156 THE GARDEN OF PARADISE
' It was rude of me not to say good-bye to your mother and your brothers,' said the Prince.
' When one is asleep one must be excused,' replied the East Wind.
And then they flew on faster than ever. One could hear it in the tops of the trees, for when they passed over them the leaves and twigs rustled ; one could hear it on the sea and on the lakes, for when they flew by the water rose higher, and the great ships bowed themselves towards the water like swimming swans.
Towards evening, when it became dark, the great towns looked charming, for lights were burning below, here and there ; it was just as when one has lighted a piece of paper, and sees all the little sparks that vanish one after another. And the Prince clapped his hands ; but the East Wind begged him not to do so, and rather to hold fast, otherwise he might easily fall down and get caught on a church spire.
The eagle in the dark woods flew easily, but the East Wind flew more easily still. The Cossack on his little horse skimmed swiftly over the steppes, but the Prince skimmed more swiftly still.
' Now you can see the Himalayas,' said the East Wind. ' That is the highest mountain range in Asia. Now we shall soon get to the Garden of Paradise.'
Then they turned more to the south, and soon the air was fragrant with flowers and spices; figs and pomegranates grew wild, and the wild vine bore clusters of red and purple grapes. Here both alighted and stretched themselves on the soft grass, where the flowers nodded to the wind, as though they would have said ' Welcome ! '
' Are we now in the Garden of Paradise ? ' asked the Prince.
' Not at all,' replied the East Wind. ' But we shall soon get there. Do you see the rocky wall yonder, and the great cave, where the vines cluster like a broad green curtain ? Through that we shall pass. Wrap yourself in your cloak. Here the sun scorches you, but a step farther it will be icy cold. The bird which hovers past the cave has one wing in the region of summer and the other in the wintry cold.'