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The Garden of Paradise

The Garden of Paradise

There was once a king's son who had a larger and more beautiful collection of books than any one else in the world, and full of splendid copper-plate engravings. He could read and obtain information respecting every people of every land; but not a word could he find to explain the situation of the garden of paradise, and this was just what he most wished to know. His grandmother had told him when he was quite a little boy, just old enough to go to school, that each flower in the garden of paradise was a sweet cake, that the pistils were full of rich wine, that on one flower history was written, on another geography or tables; so those who wished to learn their lessons had only to eat some of the cakes, and the more they ate, the more history, geography, or tables they knew. He believed it all then; but as he grew older, and learnt more and more, he became wise enough to understand that the splendor of the garden of paradise must be very different to all this. "Oh, why did Eve pluck the fruit from the tree of knowledge? why did Adam eat the forbidden fruit?" thought the king's son: "if I had been there it would never have happened, and there would have been no sin in the world." The garden of paradise occupied all his thoughts till he reached his seventeenth year.

One day he was walking alone in the wood, which was his greatest pleasure, when evening came on. The clouds gathered, and the rain poured down as if the sky had been a waterspout; and it was as dark as the bottom of a well at midnight; sometimes he slipped over the smooth grass, or fell over stones that projected out of the rocky ground. Every thing was dripping with moisture, and the poor prince had not a dry thread about him. He was obliged at last to climb over great blocks of stone, with water spurting from the thick moss. He began to feel quite faint, when he heard a most singular rushing noise, and saw before him a large cave, from which came a blaze of light. In the middle of the cave an immense fire was burning, and a noble stag, with its branching horns, was placed on a spit between the trunks of two pine-trees. It was turning slowly before the fire, and an elderly woman, as large and strong as if she had been a man in disguise, sat by, throwing one piece of wood after another into the flames.

"Come in," she said to the prince; "sit down by the fire and dry yourself."

"There is a great draught here," said the prince, as he seated himself on the ground.

"It will be worse when my sons come home," replied the woman; "you are now in the cavern of the Winds, and my sons are the four Winds of heaven: can you understand that?"

"Where are your sons?" asked the prince.

"It is difficult to answer stupid questions," said the woman. "My sons have plenty of business on hand; they are playing at shuttlecock with the clouds up yonder in the king's hall," and she pointed upwards.

"Oh, indeed," said the prince; "but you speak more roughly and harshly and are not so gentle as the women I am used to."

"Yes, that is because they have nothing else to do; but I am obliged to be harsh, to keep my boys in order, and I can do it, although they are so head-strong. Do you see those four sacks hanging on the wall? Well, they are just as much afraid of those sacks, as you used to be of the rat behind the looking-glass. I can bend the boys together, and put them in the sacks without any resistance on their parts, I can tell you. There they stay, and dare not attempt to come out until I allow them to do so. And here comes one of them."

It was the North Wind who came in, bringing with him a cold, piercing blast; large hailstones rattled on the floor, and snowflakes were scattered around in all directions. He wore a bearskin dress and cloak. His sealskin cap was drawn over his ears, long icicles hung from his beard, and one hailstone after another rolled from the collar of his jacket.

"Don't go too near the fire," said the prince, "or your hands and face will be frost-bitten."

"Frost-bitten!" said the North Wind, with a loud laugh; "why frost is my greatest delight. What sort of a little snip are you, and how did you find your way to the cavern of the Winds?"

"He is my guest," said the old woman, "and if you are not satisfied with that explanation you can go into the sack. Do you understand me?"

That settled the matter. So the North Wind began to relate his adventures, whence he came, and where he had been for a whole month. "I come from the polar seas," he said; "I have been on the Bear's Island with the Russian walrus-hunters. I sat and slept at the helm of their ship, as they sailed away from North Cape. Sometimes when I woke, the storm-birds would fly about my legs. They are curious birds; they give one flap with their wings, and then on their outstretched pinions soar far away.

"Don't make such a long story of it," said the mother of the winds; "what sort of a place is Bear's Island?"

"A very beautiful place, with a floor for dancing as smooth and flat as a plate. Half-melted snow, partly covered with moss, sharp stones, and skeletons of walruses and polar-bears, lie all about, their gigantic limbs in a state of green decay. It would seem as if the sun never shone there. I blew gently, to clear away the mist, and then I saw a little hut, which had been built from the wood of a wreck, and was covered with the skins of the walrus, the fleshy side outwards; it looked green and red, and on the roof sat a growling bear. Then I went to the sea shore, to look after birds' nests, and saw the unfledged nestlings opening their mouths and screaming for food. I blew into the thousand little throats, and quickly stopped their screaming. Farther on were the walruses with pig's heads, and teeth a yard long, rolling about like great worms.

"You relate your adventures very well, my son," said the mother, "it makes my mouth water to hear you.

"After that," continued the North Wind, "the hunting commenced. The harpoon was flung into the breast of the walrus, so that a smoking stream of blood spurted forth like a fountain, and besprinkled the ice. Then I thought of my own game; I began to blow, and set my own ships, the great icebergs sailing, so that they might crush the boats. Oh, how the sailors howled and cried out! but I howled louder than they. They were obliged to unload their cargo, and throw their chests and the dead walruses on the ice. Then I sprinkled snow over them, and left them in their crushed boats to drift southward, and to taste salt water. They will never return to Bear's Island."

"So you have done mischief," said the mother of the Winds.

"I shall leave others to tell the good I have done," he replied. "But here comes my brother from the West; I like him best of all, for he has the smell of the sea about him, and brings in a cold, fresh air as he enters."

"Is that the little Zephyr?" asked the prince.

"Yes, it is the little Zephyr," said the old woman; "but he is not little now. In years gone by he was a beautiful boy; now that is all past."

He came in, looking like a wild man, and he wore a slouched hat to protect his head from injury. In his hand he carried a club, cut from a mahogany tree in the American forests, not a trifle to carry.

"Whence do you come?" asked the mother.

"I come from the wilds of the forests, where the thorny brambles form thick hedges between the trees; where the water-snake lies in the wet grass, and mankind seem to be unknown."

"What were you doing there?"

"I looked into the deep river, and saw it rushing down from the rocks. The water drops mounted to the clouds and glittered in the rainbow. I saw the wild buffalo swimming in the river, but the strong tide carried him away amidst a flock of wild ducks, which flew into the air as the waters dashed onwards, leaving the buffalo to be hurled over the waterfall. This pleased me; so I raised a storm, which rooted up old trees, and sent them floating down the river."

"And what else have you done?" asked the old woman.

"I have rushed wildly across the savannahs; I have stroked the wild horses, and shaken the cocoa-nuts from the trees. Yes, I have many stories to relate; but I need not tell everything I know. You know it all very well, don't you, old lady?" And he kissed his mother so roughly, that she nearly fell backwards. Oh, he was, indeed, a wild fellow.

Now in came the South Wind, with a turban and a flowing Bedouin cloak.

"How cold it is here!" said he, throwing more wood on the fire. "It is easy to feel that the North Wind has arrived here before me."

"Why it is hot enough here to roast a bear," said the North Wind.

"You are a bear yourself," said the other.

"Do you want to be put in the sack, both of you?" said the old woman. "Sit down, now, on that stone, yonder, and tell me where you have been."

"In Africa, mother. I went out with the Hottentots, who were lion-hunting in the Kaffir land, where the plains are covered with grass the color of a green olive; and here I ran races with the ostrich, but I soon outstripped him in swiftness. At last I came to the desert, in which lie the golden sands, looking like the bottom of the sea. Here I met a caravan, and the travellers had just killed their last camel, to obtain water; there was very little for them, and they continued their painful journey beneath the burning sun, and over the hot sands, which stretched before them a vast, boundless desert. Then I rolled myself in the loose sand, and whirled it in burning columns over their heads. The dromedarys stood still in terror, while the merchants drew their caftans over their heads, and threw themselves on the ground before me, as they do before Allah, their god. Then I buried them beneath a pyramid of sand, which covers them all. When I blow that away on my next visit, the sun will bleach their bones, and travellers will see that others have been there before them; otherwise, in such a wild desert, they might not believe it possible."

"So you have done nothing but evil," said the mother. "Into the sack with you;" and, before he was aware, she had seized the South Wind round the body, and popped him into the bag. He rolled about on the floor, till she sat herself upon him to keep him still.

"These boys of yours are very lively," said the prince.

"Yes," she replied, "but I know how to correct them, when necessary; and here comes the fourth." In came the East Wind, dressed like a Chinese.

"Oh, you come from that quarter, do you?" said she; "I thought you had been to the garden of paradise."

"I am going there to-morrow," he replied; "I have not been there for a hundred years. I have just come from China, where I danced round the porcelain tower till all the bells jingled again. In the streets an official flogging was taking place, and bamboo canes were being broken on the shoulders of men of every high position, from the first to the ninth grade. They cried, 'Many thanks, my fatherly benefactor;' but I am sure the words did not come from their hearts, so I rang the bells till they sounded, 'ding, ding-dong.'"

"You are a wild boy," said the old woman; "it is well for you that you are going to-morrow to the garden of paradise; you always get improved in your education there. Drink deeply from the fountain of wisdom while you are there, and bring home a bottleful for me."

"That I will," said the East Wind; "but why have you put my brother South in a bag? Let him out; for I want him to tell me about the phoenix-bird. The princess always wants to hear of this bird when I pay her my visit every hundred years. If you will open the sack, sweetest mother, I will give you two pocketfuls of tea, green and fresh as when I gathered it from the spot where it grew."

"Well, for the sake of the tea, and because you are my own boy, I will open the bag."

She did so, and the South Wind crept out, looking quite cast down, because the prince had seen his disgrace.

"There is a palm-leaf for the princess," he said. "The old phoenix, the only one in the world, gave it to me himself. He has scratched on it with his beak the whole of his history during the hundred years he has lived. She can there read how the old phoenix set fire to his own nest, and sat upon it while it was burning, like a Hindoo widow. The dry twigs around the nest crackled and smoked till the flames burst forth and consumed the phoenix to ashes. Amidst the fire lay an egg, red hot, which presently burst with a loud report, and out flew a young bird. He is the only phoenix in the world, and the king over all the other birds. He has bitten a hole in the leaf which I give you, and that is his greeting to the princess."

"Now let us have something to eat," said the mother of the Winds. So they all sat down to feast on the roasted stag; and as the prince sat by the side of the East Wind, they soon became good friends.

"Pray tell me," said the prince, "who is that princess of whom you have been talking! and where lies the garden of paradise?"

"Ho! ho!" said the East Wind, "would you like to go there? Well, you can fly off with me to-morrow; but I must tell you one thing—no human being has been there since the time of Adam and Eve. I suppose you have read of them in your Bible."

"Of course I have," said the prince.

"Well," continued the East Wind, "when they were driven out of the garden of paradise, it sunk into the earth; but it retained its warm sunshine, its balmy air, and all its splendor. The fairy queen lives there, in the island of happiness, where death never comes, and all is beautiful. I can manage to take you there to-morrow, if you will sit on my back. But now don't talk any more, for I want to go to sleep;" and then they all slept.

When the prince awoke in the early morning, he was not a little surprised at finding himself high up above the clouds. He was seated on the back of the East Wind, who held him faithfully; and they were so high in the air that woods and fields, rivers and lakes, as they lay beneath them, looked like a painted map.

"Good morning," said the East Wind. "You might have slept on a while; for there is very little to see in the flat country over which we are passing unless you like to count the churches; they look like spots of chalk on a green board." The green board was the name he gave to the green fields and meadows.

"It was very rude of me not to say good-bye to your mother and your brothers," said the prince.

"They will excuse you, as you were asleep," said the East Wind; and then they flew on faster than ever.

The leaves and branches of the trees rustled as they passed. When they flew over seas and lakes, the waves rose higher, and the large ships dipped into the water like diving swans. As darkness came on, towards evening, the great towns looked charming; lights were sparkling, now seen now hidden, just as the sparks go out one after another on a piece of burnt paper. The prince clapped his hands with pleasure; but the East Wind advised him not to express his admiration in that manner, or he might fall down, and find himself hanging on a church steeple. The eagle in the dark forests flies swiftly; but faster than he flew the East Wind. The Cossack, on his small horse, rides lightly o'er the plains; but lighter still passed the prince on the winds of the wind.

"There are the Himalayas, the highest mountains in Asia," said the East Wind. "We shall soon reach the garden of paradise now."

Then, they turned southward, and the air became fragrant with the perfume of spices and flowers. Here figs and pomegranates grew wild, and the vines were covered with clusters of blue and purple grapes. Here they both descended to the earth, and stretched themselves on the soft grass, while the flowers bowed to the breath of the wind as if to welcome it. "Are we now in the garden of paradise?" asked the prince.

"No, indeed," replied the East Wind; "but we shall be there very soon. Do you see that wall of rocks, and the cavern beneath it, over which the grape vines hang like a green curtain? Through that cavern we must pass. Wrap your cloak round you; for while the sun scorches you here, a few steps farther it will be icy cold. The bird flying past the entrance to the cavern feels as if one wing were in the region of summer, and the other in the depths of winter."

"So this then is the way to the garden of paradise?" asked the prince, as they entered the cavern. It was indeed cold; but the cold soon passed, for the East Wind spread his wings, and they gleamed like the brightest fire. As they passed on through this wonderful cave, the prince could see great blocks of stone, from which water trickled, hanging over their heads in fantastic shapes. Sometimes it was so narrow that they had to creep on their hands and knees, while at other times it was lofty and wide, like the free air. It had the appearance of a chapel for the dead, with petrified organs and silent pipes. "We seem to be passing through the valley of death to the garden of paradise," said the prince.

But the East Wind answered not a word, only pointed forwards to a lovely blue light which gleamed in the distance. The blocks of stone assumed a misty appearance, till at last they looked like white clouds in moonlight. The air was fresh and balmy, like a breeze from the mountains perfumed with flowers from a valley of roses. A river, clear as the air itself, sparkled at their feet, while in its clear depths could be seen gold and silver fish sporting in the bright water, and purple eels emitting sparks of fire at every moment, while the broad leaves of the water-lilies, that floated on its surface, flickered with all the colors of the rainbow. The flower in its color of flame seemed to receive its nourishment from the water, as a lamp is sustained by oil. A marble bridge, of such exquisite workmanship that it appeared as if formed of lace and pearls, led to the island of happiness, in which bloomed the garden of paradise. The East Wind took the prince in his arms, and carried him over, while the flowers and the leaves sang the sweet songs of his childhood in tones so full and soft that no human voice could venture to imitate. Within the garden grew large trees, full of sap; but whether they were palm-trees or gigantic water-plants, the prince knew not. The climbing plants hung in garlands of green and gold, like the illuminations on the margins of old missals or twined among the initial letters. Birds, flowers, and festoons appeared intermingled in seeming confusion. Close by, on the grass, stood a group of peacocks, with radiant tails outspread to the sun. The prince touched them, and found, to his surprise, that they were not really birds, but the leaves of the burdock tree, which shone with the colors of a peacock's tail. The lion and the tiger, gentle and tame, were springing about like playful cats among the green bushes, whose perfume was like the fragrant blossom of the olive. The plumage of the wood-pigeon glistened like pearls as it struck the lion's mane with its wings; while the antelope, usually so shy, stood near, nodding its head as if it wished to join in the frolic. The fairy of paradise next made her appearance. Her raiment shone like the sun, and her serene countenance beamed with happiness like that of a mother rejoicing over her child. She was young and beautiful, and a train of lovely maidens followed her, each wearing a bright star in her hair. The East Wind gave her the palm-leaf, on which was written the history of the phoenix; and her eyes sparkled with joy. She then took the prince by the hand, and led him into her palace, the walls of which were richly colored, like a tulip-leaf when it is turned to the sun. The roof had the appearance of an inverted flower, and the colors grew deeper and brighter to the gazer. The prince walked to a window, and saw what appeared to be the tree of knowledge of good and evil, with Adam and Eve standing by, and the serpent near them. "I thought they were banished from paradise," he said.

The princess smiled, and told him that time had engraved each event on a window-pane in the form of a picture; but, unlike other pictures, all that it represented lived and moved,—the leaves rustled, and the persons went and came, as in a looking-glass. He looked through another pane, and saw the ladder in Jacob's dream, on which the angels were ascending and descending with outspread wings. All that had ever happened in the world here lived and moved on the panes of glass, in pictures such as time alone could produce. The fairy now led the prince into a large, lofty room with transparent walls, through which the light shone. Here were portraits, each one appearing more beautiful than the other—millions of happy beings, whose laughter and song mingled in one sweet melody: some of these were in such an elevated position that they appeared smaller than the smallest rosebud, or like pencil dots on paper. In the centre of the hall stood a tree, with drooping branches, from which hung golden apples, both great and small, looking like oranges amid the green leaves. It was the tree of knowledge of good and evil, from which Adam and Eve had plucked and eaten the forbidden fruit, and from each leaf trickled a bright red dewdrop, as if the tree were weeping tears of blood for their sin. "Let us now take the boat," said the fairy: "a sail on the cool waters will refresh us. But we shall not move from the spot, although the boat may rock on the swelling water; the countries of the world will glide before us, but we shall remain still."

It was indeed wonderful to behold. First came the lofty Alps, snow-clad, and covered with clouds and dark pines. The horn resounded, and the shepherds sang merrily in the valleys. The banana-trees bent their drooping branches over the boat, black swans floated on the water, and singular animals and flowers appeared on the distant shore. New Holland, the fifth division of the world, now glided by, with mountains in the background, looking blue in the distance. They heard the song of the priests, and saw the wild dance of the savage to the sound of the drums and trumpets of bone; the pyramids of Egypt rising to the clouds; columns and sphinxes, overthrown and buried in the sand, followed in their turn; while the northern lights flashed out over the extinguished volcanoes of the north, in fireworks none could imitate.

The prince was delighted, and yet he saw hundreds of other wonderful things more than can be described. "Can I stay here forever?" asked he.

"That depends upon yourself," replied the fairy. "If you do not, like Adam, long for what is forbidden, you can remain here always."

"I should not touch the fruit on the tree of knowledge," said the prince; "there is abundance of fruit equally beautiful."

"Examine your own heart," said the princess, "and if you do not feel sure of its strength, return with the East Wind who brought you. He is about to fly back, and will not return here for a hundred years. The time will not seem to you more than a hundred hours, yet even that is a long time for temptation and resistance. Every evening, when I leave you, I shall be obliged to say, 'Come with me,' and to beckon to you with my hand. But you must not listen, nor move from your place to follow me; for with every step you will find your power to resist weaker. If once you attempted to follow me, you would soon find yourself in the hall, where grows the tree of knowledge, for I sleep beneath its perfumed branches. If you stooped over me, I should be forced to smile. If you then kissed my lips, the garden of paradise would sink into the earth, and to you it would be lost. A keen wind from the desert would howl around you; cold rain fall on your head, and sorrow and woe be your future lot."

"I will remain," said the prince.

So the East Wind kissed him on the forehead, and said, "Be firm; then shall we meet again when a hundred years have passed. Farewell, farewell." Then the East Wind spread his broad pinions, which shone like the lightning in harvest, or as the northern lights in a cold winter.

"Farewell, farewell," echoed the trees and the flowers.

Storks and pelicans flew after him in feathery bands, to accompany him to the boundaries of the garden.

"Now we will commence dancing," said the fairy; "and when it is nearly over at sunset, while I am dancing with you, I shall make a sign, and ask you to follow me: but do not obey. I shall be obliged to repeat the same thing for a hundred years; and each time, when the trial is past, if you resist, you will gain strength, till resistance becomes easy, and at last the temptation will be quite overcome. This evening, as it will be the first time, I have warned you."

After this the fairy led him into a large hall, filled with transparent lilies. The yellow stamina of each flower formed a tiny golden harp, from which came forth strains of music like the mingled tones of flute and lyre. Beautiful maidens, slender and graceful in form, and robed in transparent gauze, floated through the dance, and sang of the happy life in the garden of paradise, where death never entered, and where all would bloom forever in immortal youth. As the sun went down, the whole heavens became crimson and gold, and tinted the lilies with the hue of roses. Then the beautiful maidens offered to the prince sparkling wine; and when he had drank, he felt happiness greater than he had ever known before. Presently the background of the hall opened and the tree of knowledge appeared, surrounded by a halo of glory that almost blinded him. Voices, soft and lovely as his mother's sounded in his ears, as if she were singing to him, "My child, my beloved child." Then the fairy beckoned to him, and said in sweet accents, "Come with me, come with me." Forgetting his promise, forgetting it even on the very first evening, he rushed towards her, while she continued to beckon to him and to smile. The fragrance around him overpowered his senses, the music from the harps sounded more entrancing, while around the tree appeared millions of smiling faces, nodding and singing. "Man should know everything; man is the lord of the earth." The tree of knowledge no longer wept tears of blood, for the dewdrops shone like glittering stars.

"Come, come," continued that thrilling voice, and the prince followed the call. At every step his cheeks glowed, and the blood rushed wildly through his veins. "I must follow," he cried; "it is not a sin, it cannot be, to follow beauty and joy. I only want to see her sleep, and nothing will happen unless I kiss her, and that I will not do, for I have strength to resist, and a determined will."

The fairy threw off her dazzling attire, bent back the boughs, and in another moment was hidden among them.

"I have not sinned yet," said the prince, "and I will not;" and then he pushed aside the boughs to follow the princess. She was lying already asleep, beautiful as only a fairy in the garden of paradise could be. She smiled as he bent over her, and he saw tears trembling out of her beautiful eyelashes. "Do you weep for me?" he whispered. "Oh weep not, thou loveliest of women. Now do I begin to understand the happiness of paradise; I feel it to my inmost soul, in every thought. A new life is born within me. One moment of such happiness is worth an eternity of darkness and woe." He stooped and kissed the tears from her eyes, and touched her lips with his.

A clap of thunder, loud and awful, resounded through the trembling air. All around him fell into ruin. The lovely fairy, the beautiful garden, sunk deeper and deeper. The prince saw it sinking down in the dark night till it shone only like a star in the distance beneath him. Then he felt a coldness, like death, creeping over him; his eyes closed, and he became insensible.

When he recovered, a chilling rain was beating upon him, and a sharp wind blew on his head. "Alas! what have I done?" he sighed; "I have sinned like Adam, and the garden of paradise has sunk into the earth." He opened his eyes, and saw the star in the distance, but it was the morning star in heaven which glittered in the darkness.

Presently he stood up and found himself in the depths of the forest, close to the cavern of the Winds, and the mother of the Winds sat by his side. She looked angry, and raised her arm in the air as she spoke. "The very first evening!" she said. "Well, I expected it! If you were my son, you should go into the sack."

"And there he will have to go at last," said a strong old man, with large black wings, and a scythe in his hand, whose name was Death. "He shall be laid in his coffin, but not yet. I will allow him to wander about the world for a while, to atone for his sin, and to give him time to become better. But I shall return when he least expects me. I shall lay him in a black coffin, place it on my head, and fly away with it beyond the stars. There also blooms a garden of paradise, and if he is good and pious he will be admitted; but if his thoughts are bad, and his heart is full of sin, he will sink with his coffin deeper than the garden of paradise has sunk. Once in every thousand years I shall go and fetch him, when he will either be condemned to sink still deeper, or be raised to a happier life in the world beyond the stars."

THE FOUR WINDS.

HERE  once lived a king's son, who possessed a larger and more beautiful collection of books than anybody ever had before. He could read in their pages all the events that had ever taken place in the world, and see them illustrated by the most exquisite engravings. He could obtain information about any people or any country, only not a word could he ever find as to the geographical position of the Garden of the World; and this was just what he was most desirous of ascertaining.

His grandmother had told him, when he was quite a little boy, and beginning to go to school, that each flower in the Garden of the World was the most delicious cake, and had its stamina filled with luscious wine; on one stood written historical facts, on another geography or arithmetical tables—and so one need only eat cakes to learn one's lesson, and the more one ate, the more history, geography, and arithmetic one acquired.

He used to believe this. But when he grew a little older, and had learned more and become wiser, he began to understand that there must be better delights than these in the Garden of the World.

He was now seventeen, and nothing ran in his head but this garden.

One day he went to take a walk in the forest, all alone, as he best liked to be.

As evening came on, the sky grew overcast, and there came on such a shower, that it seemed as if the heavens had become one vast sluice that kept pouring down water; besides this, it was darker than it usually is, even at night, except at the bottom of the deepest well. At every step, he either slipped on the wet grass, or stumbled over some bare rock. Everything was dripping wet, and the poor prince had not a dry thread about him. He was obliged to climb over huge blocks of stone, where water was running down from the thick moss. He was near fainting away, when he heard a singular rushing noise, and perceived a large cavern, lighted up by a huge fire, piled up in the middle, and fit to roast a whole deer. And this, indeed, was being done. A very fine deer, with its branching horns, was placed on a spit, and slowly turned round between the felled trunks of two pine-trees. An elderly woman, as bony and masculine as though she were a man in female attire, sat by the fire, and kept throwing in one log of wood after another.

"Come nearer," said she, "and sit by the fire, and dry your clothes."

"There is a great draught here," observed the prince, sitting down on the ground.

"It will be much worse when my sons come home," returned the woman. "You are in the Cavern of the Winds. My sons are the Four Winds of Heaven—can you understand that?"

"Where are your sons?" asked the prince.

"It is difficult to answer a silly question," said the woman. "My sons are now at it, with their own hands. They are playing at shuttle-cock with the clouds, up there in the King's hall." And she pointed above.

"Oh, that's it!" quoth the prince. "But you seem to speak rather harshly, and are not as gentle as the women I am accustomed to see."

"Because they have nothing else to do. But I must be harsh, to keep my boys in any order; which I manage to do, headstrong as they are. You see those four bags hanging on the wall? Well, they are every bit as much afraid of them as you used to be of the rod behind the looking-glass. I bend the boys in two, I can tell you, and then pop them into the bag, without their making the least resistance. There they stay, and don't dare come out till I think it proper they should. But here comes one of them."

It was the North Wind who came in, diffusing an icy coldness around. Large hailstones jumped about on the floor, and snowflakes were scattered in all directions. He wore a bearskin jacket and clothes; his cap of sea-dog's skin came down over his ears; long icicles clung to his beard, and one hailstone after another fell from the collar of his jacket.

"Don't go too near the fire at once," said the prince, "or your face and hands might easily get frozen."

"Frozen, quotha!" said the North Wind, with a loud laugh. "Why, cold is my greatest delight! But what kind of little snip are you? How did you come into the Cavern of the Winds?"

"He is my guest," said the old woman; "and if that does not satisfy you, why, you need only get into the bag. Do you understand me now?"

Well, this did the business at once; and the North Wind then began to relate whence he came, and where he had been staying for nearly a month past.

"I come from the Arctic Sea," said he, "and I have been on Bear's Island, with the Russian sea-cow hunters. I sat and slept at the helm, as they sailed away from the North Cape; but whenever I happened to wake, the petrels were flying about my legs. What comical birds they are! They will flap their wings suddenly, and then remain poised upon them, and quite motionless, as if they had had enough of flying."

"Don't be so diffuse," said the mother of the Winds. "And so you reached Bear's Island?"

"It's a beautiful place! There's a ballroom floor for you, as smooth as a plate! Heaps of half-thawed snow, slightly covered with moss, sharp stones, and skeletons of sea-cows and bears were lying about, together with the arms and legs of giants in a state of green decay. It looks as if the sun had never shone there. I blew slightly on the mist, that the hovels might be visible, and there appeared a hut, built from the remains of a ship that had been wrecked, and covered over with sea-cows' skins. The fleshy side was turned outwards, and it was both red and green. A living bear sat growling on the roof. I went to the shore, and looked after birds' nests, and saw the unfledged youngsters opening their beaks and screaming lustily; so I blew into their thousands of throats, and they learned to shut their mouths. A little farther on, the sea-cows were rolling about like giant worms with pigs' heads, and teeth a yard long."

"You tell your adventures right pleasantly, my son," said his mother; "it makes my mouth water to hear you."

"Then the hunting began. The harpoon was flung right into the sea-cow's chest, so that a smoking jet of blood spurted forth like water from a fountain, and besprinkled the ice. Then I thought of my part of the game. I began to blow, and set my vessels, the towering icebergs, to stick the boats fast. Oh! what a whistling and a bawling there was! Only I whistled louder than all of them. They were obliged to unpack the dead sea-cows, the chests, and the tackle upon the ice; I then shook snowflakes over them, and left them and their spoils to sail in their pent-up vessels towards the south, to drink salt-water. They will never return to Bear's Island."

"Then you have done mischief?" said the mother of the Winds.

"Let others tell of the good I may have done!" said he. "But here comes my brother from the West. I like him the best, because he smacks of the sea, and brings a nice bracing cold with him."

"Is that the little Zephyr?" asked the prince.

"Yes, that is the Zephyr!" said the old woman; "but he's not so very little either. Some years ago he was a pretty boy; but that is now over."

He looked like a wild man; but he wore a roller round his head, that he might not get hurt. In his hand he held a mahogany club, hewn from an American mahogany forest. It was no small weight to carry.

"Whence do you come?" asked the mother.

"From the wild forests," said he, "where tangled bindweed forms a hedge between each tree, where water-snakes lie in the damp grass, and where man seems to be a superfluous nonentity."

"What have you been doing there?"

"I looked into the deep river, and saw it had rushed down from the rocks, and then became dust, and flew towards the clouds to support the rainbow. I saw a wild buffalo swimming in the river, but he was carried away by the tide. He had joined a flock of wild ducks, who flew up into the air the moment the waters dashed downwards. The buffalo was obliged to be hurled into the precipice. This pleased me, and I raised a storm, so that the oldest trees sailed down the river, and were reduced to splinters."

"And was that all you did?" asked the old woman.

"I cut capers in the savannahs, I stroked wild horses and shook cocoanut trees. Oh! I have plenty of tales to tell! Only one must not tell all one knows, as you well know, good mammy." And he kissed his mother so roughly, that she had nearly fallen backwards. He was a shocking wild lad.

Now, in came the South Wind in a turban and Bedouin's flying mantle.

"It is very cold hereabouts!" said he, throwing wood upon the fire. "It is easy to perceive that the North Wind has preceded me."

"It is hot enough here to roast a northern bear!" said the North Wind.

"You are a bear yourself!" answered the South Wind.

"Have you a mind to be both put into the bag?" asked the old woman. "There! sit down on that stone, and tell us where you have been."

"In Africa, mother," returned he. "I was amongst the Hottentots, who were lion-hunting in Caffraria. The grass in their plains looks as green as an olive. An ostrich ran a race with me, but I beat him hollow. I reached the yellow sands of the desert, which look like the bottom of the sea. I met a caravan. They killed their last camel to obtain some water; but they only got a very little. The sun was scorching above, and the sand equally scorching beneath one's feet. The desert stretched out into boundless expanse. I then rolled in the fine loose sand, and made it whirl about in large columns. A fine dance I led it! You should have seen how dejected the dromedaries looked as they stood stock still, and how the merchants pulled their caftans over their heads. They threw themselves on the ground before me as they would before Allah, their God. They are now all buried beneath a pyramid of sand; and when I come to puff it away, the sun will bleach their bones, and travelers will see that others have been there before them: a fact which is seldom believed in the desert, short of some tangible proof."

"Then you have done nothing but mischief!" said his mother. "Into the bag with you!" And before he had time to perceive it, she had taken the South Wind round the waist, and popped him into the bag. He wiggled about on the ground; but she sat upon him, and then he was forced to lie still.

"Your sons are a set of lively boys!" said the prince.

"Yes," answered she; "and I know how to correct them. Here comes the fourth."

This was the East Wind, who was dressed like a Chinese.

"Oh! you come from that neighborhood, do you?" said his mother. "I thought you had been to the Garden of the World?"

"I am going there to-morrow," said the East Wind. "To-morrow will be a hundred years since I was there. I have just returned from China, where I danced round the porcelain tower till all the bells were set a-jingling. The government officers were being beaten in the street; the bamboo stick was broken across their shoulders; and these were people belonging to the several degrees from the first to the ninth. They cried out: 'Many thanks, my fatherly benefactor!' But the words did not come from their hearts, so I made the bells jingle, and sang! 'Tsing! tsang! tsu!'"

"You are a wanton boy!" said the old woman. "It is well you are going to-morrow to the Garden of the World, for that always improves your mind. Pray drink abundantly from the fountain of wisdom, and take a small phial and bring it home full for me."

"I will," said the East Wind. "But why have you put my brother from the South into the bag? Take him out again; I want him to tell me about the phœnix, for the princess in the Garden of the World always asks after him when I pay her my visit every hundredth year. Open the bag, there's a dear mammy, and I'll give you two pocketfuls of tea-leaves, all green and fresh, just as I plucked them from the bush on the spot where it grew."

"Well, for the sake of the tea, and because you are mammy's own boy, I will open the bag."

This she accordingly did, and out crept the South Wind, looking rather foolish, because the strange prince had witnessed his disgrace.

"There is a palm-tree leaf for the princess," said the South Wind. "The old phœnix, the only bird of his sort in the wide world, gave me this leaf. He has traced upon it with his beak the whole history of his life during the hundred years that form its span. She may, therefore, be now enabled to read how the phœnix set fire to his nest, and sat upon it as it was burning, like the widow of a Hindoo. How the dried twigs did crackle! and what a smoke there was! At length out burst the flames: the old phœnix was burnt to ashes, but an egg lay glowing hot in the fire. It burst with a loud report, and the young bird flew out; and now he is king over all the other birds, and the only phœnix in the world. He has bitten a hole in the leaf which I gave you, and that is his way of sending his duty to the princess."

"Now let us eat something," said the mother of the Winds. And they all sat down to partake of the roast deer. The prince sat beside the East Wind; therefore, they soon became good friends.

"And pray what kind of a princess may she be whom you are talking so much about and where lies the Garden of the World?"

"Ho, ho!" said the East Wind. "What! have you a mind to go there? Well, you can fly over with me to-morrow, though I must tell you no mortal ever visited it before. It is inhabited by a fairy queen, and, in it lies the Island of Happiness, a lovely spot where death never intrudes. Get upon my back to-morrow, and I'll take you with me; for I think it can be managed. But now don't speak any more, for I want to sleep."

And then to sleep they all went.

The prince awoke at an early hour next morning, and was not a little surprised on finding himself high above the clouds. He sat on the back of the East Wind, who was holding him faithfully; and they were so high in the air that forests, fields, rivers, and lakes lay beneath them like a painted map.

"Good morning!" said the East Wind. "You might just as well have slept a bit longer, for there is not much to be seen in the flat country beneath us, except you have a mind to count the churches. They look like chalk dots on the green board."

It was the fields and the meadows that he called the "green board."

"It was uncivil of me not to take leave of your mother and brothers," observed the prince.

"When one is asleep, one is to be excused," replied the East Wind.

And they began to fly quicker than ever. When they swept across the tree-tops, you might have heard a rustling in all their leaves and branches. On the sea and on the lakes, wherever they flew, the waves rose higher and the large ships dipped down into the water like swimming swans.

Towards evening, when it grew dark, the large towns looked beautiful. They were dotted here and there with lights, much after the fashion of a piece of paper that has burned till it is black, when one sees all the little sparks going out one after another. The prince clapped his hands with delight, but the East Wind begged him to let such demonstrations alone, and rather attend to holding fast, or else he might easily fall down and remain dangling on a church steeple.

Fast as the eagle flew through the black forests, the East Wind flew still faster. The Cossack was scouring the plains on his little horse, but the prince soon outstripped him.

"You can now see Himalaya," said the East Wind, "the highest mountain in Asia—and now we shall soon reach the Garden of the World." They then turned more southwards, and the air was soon perfumed with spices and flowers. Figs and pomegranates grew wild, and clusters of blue and red grapes hung from wild vines. They now descended to the earth, and reclined on the soft grass, where the flowers seemed to nod to the wind as though they had said—"Welcome!"

"Are we now in the Garden of the World?" asked the prince.

"No, indeed!" replied the East Wind; "but we soon shall be. Do you see yon wall of rocks, and that broad cavern, where the vines hang down like a huge green curtain? That's the road through which we must pass. Wrap yourself in your mantle, for burning hot as the sun is just hereabout, it is as cold as ice a few steps farther. The bird who flies past the cavern feels one wing to be in the warm summer abroad while the other is in the depth of winter."

"So then this seems to be the way to the Garden of the World?" asked the prince.

They now entered the cavern. Oh, how icy cold it was! Only it did not last long. The East Wind spread out his wings, and they beamed like the brightest fire. But what a cavern it was, to be sure! The huge blocks of stone from which the water kept dripping down, hung over them in the oddest shapes, sometimes narrowing up till they were obliged to creep on all-fours, at other times widening into an expanse as lofty as though situated in the open air. It looked like a chapel for the dead, with petrified organs and dumb organ-pipes.

"We seem to be crossing through an abode of Death to reach the Garden of the World!" said the prince. But the East Wind did not answer a syllable, and merely pointed forwards where the loveliest blue light met their eyes. The blocks of stone above their heads rolled away into a mist that finished by assuming the shape of a white cloud on a moonlight night. They were now in a most delightfully mild atmosphere, as cool as the mountain breeze, and as perfumed as a valley of roses. A river, clear as the air itself, was running along, filled with gold and silver fishes; scarlet eels, that emitted blue sparks at every motion, were disporting in the depths of the waters; while the broad leaves of the water-lilies that lay on its surface showed all the tints of the rainbow; the flower itself was a reddish-yellow burning flame that received its nourishment from the water as oil feeds the flame of a lamp. A marble bridge, as delicately sculptured as though it had been made of lace and glass beads, led across the water to the Island of Happiness, where bloomed the Garden of the World.

The East Wind took the prince on his arm and carried him over. And the flowers and leaves sang the sweetest songs of his childhood, but in so lovely a strain of melody as no human voice ever yet sang.

Were they palm-trees or gigantic water-plants that grew on this favored spot? The prince could not tell, for never had he seen such large and luxuriant trees before. The most singular creepers, too, such as one only sees represented in gold and colors in the margins of illuminated old missals, or twined around the first letter in a chapter, were hanging in long festoons on all sides. It was a most curious mixture of birds, and flowers, and scrolls. Just by a flock of peacocks were standing on the grass displaying their gorgeous fan-like tails. The prince took them for live creatures, but found, on touching them, that they were only plants—large burdock leaves, which, in this favored spot, beamed with all the glorious colors of the peacock's tail. A lion and tiger were disporting with all the pliancy of cats amongst the green hedges, that were perfumed like the flower of the olive-tree; and both the lion and the tiger were tame. The wild wood-pigeon's plumage sparkled like the fairest pearl, and the bird flapped the lion's mane with its wings; while the antelope, usually so shy, stood near and nodded its head, as if willing to join them at play.

Now came the fairy of the garden. Her clothes were radiant as the sun, and her countenance was as serene as that of a happy mother rejoicing over her child. She was young and beautiful, and was followed by a train of lovely girls, each wearing a beaming star in her hair. The East Wind gave her the leaf sent by the phoenix, when her eyes sparkled with joy. She took the prince by the hand and led him into her palace, whose walls were of the hues of the most splendid tulip when it is turned towards the sun. The ceiling was a large radiant flower, and the more one looked at it, the deeper its calyx appeared to grow. The prince stepped to the window, and looked through one of the panes, on which was depicted Jacob's dream. The ladder seemed to reach to the real sky, and the angels seemed to be flapping their wings. The fairy smiled at his astonished look, and explained that time had engraved its events on each pane, but they were not merely lifeless images, for the leaves rustled, and the persons went and came as in a looking-glass. He then looked through other panes, where he saw depicted the events of ancient history. For all that had happened in the world lived and moved upon these panes; time only could have engraved so cunning a masterpiece.

The fairy then led him into a lofty, noble hall, with transparent walls. Here were a number of portraits, each of which seemed more beautiful than the other. There were millions of happy faces whose laughing and singing seemed to melt into one harmonious whole; those above were so small that they appeared less than the smallest rosebud when represented on paper by a mere dot. In the midst of the hall stood a large tree with luxuriant drooping branches. Golden, apples, both great and small, hung like china oranges amid the green leaves. From each leaf fell a sparkling red dewdrop, as if the tree were shedding tears of blood.

"We will now get into the boat," said the fairy, "and enjoy the coolness of the water. The boat rocks, but does not stir from the spot, while all the countries of the earth glide past us." And it was wonderful to behold how the whole coast moved. First came the lofty snow-capped Alps, overhung with clouds and overgrown with fir-trees. The horn was sounding its melancholy notes, while the shepherd was caroling in the vale. Then banana-trees flung their drooping branches over the boat; coal-black swans swam on the water, and flowers and animals of the strangest description might be seen on the shore. This was New Holland, the fifth part of the world, that glided past, with a view of the blue mountains. One could hear the hymns of the priests and see the savages dancing to the sound of drums and trumpets made of bones. Egypt's pyramids reaching to the clouds, overturned columns and sphinxes, half buried in the sand, followed in their turn. The aurora borealis next shone upon the extinguished volcanoes of the north. These were fireworks that nobody could have imitated! The prince was delighted; and he saw a hundred times more than what we have mentioned.

"Can I remain here forever?" asked he.

"That depends on yourself," replied the fairy. "If you do not long for what is forbidden, you may stay here forever."

"I will not touch the apple on the Tree of Knowledge," said the prince; "here are thousands of fruits equally fine."

"Examine your own heart, and if you do not feel sufficient strength, return with the East Wind who brought you hither. He is now about to fly back, and will not appear again in this place for the next hundred years. The time would seem to you here to be only a hundred hours, but even that is a long span for temptation and sin. Every evening, on leaving you, I shall be obliged to say: 'Come with me!' I shall make a sign with my hand, yet you must stay away. If once you followed, your longing would increase at every step. You would then enter the hall where grows the Tree of Knowledge I sleep beneath its perfumed, drooping branches. You would bend over me, and I should be forced to smile. But if you pressed a kiss on my lips, then would the garden sink into the earth and be lost for you. The sharp winds of the desert would howl around you, the cold rain would trickle over your head, and sorrow and distress would fall to your lot."

"I will remain here," said the prince. And the East Wind kissed his forehead, saying, "Be firm, and then we shall meet again in a hundred years. Farewell! farewell!" And the East Wind spread his large wings, and they shone like the lightning in harvest time, or like the northern lights in a cold winter.

"Farewell! farewell!" sounded from the flowers and the trees. Storks and pelicans flew in long rows, like streaming ribbons to accompany him to the boundaries of the garden.

"We will now begin our dances," said the fairy. "At the close, when I'm dancing with you, and just as the sun is sinking, you will see me make a sign, and you will hear me say, 'Come with me.' But do not do it. For a hundred years shall I be obliged to repeat the same thing every evening; and each time when it is over will you gain fresh strength. In the end you'll cease to think about it. This evening will be the first time—and now you are warned."

The fairy then led him into a large room made of white transparent lilies. The yellow stamina in each flower pictured a little golden harp that yielded a sweet music partaking of the combined sounds of stringed instruments and the tones of the flute. Lovely girls with slender aerial figures, and dressed in lightest gauze, floated through the mazes of the dance, and sang of the delights of living and being immortal, and blooming forever in the Garden of the World.

The sun now set. The whole sky was one mass of gold that imparted the tints of the richest roses to the lilies; and the prince drank of the sparkling wine handed to him by the young maidens, and felt a bliss he had never before experienced. He saw the background of the ballroom now opening, and the Tree of Knowledge stood before him in such streams of light that his eyes were dazzled. The singing that rang in his ears was soft and lovely as his mother's voice, and it seemed as if she sang, "My child! my beloved child!"

The fairy then made him a sign with her eyes, and cried most sweetly: "Come with me! Come with me!" And he rushed towards her, forgetting his promise, though it was but the first evening, and she continued to beckon to him and to smile. The spicy perfumes around grew yet more intoxicating; the harps sounded sweeter; and it was as if the millions of smiling faces in the room, where grew the tree, nodded and sang: "We must know everything! Man is the lord of the earth!" And there were no more tears of blood dropping down from the leaves of the Tree of Knowledge; but he thought he saw red sparkling stars instead.

"Come with me! come with me!" said the thrilling tones; and at each step the prince's cheeks glowed more intensely, and his blood rushed more wildly.

"I must!" said he; "it is no sin, and cannot be one! Why not follow when beauty calls? I will see her asleep; and provided I do not kiss her, there will be no harm done—and kiss I will not, for I have strength to resist, and a firm will."

And the fairy cast aside her dazzling attire, bent back the boughs, and in another moment was completely concealed.

"I have not yet sinned," said the prince, "and do not intend to sin!" And then he pushed the boughs aside; there she lay already asleep, and lovely as only the fairy of the Garden of the World is privileged to be. She smiled in her dreams; yet as he bent over her, he saw tears trembling between her eyelashes.

"And do you weep for me?" whispered he. "Oh, weep not, most admirable of women! I now begin to understand the happiness to be found in this place. It penetrates into my blood, and I feel the joys of the blessed in this my earthly form! Though it were ever after eternally dark for me, one moment like this is happiness enough!" And he kissed the tears in her eyes, and his mouth pressed her lips.

Then came a thunder-clap, so loud and so tremendous as never was heard before. Down everything fell to ruins—the beautiful fairy, the blooming garden, all sank deeper and deeper still. The prince saw the garden sinking into the dark abyss below, and it soon only shone like a little star in the distance. He turned as cold as death, and closed his eyes, and lay senseless.

The cold rain fell on his face, and the sharp wind blew over his head. He then returned to consciousness. "What have I done?" sighed he. "Alas! I have sinned, and the Island of Happiness has sunk down into the earth!" And he opened his eyes and saw a distant star like that of the sinking garden; but it was the morning star in the sky.

He got up and found himself in the large forest close to the Cavern of the Winds. The mother of the Winds sat by him, and looked angry, and raised her arm aloft.

"The very first evening," said she. "I thought it would be so! If you were my son, you should be put into the bag presently."

"Into it he shall go, sure enough!" said Death. He was a stalwart man with a scythe in his hand, and large black wings. "In his coffin shall he be laid, but not yet. I'll only mark him now, and allow him to wander about the world yet awhile, to expiate his sins and to grow better. But I shall come at last. When he least expects it, I shall put him into the black bag, place it on my head, and fly up to the stars. There, too, blooms a lovely garden, and if he be good and pious, he will be allowed to enter it; but should his thoughts be wicked, and his heart still full of sin, then will he sink in his coffin yet lower than he saw the Garden of the World sink down; and it will be only once in every thousand years that I shall go and fetch him, when he will either be condemned to sink still deeper, or be borne aloft to the beaming stars above."

The Garden of Paradise

There was a king's son: nobody had so many, or such beautiful books as he had. Every thing which had been done in this world he could read about, and see represented in splendid pictures. He could give a description of every people and every country; but—where was the Garden of Paradise?—of that he could not learn one word; and that it was of which he thought most.

His grandmother had told him, when he was quite a little boy, and first began to go to school, that every flower in the Garden of Paradise was the most delicious cake; one was history, another geography, a third, tables, and it was only needful to eat one of these cakes, and so the lesson was learned; and the more was eaten of them, the better acquainted they were with history, geography, and tables.

At that time he believed all this; but when he grew a bigger boy, and had learned more, and was wiser, he was quite sure that there must be some other very different delight in this Garden of Paradise.

"Oh! why did Eve gather of the tree of knowledge? why did Adam eat the forbidden fruit? If it had been me, I never would have done so! If it had been me, sin should never have entered into the world!"

So said he, many a time, when he was young; so said he when he was much older! The Garden of Paradise filled his whole thoughts.

One day he went into the wood; he went alone, for that was his greatest delight.

The evening came. The clouds drew together; it began to rain as if the whole heavens were one single sluice, of which the gate was open; it was quite dark, or like night in the deepest well. Now, he slipped in the wet grass; now, he tumbled over the bare stones, which were scattered over the rocky ground. Every thing streamed with water; not a dry thread remained upon the prince. He was obliged to crawl up over the great blocks of stone, where the water poured out of the wet moss. He was ready to faint. At that moment he heard a remarkable sound, and before him he saw a large, illuminated cave. In the middle of it burned a fire, so large that a stag might have been roasted at it,—and so it was; the most magnificent stag, with his tall antlers, was placed upon a spit, and was slowly turning round between two fir trees, which had been hewn down. A very ancient woman, tall and strong, as if she had been a man dressed up in woman's clothes, sat by the fire, and threw one stick after another upon it.

"Come nearer!" said she, seeing the prince; "sit down by the fire, and dry thy clothes."

"It is bad travelling to-night," said the prince; and seated himself on the floor of the cave.

"It will be worse yet, when my sons come home!" replied the woman. "Thou art in the cave of the winds; my sons are the four winds of the earth; canst thou understand?"

"Where are thy sons?" asked the prince.

"Yes, it is not well to ask questions, when the questions are foolish," said the woman. "My sons are queer fellows; they play at bowls with the clouds, up in the big room there;" and with that she pointed up into the air.

"Indeed!" said the prince, "and you talk somewhat gruffly, and are not as gentle as the ladies whom I am accustomed to see around me."

"Yes, yes, they have nothing else to do!" said she; "I must be gruff if I would keep my lads in order! But I can do it, although they have stiff necks. Dost thou see the four sacks which hang on the wall; they are just as much afraid of them, as thou art of the birch-rod behind the looking-glass! I can double up the lads, as I shall, perhaps, have to show thee, and so put them into the bags; I make no difficulties about that; and so I fasten them in, and don't let them go running about, for I do not find that desirable. But here we have one of them."

With that in came the northwind; he came tramping in with an icy coldness; great, round hail-stones hopped upon the floor, and snow-flakes flew round about. He was dressed in a bear's-skin jerkin and hose; a hat of seal's-skin was pulled over his ears; long icicles hung from his beard, and one hail-stone after another fell down upon his jerkin-collar.

"Do not directly go to the fire!" said the prince, "else thou wilt have the frost in thy hands and face!"

"Frost!" said the northwind, and laughed aloud. "Frost! that is precisely my greatest delight! What sort of a little dandified chap art thou? What made thee come into the winds' cave?"

"He is my guest!" said the old woman; "and if that explanation does not please thee, thou canst get into the bag!—now thou knowest my mind!"

This had the desired effect; and the northwind sat down, and began to tell where he was come from, and where he had been for the greater part of the last month.

"I come from the Arctic Sea; I have been upon Bear Island with the Russian walrus-hunters. I lay and slept whilst they sailed up to the North Cape. When I now and then woke up a little, how the storm-birds flew about my legs! They are ridiculous birds! they make a quick stroke with their wings, and then keep them immoveably expanded, and yet they get on."

"Don't be so diffuse!" said the winds' mother; "and so you came to Bear Island."

"That is a charming place; that is a floor to dance upon!" roared the northwind, "as flat as a pan-cake! Half covered with snow and dwarfish mosses, sharp stones and leg-bones of walruses and ice-bears lie scattered about, looking like the arms and legs of giants. One would think that the sun never had shone upon them. I blew the mist aside a little, that one might see the erection there; it was a house, built of pieces of wrecks, covered with the skin of the walrus, the fleshy side turned outward; upon the roof sat a living ice-bear, and growled. I went down to the shore, and looked at the birds' nests, in which were the unfledged young ones, which screamed, and held up their gaping beaks; with that I blew down a thousand throats, and they learned to shut their mouths. Down below tumbled about the walruses, like gigantic ascarides, with pigs' heads and teeth an ell long!"

"Thou tell'st it very well, my lad!" said the mother; "it makes my mouth water to hear thee!"

"So the hunting began," continued the northwind. "The harpoons were struck into the breast of the walrus, so that the smoking blood started like a fountain over the iron. I then thought of having some fun! I blew, and let my great ships, the mountain-like fields of ice, shut in the boats. How the people shrieked and cried; but I cried louder than they! The dead bodies of their fish, their chests and cordage, were they obliged to throw out upon the ice! I showered snow-flakes upon them, and left them, in their imprisoned ship, to drive southward with their prey, there to taste salt-water. They will never again come to Bear Island!"

"It was very wrong of thee!" said the winds' mother.

"The others can tell what good I have done!" said he! "And there we have my brother from the west; I like him the best of them all; he smacks of the sea, and has a blessed coldness about him!"

"Is it the little zephyr?" inquired the prince.

"Yes, certainly, it is the zephyr!" said the old woman; "but he is not so little now. In old times he was a very pretty lad, but that is all over now."

He looked like a wild man, but he had one of those pads round his head, which children used to wear formerly, to prevent them from being hurt. He held in his hand a mahogany club, which had been cut in the mahogany woods of America.

"Where dost thou come from?" asked the mother.

"From the forest-wilderness," said he, "where the prickly lianas makes a fence around every tree; where the water-snakes lie in the wet grass, and man seems superfluous!"

"What didst thou do there?"

"I looked at the vast river, saw how it was hurled from the cliffs, became mist, and was thrown back into the clouds, to become rainbows. I saw the wild buffalo swim in the river; but the stream bore him along with it; madly did it bear him onward, faster and faster, to where the river was hurled down the cliffs—down, also, must he go! I bethought myself, and blew a hurricane, so the old trees of the forest were torn up, and carried down, too, and became splinters!"

"And didst thou do any thing else?" asked the old woman.

"I tumbled head-over-heels in the Savannas; I have patted the wild horses, and shook down cocoa-nuts! Yes, yes, I could tell tales, if I would! But one must not tell all one knows, that thou know'st, old lady!" said he, and kissed his mother so roughly that he nearly knocked her backward from her chair; he was a regularly wild fellow.

Now came in the southwind, with a turban on his head, and a flying Bedouin-cloak.

"It is dreadfully cold out here!" said he, and threw more wood on the fire; "one can very well tell that the northwind has come first!"

"Here it is so hot, that one might roast an ice-bear!" said the northwind.

"You are an ice-bear, yourself!" replied the southwind.

"Do you want to go in the bags?" asked the old woman; "sit down on the stone, and tell us where thou hast been."

"In Africa, mother," said he; "I have been lion-hunting, with the Hottentots, in Caffreland. What grass grows in the fields there, as green as the olive! There dances the gnu; and the ostrich ran races with me, but my legs were the nimblest. I came to the deserts of yellow sand, which look like the surface of the ocean. There I met a caravan! They had killed their last camel to get water to drink, but they only found a little. The sun burned above them, and the sand beneath their feet. There was no limit to the vast desert. I then rolled myself in the fine, loose sand, and whirled it up in great pillars—that was a dance! You should have seen how close the dromedaries stood together, and the merchants pulled their kaftans over their heads. They threw themselves down before me, as if before Allah, their god. They are now buried; a pyramid of sand lies heaped above them; I shall, some day, blow it away, and then the sun will bleach their white bones, and so travellers can see that there have been human beings before them in the desert; without this it were hard to believe it!"

"Thou, also, hast done badly!" said the mother. "March into the bag!" and before the southwind knew what she would be at, she had seized him by the body, and thrust him into the bag. The bag, with him in it, rolled about on the floor; but she seized it, held it fast, and sat down upon it; so he was forced to lie still.

"They are rough fellows!" said the prince.

"So they are!" returned she; "but I can chastise them! But here we have the fourth!"

This was the eastwind, and he was dressed like a Chinese.

"Indeed! so thou comest from that corner, dost thou?" asked the mother; "I fancied that thou hadst been to the Garden of Paradise."

"I shall go there to-morrow," said the eastwind. "It will be a hundred years, to-morrow, since I was there. I am now come from China, where I have been dancing around the porcelain tower, till all the bells have rung. Down in the street the royal officers were beating people; bamboos were busy with their shoulders, and from the first, down to the ninth rank, they cried out—'Thanks, my fatherly benefactor!' but they did not mean any thing by it; and I rung the bells, and sang—'Tsing, tsang, tsu! Tsing, tsang, tsu!'"

"Thou art merry about it," said the old woman; "it is a good thing that to-morrow morning thou art going to the Garden of Paradise; that always mends thy manners! Drink deeply of wisdom's well, and bring a little bottleful home with thee, for me!"

"That I will!" said the eastwind; "but why hast thou put my brother from the south down in the bag? Let him come out! I want him to tell me about the phœnix; the princess of the Garden of Paradise always likes to hear about it, when I go, every hundred years, to see her. Open the bag! and so thou shalt be my sweetest mother, and I will give thee a pocketful of tea, very fresh and green, which I myself gathered, on the spot!"

"Nay, for the sake of the tea, and because thou art my darling, I will open the bag!"

She did so, and the southwind crept out, and looked so ashamed, because the foreign prince had seen him.

"There hast thou a palm leaf for the princess," said the southwind; "that leaf was given to me by the phœnix bird, the only one in the whole world. He has written upon it, with his beak, the whole history of his life during the hundred years that he lived; now she can read it herself. I saw how the phœnix himself set fire to his nest, and sat in it and burned like a Hindoo widow. How the dry branches crackled! There was a smoke and an odor. At length it flamed up into a blaze; the old phœnix was burned to ashes, but its egg lay glowingly red in the fire; then it burst open with a great report, and the young one flew out; now it is the regent of all birds, and the only phœnix in the whole world. He has bitten a hole in the palm leaf which I gave thee; it is his greeting to the princess."

"Let us now have something to strengthen us!" said the mother of the winds; and with that they all seated themselves, and ate of the roasted stag; and the prince sat at the side of the eastwind, and therefore they soon became good friends.

"Listen, and tell me," said the prince, "what sort of a princess is that of which thou hast said so much, and who lives in the Garden of Paradise?"

"Ho! ho!" said the eastwind, "if you wish to go there, you can fly with me there to-morrow morning. This, however, I must tell you, there has been no human being there since Adam and Eve's time. You have heard of them, no doubt, in the Bible."

"Yes, to be sure!" said the prince.

"At the time when they were driven out," said the eastwind, "the Garden of Paradise sank down into the earth; but it still preserved its warm sunshine, its gentle air, and its wonderful beauty. The queen of the fairies lives there; there lies the Island of Bliss, where sorrow never comes, and where it is felicity to be. Seat thyself on my back to-morrow morning, and so I will take thee with me. I think that will be permitted. But now thou must not talk any more, for I want to go to sleep!"

And so they all slept together.

Early the next morning the prince awoke, and was not a little amazed to find himself already high above the clouds. He sat upon the back of the eastwind, which kept firm hold of him. They were so high in the air, that the woods and fields, the rivers and sea, showed themselves as if upon a large illustrated map.

"Good-morning," said the eastwind; "thou mightest have slept a little bit longer, for there is not much to see upon the flat country below us, unless thou hast any pleasure in counting the churches, which stand like dots of chalk upon the green board."

They were the fields and meadows which he called the green board.

"It was very ill-mannered that I did not say good-by  to thy mother and brothers," said the prince.

"There is no blame when people are asleep!" said the eastwind; and with that flew away faster than ever. One could have heard, as they went over the woods, how the trees shook their leaves and branches; one could have heard, on lakes and seas that they were passing over, for the billows heaved up more loftily, and the great ships bowed down into the water like sailing swans.

Towards evening, when it grew dusk, it was curious to look down to the great cities; the lights burned within them, now here, now there; it was exactly like the piece of paper which children burn to see the multitude of little stars in it, which they call people coming out of church. The prince clapped his hands, but the eastwind told him not to do so, but much better to keep fast hold; or else he might let him fall, and then, perhaps, he would pitch upon a church spire.

The eagle flew lightly through the dark wood, but the eastwind flew still lighter; the Cossack on his little horse sped away over the plain, but the prince sped on more rapidly by another mode.

"Now thou canst see the Himalaya," said the eastwind; "they are the highest mountains in Asia; we shall not be long before we come to the Garden of Paradise!"

With that they turned more southward, and perceived the fragrance of spice and flowers. Figs and pomegranates grew wild, and the wild vine hung with its clusters of blue and red grapes. There they both of them alighted, stretched themselves on the tender grass, where the flowers nodded, as if they would say,—"Welcome back again!"

"Are we now in the Garden of Paradise?" asked the prince.

"No, certainly not," replied the eastwind; "but we shall soon come there. Dost thou see the winding field-path there, and the great cavern where the vine leaves hang like rich green curtains? We shall go through there. Wrap thee in thy cloak; here the sun burns, but one step more and it is icy cold! The birds which fly past the cavern have the one, outer wing, in the warm summer, and the other, inner one, in the cold winter!"

"Really! And that is the way to the Garden of Paradise!" said the prince.

They now went into the cave. Ha! how ice-cold it was; but that did not last long, for the southwind spread out his wings, and they gave the warmth of the brightest fire. Nay, what a cavern it was! The huge masses of stone, from which the water dripped, hung above them in the most extraordinary shapes; before long it grew so narrow that they were obliged to creep upon hands and feet; again, and it expanded itself high and wide, like the free air. It looked like a chapel of the dead, with its silent organ pipes and organ turned to stone!

"Then we go the way of the dead to the Garden of Paradise," said the prince; but the eastwind replied not a word, but pointed onward, and the most lovely blue light beamed towards them. The masses of stone above them became more and more like a chiselled ceiling, and at last were bright, like a white cloud in the moonshine. They now breathed the most deliciously mild atmosphere, as if fresh from the mountains, and as fragrant as the roses of the valley.

A river flowed on as clear as the air itself, and the fishes were of gold and silver; crimson eels, whose every movement seemed to emit blue sparks of fire, played down in the water, and the broad leaf of the waterlily had all the colors of the rainbow; the flower itself was an orange-colored burning flame, to which the water gave nourishment, in the same manner as the oil keeps the lamp continually burning. A firm bridge of marble, as artistically and as exquisitely built as if it had been of pearl and glass, led across the water to the Island of Bliss, where the Garden of Paradise bloomed.

The eastwind took the prince in his arms and carried him over. The flowers and the leaves began the most exquisite song about his youth, so incomparably beautiful as no human voice could sing.

Were they palm trees or gigantic water plants which grew there? Trees so large and succulent the prince had never seen. Long garlands of the most wondrously formed twining plants, such as one only sees painted in rich colors and gold upon the margins of old missals, or which twined themselves through their initial letters, were thrown from tree to tree. It was altogether the most lovely and fantastic assemblage of birds, flowers, and graceful sweeping branches. In the grass just by them was a flock of peacocks, with outspread glittering tails. Yes, it was really so!—No, when the prince touched them he observed that they were not animals, but plants; it was the large plantain, which has the dazzling hues of the peacock's tail! Lions and tigers gambolled about, like playful cats, between the green hedges, which sent forth an odor like the blossom of the olive; and the lions and tigers were tame; the wild wood-dove glittered like the most beautiful pearl, and with its wings playfully struck the lion on the cheek; and the antelope, which usually is so timid, stood and nodded with its head, as if it too should like to join in the sport.

Now came the Fairy of Paradise; her garments shone like the sun, and her countenance was as gentle as that of a glad mother when she rejoices over her child. She was youthful; and the most beautiful girls attended her, each of whom had a beaming star in her hair.

The eastwind gave her a written leaf from the phœnix, and her eyes sparkled with joy; she took the prince by the hand, and led him into her castle, the walls of which were colored like the most splendid leaf of the tulip when held against the sun. The ceiling itself was a large glittering flower, and the longer one gazed into it the deeper seemed its cup. The prince stepped up to the window and looked through one of the panes; there he saw the Tree of Knowledge, with the snake and Adam and Eve standing close beside it.

"Are they not driven out?" asked he; and the Fairy smiled, and explained to him that upon every pane of glass had time burned in its picture, but not as we are accustomed to see it,—no, here all was living; the trees moved their leaves, and people came and went as in reality. He looked through another pane, and there was Jacob's dream, where the ladder reached up to heaven, and the angels with their large wings ascended and descended upon it. Yes, every thing which had been done in this world lived and moved in these panes of glass. Such pictures as these could only be burnt in by time.

The Fairy smiled, and led him into a large and lofty hall, the walls of which seemed transparent, and were covered with pictures, the one more lovely than the other. These were the millions of the blessed, and they smiled and sang so that all flowed together into one melody. The uppermost were so small that they seemed less than the smallest rosebud, when it looks like a pin-prick on paper. In the middle of the hall stood a great tree with drooping luxuriant branches; golden apples, large and small, hung like oranges among the green leaves. It was the Tree of Knowledge; of the fruit of which Adam and Eve had eaten. On every leaf hung a crimson drop of dew; it was as if the tree wept tears of blood.

"Let us now go into the boat," said the Fairy; "it will be refreshing to us out upon the heaving water. The boat rocks, but does not move from the place, and all the regions of the world pass before our eyes."

And it was wonderful to see how the coast moved! There came the lofty, snow-covered Alps, with clouds and dark pine trees; horns resounded with such a deep melancholy, and peasants jodelled  sweetly in the valleys. Now the banyan tree bowed its long depending branches over the boat; black swans swam upon the water, and the strangest animals and flowers showed themselves along the shores: this was Australia, the fifth quarter of the world, which glided past, with its horizon bounded by blue mountains. They heard the song of the priests, and saw the savages dancing to the sound of the drum and bone-tubes. The pyramids of Egypt now rose into the clouds; overturned pillars and sphinxes, half buried in sand, sailed past them. The northern lights flamed above the Hecla  of the north; they were such magnificent fireworks as no one could imitate. The prince was delighted, and in fact, he saw a hundred times more than what we have related.

"And may I always remain here?" asked he.

"That depends upon thyself," replied the Fairy. "If thou do not, like Adam, take of the forbidden thing, then thou mayest always remain here."

"I shall not touch the apples upon the Tree of Knowledge," said the prince; "here are a thousand fruits more beautiful than that. I should never do as Adam did!"

"Prove thyself, and if thou be not strong enough, then return with the eastwind which brought thee; he is about to go back again, and will not return here for a whole century. That time will pass to thee in this place as if it were only a hundred minutes, but it is time enough for temptation and sin. Every evening when I am about to leave thee, I shall say to thee, 'Follow me!' and beckon to thee. But follow me not, for with every step would the temptation become stronger, and thou wouldst come into the hall where grows the Tree of Knowledge. I sleep beneath its fragrant depending branches; if thou follow me, if thou impress a kiss upon me, then will Paradise sink deep in the earth, and it will be lost to thee. The sharp winds of the desert will howl around thee, cold rain will fall upon thy hair, and sorrow and remorse will be thy punishment!"

"I will remain here!" said the prince; so the eastwind kissed his brow, and said, "Be strong! and then we shall meet again here in a hundred years!"

The eastwind spread out his large wings, which shone like the harvest moon in autumn, or the northern lights in the cold winter.

"Farewell! farewell!" resounded from the flowers and the trees. The storks and the pelicans flew after, in a line like a waving riband, and accompanied him to the boundary of the Garden.

"Now we begin our dance!" said the Fairy; "at the conclusion, when I have danced with thee, thou wilt see that when the sun sets I shall beckon to thee, and thou wilt hear me say, 'Follow me!' But do it not! That is thy temptation—that is sin to thee! During a hundred years I shall every evening repeat it. Every time that thou resistest the temptation wilt thou gain more strength, till at length it will cease to tempt thee. This evening is the first trial! Remember that I have warned thee!"

The Fairy led him into a great hall of white transparent lilies; in each one the yellow stamina was a little golden harp, which rung with clear and flute-like tones. The most beautiful maidens floated in the dance, and sung how glorious was the gift of life; that they who were purified by trial should never die, and that the Garden of Paradise for them should bloom forever!

The sun went down, the whole heaven became of gold, which gave to the lilies the splendor of the most beautiful roses. The prince felt a bliss within his heart such as he had never experienced before. He looked, and the background of the hall opened, and the Tree of Knowledge stood there with a splendor which dazzled his eyes. A song resounded from it, low and delicious as the voice of his mother, and it seemed as if she sung, "My child! my beloved child!"

Then beckoned the Fairy, and said, "Follow, follow me!"

He started towards her—he forgot his promise—forgot it all the first evening! "Follow, follow me!" alone sounded in his heart. He paused not—he hastened after her.

"I will," said he; "there is really no sin in it! Why should I not do so? I will see her! There is nothing lost if I only do not kiss her, and that I will not do—for I have a firm will!"

The Fairy put aside the green, depending branches of the Tree of Knowledge, and the next moment was hidden from sight.

"I have not sinned," said the prince, "and I will not!" He also put aside the green, depending branches of the Tree of Knowledge, and there sat the Fairy with her hands clasped, and the tears on her dark eyelashes!

"Weep not for me!" said he passionately. "There can be no sin in what I have done; weep not!" and he kissed away her tears, and his lips touched hers!

At once a thunder crash was heard—a loud and deep thunder crash, and all seemed hurled together! The beautiful, weeping Fairy, the Garden of Paradise, sunk—sunk so deep—so deep!—and the prince saw it sink in the deep night! Like a little gleaming star he saw it shining a long way off! The coldness of death went through his limbs; he closed his eyes, and lay long as if dead!

The cold rain fell upon his face; the keen wind blew around his head; his thoughts turned to the past.

"What have I done!" sighed he; "I have sinned like Adam! Sinned, and I have forfeited Paradise!"

He opened his eyes; the star so far off, which had shone to him like the sunken Paradise, he now saw was the morning star in heaven.

He raised himself up, and was in the great wood near to the cave of the winds; the old woman sat by his side, she looked angrily at him, and lifted up her arm.

"Already! the first time of trial!" said she: "I expected as much! Yes, if thou wast a lad of mine, I would punish thee!"

"Punishment will come!" said a strong old man, with a scythe in his hand, and with large, black wings!—"I shall lay him in his coffin, but not now. Let him return to the world, atone for his sin, and become good in deed, and not alone in word. I shall come again; if he be then good and pious, I will take him above the stars, where blooms the Garden of Paradise; and he shall enter in at its beautiful pearl gates, and be a dweller in it forever and ever; but if then his thoughts are evil, and his heart full of sin, he will sink deeper than Paradise seemed to sink—sink deeper, and that forever!—Farewell!"

The prince arose—the old woman was gone—the cave of the winds was nothing now but a hollow in the rock; he wondered how it had seemed so large the night before; the morning star had set, and the sun shone with a clear and cheerful light upon the little flowers and blades of grass, which were heavy with the last night's rain; the birds sang, and the bees hummed in the blossoms of the lime tree. The prince walked home to his castle. He told his grandmother how he had been to the Garden of Paradise, and what had happened to him there, and what the old man with the black wings had said.

"This will do thee more good than many book-lessons," said the old grandmother; "never let it go out of thy memory!"—and the prince never did.

The Garden of Paradise

There was once a king's son; nobody had so many or such beautiful books as he had. He could read about everything which had ever happened in this world, and see it all represented in the most beautiful pictures. He could get information about every nation and every country; but as to where the Garden of Paradise was to be found, not a word could he discover, and this was the very thing he thought most about. His grandmother had told him, when he was quite a little fellow and was about to begin his school life, that every flower in the Garden of Paradise was a delicious cake, and that the pistils were full of wine. In one flower history was written, in another geography or tables; you had only to eat the cake and you knew the lesson. The more you ate, the more history, geography and tables you knew. All this he believed then; but as he grew older and wiser and learnt more, he easily perceived that the delights of the Garden of Paradise must be far beyond all this.

His grandmother had told him, when he was quite a little fellow and was about to begin his school life, that every flower in the Garden of Paradise was a delicious cake, and that the pistils were full of wine.

'Oh, why did Eve take of the tree of knowledge? Why did Adam eat the forbidden fruit? If it had only been I it would not have happened! never would sin have entered the world!'

This is what he said then, and he still said it when he was seventeen; his thoughts were full of the Garden of Paradise.

He walked into the wood one day; he was alone, for that was his greatest pleasure. Evening came on, the clouds drew up and it rained as if the whole heaven had become a sluice from which the water poured in sheets; it was as dark as it is otherwise in the deepest well. Now he slipped on the wet grass, and then he fell on the bare stones which jutted out of the rocky ground. Everything was dripping, and at last the poor Prince hadn't got a dry thread on him. He had to climb over huge rocks where the water oozed out of the thick moss. He was almost fainting; just then he heard a curious murmuring and saw in front of him a big lighted cave. A fire was burning in the middle, big enough to roast a stag, which was in fact being done; a splendid stag with its huge antlers was stuck on a spit, being slowly turned round between the hewn trunks of two fir trees. An oldish woman, tall and strong enough to be a man dressed up, sat by the fire throwing on logs from time to time.

'Come in, by all means!' she said; 'sit down by the fire so that your clothes may dry!'

'There is a shocking draught here,' said the Prince, as he sat down on the ground.

'It will be worse than this when my sons come home!' said the woman. 'You are in the cavern of the winds; my sons are the four winds of the world! Do you understand?'

'Who are your sons?' asked the Prince.

'Well that's not so easy to answer when the question is stupidly put,' said the woman. 'My sons do as they like; they are playing rounders now with the clouds up there in the great hall,' and she pointed up into the sky.

'Oh indeed!' said the Prince. 'You seem to speak very harshly, and you are not so gentle as the women I generally see about me!'

'Oh, I daresay they have nothing else to do! I have to be harsh if I am to keep my boys under control! But I can do it, although they are a stiff-necked lot! Do you see those four sacks hanging on the wall? They are just as frightened of them as you used to be of the cane behind the looking-glass. I can double the boys up, I can tell you, and then they have to go into the bag; we don't stand upon ceremony, and there they have to stay; they can't get out to play their tricks till it suits me to let them. But here we have one of them.' It was the Northwind who came in with an icy blast; great hailstones peppered about the floor and snow-flakes drifted in. He was dressed in bearskin trousers and jacket, and he had a sealskin cap drawn over his ears. Long icicles were hanging from his beard, and one hailstone after another dropped down from the collar of his jacket.

'Don't go straight to the fire,' said the Prince. 'You might easily get chilblains!'

'Chilblains!' said the Northwind with a loud laugh. 'Chilblains! they are my greatest delight! What sort of a feeble creature are you? How did you get into the cave of the winds?'

'He is my guest,' said the old woman, 'and if you are not pleased with that explanation you may go into the bag! Now you know my opinion!'

This had its effect, and the Northwind told them where he came from, and where he had been for the last month.

'I come from the Arctic seas,' he said. 'I have been on Behring Island with the Russian walrus-hunters. I sat at the helm and slept when they sailed from the north cape, and when I woke now and then the stormy petrels were flying about my legs. They are queer birds; they give a brisk flap with their wings and then keep them stretched out and motionless, and even then they have speed enough.'

'Pray don't be too long-winded,' said the mother of the winds. 'So at last you got to Behring Island!'

'It's perfectly splendid! There you have a floor to dance upon, as flat as a pancake, half-thawed snow, with moss. There were bones of whales and Polar bears lying about; they looked like the legs and arms of giants covered with green mould. One would think that the sun had never shone on them. I gave a little puff to the fog so that one could see the shed. It was a house built of wreckage and covered with the skins of whales; the flesh side was turned outwards; it was all red and green; a living Polar bear sat on the roof growling. I went to the shore and looked at the birds' nests, looked at the unfledged young ones screaming and gaping; then I blew down thousands of their throats and they learnt to shut their mouths. Lower down the walruses were rolling about like monster maggots with pigs' heads and teeth a yard long!'

'You're a good story-teller, my boy!' said his mother. 'It makes my mouth water to hear you!'

'Then there was a hunt! The harpoons were plunged into the walruses' breasts, and the steaming blood spurted out of them like fountains over the ice. Then I remembered my part of the game! I blew up and made my ships, the mountain-high icebergs, nip the boats; whew! how they whistled and how they screamed, but I whistled louder. They were obliged to throw the dead walruses, chests and ropes out upon the ice! I shook the snow-flakes over them and let them drift southwards to taste the salt water. They will never come back to Behring Island!'

'Then you've been doing evil!' said the mother of the winds.

'What good I did, the others may tell you,' said he. 'But here we have my brother from the west; I like him best of all; he smells of the sea and brings a splendid cool breeze with him!'

'Is that the little Zephyr?' asked the Prince.

'Yes, certainly it is Zephyr, but he is not so little as all that. He used to be a pretty boy once, but that's gone by!'

He looked like a wild man of the woods, but he had a padded hat on so as not to come to any harm. He carried a mahogany club cut in the American mahogany forests. It could not be anything less than that.

'Where do you come from?' asked his mother.

'From the forest wildernesses!' he said, 'where the thorny creepers make a fence between every tree, where the water-snake lies in the wet grass, and where human beings seem to be superfluous!'

'What did you do there?'

'I looked at the mighty river, saw where it dashed over the rocks in dust and flew with the clouds to carry the rainbow. I saw the wild buffalo swimming in the river, but the stream carried him away; he floated with the wild duck, which soared into the sky at the rapids; but the buffalo was carried over with the water. I liked that and blew a storm, so that the primæval trees had to sail too, and they were whirled about like shavings.'

'And you have done nothing else?' asked the old woman.

'I have been turning somersaults in the Savannahs, patting the wild horse, and shaking down cocoanuts! Oh yes, I have plenty of stories to tell! But one need not tell everything. You know that very well, old woman!' and then he kissed his mother so heartily that she nearly fell backwards; he was indeed a wild boy.

The Southwind appeared now in a turban and a flowing bedouin's cloak.

'It is fearfully cold in here,' he said, throwing wood on the fire; 'it is easy to see that the Northwind got here first!'

'It is hot enough here to roast a polar bear,' said the Northwind.

'You are a polar bear yourself!' said the Southwind.

'Do you want to go into the bag?' asked the old woman. 'Sit down on that stone and tell us where you have been.'

'In Africa, mother!' he answered. 'I have been chasing the lion with the Hottentots in Kaffirland! What grass there is on those plains! as green as an olive. The gnu was dancing about, and the ostriches ran races with me, but I am still the fastest. I went to the desert with its yellow sand. It looks like the bottom of the sea. I met a caravan! They were killing their last camel to get water to drink, but it wasn't much they got. The sun was blazing above, and the sand burning below. There were no limits to the outstretched desert. Then I burrowed into the fine loose sand and whirled it up in great columns—that was a dance! You should have seen how despondently the dromedaries stood, and the merchant drew his caftan over his head. He threw himself down before me as if I had been Allah, his god. Now they are buried, and there is a pyramid of sand over them all; when I blow it away, sometime the sun will bleach their bones, and then travellers will see that people have been there before, otherwise you would hardly believe it in the desert!'

'Then you have only been doing harm!' said the mother. 'Into the bag you go!' And before he knew where he was she had the Southwind by the waist and in the bag; it rolled about on the ground, but she sat down upon it and then it had to be quiet.

'Your sons are lively fellows!' said the Prince.

'Yes, indeed,' she said; 'but I can master them! Here comes the fourth.'

It was the Eastwind, and he was dressed like a Chinaman.

'Oh, have you come from that quarter?' said the mother. 'I thought you had been in the Garden of Paradise.'

'I am only going there to-morrow!' said the Eastwind. 'It will be a hundred years to-morrow since I have been there. I have just come from China, where I danced round the porcelain tower till all the bells jingled. The officials were flogged in the streets, the bamboo canes were broken over their shoulders, and they were all people ranging from the first to the ninth rank. They shrieked  "Many thanks, Father and benefactor," but they didn't mean what they said, and I went on ringing the bells and singing "Tsing, tsang, tsu!"'

'You're quite uproarious about it!' said the old woman. 'It's a good thing you are going to the Garden of Paradise to-morrow; it always has a good effect on your behaviour. Mind you drink deep of the well of wisdom, and bring a little bottleful home to me.'

'That I will,' said the Eastwind, 'But why have you put my brother from the south into the bag? Out with him. He must tell me about the phœnix; the Princess always wants to hear about that bird when I call every hundred years. Open the bag! then you'll be my sweetest mother, and I'll give you two pockets full of tea as green and fresh as when I picked it!'

'Well, for the sake of the tea, and because you are my darling, I will open my bag!'

She did open it and the Southwind crept out, but he was quite crestfallen because the strange Prince had seen his disgrace.

'Here is a palm leaf for the Princess!' said the Southwind. 'The old phœnix, the only one in the world, gave it to me. He has scratched his whole history on it with his bill, for the hundred years of his life, and she can read it for herself. I saw how the phœnix set fire to his nest himself and sat on it while it burnt, like the widow of a Hindoo. Oh, how the dry branches crackled, how it smoked, and what a smell there was! At last it all burst into flame; the old bird was burnt to ashes, but his egg lay glowing in the fire; it broke with a loud bang and the young one flew out. Now it rules over all the birds, and it is the only phœnix in the world. He bit a hole in the leaf I gave you; that is his greeting to the Princess.'

'Let us have something to eat now!' said the mother of the winds; and they all sat down to eat the roast stag, and the Prince sat by the side of the Eastwind, so they soon became good friends.

'I say,' said the Prince, 'just tell me who is this Princess, and where is the Garden of Paradise?'

'Oh ho!' said the Eastwind, 'if that is where you want to go you must fly with me to-morrow. But I may as well tell you that no human being has been there since Adam and Eve's time. You know all about them I suppose from your Bible stories?'

'Of course,' said the Prince.

'When they were driven away the Garden of Eden sank into the ground, but it kept its warm sunshine, its mild air, and all its charms. The queen of the fairies lives there. The Island of Bliss, where death never enters, and where living is a delight, is there. Get on my back to-morrow and I will take you with me; I think I can manage it! But you mustn't talk now, I want to go to sleep.'

When the Prince woke up in the early morning, he was not a little surprised to find that he was already high above the clouds. He was sitting on the back of the Eastwind, who was holding him carefully; they were so high up that woods and fields, rivers and lakes, looked like a large coloured map.

'Good morning,' said the Eastwind. 'You may as well sleep a little longer, for there is not much to be seen in this flat country below us, unless you want to count the churches. They look like chalk dots on the green board.'

He called the fields and meadows 'the green board.'

'It was very rude of me to leave without saying good-bye to your mother and brothers,' said the Prince.

'One is excused when one is asleep!' said the Eastwind, and they flew on faster than ever. You could mark their flight by the rustling of the trees as they passed over the woods; and whenever they crossed a lake, or the sea, the waves rose and the great ships dipped low down in the water, like floating swans. Towards evening the large towns were amusing as it grew dark, with all their lights twinkling now here, now there, just as when one burns a piece of paper and sees all the little sparks like children coming home from school. The Prince clapped his hands, but the Eastwind told him he had better leave off and hold tight, or he might fall and find himself hanging on to a church steeple.

The eagle in the great forest flew swiftly, but the Eastwind flew more swiftly still. The Kossack on his little horse sped fast over the plains, but the Prince sped faster still.

The eagle in the great forest flew swiftly, but the Eastwind flew more swiftly still.

'Now you can see the Himalayas!' said the Eastwind. 'They are the highest mountains in Asia; we shall soon reach the Garden of Paradise.'

They took a more southerly direction, and the air became scented with spices and flowers. Figs and pomegranates grew wild, and the wild vines were covered with blue and green grapes. They both descended here and stretched themselves on the soft grass, where the flowers nodded to the wind, as much as to say, 'Welcome back.'

'Are we in the Garden of Paradise now?' asked the Prince.

'No, certainly not!' answered the Eastwind. 'But we shall soon be there. Do you see that wall of rock and the great cavern where the wild vine hangs like a big curtain? We have to go through there! Wrap yourself up in your cloak, the sun is burning here, but a step further on it is icy cold. The bird which flies past the cavern has one wing out here in the heat of summer, and the other is there in the cold of winter.'

'So that is the way to the Garden of Paradise!' said the Prince.

Now they entered the cavern. Oh, how icily cold it was; but it did not last long. The Eastwind spread his wings, and they shone like the brightest flame; but what a cave it was! Large blocks of stone, from which the water dripped, hung over them in the most extraordinary shapes; at one moment it was so low and narrow that they had to crawl on hands and knees, the next it was as wide and lofty as if they were in the open air. It looked like a chapel of the dead, with mute organ pipes and petrified banners.

'We seem to be journeying along Death's road to the Garden of Paradise!' said the Prince, but the Eastwind never answered a word, he only pointed before them where a beautiful blue light was shining. The blocks of stone above them grew dimmer and dimmer, and at last they became as transparent as a white cloud in the moonshine. The air was also deliciously soft, as fresh as on the mountain-tops and as scented as down among the roses in the valley.

A river ran there as clear as the air itself, and the fish in it were like gold and silver. Purple eels, which gave out blue sparks with every curve, gambolled about in the water; and the broad leaves of the water-lilies were tinged with the hues of the rainbow, while the flower itself was like a fiery orange flame, nourished by the water, just as oil keeps a lamp constantly burning. A firm bridge of marble, as delicately and skilfully carved as if it were lace and glass beads, led over the water to the Island of Bliss, where the Garden of Paradise bloomed.

The Eastwind took the Prince in his arms and bore him over. The flowers and leaves there sang all the beautiful old songs of his childhood, but sang them more wonderfully than any human voice could sing them.

Were these palm trees or giant water plants growing here? The Prince had never seen such rich and mighty trees. The most wonderful climbing plants hung in wreaths, such as are only to be found pictured in gold and colours on the margins of old books of the Saints or entwined among their initial letters. It was the most extraordinary combination of birds, flowers and scrolls.

Close by on the grass stood a flock of peacocks with their brilliant tails outspread. Yes, indeed, it seemed so, but when the Prince touched them he saw that they were not birds but plants. They were big dock leaves, which shone like peacocks' tails. Lions and tigers sprang like agile cats among the green hedges, which were scented with the blossom of the olive, and the lion and the tiger were tame. The wild dove, glistening like a pearl, beat the lion's mane with his wings; and the antelope, otherwise so shy, stood by nodding, just as if he wanted to join the game.

The Fairy of the Garden now advanced to meet them; her garments shone like the sun, and her face beamed like that of a happy mother rejoicing over her child. She was young and very beautiful, and was surrounded by a band of lovely girls, each with a gleaming star in her hair.

When the Eastwind gave her the inscribed leaf from the Phœnix her eyes sparkled with delight. She took the Prince's hand and led him into her palace, where the walls were the colour of the brightest tulips in the sunlight. The ceiling was one great shining flower, and the longer one gazed into it the deeper the calyx seemed to be. The Prince went to the window, and looking through one of the panes saw the Tree of Knowledge, with the Serpent, and Adam and Eve standing by.

'Are they not driven out?' he asked, and the Fairy smiled, and explained that Time had burned a picture into each pane, but not of the kind one usually sees; they were alive, the leaves on the trees moved, and people came and went like the reflections in a mirror.

Then he looked through another pane, and he saw Jacob's dream, with the ladder going straight up into heaven, and angels with great wings were fluttering up and down. All that had ever happened in this world lived and moved on these window panes; only Time could imprint such wonderful pictures.

The Fairy of the Garden now advanced to meet them; her garments shone like the sun, and her face beamed like that of a happy mother rejoicing over her child.

The Fairy smiled and led him into a large, lofty room, the walls of which were like transparent paintings of faces, one more beautiful than the other. These were millions of the Blessed who smiled and sang, and all their songs melted into one perfect melody. The highest ones were so tiny that they seemed smaller than the very smallest rosebud, no bigger than a pinpoint in a drawing. In the middle of the room stood a large tree, with handsome drooping branches; golden apples, large and small, hung like oranges among its green leaves. It was the Tree of Knowledge, of whose fruit Adam and Eve had eaten. From every leaf hung a shining red drop of dew; it was as if the tree wept tears of blood.

'Now let us get into the boat,' said the Fairy. 'We shall find refreshment on the swelling waters. The boat rocks, but it does not move from the spot; all the countries of the world will pass before our eyes.'

It was a curious sight to see the whole coast move. Here came lofty snow-clad Alps, with their clouds and dark fir trees. The horn echoed sadly among them, and the shepherd yodelled sweetly in the valleys. Then banian trees bent their long drooping branches over the boat, black swans floated on the water, and the strangest animals and flowers appeared on the shore. This was New Holland, the fifth portion of the world, which glided past them with a view of its blue mountains. They heard the song of priests, and saw the dances of the savages to the sound of drums and pipes of bone. The pyramids of Egypt reaching to the clouds, with fallen columns, and Sphynxes half buried in sand, next sailed past them. Then came the Aurora Borealis blazing over the peaks of the north; they were fireworks which could not be imitated. The Prince was so happy, and he saw a hundred times more than we have described.

'Can I stay here always?' he asked.

'That depends upon yourself,' answered the Fairy. 'If you do not, like Adam, allow yourself to be tempted to do what is forbidden, you can stay here always.'

'I will not touch the apples on the Tree of Knowledge,' said the Prince. 'There are thousands of other fruits here as beautiful.'

'Test yourself, and if you are not strong enough, go back with the Eastwind who brought you. He is going away now, and will not come back for a hundred years; the time will fly in this place like a hundred hours, but that is a long time for temptation and sin. Every evening when I leave you I must say, "Come with me," and I must beckon to you, but stay behind. Do not come with me, for with every step you take your longing will grow stronger. You will reach the hall where grows the Tree of Knowledge; I sleep beneath its fragrant drooping branches. You will bend over me and I must smile, but if you press a kiss upon my lips Paradise will sink deep down into the earth, and it will be lost to you. The sharp winds of the wilderness will whistle round you, the cold rain will drop from your hair. Sorrow and labour will be your lot.'

'I will remain here!' said the Prince.

And the Eastwind kissed him on the mouth and said: 'Be strong, then we shall meet again in a hundred years. Farewell! Farewell!' And the Eastwind spread his great wings; they shone like poppies at the harvest time, or the Northern Lights in a cold winter.

'Good-bye! good-bye!' whispered the flowers. Storks and pelicans flew in a line like waving ribbons, conducting him to the boundaries of the Garden.

'Now we begin our dancing!' said the Fairy; 'at the end when I dance with you, as the sun goes down you will see me beckon to you and cry, "Come with me", but do not come. I have to repeat it every night for a hundred years. Every time you resist, you will grow stronger, and at last you will not even think of following. To-night is the first time. Remember my warning!'

And the Fairy led him into a large hall of white transparent lilies, the yellow stamens in each formed a little golden harp which echoed the sound of strings and flutes. Lovely girls, slender and lissom, dressed in floating gauze, which revealed their exquisite limbs, glided in the dance, and sang of the joy of living—that they would never die—and that the Garden of Paradise would bloom for ever.

The sun went down and the sky was bathed in golden light which gave the lilies the effect of roses; and the Prince drank of the foaming wine handed to him by the maidens. He felt such joy as he had never known before; he saw the background of the hall opening where the Tree of Knowledge stood in a radiancy which blinded him. The song proceeding from it was soft and lovely, like his mother's voice, and she seemed to say, 'My child, my beloved child!'

Then the Fairy beckoned to him and said so tenderly, 'Come with me,' that he rushed towards her, forgetting his promise, forgetting everything on the very first evening that she smiled and beckoned to him.

The fragrance in the scented air around grew stronger, the harps sounded sweeter than ever, and it seemed as if the millions of smiling heads in the hall where the Tree grew nodded and sang, 'One must know everything. Man is lord of the earth.' They were no longer tears of blood which fell from the Tree; it seemed to him that they were red shining stars.

'Come with me, come with me,' spoke those trembling tones, and at every step the Prince's cheeks burnt hotter and hotter and his blood coursed more rapidly.

'I must go,' he said, 'it is no sin; I must see her asleep; nothing will be lost if I do not kiss her, and that I will not do. My will is strong.'

The Fairy dropped her shimmering garment, drew back the branches, and a moment after was hidden within their depths.

'I have not sinned yet!' said the Prince, 'nor will I'; then he drew back the branches. There she lay asleep already, beautiful as only the Fairy in the Garden of Paradise can be. She smiled in her dreams; he bent over her and saw the tears welling up under her eyelashes.

The Fairy dropped her shimmering garment, drew back the branches, and a moment after was hidden within their depths.

'Do you weep for me?' he whispered. 'Weep not, beautiful maiden. I only now understand the full bliss of Paradise; it surges through my blood and through my thoughts. I feel the strength of the angels and of everlasting life in my mortal limbs! If it were to be everlasting night to me, a moment like this were worth it!' and he kissed away the tears from her eyes; his mouth touched hers.

Then came a sound like thunder, louder and more awful than any he had ever heard before, and everything around collapsed. The beautiful Fairy, the flowery Paradise sank deeper and deeper. The Prince saw it sink into the darkness of night; it shone far off like a little tiny twinkling star. The chill of death crept over his limbs; he closed his eyes and lay long as if dead.

The cold rain fell on his face, and the sharp wind blew around his head, and at last his memory came back. 'What have I done?' he sighed. 'I have sinned like Adam, sinned so heavily that Paradise has sunk low beneath the earth!' And he opened his eyes; he could still see the star, the far-away star, which twinkled like Paradise; it was the morning star in the sky. He got up and found himself in the wood near the cave of the winds, and the mother of the winds sat by his side. She looked angry and raised her hand.

'So soon as the first evening!' she said. 'I thought as much; if you were my boy, you should go into the bag!'

'Ah, he shall soon go there!' said Death. He was a strong old man, with a scythe in his hand and great black wings. 'He shall be laid in a coffin, but not now; I only mark him and then leave him for a time to wander about on the earth to expiate his sin and to grow better. I will come some time. When he least expects me, I shall come back, lay him in a black coffin, put it on my head, and fly to the skies. The Garden of Paradise blooms there too, and if he is good and holy he shall enter into it; but if his thoughts are wicked and his heart still full of sin, he will sink deeper in his coffin than Paradise sank, and I shall only go once in every thousand years to see if he is to sink deeper or to rise to the stars, the twinkling stars up there.'