536 THE BOTTLE-NECK
the only good old language it understood : it had come back home, and the language was as a salutation of welcome to it. For very joy it felt ready to jump out of people's hands ; hardly did it notice that its cork had been drawn, and that it had been emptied and carried into the cellar, to be placed there and forgotten. There's no place like home, even if it's in a cellar! It never occurred to the bottle to think how long it lay there, for it felt comfortable, and accordingly lay there for years. At last people came down into the cellar to carry off all the bottles, and ours among the rest.
Out in the garden there was a great festival. Flaming lamps hung like garlands, and paper lanterns shone transparent, like great tulips. The evening was lovely, the weather still and clear, the stars twinkled; it was the time of the new moon, but in reality the whole moon could be seen as a bluish-grey disk with a golden rim round half its surface, which was a very beautiful sight for those who had good eyes.
The illumination extended even to the most retired of the garden walks ; at least, so much of it that one could find one's way there. Among the leaves of the hedges stood bottles, with a light in each ; and among them was also the bottle we know, and which was destined one day to finish its career as a bottle-neck, a bird's drinking-glass. Everything here appeared lovely to our bottle, for it was once more in the greenwood, amid joy and feasting, and heard song and music, and the noise and murmur of a crowd, especially in that part of the garden where the lamps blazed and the paper lanterns displayed their many colours. Thus it stood, in a distant walk certainly, but that made it the more important; for it bore its light, and was at once ornamental and useful, and that is as it should be: in such an hour one forgets twenty years spent in a loft, and it is right one should do so.
There passed close to it a pair, like the pair who had walked together long ago in the wood, the sailor and the tanner's daughter ; the bottle seemed to experience all that over again. In the garden were walking not only the guests, but other people who were allowed to view all the splendour ; and among these latter came an old maid