1018 THE THISTLE'S EXPERIENCES
The young fir-trees in the wood began to long for Christmas, but it was a long time to Christmas.
1 Here I stand still!' said the thistle. * It seems as if no one thought about me, and yet / have made the match; they were betrothed, and they held their wedding eight days ago. I won't take a step, for I cannot.'
Some more weeks went past ; the thistle stood with its last single flower, big and full, it had shot up close by the root. The wind blew cold over it, the colours went, the splendour vanished, the calyx of the flower, big as that of an artichoke bloom, looked like a silver sunflower. Then the young couple, now man and wife, came into the garden; they went along by the paling, and the young wife looked across it.
' There stands the big thistle yet! ' said she ; * now it has no more flowers !'
1 Yes, there is the ghost of the last one !' said he, and pointed to the silvery remains of the flower, itself a flower.
' It is lovely! ' said she, ' such a one must be carved round about the frame of our picture ! '
And the young man had to climb the paling again to break off the calyx of the thistle. It pricked him in the fingers,—he had called it a * ghost \ And it came into the garden, into the house, and into the drawing-room ; there stood a picture—' the young couple '. In the bridegroom's button-hole was painted a thistle. They talked about this and about the thistle-flower they brought, the last thistle-flower now gleaming like silver, a copy of which was to be carved on the frame.
And the breeze carried what was said, away, far away.
' What one can experience !' said the thistle-bush. ' My firstborn was put in a button-hole, my last in a frame ! Where shall I go V
And the ass stood by the road-side and looked long at the thistle.
* Come to me, my kitchen-love ! I cannot come to you, the halter is not long enough ! '
But the thistle did not answer ; it became more and more thoughtful; it thought, and it thought, right up to Christmas-time, and then the thought came into flower: