In the garden all the apple-trees were in blossom. They had hurried up to get flowers before green leaves, and in the farm-yard all the ducklings were out and the cat with them: he licked real sunshine, licked it from his own paws ; and if one looked along to the field, the corn stood magnificently green, and there was a twittering and a chirping of all the little birds, as if it were a great festival, and indeed one might also say that it was so, for it was Sunday. The bells rang, and people in their best clothes went to church, and looked so well pleased ; yes, there was something so pleasant about everything ; it was certainly a day so warm and blessed, that one could say, ' Our Lord is really very good to His people ! '
But inside the church, the priest stood in the pulpit and spoke very loudly and very angrily ; he said that the people were so ungodly, and that God would punish them for it, and when they died, the wicked should go down to Hell, where they should burn for ever, and he said that their worm never died, and their fire was never quenched ; and never did they get peace or rest. It was terrible to hear it, and he said it so positively ; he described Hell to them as a stinking hole, where all the world's filthiness flowed together, there was no air except the hot sulphur-flame, there was no bottom, they sank and sank in an everlasting silence. It was gruesome merely to listen to it, but the priest said it from the heart, and all the people in the church were quite terrified.
But outside all the little birds sang so happily, and the sun shone so warmly, it seemed as if every little flower said, ' God is so very good to all of us.' Yes, outside it was certainly not as the preacher had said.
In the evening towards bedtime, the clergyman saw his wife sitting silent and thoughtful.
' What ails you ? ' he said to her.
: What ails me ? ' said she, ' I cannot collect my thoughts properly, I cannot get clearly into my head what you said,