558 SOUP ON A SAUSAGE-PEG
flowers and diamonds gleamed upon it, so that I did not know my sausage-peg again : there is not in all the world such a maypole as they had made of it. And now came the real great party of elves. They were quite without clothes, and looked as dainty as possible ; and they invited me to be present; but I was to keep at a distance, for I was too large for them.
1 And now began such music ! It sounded like thousands of glass bells, so full, so rich, that I thought the swans were singing. I fancied also that I heard the voice of the cuckoo and the blackbird, and at last the whole forest seemed to join in. I heard children's voices, the sound of bells, and the song of birds; the most glorious melodies—and all came from the elves' maypole, namely, my sausage-peg. I should never have believed that so much could come out of it; but that depends very much upon the hands into which it falls. I was quite touched. I wept, as a little mouse may weep, with pure pleasure.
1 The night was far too short; but it is not longer up yonder at that season. In the morning dawn the breeze began to blow, the mirror of the forest lake was covered with ripples, and all the delicate veils and flags fluttered away in the air. The waving garlands of spiders' web, the hanging bridges and balustrades, and whatever else they are called, flew away as if they were nothing at all. Six elves brought me back my sausage-peg, and asked me at the same time if I had any wish that they could gratify ; so I asked them if they could tell me how soup was made on a sausage-peg.
' " How we do it ? " asked the chief of the elves, with a smile. " Why, you have just seen it. I fancy you hardly knew your sausage-peg again ? "
' " You only mean that as a joke," I replied. And then I told them in so many words, why I had undertaken a journey, and what hopes were founded on it at home. " What advantage," I asked, " can it be to our Mouse King, and to our whole powerful state, from the fact of my having witnessed all this festivity ? I cannot shake it out of the sausage-peg, and say, * Look, here is the peg, now the soup will come.' That would be a dish that could only be put on the table when the guests had dined."