' WILL-O'-THE-WISPS ARE IN THE TOWN ' 857
quently could never come again, as we have sung, and would have so much liked to believe. It was just the same with Holger the Dane as with William Tell, mere idle legend, not to be depended on, and all this was written in the book, with great learning.
' Well, I shall believe what I believe ! ' said the man ; 1 there grows no plantain where no foot has trod.'
And he closed the book and put it back in its place, and went to the fresh flowers at the window : perhaps the Story might have hidden itself in the red tulips, with the golden yellow edges, or in the fresh rose, or in the strongly-coloured camellia. The sunshine lay among the flowers, but no Story.
The flowers which had been here in the dark troublous time had been much more beautiful; but they had been cut off, one after another, to be woven into wreaths and placed in coffins, and the flag had waved over them ! Perhaps the Story had been buried with the flowers ; but then the flowers would have known of it, and the coffin would have heard it, and every little blade of grass that shot forth would have told of it. The Story never dies.
Perhaps it has been here once, and has knocked—but who had eyes or ears for it in those times ? People looked darkly, gloomily, and almost angrily at the sunshine of spring, at the twittering birds, and all the cheerful green ; the tongue could not even bear the old, merry, popular songs, and they were laid in the coffin with so much that our heart held dear. The Story may have knocked without obtaining a hearing ; there was none to bid it welcome, and so it may have gone away.
' I will go forth and seek it ! Out in the country ! out in the wood ! and on the open sea beach ! '
Out in the country lies an old manor house, with red walls, pointed gables, and a flag that floats on the tower. The nightingale sings among the finely-fringed beech-leaves, looking at the blooming apple trees of the garden, and thinking that they bear roses. Here the bees are busy in the summer-time, and hover round their queen with their humming song. The autumn has much to tell of the wild chase, of the leaves of the trees, and of the races of men that are passing away together. The wild swans sing at