1000 THE DRYAD
And the fishes stared; they imagined that the whole crowd of people they had seen in the strong daylight was still moving here; yes, they were convinced that they still saw the same forms which, so to speak, first struck their nerves of apprehension.
A little perch, with beautifully striped skin, and an enviable round back, asserted that the * human mud ' was there still; he saw it.
' I also see it; it is so distinct ! ' said a jaundice-yellow tench. ' I see plainly the beautiful well-shaped human figure, " high-legged lady " or whatever it was they called her; she had our mouth and staring eyes, two balloons behind, and an umbrella let down in front, a great quantity of hanging duck-weed dingling and dangling. She should put it all off, go like us in the guise of nature, and she would look like a respectable tench, as far as human beings can do so ! '
' What became of him—he on the string, the male—they dragged ? '
' He rode in a bath-chair, sat with paper, pen and ink, and wrote everything down. What was he doing ? They called him a reporter.'
* He is riding about there still,' said a moss-grown maiden carp, with the trials of the world in her throat, so that she was hoarse with it; she had once swallowed a fish-hook, and still swam patiently about with it in her throat.
' A reporter,' she said, * that is, speaking plainly and fishily, a kind of cuttle-fish among men.'
So the fishes talked in their own manner. But in the midst of the artificial grotto sounded the blows of hammers and the songs of the work-people; they must work at night, so that everything might be finished as soon as possible. They sang in the Dryad's summer night's dream, she herself stood there, ready to fly and vanish.
' They are gold-fish ! ' said she, and nodded to them. ' So I have managed to see you after all ! I know you ! I have known you a long time ! The swallow has told me about you in my home country. How pretty you are, how glittering and charming ! I could kiss each and all of you ! I know the others also ! That is certainly the fat tench;