THE STONE OF THE WISE MEN 547
tobacco. Another prefers sitting among the overpowering scent of jessamine, or scenting himself with strong clove oil. This man seeks out the fresh sea breeze^while that one climbs to the highest mountain-top and looks down upon the busy little life beneath.'
Thus he spake. It seemed to him as if he had already been out in the world, as if he had already associated with men and known them. But this experience arose from within himself: it was the poet within him, the gift of Heaven, and bestowed on him in his cradle.
He bade farewell to his paternal roof in the Tree of the Sun, and departed on foot through the pleasant scenery of home. Arrived at its confines, he mounted on the back of an ostrich, which runs faster than a horse ; and afterwards, when he fell in with the wild swans, he swung himself on the strongest of them, for he loved change ; and away he flew over the sea to distant lands with great forests, deep lakes, mighty mountains, and proud cities ; and wherever he came it seemed as if sunshine travelled with him across the fields, for every flower, every bush, every tree exhaled a new fragrance, in the consciousness that a friend and protector was in the neighbourhood, who understood them and knew their value. The crippled rose bush reared up its twigs, unfolded its leaves, and bore the most beautiful roses ; every one could see it, and even the black damp Wood Snail noticed its beauty.
' I will give my seal to the flower,' said the Snail; ' I have spit on it, and I can do no more for it.'
1 Thus it always fares with the beautiful in this world !' said the poet.
And he sang a song concerning it, sang it in his own way ; but nobody listened. Then he gave the drummer twopence and a peacock's feather, and set the song for the drum, and had it drummed in all the streets of the town ; and the people heard it, and said that they understood it, it was so deep. Then the poet sang several songs of the beautiful, the true, and the good. His songs were listened to in the tavern, where the tallow candles smoked, in the fresh meadow, in the forest, and on the high seas. It appeared as if this brother was to have better fortune than the two others. But the Evil Spirit was angry at this, and accordingly he set to work