiet all night long, yet when he woke up he got up like an earthquake. Then little Diamond knew what o’clock it was, or at least what was to be done next, which was — to go to sleep again as fast as he could!

Often there was hay at little Diamond’s feet as he lay in bed, and hay at his head, piled up in great heaps to the very roof. Sometimes there was none at all. That was when they had used it all and had not yet bought more. Soon they bought more, and then it was only through a little lane with two or three turnings in it that he could reach his bed at all.

Sometimes when his mother undressed him in her room and told him to trot away to bed by himself, he would creep into the heart of the hay first. There he would lie, thinking how cold it was outside in the wind and how warm it would be inside his bed; and how he would go to his bed when he pleased; only he wouldn’t just yet; he would get a little colder first. As he grew colder lying in the hay, his bed seemed to him to grow warmer. Then at last, he would scramble out of the hay, shoot like an arrow into his bed, cover himself up, snuggle down, and think what a happy boy he was!

He had not the least idea that the wind got in at a chink in the wall and blew about him all night. But the back of his bed was of boards only an inch thick, and on the other side of them was the north wind. Now these boards were soft and crumbly, and it happened that a soft part in them had worn away.

One night after he lay down, little Diamond found that a knot had come out of one of them and the wind was blowing in upon him. He jumped out of bed again, got a little wisp of hay, twisted it up and folded it in the middle. In this way, he made it into a cork and stuck it into the knot-hole to keep the wind out. But the wind began to blow loudly and angrily. Just as Diamond was falling asleep, out blew his hay cork and hit him on the nose!

It was just hard enough to wake him up and let him hear the wind whistling through the hole. He searched about for his hay cork, found it, and stuck it in harder. He was just dropping off to sleep once more, when pop! with an angry whistle behind it, the cork struck him again, this time on the cheek. Up he rose once more, got some more hay to make a new cork, and stuck it into the hole as hard as ever he could. But he was scarcely laid down again, before pop! it came on his forehead. So he gave it up, drew the bed-clothes over his head, and was soon fast asleep.

AGAINST THIS HE LAID HIS EAR, AND THEN HE HEARD THE VOICE QUITE DISTINCTLY.

Next day, little Diamond forgot all about the hole. But his mother found it when she was making up his bed and pasted a piece of thick brown paper over it. So when Diamond snuggled down into his bed that night, he did not think of it at all. But before he dropped asleep, he heard a queer sound and lifted his head to listen. Was somebody talking to him? The wind was rising again and beginning to blow and whistle. Was it the wind? He moved about to find out who or what it was, and at last, happened to put his hand upon the knot-hole with the paper pasted over it. Against this he laid his ear and then he heard the voice quite distinctly.

“What do you mean, little boy, by closing up my window?”

“What window?” asked Diamond.

“You stuffed hay into it three times last night! I had to blow it out again three times!”

“You can’t mean this little hole? It isn’t a window. It is a hole in my bed.”