THE GARDEN OF PARADISE 161
fluttering ribbons, and bore him company to the boundary of the garden. •*
1 Now we will begin our dances ! ' cried the Fairy. ' At the end, when I dance with you, when the sun goes down, you will see me beckon to you ; you will hear me call to you, " Come with me ; " but do not obey. For a hundred years I must repeat this every evening ; every time, when the trial is past, you will gain more strength ; at last you will not think of it at all. This evening is the first time. Now I have warned you.'
And the Fairy led him into a great hall of white transparent lilies ; the yellow stamens in each flower formed a little golden harp, which sounded both like a stringed instrument and a flute. The most beautiful maidens, floating and slender, clad in gauzy mist, glided by in the dance, and sang of the happiness of living, and declared that they would never die, and that the Garden of Paradise would bloom for ever.
And the sun went down. The whole sky shone like gold, which gave to the lilies the hue of the most glorious roses ; and the Prince drank of the foaming wine which the maidens poured out for him, and felt a happiness he had never before known. He saw how the background of the hall opened, and the Tree of Knowledge stood in a glory which blinded his eyes ; the singing there was soft and lovely as the voice of his dear mother, and it was as though she sang, ' My child ! my beloved child ! '
Then the Fairy beckoned to him, and called out persuasively,
1 Come with me ! come with me ! '
And he rushed towards her, forgetting his promise, forgetting it the very first evening ; and still she beckoned and smiled. The fragrance, the delicious fragrance around became stronger, the harps sounded far more lovely, and it seemed as though the millions of smiling heads in the hall, where the tree grew, nodded and sang, ' One must know everything—man is the lord of the earth.' And they were no longer drops of blood that the Tree of Knowledge wept; they were red shining stars which he seemed to see.
' Come ! come ! ' the quivering voice still cried, and at