THE STORY OF THE YEAR 435
1 The spring !' sounded like an echo from the hills on which the snow lay. The sun shone warmer, the snow melted, and the birds twittered, ' Spring is coming !'
And aloft through the air came the first stork, and the second followed him. A lovely child sat on the back of each, and they alighted on the field, kissed the earth, and kissed the old silent man, and he disappeared, shrouded in the cloudy mist. And the story of the year was done.
* That is all very well,' said the Sparrows ; ' it is very beautiful too, but it is not according to the almanac, and therefore it is irregular.'
ON THE LAST DAY
The most solemn day amongst all the days of our life is the day on which we die ; it is the last day, the holy, great day of transformation. Have you really, seriously thought over this mighty, certain, last hour here on earth ? There was a man, a strict believer, as he was called, a warrior of the Word, which was for him a law, a zealous servant of a zealous God. Death stood now by his bed, Death with the austere, heavenly countenance.
1 The hour has come, you must follow me,' said Death, and with his ice-cold finger he touched his feet, and they turned cold as ice. Death touched his forehead, then his heart, and with that it burst, and the soul followed the Angel of Death. But in the few seconds before, between the consecration from foot to forehead and heart, all that life had brought and created went like great, heavy waves of the sea over the dying man.
In that way one sees with a single glance down into the giddy depths, and comprehends in a flash of thought the immeasurable way; thus one sees with a single glance, as a single whole, the countless myriads of stars, and discerns spheres and worlds in the vastness of space. In such a moment the terrified sinner trembles and has nothing to lean upon ; it is as if he sank down into an emptiness without end. But the pious one leans his head on God and gives himself up, like a child, to ' Thy will be done \