The garden of paradise


Paradisets have

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

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

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

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

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

"Where are your sons?" asked the prince.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

"Whence do you come?" asked the mother.

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

"What were you doing there?"

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

"Of course I have," said the prince.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

"I will remain," said the prince.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

"And there he will have to go at last," said a strong old man, with large black wings, and a scythe in his hand, whose name was Death. "He shall be laid in his coffin, but not yet. I will allow him to wander about the world for a while, to atone for his sin, and to give him time to become better. But I shall return when he least expects me. I shall lay him in a black coffin, place it on my head, and fly away with it beyond the stars. There also blooms a garden of paradise, and if he is good and pious he will be admitted; but if his thoughts are bad, and his heart is full of sin, he will sink with his coffin deeper than the garden of paradise has sunk. Once in every thousand years I shall go and fetch him, when he will either be condemned to sink still deeper, or be raised to a happier life in the world beyond the stars."
Der var en kongesøn, ingen havde så mange og så smukke bøger som han; alt hvad der var sket i denne verden kunne han læse sig til og se afbildet i prægtige billeder. Hvert folk og hvert land kunne han få besked om, men hvor Paradisets have var at finde, derom stod der ikke et ord; og den, just den var det, han tænkte mest på.

Hans bedstemoder havde fortalt ham, da han endnu var ganske lille, men skulle begynde sin skolegang, at hver blomst i Paradisets have var den sødeste kage, støvtrådene den fineste vin; på en stod historie, på en anden geografi eller tabeller, man behøvede kun at spise kage, så kunne man sin lektie; jo mere man spiste, des mere fik man ind af historie, geografi og tabeller.

Det troede han dengang; men alt, som han blev en større dreng, lærte mere og blev langt klogere, begreb han nok, at der måtte være en langt anderledes dejlighed i Paradisets have.

"Oh, hvorfor brød dog Eva af Kundskabens træ! hvorfor spiste Adam af den forbudne frugt! det skulle have været mig, da var det ikke sket! aldrig skulle synden være kommen ind i verden!"

Det sagde han dengang, og det sagde han endnu, da han var sytten år! Paradisets have fyldte hele hans tanke.

En dag gik han i skoven; han gik alene, for det var hans største fornøjelse.

Aftnen faldt på, skyerne trak sammen, det blev et regnvejr, som om hele himlen var en eneste sluse, hvorfra vandet styrtede; der var så mørkt, som det ellers er om natten i den dybeste brønd. Snart gled han i det våde græs, snart faldt han over de nøgne sten, der ragede frem fra klippegrunden. Alt drev af vand, der blev ikke en tør tråd på den stakkels prins. Han måtte kravle op over store stenblokke, hvor vandet sivede ud af det høje mos. Han var ved at segne om; da hørte han en forunderlig susen, og foran sig så han en stor, oplyst hule. Midt inde brændte en ild, så man kunne stege en hjort derved, og det blev der også; den prægtigste hjort, med sine høje takker, var stukket på spid og drejedes langsomt rundt mellem to omhuggede grantræer. En gammelagtig kone, høj og stærk, som var hun et udklædt mandfolk, sad ved ilden, og kastede det ene stykke brænde til efter det andet.

"Kom du kun nærmere!" sagde hun, "sæt dig ved ilden at du kan få dine klæder tørret!"

"Her er en slem træk!" sagde prinsen og satte sig på gulvet.

"Det bliver værre endnu, når mine sønner kommer hjem!" svarede konen. "Du er her i vindenes hule, mine sønner er verdens de fire vinde, kan du forstå det?"

"Hvor er dine sønner?" spurgte prinsen.

"Ja, det er ikke godt at svare, når man spørger dumt," sagde konen. "Mine sønner er på egen hånd, de spiller langbold med skyerne deroppe i storstuen!" og så pegede hun op i vejret.

"Nå så!" sagde prinsen. "I taler ellers noget hårdt og er ikke så mild, som de fruentimmere, jeg ellers ser omkring mig!"

"Ja, de har nok ikke andet at gøre! Jeg må være hård, skal jeg holde mine drenge i ave! men det kan jeg, skønt de har stive nakker! ser du de fire sække, der hænger på væggen; dem er de lige så bange for, som du har været det for riset bag spejlet. Jeg kan bukke drengene sammen, skal jeg sige dig, og så kommer de i posen; dér gør vi ingen omstændigheder! dér sidder de og kommer ikke ud at føjte, før jeg finder for godt. Men der har vi den ene!"

Det var Nordenvinden, som trådte ind med en isnende kulde, store hagl hoppede hen ad gulvet, og snefnuggene fygede rundt om. Han var klædt i bjørneskindsbukser og trøje; en hætte af sælhundeskind gik ned over ørene; lange istapper hang ham ved skægget, og det ene hagl efter det andet gled ham ned fra trøjekraven.

"Gå ikke straks til ilden!" sagde prinsen. "De kan så let få frost i ansigtet og hænderne!"

"Frost!" sagde Nordenvinden og lo ganske højt. "Frost! det er just min største fornøjelse! Hvad er ellers du for et skrinkelben! Hvor kommer du i vindenes hule!"

"Han er min gæst!" sagde den gamle, "og er du ikke fornøjet med den forklaring, så kan du komme i posen! - Nu kender du min dømmekraft!"

Se det hjalp, og Nordenvinden fortalte hvorfra han kom, og hvor han nu havde været næsten en hel måned.

"Fra Polarhavet kommer jeg," sagde han, "jeg har været på 'Beeren-Eiland' med de russiske hvalrosfangere. Jeg sad og sov på roret, da de sejlede ud fra Nordkap! når jeg imellem vågnede lidt, fløj stormfuglen mig om benene! det er en løjerlig fugl, den gør et rask slag med vingerne og så holder den dem ubevægelig udstrakt og har da fart nok."

"Gør det bare ikke så vidtløftigt!" sagde vindenes moder. "Og så kom du da til Beeren-Eiland!"

"Der er dejligt! det er et gulv til at danse på, fladt, som en tallerken! halvtøet sne med lidt mos, skarpe sten og benrade af hvalrosser og isbjørne lå der, de så ud som kæmpers arme og ben, med muggen grønhed. Man skulle tro, at Solen aldrig havde lyst på dem. Jeg pustede lidt til tågen for at man kunne se skuret: Det var et hus, rejst af vrag og betrukket med hvalroshud; kødsiden vendte ud, den var fuld af rødt og grønt; på taget sad en levende isbjørn og brummede. Jeg gik til stranden, så på fuglerederne, så på de nøgne unger, der skreg og gabede; da blæste jeg ned i de tusinde struber, og de lærte at lukke munden. Nederst væltede sig hvalrosserne, som levende indvolde eller kæmpemaddiker med svinehoveder og alenlange tænder!" -

"Du fortæller godt, min dreng!" sagde moderen. "Jeg får vandet i munden ved at høre på dig!"

"Så gik det på fangst! Harpunen blev sat i hvalrossens bryst, så den dampende blodstråle stod som et springvand over isen. Da tænkte jeg også på mit spil! jeg blæste op, lod mine sejlere, de klippehøje isfjelde, klemme bådene inde; huj hvor man peb, og hvor man skreg, men jeg peb højere! de døde hvalkroppe, kister og tovværk måtte de pakke ud på isen! jeg rystede snefnuggene om dem og lod dem i de indeklemte fartøjer drive syd på med fangsten, for der at smage saltvand. De kommer aldrig mere til Beeren-Eiland!"

"Så har du jo gjort ondt!" sagde vindenes moder.

"Hvad godt jeg har gjort, kan de andre fortælle!" sagde han, "men der har vi min broder fra vesten, ham kan jeg bedst lide af dem alle sammen, han smager af søen og har en velsignet kulde med sig!"

"Er det den lille Zefyr?" spurgte prinsen.

"Ja vist er det Zefyr!" sagde den gamle, "men han er ikke så lille endda. I gamle dage var han en smuk dreng, men nu er det forbi!"

Han så ud som en vildmand, men han havde en faldhat på for ikke at komme til skade. I hånden holdt han en mahognikølle, hugget i de amerikanske mahogniskove. Mindre kunne det ikke være!

"Hvor kommer du fra?" spurgte hans moder.

"Fra skovørknerne!" sagde han, "hvor de tornede lianer gør et gærde mellem hvert træ, hvor vandslangen ligger i det våde græs, og menneskene synes unødvendige!"

"Hvad bestilte du der?"

"Jeg så på den dybe flod, så hvor den styrtede fra klippen, blev støv og fløj mod skyerne, for at bære regnbuen. Jeg så den vilde bøffel svømme i floden, men strømmen rev ham med sig; han drev med vildændernes flok, der fløj i vejret, hvor vandet styrtede; bøffelen måtte ned, det syntes jeg om, og blæste storm, så de urgamle træer sejlede og blev til spåner."

"Og andet har du ikke bestilt?" spurgte den gamle.

"Jeg har slået kolbøtter i savannerne, jeg har klappet de vilde heste og rystet kokosnødder! jo, jo, jeg har historier at fortælle! men man skal ikke sige alt, hvad man ved. Det kender du nok, du gamle!" og så kyssede han sin moder, så hun nær var gået bag over; han var rigtig nok en vild dreng.

Nu kom Søndenvinden med turban og flyvende beduinkappe.

"Her er dygtigt koldt herinde!" sagde han, og kastede brænde til ilden, "man kan mærke, at Nordenvinden er kommen først!"

"Her er så hedt at man kan stege en isbjørn!" sagde Nordenvinden.

"Du er selv en isbjørn!" svarede Søndenvinden.

"Vil I puttes i posen!" spurgte den gamle, - "Sæt dig på stenen der og fortæl, hvor du har været."

"I Afrika, min moder!" svarede han. "Jeg var med hottentotterne på løvejagt i kaffernes land! hvilket græs der gror på sletten, grønt som en oliven! der dansede gnuen, og strudsen løb væddeløb med mig, men jeg er dog raskere til bens. Jeg kom til ørknen til det gule sand; der ser ud, som på havets bund. Jeg traf en karavane! de slagtede deres sidste kamel for at få vand at drikke, men det var kun lidt de fik. Solen brændte foroven, og sandet stegte forneden. Ingen grænse havde den udstrakte ørken. Da boltrede jeg mig i det fine, løse sand og hvirvlede det op i store støtter, det var en dans! Du skulle have set hvor forknyt dromedaren stod, og købmanden trak kaftanen over hovedet. Han kastede sig ned for mig som for Allah, sin gud. Nu er de begravet, der står en pyramide af sand over dem alle sammen, når jeg engang blæser den bort, skal Solen blege de hvide ben, da kan de rejsende se, her har før været mennesker. Ellers kan man ikke tro det i ørknen!"

"Du har altså kun gjort ondt!" sagde moderen. "March i posen!" og før han vidste det, havde hun Søndenvinden om livet og i posen, den væltede rundt omkring på gulvet, men hun satte sig på den, og da måtte den ligge stille.

"Det er nogle raske drenge, hun har!" sagde prinsen.

"Ja såmænd," svarede hun, "og ave dem kan jeg! der har vi den fjerde!"

Det var Østenvinden, han var klædt som en kineser.

"Nå, kommer du fra den kant!" sagde moderen, "jeg troede, du havde været i Paradisets have."

"Der flyver jeg først hen i morgen!" sagde Østenvinden, "i morgen er det hundrede år siden jeg var der! jeg kommer nu fra Kina, hvor jeg har danset om porcelænstårnet, så alle klokkerne klingede. Nede på gaden fik embedsmændene prygl, bambusrør blev slidt på deres skuldre, og det var folk fra den første til den niende grad, de skreg: Mange tak, min faderlige velgører! men de mente ikke noget med det, og jeg ringede med klokkerne og sang tsing, tsang, tsu!"

"Du er kåd på det!" sagde den gamle, "det er godt du i morgen kommer til Paradisets have, det hjælper altid på din dannelse! drik så dygtig af Visdommens Kilde og tag en lille flaske fuld hjem med til mig!"

"Det skal jeg!" sagde Østenvinden. "Men hvorfor har du nu puttet min broder fra sønden ned i posen, frem med ham! han skal fortælle mig om fugl Føniks, den fugl vil prinsessen i Paradisets have altid høre om, når jeg hvert hundrede år gør visit. Luk posen op! så er du min sødeste moder, og jeg skal forære dig to lommer fulde af te, så grøn og frisk, som jeg har plukket den på stedet!"

"Nå, for teens skyld og fordi du er min kæledægge, vil jeg åbne posen!" det gjorde hun, og Søndenvinden krøb ud, men han så ganske slukøret ud, fordi den fremmede prins havde set det.

"Der har du et palmeblad til prinsessen!" sagde Søndenvinden, "det blad har den gamle fugl Føniks, den eneste der var i verden, givet mig; han har med sit næb ridset deri sin hele levnedsbeskrivelse, de hundrede år han levede; nu kan hun selv læse sig det til. Jeg så, hvor fugl Føniks selv stak ild i sin rede og sad og brændte op, som en hindus kone. Hvor dog de tørre grene knagede, der var en røg og en duft. Til sidst slog alt op i lue, den gamle fugl Føniks blev til aske, men hans æg lå gloende rødt i ilden, det revnede med et stort knald, og ungen fløj ud, nu er den regent over alle fuglene og den eneste fugl Føniks i verden. Han har bidt hul i palmebladet, jeg gav dig, det er hans hilsen til prinsessen!"

"Lad os nu få noget at leve af!" sagde vindenes moder, og så satte de sig alle til at spise af den stegte hjort, og prinsen sad ved siden af Østenvinden, og derfor blev de snart gode venner.

"Hør, sig mig engang," sagde prinsen. "Hvad er det for en prinsesse, her bliver talt så meget om, og hvor ligger Paradisets have!"

"Ho, ho!" sagde Østenvinden, "vil du derhen, ja så flyv du med mig i morgen! men det må jeg ellers sige dig, der har ingen mennesker været siden Adam og Evas tid. Dem kender du jo nok af din bibelhistorie!"

"Ja vist!" sagde prinsen.

"Dengang de blev forjaget, sank Paradisets have ned i jorden, men den beholdt sit varme solskin, sin milde luft og al sin herlighed. Feernes dronning bor derinde; der ligger Lyksalighedens Ø, hvor Døden aldrig kommer, hvor der er dejligt at være! Sæt dig på min ryg i morgen, så skal jeg tage dig med; jeg tænker, det nok lader sig gøre! men nu må du ikke snakke mere, for jeg vil sove!"

Og så sov de alle sammen.

I den tidlige morgenstund vågnede prinsen og blev ikke lidt betuttet ved at han allerede var højt oppe over skyerne. Han sad på ryggen af Østenvinden, der nok så ærligt holdt på ham; de var så højt i vejret, at skove og marker, floder og søer tog sig ud som på et stort illumineret landkort.

"Godmorgen!" sagde Østenvinden. "Du kunne ellers gerne sove lidt endnu, for der er ikke meget at se på det flade land under os. Uden du har lyst til at tælle kirker! de står som kridtprikker nede på det grønne bræt." Det var marker og enge, han kaldte det grønne bræt.

"Det var uartigt, at jeg ikke fik sagt farvel til din moder og dine brødre!" sagde prinsen.

"Når man sover, er man undskyldt!" sagde Østenvinden, og derpå fløj de endnu raskere af sted: Man kunne høre det på toppene af skovene, når de fór henover dem, raslede alle grene og blade; man kunne høre det på havet og søerne, thi hvor de fløj, væltede bølgerne højere, og de store skibe nejede dybt ned i vandet, som svømmende svaner.

Mod aften, da det blev mørkt, så det morsomt ud med de store byer; lysene brændte dernede, snart her, snart der, det var akkurat, som når man har brændt et stykke papir og ser de mange små ildgnister, hvor de er børn og går af skole! Og prinsen klappede i hænderne, men Østenvinden bad ham lade være med det, hellere holde sig fast, ellers kunne han let falde ned og blive hængende på et kirkespir.

Ørnen i de sorte skove fløj nok så let, men Østenvinden fløj lettere. Kosakken på sin lille hest jog af sted over sletterne, men prinsen jog anderledes af sted.

"Nu kan du se Himalaya!" sagde Østenvinden, "det er det højeste bjerg i Asien; snart skal vi nu komme til Paradisets have!" så drejede de mere sydligt, og snart duftede der af krydderier og blomster. Figen og granatæbler voksede vildt, og den vilde vinranke havde blå og røde druer. Her steg de begge to ned, strakte sig i det bløde græs, hvor blomsterne nikkede til vinden ligesom de ville sige: "Velkommen tilbage."

"Er vi nu i Paradisets have?" spurgte prinsen.

"Nej vist ikke!" svarede Østenvinden, "men nu skal vi snart komme der. Ser du fjeldvæggen der og den store hule, hvor vinrankerne hænger som store grønne gardiner. Der skal vi ind igennem! Svøb dig i din kappe, her brænder Solen, men ét skridt og det er isnende koldt. Fuglen, som strejfer forbi hulen, har den ene vinge herude i den varme sommer og den anden derinde i den kolde vinter!"

"Så, det er vejen til Paradisets have?" spurgte prinsen.

Nu gik de ind i hulen! hu, hvor der var isnende koldt, men det varede dog ikke længe. Østenvinden bredte sine vinger ud, og de lyste som den klareste ild; nej hvilke huler! de store stenblokke, som vandet dryppede fra, hang over dem i de forunderligste skikkelser; snart var der så snævert, at de måtte krybe på hænder og fødder, snart så højt og udstrakt, som i den frie luft. Det så ud som gravkapeller med stumme orgelpiber og forstenede faner.

"Vi går nok dødens vej til Paradisets have!" sagde prinsen, men Østenvinden svarede ikke et ord, pegede fremad, og det dejligste blå lys strålede dem i møde; stenblokkene oven over blev mere og mere en tåge, der til sidst var klar, som en hvid sky i måneskin. Nu var de i den dejligste milde luft, så frisk som på bjergene, så duftende, som ved dalens roser.

Der strømmede en flod, så klar, som luften selv, og fiskene var som sølv og guld; purpurrøde ål, der skød blå ildgnister ved hver bøjning, spillede dernede i vandet og de brede åkandeblade havde regnbuens farver, blomsten selv var en rødgul brændende lue, som vandet gav næring, ligesom olien får lampen bestandigt til at brænde! en fast bro af marmor, men så kunstigt og fint udskåren, som var den gjort af kniplinger og glasperler, førte over vandet til Lyksalighedens Ø, hvor Paradisets have blomstrede.

Østenvinden tog prinsen på sine arme og bar ham derover. Der sang blomster og blade de skønneste sange fra hans barndom, men så svulmende dejligt, som ingen menneskelig stemme her kan synge.

Var det palmetræer, eller kæmpestore vandplanter, her groede! så saftige og store træer havde prinsen aldrig før set; i lange kranse hang der de forunderligste slyngplanter, som de kun findes afbildet med farver og guld på randen af de gamle helgenbøger eller sno sig der gennem begyndelses­bogstaverne. Det var de sælsomste sammensætninger af fugle, blomster og snørkler. I græsset tæt ved stod en flok påfugle med udbredte strålende haler! Jo det var rigtignok så! nej da prinsen rørte ved dem, mærkede han, at det ikke var dyr, men planter: Det var store skræpper, der her strålede som påfuglens dejlige hale. Løven og tigeren sprang lig smidige katte mellem grønne hække, der duftede som æbletræets blomster, og løven og tigeren var tamme, den vilde skovdue, skinnende som den skønneste perle, baskede med sine vinger løven på manken, og antilopen, der ellers er så sky, stod og nikkede med hovedet, ligesom den også ville lege med.

Nu kom Paradisets fe; hendes klæder strålede som Solen, og hendes ansigt var mildt, som en glad moders, når hun ret er lykkelig over sit barn. Hun var så ung og smuk, og de dejligste piger, hver med en lysende stjerne i håret, fulgte hende.

Østenvinden gav hende det skrevne blad fra fugl Føniks, og hendes øjne funklede af glæde; hun tog prinsen ved hånden og førte ham ind i sit slot, hvor væggene havde farver, som det prægtigste tulipanblad, holdt mod Solen, loftet selv var én stor strålende blomst, og jo mere man stirrede op i den, desto dybere syntes dens bæger. Prinsen trådte hen til vinduet og så igennem en af ruderne, da så han Kundskabens træ med slangen, og Adam og Eva stod tæt derved. "Er de ikke forjaget?" spurgte han, og feen smilede, og forklarede ham at på hver rude havde Tiden således brændt sit billede, men ikke, som man plejede at se det, nej der var liv deri, træernes blade rørte sig, menneskene kom og gik, som i et spejlbillede. Og han så gennem en anden rude, og der var Jakobs drøm, hvor stigen gik lige ind i himlen, og englene med store vinger svævede op og ned. Ja, alt hvad der var sket i denne verden levede og rørte sig i glasruderne; så kunstige malerier kunne kun tiden indbrænde.

Feen smilede og førte ham ind i en sal, stor og høj; dens vægge syntes transparente malerier, med det ene ansigt dejligere, end det andet; det var millioner lykkelige, der smilede og sang, så det flød sammen i én melodi; de allerøverste var så små, at de syntes mindre, end den mindste rosenknop, når den tegnes som en prik på papiret. Og midt i salen stod et stort træ med hængende yppige grene; gyldne æbler, store og små, hang som appelsiner mellem de grønne blade. Det var Kundskabens træ, af hvis frugt Adam og Eva havde spist. Fra hvert blad dryppede en skinnende rød dugdråbe; det var, som om træet græd blodige tårer.

"Lad os nu stige i båden!" sagde feen, "der vil vi nyde forfriskninger ude på det svulmende vand! Båden gynger, kommer dog ikke af stedet, men alle verdens lande glider forbi vore øjne." Og det var underligt at se, hvorledes hele kysten bevægede sig. Der kom de høje snebedækkede Alper, med skyer og sorte grantræer, hornet klang så dybt vemodigt, og hyrden jodlede smukt i dalen. Nu bøjede banantræerne deres lange, hængende grene ned over båden, kulsorte svaner svømmede på vandet, og de sælsomste dyr og blomster viste sig på strandbredden: Det var Ny-Holland, den femte verdensdel, der med en udsigt til de blå bjerge gled forbi. Man hørte præsternes sang og så de vildes dans til lyden af trommer og bentuber. Ægypternes pyramider, der ragede ind i skyerne, omstyrtede søjler og sfinkser, halv begravet i sandet, sejlede forbi. Nordlysene brændte over Nordens jøkler, det var et fyrværkeri, som ingen kunne gøre efter. Prinsen var så lyksalig, ja han så jo hundrede gange mere, end hvad vi her fortæller.

"Og altid kan jeg blive her?" spurgte han.

"Det beror på dig selv!" svarede feen. "Dersom du ikke som Adam, lader dig friste til at gøre det forbudne, da kan du altid blive her!"

"Jeg skal ikke røre æblerne på Kundskabens træ!" sagde prinsen. "Her er jo tusinde frugter, skønne, som de!"

"Prøv dig selv, og er du ikke stærk nok, så følg med Østenvinden, som bragte dig; han flyver nu tilbage og kommer her ej i hundrede år; den tid vil på dette sted gå for dig, som var det kun hundrede timer, men det er lang tid for fristelsen og synden. Hver aften, når jeg går fra dig, må jeg tilråbe dig 'følg med!' jeg må vinke med hånden ad dig, men bliv tilbage. Gå ikke med, thi da vil ved hvert skridt din længsel blive større: Du kommer i salen, hvor Kundskabens træ gror; jeg sover under dens duftende hængende grene, du vil bøje dig over mig, og jeg må smile, men trykker du et kys på min mund, da synker Paradiset dybt i jorden, og det er tabt for dig, ørknens skarpe vind vil omsuse dig, den kolde regn dryppe fra dit hår. Sorg og trængsel bliver din arvelod."

"Jeg bliver her!" sagde prinsen, og Østenvinden kyssede ham på panden og sagde "vær stærk, så samles vi her igen om hundrede år! farvel! farvel!" og Østenvinden bredte sine store vinger ud; de lyste, som kornmoden i høsten, eller nordlyset i den kolde vinter. "Farvel! farvel!" klang det fra blomster og træer. Storke og pelikaner fløj i række, som flagrende bånd, og fulgte med til grænsen af haven.

"Nu begynder vore danse!" sagde feen, "ved slutningen, hvor jeg danser med dig, vil du se, idet Solen synker, at jeg vinker ad dig, du vil høre mig tilråbe dig: Følg med! men gør det ikke! i hundred år må jeg hver aften gentage det; for hver gang den tid er omme, vinder du mere kraft, til sidst tænker du aldrig derpå. I aften er det første gang; nu har jeg advaret dig!"

Og feen førte ham ind i en stor sal af hvide gennemsigtige liljer, de gule støvtråde i hver var en lille guldharpe, som klang med strengelyd og fløjtetoner. De skønneste piger, svævende og slanke, klædt i bølgende flor, så man så de dejlige lemmer, svævede i danse, og sang om hvor herligt det var at leve, at de aldrig ville dø, og at Paradisets have skulle evig blomstre.

Og Solen gik ned, den hele himmel blev et guld, der gav liljerne skær som den dejligste rose, og prinsen drak af den skummende vin, pigerne rakte ham, og han følte en lyksalighed, som aldrig før; han så, hvor salens baggrund åbnede sig, og Kundskabens træ stod i en glans, der blændede hans øje; sangen derfra var blød og dejlig, som hans moders stemme, og det var, som hun sang: "mit barn! mit elskede barn!"

Da vinkede feen og råbte så kærligt "følg mig! følg mig!" og han styrtede hen imod hende, glemte sit løfte, glemte det alt den første aften, og hun vinkede og smilede. Duften, den krydrede duft rundt om blev mere stærk, harperne tonede langt dejligere, og det var, som de millioner smilende hoveder i salen, hvor træet groede, nikkede og sang: "Alt bør man kende! Mennesket er Jordens herre" og det var ikke længere blodtårer, der faldt fra bladene på Kundskabens træ, det var røde, funklende stjerner, syntes ham. "Følg mig, følg mig!" lød de bævende toner, og ved hvert skridt brændte prinsens kinder hedere, hans blod bevægede sig stærkere! "jeg må!" sagde han, "det er jo ingen synd, kan ikke være det! hvorfor ikke følge skønhed og glæde! se hende sove vil jeg! der er jo intet tabt, når jeg kun lader være at kysse hende, og det gør jeg ikke, jeg er stærk, jeg har en fast vilje!"

Og feen kastede sin strålende dragt, bøjede grenene tilbage, og et øjeblik efter var hun skjult derinde.

"Jeg har endnu ikke syndet!" sagde prinsen, "og vil det ikke heller;" og så drog han grenene til side, der sov hun allerede, dejlig, som kun feen i Paradisets have kan være det; hun smilede i drømme, han bøjede sig ned over hende og så tårerne bæve mellem hendes øjenhår!

"Græder du over mig?" hviskede han, "græd ikke, du dejlige kvinde! Nu begriber jeg først Paradisets lykke, den strømmer gennem mit blod, gennem min tanke, kerubens kraft og evige liv føler jeg i mit jordiske legeme, lad det blive evig nat for mig, et minut, som dette, er rigdom nok!" og han kyssede tåren af hendes øje, hans mund rørte ved hendes – –

- Da lød der et tordenskrald, så dybt og skrækkeligt, som ingen har hørt det før, og alt styrtede sammen: den dejlige fe, det blomstrende Paradis sank, det sank så dybt, så dybt, prinsen så det synke i den sorte nat; som en lille skinnende stjerne strålede det langt borte! Dødskulde gik gennem hans lemmer, han lukkede sit øje og lå længe, som død.

Den kolde regn faldt på hans ansigt, den skarpe vind blæste om hans hoved, da vendte hans tanker tilbage. "Hvad har jeg gjort!" sukkede han, "jeg har syndet som Adam! syndet, så Paradiset er sunket dybt der ned!" og han åbnede sit øje, stjernen, langt borte, stjernen, der funklede som det sunkne Paradis, så han endnu - det var morgenstjernen på himlen.

Han rejste sig op og var i den store skov nær ved vindenes hule; og vindenes moder sad ved hans side, hun så vred ud, og løftede sin arm i vejret.

"Allerede den første aften!" sagde hun, "det tænkte jeg nok! ja, var du min dreng, så skulle du nu i posen!"

"Der skal han komme!" sagde Døden; det var en stærk gammel mand med en le i hånden og med store sorte vinger. "I ligkisten skal han lægges, men ikke nu; jeg mærker ham kun, lad ham da en stund endnu vandre om i verden, afsone sin synd, blive god og bedre! - jeg kommer engang. Når han da mindst venter det, putter jeg ham i den sorte ligkiste, sætter den på mit hoved og flyver op mod stjernen; også der blomstrer Paradisets have, og er han god og from, da skal han træde derind, men er hans tanke ond og hjertet endnu fuldt af synd, synker han med kisten dybere, end Paradiset sank, og kun hver tusinde år henter jeg ham igen, for at han må synke dybere eller blive på stjernen, den funklende stjerne deroppe!"

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