THE GARDEN OF PARADISE 157
' So this is the way to the Garden of Paradise ? ' observed the Prince. ->t
They went into the cave. Ugh ! but it was icy cold there, but this did not last long. The East Wind spread out his wings, and they gleamed like the brightest fire. What a cave was that! Great blocks of stone, from which the water dripped down, hung over them in the strangest shapes ; sometimes it was so narrow that they had to creep on their hands and knees, sometimes as lofty and broad as in the open air. The place looked like a number of mortuary chapels, with dumb organ pipes, and petrified banners.
1 We are going through the way of death to the Garden of Paradise, are we not ? ' inquired the Prince.
The East Wind answered not a syllable, but he pointed forward to where a lovely blue light gleamed upon them. The stone blocks over their heads became more and more like a mist, and at last looked like a white cloud in the moonlight. Now they were in a deliciously mild air, fresh as on the hills, fragrant as among the roses of the valley. There ran a river, clear as the air itself, and the fishes were like silver and gold ; purple eels, flashing out blue sparks at every moment, played in the water below ; and the broad water-plant leaves shone in the colours of the rainbow ; the flower itself was an orange-coloured burning flame, to which the water gave nourishment, as the oil to the burning lamp ; a bridge of marble, strong, indeed, but so lightly built that it looked as if made of lace and glass beads, led them across the water to the Island of Happiness, where the Garden of Paradise bloomed.
The East Wind took the Prince in his arms and carried him over there. There flowers and leaves sang the loveliest songs from his childhood, but with such swelling music as no human voice can utter.
Were they palm trees that grew here, or gigantic water-plants ? Such verdant mighty trees the Prince had never beheld ; the most wonderful climbing plants hung there in long festoons, as one only sees them illuminated in gold and colours on the margins of old missal-books or twined among the initial letters. Here were the strangest groupings of birds, flowers, and twining lines. Close by, in the grass,