858 ' WILL-O'-THE-WISPS ARE IN THE TOWN '
Christmas-time on the open water, while in the old hall the guests by the fire-side gladly listen to songs and to old legends.
Down into the old part of the garden, where the great avenue of wild chestnut trees lures the wanderer to tread its shades, went the man who was in search of the Story ; for here the wind had once murmured something to him of ' Waldemar Daa and his Daughters \ The Dryad in the tree, who was the Story-mother herself, had here told him the ' Last Dream of the old Oak Tree '. Here, in grandmother's time, had stood clipped hedges, but now only ferns and stinging-nettles grew there, hiding the scattered fragments of old sculptured figures ; the moss is growing in their eyes, but they could see as well as ever, which was more than the man could do who was in search of the Story, for he could not find it. Where could it be ?
The crows flew over him by hundreds across the old trees, and screamed, ' Krah ! da !—Krah ! da ! '
And he went out of the garden, and over the grass-plot of the yard, into the alder grove ; there stood a little six-sided house, with a poultry-yard and a duck-yard. In the middle of the room sat the old woman who had the management of the whole, and who knew accurately about every egg that was laid, and about every chicken that could creep out of an egg. But she was not the Story of which the man was in search ; that she could attest with a certificate of Christian baptism and of vaccination that lay in her drawer.
Without, not far from the house, is a mound covered with red-thorn and laburnum : here lies an old gravestone, which was brought many years ago from the churchyard of the provincial town, a remembrance of one of the most honoured councillors of the place; his wife and his five daughters, all with folded hands and stiff ruffs, stand round him. One could look at them so long, that it had an effect upon the thoughts, and these reacted upon the stone, so that it told of old times ; at least it had been so with the man who was in search of the Story.
As he came nearer, he noticed a living butterfly sitting on the forehead of the sculptured councillor. The butterfly flapped its wings, and flew a little bit farther, and settled