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The story without an end

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WAY N ESIiATD U NIV ERS1TY* LIBRARY
3 9343 00742208 1
TUDEIDISDRAMSEYCOLLECTION




THE
STOEY WITHOUT AN END.


rv'P;" ft fV


J



THE STORY WITHOUT AN END.
JJrcrm tljc (formaa of Carobt.
BY SARAH AUSTIN.
With Illustrations printed in Colours after Drawings
By E. Y. B.
London : Sampson Loir, Son, and Maeston,
Milton House, Ludgate Ilill.
1868.
[The right of Translation is reserved.]



To my Daughter
My dear Child,-
The story you love so much in German I dedicate
to you in English. It was in compliance with your earnest
wish that other children miglit share the delight it has so
often afforded you, that I translated it; so that it is, in
some sort, yours of right, Let us liope that your confident
expectations of sympathy in your pleasure may not be dis
appointed ; or that, if others think the story less beautiful
than yon do, they may find compensation in the graceful
designs. it has inspired.
Yon liave often regretted that it left off' so soon, and
would, I believe, £; have been glad to hear more and more,


vi DEDICATION.
and for ever.” The continuation you have longed for lies
in a ivide and magnificent hook, which contains more
wonderful and glorious things than all our favourite fairy
tales put together. But to read in that hook, so as to
discover all its beautiful meanings, you must have pure,
clear eyes, and an liumbic, loving heart; otherwise you will
complain, as some do, that it is dim and puzzling: or as
others, that it is dull and monotonous.
May you continue to read in it with new curiosity, new
delight, and new profit; and to find it, as long as you
live, the untiring “ Story without an End."
Your affectionate Mother,
S. A.


LIST OF THE COLOURED ILLUSTRATIONS.
1.—Ix the Hut there avas only a Bed,— 1
2.—Axd a neglected Looking-Glass 1
3.—After Breakfast 5
4.—Wandering Stars 6
5.—Breams 8
G.—A Palm-tree Grove 11
7.—The Garden 12
8.—Two WORLDLY PEOPLE 17
9.—Between tiie Eiial and tiie Unreal 19
-10.—Kindred Spirits 2-3
11.—Starligh t 27
12.—Hazel Nuts 30
13.—Love and Hate 33
14.—The Joy of Spring 35
15.—Death but a Sleep 39


-


THE STOHY WITHOUT AN END.
i.
rjlHERE was once a Child who lived in a little hut, and
in the hnt there was nothing but a little bed, and a
looking-glass which hung in a dark corner. Now the Child
cared nothing at all about the looking-glass, but as soon as
the first sunbeam glided softly through the casement and
kissed his sweet eyelids, and the finch and the linnet waked
him merrily with their morning songs, he arose, and went
out into the green meadow. And he begged flour of the


THE STORY WITHOUT AN END.
primrose, and sugar of the violet, and butter of the butter
cup ; he shook dew-drops from the cowslip into the cup of
a harebell ; spread out a large lime-leaf, set his little break
fast upon it, and feasted daintily. Sometimes he invited a
humming-bee, oftener a gay butterfly, to partake of his feast ;
but his favourite guest was the blue dragon-fly. The bee
murmured a good deal, in a solemn tone, about his riches ;
but the Child thought that if he were a bee, heaps of
treasure would not make him gay and happy ; and that it
must be much more delightful and glorious to float about
in the free and fresh breezes of spring, and to hum joyously
in the web of the sunbeams, than, with heavy feet and
heavy heart, to stow the silver wax and the golden honey
into cells.
To this the butterfly assented ; and he told how, once on
a time, he too had been greedy and sordid ; how he had
thought of nothing but eating, and had never once turned
his eyes upwards to the blue heavens. At length, however,
a complete change had come over him ; and instead of
crawling spiritless about the dirty earth, half dreaming, he
all at once awaked as out of a deep sleep. And now he
could rise into the air;—and it was his greatest joy some
times to play with the light, and to reflect the heavens in
the bright eyes of his wings ; sometimes to listen to the
soft language of the flowers, and catch their secrets. Such


LEIGHTON .
tT~l^ ttjc 4 tih careii notbing about tb c loo lung glass. ^ j



THE STORY WITHOUT AN END.
talk delighted the Child, and his breakfast was the sweeter
to him, and the sunshine on leaf and flower seemed to him
more bright and cheering.
But when the bee had flown off to beg from flower to
flower, and the butterfly had fluttered away to his play
fellows, the dragon-fly still remained, poised on a blade of
grass. Her slender and burnished body, more brightly and
deeply blue than the deep blue sky, glistened in the sunbeam;
and her net-like wings laughed at the flowers because they
could not fly, but must stand still and abide the wind and
• the rain. The dragon-fly sipped a little of the Child’s clear
dew-drops and blue violet honey, and then whispered her
winged words. And the Child made an end of his repast,
closed his dark blue eyes, bent down his beautiful head, and
listened to the sweet prattle.
Then the dragon-fly told much of the merry life in the
green wood ; how sometimes she played hide-and-seek with
her playfellows under the broad leaves of the oak and the
beech trees; or hunt-the-hare along the surface of the still
waters ; sometimes quietly watched the sunbeams, as they
flew busily from moss to flower and from flower to bush,
and shed life and warmth over all. But at night, she said,
the moonbeams glided softly around the wood, and dropped
dew into the mouths of all the thirsty plants; and when
the dawn pelted the slumberers with the soft roses of heaven,


4
THE STORY WITHOUT AN END,
some of tlie half-drunken flowers looked up and smiled; but
most of them could not so much as raise their heads for a
long, long time.
Such stories did the dragon-fly tell; and as the Child sat
motionless, with his eyes shut, and his head rested on his
little hand, she thought he had fallen asleep;—so she poised
her double wings and flew into the rustling wood.



LEIGHTON
||| gut he foas onltr sunk in a Mam of Might.


II.
~|Z>UT the Child was only sunk into a dream of delight
and was wishing he were a sunbeam or a moonbeam ;
and he would have been glad to hear more and more, and for
ever. But at last, as all was still, he opened his eyes and
looked around for his dear guest; but she was flown far
away; so he could not bear to sit there any longer alone,
and he rose and went to the gurgling brook. It gushed and
rolled so merrily, and tumbled so wildly along as it hurried
to throw itself head-over-heels into the river, just as if the
great massy rock out of which it sprang were close behind
it, and could only be escaped by a break-neck leap.
Then the Child began to talk to the little waves, and
asked them whence they came. They would not stay to
give him an answer, but danced away, one over another;
till at last, that the sweet Child might not be grieved, a
drop of water stopped behind a piece of rock. From her
the Child heard strange histories, but he could not under-


6
THE STORY WITHOUT AN END.
stand them all, for she told him about her former life, and
about the depths of the mountain.
“ A long while ago,” said the drop of water, “ I lived
with my countless sisters in the great ocean, in peace and
unity. We had all sorts of pastimes; sometimes we mounted
up high into the air, and peeped at the stars; then we
sank plump down deep below, and looked how the coral
builders work till they are tired, that they may reach the
light of day at last. But I was conceited, and thought
myself much better than my sisters. And so one day, when
the sun rose out of the sea, I clung fast to one of his hot
beams, and 'thought that now I should reach the stars, and
become one of them. But I had not ascended far, when
the sunbeam shook me off, and, in spite of all I could say
or do, let me fall into a dark cloud. And soon a flash of
fire darted through the cloud, and now I thought I must
surely die; but the whole cloud laid itself down softly upon
the top of a mountain, and so I escaped with my fright
and a black eye. Now I thought I should remain hidden,
when, all on a sudden, I slipped over a round pebble, fell
from one stone to another, down into the depths of the
mountain, till at last it was pitch dark, and I could neither
see nor hear anything. Then I found, indeed, that ‘ pride
goeth before a fall,’ resigned myself to my fate, and, as I
had already laid aside all my unhappy pride in the cloud,


LEIGHTON,



THE STORY WITHOUT AN END.
7
my portion was now the salt of humility ; and after under
going many purifications from the hidden virtues of metals
and minerals, I was at length permitted to come up once
more into the free, cheerful air ; and now will I run back to
my sisters, and there wait patiently till I am called to some
thing better.”
But hardly had she done when the root of a forget-me-not
caught the drop of water by her hair and sucked her in,
that she might become a floweret, and twinkle brightly as
a blue star on the green firmament of earth.


nr.
rjlHE Cliild did not very veil know vliat to think of all
this; lie went thoughtfully home and laid himself 011
his little bed ; and all night long he was wandering about 011
the ocean, and among the stars, and over the dark mountain.
But the moon loved to look on the slumbering Child as he
lay with liis little head softly pillowed on his right arm.
She lingered a long time before Ids little window, and went
slowly away to lighten the dark chamber of some sick person.
As the moons soft light lay on the Child’s eyelids, he
fancied he sat in a golden boat, 011 a great, great water;
countless stars swam glittering on the dark mirror. He
stretched out his hand to catch the nearest star, but it had
vanished, and the water sprayed up against him. Then he
saw clearly that these were not the real stars : he looked up
to lieaven, and wished he could fly thither.
But in the meantime the moon had wandered on her
way; and now the Child was led in his dream into the




THE STORY WITHOUT AN END.
9
clouds, and lie thought he was sitting on a white sheep, and
he saw many lambs grazing around him. He tried to catch
a little lamb to play with, but it was all mist and vapour ;
and the Child was sorrowful, and wished himself down
again in his own meadow, where his own lamb was sporting
gaily about.
Meanwhile the moon was gone to sleep behind the moun
tains, and all around was dark. Then the Child dreamt that
he fell down into the dark, gloomy caverns of the mountain,
and at that he was so frightened, that he suddenly awoke,
just as morning opened her clear eye over the nearest hill.


IY.
FjpHE Child started up, and, to recover himself from his
fright, vent into the little flower-garden behind his
cottage, where the beds were surrounded by ancient palm-
trees, and where he knew that all the flowers would nod
kindly at him. But, behold, the tulip turned up her nose,
and the ranunculus held her head as stiffly as possible, that
she might not bow good-morrow to him. The rose, with her
fair round cheeks, smiled and greeted the Child lovingly; so
he went up to her and kissed her fragrant mouth. And
then the rose tenderly complained that he so seldom came
into the garden, and that she gave out her bloom and her
fragrance the live-long day in vain; for the other flowers
could not see her, because they were too low, or did not
care to look at her because they themselves were so rich in
bloom and fragrance. But she was most delighted when she
glowed in the blooming head of a child, and could pour out




THE STORY WITHOUT AN END.
11
all her heart’s secrets to him in sweet odours. Among other
things, the rose whispered in his ear that she was the Fulness
of Beauty.
And in truth the Child, while looking at her beauty, seemed
to have quite forgotten to go on ; till the blue larkspur called
to him, and asked whether he cared nothing more about his
faithful friend; she said that she was unchanged, and that
even in death she should look upon him with eyes of
unfading blue.
The Child thanked, her for her true-heartedness, and passed
on to the hyacinth, who stood near the puffy, full-cheeked,
gaudy tulips. Even from a distance the hyacinth sent forth
kisses to him, for she knew not how to express her love.
Although she was not remarkable for her beauty, yet the
Child felt himself wondrously attracted by her, for he thought
no flower loved him so well. But the hyacinth poured out
her full heart and wept bitterly, because she stood so lonely ;
the tulips indeed were her countrymen, but they were so cold
and unfeeling that she was ashamed of them. The Child
encouraged her, and told her he did not think things were
so bad as she fancied. The tulips spoke their love in
bright looks, while she uttered hers in fragrant words : that
these, indeed, were lovelier and more intelligible, but that
the others were not to be despised.
Then the hyacinth was comforted, and said she would be


12
THE STORY WITHOUT AN END.
content ; and the Child went on to the powdered auricula,
who, in her baslifulness, looked kindly up to him, and would
gladly have given him more than kind looks, had she had
more to give. But the Child was satisfied with her modest
greeting ; he felt that lie was poor too, and he saw the deep,
thoughtful colours that lay beneath her golden dust. But the
humble flower, of her own accord, sent him to her neighbour,
the lily, whom she willingly acknowledged as her queen.
And when the Child came to the lily, the slender flower
waved to and fro, and bowed her pale head with gentle pride
and stately modesty, and sent forth a fragrant greeting to
him. The Child knew not what had come to him : it reached
his inmost heart, so that his eyes filled with soft tears. Then
he marked how the lily gazed with a clear and stedfast eye
upon the sun, and how the sun looked down again into her
pure chalice, and how, amid this interchange of looks, the three
golden threads united in the centre. And the Child heard
how one scarlet lady-bird at the bottom of the cup said to
another, “ Knowest thou not that we dwell in the flower of
heaven?” and the other replied, “Yes, and now will the
mystery be fulfilled.”
And as the Child saw and heard all this, the dim image
of his unknown parents, as it were veiled in a holy light,
floated before his eyes : he strove to grasp it, but the light
was gone, and the Child slipped, and would have fallen, had


LEIGHTON, BROS.
(iDfrf %iln, tfrr flohm of Ifeafren



THE STORY WITHOUT AN END.
13
not tlie branch of a currant bush caught and held him ;
he took some of the bright berries* for his morning’s meal,
and went back to his hut and stripped the little branches.
* The red currant is called in Germany, Johannisbeere, St. John’s berry.


Y.
~j~N the hut he stayed not long, all was so gloomy, close,
and silent within ; and abroad everything seemed to smile,
and to exult in the clear and unbounded space. Therefore
the Child went out into the green wood, of which the
dragon-fly had told him such pleasant stories. But he found
everything far more beautiful and lovely even than she had
described it; for all about, wherever he went, the tender
moss pressed his little feet, and the delicate grass embraced
his knees, and the flowers kissed his hands, and even the
branches stroked his cheeks with a kind and refreshing touch,
and the high trees threw their fragrant shade around him.
There was 110 end to his delight. The little birds warbled
and sang, and fluttered and hopped about, and the delicate
wood-flowers gave out their beauty and their odours; and
every sweet sound took a sweet odour by the hand, and thus
walked through the open door of the Child’s heart, and held
a joyous nuptial dance therein. But the nightingale and the


THE STORY WITHOUT AN END. 15
lily of the valley led the dance; for the nightingale sang of
nought but love, and the lily breathed of nought but innocence,
and he was the bridegroom and she was the bride. And
the nightingale was never weary of repeating the same thing
a hundred times over, for the spring of love which gushed
from his heart was ever new ; and the lily bowed her head
bashfully, that no one might see her glowing heart. And
yet the one lived so solely and entirely in the other, that
no one could see whether the notes of the nightingale were
floating lilies, or the lilies visible notes, falling like dew-drops
from the nightingale’s throat.
The Child’s heart was full of joy even to the brim. lie
set himself down, and he almost thought he should like to
take root there, and live for ever among the sweet plants
and flowers, and so become a true sharer in all their gentle
pleasures. For he felt a deep delight in the still, secluded,
twilight existence of the mosses and small herbs, which felt
not the storm, nor the frost, nor the scorching sunbeam:
but dwelt quietly among their many friends and neighbours,
feasting in peace and good fellowship on the dew and cool
shadows which the mighty trees shed upon them. To them
it was a high festival when a sunbeam chanced to visit
their lowly home; whilst the tops of the lofty trees could
find joy and beauty only in the purple rays of morning
or evening.


VI.
as the Child sat there, a little mouse rustled from
among the dry leaves of the former year, and a
lizard half glided from a crevice in the rock, and both of
them fixed their bright eyes upon the little stranger; and
when they saw that he designed them no evil, they took
courage and came nearer to him.
“ I should like to live with you,” said the Child to the
two little creatures, in a soft, subdued voice, that he
might not frighten them. “ Your chambers are so snug,
so warm, and yet so shaded, and the flowers grow in at
your windows, and the birds sing you their morning song,
and call you to table and to bed with their clear warblings.”
“Yes,” said the mouse, “it would be all very well if
all the plants bore nuts and mast, instead of those silly
flowers; and if I were not obliged to grub under ground
in the spring, and gnaw the bitter roots, whilst they are
dressing themselves in their fine flowers, and flaunting it
to the world, as if they had endless stores of honey in
their cellars.”



LEIGHTON.
lln (T.tw <M (Tomiucfi


THE STORY WITHOUT AH EHD.
17
“ Hold your tongue,” interrupted tlie lizard, pertly ; “ do
you tliink, because you are grey, that other people must
throw away their handsome clothes, or let them lie in the
dark wardrobe under ground, and wear nothing but grey
too ? I am not so envious. The flowers may dress them
selves as they like for me; they pay for it out of their
own pockets, and they feed bees and beetles from their
cups ; but what I want to know is, of what use are birds
in the world % Such a fluttering and chattering, truly,
from morning early to evening late, that one is worried
and stunned to death, and there is never a day’s peace
for them. And they do nothing; only snap up the flies
and the spiders out of the mouths of such as I. For my
part, I should be perfectly satisfied, provided all the birds
in the world were flies and beetles.”
The Child changed colour, and his heart was sick and
saddened when he heard their evil tongues. He could not
imagine how anybody could speak ill of the beautiful
flowers, or scoff at his beloved birds. He was waked out of
a sweet dream, and the wood seemed to him lonely and
desert, and he was ill at ease. He started up hastily, so
that the mouse and the lizard shrank back alarmed, and did
not look around them till they thought themselves safe out
of the reach of the stranger with the large severe eyes.


VII.
~|I>UT the Child went away from the place ; and as he hung
down his head thoughtfully, he did not observe that he
took the wrong path, nor see how the flowers on either side
bowed their heads to welcome him, nor hear how the old
birds from the boughs, and the young from the nests, cried
aloud to him, “ God bless thee, our dear little prince ! ” And
he went on, and on, farther and farther into the deep wood;
and he thought over the foolish and heartless talk of the two
selfish chatterers, and could not understand it. He would
fain have forgotten it, but he could not. And the more he
pondered, the more it seemed to him as if a malicious spider
had spun her web around him, and as if his eyes were weary
with trying to look through it.
And suddenly he came to a still water, above which young
beeches lovingly entwined their arms. He looked in the
water, and his eyes were riveted to it as if by enchantment.
He could not move, but stood and gazed in the soft, placid


I



THE .STORY WITHOUT AX END.
19
mirror, from the bosom of which the tender green foliage,
with the deep blue heavens between, gleamed so wondrously
upon him. His sorrow was all forgotten, and even the echo
of the discord in his little heart was hushed. That heart was
once more in his eyes ; and fain would he have drunk hi
the soft beauty of the colours that lay beneath him, or have
plunged into the lovely deep.
Then the breeze began to sigh among the tree-tops. The
Child raised his eyes and saw overhead the quivering' green,
and the deep blue behind it, and he knew not whether he
were awake or dreaming: which were the real leaves and
the real heaven,—those in the heights above, or in the depths
beneath ? Long did the Child waver, and his thoughts floated
in a delicious dreaminess from one to the other, till the
dragon-fly flew to him in affectionate haste, and with rustling
wings greeted her kind host. The Child returned her greeting,
and was glad to meet an acquaintance with whom he could
share the rich feast of his joy. Rut first he asked the
dragon-fly if she could decide for him between the Upper
and the Nether—the height and the depth ? The dragon-fly
flew above, and beneath, and around ; but the water spake:
“ The foliage and the sky above are not the true ones : the
leaves wither and fall ; the sky is often overcast, and some
times quite dark.” Then the leaves and the sky said, “ The
water only apes us; it must change its pictures at our


THE STORY WITHOUT AX END.
pleasure, and can retain none.” Then the dragon-fly remarked
that the height and the depth existed only in the eyes of the
Child, and that the leaves and the sky were true and real
only in his thoughts; because in the mind alone the
picture was permanent and enduring, and could be carried
with him whithersoever lie went.
This she said to the Child; but she immediately warned
him to return, for the leaves ay ere already beating the tattoo
in the evening breeze, and the lights Avere disappearing one
by one in every corner. Then the Child confessed to her AA'ith
alarm that he knew not Iioav he should find the Avay back,
and that he feared the dark night Avoulcl OA T ertake him if he
attempted to go home alone ; so the dragon-fly fleAV on before
him and shoAved him a caA r e in the rock Avhcre he might pass
the night. And the Child aaus Avell content; for he had
often wished to try if he could sleep out of his accustomed
bed.


VIII.
~p>UT the dragon-fly was fleet, and gratitude strengthened
her wings to pay her host the honour she owed him.
And truly, in the dim twilight good counsel and guidance
were scarce. She flitted hither and thither without knowing
rightly what was to be done ; when, by the last vanishing
sunbeam, she saw hanging on the edge of the cave some
strawberries who had drunk so deep of the evening red that
their heads were quite heavy. Then she flew up to a harebell
who stood near, and whispered in her ear that the lord and
king of all the flowers was in the wood, and ought to be
received and welcomed as beseemed his dignity. Aglaia did
not need that this should be repeated. She began to ring
her sweet bells with all her might; and when her neighbour
heard the sound, she rang hers also; and soon all the harebells,
great and small, were in motion, and rang as if it had been
for the nuptials of their mother earth herself with the prince
of the sun. The tone of the blue bells was deep and rich,


THE STORY WITHOUT AN END.
and that of the white, high and clear, and all blended
together in a delicious harmony.
But the birds were fast asleep in their high nests, and
the ears of the other animals were not delicate enough, or
were too much overgrown with hair, to hear them. The
fire-flies alone heard the joyous peal, for they were akin to
the flowers, through their common ancestor, light. They
inquired of their nearest relation, the lily of the 'valley, and
from her they heard that a large flower had just passed
along the foot-path more blooming than the loveliest rose,
and with two stars more brilliant than those of the brightest
fire-fly, and that it must needs be their king. Then all the
firc-fiics flew up and down the foot-path, and sought every
where till at length they came, as the dragon-fly had hoped
they would, to the cave.
And now, as they looked at the Child, and every one of
them saw itself reflected in his clear eyes, they rejoiced
exceedingly, and called all their fellows together, and alighted
on the bushes all around ; and soon it was so light in the
cave that herb and grass began to grow as if it had been
broad day. Now, indeed, was the joy and triumph of the
dragon-fly complete. The Child was delighted with the merry
and silvery tones of the bells, and with the many little bright
eyed companions around him, and with the deep red straw
berries which bowed down their heads to his touch.



LEIGHTON , BROS.
gossip foitlr tin gut Jflns,


IX.
^/^ND when lie had eaten his fill, he sat down 011 the soft
moss, crossed one little leg over the other and began
to gossip with the fire-flies. And as he so often thought 011
his unknown parents, he asked them who were their parents.
Then the one nearest to him gave him answer ; and he told
how that they were formerly flowers, but none of those who
thrust their rooty hands greedily into the ground and draw
nourishment from the clingy earth, only to make themselves
fat and large withal ; but that the light was dearer to them
than anything, even at night; and while the other flowers
slept, they gazed unwearied 011 the light, and drank it in
with eager adoration,—sun, and moon, and star light. And
the light had so thoroughly purified them, that they had not
sucked in poisonous juices like the yellow flowers of the
earth, but sweet odours for sick and fainting hearts, and oil
of potent ethereal virtue for the weak and the wounded ; and
at length, when their autumn came, they did not, like the


24
THE STORY WITHOUT AN END.
others, wither and sink down, leaf and flower, to he
swallowed up by the darksome earth, but shook off their
earthly garment, and mounted aloft into the clear air. But
there it was so wondrously bright, that sight failed them;
and when they came to themselves again, they were fire-flies,
each sitting on a withered flower-stalk.
And now the Child liked the bright-eyed flies better than
ever ; and he talked a little longer with them, and inquired
why they shorved themselves so much more in spring. They
did it, they said, in the hope that their gold-green radiance
might allure their cousins, the flowers, to the pure love of
ligli t.


X.
y^URING this conversation, the dragon-fly had been pre
paring a bed for her host. The moss upon which the
Child sat had grown a foot high behind his back, out of
pure joy; but the dragon-fly and her sisters had so revelled
upon it, that it was now laid at its length along the cave.
The dragon-fly had awakened every spider in the neighbourhood
out of her sleep, and when they saw the brilliant light they
had set to work spinning so industriously that their web
hung down like a curtain before the mouth of the cave. But
as the Child saw the ant peeping up at him, he entreated
the fh-e-flies not to deprive themselves any longer of their
merry games in the wood on his account. And the dragon-fly
and her sisters raised the curtain till the Child had lain him
down to rest, and then let it fall again, that the mischievous
gnats might not get in to disturb his slumbers.
The Child laid himself down to sleep, for he was very
tired ; but he could not sleep, for his couch of moss was


26
THE STORY WITHOUT AN END.
quite another thing than his little bed, and the cave was
all strange to him. He turned himself on one side and then
on the other, and as nothing would do, he raised himself
and sat upright, to wait till sleep might choose to come.
But sleep would not come at all ;—and the only wakeful
eyes in the whole wood were the Child’s. For the harebells
had rung themselves weary, and the firo-fiics had flown about
till they were tired, and even the dragon-fly, who would fain
have kept watch in front of the cave, had dropped sound asleep.
The wood grew stiller' and stiller ; here and there fell a
dry leaf which had been driven from its old dwelling-place
by a fresh one ; here and there a young bird gave a soft
chirp when its mother squeezed it in the nest ;—and from
time to time a gnat hummed for a minute or two in the
curtain, till a spider crept on tiptoe along its web, and
gave him such a gripe in the wind-pipe as soon spoiled his
trumpeting.
And the deeper the silence became, the more intently did
the Child listen, and at last the slightest sound thrilled him
from head to foot. At length, all was still as death in the
wood ; and the world seemed as if it never would wake
again. The Child bent forward to see whether it were as
dark abroad as in the cave, but he saw nothing save the
pitch-dark night, who had wrapped everything in her thick
veil. Yet as he looked upwards his eyes met the friendly


LEIGHTON , BKOS.
d a ft It $ t a x s



-
THE STORY WITHOUT AN END. 2/
glance of two or three stars, and this was a most joyful
surprise to him, for he felt himself no longer so entirely
alone. The stars were indeed far, far away, but yet he knew
them, and they knew him; for they looked into his eyes.
The Child’s whole soul was fixed in his gaze ; and it
seemed to him as if he must needs fly out of the darksome
cave thither, where the stars were beaming with such pure
and serene light : and lie felt how poor and lowly lie was,
when he thought of their brilliancy ; and how cramped and
fettered, when he thought of their free unbounded course along
the heavens.


XI.
~|Z) UT the stars went 011 tlieir course, ancl left their glitter
ing picture only a little while before the Child's eyes.
Even this faded, and then vanished quite away. And he was
beginning to feel tired, and to wish to lay himself clown
again, when a flickering Will-o’-the-wisp appeared from behind
a bush,—so that the Child thought, at first, one of the stars
had wandered out of its way and had come to visit him,
and to take him with it. And the Child breathed quick with
joy and surprise, and then the Will-o’-the-wisp came nearer,
and set himself down 011 a clamp mossy stone in front of
the cave, and another fluttered quickly after him, and sat
down over-against him, and sighed, deeply, “ Thank God, then,
that I can rest at last !”
“ Yes,” said the other, “ for that you may thank the
innocent Child who sleeps there within ; it was his pure
breath that freed us.”—“ Are you then,” said the Child,
hesitatingly, “ not of yon stars which wander so brightly


THE STOEY WITHOUT AN END,
29
there above V’—“ Oh, if we were stars,” replied the first, “ we
should pursue our tranquil path through the pure element,
and should leave this wood and the whole darksome earth to
itself.”—“ And not,” said the other, “ sit brooding on the
face of the shallow pool.”
The Child was curious to know who these could be who
shone so beautifully, and yet seemed so discontented. Then
the first began to relate how he had been a child too, and
how, as he grew up, it had always been his greatest delight
to deceive people and play them tricks, to show his wit and
cleverness. He had always, he said, poured such a stream
of smooth words over people, and encompassed himself with
such a shining mist, that men had been attracted by it to
their own hurt. But once on a time there appeared a plain
man, who only spoke two or three simple words, and sud
denly the bright mist vanished, and left him naked and
deformed, to the scorn and mockery of the whole world.
But the man had turned away his face from him in pity,
while he was almost dead with shame and anger. And when
he came to himself again, he knew not what had befallen
him, till at length he found that it was his fate to hover,
without rest or change, over the surface of the bog as a
A 7 ill-o’-tlie-wisp.
“ With me it fell out quite otherwise,” said the first :
“ instead of giving light without warmth, as I now do, I


30
THE STORY WITHOUT AN END.
burned without sinning. When I was only a child, people
gave way to me in everything, so that I was intoxicated
with self-love. If I saw any one shine, I longed to put out
his light ; and the more intensely I wished this, the more
did my own small glimmering turn back upon myself, and
inwardly burn fiercely while all without was darker than
ever. But if any one who shone more brightly would have
kindly given me of his light, then did my inward flame
burst forth to destroy him. But the flame passed through
the light and harmed it not; it shone only the more brightly,
while I was withered and exhausted. And once upon a time
I met a little smiling child, who played with a cross of palm
branches, and wore a beamy coronet around his golden locks.
He took me kindly by the hand and said, v My friend, you
are now very gloomy and sad, but if you will become a child
again, even as I am, you will have a bright circlet such as
I have.’ AYhen I heard that, I was so angry with myself
and with the child, that I was scorched by my inward fire.
Now would I fain fly up to the sun to fetch rays from him,
but the rays drove me back with these words : ‘ Return
thither wdience thou earnest, thou dark fire of envy, for the sun
lightens only in love ; the greedy earth, indeed, sometimes turns
his mild light into scorching fire. Fly back, then, for with thy
like alone must thou dwell.’ I fell, and when I recovered my
self, I was glimmering coldly above the stagnant waters.”


LEIGHTON, BROS.
% little smiling rjrilb, foba tooxt a beamn rcrronet.



THE STORY WITHOUT AN END. 31
While they were talking, the Child had fallen asleep; for
he knew nothing of the world, nor of men, and he could
make nothing of their stories. Weariness had spoken a more
intelligible language to him—that he understood, and had
fallen asleep.


XII.
OFTLY and soundly he slept till the rosy morning clouds
stood upon the mountain, and announced the coming of
their lord the sun. But as soon as the tidings spread over
field and wood, the thousand-voiced echo awoke, and sleep
was no more to be thought of. And soon did the royal sun
himself arise ; at first, his dazzling diadem alone appeared
above the mountains ; at length he stood upon their summit
in the full majesty of his beauty, in all the charms of eternal
youth, bright and glorious, his kindly glance embracing every
creature of earth, from the stately oak to the blade of grass
bending under the foot of the wayfaring man.
Then arose from every breast, from every throat, the
joyous song of praise ; and it was as if the whole plain and
wood were become a temple, whose roof was the heaven,
whose altar the mountain, whose congregation all creatures,
whose priest the sun.
But the Child walked forth and was glad, for the birds




THE STORY WITHOUT AN END.
33
sang sweetly, and it seemed to him as if everything sported
and danced out of mere joy to he alive. Here flew two
finches through the thicket, and, twittering, pursued each
other ; there, the young buds burst asunder, and the tender
leaves peeped out and expanded themselves in the warm
sun, as if they would abide in his glance for eve] 1 ; here, a
dew-drop trembled, sparkling and twinkling on a blade of
grass, and knew not that beneath him stood a little moss
who was thirsting after him ; there, troops of flies flew aloft,
as if they would soar far over the wood ; and so all was life
and motion, and the Child’s heart joyed to see it.
He sat down 011 a little smooth plot of turf, shaded by
the branches of a nut-bush, and thought he should now sip
the cup of his delight drop by drop. And first he plucked
down some brambles which threatened him with their prickles ;
then he bent aside some branches which concealed the view ;
then he removed the stones, so that he might stretch out
his feet at full length on the soft turf; and when he had
done all this, he bethought himself what was yet to do ;
and as he found nothing, he stood up to look for his
acquaintance the dragon-fly, and to beg her to guide him
once more out of the wood into the open fields. About
midway he met her, and she began to excuse herself for
having fallen asleep in the night. The Child thought not
of the past, were it even but a minute ago, so earnestly did


34 THE STORY WITHOUT AN END.
lie now wish to get out from among the thick and close
trees ; for his heart beat- high, and he felt as if he should
breathe freer in the open ground. The dragon-fly dew on
before, and showed him the way as far as the outermost verge
of the wood, whence the Child could espy his own little hut,
and then flew away to her playfellows.



lark afoafcjcttJtft bisicms of tujbkss frogis.


XIII.
rjIHE Child walked forth alone upon the fresh dewy corn
field. A thousand little suns glittered in his eyes, and
a lark soared warbling above his head. And the lark pro
claimed the joys of the coming year, and awakened endless
hopes, while she soared circling higher and higher, till at
length her song was like the soft whisper of an angel holding-
converse with the spring under the blue arch of heaven.
The Child had seen the earth-coloured little bird rise up
before him, and it seemed to him as if the earth had sent
her forth from her bosom as a messenger to carry her joy
and her thanks up to the sun, because he had turned his
beaming countenance again upon her in love and bounty-
And the lark hung poised above the hope-giving field, and
warbled her clear and joyous song.
She sang of the loveliness of the rosy dawn, and the fresh
brilliancy of the earliest sunbeams; of the gladsome springing
of the young flowers, and the vigorous shooting of the corn ;
and her .song pleased the Child beyond measure.


36
THE STORY WITHOUT AN END.
But the lark wheeled in higher and higher circles, and her
song sounded softer and sweeter.
And now she sang of the first delights of early love, of
wanderings together on the sunny fresh lrill-tojjs^ and of the
sweet pictures and visions that arise out of the blue and
misty distance. The Child understood not rightly what he
heard, and fain would he have understood, for he thought
that even in such visions must he wondrous delight. He
gazed aloft after the unwearied bird, but she had disappeared
in the morning mist.
Then the Child leaned his head on one shoulder to listen
if he could 110 longer hear the little messenger of spring; and
he could just catch the distant and quivering notes in which
she sang of the fervent longing after the clear element of
freedom ; after the pure all-present light; and of the blessed
foretaste of this desired enfranchisement, of this blending in
the sea of celestial happiness.
Yet longer did he listen ; for the tones of her song carried
him there, where, as yet, his thoughts had never reached, and
he felt himself happier in this short and imperfect flight than
ever he had felt before. But the lark now dropped suddenly
to the earth, for her little body was too heavy for the ambient
ether, and her wings were not large nor strong enough for
the pure clement.
Then the red corn-poppies laughed at the homcly-looking


THE STORY WITHOUT AN END.
.‘37
bird, and cried to one another and to the surrounding blades
of corn in a shrill voice, “ Now, indeed, you may see what
comes of flying so high, and striving and straining after mere
air ; people only lose their time, and bring back nothing but
weary wings and an empty stomach. That vulgar-looking
ill-dressed little creature would fain raise herself above us all,
and has kept up a mighty noise. And now, there she lies on
the ground, and can hardly breathe, while we have stood still
where we are sure of a good meal, and have stayed like people
of sense where there is something substantial to be had; and
in the time she has been fluttering and singing, we have
grown a good deal taller and fatter/'
The other little red-caps chattered and screamed their assent
so loud, that the Child’s ears tingled, and he wished he could
chastise them for their spiteful jeers ; when a cyane said, in
a soft voice, to her 3munger pla) r mates, “Dear friends, be not
led astray T»y outward show, nor b} 7 discourse which regards
onl) 7 outward show. The lark is indeed weary, and the space
into which she has soared is void ; but the void is not what
the lark sought, nor is the seeker returned empt} 7 home. She
strove after light and freedom, and light and freedom has she
proclaimed. She left the earth and its enjojnnents, but she
has drunk of the pure air of heaven, and has seen that it is
not the earth, but the sun that is stedfast. And if earth has
called her back, it can keep nothing of her but what is its


38
THE STORY WITHOUT AN END.
own. Her sweet voice and her soaring wings belong to the
sun, and will enter into light and freedom long after the
foolish prater shall have sunk and been buried in the dark
prison of the earth/’
And the lark heard her wise and friendly discourse, and,
with renewed strength, she sprang once more into the clear
and beautiful blue.
Then the Child clapped Ins little hands for joy that the
sweet bird had flown up again, and that the red-caps must
hold their tongues for shame.



LEIGHTON, BROS.
Wtym the Spring begins.


XIV.
^/^ND tlic Child was become happy and joyful, and breathed
freely again, and thought no more of returning to his
hut; for he saw that nothing • returned inwards, but rather
that all strove outwards into the free air; the rosy apple-
blossoms from their narrow buds, and the gurgling notes from
the narrow breast of the lark. The germs burst open the
folding doors of the seeds, and broke through the heavy
pressure of the earth in order to get at the light; the grasses
tore asunder their bands, and their slender blades sprang
upward. Even the rocks were become gentle, and allowed
little mosses to peep out from their sides, as a sign that they
would not remain impenetrably closed for ever. And the
flowers sent out colour and fragrance into the whole world,
for they kept not their best for themselves, but would imitate
the sun and the stars, which poured their warmth and
radiance over the spring. And many a little gnat and beetle
burst the narrow cell in which it was inclosed, and crept out
slowly, and, half asleep, unfolded and shook its tender wings,
and soon gained strength, and flew off to untried delights.
And as the butterflies came forth from their chrysalids in all


40
THE STOI’.Y WITHOUT AN END.
their gaiety and splendour, so did every humbled and sup
pressed aspiration and hope free itself, and boldly launch into
the open and flowing sea of spring.