592 THE LAST DREAM OF THE OLD OAK TREE
and in light! And all my beloved ones are with me, great and small—all of them, all! '
That was the dream of the old Oak Tree ; and while he dreamed thus a mighty storm came rushing over land and sea—at the holy Christmastide. The sea rolled great billows towards the shore, and there was a cracking and crashing in the tree—his root was torn out of the ground in the very moment while he was dreaming that his root freed itself from the earth. He fell. His three hundred and sixty-five years were now as the single day of the Ephemera.
On the morning of the Christmas festival, when the sun rose, the storm had subsided. From all the churches sounded the festive bells, and from every hearth, even from the smallest hut, arose the smoke in blue clouds, like the smoke from the altars of the Druids of old at the feast of thank-offerings. The sea became gradually calm, and on board a great ship in the offing, that had fought successfully with the tempest, all the flags were displayed, as a token of joy suitable to the festive day.
' The Tree is down—the old Oak Tree, our landmark on the coast ! ' said the sailors. ' It fell in the storm of last night. Who can replace it ? No one can.'
This was the funeral oration, short but well meant, that was given to the Tree, which lay stretched on the snowy covering on the sea-shore ; and over its prostrate form sounded the notes of a song from the ship, a carol of the joys of Christmas, and of the redemption of the soul of man by the blood of Christ, and of eternal life.
Sing, sing aloud, this blessed morn— It is fulfilled—and He is born, Oh, joy without compare ! Hallelujah ! Hallelujah !
Thus sounded the old psalm tune, and every one on board the ship felt lifted up in his own way, through the song and the prayer, just as the old Tree had felt lifted up in its last, its most beauteous, dream in the Christmas night.