356 THE NEIGHBOURING FAMILIES
with flowers, had been mirrored in it. This rose bush covered the wall and hung over the water, in which every≠thing appeared as in a picture, only that everything stood on its head ; but when the water was set in motion each thing ran into the other, and the picture was gone. Two feathers, which the fluttering ducks had lost, floated to and fro, and all at once they took a start, as if the wind were coming ; but the wind did not come, so they had to be still, and the water became quiet and smooth again. One could see distinctly the gable, with the swallow's nest, and the rose bush. The Roses mirrored themselves in it again ; they were beautiful, but they did not know it, for no one had told them. The sun shone among the delicate leaves ; everything breathed in the sweet fragrance, and all felt as we feel when we are filled with the thought of our greatest happiness.
* How beautiful is life!' said each Rose. ' Only one thing I wish, that I were able to kiss the sun, because it is so bright and so warm. The roses, too, in the water yonder, our images, I should like to kiss, and the pretty birds in the nests. There are some up yonder too ; they thrust out their heads and pipe quite feebly : they have no feathers like their father and mother. They are good neighbours, below and above. How beautiful is life !'
The young ones above and below ó those below are certainly only shadows in the waterówere Sparrows ; their parents were Sparrows too ; they had taken possession of the empty swallow's nest of last year, and kept house in it as if it had been their own.
' Are those ducks' children swimming yonder ? ' asked the young Sparrows, when they noticed the ducks' feathers upon the water.
1 If you must ask questions, ask sensible ones,' replied their mother. ' Don't you see that they are feathers ? living clothes, stuff like I wear and like you will wear ; but ours is finer. I wish, by the way, we had those up here in our own nest, for they keep one warm. I wonder what the ducks were so frightened at; there must have been something in the water. Not at me, certainly, though I said "Piep" to you rather loudly. The thick-headed roses ought to know it, but they know nothing; they only