The Water-drop





BY FRIEDRICH WILHELM CAROVE'



(ADAPTED FROM THE TRANSLATION BY SARAH AUSTIN)



There was once a child who lived in a little hut, and in the hut there

was nothing but a little bed and a looking-glass; but as soon as the

first sunbeam glided softly through the casement and kissed his sweet

eyelids, and the finch and the linnet waked him merrily with their

morning songs, he arose and went out into the green meadow.



And he begged flour of the primrose, and sugar of the violet, and butter

of the buttercup. He shook dewdrops from the cowslip into the cup of the

harebell, spread out a large lime-leaf, set his breakfast upon it, and

feasted daintily. And he invited a humming-bee and a gay butterfly to

partake of his feast, but his favorite guest was a blue dragon-fly.



The bee murmured a good deal about his riches, and the butterfly told

his adventures. Such talk delighted the child, and his breakfast was the

sweeter to him, and the sunshine on leaf and flower seemed more bright

and cheering.



But when the bee had flown off to beg from flower to flower, and the

butterfly had fluttered away to his play-fellows, the dragon-fly still

remained, poised on a blade of grass. Her slender and burnished body,

more brightly and deeply blue than the deep blue sky, glistened in the

sunbeam. Her net-like wings laughed at the flowers because they could

not fly, but must stand still and abide the wind and rain.



The dragon-fly sipped a little of the child's clear dewdrops and blue

violet honey, and then whispered her winged words. Such stories as the

dragon-fly did tell! And as the child sat motionless with his blue

eyes shut, and his head rested on his hands, she thought he had fallen

asleep; so she poised her double wings and flew into the rustling wood.



But the child had only sunk into a dream of delight and was wishing he

were a sunbeam or a moonbeam; and he would have been glad to hear more

and more, and forever.



But at last as all was still, he opened his eyes and looked around for

his dear guest, but she was flown far away. He could not bear to sit

there any longer alone, and he rose and went to the gurgling brook. It

gushed and rolled so merrily, and tumbled so wildly along as it hurried

to throw itself head-over-heels into the river, just as if the great

massy rock out of which it sprang were close behind it, and could only

be escaped by a breakneck leap.



Then the child began to talk to the little waves and asked them whence

they came. They would not stay to give him an answer, but danced away

one over another; till at last, that the sweet child might not be

grieved, a water-drop stopped behind a piece of rock.



"A long time ago," said the water-drop, "I lived with my countless

sisters in the great Ocean, in peace and unity. We had all sorts of

pastimes. Sometimes we mounted up high into the air, and peeped at the

stars. Then we sank plump down deep below, and looked how the coral

builders work till they are tired, that they may reach the light of day

at last.



"But I was conceited, and thought myself much better than my sisters.

And so, one day, when the sun rose out of the sea, I clung fast to one

of his hot beams and thought how I should reach the stars and become one

of them.



"But I had not ascended far when the sunbeam shook me off, and, in spite

of all I could say or do, let me fall into a dark cloud. And soon a

flash of fire darted through the cloud, and now I thought I must surely

die; but the cloud laid itself down softly upon the top of a mountain,

and so I escaped.



"Now I thought I should remain hidden, when, all on a sudden, I slipped

over a round pebble, fell from one stone to another, down into the

depths of the mountain. At last it was pitch dark and I could neither

see nor hear anything.



"Then I found, indeed, that 'pride goeth before a fall,' for, though I

had already laid aside all my unhappy pride in the cloud, my punishment

was to remain for some time in the heart of the mountain. After

undergoing many purifications from the hidden virtues of metals and

minerals, I was at length permitted to come up once more into the free

and cheerful air, and to gush from this rock and journey with this happy

stream. Now will I run back to my sisters in the Ocean, and there wait

patiently till I am called to something better."



So said the water-drop to the child, but scarcely had she finished her

story, when the root of a For-Get-Me-Not caught the drop and sucked her

in, that she might become a floweret, and twinkle brightly as a blue

star on the green firmament of earth.





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