302 THE ELDER TREE MOTHER
wedding. The little maiden with the blue eyes and with the elder blossoms in her hair sat up in the tree, and nodded to both of them, and said, ' To-day is the golden wedding-day ! ' and then she took two flowers out of her hair and kissed them, and they gleamed first like silver and then like gold, and when she laid them on the heads of the old people each changed into a golden crown. There they both sat, like a King and a Queen, under the fragrant tree which looked quite like an elder bush, and he told his old wife of the story of the Elder Tree Mother, as it had been told to him when he was quite a little boy, and they both thought that there was so much in the story that resembled their own, and those parts they liked the best.
1 Yes, thus it is ! ' said the little girl in the tree. ' Some call me Elder Tree Mother, others the Dryad, but my real name is Remembrance : it is I who sit in the tree that grows on and on, and I can think back and tell stories. Let me see if you have still your flower.'
And the old man opened his hymn-book ; there lay the elder blossom as fresh as if it had only just been placed there ; and Remembrance nodded, and the two old people with the golden crowns on their heads sat in the red evening sunlight, and they closed their eyes, and—and—the story was finished.
The little boy lay in his bed and did not know whether he had been dreaming or had heard a tale told ; the teapot stood on the table, but no elder bush was growing out of it, and the old man who had told about it was just going out of the door, and indeed he went.
' How beautiful that was ! ' said the little boy. ' Mother, I have been in the hot countries.'
' Yes, I can imagine that! ' replied his mother. ' When one drinks two cups of hot elder tea one very often gets into the hot countries ! ' And she covered him up well, that he might not take cold. ' You have slept well while I disputed with him as to whether it was a story or a fairy tale.'
' And where is the Elder Tree Mother ? ' asked the little lad.
1 She 's in the teapot,' replied his mother ; ' and there she may stay.'