300 THE ELDER TREE MOTHER
whose red walls and pointed gables were mirrored in the canals, where swans swam about, and looked down the old shady avenues. In the fields the corn waved like a sea, in the ditches yellow and red flowers were growing, and in the hedges wild hops and blooming convolvulus. In the evening the moon rose round and large, and the haystacks in the meadows smelt sweet.
* How beautiful it is here in autumn !' said the little girl.
And the sky seemed twice as lofty and twice as blue as before, and the forest was decked in the most gorgeous tints of red, yellow, and green. The hunting dogs raced about; whole flocks of wild ducks flew screaming over the ancient grave-mound, on which bramble bushes twined over the old stones. The sea was dark blue, and covered with ships with white sails ; and in the barns sat old women, girls, and children, picking hops into a large tub : the young people sang songs, and the older ones told tales of magicians and goblins. It could not be finer anywhere.
1 How beautiful it is here in winter!' said the little girl.
And all the trees were covered with hoar frost, so that they looked like white trees of coral. The snow crackled beneath one's feet, as if every one had new boots on ; and one shooting star after another fell from the sky. In the room the Christmas tree was lighted up, and there were presents, and there was happiness. In the country people's farmhouses the violin sounded, and there were merry games for apples ; and even the poorest child said, ' It is beautiful in winter ! '
Yes, it was beautiful; and the little girl showed the boy everything ; and still the blossoming tree smelt sweet, and still waved the red flag with the white cross, the flag under which the old seaman had sailed. The boy became a youth, and was to go out into the wide world, far away to the hot countries where the coffee grows. But when they were to part the little girl took an elder blossom from her breast, and gave it to him to keep. It was laid in his hymn-book, and in the foreign land, when he opened the book, it was always at the place where the flower of remembrance lay ; and the more he looked at the flower the fresher it became, so that he seemed, as it were, to breathe the forest air of home ; then he plainly saw the little girl looking out with