THE NEIGHBOURING FAMILIES 361
the night the red fire burst through the window, the flames, seized upon the roof, the dry straw biased brightly up, and the whole house was burned, and the young Sparrow too ; but the others escaped with their lives.
When the sun rose again, and everything looked as much refreshed as if nature had had a quiet sleep, there remained of the farm-house nothing but a few charred beams, leaning against the chimney that was now its own master. Thick smoke still rose from among the fragments, but without stood the rose bush quite unharmed, and every flower, every twig, was reflected in the clear water.
' How beautifullv those roses bloom before the ruined house ! ' cried a passer-by. ' I cannot imagine a more agreeable picture : I must have that.'"
And the traveller took out of his portfolio a little book with white leaves : he was a painter, and with his pencil he drew the smoking house, the charred beams, and the overhanging chimney,which bent more and more; quite in the foreground appeared the blooming rosebush,whichpresented a charming sight, and indeed for its sakethe whole picture had been made.
Later in the day, the two Sparrows that had been born here came by.
' Where is the house % ' asked they. ' Where is the nest ? Piep ! All is burned, and our strong brother is burned too. That's what he has got by keeping the nest to himself. The Roses have escaped well enough—there they stand yet, with their red cheeks. They certainly don't mourn at their neighbour's misfortune. I won't speak to them; it's so ugly here, that ?s my opinion.' And they flew up and away.
On a beautiful sunny autumn day, when one could almost have believed it was the middle of summer, there hopped about in the clean dry courtyard of the nobleman's seat, in front of the great steps, a number of pigeons, black, and white, and violet, all shining in the sunlight. The old Mother-Pigeons said to their young ones,
1 Stand in groups, stand in groups, for that looks much better.'
* What are those little grey creatures, that run about among us ? " asked an old Pigeon, with red and green in her eyes. * Little grey ones, little grey ones ! ' she cried.