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树精的童话故事

发布时间:2018-12-15     文章来源:翔之梦故事百科     推荐人数:

我们旅行去,去看巴黎的展览会。

我们现在就到了!这是一次飞快的旅行,但是并非凭借什么魔力而完成的。我们是凭着蒸汽的力量,乘船或坐火车去的。

我们的时代是一个童话的时代。

我们现在是在巴黎的中心,在一个大旅馆里面。整个的楼梯上都装饰着花朵;所有的梯级上都铺满了柔软的地毯。

我们的房间是很舒服的;阳台的门是朝着一个宽大的广场开着的。春天就住在那上面。它是和我们乘车子同时到来的。它的外表是一株年轻的大栗树,长满了新出的嫩叶子。它的春天的新装是多么美丽啊!它穿得比广场上任何其他的树都漂亮!这些树中有一棵已经不能算是有生命的树了,它直直地倒在地上,连根都拔起来了。在它过去立着的那块地方,这棵新的粟树将会被裁进去,生长起来。

到目前为止,它还是立在一辆沉重的车子里。是这辆车子今天从许多里以外的乡下把它运进巴黎来的。在这以前,有好几年,它一直是立在一棵大栎树旁边。一位和善的老牧师常常坐在这棵栎树下,讲故事给那些聚精会神的孩子们听。这棵年轻的栗树也跟着他们一起听。住在它里面的树精那时也还不过是一个孩子。她还记得这树儿童时代的情景。那时它很小,还没有草叶或凤尾草那么高。这些草类可以说是大得不可再大了,但是栗树却在不断地生长,每年总要增大一点。它吸收空气和太阳光,喝着露水和雨点,被大风摇撼和吹打,这是它的教育的一部分。

村精喜欢自己的生活和环境、太阳光和鸟儿的歌声。不过她最喜欢听人类的声音。她懂得人类的语言,也同样懂得动物的语言。

蝴蝶啦、蜻蜓啦、苍蝇啦——的确,所有能飞的东西都来拜访她。他们到一起就聊天。他们谈论着关于乡村、葡萄园、树林和带花园的皇宫——宫里还有一个大花园——这类的事情。皇宫的花园之中还有溪流和水坝。水里也住得有生物,而且这些生物也有自己的一套办法在水里从这里飞到那里。它们都是有知识、有思想的生物,但是它们不说话,因为它们非常聪明。

曾经钻进水里去过的燕子谈论着美丽的金鱼、肥胖的鲫鱼、粗大的鲈鱼和长得有青苔的老鲤鱼。它把它们描写得非常生动,但是它说:“最好你还是亲自去看看吧。”不过树精怎样能看到这些生物呢?她能看到美丽的风景和忙碌的人间活动——她也只能满足于这些东西了。这是很美丽的事情。不过最美丽的事情还是听那位老牧师在株树下谈论法兰西和许多男人和女人的伟大事迹——这些人的名字,任何时代的人一提起来就要表示钦慕。

树精听着关于牧羊女贞德①的事情和关于夏洛·哥戴②的事情。她听着关于远古时代的事情——从亨利四世和拿破仑一世,一直到我们这个时代的天才和伟大的事迹。她听着许多在人民心里引起共鸣的名字。法兰西是一个具有世界意义的国家,是一块抚育着自由精神的理智的土地。!

村里的孩子聚精会神地听着;树精也聚精会神地听着。她像别的孩子一样,也是一个小学生。凡是她所听到的东西,她都能在那些移动着的浮云中看出具体的形象。

白云朵朵的天空就是她的画册。

她觉得住在美丽的法国是非常幸福的。但是她也觉得鸟儿和各种能飞的动物都比她幸运得多。甚至苍蝇都能向周围看得很远,比一个树精的眼界要大得多。

法国是那么广阔和可爱,但是她只能看到它的一个片段。这个国家是一个世界,有葡萄园、树林和大城市。在这些东西之中,巴黎要算是最美丽,最伟大的了。鸟儿可以飞进它里面去,但是她却不能。

这些乡下孩子中有一个小女孩。她穿着一身破烂的衣服,非常穷苦,但是她的样子却非常可爱。她不是在笑,就是在唱歌;她喜欢用红花编成花环戴在她的黑发上。

“不要到巴黎去吧!”老牧师说。“可怜的孩子,如果你去,你就会毁灭!”

但是她却去了。

树精常常想念着她。的确,她们俩对这个伟大的城市有同样的向往和渴望。

春天来了;接着就是夏天、秋天和冬天。两年过去了。

树精所住的这棵树第一次开出了栗花,鸟儿在美丽的阳光中喃喃地歌颂这件事情。这时路上有一辆漂亮的马车开过来了。车里坐着一位华贵的太太。她亲自赶着那几匹美丽的快马,一个俊秀的小马车夫坐在她的后面。树精认出了她,那个老牧师也认出了她。牧师摇摇头,惋惜地说:

“你到那儿去!那会带给你损害呀!可怜的玛莉啊!”

“她可怜吗?”树精想。“不,这是一种多么大的改变啊!她打扮得像一位公爵夫人!这是因为她到了一个迷人的城市才改变得这样。啊,我希望我自己也能到那豪华富贵的环境中去!当我在夜里向我所知道的这个城市所在的方向望去的时候,我只见它射出光来,把天空的云块都照亮了。”

是的,每天黄昏,每天夜里,树精都向那个方向望。她看见一层充满了光的薄雾,浮在地平线上。但是在月明之夜她就看不见它了;她看不见显示着这城的形象和历史的那些浮云。

孩子喜欢自己的画册;树精喜欢自己的云世界——她的思想之书。

没有云块的、酷热的夏日的天空,对她说来,等于是一本没有字的书。现在一连有好几天她只看到这样的天空。

这是一个炎热的夏天,一连串闷人的日子,没有一点风。

每一片树叶,每一朵花,好像是昏睡过去了一样,都垂下了;人也是这样。后来云块出现了,而且它出现的地方恰恰是夜间光彩的雾气所笼罩着的地方:这是巴黎。

云块升起来了,形成一整串连绵的山脉。它们在空中,在大地上飞驰,树精一眼都望不着边际。

云块凝结成为紫色的庞大石块,一层一层地叠在高空中。闪电从它们中间射出来。“这是上帝的仆人,”老牧师说。接着一道蓝色的。耀眼的光——一道像太阳似的光——出现了。它射穿石块;于是闪电打下来,把这株可敬的老株树连根劈成两半。它的顶裂开了,它的躯干裂开了;它倒下来,伏在地上,好像是它想要拥抱光的使者似的。

一个王子诞生时向天空和全国所放的炮声,怎样也赶不上这株老株树死亡时的雷轰。雨水在向下流;一阵清新的和风在吹。暴风雨已经过去了;处处都笼罩着礼拜日一样的宁静气氛。村里的人在这株倒下的老株树周围聚集起来。那位可尊敬的老牧师说了几句赞美它的话;一位画家把这株树绘下来。留作最后的纪念。

“一切都过去了!”树精说,“像那些云块一样过去了,再也不回来!”

老牧师不再来了,学校的屋顶塌下来了,老师的坐位也没有了,孩子们也不再来了。但是秋天来了,冬天来了,春天也来了。在这些变换的季节中,树精遥遥地向远方望——在那远方,巴黎每夜像一层放光的薄雾似的,在地平线上出现。火车头一架接着一架、车厢一串接着一串,时时刻刻地从巴黎开出来,发出隆隆的吼声。火车在晚间和半夜开行,在早晨和白天开行。世界各国来的人,有的钻进车厢里去,有的从车厢里走出来。一件世界的奇观把他们吸引到巴黎来了。

这是怎样的一种奇观呢?

“一朵艺术和工业的美丽之花,”人们说,“在马尔斯广场的荒土上开出来了。它是一朵庞大的向日葵。它的每片花瓣都使我们学习到关于地理和统计的知识,了解到各行师傅的技术,把我们提高到艺术和诗的境地,使我们认识到各个国家的面积和伟大。”

“这是一朵童话之花,”另外有些人说,“一朵多彩的荷花。它把它在初春冒出的绿叶铺在沙土上,像一块天鹅绒的地毯。它在夏天表现出它的一切美丽。秋天的风暴把它连根带叶全部都扫走了。”

军事学校面前是一片和平时的战争演习场。这一片土地没有长草和粮食。它是从非洲沙漠里割下来的一块沙洲。在那个沙漠上,莫甘娜仙女③常常显示出她的奇异的楼阁和悬空的花园。现在这块马尔斯广场显得更美丽,更奇异,因为人类的天才把幻景变成了真实。

“现在正在建筑的是一座近代阿拉丁之宫④,”人们说。“每过一天,每过一点钟,它就显露出更多和更美丽的光彩。”

大理石和各种色彩把那些无穷尽的大厅装饰得非常漂亮。“没有血液”的巨人在那巨大的“机器馆”里动着它的钢铁的四肢。钢铁制成的、石头雕成的和手工织成的艺术品说明了在世界各个国家所搏动着的精神生活。画廊、美丽的花朵、手艺人在他们的工作室里用智慧和双手所创造出来的东西,现在全都在这儿陈列出来了。古代宫殿和沼泽地的遗物现在也在这儿展览出来了。

这个庞大的、丰富多彩的展览,不得不复制成为模型,压缩到玩具那么大小,好使人们能够看到和了解它的全貌。

马尔斯广场上,像个巨大的圣诞餐桌一样,就是这个工业和艺术的阿拉丁之宫。宫的周围陈列着来自世界各国的展品:每个民族都能在这儿找到一件令他们想起他们的国家的东西。

这儿有埃及的皇宫,这儿有沙漠的旅行商队。这儿有从太阳的国度来的,骑着骆驼走过的贝杜因人⑤,这儿有养着草原上美丽烈马的俄国马厩。挂着丹麦国旗的、丹麦农民的茅屋,跟瑞典达拉尔的古斯达夫·瓦萨时代⑥的精巧的木雕房子,并排站在一起。美国的木房子、英国的村屋、法国的亭子。清真寺、教堂和戏院都很艺术地在一起陈列了出来。在它们中间有清新的绿草地、清澈的溪流、开着花朵的灌木丛、珍奇的树和玻璃房子——你在这里面可以想象你是在热带的树林中。整片整片的玫瑰花畦像是从大马士革运来的,在屋顶下盛开着的花朵,多么美的色彩!多么芬芳的香气!人工造的钟乳石岩洞里面有淡水湖和咸水湖;它们代表鱼的世界。人们现在是站在海底,在鱼和珊瑚虫的中间。

人们说,这一切东西现在马尔斯广场都有了,都陈列出来了。整群的人,有的步行,有的坐在小马车里,都在这个丰盛的餐桌上移动,像一大堆忙碌的蚂蚁一样。一般人的腿子是无法支持这种疲劳的参观的。

参观者从大清早一直到深夜都在不停地到来。装满了客人的轮船,一艘接着一艘地在塞纳河上开过去。车子的数目在不断地增加,步行和骑马的人也在不断地增加。公共马车和电车上都挤满了人。这些人群都向同一个目的地汇聚:巴黎展览会!所有的入口都悬着法国的国旗,展览馆的周围则飘扬着其他国家的国旗。“机器馆”发出隆隆的响声;塔上的钟声奏起和谐的音乐。教堂里有风琴在响;东方的咖啡馆飘出混杂着音乐的粗嘎的歌声。这简直像一个巴别人的王国,一种巴别人的语言⑦,一种世界的奇观。

一切的确是这个样子——关于展览会的报道是这样说的。谁没有听过这些报道呢?所有这儿一切关于这个世界名城的“新的奇迹”的议论,树精都听到过。

“你们这些鸟儿啊,飞吧!飞到那儿去看看,然后再回来告诉我吧!”这是树精的祈求。

这种向往扩大成为一个希望——成为生活的一个中心思想。于是在一个静寂的夜里,当满月正在照着的时候,她看到一颗火星从月亮上落下来了。这火星像一颗流星似地发着亮。这时有一个庄严、光芒四射的人形在这树前出现——树枝全在动摇,好像有一阵狂风吹来似的。这人形用一种柔和而强有力的调子,像唤醒人的生命的、催人受审的末日号角一样,对她说:

“你将到那个迷人的城市里去,你将在那儿生根,你将会接触到那儿潺潺的流水、空气和阳光,但是你的生命将会缩短。你在这儿旷野中所能享受到的一连串的岁月,将会缩为短短的几个季节。可怜的树精啊,这将会是你的灭亡!你的向往将会不断地增大,你的渴望将会一天一天地变得强烈!这棵树将会成为你的一个监牢。你将会离开你的住处,你将会改变你的性格,你将会飞走,跟人类混在一起。那时你的寿命将会缩短,缩短得只有蜉蝣的半生那么长——只能活一夜。你的生命的火焰将会熄灭,这树的叶子将会凋零和被吹走,永远再也不回来。”

声音在空中这样响着,引起回音。于是这道强光就消逝了;但是树精的向往和渴望却没有消逝。她在狂热的期盼中颤抖着:

“我要到这个世界的名城里去!”她兴高采烈地说。“我的生命开始了。它像密集的云块;谁也不知道它会飘向什么地方去。”

在一个灰色的早晨,当月亮发白、云块变红的时候,她的愿望实现的时刻到来了。诺言现在成为了事实。

许多人带着铲子和杠子来了。他们在这树的周围挖,挖得很深,一直挖到根底下。于是一辆马拉的车子开过来了。这树连根带土被抬起来,还包上一块芦席,使它的根能够保持温暖。接着,它就被牢牢地系在车上。它要旅行到巴黎去,在这个法国的首都,世界的名城里长大。

在车子最初开动的一瞬间,这棵栗树的枝叶都颤抖起来。树精在幸福的期待中也颤抖起来。

“去了!去了!”每一次脉搏都发出这样一个声音。“去了!去了!”这是一个震荡、颤抖的回响。树精忘记了对她的故乡、摇动的草儿和天真的雏菊告别。这些东西一直把她看作是我们上帝花园里的一位贵妇人——一位扮作牧羊女下乡的公主。

栗树坐在车子上,用它的枝子点头表示“再会”和“去了”的意思。树精一点也不知道这些事情。她只是梦想着将要在她眼前展开的那些新奇而又熟悉的事物。没有任何充满了天真幸福感的孩子的心,没有任何充满了热情的灵魂,会像她动身到巴黎去时那样,是那么地思绪万端。

“再会!”成为“去了!去了!”

车轮在不停地转动着;距离缩短了,落在后面。景色在变幻,像云块在变幻一样。新的葡萄园、树林、村庄、别墅和花园跃人视线,又消逝了。栗树在向前进,树精也在向前进。火车彼此在旁经过或彼此对开。火车头吐出一层烟云。烟云变成种种的形象,好像是巴黎的缩影——火车离开了的和树精正在奔赴的巴黎。

她周围的一切知道、同时也必须懂得,她的旅行的目的地。她觉得,她所经过的每一棵树都在向她伸出枝子,同时恳求她说;“把我带去吧!把我带去吧!”每一株树里面也住着一位怀着渴望心情的树精。

真是变幻莫测!真是急驶如飞!房子好像是从地上冒出来的一般,越冒越多,越聚越密。烟囱一个接着一个,一排接着一排,罗列在屋顶上,像许多花盆一样。由一码多长的字母所组成的字,绘在墙上的图画,从墙脚一直伸到屋檐,射出光彩。

“巴黎是从什么地方开始的呢?我什么时候才算是到了巴黎呢?”树精问着自己。

人越来越多了,闹声和噪音也扩大了。车子后面跟着车子,骑马的人后面跟着步行的人。前后左右全是店铺、音乐、歌声、叫声和讲话声。

坐在树里的树精现在来到了巴黎的中心。这辆沉重的大马车在一个小广场上停下来。广场上种满了树。它的周围全是些高房子,而且每个窗子都有一个阳台。阳台上的人望着这棵新鲜年轻的栗树;它现在被运来,而且要栽在这里,来代替那棵连根拔起的、现在倒在地上的老树。广场上的人们,带着微笑和愉快的心情,静静地望着这代表春天的绿色。那些刚刚冒芽的老树,摇动着它们的枝叶,对它致敬:“欢迎!欢迎!”喷泉向空中射着水,水又哗啦哗啦地落到它宽广的池里。它现在叫风儿把它的水点吹到这新来的树上,作为一种欢迎的表示。

树精感觉到,她的这株树已经从车子上被抬下来了,而且被栽在它未来的位置上。树根被埋在地里,上面还盖了一层草土。开着花的灌木也像这株树一样被栽下来了;四周还安放了许多盆花。这么着,广场的中央就出现了一个小小的花园。

那株被煤烟、炊烟和城里一切足以致命的气味所杀死了的、连根拔起的老树,现在被装在马车上拖走了。民众在旁边观看;小孩子和老年人坐在草地上的凳子上,望着新栽的树上的绿叶。至于我们讲这个故事的人呢,我们站在阳台上,俯视着这株从乡下新鲜空气中运来的年轻的树。我们像那个老牧师一样,也很想说一声:“可怜的树精啊!”

“我是多么幸福啊!多么幸福啊!”树精说。“但是我却不能了解,也不能解释我的这种情感。一切跟我所盼望的是一样,但也不完全跟我所盼望的是一样!”

周围的房屋都很高,而且很密。只有一面墙上映着阳光。墙上贴满了招贴和广告。人们站在它面前看,而且人越集越多。轻车和重车从旁边开过去。公共马车,像挤满了人的、移动着的房子,也哗啦哗啦地开过去了。骑在马上的人向前驰骋;货车和马车也要求有同样的权利。

树精想:这些挤在一起的高房子,可不可以马上走开,或者变成像天上云块那样的东西浮走,以便让她看看巴黎和巴黎以外的东西呢?她要看看圣母院、万多姆塔和那件一直吸引着许多观众来参观的奇迹。

可是这些房子却一动也不动。

天还没有黑,灯就已经亮起来了。煤气灯光从店铺里和树枝间隐隐地射出来。这跟太阳光很有些相像。星星也出来了——和树精在故乡所看到过的一样的星星。她感到一阵清凉的和风从星星上吹来,她有一种崇高和强壮的感觉。她觉得她有一种力量,可以洞察这棵树的每一片叶子,可以感觉到树根的每一个尖端。她觉得她活在人的世界里,人的温和的眼睛在望着她,她的周围是一片闹声和音乐,色彩和光线。

从一条侧街里飘来管乐和手风琴奏的邀舞曲。是的,跳舞吧!跳舞吧!这是叫人欢乐和享受生活的音乐。

这是鼓舞人、马、车子、树和房子跳舞的音乐——如果他们能跳舞的话。树精的心里有一种狂欢的感觉。

“多么幸福啊!多么美啊!”她快乐地高呼着。“我现在是住在巴黎!”

新的日子、新的夜晚和继续到来的新的日子,带来同样的景象,同样的活动和同样的生活——一切在不停地变幻,但同时又都是一样。

“现在我认识这广场上的每一棵树,每一朵花!我认识这儿的每一幢房子、每一个阳台和店铺。我被安放在这里一个局促的角落里,弄得一点也看不见这个庄严伟大的城市。凯旋门、林荫路和那个世界的奇观在什么地方呢?这些东西我一点也没有看到!我被关在这些高房子中间,像在一个囚笼里一样。这些房子我现在记得烂熟:这包括它们墙上写的字、招贴、广告和一切画出来的糖果——我对这些东西现在没有任何兴趣。我所听到、知道和渴望的那些东西在什么地方呢?我是为了那些东西到这儿来的呀!我把握了、获得了和找到了什么呢?我仍然是像从前那样在渴望着。我已经触觉到了一种生活,我必须把握住它,我必须过这种生活!我必须走进活生生的人群中去。在人群中跳跃;像鸟儿一样飞,观察,体验,做一个不折不扣的人。我宁愿过半天这样的生活,而不愿在沉闷和单调中度过一生——这种生活使我感到腻烦,感到沉沦,直到最后像草原上的露珠似的消逝了。我要像云块,像生活的阳光一样有光彩,像云块一样能够看见一切东西,像云块一样运行——运行到谁也不知道的地方去!”

这是树精的叹息。这叹息声升到空中,变成一个祈祷:

“请把我一生的岁月拿去吧!我只要求相当于一个蜉蝣的半生的时间!请把我从我的囚笼中释放出来吧!请让我过人的生活吧!哪怕只是一瞬间,只是一夜晚都可以!哪怕我的这种大胆和对生活的渴望会招致惩罚都可以!让我获得自由吧,哪怕我的这个屋子——这棵新鲜而年轻的树——萎谢、凋零、变成灰烬、被风吹得无影无踪都可以!”

树枝发出一阵沙沙的响声。一种痒酥酥的感觉通过它的每一片叶子,使它颤抖,好像它里面藏有火花,或者要迸出火花似的。一阵狂风在树顶上拂过去;正在这时候,一个女子的形体出现了——这是树精。她坐在煤气灯照着的。长满了绿叶的枝子下面,年轻而又美丽,像那个可怜的玛莉一样——人们曾经对这个玛莉说过:“那个大城市将会使你毁灭!”

树精坐在这树的脚下。坐在她屋子的门口——她已经把她的门锁了,而且把钥匙也扔掉了。她是这么年轻,这么美丽!星星看见了她,对她眨着眼睛!煤气灯看见了她,对她微笑,对她招手!她是多么苗条,但同时又是多么健康啊!她是一个孩子,但同时又是一个成年的姑娘。她的衣服像绸子一样柔和,像树顶上的新叶一样碧绿。她的棕色头发上插着一朵半开的栗树花。她的外貌像春天的女神。

她静静坐了一会儿,然后她就跳起来,用羚羊那种轻快的步子,绕过墙脚就不见了。她跑着,跳着,像一面在太阳光里移动着的镜子所射出的光辉。如果一个人能够仔细地观察一下看出实际的情况,他将会感到多么奇异啊!无论什么时候,只要她一停下步子,她的衣服和形体的色调,就会随着她所在的地方的特点和射在她身上的灯光的颜色而变换。

她走上了林荫大道。路灯、店铺和咖啡馆所射出的煤气灯光形成一个光的大海。年轻而瘦削的树在这儿成行地立着,各自保护着自己的树精,使她不要受这些人工阳光的损害。无穷尽的人行道,看起来像一个巨大的餐厅:桌子上摆着各种各样的食品——从香摈酒和荨麻酒一直到咖啡和啤酒。这儿还有花、绘画、雕像、书籍和各种颜色布料的展览。

她从那些高房子下边的人群中,向树下可怕的人潮眺望:急驶的马车,单马拉着的篷车、轿车、公共马车、出租马车,骑马的绅士和前进的军队合起来形成一股浪潮。要想走到对面的人行道上简直是等于冒生命的危险。一会儿灯光变蓝,一会儿煤气灯发出强烈的闪亮,一会儿火箭向高空射去:它是从什么地方来的,射到什么地方去了呢?

的确,这就是世界名城的大马路!

这儿有柔和的意大利音乐,有响板伴奏着的西班牙歌曲。不过那淹没一切的巨大响声是一个八音盘所奏出的流行音乐——这种刺激人的“康康”音乐⑧连奥尔菲斯⑨也不知道,美丽的海伦⑩简直没有听见过。如果独轮车能够跳舞的话,它恐怕也要在它那个独轮子上跳起舞来了。树精在跳舞,在旋转,在飘荡,像阳光中的蜂鸟⑾一样在变换着颜色,因为每一幢房子和它的内部都在她身上反射了出来。

像一棵从根拔断了的鲜艳的莲花在顺水飘流一样,树精也被这人潮卷走了。她每到一个地方就变出一个新的形状;因此谁也没有办法追随她,认出她,甚至观察她。

一切东西像云块所形成的种种幻象,在她身旁飘过去了,但是一张张面孔,哪一个她也不认识:她没有看见过任何一个来自她故乡的人。她的思想中亮着两颗明亮的眼珠:她想起了玛莉——可怜的玛莉!这个黑发上戴着红花的、衣衫槛楼的孩子,她现在就在这个豪华富贵、令人目眩神迷的世界名城里,正如她坐在车子里经过牧师的屋子、树精的树和那棵老栎树的时候一样。

是的,她就在这儿——在这儿震人耳鼓的闹声中。可能她刚刚才从停在那儿的一辆漂亮马车里走出来呢。这些华贵的马车都有穿着整齐制服的马夫和穿着丝袜的仆役。车上走下来的全是些服装华丽的贵妇人。她们走进敞着的格子门,走上宽阔的、通向一个有大理石圆柱的建筑物的高梯。可能这就是“世界的奇观”吧?玛莉一定在这儿!

“圣母玛莉亚!”里面有人在唱着圣诗,香烟在高大的、色彩鲜明的、镀金的拱门下缭绕,造成一种昏暗的气氛。

这是玛德兰教堂。

上流社会的贵妇人,穿着最时兴的料子所做的黑礼服,在光滑的地板上轻轻地走过。族徽在用天鹅绒精装的祈祷书的银扣子上射出来,也在缀有贵重的布鲁塞尔花边的芬芳的丝手帕上露出面。有些人在祭坛面前静静地跪着祈祷,有些人在向忏悔室走去。

树精感到一种不安和恐惧,好像她走进了一个她不应该插足的处所似的。这是一个静寂之家,一个秘密的大殿。一切话语都是用低声、或者在沉默的信任中吐露出来的。

树精把自己用丝绸和面纱打扮起来,在外表上跟别的富贵女子没有两样。她们每人是不是像她一样,也是“渴望”的产儿呢?

这时空中发出一个痛苦的、深沉的叹息声。这是由忏悔室那个角落传来的呢,还是由树精的胸中发出来的?她把面纱拉下一点。她吸了一口教堂的香烟——不是新鲜的空气。这儿不是她渴望的地方。

去吧!去吧!无休无止地飞翔吧!蜉蝣是没有休息的。飞翔就是它的生活!

她又到外面来了;她是在喷泉旁的耀眼的煤气灯下面。“所有的流水都洗不净在这儿流过的、无辜的鲜血。”

她听到了这样一句话。

许多外国人站在这儿高声地、兴高采烈地谈论着。在那个神秘的深宫里——树精就是从那里来的——谁也不敢这样谈话。

一块大石板被翻起来了,而且还被竖起来了。她不了解这件事情;她看到通到地底层的一条宽路。人们从明亮的星空,从太阳似的煤气灯光,从一切活跃的生命中走到这条路上来。

“我害怕这情景!”站在这儿的一个女人说。“我不敢走下去!我也不愿意看那儿的绮丽的景象!请陪着我吧!”

“要回去!”男人说。“离开了巴黎而没有看这最稀奇的东西——一个人凭他的天才和意志所创造出来的、现代的真正奇迹!”

“我不愿意走下去,”这是一个回答。

“现代的奇迹!”人们说。树精听到了这话,也懂得它的意思。她的最大的渴望已经达到了目的。伸向巴黎的地底层的人口就在这儿。她从来没有想到过这事情,但是现在她却听到了,看到许多外国人朝下面走。于是她就跟着他们走。

螺旋形的梯子是铁做的,既宽大,又便利。下面点着一盏灯,更下面一点还有另一盏灯。

这儿简直就是一个迷宫,里面有数不完的大殿和拱形长廊,彼此交叉着。巴黎所有的大街和小巷这儿都可以看得见,好像是在一个模糊的镜子里一样。你可以看到它们的名字;每一幢房子都有一个门牌——它的墙基伸到一条石铺的、空洞的小径上。这条小路沿着一条填满了泥巴的宽运河伸展开去。这上面就是运送清水的引水槽;再上面就悬着网一样的煤气管和电线。远处有许多灯在射出光来,很像这个世界的都市的反影。人们不时可以听到头上有隆隆声;这是桥上开过去的载重车辆。

树精到什么地方去了呢?

你听到过地下的墓窖吧?比起这个地下的新世界,这个现代的奇迹——这些巴黎的暗沟来,它真是小巫见大巫了。树精就在那儿,而不在那个马尔斯广场上的世界展览会里。

她听到惊奇、羡慕和欣赏的欢呼声。

“从这地层的深处,”人们说,“上面成千成万的人获得健康和长寿!我们的时代是一个进步的时代,具有这个时代的一切幸福。”

这是人的意见和言谈,但不是生在这儿和住在这儿的那些生物——耗子——的意见或言谈。它们从一堵旧墙的裂缝里发出吱吱的叫声,非常清楚,连树精都可以听懂。

这是一只很大的公耗子,它的尾巴被咬掉了;它用刺耳的声音把它的情感、痛苦和心里的话都叫出来。它的家族对它所说的每一个字都表示支持。

“我讨厌这些声音,这些人类的胡说八道,这些毫无意义的话语!是的,这儿很漂亮,有煤气,有煤油!但是我不吃这类的东西!这儿现在变得这么清洁和光明,我们不知怎的,不禁对自己感到羞愧起来。我们唯愿活在蜡烛的时代里!那个时代离我们并不很远!那是一个浪漫的时代——人们都这样说。”

“你在讲什么话?”树精说。“我从前并没有看见过你。你在讲些什么东西?”

“我在讲那些过去的好日子,”耗子说,“曾祖父和曾祖母耗子时代的好日子!那时到这地下来才是一件了不起的事情呢。那时的耗子窝比整个的巴黎都好!鼠疫妈妈就住在这儿。她杀死人,却不杀死耗子。强盗和贩私贩子可以在这儿自由呼吸。这儿是许多最有趣的人物的避乱所——现在只有在上面剧院的情节剧中才能看到的那些人物。我们耗子窝里最浪漫的时代也已经过去了;我们这儿现在有了新鲜空气和煤油。”

耗子发出这样吱吱的叫声!它反对新时代,称赞鼠疫妈妈那些过去了的日子。

一辆车子停在这儿,这是由飞快的小马拖着的一种敞篷马车。这一对人坐进去,在地下的塞巴斯托波尔大道上奔驰起来。上面就是那有着同样名字的巴黎大马路,挤满了行人。

马车在稀薄的光中消逝了。树精也升到煤气光中和新鲜自由的空气中消逝了。她不是在地下那些交叉的拱形走廊里和窒息的空气中,而是在这儿看见了世界的奇观——她在这短短的一夜生命中所追寻的奇观。它定会发出比一切煤气灯还要强烈的光来——比从天空滑过去的月亮还要强烈的光来。

是的,一点也不错!她看到它就在那边,它在她面前射出光来。它闪耀着,像天上的太白星。

她看到一个闪光的门,向一个充满了光和舞曲的小花园开着。小而宁静的人造湖和水池边亮着五光十色的煤气灯。用弯弯曲曲的彩色锡箔所剪成的水草反射出闪光,同时从它们的花瓣里喷出一码多高的水来。美丽的垂柳——真正春天的垂柳——垂着它们新鲜的枝条,像一片透明而又能遮面的绿面纱。

在这儿的灌木林中烧起了一堆黄火。它的红色火焰照着一座小巧的、半暗的、静寂的花亭。富有勉力的音乐震荡着耳膜,使血液在人的四肢里激动和奔流。

她看到许多美丽的、盛装华服的年轻女人;这些女人脸上露出天真的微笑和青春的欢乐。还有一位叫做玛莉的姑娘;她头上戴着玫瑰花,但是她却没有马车和车夫。她们在这里尽情地狂舞,飘飞,旋转!好像“塔兰得拉舞”⑿刺激着她们似的,她们跳着,笑着。她们感到说不出地幸福,她们打算拥抱整个的世界。

树精觉得自己不可抗拒地被吸引到这狂舞中去了。她的一双小巧的脚穿着一双绸子做的鞋。鞋的颜色是栗色的,跟飘在她的头发和她的赤裸的肩膀之间的那条缎带的颜色完全是一样。她那绿绸衫有许多大折叠,在空中飘荡,但是遮不住她美丽的腿和纤细的脚。这双脚好像是要在她的舞伴头上绘出神奇的圈子。

难道她是在阿尔米达的魔花园里面吗?这块地方的名字叫什么呢?

外面的煤气灯光中照出这样一个名字:

玛壁尔

音乐的调子、拍掌声、放焰火声、潺潺的水声、开香槟酒的砰膨声,都混在一起,舞跳得像酒醉似的疯狂。在这一切上面是一轮明月——无疑地它做出了一个怪脸。天空是澄静的,没有一点云。人们似乎可以从玛壁尔一直看到天上。

树精全身感到一种使人疲劳的陶醉,好像吸食雅片过后的那种昏沉。

她的眼睛在讲话,她的嘴唇在讲话,但是笛子和提琴的声音把她的话语都淹没了。她的舞伴在她的耳边低语,这低语跟康康舞的音乐节奏在一起颤抖。她听不懂这些私语;我们也听不懂这些私语。他把手向她伸过来,抱着她,但他所抱着的却是透明的、充满了煤气的空气。

气流托着树精浮走了,正如风把一片玫瑰花瓣托着一样。她在高空上,在塔顶上,看到一个火焰,一道闪光。一个亮光从她渴望的目的物上射出来,从马尔斯广场的“海市蜃楼”的灯塔上射出来。春天的微风把她吹向这儿;她绕着这塔飞。工人们以为他们所看到的是一只蝴蝶在下落,在死去——因为它来得太早了。

月亮在照着,煤气灯和灯笼在大厅里,在散在各处的“万国馆”里照着,照着那些起伏的草地和人的智慧所创造的巨石——“无血巨人”使瀑布从这上面倾泻下来。海的深处和淡水的深处——鱼儿的天下——都在这儿展览出来了。你在一个潜水钟里,可以想象自己是在深深的池底,是在海底。水从四面八方向这厚玻璃壁压过来,六英尺多长的珊瑚虫,柔软和弯曲得像鳝鱼一样,抖着它身上的活刺,正在前后蠕动,同时紧紧地贴着海底。

它旁边有一条庞大的比目鱼:这条鱼舒舒服服地躺着,好像有所思的样子。一只螃蟹像一只巨大的蜘蛛在它身上爬;虾子在它周围不停地飞跃,好像它们是海底的蝴蝶和飞蛾。

淡水里长着许多睡莲、菅茅和灯心草。金鱼像田野里的红色母牛一样,都排成队,把头掉向同一个方向,好让水潮能够流进它们的嘴里。又肥又粗的梭鱼呆呆地睁着它们的大眼睛望着玻璃墙。它们都知道,它们现在是在巴黎展览会里。它们也知道,它们曾经在盛满了水的桶里,做过一段很艰苦的旅行;它们曾经在铁路上晕过车,正如人在海上晕船一样。它们是来看这展览会的,而它们也就在它们的淡水或咸水缸里看见了:它们看到人群从早到晚不停地流动。世界各国送来了和展览了他们不同的人种,使这些梭鱼、鲫鱼、活泼的鲈鱼和长满青苔的鲤鱼都能看看这些生物和对这些种族表示一点意见。

“他们全是些有壳的生物!”一条粘糊糊的小鲤鱼说。“他们一天换两三次壳,而且用他们的嘴发出声音——他们把这叫做‘讲话’。我们可是什么也不换,我们有更容易的办法使我们可以互相了解:把嘴角动一下,或者把眼睛瞪一下就得了!我们有许多地方要比人类高明得多!”

“他们可是学会了游泳。”一条小淡水鱼说。“我是从一个大湖里来的。那儿人类在热天里钻进水里去。他们先把壳脱掉,然后再游泳。游泳是青蛙教给他们的。他们用后腿蹬,用前腿划。他们支持不了多久。他们倒很想模仿我们呢,但是他们学得一点也不像。可怜的人类啊!”

鱼儿们都瞪着眼睛。它们以为这儿拥挤着的人群仍然是它们在强烈的阳光里所看到的那些人。是的,它们相信这仍然是那些第一次触动了它们的所谓感觉神经的人形。

一条身上长有美丽的条纹和有一个值得羡慕的肥背的小鲫鱼,说它仍然可以看到“人泥”。

“我也看见了,看得非常清楚!”一条黄鲤鱼说。“我清楚地看到一个身材美丽的人形——一个‘高腿的小姐’——随便你怎样叫她吧。她有我们这样的嘴和一双瞪着的眼睛;她后面有两个气球,前面挂着一把伞,身上叮叮当当悬着一大堆海草。她很想把这些东西都扔掉,像我们一样地回到自然。她很想在人类所及的范围内,做一条有身份的鲤鱼。”

“那个被拉在鱼钩上的人——那个男人——在做些什么呢?”

“他坐在一个轮椅上。他手边有纸、笔和墨水;他把什么都写下来。他在做什么呢?人们把他叫做记者。”

”他仍然坐在轮椅上跑来跑去!”一条全身长满了青苔的鲤鱼老小姐说。她的喉咙里塞满了世界的艰难辛苦,因此她的声音有点嘶哑。她曾有一次吞过一个鱼钩,她仍然把它带在喉咙里很有耐心地游来游去。

“一个记者,”她说,“用鱼的语言讲老实话,那就是人类中间的乌贼⒀!”

鱼儿们都谈出了自己的一套意见。不过在这人造的水晶洞里响起了一片槌子声和工人的歌声。这些工人不得不在夜里做工,好使一切能在最短的时间内完成,他们的歌声在树精的仲夏夜之梦里发出回响——她站在那儿,打算飞翔和消逝。

“这都是金鱼!”她说,同时对它们点点头。“我总算看到你们了!我认识你们!我早就认识你们!燕子在我家里讲过你们的故事。你们是多么美,多么辉煌,多么可爱啊!我可以把你们每一位都吻一下!我也认识别的鱼!这个一定是肥胖的梭鱼,那个一定是美丽的鲫鱼,这儿一定是长满了青苔的老鲤鱼!我认识你们,但是你们却不认识我!”

鱼儿呆呆地望着,一个字也听不懂。它们向那稀薄的微光望着。树精已经不在那儿了。她已经来到外面。从各国运来的“奇花”在这儿发出新鲜的香气——从黑面包的国度来的,从鳄鱼的海岸来的,从产皮革的俄罗斯来的,从德国出产柯龙香水的河岸来的,从产玫瑰花精的东方国度里来的。

晚间的舞会结束以后,我们在半睡的状态中乘着车子回来了。音乐仍然清晰地在我们的耳朵里发出回音;我们仍然可以听见每一个调子;我们可以把它们哼出来。一个被谋害者的眼睛可以把最后一刹那间所看到的东西保留一段时间;同样,白天熙熙攘攘的景象和光彩,也映在夜的眼里。这既不能被吸收,也不能被磨灭。树精感觉到了这一点,她知道,明天的一切情形仍然会这样。树精站在芬芳的玫瑰花中间。她觉得她在故乡就认识这些花儿,这是御花园和牧师花园里的花,她在这儿还看见了鲜红的石榴花——玛莉曾经在她炭一样黑的头发上戴过这样一朵花。

她心中闪过一段回忆——一段在乡下老家所度过的儿时的回忆。她的热望的眼睛把周围的景色望了一下,她感到一阵极度的焦虑不安。这种心情驱使她走过那些壮丽的大厦。

她感到疲倦。这种疲倦的感觉在不停地增长。她很想在那些铺着的垫子和地毯上躺下来,或者在水边的垂柳上靠一靠,并且纵身跳人那清澈的水中——像垂柳的枝条一样。

但是蜉蝣是没有办法休息的。在几分钟以内,这一天就完了。

她的思想颤抖起来,她的肢体也颤抖起来。她躺到潺潺流水旁边的草上。

“你带着永恒的生命从土地里流出来!”她说,“请你使我的舌头感到清凉,请你给我一点提神药吧!”

“我并不是一条活泉水!”泉水说。“我是靠机器的力量流动的!”

“绿草啊,请把你的新鲜气氛赠一点给我吧!”树精要求说。“请给我一朵芬芳的花吧!”

“如果我们被折断了,我们就会死亡!”草和花儿一起说。

“清凉的微风啊,请你吻我吧!我只要一个生命的吻!”

“太阳马上就会把云块吻得绯红!”风儿说。“那时你就会走进死人群中去,消逝了,正如这儿的一切辉煌在这一年没有结束以前就会消逝一样。那时我就又可以跟广场上那些轻微的散沙玩耍,吹起地上的尘土,吹到空气中去——尘土,遍地都是尘土!”

树精感到一阵恐怖。她像一个正在洗浴的女人,把动脉管划开了,不停地流着血,而当她流得正要死的时候,她却仍然希望活下去。她站起来,向前走了几步,最后在一个小教堂面前又倒下来了。门是开着的,祭坛上燃着蜡烛,风琴奏出音乐。

多美的音乐呵!树精从来没有听见过这样的调子,但她在这些调子中似乎听见了熟识的声音。这声音是从一切造物的内心深处发出来的。她觉得她听见了老栎树的萧萧声;她觉得她听到了老牧师在谈论着一些伟大的事迹、驰名的名字,谈论着上帝的造物可以而且能够对未来做些什么贡献,以求自己获得永恒的生命。

风琴的调子在空中盘旋着,用歌声说出这样的话:

“上帝给你一块地方生下根,但你的要求和渴望却使你拔去了你的根。可怜的树精啊,这促使你灭亡!”

柔和的风琴声好像是在哭泣,好像是在泪水中消逝了。

天上露出红云。风儿在呼啸和歌唱:“死者啊,走开吧,太阳出来啦!”

头一道阳光射在树精的身上。她的形体放射出五光十色的光彩,像一个肥皂泡在破裂,消逝、变成一滴水、一滴眼泪——一落到地上就消逝了的眼泪。

可怜的树精啊!一滴露水,一滴眼泪——一流出来就不见了!

太阳照在马尔斯广场的“海市蜃楼”上,照在伟大的巴黎上空,照在有许多树和一个小喷泉的小广场上,照在许多高大的房屋上——这些房屋旁边长着一棵栗树。这树的枝子垂下来了,叶子也枯萎了,但是昨日它还是清新向上。生气勃勃。像春天的化身。大家说它现在已经死了。树精已经离开了,像云块似地不见了——谁也不知道她到什么地方去了。

地上躺着一朵萎谢了的、残破的栗树花。教堂里的圣水没有力量使它恢复生命。人类的脚不一会儿就把它踩进尘土。

这一切都是发生过的事情。

我们亲眼看见过这些事情,在1867年的巴黎展览会里,在我们这个时代,在伟大的、奇异的、童话的时代里看见过这些事情。

①贞德(Jeanne d'Arc,1412~1431)是法国女英雄,曾领导法国人对英国抗战,后来被英国人当做巫婆烧死了。

②夏洛·哥戴(Charlotte Corday,1768~1793)是法国大革命时一个女战士,在法国大革命中谋杀了当时的著名政治家、记者马拉。

③据传说,这个仙女的空中楼阁,就是我们肉眼所见的海市蜃楼。

④阿拉丁是《一千零一夜》中的一个人物。他有一个神灯,他只须把它擦一下,就可以得到他所希望的东西,因此他所住的宫殿非常豪华。

⑤这是位于亚洲和非洲之间的一个游牧民族。

⑥古斯达夫·瓦萨(Gustav Vasa)是瑞典瓦萨王朝(1521~1720)的创始人。达拉尔是瑞典西部的一个地区。这里的人民支持古斯达夫·瓦萨建立这个王朝。

⑦古代的巴别人想建造一座塔通到天上,上帝为了要阻止他们做这件事就使他们的语言混杂起来,使他们无法彼此了解,因而无从协力做完这件工作。“巴别人的语言”形容语言的混杂。事见《圣经·旧约·创世记》第十一章第四至九节。

⑧这是1830年在巴黎舞场流行的一种音乐。

⑨奥尔菲斯(Orpheus)是希腊神话中的有名的歌唱家和音乐师。

⑩古希腊神话一个美人。

⑾蜂鸟(Calibrian)是美洲热带所产的一种燕雀。身体很小,羽毛有光,飞时翅膀发出嗡嗡的声音。

⑿这是意大利那不勒斯的一种土风舞,以动作激烈著称。

⒀乌贼的原文是Blaeksprutte,这是由Blaek和Sprutte两字组成的复合字,有双关意义。照字面讲,是“吐墨水的人”,即“黑良心的造谣者”的意思。

英文版:The Dryad

WE are travelling to Paris to the Exhibition.

Now we are there. That was a journey, a flight without magic. We flew on the wings of steam over the sea and across the land.

Yes, our time is the time of fairy tales.

We are in the midst of Paris, in a great hotel. Blooming flowers ornament the staircases, and soft carpets the floors.

Our room is a very cosy one, and through the open balcony door we have a view of a great square. Spring lives down there; it has come to Paris, and arrived at the same time with us. It has come in the shape of a glorious young chestnut tree, with delicate leaves newly opened. How the tree gleams, dressed in its spring garb, before all the other trees in the place! One of these latter had been struck out of the list of living trees. It lies on the ground with roots exposed. On the place where it stood, the young chestnut tree is to be planted, and to flourish.

It still stands towering aloft on the heavy wagon which has brought it this morning a distance of several miles to Paris. For years it had stood there, in the protection of a mighty oak tree, under which the old venerable clergyman had often sat, with children listening to his stories.

The young chestnut tree had also listened to the stories; for the Dryad who lived in it was a child also. She remembered the time when the tree was so little that it only projected a short way above the grass and ferns around. These were as tall as they would ever be; but the tree grew every year, and enjoyed the air and the sunshine, and drank the dew and the rain. Several times it was also, as it must be, well shaken by the wind and the rain; for that is a part of education.

The Dryad rejoiced in her life, and rejoiced in the sunshine, and the singing of the birds; but she was most rejoiced at human voices; she understood the language of men as well as she understood that of animals.

Butterflies, cockchafers, dragon-flies, everything that could fly came to pay a visit. They could all talk. They told of the village, of the vineyard, of the forest, of the old castle with its parks and canals and ponds. Down in the water dwelt also living beings, which, in their way, could fly under the water from one place to another—beings with knowledge and delineation. They said nothing at all; they were so clever!

And the swallow, who had dived, told about the pretty little goldfish, of the thick turbot, the fat brill, and the old carp. The swallow could describe all that very well, but, “Self is the man,” she said. “One ought to see these things one’s self.” But how was the Dryad ever to see such beings? She was obliged to be satisfied with being able to look over the beautiful country and see the busy industry of men.

It was glorious; but most glorious of all when the old clergyman sat under the oak tree and talked of France, and of the great deeds of her sons and daughters, whose names will be mentioned with admiration through all time.

Then the Dryad heard of the shepherd girl, Joan of Arc, and of Charlotte Corday; she heard about Henry the Fourth, and Napoleon the First; she heard names whose echo sounds in the hearts of the people.

The village children listened attentively, and the Dryad no less attentively; she became a school-child with the rest. In the clouds that went sailing by she saw, picture by picture, everything that she heard talked about. The cloudy sky was her picture-book.

She felt so happy in beautiful France, the fruitful land of genius, with the crater of freedom. But in her heart the sting remained that the bird, that every animal that could fly, was much better off than she. Even the fly could look about more in the world, far beyond the Dryad’s horizon.

France was so great and so glorious, but she could only look across a little piece of it. The land stretched out, world-wide, with vineyards, forests and great cities. Of all these Paris was the most splendid and the mightiest. The birds could get there; but she, never!

Among the village children was a little ragged, poor girl, but a pretty one to look at. She was always laughing or singing and twining red flowers in her black hair.

“Don’t go to Paris!” the old clergyman warned her. “Poor child! if you go there, it will be your ruin.”

But she went for all that.

The Dryad often thought of her; for she had the same wish, and felt the same longing for the great city.

The Dryad’s tree was bearing its first chestnut blossoms; the birds wereround them in the most beautiful sunshine. Then a stately carriage came rolling along that way, and in it sat a grand lady driving the spirited, light-footed horses. On the back seat a little smart groom balanced himself. The Dryad knew the lady, and the old clergyman knew her also. He shook his head gravely when he saw her, and said:

“So you went there after all, and it was your ruin, poor Mary!”

“That one poor?” thought the Dryad. “No; she wears a dress fit for a countess” (she had become one in the city of magic changes). “Oh, if I were only there, amid all the splendor and pomp! They shine up into the very clouds at night; when I look up, I can tell in what direction the town lies.”

Towards that direction the Dryad looked every evening. She saw in the dark night the gleaming cloud on the horizon; in the clear moonlight nights she missed the sailing clouds, which showed her pictures of the city and pictures from history.

The child grasps at the picture-books, the Dryad grasped at the cloud-world, her thought-book. A sudden, cloudless sky was for her a blank leaf; and for several days she had only had such leaves before her.

It was in the warm summer-time: not a breeze moved through the glowing hot days. Every leaf, every flower, lay as if it were torpid, and the people seemed torpid, too.

Then the clouds arose and covered the region round about where the gleaming mist announced “Here lies Paris.”

The clouds piled themselves up like a chain of mountains, hurried on through the air, and spread themselves abroad over the whole landscape, as far as the Dryad’s eye could reach.

Like enormous blue-black blocks of rock, the clouds lay piled over one another. Gleams of lightning shot forth from them.

“These also are the servants of the Lord God,” the old clergyman had said. And there came a bluish dazzling flash of lightning, a lighting up as if of the sun itself, which could burst blocks of rock asunder. The lightning struck and split to the roots the old venerable oak. The crown fell asunder. It seemed as if the tree were stretching forth its arms to clasp the messengers of the light.

No bronze cannon can sound over the land at the birth of a royal child as the thunder sounded at the death of the old oak. The rain streamed down; a refreshing wind was blowing; the storm had gone by, and there was quite a holiday glow on all things. The old clergyman spoke a few words for honorable remembrance, and a painter made a drawing, as a lasting record of the tree.

“Everything passes away,” said the Dryad, “passes away like a cloud, and never comes back!”

The old clergyman, too, did not come back. The green roof of his school was gone, and his teaching-chair had vanished. The children did not come; but autumn came, and winter came, and then spring also. In all this change of seasons the Dryad looked toward the region where, at night, Paris gleamed with its bright mist far on the horizon.

Forth from the town rushed engine after engine, train after train, whistling and screaming at all hours in the day. In the evening, towards midnight, at daybreak, and all the day through, came the trains. Out of each one, and into each one, streamed people from the country of every king. A new wonder of the world had summoned them to Paris.

In what form did this wonder exhibit itself?

“A splendid blossom of art and industry,” said one, “has unfolded itself in the Champ de Mars, a gigantic sunflower, from whose petals one can learn geography and statistics, and can become as wise as a lord mayor, and raise one’s self to the level of art and poetry, and study the greatness and power of the various lands.”

“A fairy tale flower,” said another, “a many-colored lotus-plant, which spreads out its green leaves like a velvet carpet over the sand. The opening spring has brought it forth, the summer will see it in all its splendor, the autumn winds will sweep it away, so that not a leaf, not a fragment of its root shall remain.”

In front of the Military School extends in time of peace the arena of war—a field without a blade of grass, a piece of sandy steppe, as if cut out of the Desert of Africa, where Fata Morgana displays her wondrous airy castles and hanging gardens. In the Champ de Mars, however, these were to be seen more splendid, more wonderful than in the East, for human art had converted the airy deceptive scenes into reality.

“The Aladdin’s Palace of the present has been built,” it was said. “Day by day, hour by hour, it unfolds more of its wonderful splendor.”

The endless halls shine in marble and many colors. “Master Bloodless” here moves his limbs of steel and iron in the great circular hall of machinery. Works of art in metal, in stone, in Gobelins tapestry, announce the vitality of mind that is stirring in every land. Halls of paintings, splendor of flowers, everything that mind and skill can create in the workshop of the artisan, has been placed here for show. Even the memorials of ancient days, out of old graves and turf-moors, have appeared at this general meeting.

The overpowering great variegated whole must be divided into small portions, and pressed together like a plaything, if it is to be understood and described.

Like a great table on Christmas Eve, the Champ de Mars carried a wonder-castle of industry and art, and around this knickknacks from all countries had been ranged, knickknacks on a grand scale, for every nation found some remembrance of home.

Here stood the royal palace of Egypt, there the caravanserai of the desert land. The Bedouin had quitted his sunny country, and hastened by on his camel. Here stood the Russian stables, with the fiery glorious horses of the steppe. Here stood the simple straw-thatched dwelling of the Danish peasant, with the Dannebrog flag, next to Gustavus Vasa’s wooden house from Dalarne, with its wonderful carvings. American huts, English cottages, French pavilions, kiosks, theatres, churches, all strewn around, and between them the fresh green turf, the clear springing water, blooming bushes, rare trees, hothouses, in which one might fancy one’s self transported into the tropical forest; whole gardens brought from Damascus, and blooming under one roof. What colors, what fragrance!

Artificial grottoes surrounded bodies of fresh or salt water, and gave a glimpse into the empire of the fishes; the visitor seemed to wander at the bottom of the sea, among fishes and polypi.

“All this,” they said, “the Champ de Mars offers;” and around the great richly-spread table the crowd of human beings moves like a busy swarm of ants, on foot or in little carriages, for not all feet are equal to such a fatiguing journey.

Hither they swarm from morning till late in the evening. Steamer after steamer, crowded with people, glides down the Seine. The number of carriages is continually on the increase. The swarm of people on foot and on horseback grows more and more dense. Carriages and omnibuses are crowded, stuffed and embroidered with people. All these tributary streams flow in one direction—towards the Exhibition. On every entrance the flag of France is displayed; around the world’s bazaar wave the flags of all nations. There is a humming and a murmuring from the hall of the machines; from the towers the melody of the chimes is heard; with the tones of the organs in the churches mingle the hoarse nasal songs from the cafés of the East. It is a kingdom of Babel, a wonder of the world!

In very truth it was. That’s what all the reports said, and who did not hear them? The Dryad knew everything that is told here of the new wonder in the city of cities.

“Fly away, ye birds! fly away to see, and then come back and tell me,” said the Dryad.

The wish became an intense desire—became the one thought of a life. Then, in the quiet silent night, while the full moon was shining, the Dryad saw a spark fly out of the moon’s disc, and fall like a shooting star. And before the tree, whose leaves waved to and fro as if they were stirred by a tempest, stood a noble, mighty, and grand figure. In tones that were at once rich and strong, like the trumpet of the Last Judgment bidding farewell to life and summoning to the great account, it said:

“Thou shalt go to the city of magic; thou shalt take root there, and enjoy the mighty rushing breezes, the air and the sunshine there. But the time of thy life shall then be shortened; the line of years that awaited thee here amid the free nature shall shrink to but a small tale. Poor Dryad! It shall be thy destruction. Thy yearning and longing will increase, thy desire will grow more stormy, the tree itself will be as a prison to thee, thou wilt quit thy cell and give up thy nature to fly out and mingle among men. Then the years that would have belonged to thee will be contracted to half the span of the ephemeral fly, that lives but a day: one night, and thy life-taper shall be blown out—the leaves of the tree will wither and be blown away, to become green never again!”

Thus the words sounded. And the light vanished away, but not the longing of the Dryad. She trembled in the wild fever of expectation.

“I shall go there!” she cried, rejoicingly. “Life is beginning and swells like a cloud; nobody knows whither it is hastening.”

When the gray dawn arose and the moon turned pale and the clouds were tinted red, the wished-for hour struck. The words of promise were fulfilled.

People appeared with spades and poles; they dug round the roots of the tree, deeper and deeper, and beneath it. A wagon was brought out, drawn by many horses, and the tree was lifted up, with its roots and the lumps of earth that adhered to them; matting was placed around the roots, as though the tree had its feet in a warm bag. And now the tree was lifted on the wagon and secured with chains. The journey began—the journey to Paris. There the tree was to grow as an ornament to the city of French glory.

The twigs and the leaves of the chestnut tree trembled in the first moments of its being moved; and the Dryad trembled in the pleasurable feeling of expectation.

“Away! away!” it sounded in every beat of her pulse. “Away! away” sounded in words that flew trembling along. The Dryad forgot to bid farewell to the regions of home; she thought not of the waving grass and of the innocent daisies, which had looked up to her as to a great lady, a young Princess playing at being a shepherdess out in the open air.

The chestnut tree stood upon the wagon, and nodded his branches; whether this meant “farewell” or “forward,” the Dryad knew not; she dreamed only of the marvellous new things, that seemed yet so familiar, and that were to unfold themselves before her. No child’s heart rejoicing in innocence—no heart whose blood danced with passion—had set out on the journey to Paris more full of expectation than she.

Her “farewell” sounded in the words “Away! away!”

The wheels turned; the distant approached; the present vanished. The region was changed, even as the clouds change. New vineyards, forests, villages, villas appeared—came nearer—vanished!

The chestnut tree moved forward, and the Dryad went with it. Steam-engine after steam-engine rushed past, sending up into the air vapory clouds, that formed figures which told of Paris, whence they came, and whither the Dryad was going.

Everything around knew it, and must know whither she was bound. It seemed to her as if every tree she passed stretched out its leaves towards her, with the prayer—“Take me with you! take me with you!” for every tree enclosed a longing Dryad.

What changes during this flight! Houses seemed to be rising out of the earth—more and more—thicker and thicker. The chimneys rose like flower-pots ranged side by side, or in rows one above the other, on the roofs. Great inscriptions in letters a yard long, and figures in various colors, covering the walls from cornice to basement, came brightly out.

“Where does Paris begin, and when shall I be there?” asked the Dryad.

The crowd of people grew; the tumult and the bustle increased; carriage followed upon carriage; people on foot and people on horseback were mingled together; all around were shops on shops, music and song, crying and talking.

The Dryad, in her tree, was now in the midst of Paris. The great heavy wagon all at once stopped on a little square planted with trees. The high houses around had all of them balconies to the windows, from which the inhabitants looked down upon the young fresh chestnut tree, which was coming to be planted here as a substitute for the dead tree that lay stretched on the ground.

The passers-by stood still and smiled in admiration of its pure vernal freshness. The older trees, whose buds were still closed, whispered with their waving branches, “Welcome! welcome!” The fountain, throwing its jet of water high up in the air, to let it fall again in the wide stone basin, told the wind to sprinkle the new-comer with pearly drops, as if it wished to give him a refreshing draught to welcome him.

The Dryad felt how her tree was being lifted from the wagon to be placed in the spot where it was to stand. The roots were covered with earth, and fresh turf was laid on top. Blooming shrubs and flowers in pots were ranged around; and thus a little garden arose in the square.

The tree that had been killed by the fumes of gas, the steam of kitchens, and the bad air of the city, was put upon the wagon and driven away. The passers-by looked on. Children and old men sat upon the bench, and looked at the green tree. And we who are telling this story stood upon a balcony, and looked down upon the green spring sight that had been brought in from the fresh country air, and said, what the old clergyman would have said, “Poor Dryad!”

“I am happy! I am happy!” the Dryad cried, rejoicing; “and yet I cannot realize, cannot describe what I feel. Everything is as I fancied it, and yet as I did not fancy it.”

The houses stood there, so lofty, so close! The sunlight shone on only one of the walls, and that one was stuck over with bills and placards, before which the people stood still; and this made a crowd.

Carriages rushed past, carriages rolled past; light ones and heavy ones mingled together. Omnibuses, those over-crowded moving houses, came rattling by; horsemen galloped among them; even carts and wagons asserted their rights.

The Dryad asked herself if these high-grown houses, which stood so close around her, would not remove and take other shapes, like the clouds in the sky, and draw aside, so that she might cast a glance into Paris, and over it. Notre Dame must show itself, the Vendme Column, and the wondrous building which had called and was still calling so many strangers to the city.

But the houses did not stir from their places. It was yet day when the lamps were lit. The gas-jets gleamed from the shops, and shone even into the branches of the trees, so that it was like sunlight in summer. The stars above made their appearance, the same to which the Dryad had looked up in her home. She thought she felt a clear pure stream of air which went forth from them. She felt herself lifted up and strengthened, and felt an increased power of seeing through every leaf and through every fibre of the root. Amid all the noise and the turmoil, the colors and the lights, she knew herself watched by mild eyes.

From the side streets sounded the merry notes of fiddles and wind instruments. Up! to the dance, to the dance! to jollity and pleasure! that was their invitation. Such music it was, that horses, carriages, trees, and houses would have danced, if they had known how. The charm of intoxicating delight filled the bosom of the Dryad.

“How glorious, how splendid it is!” she cried, rejoicingly. “Now I am in Paris!”

The next day that dawned, the next night that fell, offered the same spectacle, similar bustle, similar life; changing, indeed, yet always the same; and thus it went on through the sequence of days.

“Now I know every tree, every flower on the square here! I know every house, every balcony, every shop in this narrow cut-off corner, where I am denied the sight of this great mighty city. Where are the arches of triumph, the Boulevards, the wondrous building of the world? I see nothing of all this. As if shut up in a cage, I stand among the high houses, which I now know by heart, with their inscriptions, signs, and placards; all the painted confectionery, that is no longer to my taste. Where are all the things of which I heard, for which I longed, and for whose sake I wanted to come hither? what have I seized, found, won? I feel the same longing I felt before; I feel that there is a life I should wish to grasp and to experience. I must go out into the ranks of living men, and mingle among them. I must fly about like a bird. I must see and feel, and become human altogether. I must enjoy the one half-day, instead of vegetating for years in every-day sameness and weariness, in which I become ill, and at last sink and disappear like the dew on the meadows. I will gleam like the cloud, gleam in the sunshine of life, look out over the whole like the cloud, and pass away like it, no one knoweth whither.”

Thus sighed the Dryad; and she prayed:

“Take from me the years that were destined for me, and give me but half of the life of the ephemeral fly! Deliver me from my prison! Give me human life, human happiness, only a short span, only the one night, if it cannot be otherwise; and then punish me for my wish to live, my longing for life! Strike me out of thy list. Let my shell, the fresh young tree, wither, or be hewn down, and burnt to ashes, and scattered to all the winds!”

A rustling went through the leaves of the tree; there was a trembling in each of the leaves; it seemed as if fire streamed through it. A gust of wind shook its green crown, and from the midst of that crown a female figure came forth. In the same moment she was sitting beneath the brightly-illuminated leafy branches, young and beautiful to behold, like poor Mary, to whom the clergyman had said, “The great city will be thy destruction.”

The Dryad sat at the foot of the tree—at her house door, which she had locked, and whose key had thrown away. So young! so fair! The stars saw her, and blinked at her. The gas-lamps saw her, and gleamed and beckoned to her. How delicate she was, and yet how blooming!—a child, and yet a grown maiden! Her dress was fine as silk, green as the freshly-opened leaves on the crown of the tree; in her nut-brown hair clung a half-opened chestnut blossom. She looked like the Goddess of Spring.

For one short minute she sat motionless; then she sprang up, and, light as a gazelle, she hurried away. She ran and sprang like the reflection from the mirror that, carried by the sunshine, is cast, now here, now there. Could any one have followed her with his eyes, he would have seen how marvellously her dress and her form changed, according to the nature of the house or the place whose light happened to shine upon her.

She reached the Boulevards. Here a sea of light streamed forth from the gas-flames of the lamps, the shops and the cafés. Here stood in a row young and slender trees, each of which concealed its Dryad, and gave shade from the artificial sunlight. The whole vast pavement was one great festive hall, where covered tables stood laden with refreshments of all kinds, from champagne and Chartreuse down to coffee and beer. Here was an exhibition of flowers, statues, books, and colored stuffs.

From the crowd close by the lofty houses she looked forth over the terrific stream beyond the rows of trees. Yonder heaved a stream of rolling carriages, cabriolets, coaches, omnibuses, cabs, and among them riding gentlemen and marching troops. To cross to the opposite shore was an undertaking fraught with danger to life and limb. Now lanterns shed their radiance abroad; now the gas had the upper hand; suddenly a rocket rises! Whence? Whither?

Here are sounds of soft Italian melodies; yonder, Spanish songs are sung, accompanied by the rattle of the castanets; but strongest of all, and predominating over the rest, the street-organ tunes of the moment, the exciting “Can-Can” music, which Orpheus never knew, and which was never heard by the “Belle Helénè.” Even the barrow was tempted to hop upon one of its wheels.

The Dryad danced, floated, flew, changing her color every moment, like a humming-bird in the sunshine; each house, with the world belonging to it, gave her its own reflections.

As the glowing lotus-flower, torn from its stem, is carried away by the stream, so the Dryad drifted along. Whenever she paused, she was another being, so that none was able to follow her, to recognize her, or to look more closely at her.

Like cloud-pictures, all things flew by her. She looked into a thousand faces, but not one was familiar to her; she saw not a single form from home. Two bright eyes had remained in her memory. She thought of Mary, poor Mary, the ragged merry child, who wore the red flowers in her black hair. Mary was now here, in the world-city, rich and magnificent as in that day when she drove past the house of the old clergyman, and past the tree of the Dryad, the old oak.

Here she was certainly living, in the deafening tumult. Perhaps she had just stepped out of one of the gorgeous carriages in waiting. Handsome equipages, with coachmen in gold braid and footmen in silken hose, drove up. The people who alighted from them were all richly-dressed ladies. They went through the opened gate, and ascended the broad staircase that led to a building resting on marble pillars. Was this building, perhaps, the wonder of the world? There Mary would certainly be found.

“Sancta Maria!” resounded from the interior. Incense floated through the lofty painted and gilded aisles, where a solemn twilight reigned.

It was the Church of the Madeleine.

Clad in black garments of the most costly stuffs, fashioned according to the latest mode, the rich feminine world of Paris glided across the shining pavement. The crests of the proprietors were engraved on silver shields on the velvet-bound prayer-books, and embroidered in the corners of perfumed handkerchiefs bordered with Brussels lace. A few of the ladies were kneeling in silent prayer before the altars; others resorted to the confessionals.

Anxiety and fear took possession of the Dryad; she felt as if she had entered a place where she had no right to be. Here was the abode of silence, the hall of secrets. Everything was said in whispers, every word was a mystery.

The Dryad saw herself enveloped in lace and silk, like the women of wealth and of high birth around her. Had, perhaps, every one of them a longing in her breast, like the Dryad?

A deep, painful sigh was heard. Did it escape from some confessional in a distant corner, or from the bosom of the Dryad? She drew the veil closer around her; she breathed incense, and not the fresh air. Here was not the abiding-place of her longing.

Away! away—a hastening without rest. The ephemeral fly knows not repose, for her existence is flight.

She was out again among the gas candelabra, by a magnificent fountain.

“All its streaming waters are not able to wash out the innocent blood that was spilt here.”

Such were the words spoken. Strangers stood around, carrying on a lively conversation, such as no one would have dared to carry on in the gorgeous hall of secrets whence the Dryad came.

A heavy stone slab was turned and then lifted. She did not understand why. She saw an opening that led into the depths below. The strangers stepped down, leaving the starlit air and the cheerful life of the upper world behind them.

“I am afraid,” said one of the women who stood around, to her husband, “I cannot venture to go down, nor do I care for the wonders down yonder. You had better stay here with me.”

“Indeed, and travel home,” said the man, “and quit Paris without having seen the most wonderful thing of all—the real wonder of the present period, created by the power and resolution of one man!”

“I will not go down for all that,” was the reply.

“The wonder of the present time,” it had been called. The Dryad had heard and had understood it. The goal of her ardent longing had thus been reached, and here was the entrance to it. Down into the depths below Paris? She had not thought of such a thing; but now she heard it said, and saw the strangers descending, and went after them.

The staircase was of cast iron, spiral, broad and easy. Below there burned a lamp, and farther down, another. They stood in a labyrinth of endless halls and arched passages, all communicating with each other. All the streets and lanes of Paris were to be seen here again, as in a dim reflection. The names were painted up; and every, house above had its number down here also, and struck its roots under the macadamized quays of a broad canal, in which the muddy water flowed onward. Over it the fresh streaming water was carried on arches; and quite at the top hung the tangled net of gas-pipes and telegraph-wires.

In the distance lamps gleamed, like a reflection from the world-city above. Every now and then a dull rumbling was heard. This came from the heavy wagons rolling over the entrance bridges.

Whither had the Dryad come?

You have, no doubt, heard of the CATACOMBS? Now they are vanishing points in that new underground world—that wonder of the present day—the sewers of Paris. The Dryad was there, and not in the world’s Exhibition in the Champ de Mars.

She heard exclamations of wonder and admiration.

“From here go forth health and life for thousands upon thousands up yonder! Our time is the time of progress, with its manifold blessings.”

Such was the opinion and the speech of men; but not of those creatures who had been born here, and who built and dwelt here—of the rats, namely, who were squeaking to one another in the clefts of a crumbling wall, quite plainly, and in a way the Dryad understood well.

A big old Father-Rat, with his tail bitten off, was relieving his feelings in loud squeaks; and his family gave their tribute of concurrence to every word he said:

“I am disgusted with this man-mewing,” he cried—“with these outbursts of ignorance. A fine magnificence, truly! all made up of gas and petroleum! I can’t eat such stuff as that. Everything here is so fine and bright now, that one’s ashamed of one’s self, without exactly knowing why. Ah, if we only lived in the days of tallow candles! and it does not lie so very far behind us. That was a romantic time, as one may say.”

“What are you talking of there?” asked the Dryad. “I have never seen you before. What is it you are talking about?”

“Of the glorious days that are gone,” said the Rat—“of the happy time of our great-grandfathers and great-grandmothers. Then it was a great thing to get down here. That was a rat’s nest quite different from Paris. Mother Plague used to live here then; she killed people, but never rats. Robbers and smugglers could breathe freely here. Here was the meeting-place of the most interesting personages, whom one now only gets to see in the theatres where they act melodrama, up above. The time of romance is gone even in our rat’s nest; and here also fresh air and petroleum have broken in.”

A carriage stopped, a kind of open omnibus, drawn by swift horses. The company mounted and drove away along the Boulevard de Sebastopol, that is to say, the underground boulevard, over which the well-known crowded street of that name extended.

The carriage disappeared in the twilight; the Dryad disappeared, lifted to the cheerful freshness above. Here, and not below in the vaulted passages, filled with heavy air, the wonder work must be found which she was to seek in her short lifetime. It must gleam brighter than all the gas-flames, stronger than the moon that was just gliding past.

Yes, certainly, she saw it yonder in the distance, it gleamed before her, and twinkled and glittered like the evening star in the sky.

She saw a glittering portal open, that led to a little garden, where all was brightness and dance music. Colored lamps surrounded little lakes, in which were water-plants of colored metal, from whose flowers jets of water spurted up. Beautiful weeping willows, real products of spring, hung their fresh branches over these lakes like a fresh, green, transparent, and yet screening veil. In the bushes burnt an open fire, throwing a red twilight over the quiet huts of branches, into which the sounds of music penetrated—an ear tickling, intoxicating music, that sent the blood coursing through the veins.

Beautiful girls in festive attire, with pleasant smiles on their lips, and the light spirit of youth in their hearts—“Marys,” with roses in their hair, but without carriage and postilion—flitted to and fro in the wild dance.

Where were the heads, where the feet? As if stung by tarantulas, they sprang, laughed, rejoiced, as if in their ecstacies they were going to embrace all the world.

The Dryad felt herself torn with them into the whirl of the dance. Round her delicate foot clung the silken boot, chestnut brown in color, like the ribbon that floated from her hair down upon her bare shoulders. The green silk dress waved in large folds, but did not entirely hide the pretty foot and ankle.

Had she come to the enchanted Garden of Armida? What was the name of the place?

The name glittered in gas-jets over the entrance. It was “Mabille.”

The soaring upwards of rockets, the splashing of fountains, and the popping of champagne corks accompanied the wild bacchantic dance. Over the whole glided the moon through the air, clear, but with a somewhat crooked face.

A wild joviality seemed to rush through the Dryad, as though she were intoxicated with opium. Her eyes spoke, her lips spoke, but the sound of violins and of flutes drowned the sound of her voice. Her partner whispered words to her which she did not understand, nor do we understand them. He stretched out his arms to draw her to him, but he embraced only the empty air.

The Dryad had been carried away, like a rose-leaf on the wind. Before her she saw a flame in the air, a flashing light high up on a tower. The beacon light shone from the goal of her longing, shone from the red lighthouse tower of the Fata Morgana of the Champ de Mars. Thither she was carried by the wind. She circled round the tower; the workmen thought it was a butterfly that had come too early, and that now sank down dying.

The moon shone bright, gas-lamps spread light around, through the halls, over the all-world’s buildings scattered about, over the rose-hills and the rocks produced by human ingenuity, from which waterfalls, driven by the power of “Master Bloodless,” fell down. The caverns of the sea, the depths of the lakes, the kingdom of the fishes were opened here. Men walked as in the depths of the deep pond, and held converse with the sea, in the diving-bell of glass. The water pressed against the strong glass walls above and on every side. The polypi, eel-like living creatures, had fastened themselves to the bottom, and stretched out arms, fathoms long, for prey. A big turbot was making himself broad in front, quietly enough, but not without casting some suspicious glances aside. A crab clambered over him, looking like a gigantic spider, while the shrimps wandered about in restless haste, like the butterflies and moths of the sea.

In the fresh water grew water-lilies, nymphaea, and reeds; the gold-fishes stood up below in rank and file, all turning their heads one way, that the streaming water might flow into their mouths. Fat carps stared at the glass wall with stupid eyes. They knew that they were here to be exhibited, and that they had made the somewhat toilsome journey hither in tubs filled with water; and they thought with dismay of the land-sickness from which they had suffered so cruelly on the railway.

They had come to see the Exhibition, and now contemplated it from their fresh or salt-water position. They looked attentively at the crowds of people who passed by them early and late. All the nations in the world, they thought, had made an exhibition of their inhabitants, for the edification of the soles and haddocks, pike and carp, that they might give their opinions upon the different kinds.

“Those are scaly animals” said a little slimy Whiting. “They put on different scales two or three times a day, and they emit sounds which they call speaking. We don’t put on scales, and we make ourselves understood in an easier way, simply by twitching the corners of our mouths and staring with our eyes. We have a great many advantages over mankind.”

“But they have learned swimming of us,” remarked a well-educated Codling. “You must know I come from the great sea outside. In the hot time of the year the people yonder go into the water; first they take off their scales, and then they swim. They have learnt from the frogs to kick out with their hind legs, and row with their fore paws. But they cannot hold out long. They want to be like us, but they cannot come up to us. Poor people!”

And the fishes stared. They thought that the whole swarm of people whom they had seen in the bright daylight were still moving around them; they were certain they still saw the same forms that had first caught their attention.

A pretty Barbel, with spotted skin, and an enviably round back, declared that the “human fry” were still there.

“I can see a well set-up human figure quite well,” said the Barbel. “She was called ‘contumacious lady,’ or something of that kind. She had a mouth and staring eyes, like ours, and a great balloon at the back of her head, and something like a shut-up umbrella in front; there were a lot of dangling bits of seaweed hanging about her. She ought to take all the rubbish off, and go as we do; then she would look something like a respectable barbel, so far as it is possible for a person to look like one!”

“What’s become of that one whom they drew away with the hook? He sat on a wheel-chair, and had paper, and pen, and ink, and wrote down everything. They called him a ‘writer.’”

“They’re going about with him still,” said a hoary old maid of a Carp, who carried her misfortune about with her, so that she was quite hoarse. In her youth she had once swallowed a hook, and still swam patiently about with it in her gullet. “A writer? That means, as we fishes describe it, a kind of cuttle or ink-fish among men.”

Thus the fishes gossipped in their own way; but in the artificial water-grotto the laborers were busy; who were obliged to take advantage of the hours of night to get their work done by daybreak. They accompanied with blows of their hammers and with songs the parting words of the vanishing Dryad.

“So, at any rate, I have seen you, you pretty gold-fishes,” she said. “Yes, I know you;” and she waved her hand to them. “I have known about you a long time in my home; the swallow told me about you. How beautiful you are! how delicate and shining! I should like to kiss every one of you. You others, also. I know you all; but you do not know me.”

The fishes stared out into the twilight. They did not understand a word of it.

The Dryad was there no longer. She had been a long time in the open air, where the different countries—the country of black bread, the codfish coast, the kingdom of Russia leather, and the banks of eau-de-Cologne, and the gardens of rose oil—exhaled their perfumes from the world-wonder flower.

When, after a night at a ball, we drive home half asleep and half awake, the melodies still sound plainly in our ears; we hear them, and could sing them all from memory. When the eye of the murdered man closes, the picture of what it saw last clings to it for a time like a photographic picture.

So it was likewise here. The bustling life of day had not yet disappeared in the quiet night. The Dryad had seen it; she knew, thus it will be repeated tomorrow.

The Dryad stood among the fragrant roses, and thought she knew them, and had seen them in her own home. She also saw red pomegranate flowers, like those that little Mary had worn in her dark hair.

Remembrances from the home of her childhood flashed through her thoughts; her eyes eagerly drank in the prospect around, and feverish restlessness chased her through the wonder-filled halls.

A weariness that increased continually, took possession of her. She felt a longing to rest on the soft Oriental carpets within, or to lean against the weeping willow without by the clear water. But for the ephemeral fly there was no rest. In a few moments the day had completed its circle.

Her thoughts trembled, her limbs trembled, she sank down on the grass by the bubbling water.

“Thou wilt ever spring living from the earth,” she said mournfully. “Moisten my tongue—bring me a refreshing draught.”

“I am no living water,” was the answer. “I only spring upward when the machine wills it.”

“Give me something of thy freshness, thou green grass,” implored the Dryad; “give me one of thy fragrant flowers.”

“We must die if we are torn from our stalks,” replied the Flowers and the Grass.

“Give me a kiss, thou fresh stream of air—only a single life-kiss.”

“Soon the sun will kiss the clouds red,” answered the Wind; “then thou wilt be among the dead—blown away, as all the splendor here will be blown away before the year shall have ended. Then I can play again with the light loose sand on the place here, and whirl the dust over the land and through the air. All is dust!”

The Dryad felt a terror like a woman who has cut asunder her pulse-artery in the bath, but is filled again with the love of life, even while she is bleeding to death. She raised herself, tottered forward a few steps, and sank down again at the entrance to a little church. The gate stood open, lights were burning upon the altar, and the organ sounded.

What music! Such notes the Dryad had never yet heard; and yet it seemed to her as if she recognized a number of well-known voices among them. They came deep from the heart of all creation. She thought she heard the stories of the old clergyman, of great deeds, and of the celebrated names, and of the gifts that the creatures of God must bestow upon posterity, if they would live on in the world.

The tones of the organ swelled, and in their song there sounded these words:

“Thy wishing and thy longing have torn thee, with thy roots, from the place which God appointed for thee. That was thy destruction, thou poor Dryad!”

The notes became soft and gentle, and seemed to die away in a wail.

In the sky the clouds showed themselves with a ruddy gleam. The Wind sighed:

“Pass away, ye dead! now the sun is going to rise!”

The first ray fell on the Dryad. Her form was irradiated in changing colors, like the soap-bubble when it is bursting and becomes a drop of water; like a tear that falls and passes away like a vapor.

Poor Dryad! Only a dew-drop, only a tear, poured upon the earth, and vanished away!

文章来源:安徒生童话

还记得那段神话故事吗?还记得那份令人感动的精神吗?正义的力量赋予了神话一个坚硬无比的灵魂。神话,在很远很远的地方,走过很远很远的旅程,送来了整整一个“曾经”。

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