Torrential rains poured down on the poor miller's house. His wife and two sons watched the rain through their window and ate thin pottage. The flooded river turned the mill wheel, but no one brought them grain in such horrid weather. Rain turned to sleet, wrapping the world in a glistening coat of ice. The family ate water boiled with a sprinkle of oats as they watched the grass freeze.
Sleet turned to driven snow. The mill wheel froze in the river, and the snow blinded them. They could see nothing out their window while they ate their boiled water.
"The winter demands life," said the younger son. "One given freely is worth four stolen." Though the family argued, he put on his Sunday best and walked out into the cold. On his first step, they begged him to return. The second they were silent. After three steps, they could no longer see him.
With the next dawn, the sky had cleared. Four steps outside their front door, the family found a pile of snow shaped like a man. Beneath the snow, they found ice. Beneath the ice, they found only more ice, for the winter had accepted his sacrifice.