THE LAST DREAM OF THE OLD OAK TREE 591
came peering up, and under himself the Oak saw the other trees, as they grew and raised themselves aloft. Bushes and herbs shot up high, and some tore themselves up bodily by the roots to rise the quicker. The birch was the quickest of all. Like a white streak of lightning, its slender stem shot upwards in a zigzag line, and the branches spread around it like green gauze and like banners ; the whole woodland natives, even to the brown-plumed rushes, grew up with the rest, and the birds came too, and sang ; and on the grass-blade that fluttered aloft like a long silken ribbon into the air, sat the grasshopper cleaning his wings with his leg ; the May beetles hummed, and the bees murmured, and every bird sang in his appointed manner ; all was song and sound of gladness up into the high heaven.
1 But the little blue flower by the water-side, where is that ? ' said the Oak ; ' and the purple bell-flower and the daisy ? ' for, you see, the old Oak Tree wanted to have them all about him.
1 We are here ! we are here ! ' was shouted and sung in reply.
' But the beautiful woodruff of last summer—and in the last year there was certainly a place here covered with lilies of the valley ! and the wild apple tree that blossomed so splendidly ! and all the glory of the wood that came year by year—if that had only lived and remained till now, then it might have been here now ! '
1 We are here ! we are here ! ' replied voices still higher in the air.
It seemed as if they had flown on before.
1 Why, that is beautiful, indescribably beautiful!' exclaimed the old Oak Tree, rejoicingly. ' I have them all around me, great and small; not one has been forgotten ! How can so much happiness be imagined ? How can it be possible ? '
1 In heaven it can be imagined, and it is possible ! ' the reply sounded through the air.
And the old Tree, who grew on and on, felt how his roots were tearing themselves free from the ground.
' That's best of all! ' said the Tree. ' Now no fetters hold me ! I can fly up now, to the very highest, in glory