THE OLD BACHELOR'S NIGHTCAP 579
uncovered his head, and looked into her gentle eyes, and everything around him was beautiful ar^d roseate. Yes, the roses seemed to unfold themselves in fragrance. There came to him a sweet, peculiar odour of apples, and he saw a blossoming apple-tree, which spread its branches above him —it was the tree which Molly and he had planted together.
And the tree strewed down its fragrant leaves upon him, cooling his burning brow. The leaves fell upon his parched lips, and were like strengthening bread and wine ; and they fell upon his breast, and he felt calm, and inclined to sleep peacefully.
1 Now I shall sleep,' he whispered to himself. ' Sleep is refreshing. To-morrow I shall be upon my feet again, and strong and well—glorious, wonderful ! That apple-tree, planted in true affection, now stands before me in heavenly radiance------'
And he slept.
The day afterwards—it was the third day that his shop had remained closed—the snow-storm had ceased, and a neighbour from the opposite house came over towards the booth where dwelt old Anthony, who had not yet shown himself. Anthony lay stretched upon his bed—dead—with his old cap clutched tightly in his two hands ! They did not put that cap on his head in his coffin, for he had a new white one.
Where were now the tears that he had wept ? What had become of the pearls ? They remained in the nightcap —and the true ones do not come out in the wash—they were preserved in the nightcap, and in time forgotten ; but the old thoughts and the old dreams still remained in the ' bachelor's nightcap '. Don't wish for such a cap for yourself. It would make your forehead very hot, would make your pulse beat feverishly, and conjure up dreams which appear like reality. The first who wore that cap afterwards felt all that, though it was half a century afterwards ; and that man was the burgomaster himself, who had a wife and eleven children, and was very well off. He was immediately seized with dreams of unfortunate love, of bankruptcy, and of heavy times.
1 Hallo ! how the nightcap warms ! ' he cried, and tore it from his head.