THE NEIGHBOURING FAMILIES 357
look at one another and smell. I'm very tired of those neighbours.'
' Just listen to those darling birds up there,' said the Roses. ' They begin to want to sing, but are not able yet. But it will come in time. What a pleasure that must be ! It's nice to have such merry neighbours.'
Suddenly two horses came gallopping up to water. A peasant boy rode on one, and he had taken off all his clothes, except his big black hat which was so big and broad. The boy whistled like a bird, and rode into the pond where it was deepest, and when he came past the rose bush he plucked a rose, and put it upon his hat. And now he thought he looked very fine, and rode on. The other Roses looked after their sister, and said to each other, ' Whither may she be journeying ? ' but they did not know.
11 should like to go out into the world,' said the one to the other ; ' but it's beautiful, too, here at home among the green leaves. All day the sun shines warm and bright, and in the night-time the sky is more beautiful still; we can see that through all the little holes in it.'
They meant the stars, but they knew no better.
* We make it lively about the house,' said the Mother-Sparrow ; ' and " the swallow's nest brings luck ", people say, so they're glad to see us. But the neighbours ! Such a rose bush climbing up the wall causes damp. It will most likelv be taken awav : and then, at least, corn will perhaps grow here. The roses are fit for nothing but to be looked at and smelt, or at most one may be stuck on a hat. Every year, I know from my mother, they fall off. The farmer's wife preserves them, and puts salt among them ; then they get a French name that I neither can nor will pronounce, and are put upon the fire to make a good smell. You see, that's their life. They're only for the eye and the nose. Now you know it.'
When the evening came, and the gnats danced in the warm air and the red clouds, the Nightingale came and sang to the Roses, saying that the beautiful was like sunshine to the world, and that the beautiful lived for ever. But the Roses thought the Nightingale was singing of itself, and indeed one might easily have thought so ; they never imagined that the song was about them. But they