408 THE FLAX
and out at the top, and more delicate than the flames, invisible to human eyes, little tiny beings floated there, as many as there had been blossoms on the Flax. They were lighter even than the flame from which they were born ; and when the flame was extinguished, and nothing remained of the Paper but black ashes, they danced over it once more, and where they touched the black mass the little red sparks appeared. The children came out of school, and the schoolmaster was the last of all. That was fun ! and the children sang over the dead ashes—
' Snip-snap-snurre, Basse-lurre ! The song is done.'
But the little invisible beings all said,
* The song is never done, that is the best of all. I know it, and therefore I'm the happiest of all/
But the children could neither hear that nor understand it, nor ought they, for children must not know everything.
THE PHOENIX BIRD
In the Garden of Paradise, beneath the Tree of Knowledge, bloomed a rose bush. Here, in the first rose, a bird was born : his flight was like the flashing of light, his plumage was beauteous, and his song ravishing.
But when Eve plucked the fruit of the knowledge of good and evil, when she and Adam were driven from Paradise, there fell from the flaming sword of the cherub a spark into the nest of the bird, which blazed up forthwith. The bird perished in the flames ; but from the red egg in the nest there fluttered aloft a new one—the one solitary Phoenix bird. The fable tells us that he dwells in Arabia, and that every hundred years he burns himself to death in his nest; but each time a new Phoenix, the only one in the world, rises up from the red egg.
The bird flutters round us, swift as light, beauteous in colour, charming in song. When a mother sits by her infant's cradle, he stands on the pillow, and, with his wings, forms a glory around the infant's head. He flies