1002 THE DRYAD
1 Give me of thy freshness, thou green grass,' begged the Dryad. ' Give me one of the fragrant flowers ! '
' We die when we are broken off !' answered the grass and flowers.
1 Kiss me, thou fresh breeze ! only one single kiss of life !'
' Soon the sun will kiss the clouds red !' said the wind, ' and then wilt thou be amongst the dead, passed away, as all the splendour here will pass away, before the year is gone, and I can again play with the light, loose sand in the square here, and blow the dust along over the ground, dust in the air, dust ! all dust ! '
The Dryad felt a dread, like that of the woman who in the bath has cut an artery and is bleeding to death, but while bleeding wishes still to live. She raised herself, came some steps forward, and again sank down in front of a little church. The door stood open, candles burned on the altar, and the organ pealed.
What music ! such tones the Dryad had never heard, and yet she seemed to hear in them well-known voices. They came from the depths of the heart of the whole creation. She thought she heard the rustling of the old oak tree, she thought she heard the old priest talking about great deeds, and about famous names, and of what God's creatures had power to give as a gift to future times, and must give it in order to win, by that means, eternal life for itself.
The tones of the organ swelled and pealed, and spoke in song : * Thy longing and desire uprooted thee from thy God-given place. It became thy ruin, poor Dryad ! '
The organ tones, soft and mild, sounded as if weeping, dying away in tears.
The clouds shone red in the sky. The wind whistled and sang, ' Pass away, ye Dead, the sun is rising ! '
The first beam fell on the Dryad. Her form shone in changing colours, like the soap-bubble when it breaks, vanishes and becomes a drop, a tear which falls to the ground and disappears.
Poor Dryad ! a dew-drop, only a tear, shed, vanished !
The sun shone over the ' Fata Morgana' on the Field of