334 SHEPHERDESS AND CHIMNEY-SWEEPER
considered how wide the world is, and that we can never come back here again ? '
* I have,' replied she.
And the Chimney-Sweeper looked fondly at her, and said,
* My way is through the chimney. If you have really courage to creep with me through the stove—through the iron fire-box as well as up the pipe, then we can get out into the chimney, and I know how to find my way through there. We'll mount so high that they can't catch us, and quite at the top there 's a hole that leads out into the wide world.'
And he led her to the door of the stove.
' It looks very black there,' said she ; but still she went with him, through the box and through the pipe, where it was pitch-dark night.
' Now we are in the chimney,' said he ; ' and look, look ! up yonder a beautiful star is shining.'
And it was a real star in the sky, which shone straight down upon them, as if it would show them the way. And they clambered and crept: it was a frightful way, and terribly steep ; but he supported her and helped her up ; he held her, and showed her the best places where she could place her little porcelain feet; and thus they reached the edge of the chimney, and upon that they sat down, for they were desperately tired, as they well might be.
The sky with all its stars was high above, and all the roofs of the town deep below them. They looked far around —far, far out into the world. The poor Shepherdess had never thought of it as it really was : she leaned her little head against the Chimney-Sweeper, then she wept so bitterly that the gold ran down off her girdle.
That is too much,' she said. • I cannot bear that. The world is too large ! If I were only back upon the table below the mirror ! I shall never be happy until I am there again. Now I have followed you out into the wide world, you may accompany me back again if you really love me.'
And the Chimney-Sweeper spoke sensibly to her—spoke of the old Chinaman and of the Billygoat-legs-Lieutenant-and-Major-General-War-Commander-Sergeant; but she sobbed bitterly and kissed her little Chimney-Sweeper, so