本书首页    Previous    Next    Chinese



 WE are travelling to the Paris Exhibition

Now we are there it was a flight a rush but quitewithout witchcraftwe came by steam in a ship and on a high road

Our time is the fairy-tale time

We are in the midst of Parisin a great hotelallthe staircase is decorated with flowers and soft carpetscover the steps

Our room is comfortable the balcony door is stand-ing open to a big squareDown there the spring lives Ithas driven to Paris arriving at the same time as we it hascome in the shape of a big young chestnut tree with finenewly-opened leaves How it is clothed in all the glory ofspring far beyond all the other trees in the square Oneof these has gone out of the number of the living treesand lies prostrate on the ground torn up by the roots

There where it stood the new chestnut tree shall be planted and grow

As yet it stands high up in the heavy cart which brought it to Paris this morning from the country severalmiles away There it had stood for yearsclose beside a mighty oak under which sat often the kindly old priest who told stories to the listening childrenThe young chestnut tree listened with them the Dryad inside it whowas still a childcould remember the time when the treewas so small that it only reached a little higher than the ferns and long blades of grassThey were then as big asthey could be but the tree grew and increased everyyear drank air and sunshine received dew and rain andwas shaken and lashed by the rough windsthis is neces- sary for education

The Dryad rejoiced in her life and experiences in the sunshine and the song of birds but happy most of all at the voices of menshe understood their language quiteas wall as she understood that of animals

Butterfliesdragon-flies and common flies-everthing that could fly paid her a visit they all gos-sipped togethertold about the villagethe vineyardthe wood the old castle with the park in which were canals and dams down there in the water dwelt also living thingswhich in their own way could also fly from place to place under the waterbeings with thought and knowledge

they said nothingso wise were they

And the swallow which had dipped down into thewatertold about the lovely gold-fishabout the fat breamthe thick tench and the old moss-grown carp The swal- low gave a very good description" but one can see better for oneself" she said but how should the Dryad ever getto see these beingsShe must content herself with being able to look out over the beautiful landscape and see the busy activity of menThat was lovelybut most lovely ofall when the old priest stood here under the oak and toldabout France find about the great deeds of men and wom- enwhose names are named with admiration throughout all times

The Dryad heard of the shepherdess Joan of Arc of Charlotte Corday she heard of olden times of the times ofHenry Ⅳ, and of Napoleon and of greatness and talentright up to the present day She heard names each of which rang in the hearts of the people France is a world-wide land a soil of intellect with a crater of freedom

The village children listened devoutly and the Dryad not less so she was a school-child like the others She sawin the forms of the sailing clouds picture after picture of what she had heard told The cloudy sky was her picture book

She felt herself so happy in the lovely Francebuthad still a feeling that the birdsand every animal whichcould flywere much more favoured than sheEven the flycould look about himself far and wide much farther than the Dryad's horizon. France was so extensive and so glorious but she could only see a little bit of it like a world the countrystretched out with vineyardswoodsand great townsand of all of these Paris whs the mightiestand the most bril-liantthither the birds could gobut never she

Amongst the village children was a little girlsopoor and so raggedbut lovely to look itshe was alwayslaughing and singingand wreathing red flowers in her black hair

"Do not go to Paris" said the old priest" Poorchild if you go there it will be your ruin"

And yet she went

The Dryad often thought about herfor they had both the same desire and longing for the great city

Spring camesummerautumnwintertwo or three years passed

The Dryad's tree bore its first chestnut blossomsthe birds twittered about it in the lovely sunshineThenthere came along the road a grand carriage with a statelyladyshe herselfdrove the beautiful prancing horsesasmart little groom sat behind her The Dryad knew heragainthe old priest knew her againshook his headand said sorrowfully "You did go there it was your ruinPoor Marie"

"She poor"thought the Dryad" Whywhat a change she is dressed like a duchess she became likethis in the city of enchantment Oh if I were only there in all the splendour and glory it even throws a light up into the clouds at night when I look in the di-rection where I know the city is

Yesthithertowards that quarterthe Dryad looked every evening every night She saw the glim- mering mist on the horizon she missed it in the brightmoonlight nights she missed the floating clouds whichshowed her pictures of the city and of history

The child grasps at its picture-book the Dryad grasped at the cloud world her book of thoughts

The warm summer sky free from clouds was for her a blank page and now for several days she hadseen such sky

It was the warm summer-time with sultry days without a breath of air

Every leaf every flower lay as in a doze and men were like that too

Then clouds arose and that in the quarter where at night the glimmering mist announced" Here is Paris."

The clouds arose forming themselves like a whole mountain range and scudded through the air out over the whole landscape as far as the Dryad could see

The clouds lay like enormous purple rocks layer on layer high up in the skyFlashes of lightning darted forth

" they also are servants of God the Lord" the old priest hadsaid And there came a bluish dazzling flash a blaze as if the sun itself had burst the purple rocks and the lightning came down and splintered the mighty old oak tree to the rootsits crown was rentits trunk was rentit fell split asunder as if it spread itself out to embrace the messenger of light No metal cannon can boom through the air and over the land at the birth of a royal child as the thunderruwbled here at the death of the old oak tree The rainstreamed down a refreshing breeze blew the storm was past and a Sunday calm fell on everythingThe village people gathered round the fallen old oak the venerablepriest spoke words in its praise and an artist made a sketch of the tree itself as a lasting memorial

"Everything passes away "said the Dryad" passes away like the cloudsand returns no more"

The old priest came there no more the school roofhad fallen and the teachers'chair was gone The childrencame no more but the autumn came winter came andthe spring came too and in all the changing seasons the Dryad gazed towards the quarter where every evening and nightfar away on the horizon Paris shone like a shim- mering mistOut from it sped engine after engine the onetrain after the other rushing and roaring at all hours inthe evening and at midnight in the morning and through the whole of the daytime came the trains and from every one and into every one crowded people from all the coun- tries in the world a new wonder of the world had calledthem to Paris How did this wonder reveal itself

" A splendid flower of art and industry" they said " has sprung up on the barren soil of the Field of Mars a gigantic sunflowerfrom whose leaves one can learn geog- raphy and statistics get the learning of a guild-master be elevated in art and poetry and learn the size and greatness of different countries."

" A fairy-blossom" said others" a many coloured lo- tus-plant which spreads its green leaves over the sand like a velvet carpetwhich has sprung forth in the early spring The summer shall see it in all its glory the autumnstorms will sweep it away neither root nor leaf shall beleft"

Outside the military school stretches the arena of war in times of peace the field without grass and stalk apiece of sandy plain cut out of the African desertwhereFata Morgana shows her strange castles in the air and hang- ing gardens on the Field of Mars they now stand morebrilliant and more wonderful because genius had madethem real

" The present-day Palace of Aladdin is reared" it wassaidDay by dayand hour by hourit unfolds its rich splendour more and more Marble and colours adorn its endless halls" Master Bloodless " here moves his steel andiron limbs in the great machinery-hallWorks of art in metal in stone in weaving proclaim the mental life which is stirring in all the countries of the world Picture-galleriesmasses of flowers everything that intellect andhand can create in the workshops of the craftsman is here displayed to view. Even relics of ancient days from old castles and peat-mosses have met here

The overwhelmingly great and varied sight must be re- duced and condensed to a toy in order to be reproduced understood and seen as a whole

The Field of Mars like a great Christmas table had on it an Aladdin's Palace of industry and artand roundabout it were little articles from all countries every nationfound something to remind it of home Here stood theEgyptian royal palace here the caravanserai of the desertthe Bedouin coming from his sunny land swung past on his camel here extended Russian stables with magnificent fierysteeds from the steppes The little thatched farm-house from Denmark stood with its"Dannebrog" flag beside Gus- tav Vasa's beautifully carved wooden house from Dalarne inSweden American hutsEnglish cottages French pavil- ions kiosks churchesand theatres lay oddly strewn aboutand amidst all thatthe fresh green turfthe clearrunning waterflowering shrubsrare treesglass-houses where one could imagine oneself in a tropical forest wholerose-gardensas if brought from Damascusbloomed under the roofwhat colourswhat fragrance Stalactite cavesartificially made enclosing fresh and salt lakesgave anexhibition from the kingdom of fish One stood down on thebottom of the sea among fish and polypi

All this they said the Field of Mare now bears andpresents to view and over this great richly-decked table moves like a busy swarm of ants the whole crowd of peo-ple either on foot or drawn in little carriages all legs can-not stand such an exhausting promenade

They come here fron early morning until late in the evening. Steamer after steamer full of people glides downthe Seine The number of carriages is constantly increasing the crowds of people both on foot and on horse-back are increasing omnibuses and tramcars are stuffed and filled and covered with peopleall these streams moveto one goal"The Paris Exhibition" All the entrances aredecorated with the French flag round about the bazaar-buildings wave the flags of all nations from the machinery-hall there is a whirring and hummingthe bells chime in melody from the towers the organs play inside the church-eshoarse snuffing songs from the Oriental cafe's minglewith the music It is like the kingdom of Babel the lan-guage of Babel a Wonder of the World

It was such indeed——so the reports about it said whodid not hear them The Dryad knew everything that has been said here about the" new wonder" in the city ofcities

"Fly ye birds fly thither to look come again andtell" was the prayer of the Dryad

The longing swelled to a wish and became a life's thought and then one still silent night when the full moonwas shining there flew out from its diskthe Dryad saw ita sparkwhich fell glittering like a meteorand be- fore the tree whose branches shook as in a blast of windstood a mighty radiant figureIt spoke in tones so soft and yet as strong as the trump of the Last Daywhich kisses to life and calls to judgement

" Thou shalt enter that place of enchantment thou shalt there take rootfeel the rushing currentsthe air and the sunshine there But thy lifetime shall be short-enedthe series of years which awaited thee out here in the open will shrink there to a small number of seasonsPoor Dryad it will be thy ruin thy longing will growthy yearning and thy craving will become stronger The tree itself will become a prison for thee thou wilt forsakethy dwelling forsake thy nature and fly away and mixwith human beings and then thy years will dwindle downto half the lifetime of the ephemeral fly only a singlenight thy life shall be extinguished the leaves of the tree shall wither and be blown away to return no more"

Thus it soundedthus it sang and the brightness vanishedbut not the longing and desire of the Dryadshe trembled with expectation in a fever of wild anticipa- tion

" I shall go to the city of cities" she exultingly cried" Life beginsgathers like the cloud and no one knows where it goes"

In the grey dawn when the moon grew pale and the clouds red the hour of fulfilment struck and the promisewas redeemed

People came with spades and poles they dug round the roots of the treedeep down right under it Then a cart was brought up drawn by horses the tree with the roots and clods of earth hanging to them was lifted wrapped in matting which made a warm foot-bag for it then it was placed on the cart and bound fast It was to go on a journey to Paris to grow and remain there in thegrandest city of Francethe city of cities. The leaves and branches of the chestnut tree trem- bled in the first moment of motion the Dryad trembled inthe delight of expectation.

"Away away"rang in every pulse-beat"Awayaway" came the echo in trembling fluttering wordsTheDryad forgot to say " Farewell " to her native place to thewaving grasses and the innocent daisies which had lookedup to her as to a great lady in our Lord's garden a youngPrincess who played the shepherdess out in the country

The chestnut tree was on the cart it nodded with its branches " Farewell "or" Away"the Dryad knew notwhich she thought and dreamt of the wonderful new andyet so familiar scenes which should be unfolded before herNo childish heart in innocent delight no passion filled soul has ever begun its journey to Paris more full of thought than she"Farewell" became " Away away"

The wheels of the cart went round the distant be- came near and was left behind the country changed as theclouds change new vineyards forests villagesvillasand gardens sprang up came in sight and rolled away again The chestnut tree moved forward the Dryad forward with it engine after engine rushed close past each other and crossed each other the engines sent out clouds whichformed figures that told of the Paris they came from and towhich the Dryad was bound. Everything round about knew and must understand whither her way led she thought that every tree she went past stretched out its branches to herand begged"Takeme with you take me with you" In every tree there wasalso a Dryad full of longing

What changes What a journeyIt seemed as if hous- es shot up out of the earth more and morecloser andcloser Chimneys rose like flower-pots placed above each other and side by side along the roofsgreat inscriptions with letters a yard longpainted figures on the walls from the ground-floor to the cornice shone forth

" Where does Paris begin and when shall I be in it"the Dryad asked herself

The crowds of people increased the noise and bustlegrew greater carriage followed carriage men on foot fol-lowed men on horse and all round was shop upon shop music and song screaming and talking. The Dryad in her tree was in the midst of Paris

The greatheavy cart stopped in a little square planted with trees surrounded by high houses where ev- ery window had its balconyPeople looked down from there upon the young fresh chestnut tree which was driv- en upand which was now to be planted here in place ofthe worn-out uprooted tree which lay stretched along theground People stood still in the square and looked atthe spring verdure smiling and delighted the older trees still only in budgreeted her with rustling branch-es" Welcomewelcome"and the fountain which threwits jets of water into the air letting them splash again intothe broad basin allowed the wind to carry drops over tothe newly-arrived tree as if it would offer it a cup of wel-come

The Dryed felt that its tree was lifted from the cartand placed in its future positionThe tree's roots werehidden in the earth fresh turf was laid over them blos-soming shrubs and pots of flowers were planted like thetreehere was a whole garden plot right in the middle of the square

The dead uprooted tree killed by gas-fumes kitchen-fumes and all the plant-killing vapours of a town was laid on the cart and driven away The crowd looked on children and old people sat on benches on thegrass and looked up among the leaves of the newly- planted tree. And we who tell about it stood on thebalcony looked down on the young spring verdure just come from the fresh country air and said as the oldpriest would have said"Poor Dryad"

"How happy I am" said the Dryad"and yet I can-not quite realize it nor quite express what I feel every-thing is as I expected itand yet not quite as I expected"

The houses were so high and so close the sunshone properly only upon one wall and it was pastedover with posters and placards before which the peoplestood and made the place crowded Vehicles wentpast light and heavy omnibuses those over-filledhouses on wheels rolled alongriders trotted ahead carts and carriages claimed the right to do the same

The Dryad wondered whether the tall houses which stood so close would also flit away change their shapes like the clouds and glide aside so that shecould see into Paris and out over it Notre-Dame mustshow itself and the Vendme Column and the Wonder which had called and was calling so many strangers hitherBut the houses did not move

It was still day when the lamps were lighted the gasrays shone out from the shops and up among the branch- es of the tree it was like summer sunshine The stars cameout overhead the same ones the Dryad had seen in her na- tive place she thought she felt a breeze from there sopure and mild she felt herself elevated and strengthenedand found she had the power of seeing right out through all the leaves of the tree and had feeling to the farthest tips ofthe roots She felt herself in the living human worldlooked at with kindly eyesround about were bustle and musiccolours and lights

From a side street sounded wind-instruments and thedance-inspiring tunes of the barrel-organ Yes to the danceto the dance it soundedto gladness and the pleasure of life

It was a music that must set men horses carriages treesand houses dancingif they could danceAn intoxi- cating joy arose in the Dryad's breast

" How delightful and beautiful" she cried joyfully" Iam in Paris"

The day which came the night which followed andagain the next day offered the same sights the same stirthe same life changing and yet always the same

"Now I know every tree and every flower in the square here I know every house balcony and shop here where Iam placed in this little cramped corner which hides the great mighty town from me. Where are the triumphal arches the boulevards and the Wonder of the World

None of all these do I see I am imprisoned as in a cage amongst the tall houses which I now know by heart withtheir placards and posters and sign-boards all theseplaster sweetmeats which I have no taste for any longerWhere is all that I heard about know about longed for and for the sake of which I wished to come here What have I graspedwon or found I am longing as before I see a life which I must grasp and live in I must enter theranks of the livingI must revel therefly like the birdssee and understand become wholly human seize half aday of that in place of years of life in everyday fatigue andtediousness in which I sicken and droop and vanish likethe mist on the meadow I must shine like the cloudshine in the sunlight of life look out over everything likethe cloud and pass away like it,—no one knows whither"

This was the Dryad's sigh which lifted itself in prayer. "Take my lifetime and give me the half of the Ephemera's life Free me from my imprisonmentgive me human life human joy for a short spaceonly this single night if it must be so and punish me thus for mypresumptuous spirit my longing for life Annihilate melet the fresh young tree that encloses me then wither andfall become ashes and be scattered to the winds"

A rustling passed through the branches of the treethere came a titillating feeling a trembling in every leafas if fire ran through it or out of it a blast went throughthe crown of the tree and in the midst of it arose a wom- an's form,—the Dryad herself In the same instant shesat under the gas-illumined leafy branches young and beautiful like poor Marie to whom it was said" The great city will be thy ruin"

The Dryad sat by the foot of the tree by the door ofher house which she had locked and of which she hadthrown away the key So young so beautiful The stars saw her and twinkled The gas-lamps saw her and beamed and beckoned How slender she was and yet strong a child and yet a full-grown maidenHer clothes were fineas silk and green as the fresh newly-unfolded leaves inthe crown of the tree in her nut-brown hair hung a half-blown chestnut blossom she looked like the goddess of Spring

Only a short minute she sat motionless and still then she sprang up and ran like a gazelle from the place and disappeared round the corner. She ranshe sprang like the light from a mirror which is carried in thesunshine the light which with every motion is cast nowhere and now there and if one had looked closely andbeen able to see what there was to see how wonderful

At every place where she stopped for a moment her clothes and her figure were changed according to the char-acter of the place or the house whose lamp shone uponher

She reached the Boulevards a sea of light streamedfrom the gas in the lamps shops and cafes. Young and slender trees stood here in rows each one hid its Dryadfrom the beams of the artificial sunlight The whole of the long never-ending pavement was like one great assembly room tables stood spread with refreshments of all kindsfrom champagne and chartreuse down to coffee and beer

There was a display of flowers of pictures statuesbooks and many coloured fabrics

From the throng under the tall houses she looked out over the alarming stream under the rows of trees thererushed a tide of rolling carriagescabrioletscoachesom- nibuses and cabs gentlemen on horseback and marching regiments,—it was risking life and limb to cross over to the opposite side Now shone a blue light then the gas- lights were supreme and suddenly a rocket shot upwhence and whither

Certainlyit was the highway of the great city of theworld

Here sounded soft Italian melodies there Spanish songs accompanied by the beating of castanetsbut strongestand swelling above allsounded the musical-box melodies of the moment the tickling can- can music un- known to Orphous and never heard by beautiful Heleneven the wheelbarrow must have danced on its one wheel if it could have danced The Dryad danced floated flewchanging in colour like the honey-bird in the sunshineeach house and the world within it gave fresh tints to her

As the gleaming lotus-flower torn from its root is borne by the stream on its eddies she difted and wherevershe stood she was again a new shape therefore no onecould follow herrecognize and watch her

Like cloud-pictures everything flew past her face af- ter face but not a single one did she know she saw noform from her own home. There shone in her thoughts two bright eyes and she thought of Mariepoor Marie the happy ragged child with the red flower in her black hair

She was in the city of the world rich and dazzling aswhen she drove past the priest's house the Dryad's treeand the old oak

She was here no doubtin the deafening noise

perhaps she had just got out of that magnificent coach waiting yondersplendid carriages stood here with laced coachmen and silk-stockinged footmen The grand peo- ple alighting were all womenrichly dressed ladiesThey went through the open lattice-door up the high broad stairs which led to a building with white marble columns Was this perhaps the"Wonder of the World"Then certainly Marie was there

" Sancta Maria" they sang within the clouds of in-cense floated under the lofty painted and gilded archeswhere twilight reignedIt was the Church of the Madeleine Dressed in black in costly materials made af- ter the latest fashionladies of the highest society glided over the polished floor Coats of arms were on the silver clasps of the prayer books bound in velvet and on thefine strongly-scented handkerchiefs trimmed with costly Brussels lace Some of the ladies knelt in silent prayerbefore the altars others sought the confessionals

The Dryad felt a restlessness a fearas if she had entered a place where she ought not to have set footHerewas the home of silence the palace of secrets all waswhispered and confided without a sound being heard

The Dryad saw herself disguised in silk and veilre- sembling in form the other rich and high-born ladieswaseach of them a child of longing like herself

There sounded a sigh so painfully deepdid itcome from the confessional corner or from the breast of the Dryad She drew her veil closer round herShe breathed the incense and not the fresh air Here was noplace for her longing

Awayawayin flight without rest The Ephemera has no rest its flight is its life

She was again outside under the blazing gas-lamps by the splendid fountain" All the streams of water will not be able to wash away the innocent blood which has been shed here" So it has been said

Foreigners stood here and talked loudly and with an- imationas no one dared to do in the High Court of Mys- teryfrom which the Dryad came.

A large stone-slab was turned and lifted up she did not understand thisshe saw an open entrance to the depthe of the earth into ths people descended from the starlit skyfrom the sunshiny gas-flames from all the stir-ring life

" I am afraid of this" said one of the women who stood there"I dare not go downI don' t care either aboutseeing the sightStay with me"

" And go back home" said the man"go from Paris without having seen the most remarkable thing the real wonder of the present time called into being by the talentand will of a single man"

"I shall not go down there" was the answer

" The wonder of the present age" they said TheDryad heard and understood it the goal of her greatestlonging was reached and here was the entrance down inthe depths under Paris she had not thought of thisbut when she heard it now and saw the foreigners going down she followed them The spiral staircase was of cast ironbroad and commodiousA lamp gleamed down thereand another one still farther down

They stood in a labyrinth of endlessly long intersect- ing halls and arched passages all the streets and lanes ofParis were to be seen here as in a dim mirror the names could be read every house above had its number here itsrootwhich struck down under the empty macadamized footwaywhich ran along by a broad canal with a stream of rolling mud Higher up along the archeswas led the fresh running waterand above all hunglike a netgas- pipes and telegraph wiresLamps shone in the distance like reflected images from the metropolis above Now andthen was heard a noisy rumbling overheadit was the heavy wagon which drove over the bridges above

Where was the Dryad

You have heard of the catacombs they are but the faintest of outlines compared to this new subterranean world the wonder of the present day the drains of ParisHere stood the Dryad and not out in the world's exhibitionon the Field of Mars She heard exclamations of astonish-ment admiration and appreciation

"From down here" they saia"healtn and years of life are growing for thousands and thousands up above Our time is the time of progress with all its blessings."

That was the opinion and the talk of the people butnot of the creatures who lived and dwelt and had been born here the ratsthey squeaked from the rifts in apiece of old wallso clearlydistinctly and intelligibly tothe Dryad

A big old he-rat with his tail bitten off piercingly squeaked his feelingshis discomfort and his honestopinion and the family gave him support for every word

" I am disgusted with this nonsensethis human nonsense this ignorant talk Oh yes it is very fine here now with gas and petroleumI don' t eat that kind ofthing It has become so fine and bright here that one is ashamed of oneselfand does not know whyIf we only lived in the time of tallow-candlles it isn't so far back either That was a romantic timeas they call it"

" What is that you are talking about" said the Dryad" I did not see you before What are you talking about"

"The good old days" said the rat"the happy days of great-grandfather and great-grand-motherratsIn those days it was something to come down here It was a rat'snest different from the whole of Paris Mother Plaguelived down hereshe killed people but never rats Rob-bers and smugglers breathed from down here. Here was the place of refuge the most interesting personages who are now only seen in melodramas in the theatre up above The time of romance is gone in our rat's nest too we have got fresh air and petroleum down here

So squeaked the ratsqueaked against the new times in favour of the old days with Mother Plague

A carriage stood there a kind of open omnibus with swift little horses the party got into it and rushed alongthe Boulevard Sebastopol the subterranean onerightabove stretched the well-known Parisian one full of people

The carriage disappeared in the dim light the Dryadalso vanishedrose up into the gas-light and the fresh free air there and not down in the crossing arches and their suffocating air could the wonder be found the Wonder of the World that which she sought in her short night of life it must shine stronger than all the gas-lights up here stronger than the moon which now glided forth

Yes certainly and she saw it yonder it beamed be- fore her it twinkled and glittered like the star of Venus inthe sky

She saw a shining gateopening into a little gardenfull of light and dancing melodles Gas-jets shone here asborders round little quiet lakes and pools where artificialwater-plants cut out of tin-plate bent and painted glit-tered in the light and threw jets of water yard-high out oftheir chalices Beautiful weeping-willows real weeping-willows of the spring-time drooped their fresh brancheslike a green transparent yet concealing veil

Here amongst the bushes blazed a bonfire its redglow shone over small half-dark silent arbours permeat-ed with tones with a music thrilling to the ear captivat-ing alluring chasing the blood through the veins. She saw young womenbeautiful in festal attire withtrusting smiles and the light laughing spirit of youth a" Marie" with a rose in the hair but without carriage andfootmen How they floated how they whirled in the wilddance As if bitten by the Tarantellathey sprang and laughed and smiled blissfully happy ready to embrace thewhole world

The Dryad felt herself carried away in the dance

About her slender little foot fitted the silken shoechest-nut-brownlike the ribbon which floated from her hair overher uncovered shoulders The green silk garment waved ingreat folds but did not conceal the beautifully formed limbwith the pretty foot which seemed as if it wished to de-scribe magic circles in the airWas she in the enchantedgarden of Armida What was the place called The name shone outside in gas-jets "MABILLE"

Sounds of music and clapping of hands rockets andmurmuring water popping of champagne corks mingled here The dance was wildly bacchanalian and over the whole sailed the moon with a rather wry face no doubtThe sky was cloudlessclear and serene it seemed as ifone could see straight into Heaven from"Mabille"

A consuming desire of life thrilled through the Dryadit was like an opium trance

Her eyes spoke her lips spoke but the words werenot heard for the sound of flutes and violins Her partnerwhispered words in her ear they trembled in time to the music of the can-can she did not understand them,—we do not understand them either He stretched his arms out towards her and about her and only embraced the trans- parent gas-filled air

The Dryad was carried away by the stream of air as the wind bears a rose-leafOn high before her she saw a flame a flashing light high up on a tower The light shone from the goal of her longingfrom the red light- house on the " Fata Morgana"of the Field of Mars She fluttered about the tower the workmen thought it was abutterfly which they saw dropping down to die in its all too early arrival

The moon shonegas-lights and lamps shone in the great halls and in the scattered buildings of all lands shone over the undulating greensward and the rocks made by the ingenuity of men where the waterfall poured down by the strength of" MrBloodless" The depths of theocean and of the fresh water the realms of the fishes wereopened here one was at the bottom of the deep pool onewas down in the ocean in a diving-bell The water pressed against the thick glass walls above and around

The polypi fathom-long flexible windingquiveringliving arms clutched heaved and grew fast to the bot-tom of the sea

A great flounder lay thoughtfully close by stretcheditself out in comfort and ease the crab crawled like anenormous spider over it whilst shrimps darted about witha haste a swiftness as if they were the moths and but-terflies of the sea

In the fresh water grew water-lilies sedges and rushes The gold-fishes had placed themselves in rows like red cows in the field all with the heads in the samedirection so as to get the current in their mouths Thickfat tench stared with stupid eyes towards the glass wallsthey knew that they were at the Paris Exhibitionthey knew that they had made the somewhat difficult journey hither in barrels filled with water and had been land- sick on the railway just as people are sea-sick on the sea They had come to see the Exhibition and so theysaw it from their own fresh or salt water box saw thethrong of men which moved past from morning to nightAll the countries of the world had sent and exhibited their na- tives so that the old tench and bream the nimble perch and the moss-grown carp should see these beings and give their opinions upon the species

" They are shell-fish" said a muddy little bleak"They change their shells two or three times in the day and make sounds with their mouthstalking they call it

We don't changeand we make ourselves understood in an easier way movements with the corners of the mouth anda stare with the eyesWe have many points of superiority over mankind"

" They have learnt swimming though" said a littlefreshwater fish"I am from the big lake men go into thewater in the hot season there but first they put off their shells and then they swim The frogs have taught them that they push with the hind-legs and paddle with the fore-legs they can't keep it up longThey would like toimitate us but they don't get near it Poor men"

And the fishes stared they imagined that the whole crowd of people they had seen in the strong daylight was still moving here yes they were convinced that they stillsaw the same forms whichso to speakfirst struck their nerves of apprehension

A little perch with beautifully striped skin and anenviable round back asserted that the " human mud" wasthere still he saw it

"I also see it it is so distinct" said a jaundice-yel-low tench" I see plainly the beautiful well-shaped humanfigure'high-legged lady' or whatever it was they called her she had our mouth and staring eyes two balloons be- hind and an umbrella let down in front a great quantity ofhanging duck-weed dingling and dangling.She should put it all off go like us in the guise of nature and she would look like a respectable tench as far as human beings can do so"

"What became of himhe on the string the male

they dragged"

"He rode in a bath-chair sat with paper pen and inkand wrote everything downWhat was he doingThey called him a reporter"

" He is riding about there still" said a moss-grownmaiden carp with the trials of the world in her throat sothat she was hoarse with itshe had once swallowed afisk-hook and still swam patiently about with it in her throat. "A reporter "she said"that is speaking plainlyand fishily a kind of cuttle fish among men"

So the fishes talked in their own manner But in the midst of the artificial grotto sounded the blows of hammersand the songs of the work-people they must work at night so that everything might be finished as soon as possibleThey sang in the Dryad's summer night' s dream she herself stood there ready to fly and vanish

"They are gold-fish" said she and nodded tothem" So I have managed to see you after all I know you I have known you a long time The swallow has told me about you in my home country How pretty you arehow glittering and charming I could kiss each and all of you I know the others alsoThat is certainly the fat tench that one there the dainty bream and here the old moss-grown carpI know you but you don' t knowme"

The fish stared and did not understand a single word they stared out into the dim light The Dryad wasthere no longershe stood out in the open airwhere the world's " wonder-blossoms from the different countries gave out their fragrance from the land of rye-bread fromthe coast of the stock-fish the empire of Russia leatherthe riverbanks of Eau-de-Cologne and from the eastern land of the essence of roses

When after a ball we drive home half-asleep the tunes we have heard still sound distinctly in our earswe could sing each and all of them And as in the eye ofa murdered man the last thing the glance rested on is said to remain photographed on it for a time so here in the night the bustle and glare of the day was not extin- guishedThe Dryad felt it and knew that it would roll onin the same way through the coming day

The Dryad stood amongst the fragrant roses thinkingthat she recognized them from her home roses from the park of the castle and from the priest's garden She alsosaw the red pomegranate flower here Marie had worn onelike it in her coalblack hair

Memories from the home of her childhood out in the country flashed through her mind she drank in the sightsround about her with greedy eyes whilst feverish restless- ness possessed her and carried her through the wonderfulhalls

She felt tired and this tiredness increased She hada longing to rest upon the soft Eastern cushions and carpetsspread around or to lean against the weeping-willow downby the clear water and plunge herself into that

But the Ephemera has no restThe day was only a few minutes from the end

Her thoughts trembled her limbs trembled she sankdown on the grass by the rippling water

" Thou springest from the earth with lasting life" saidshe" cool my tongue give me refreshment"

"I am not the living fountain"answered the water" I flow by machinery"

" Give me of thy freshness thou green grass beggedthe Dryad"Give me one of the fragrant flowers"

" We die when we are broken off" answered the grass and flowers

" Kiss me thou fresh breeze Only one single kiss oflife"

" Soon the sun will kiss the clouds red" said thewind" and then wilt thou be amongst the dead passed away as all the splendour here will pass away before the year is gone and I can again play with the light loose sand in the square here and blow the dust along over the ground dust in the air dust All dust"

The Dyrad felt a dread like that of the woman whoin the bath has cut an artery and is bleeding to death but while bleeding wishes still to live She raised her-self came some steps forward and again sank down in front of a little church The door stood open candles burned on the altar and the organ pealed

What music such tones the Dryad had never heard and yet she seemed to hear in them well-known voicesThey came from the depths of the heart of the whole creationShe thought she heard the rustling of the old oak tree she thought she heard the old priest talking about great deeds and about famous names and of whatGod's creatures had power to give as a gift to future times and must give it in order to win by that meanseternal life for itself

The tones of the organ swelled and pealed and spoke in song" Thy longing and desire uprooted thee from thy God-given place It became thy ruinpoor Dryad"

The organ tones soft and mild sounded as if weep- ing dying away im tears. The clouds shone red in the skyThe wind whistled and sang" Pass away ye Dead the sun is rising"

The first beam fell on the Dryad Her form shone in changing colours like the soap-bubble when it breaksvanishes and becomes a drop a tear which falls to the ground and disappears

Poor Dryad a dew-drop only a tear shed van- ished

The sun shone over the "Fata Morgana "on the Field of Mars shone over the Great Paris over the little squarewith the trees and the splashing fountainamongst the tall houses where the chestnut tree stood but with droopingbranches withered leaves the tree which only yesterday lifted itself as fresh and full of life as the spring itself

Now it was dead they said The Dryad had gonepassedaway like the cloud no one knew whither

There lay on the ground a withered broken chestnut flower the holy water of the Church had no power to call it to life The foot of man soon trod it down into the dust

The whole of this actually happened we saw it our- selves at the Paris Exhibition in 1867 in our own time in the great wonderful time of fairy-tale



Previous    Next    Chinese