THE DRYAD 993
form,—the Dryad herself. In the same instant she sat under the gas-illumined, leafy branches, young and beautiful, like poor Marie, to whom it was said, ' The great city will be thy ruin 1'
The Dryad sat by the foot of the tree, by the door of her house, which she had locked and of which she had thrown away the key. So young, so beautiful ! The stars saw her and twinkled. The gas-lamps saw her and beamed and beckoned ! How slender she was and yet strong, a child and yet a full-grown maiden. Her clothes were fine as silk, and green as the fresh, newly-unfolded leaves in the crown of the tree; in her nut-brown hair hung a half-blown chestnut blossom ; she looked like the goddess of Spring.
Only a short minute she sat motionless and still, then she sprang up, and ran like a gazelle from the place, and disappeared round the corner. She ran, she sprang like the light from a mirror which is carried in the sunshine, the light which with every motion is cast now here and now there ; and if one had looked closely, and been able to see what there was to see, how wonderful I At every place where she stopped for a moment, her clothes and her figure were changed according to the character of the place, or the house whose lamp shone upon her.
She reached the Boulevards ; a sea of light streamed from the gas in the lamps, shops, and cafes. Young and slender trees stood here in rows ; each one hid its Dryad from the beams of the artificial sunlight. The whole of the long, never-ending pavement was like one great assembly-room ; tables stood spread with refreshments of all kinds, from champagne and chartreuse down to coffee and beer. There was a display of flowers, of pictures, statues, books, and many-coloured fabrics. From the throng under the tall houses she looked out over the alarming stream under the rows of trees : there rushed a tide of rolling carriages, cabriolets, coaches, omnibuses, and cabs, gentlemen on horseback, and marching regiments,—it was risking life and limb to cross over to the opposite side. Now shone a blue light, then the gas-lights were supreme, and suddenly a rocket shot up; whence and whither ? Certainly, it was the highway of the great city of the world.
ANDERSEN K k