910 PETER, PETE, AND PETERKIN
sun, on a water-lily leaf, and from there it crawls and creeps down into the water, where it sleeps and grows, till the stork can see it, and fetches it to a human family, which wishes for such a sweet little one ; but whether it is sweet or not, depends on whether the little one has drunk of the clear spring, or has swallowed mud or duck-weed the wrong way: that makes it so earthy. The stork takes the first he sees, without making any choice. One comes into a good house to matchless parents ; another comes to hard people in great poverty ; it would have been much better to stay in the mill-dam.
The little ones do not remember at all what they dreamt about under the water-lily leaf, where in the evening the frogs sang to them, ' Croak, croak, creek, creek,'—which means in the language of men, ' Will you see now, if you can sleep and dream ! ' They cannot remember either in which flower they first lay, or how it smelt, and yet there is something in them, when they grow up, which says, 1 This is the flower we like best/ and that is the one they lay in as air-children.
The stork becomes a very old bird, and always pays attention to how things go with the little ones he has brought, and how they behave in the world. He cannot really do anything for them, or change their lot, as he has his own family to care for, but he never lets them slip out of his thoughts.
I know an old, very honest stork, who has a great deal of knowledge, and has brought many little ones, and knows their stories, in which there is always a little mud and duck-weed from the mill-dam. I begged him to give a little life-sketch of one of them, and so he said that I should get three for one from Peterson's house.
It was a particularly nice family, Peterson's. The man was one of the town's two and thirty men, and that was a distinction : he lived for the two and thirty, and went with the' two and thirty. The stork came there, and brought a little Peter, for so the child was called. Next year the stork came again with another one; him they called Pete, and when the third was brought, he got the name of Peterkin, for in the names Peter, Pete, and Peterkin, lies the name Peterson.