PETER, PETE, AND PETERKIN 913
She eats him up from sheer love ; she eats his heart, his head, his stomach, only his long thin legs remain behind in the web, where he sat with the task of supporting the whole family. That is the simple truth, straight out of natural history. Peterkin saw that and thought it over ; ' to be loved by one's wife like that, to be eaten by her in violent love. No ; no human being goes as far as that; and would it be desirable ?'
Peter determined never to marry ! never to give or to take a kiss ; that might look like the first step towards matrimony. But still he got one kiss, the one we all get, the great hearty kiss of Death. When we have lived long enough, Death gets the order ' Kiss away ! ' and so the person is gone. There flashes from our Lord a sun-blink, so strong that one is almost blinded. The soul of man, which came like a meteor, flies hence again like a meteor, but not to rest in a flower or to dream under a water-lily leaf. It has more important things before it, it flies into the great land of Eternity, but how things are there, or what it looks like, no one can tell. No one has seen into it, not even the stork, however far he can see, and however much he may know. Nor did he know any more about Peterkin, though he did about Peter and Pete ; but I have heard enough about them, and so have you ; so I said ' Thanks ' to the stork for this time ; but now he demands for this common little story three frogs and a young snake ; he takes his payment in victuals. Will you pay ? I won't! I have neither frogs nor young snakes.
HIDDEN IS NOT FORGOTTEN
There was once an old manor-house with muddy ditches and a drawbridge, which was more often up than down ; for not all guests who come are good. Under the eaves were holes for shooting from, and pouring boiling water, and even melted lead, down over the enemy if he came too near. Inside it was high to the rafters, and that was good for the smoke which came from the hearth, where the great damp logs lay. There hung on the walls pictures of men in armour, and proud ladies in heavy clothes, but the