THE NEIGHBOURING FAMILIES 363
and the roses, but flew against a flat wall, it was all a picture, a great beautiful picture, that the painter had completed from a sketch.
' Piep ! ' said the Sparrows, ' it's nothing, it only looks like something. Piep ! that's the beautiful! Can you understand it ? I can't.'
And they flew away, for some people came into the room.
Days and years went by. The Pigeons had often cooed, not to say growled,—the spiteful things ; the Sparrows had suffered cold in winter, and lived riotously in summer ; they were all betrothed or married, or whatever you like to call it. They had little ones, and of course each thought his own the handsomest and the cleverest : one flew this way, another that, and when they met they knew each other by their ' Piep!' and the three scrapes with the left leg. The eldest had remained a maiden Sparrow, with no nest and no young ones. Her great idea was to see a town, therefore she flew to Copenhagen.
There was to be seen a great house painted with many colours, close by the castle and by the canal, in which latter swam many ships laden with apples and pottery. The windows were broader below than at the top, and when the Sparrows looked through, every room appeared to them like a tulip with the most beautiful colours and shades. But in the middle of the tulip were white people, made of marble ; a few certainly were made of plaster, but in the eyes of a sparrow that's all the same. Upon the roof stood a metal carriage, with metal horses harnessed to it, and the Goddess of Victory, also of bronze, driving. It was Thorwaldsen's Museum.
J How it shines ! how it shines ! ' said the little maiden Sparrow. ' I suppose that's what they call the beautiful. Piep ! But this is greater than the peacock ! '
It still remembered what, in its days of childhood, the Mother-Sparrow had declared to be the greatest among the beautiful. The Sparrow flew down into the courtyard. There everything was very splendid: upon the walk palms and branches were painted ; in the midst of the court stood a great blooming rose tree, spreading out its fresh branches, covered with many roses, over a grave. Thither the Sparrow flew, for there she saAv many of her