We are travelling to the Paris Exhibition.
Now we are there ! it was a flight, a rush, but quite without witchcraft; we came by steam, in a ship and on a high road.
Our time is the fairy-tale time.
We are in the midst of Paris, in a great hotel, all the staircase is decorated with flowers, and soft carpets cover the steps.
Our room is comfortable, the balcony door is standing open to a big square. Down there the spring lives. It has driven to Paris, arriving at the same time as we; it has come in the shape of a big, young chestnut tree, with fine, newly-opened leaves. How it is clothed in all the glory of spring, far beyond all the other trees in the square ! One of these has gone out of the number of the living trees, and lies prostrate on the ground, torn up by the roots. There, where it stood, the new chestnut tree shall be planted and grow.
As yet it stands high up in the heavy cart which brought it to Paris this morning from the country, several miles away. There it had stood for years, close beside a mighty oak, under which sat often the kindly old priest, who told stories to the listening children. The young chestnut tree listened with them : the Dryad inside it, who was still a child, could remember the time when the tree was so small that it only reached a little higher than the ferns and long blades of grass. They were then as big as they could be, but the tree grew and increased every year, drank air and sunshine, received dew and rain, and was shaken and lashed by the rough winds : this is necessary for education.
The Dryad rejoiced in her life and experiences, in the sunshine and the song of birds, but happy most of all at the voices of men ; she understood their language quite as well as she understood that of animals.
Butterflies, dragon-flies, and common flies—everything that could fly, paid her a visit; they all gossipped together ;