The Baldwin Library
I I -
WOOD WHISPERS TO ITSELF.
TRANSLATED FROM THE GERMAN OF
GUSTAV VON PUTLITZ.
E. E. H.
Ui1 .llindtritiaon3 by
D. APPLETON & COMPANY,
90, 92 & 94 GRAND STREET.
ENTERED, according to Act of Congress, in the year 1869, by
D. APPLETON & COMPANY,
in the Clerk's Office of the District Court of the United States for the
Southern District of New York.
THE POPPY, 7
THE FIR-TREE; OR, THE ORIGIN OF THE
THE FOREST-BROOK, 39
THE STONE, 53
THE POPP .
WE are mistaken if we think that the
Flowers do nothing but bud, bloom, exhale sweet
perfume, and then fade away. This opinion,
however wide-spread it may be, springs only from
our own egotism, which would make us believe
that all things in Nature were created expressly
for us, and that, because we perceive their out-
ward life only, they must necessarily have no
inner one. But, as I have just said, this is not
true, and as every Flower has its own character,
and one is modest while another is vain and
haughty, one merry and fond of display, and
another, perhaps, sweet and shy, so has each its
own wishes, longings, sorrows, and loves. All,
however, have an unbounded patriotism, or, in
other words, a deep attachment not to the land
alone, but to the very place which gave them
birth, so that they cannot exist elsewhere-a pe-
8 THE POPPY.
culiarity which, of late, they have often re-
The Flowers have also a language of their
own, and, if we only understood it, we would
willingly linger many a night in the blooming
fields, for that is especially the time of their con-
fidences, to hear the fanciful legends and poems
which they relate to one another, making the
time pass like a beautiful dream.
I was lying, one lovely moonlight night, on
the woods' green carpet, and heard, or dreamed
that I heard, as many, perhaps, might choose to
believe, a thousand voices arising from the Flowers.
It is quite possible that some friendly little elf,
for whom I had unconsciously performed an act
of kindness, had lent me his hearing for the
night; however it may be, the Bulrush was re-
citing a melancholy lyric poem to her neighbor,
who listened with deep attention. In the midst
of it, the Tulips, who are considered the gossips
of the Flowers, and represent the light literature
of the day, chattered away among themselves.
Not far off, some pretty little Moss-roses were
laughing together at something, evidently very
funny, that they had just heard. The Blue-bells,
though silent, lent their sanction continually to
THE POPPY. 9
what their neighbors were saying, by nodding
approvingly to the right and left. But it was
quite different with the Ribbon-grass, which
shook its head incessantly, as if it did not be-
lieve one word that it heard. It may be that the
Flowers had perceived me, and would, according
to the old proverb, punish me for my indiscre-
tion, or it may, perhaps, have been an every-
day theme with them; but this time, certainly,
their conversation turned chiefly upon the injus-
tice and unkindness which men show toward
Alas! cried a blade of Wild Thyme, mourn-
fully, the clumsy foot of man has again crushed
the loveliest of our circle."
Oh! said a Larkspur, they do not heed
how we cringe and bow down to them. If they
despised us because we were injurious to them,
like the Hemlock, I would not say a word; but
nothing is harder to bear than their disdain, for
they do not consider it worth while even to step
out of our way as they pass."
"Nay," interrupted a Forget-me-not, sooth-
ingly, any one would think, by your conversa-
tion, that men were indeed utterly unjust. Now,
I can refute your assertions. Are we not the
10 THE POPPY.
loveliest ornaments of their festivities, and chosen
always as messengers to convey their holiest sen-
timent, love ? "
"Those times have quite passed away," said
the Sorrel, pettishly. "Do not men, puffed up
with pride as they are, consider themselves quite
entitled to meddle with the handiwork of their
Creator, and, indeed, improve upon it by copy-
ing us in miserable, painted, paper things, and
with which do they adorn themselves, with us, or
those contemptible imitations ? And, as for love's
messengers, they only take us when they have
nothing better, for the language of Flowers has
long since gone out of fashion; they call it senti-
mentalism, and laugh at it."
"I admit all that," said the.Lily; "but how
can men appreciate our feelings if they do not
know them? You cannot deny their ignorance
of us, when they manifest it so openly. Recol-
lect, now. When night is past, and we look
around us in the morning, we miss one or another
of our companions, who have either bowed their
heads in the evening twilight, or been swept
away by the wild night-wind. We then mourn
for them, and our eyes fill with tears. Men,
without taking the trouble to understand us,
THE POPPY. 11
deny that these drops are an evidence of feeling
and grief, and say that they are dew, which the
morning mist has scattered over us."
This proof of man's want of consideration
must have been very convincing, for no one
could, for a moment, say any thing in reply.
Not far from me grew a cluster of tall, showy
Poppies. I had already noticed that they took no
part in this dispute so little flattering to myself,
but, when this pause occurred, the Blue-bells cried
out in clear, ringing tones, Be quiet, my sisters!
the Poppies have something to say to us." All
were silent in a moment, for even the Bulrush's
long poem had come to an end.
One of the Poppies then raised herself up on
her long slender stalk, looked around her, and
bowed several times. I supposed that she would
first wait to be urged, plead hoarseness, or, at
least, offer many excuses, but that cannot be the
custom among the Flowers, for she began to say
at once, in a very animated tone: "Do you wish to
listen to me ? Well, I will tell you to what cir-
cumstance, according to the old traditions handed
down in our family from one generation to an-
other, we Poppies owe the very singular fact of
our existence. For you must not think that, at
12 THE POPPY.
the creation of the world, the Flowers were strewn
all at once over the earth. Oh, no; we came one
after another, and every thing happened then
very much as it does now in spring."
"And what happens in spring now ?" hastily
interrupted a Tulip.
"You must ask the Daisy to tell you that,"
replied the Poppy, "for she always makes her
appearance very early, and then do not inter-
rupt me again." The Daisy had always had less
attention paid her than any one, and, in fact, was
considered by many as rather simple, though her
cousin, the Amaranth, having enjoyed greater
advantages of education, was held in high estima-
tion. Pleased and embarrassed at the same time,
that she should for once in her life be called upon
to speak, she looked up gratefully at her patroness,
while a delicate blush tinged her white leaves,
and began her story, without waiting for another
What we have done to Winter to make him
dislike us so much, I cannot tell, and opinions
are certainly very much divided upon the subject,
but one thing is sure, that he cannot bear us, and
never rests till he has driven us all from the
earth. But his reign does not last long, and
THE POPPY. 13
after him comes our best friend, Spring. As this
dear one approaches and looks around him, he is
grieved to find that, of all the beautiful children
whom he recommended so anxiously to Sum-
S mer's care on his departure, not one is left, and,
wrapping his hair in a long gray veil, for there
are neither leaves nor flowers to weave himself
a crown with, he lightly touches the earth with
his warm, loving hand, and bids his darlings
come forth; but not one of them dares to raise
his head, so intimidated have they been. Kor
is this fear of Winter wholly unfounded, for we
have often seen him, when far on his homeward
journey, return to smite the Flowers with his
There are, however, a few, peculiarly loving
in disposition, who will not keep Spring waiting,
but hasten forth to greet him. Chief among
these is the good Violet. As she glances timidly
around, and sees herself alone upon the cold and
dreary earth, she is frightened, and hides her
little head again under her green leaves. Men
call this modesty, but it is rather fear. Then
there arises in her heart a longing for companion-
ship, which she gives utterance to in sweet per-
fume. Poor little Violet! her desires remain
14 THE POPPY.
unsatisfied, for, when the other flowers make their
appearance, her life's work is ended. Sometimes,
however, she comes forth for a single day, toward
autumn, but, her yearnings then being stilled, she
no longer breathes out perfume so sweet as at her
This is what takes place in spring," resumed
the Poppy, and thus it was also in the early days
of creation. One flower came after another. But,
at the time of which I am speaking, nearly all
had sprung into existence, and the earth was very
beautiful, peace and good-will reigning every-
where. Men and animals dwelt happily together,
and there was nothing but joy, all the daylong.
One being alone, Night, had no share in this
universal happiness, and wandered sadly over the
young earth. Why was she sad?' you will ask.
Because she dwelt alone, while every other crea-
ture had a companion, and can there be happiness
without sympathy ? Though she would willingly
have concealed it from herself, Night became more
and more sensible that she was the only one upon'
the earth whom the others did not lovingly draw
near; for, though she lighted her little lamps
everywhere, she still hid the beauty of the earth
from men and animals, and that alienated them
THE POPPY. 15
all. Not that they actually told her so, but the
rapture with which they hailed the morning sun
was sufficient proof that they cared little for her.
This naturally troubled her, for she was good and
loving, and, shrouding herself in her thickest veil,
she bewailed her sad fate. We compassionate
Flowers, moved by her tears, sought to soothe her
grief, and do all in our power to make her happy.
But we had nothing to offer except colors and
perfume. Our variegated tints seemed to have
little charm for her, therefore we breathed upon
her our sweetest odors; and indeed several shed
no perfume throughout the day, that they might
offer Night all their treasures, a custom they have
always adhered to. Yet even this devotion could
not console the sorrowing creature, and in her
grief she prostrated herself before the throne of
the Creator, saying:
"' Almighty Father, Thou seest how all
things in Thy creation rejoice. I alone wander
friendless over the earth, and there is no one to
whom I can confide my grief. Dayflees before me,
however eagerly I hasten after her, and all crea-
tures follow her example. Therefore, Almighty
Father, take pity upon my sorrow, and bestow
upon me a companion.'
16 THE POPPY.
The Creator smiled in compassion upon Night,
and called Sleep into existence to be her friend.
Do you not recognize that, created in mercy, his
mission is to dispense blessing and comfort?
Night took the beloved one in her arms, and an-
other life dawned for her; not only, because she
was no longer alone, but that the hearts of all were
drawn to her, for she was always accompanied by
Sleep, the darling of the living, as Day fled in
affright before her.
Soon other friendly beings followed in
their footsteps-Dreams, the children of Night
and Sleep. They moved over the earth with
their parents, and entered into a treaty of friend-
ship with the childlike hearts of men. But alas!
all was soon changed. Evil entered into the
world, and the nature of man became sad and
gloomy. Children are easily corrupted by adverse
influences, and it happened that a few of the
Dreams became, in consequence of their inter-
course with men, frivolous, deceitful, and un-
friendly. Sleep, perceiving the change in his
children, wished to remove the wanderers from
temptation, but their sisters pleaded for them, say-
ing, 'Leave our brothers with us, they are not so
wicked as they appear, and we promise to do all
THE POPPY. 17
in our power to restore them to goodness again.'
The father granted the wishes of his loving chil-
dren, and thus evil Dreams still sometimes ac-
company him, but they are always, as experience
teaches us, especially drawn toward sinful men.
"Evil still continued to increase upon the
earth. One beautiful night, a man lay upon the
fragrant turf, and Sleep and Dreams drew near
him; but Sin prevented them from gaining any
mastery over him. In his soul fearful thoughts
arose. In vain did Sleep shake over him sooth-
ing drops from his enchanted wand-in vain the
Dreams flitted before him with their bright pic-
tures--he still resisted their gentle sway. Then
Sleep called his children to him. Let us depart,'
said he, 'this man is not worthy our gifts;' and
they fled far from him. As they moved away,
Sleep took his wand, half in anger that it had
proved so unavailing, and thrust it into the earth;
and the Dreams playfully hung their light, joyous
visions upon it. Night, seeing this, breathed life
into the staff. It took root in the earth, and,
growing green, retained the drops which produce
sleep; while the gifts which the Dreams bestowed
upon it formed themselves into rich and gay-col-
18 THE POPPY.
"Thus did we Poppies spring into life."
The story was now ended, and the Flowers on
all sides bowed gratefully to the fair narrator.
Morning's soft twilight dawned, and, as Day
gradually drew near, the leaves of a full-blown
Rose fluttered through the wood, whispering, as
they passed, a sad farewell to each Flower, whose
only answer was a tear.
TE FIR-TREE ; OR, THE ORIGIN
OF TIHE CHRISTMIAS-TREE.
THE ORIGIN OF TIIE CIRISTMAS-TREE.
"WHY did the Fir-tree rustle when the Daisy
said that Winter was wicked, and could not bear
the flowers ?" asked the Linden.
"Because he was vexed," replied the Oak;
"and, when he is vexed, he rustles. Have you
never heard that? When the Wind comes rush-
ing through the forest, he cries out to the trees,
' Bow down!' But the Fir-tree says, 'Stay still;'
and, if all the others are afraid, and pay their
respects to the Wind, the Fir-tree remains per-
fectly quiet, turns round disapprovingly, and rus-
tles because he is angry."
"Now, what has that to do with Winter and
the Daisy ?" asked the Linden.
"Ask him, ask him!" muttered the Poplar;
" you will then hear what he has to say about it:
22 THE FIR-TREE; OR,
he'll give you a sharp answer." But the Linden
was still very curious. Who can blame her?
When one stands year after year in the self-same
spot, he does not willingly give up the pleasure of
a story for fear of receiving a sharp answer. If
it is too spiteful, he can shake it off; and trees can
do that also. The Linden, moreover, was very
clever, and thought of a suitable beginning.
Fir-tree," said she, "how is it that you
always wear the same dress, winter and summer,
in cold weather as well as in warm ? "
Because I am not vain, and always wishing
for something new, as you are," answered' the
There you have it-take that!" said the
Poplar. But the Fir-tree was not telling the
truth, for one cannot act against nature. Yet
men are, after all, no better, and reckon that as
virtue which belongs only to their peculiar tem-
perament. IIe who has no taste for dress chides
the vain; indeed, there are persons who revile
poetry, because they have no fondness for it them-
selves; and they are still more in the wrong than
But the Linden was much annoyed at the
answer, and wished to have nothing more to say
THE ORIGIN OF THE CHRISTMAS-TREE. 23
to him. Yet she was too curious for that; and it
was well, for, in the first place, sulkiness avails
nothing, and, in the second, she would not have
heard the history of Winter, nor should we.
So she muttered awhile to herself, then turned
toward her unfriendly neighbor, and said: "You
can, nevertheless, tell us something about Win-
ter; for you know him, and love him, so they say.
We others know nothing about him, for we sleep
when he comes; but you are awake, and can talk
to him all that long, long time."
The Fir-tree was silent awhile, and all the
trees listened curiously to know what would come
of it; the Willow only ventured to say, Linden,
you are courageous, ask him again."
Finally, the Fir-tree answered: "Let me
alone, and, if you wish to know any thing about
Winter, stay awake. He who wishes to gain
knowledge must not sleep his time away."
The conversation would probably now have
ended, had the Oak not interceded. He is looked
upon as authority among the trees of the wood,
because he is the oldest and the strongest. Who
knows, if they had paid their respects to him
before, whether it would have come to this at
24 THE FIR-TREE; OR,
"Fir-tree," said he, "you seem an unfriendly
companion; but you are not really so cross as
you appear, and only turn your rough side out.
I know you better, for I saw you when you were
scarcely a year old, with only one little green
shoot. But why are you so harsh to your neigh-
bor? Has not the same ground brought us all
forth ? Are not our roots entwined below, as our
branches are above? Do we not together brave
common dangers, which alone we could not with-
stand ? Besides, it is a foolish thing to isolate
one's self. Because the Linden adorns herself
with leaves, and you with needles, and because
your bark is rougher perhaps than that of the
Beech, will you therefore seclude yourself and
seem unsociable when you are not? Now, then,
talk to your companions-be friendly with them
in happy days, that, when sad ones come, you
may assist each other."
These were earnest words: the Fir-tree took
them to heart, and many others might also He
thought a moment, and then said:
You wish to hear something about Winter?
Well, then, lay aside all your prejudices, for I
know you cannot bear him. Do not think that
I am partial because he is my friend; I am only
THE ORIGIN OF TIE CHRISTMAS-TREE. 25
just, because I know him. But now to the
"When God created the world, when the
flowers sprang up in the fields and the trees in
the forests, I-e called the Seasons to Him, and
said, 'Divide among yourselves the flowers and
trees, and love and care for them all.' Then the
Seasons were very happy, and revelled with the
children of Nature. This went on a little while,
when dissensions began to arise here and there
between them. The daring, restless Spring could
not agree with the cautious, deliberate Winter:
the glowing Summer found the Autumn phleg-
matic. Autumn scolded Spring because he kept
back the flowers: in short, the contest became
warmer and warmer, and trees and flowers fared
ill in consequence.
Then Autumn said: This cannot go on any
longer-we cannot live harmonionsly together;
come, then, and let us divide.'
"And so it happened that the Seasons por-
tioned off the Earth. Winter built his house
around the two Poles. Summer wound herself
around the middle of the Earth, and Spring and
Autumn made their kingdom between them.
That they did not abide exactly by this decision,
26 THE FIR-TREE ; OR,
we shall see later; but it was so at the time I
speak of, and Winter dwells yet in his old house."
How do you know that ? asked the Linden.
My cousin, who once visited him, told me so."
Don't you believe him; he is telling lies,"
whispered the Poplar to her neighbor.
How could your cousin visit him ?" asked
the Linden; was he not fast bound, as we
should be ? "
It happened thus," answered the Fir-tree.
" There came, once upon a time, bold, enterpris-
ing men in search of wood to build a ship. My
cousin, a tall, slender Fir, stood proudly among
the other trees of the forest: as soon as they saw
him he impressed them favorably, and they took
him for their mast. The seamen gave him a
great sail, and said, Hold it fast,' and on his
head they placed a many-colored and most showy
My cousin was very strong, and performed
his duty well during the voyage; and, if the wind
came, and wished to carry the sail away, he.held
it fast, and stirred not: therefore, the sailors
honored him more than all the wood in the ship.
The fleet sailed ever northward, and so it hap-
pened that after a while it arrived at the abode
THE ORIGIN OF THE CHRISTMAS-TREE. 27
of Winter. The house was strongly built, but
very lonely; and, as the ship landed, Winter
stepped out, wondering very much at the unex-
"It happened that he was not received in a
very friendly manner, nor did he feel much in-
clined to hospitality himself, but shook his head
so that the snow-flakes drifted around him.
Then he perceived my cousin; and, as he has an
especial fancy for us Fir-trees, he became very
pleasant, and began to chat a little, asking after
all his friends. When the mast had told him
about everybody, he began, himself, to relate the
most wonderful stories; and what you are now
about to hear is one of them.
There was, indeed, no end to his adventures;
and the old man was so happy over the memories
of the past, that he brought them all to light, and
would not let the ship go, but held it fast in a
tight embrace. My cousin says he can never half
describe the beauty of the scene; but, the better
he liked it, the worse it fared with the crew.
"One morning he heard them consulting to-
gether. Our wood is burned, and our provisions
are nearly exhausted,' said the pilot; and, if the
ice does not soon disappear, we must perish. Let
28 THE FIR-TREE; OR,
us cut down the mast and burn it; this will at
least keep us a little while longer.'
"When my .cousin heard this, he entreated
Winter to release the ship ; and Winter con-
sented, in order to save his darling, though he
would not have done so to gratify the men. He
loosened the ice, and the ship and her crew re-
turned safely home."
That was very good of him," cried the trees
"But now let me return to my story," con-
tinued the Fir-tree. "The earth was divided,
and every season had its own kingdom; and it
would have remained so to this day, had not
Spring, in his capricious fashion, demanded a
change. IIe did not like to remain always in
the same place, so he called the Seasons together,
and made them the following proposition:
'Let us make a different arrangement,' said
he, so that the Earth may belong to us in com-
mon, and we shall not then be forced to remain
in a given space. Each one of us will then have
an appointed time to visit the earth, and there
"'I am content,' said Summer, 'if I may
keep the girdle of the earth for myself.'
THE ORIGIN OF THE CHRISTMAS-TREE. 29
And I my poles,' said Winter.
"The inconsiderate Spring consented to any
thing, so that he might gain his point, and
Autumn hoped to indemnify himself in some
"So the contract was concluded, and Spring
wished at once to begin his reign, when the
thoughtful Winter said: 'In order that no one
may take all the beautiful things of the earth,
and keep them for himself, we had better divide
'Agreed,' said Spring. 'I will take the
"' The flowers belong to me,' said Summer.
"' The fruits are mine,' cried the avaricious
Autumn, and Winter may keep the leaves of the
Winter had nothing to say to that, so Spring
began his rule. lie kissed the trees and flowers
till they brought forth buds, and all looked
smilingly upon him.
"As the buds burst open, and a thousand
colors shone in leaf and flower, Summer ascended
the throne of Earth.
"But immediately order began to give way,
for Autumn, who was always thinking of his
30 THE FIR-TREE; OR,
own share, made a special agreement with Sum-
mer; she was to leave him flowers, and he would
give her fruit in exchange; yet, as it is said, he
would be no loser thereby, but would still keep
the best for himself. Now he alone obtained the
mastery, and gathered in the fruits with busy
hands, for he had a right to do that.
Then something happened which grieved
Winter very much. You remember that at the
time of the division the leaves fell to his share.
But in the glowing time of love, when, above,
leaf hung upon leaf, and below the flowers shone
in the grass and coquettishly unfolded their va-
ried colors, a flirtation arose between leaves and
flowers. As usual, it began with all sorts of
playfulness. If the warm and beaming sun
wished to shine upon the flowers, the leaves of
'the trees put themselves in its way; but, before
the ll!..-.- r, were aware of it, the branches bowed,
so that the rays of the sun might suddenly fall
and dazzle them. They shut up their eyes, and
the leaves laughed above them. But, when a
refreshing rain came, the leaves held up the
drops; and, just as all seemed over, they let them
fall, so that the 011t. ,,r- were frightened and shook
THE ORIGIN OF THE CHRISTMAS-TREE. 31
"That which at first was only !.1l i',l!i --,
soon became a service of love; for the sun grew
warmer and warmer, and the tender little buds
and blossoms would all have been dried up, had
not the leaves shielded them from its fiery rays.
"After this deeply serious attention, playful-
ness was no longer enough, and they sought a
means of union. Yet above hung the leaves, and
below the flowers shone in the grass.
Love, however, always finds a way of its
own. Leaves ali tt..1 .-: soon chose a messenger
to bear up and down their sighs and vows; and
this messenger was the Ivy. Springing up among
the flowers, he wound himself around the trees
like a green garland, embracing leaf after leaf,
the bearer of sweet messages, a silent love-chain.
Then the reign of Autumn came to an end,
and he wished to pluck the last flowers in the
field. The leaves looked longingly down, and
entreated Autumn most earnestly to allow them
to visit their dying loves.
"Autumn yielded, though he had no right to
anticipate Winter, who alone held sway over
them. He shook the trees, and down fluttered
the free leaves to the earth. Now first began a
nad life of love. Autumn, who took great pleas-
32 THE FIR-TREE; OR,
ure therein, frolicked in the wildest manner: he
drove the leaves in a whirling dance around the
flowers, until, faint and weary, they hung their
heads and laid themselves down in an everlasting
Then Winter came. Naked and drear, field
and wood received him. Nothing green was to
be seen but us poor Fir-trees and the Ivy, which
still wound itself from tree to tree, as if to erect a
triumphal arch for him, and from branch to
branch, as if it would conceal the faithlessness of
the leaves, and lend the trees an ornament to
replace the lost and scattered foliage.
"Winter saw it and was touched; and, while
he angrily threw down the last few that remained,
and chased them over ice and snow, he spoke fer-
vently to the Ivy thus:
"' I will protect you and preserve you for the
friendly office that you have chosen. Remain
the messenger of love, and bear silent greetings
from flower to leaf, from Autumn to Spring; be
an eternal bridge from season to season.
"' Your duty is this, to embrace and unite,
and, as the ever-green memorial of flower and
field, you shall yourself withstand the severity of
THE ORIGIN OF THE CHRISTMAS-TREE. 33
"Thus spoke Winter to the Ivy; but to us Fir-
trees he gave his full approval, and prepared for
us an honor which you others cannot share."
"And what is that?" asked the rest of the
"Winter is the season of the emotions," con-
tinued the Fir-tree, therefore did he recognize the
deep feeling of the Ivy, and honor it. Men know
this, for at no time do they cling so closely to one
another as in winter. So he brings with him the
overflowing, holy, mysterious Christmas season;
and in its train one ever sees the kindly spirit,
Santa Claus, the friend alike of old and young,
whose charms none can resist. Night and day,
the mother makes her plans in the early win-
ter season, but only because Santa Claus is con-
stantly whispering in her ear; and whoever goes
out on Christmas-eve, always brings home more
than he meant, and finds his purse emptier than
he intended it should be.
"It is not the beautiful things which charm
him; no, it is still Santa Clans, who watches
everywhere, and whispers, and pulls at the heart-
strings, so that the hand opens again and again,
until it has prepared the most abundant Christ-
34 THE FIR-TREE; OR,
"We Fir-trees know this, for we always share
them deeply. To us belongs the honor of being
the Christmas-tree;' and, in the most joyous fes-
tivities, the good spirit of Santa Claus stands ever
in- our midst. We never fail in castle nor cot-
tage. However poor the parents may be, they
hang a pair of candles upon our green boughs for
the merry children. Gold and silver weigh us
down; we bear glittering fruits, and the little
ones clap their hands before us.
However beautiful every thing else may be,
the C'I !;i-t+ --i cee still remains more beautiful
than all; for Santa Claus has invested it with a
peculiar and wonderful charm. Perhaps the lit-
tle ones love us because we have a childlike
spirit. Around our green boughs Hope entwines
many bright and shining pictures; rich and golden
they gleam there, mysterious and unintelligible.
"But one bright vision after another departs,
the gold is tinsel, hopes fade away, and the mys-
tery is unravelled; with the last few spangles, the
whole wonder vanishes, and there is nothing left
but a withered Fir-tree. In the heart of the
child, one golden dream after another is scattered;
one mystery after another, in which it has been
THE ORIGIN OF THE CHRISTMAS-TREE. 35
veiled, is unfolded; and, after all, what else is life
but this, the experience of the child? "
"When the spangles fall, is thy glory over?"
asked the Aspen.
"We are then put in the fireplace," said the
Fir-tree, and we hear many beautiful stories,
which men tell as they watch the glowing flame.
We listen, and if any thing is said that displeases
us, we crackle so that the sparks fly out, and men
draw closer together in the chimney-corner. And,
whenever the golden apples are consumed, the
children glance mournfully from their hiding-
places, as the Christmas-tree burns up.
So you see this is the history of Winter and
the Christmas-tree. Some other time, I will re-
late to you a story which a Fir-tree heard in the
chimney-corner, for men know wonderful things."
"Yes, some other time."
TI E FOR EST-BR OK.
THE Fir-tree closed his recital with a doubtful
promise of continuation. His last words softly
died away, and over the whole wood fell a deep
stillness. One sound alone disturbed this holiday-
like repose-the plashing of the Forest-brook,
which fell with measured beat on roots and stones
-the everlasting time-piece of the wood.
As it flowed on and on, now glistening bright-
ly in the sunshine, now troubled by the shadows
of trees and clouds whose images trembled as they
were mirrored in its depths, its monotonous tones
formed themselves into intelligible words, and un-
solicited, yet narrowly observed by Trees and
Flowers, the Forest-brook began its story.
The Brook thus began:
Do you know from whence I come ? Can you
divine my origin? Any one can tell you about
the Meadow-brook ; it springs visibly forth, over
40 THE FOREST-BROOK.
stone and mound, like a little fountain, growing
larger and larger till the short dress of the grass
conceals it no longer, though the blades stretch
lovingly over it, and at last is encircled by a stiff
bodice of reeds, fringed with the delicate wild
"Every one knows where the Mountain-brook
comes from too. Upon the heights lies the snow,
the eternal crest of the mountain, which the sun
alone colors as it rises and sets, and which the
clouds adorn with a wondrous veil as they pass
over it. In the depths of the ravine near, glistens
the dark-blue ice of the glacier; outwardly it
wears an unchanging aspect, but within stirs a
vigorous life; it melts and flows, and the drops
of water are ever playing 'hide and seek' in its
clefts and crevices, forthe Sun-god kisses inces-
santly the summit of the mountain. His faith-
ful love moves and softens its proud icy heart, and
the springs are born of these kisses. Merrily they
frolic, until the space becomes too narrow for
them, and then they find a way of escape. But,
when they step forth into the light, they are
amazed and startled at the wide world spread out
before them. Other little streams, led by curiosity,
follow in their footsteps, first moving hesitatingly,
THE FOREST-BROOK. 41
and then faster and faster, till they spring forth a
joyous brook, leaping playfully, like the chamois,
himself mountain-born, from crag to crag. Some-
times the brook is covered with foam, white as the
falling snow, and again it becomes a placid mir-
ror, sparkling and clear, like the ice of the glacier,
until it sinks down, at last, in the valley, and re-
poses peacefully in the tranquil plain.
"But where do I, the Forest-brook, come
from? You cannot find my birthplace, for I am
neither the child of ice nor snow. Follow my
course. Here I seem to spring forth from my
hiding-place, behind a stone or tuft of moss, but
off I go again, and far away, behind the gnarled
tree-roots, I look laughingly up at you. Now I
stretch myself out a broad mirror among thou-
sands of shrubs and flowers, and now I sink down
deep amid the rumbling stones, which, in rivalry of
the wood's green dress, wear on their gray heads
little caps of moss. But still I flow, ever and
anon trickling forth again. You cannot find my
source, for that yet remains the enigma of the
"But listen now, and I will reveal it to you.
"Upon a delicate cloud, which floated lightly
over the fields below, sat a little sprite, the lovely
42 THE FOREST-BROOK.
attendant of the Elfin Queen, and arranged the
jewels of her mistress. In a casket by her side
lay a long string of costly pearls. Guard well,'
said Titania, these tears of the sea; they are my
"Pearls are, indeed, the unshed tears of the
sea, lying concealed in its deep abyss, until the
fisher, at the peril of his life, brings them to the
light. He finds them solid and firm; but they
look, in their languid brilliancy, as if they had
just fallen from weeping eyes.
"The sprite was enchanted with them, and
lifted the string up to see how brightly they
would shine in the sunlight; but pearls are not
like precious stones, which borrow their lustre
from without: the tears of the sea are repressed
emotions, shining only from within.
"Unnoticed, behind the sprite, sat Puck, the
torment of men and elves; and, while the little
creature was rejoicing over her treasures, the
rogue cut the string, and away rolled the pearls,
first upon the clouds, and then down, down to the
The little sprite awhile sat horror-struck;
but, soon recovering herself, she darted down
after them. As she hovered in the boundless
-,.- .-." ".
-_- : ''
,,,, ,', ,, ', ,
_. ,, ';i!
- - __- -_ -_:_._ -
TIE FOREST-BROOK. 43
space, between heaven and earth, she saw the
clear little balls scattered in every direction, and,
in despair, was on the point of turning back,
when she perceived a green field, where, amid
the grass and flowers, glistened a thousand
pearls, which she supposed were the lost ones.
Still holding the casket in her hands, she dili-
gently began to gather them into it. It was
nearly full before Titania's lovely attendant dis-
covered that they were not tears of the Sea, but
dew, the tears of the Flowers, and sadly turned
to renew her search; when, lo she saw pearls,
love's tears, falling from the eyes of a mother, as
she bent over her dying child; and, as she went
farther on, she found yet other weeping eyes, so
many tears, indeed, that her casket overflowed.
Alas! how many are shed upon the earth;
for, from the eyes of men, there often gushes a
wonderful stream! But its origin is well known:
it is the heart. There pain, sorrow, repentance,
and sometimes even joy, struggle with each other
till the little fount ,.'..il l..-.*. But the charms
which it exercises are potent, for the heart must
indeed be very hard which is not touched by the
tears even of strangers. Men are often astonished
at them, and say, 'I have no pity for them-
44 THE FOREST-BROOK.
they are well deserved;' but this is wrong, for
they are still tears, coming, perhaps, from a heart
which has had many a sad throb.
"Our little sprite deemed them all the lost
treasures, closed the casket, and soared aloft with
it. It seemed heavier and heavier, for tears are
no light weight; but, when she opened it, she
found that all the supposed pearls had melted
together. Comfortless, she flew from cloud to
cloud, bewailing her fate, for she was dear to
them all. The clouds sent their rain down upon
the earth, to aid her in her search. It streamed
and flowed, and trees and shrubs bent and shook
off the drops; but the lost pearls were no more to
"Puck, the rogue, saw the sorrow that he had
caused, and it grieved him; for he liked to tease,
but not to give pain; and, diving down into the
lap of earth, lie begged from his friends, the gob-
lins and gnomes, bright, shining crystals and
glistening bits of ore, and joyfully carried them to
the little sprite. 'There are all your treasures
again,' said he, 'better and more beautiful than
"The little sprite rejoiced, and the clouds
ceased to rain; but, as she examined the gift more
TIE FOREST-BROOK. 45
closely, she saw it was only 'gloss and glitter;'
and, angrily tearing off the covering which held
them, she threw them far from her, so that the
glittering fragments fell in a wide arch over the
horizon. This was the first rainbow. Since
then, whenever the clouds weep, Puck brings his
spangles again, and the spectacle is repeated.
The rainbow is indeed beautiful; we all rejoice
over it, and so do men: but it is still delusive, a
gift of the gnomes, a creation of the rogue Puck.
"Men know this well too, for, whenever they
try to catch it, it hastens on unattainably before
them, and vanishes in an instant. What becomes
of it 0 It falls into the sea, say the children, and
the water-nymphs make their beautiful garments
of it. That which a happy accident produced,
Puck ever and anon creates for himself. He
moves over the heavens scattering his treasures,
and, if any of them are left, he flies back again,
and builds with the rest a second, smaller, more
delicately-tinted bow. That is the reason you so
often see this shining appearance doubled in the
horizon ; but it only happens when the clouds
weep in sympathy with the poor little creature
whom Puck teased and then sought to console.
"Our little sprite still sat sadly upon the
46 THE FOREST-BROOK.
cloud, and could not rejoice at the rainbow,
though it had sprung into existence for herself.
At this moment Titania was seen approaching.
The capricious queen chanced to be in one of her
merry moods, and, when her little attendant con-
fessed the cause of her grief, she smiled and
quickly forgave her. It may be that she cared
little for the loss, because one of the sea-spirits,
whose heart she had won, had promised her
another necklace of pearls; for the great are
lavish, even of the tears intrusted to them. But
what was to be done with the heavy contents of
the chest which the little sprite still held in her
'Hasten down to my secret, snug home in
the woods,' said Titania, 'and pour these drops
over the fragrant shrubs; still retaining their
own nature, they shall unite and become the tears
of the forest.'
The sprite obeyed the behest of her queen,
and thus flowed the first Forest-brook-thus the
Wood also had tears of its own. Do you now
know whence I come? My tears, like those of
men, spring from the heart, the hidden heart of
the wood. When sadness, longing, and grief,
throb within, they flow.
THE FOREST-BROOK. 47
"In summer, when so many children of the
Forest are borne away and destroyed, I move
softly but incessantly on. In autumn, when all
depart, I weep in silence over the flowers and
leaves which the wind often strews in my path,
so that, in my distress for them, I become their
grave. In the desolate loneliness of winter I am
benumbed, and my tears become pearls like the
repressed sorrow of the Sea; thus, I rest upon
roots and stones, with the sad brilliancy of weep-
ing eyes. But in spring, when a longing arises
in all hearts, when the forest tears flow in sadness
or joy, rising I overflow my banks to greet on
all sides the flowers and grass.
Often too, my depths are stirred by sympa-
thy; for when the clouds weep rain, or the flowers
dew, the Forest-brook sobs also. Do you not feel
from my whole appearance, and from the breezes
of tenderness and sadness, which I waft toward
you, that my source is indeed the heart of the
"The melancholy Reeds crowd around me.
Wherever I flow, springs up the sensitive Forget-
me-not, which softly glances up, like loving eyes
in the hour of departure. The Weeping-willow,
with its mournful drapery, dips its branches into
48 TIE FOREST-BROOK.
my waves, and the stone itself, the unchanging
stone, over which time passes unnoticed, weeps
for me, as my waves flow over it, and my kisses
are the only ones that it does not withstand.
Therefore do I love the stone.
Men know a peculiar and sad legend of a
man who is to outlive every one, whom Death
shuns perpetually. The stone reminds me of
him. It is the Wandering Jew of the woods,
and can relate to you many stories, for its mem-
ory dates back to times long since past away.
Puck, the rogue, is now jealous of the Forest-
brook, which he wishes to surpass with his
spangles, and he gives continual proofs of it, by
mischievously throwing a root or sharp stone in
my path, that my waves, dashing over it, may be
scattered. Then a thousand colors, like the rain-
bow, glisten around me in the sunlight. These
are Puck's spangles, which he fastens to my
spray, as if he would say, 'Are not my gifts the
most beautiful of all ?' But they vanish quickly,
and I flow on unchanged.
Thus the ludicrous is often mingled with the
sorrowful, as if at the bidding of some malicious
spirit. Man, even when his heart is ready to
break with grief, is convulsed at times with wild-
THE FOREST-BROOK. 49
est laughter, and smiles often play over tearful
faces. In the deepest harmonies of Nature oc-
curs strange discord. On the greenest turf and
amid the most luxuriant foliage we often find
dried roots and withered branches. In the fullest
and most beautiful clusters of roses, we see a
little one, checked in its growth, peeping forth
from the midst of its sisters like a distorted face
from a bevy of beauties. Thus Puck ever makes
trouble, but the thoughtful mind, like Nature,
reconciles all these incongruities."
The Forest-brook now ceased -pi.. liz~- but
the stillness continued, flowers and leaves alone
stirring softly. Suddenly it became excited-a
dry branch broke from the summit of an oak, with
a crackling noise, and fell into it, scattering the
leaves in every direction. The drops sprang sul-
lenly up from its depths. A moment more, and
all was again still.
This is what Puck did, the rogue!
THE stillness did not long continue. Indeed,
how could it ? Where so many beings stand side
by side, and live so closely together, there must
always be something to talk about. Trees and
Flowers, moreover, had acquired a taste for these
recitals, and were very anxious to hear more of
"If the Stone really does know any thing
worth relating," said a tall Foxglove, "we must
beg him to let us hear it; for it is certainly his
duty to contribute his share to the general amuse-
ment, since he is always crowding in between us
and preventing us from being together, and yet.is
always silent himself."
"Foxglove is certainly the most inquisitive
person in the world," said a Strawberry-blossom.
"Inquisitive!" retorted the Foxglove; "I
54 THE STONE.
never can understand why you are always up-
braiding me with that."
"Because you are forever prying into things,
and stretching your head up as high as you can,
to see all that is going on around you," replied
"What nonsense!" said the Foxglove; "I
only do that in order to keep watch over the
"A good excuse!" muttered the Strawberry.
"Well, I should like to know what you are
good for," said the Foxglove.
"I bear fruit."
"You two are always quarrelling," said the
Beech, looking down upon them, "and one is just
as silly and curious as the other. But, after all,
what can one expect from children a year old ? "
This imprudent speech came near resulting
in open war; for all the Flowers felt themselves
insulted by it, and decided unanimously not to
allow such an offence to go unpunished. So they
appointed the Iris commander-in-chief of the
standing army. The light troops of Wolfsbane
armed themselves at once, and the heavy artillery
of the Thorn-apple was soon set in motion. The
Foxgloves and Strawberries, who had caused the
THE STONE. 55
whole trouble, made up their minds to unite
against their common enemy. The nettles and
thistles, the militia of the Flowers, were ordered
out, and a call was made for volunteers.
The Roses were first on the field, with thorns
ready sharpened. It seems, by-the-way, that
they had a grudge of their own against the Trees,
who would never recognize them as equals, al-
though their stems often grew very tall. This
feeling had existed between them for many years,
and skilful diplomacy had often been necessary to
soothe it. In all their discussions, the Acacia had
made herself very conspicuous by espousing with
great zeal the cause of the Roses, with whom she
stood upon the closest and most friendly relation-
ship. Unfortunately, the negotiations, from the
position of Flowers and Trees, always ended in
talk; though, on that very account, they possessed
greater diplomatic value, since the last discussions
found them as far advanced as the first. Nor
were the others indifferent to this affair of honor.
The Anemones held a long debate upon the rights
of the Flowers, and the Bulrush composed a poem
for the occasion. The Whortleberries filled their
little knapsacks, and offered themselves as sutlers,
and a large number of different kinds of Flowers
56 TIE STONE.
formed themselves, into a volunteer corps, and
talked with the utmost enthusiasm about dying for
the public weal, and at the same time painted se-
cretly, and in the liveliest colors, the part that each
one would take in the great forthcoming struggle.
The affair was really becoming serious, though
the Trees had not yet made any warlike prepara-
tions, for the majority of them seemed very much
displeased at the idea of a disturbance. The Fir-
tree, especially, was opposed to anything of the
kind, as he had just given an account of the ten-
der feeling existing between the Flowers and the
Leaves of the Trees, and it would seem as if he
had not been telling the truth. Besides, most of
the Flowers had already ceased to desire war, and
much preferred to listen to the Stone. It was
therefore decided that the Hawthorn and Black-
berry should meet, and enter into negotiations for
peace. The choice was a wise one, for the Black-
berry had a peculiar interest in the matter, being
slightly related to the Strawberry, with whom the
trouble had indirectly originated; while the Iaw-
thorn, dwelling between the disputants, had al-
ways been on good terms with both. But it was
not an easy matter to settle, as the Beech could
not be persuaded to take back her unfortunate
THE STONE. 57
speech; at last, however, a way was found of
evading the difficulty; without retracting her as-
sertion, she was yet quite willing to acknowledge
that the Stone had lived longer even than the
Trees, .1.1-,l-', at the same time, that it had not
been her intention to wound the feelings of the
Flowers, for whom she had always had the highest
regard. Upon this, the Foxglove muttered awhile
to herself, and the clever little Carnation declared
that the Beech might as well have said nothing,
but the Flowers generally seemed satisfied, and,
with mutual expressions of esteem and friendship,
the contest ended.
The Beech's assertion had again drawn at-
tention to the Stone, and the desire of hearing
him speak seemed even greater than before; for,
after the late battle-cry and stormy .i'iii all
longed to be transported once more into the
realms of imagination. But how was the silent,
uncommunicative Stone to be approached? The
Trees wished the Brook, with whom he had al-
ways condescended to live upon the most amicable
terms, and who was now in especial favor, to make
the first advances; but the Flowers thought the
Grass, the Moss's most intimate friend, the best
person to bring it about. In this difference of
58 THE STONE.
opinion the newly-concluded peace seemed to be
tottering, when the Brook himself suggested still
"Ask the Fern, who is neither Tree nor
Flower, to intercede with the Stone, for he is
his most confidential friend, bending over him
and nestling by his side, while he pets and ca-
resses him. The Stone can never refuse him any
"Fern," said the Flowers, will you try and
persuade him to talk to us ?" The Fern gravely
nodded assent. All listened, and the Brook mur-
mured as if to give a word of encouragement, but
no one could tell whether he did or not. The
Trees shook themselves as a preliminary to stand-
ing perfectly still, and all the Flowers stretched
their little heads up out of the grass. In the
mean time the Fern conveyed the Wood's request
to the Stone, and soon his voice was heard re-
sounding through the leaves and moss which
The Brook is perfectly right in saying that
I am the oldest person in the wood, and know a
great deal that happened long before your recol-
lection. The accounts that you have given are
for the most part correct, though here and there
THE STONE. 59
I noticed a few mistakes. It is true, as the
Poppy told you, that the Flowers came one after
the other, and the Fir also said truly that the
Seasons divided the earth among themselves; but
there was a long, long period before that, and
many contests must have taken place before every
thing attained its present condition.
When God created the world, the earth was
a vast rock, stern and barren. As it lay cold and
immovable, the Lord sent the Elements, three
mighty beings, to warm and fructify it. First
came Fire, the elder brother, in his dress of pur-
ple and gold. Fiercely and uncontrollably he
raged over the earth, stamping upon the rocks,
and overturning them in the most excited man-
ner. Here and there he split off a few large and
small pieces of rock, throwing them in triumph
from him. That is the reason that you so often
see Stones of various sizes scattered over the
earth, without plan or order, just where the
caprice of this ungovernable Element left us.
But the contest did not result in favor of Fire,
for, in proportion as he ceased to rage, and showed
signs of weakness, the Rocks gathered strength
and skill to resist their adversary, who finally
had to succumb; he was taken prisoner, and the
60 THE STONE.
Rocks fastened him securely in their deepest
caverns. That every Stone conceals Fire, you
all know, for when we strike each other the
sparks fly out, and these are all parts of the one
great power. How the Fire labors and -lirn ._l-
in the recesses of the earth, I will tell you later.
"When Fire was thus subdued, his younger
brother, Water, came in his dress of silver-green.
IIe was more clever and judicious than Fire, and
had, moreover, profited by his brother's experi-
ence, learning from him what kind of an adver-
sary he had to deal with. He saw, too, that
open warfare was not always the most successful,
and therefore thought he would try prayers and
entreaties. IHe dashed over the Rocks, caressing
them, and -t i.-ir,_' with them by turns, now
using persuasion, and now cunning and force.
The earth quickly began to assume a differ-
ent aspect, for Water took firm possession of all
the places that his brother had conquered. IHe
enlarged still more the boundaries of the basin
where the Sea now is; the Rocks good-naturedly
consented to this, and Water cunningly rose
higher and higher therein, till at last he dashed
with great force over them, nestling down where
the valleys now are.
THE STONE. 61
Still all remained unfruitful and desolate.
Then God sent the sweet sister of the Elements,
Air, in her soft blue drapery, to reconcile and
bless all things. She tried to make peace with
the Rocks, but they would not release Fire; they
only gave her permission to visit her imprisoned
brother as often as she felt inclined. Whenever
she did so, she borrowed some of his warmth,
and shook it over the earth, which immediately
showed signs of life. Seeds began to germinate,
and send forth roots; but heat alone would not
suffice. Gently and refreshingly must Water
penetrate the earth before it could grow green
and prosper. He would gladly have done so,
had his limits not been so strictly defined. He
sent Air, however, a greeting in warm, brotherly
kisses, which she gathered and scattered over the
earth, and it became green; Trees and Flowers
budded, and men and animals could now live
"Air, in this way, visited her two brothers
alternately, and each bestowed his gifts upon
her-one a fiery glow, and the other delicate
vapors. You may yet see Fire's gifts in the blush
of evening and in the glow of the morning light;
and those of Water, in the mist that rises as he
62 THE STONE.
takes leave of Air, passing away in heavy Clouds.
But these Clouds are not happy away from earth,
and, as Air suffers them to be borne away by her
attendants, the Winds, they look longingly down,
until, overcome by homesickness, they return to
earth, dissolved in tears. Once, as they de-
scended, Flame, who accompanied Air, refused
to linger any longer by her side, and flashed over
the earth, now tenderly and passionately, and
now with wild and fearful threats. Then, for the
first time, was seen the mysterious Tempest, and
all creatures were filled with fear. The gentle
aspirations of the Clouds excited it, as well as the
vivid glow of the lightning. Horror, mingled
with a feeling of sadness, took possession of men
and animals, trees and flowers. But the blessing
of Air went with it, and, as Fire and Water re-
turned to the earth, all things arose refreshed and
"Of all that happened after this, the arrange-
ment of the Seasons and the growth of the Plants,
you have already been told. We Stones see all
around us blooming and green, and rejoice that it
is so, though we lie exiled and forgotten upon the
earth, which formerly belonged wholly to us. It
was, therefore, very thoughtless in the Foxglove
THE STONE. 63
to say that we intrude ourselves everywhere, for
you others crowd around us, and will not permit
us to rest quietly, even in the little space allotted
The Foxglove, at this speech, became very
much embarrassed, and hung her little head, so
that her flowing locks might hide her blushes.
The Strawberry laughed under her three green
leaves and the Beech rustled above them. The
Brook, fearing the original quarrel might be re-
newed, said, quickly, "We, the old people of the
wood, are very grateful to you for this account,
but you promised us something more."
What else do you wish to know ?" inquired
"Will you not tell us what Fire did in the
caves of the Rocks, and whether he bore his im-
prisonment cheerfully ?"
"Not toward the last," replied the Stone;
"for though he was cheered by the visits of his
sister, and had, through her intercession, the con-
solation of fructifying the earth, he still secretly
hoped to regain his freedom, and, with it, his
former power. But this would have been very
unfortunate, resulting, perhaps, in the destruction
of all things. Still imprisoned, therefore, in the
64 THE STONE.
recesses of the Rocks, he contrived all kinds of
tricks and fun, to pass the time away. Melting
a stone, he dissolved in the mixture the colors of
his own shining drapery; thus was gold formed.
Then, borrowing Water's delicate tints, as they
glistened everywhere about him, he transformed
them to silver. HIe even mingled some prepara-
tion of his own with the red and black garments
of his jailers, the Rocks, and it became iron.
But these things are not so rich in blessings as
we are apt to think. Gold and silver are very
delusive, though men, in their folly, perpetually
search for them; and iron always will be a harsh
and discordant metal, because the Rocks bestowed
so unwillingly their colors upon it.
Gold, silver, and iron, were now made; and
Fire, becoming weary of using the same colors,
commissioned Air to search for others. So she
collected various grasses and flowers, and carried
them to him the next time she visited him; and
he painted, with the delicate tints borrowed from
her bouquet, precious stones of various colors,
throwing over them all a portion of his own bril-
liant glow. Sometimes, in Fire's laboratory,
drops of the coloring matter would fall, when he
wiped and laid aside his brush, and thus origi-
THE STONE. 65
nated the tinsel, dross, and false jewels, which
shine and yet have no value-which tempt and
deceive-the very ones, indeed, which the Brook
told you Puck makes the rainbow of."
We have never seen Air carry off any of
our sisters," said a Tulip, as she nodded her head
"Because you have never watched her care-
fully," replied the Stone. Look at the evening
sky, in which all colors are represented, though
you have never observed them. There you will
find the dress of the Roses, the yellow of the
Crocus, the purple of the Violet, the green of the
Grass, mingled with the deep crimson of the
Poppy--more colors, indeed, than words can ex-
press. This wonderful combination is not visible
during the whole evening, but only when Air
gathers a bouquet and carries it to Fire. It is true
you only see the splendor of the coloring, because
the distance is too great for you to recognize
your sisters; but, if you question your heart, you
will at once be convinced of the truth of what I
have told you. Wonderfully drawn to them, you
turn your head longingly, though unconsciously,
toward your departing friends. You are familiar
with this feeling; but you are such creatures of
66 THE STONE.
earth, and so surrounded by mankind, that you
no longer have faith in your own perceptions,
and question, in vain, the wisdom of the world
for that which your heart alone can reveal."
What did Fire do with the bouquet, after he
had extracted its tints ?" asked the Forget-me-not.
Ie preserved it, colorless indeed, but glitter-
ing and imperishable, in the strata of the rocks,
where it was changed to shining crystals."
The Stone was now silent, and the Oak said:
"Pardon me if what I am about to ask you
should hurt your feelings, for I surely need not be
afraid of vexing any one so clever and learned as
you are. Reemember I am, next to you, the oldest
person in the wood, and am often called, on ac-
count of my age and steadfastness, which charac-
teristics I share with you, the imperishable Oak.
Therefore I feel that I have a right to your confi-
dence. We others, who dwell upon the earth,
have an aim in life, an ever-changing destiny; we
grow, bloom, and bear fruit, each one after his
kind, but you Stones lie unchanged, always in the
I. 11-..-. place. Are you not sometimes sad and
"You are just like men," replied the Stone,
amused and indignant at the same time, and
THE STONE. 67
look upon all your doings as of the greatest im-
portance-the chief aim, indeed, of the whole
creation. You grow, bloom, and bear fruit, but
what do you gain by it ? You fade away, and
are forgotten. Time passes his hand over the
place where you stood, and every trace of you
vanishes. Each one of you, whoever he may be,
is but a drop in the great ocean of Nature, and
which of you can tell why he is placed here ?
"I am not weary," continued the Stone,
"though I have so long lain motionless; for I am
feelingly alive to the changes going on around
me. Many thousand years have passed over me,
no two of them alike. Sometimes I hear tidings
of a far-distant land, for I lie with my ear to the
ground, and the Rocks transmit to me their se-
cret conversations concerning the many beautiful
places of earth. Thus Nature is constantly re-
vealing to me her wonders."
Yes," said the Fir-tree, confirming this asser-
tion, "there are beautiful places upon the earth,
for my cousin has often told me about them. He
visited them, you know, when he was mast of a
Oh, yes," said the Aspen, contemptuously,
" regions where there is nothing but ice and snow,
68 THE STONE.
and where your friend Winter cunningly ensnares
You could not have been very attentive to
my story," said the Fir, quietly. "Did I not tell
you that there are many places which belong only
to Summer, which Winter never comes in contact
with, where the trees are always green, and the
flowers bloom perpetually, where water is never
chilled by ice, and the snow only scatters, in pass-
ing over, her cool, cloud-like kisses?"
Ah," cried all the Flowers, in a breath,
"could we only live there! "
I often visit them," said the Brook, proudly,
and the pleasant thought made him jump up and
dash merrily on--" I plunge into a stream on its
way to the Sea, and am thus borne from land to
"I will tell you," said the Stone, "about a
wonderfully beautiful place of which I have just
heard. In former times, when Water made a
treaty of peace with the Rocks, he glided softly
into a lovely little bay, and the Rocks formed a
circle around him. This became the favorite
dwelling-place of the Sea, and he permitted Air
to visit him there, giving her full power over the
THE STONE. 69
"' Dip your feet in my waves,' said the Sea to
the Rocks, 'and I will cool them for you.'
'I will crown your heads with 1t..,;;-.-,' said
Air, 'and Earth shall spread her drapery around
And since you are so beautiful,' said Water,
again, 'I will hold a mirror before you, that you
may behold your glory; and your image shall
ever adorn my waves.' And they fulfilled their
The next time that Air visited Fire, she told
him about this lovely place, where her happiest
hours were passed.
May I not see it ?' asked Fire.
"'I must first get the Rocks' permission,' re-
The Rocks just then happened to be in very
good humor, on account of the friendly feeling
which Air and Water had manifested for them.
They were, therefore, easily persuaded to open
a window in Fire's prison, on the summit of a
mountain, that he might look out whenever he
felt inclined, on condition that Water would
allow one of their number to stand in the bay
and keep guard over him. Just where the circle
opens to let the Sea in, stands this Rock, looking
70 THE STONE.
on one side far into the Gulf, of which I have just
told you, and, on the other, toward the Sea's vast
expanse. From him I received this account.
On the shore opposite is Fire's window.
During the day, when the earth lies in sunshine,
nothing is to be seen but clouds of smoke; but,
at night, Fire puts his flaming head out of the
window, and his bright eyes gleam in the dark-
ness. Hie seems very merry and contented, and
plays all kinds of tricks, nodding in the friend-
liest way to my friend the Rock, who would
gladly return the compliment, were he not obliged
to remain perfectly immovable.
Since the opening of the prison window, the
bay is much more beautiful. Fire, however, did
not wish to be surrounded by all these attractive
things, without contributing his share to them,
so he threw his sparks over the shore; they fell
upon the green trees, and clung fast to the shining
boughs, where, red as when they sprang from the
mountain, they were soon transformed to fruits,
concealing within themselves the glow which
they brought with them. These fruits of Fire
are constantly seen, for as the leaves hang perpet-
ually their dark, lustrous drapery over the trees,
so are oranges ever found gleaming among them."
THE STONE. 71
"Do these wonderful fruits never have any
blossoms ?" asked the Apple-tree.
"Certainly, they do, in the form of a lovely,
fragrant snow; the boughs bearing fruit and buds,
while the sweetness of the flowers mingles with
the glow of the fruit.
The Flames looked down from the mountain,
well pleased with their gift. The Sea, with its
foam-bordered garments, chanted its wondrous
molodics to the listening Shore, and Air float-
ed 'everywhere. No one knows about the
strange things that take place in this gulf, but
the Elements, and my friend the Rock, but he
has promised not to reveal them, and will keep
"That is right," said the Rose; I like him
for that. Is he also fond of us?"
A perpetual spring-tide of blossoms sur-
rounds him," replied the Stone.
How beautiful that must be! sighed a full-
"I shall see all this! exclaimed the Brook,
Then bear our greetings to the Roses on the
Rocks," cried the Flowers.
72 THE STONE.
"And ours to the oranges on the sea-shore,"
rustled the Trees.
How am I to recognize the place ?" asked
"From my account," the Stone answered.
" Men call it the Bay of Naples,' and the name
of my friend the Rock, is Capri in their tongue."
"I shall soon find it," said the Brook, hasten-
ing on. But he had a long distance to go, and he
wandered far over the boundless sea, before he
perceived the wonders of which the Stone had told
him. Then, breaking joyously over the Rocks,
he bore to Flowers and Trees greetings from his
native land, and his mission was fulfilled.