WHAT ONE CAN INVENT 1021
thought of what lay at the root, the blessing,—the potatoes.
' Yes, we have experienced and suffered—that is to say, our ancestors, they and we, it is all the same thing ! What a story ! '
'Yes, now that will do !' said the woman. 'Now look at the sloe-bush ! '
' We have also,' said the sloe, ' near relations in the home of the potatoes, farther north than they grow. Northmen came there from Norway ; they steered west through fog and storms to an unknown land, where, behind ice and snow, they found plants and vegetables, bushes with blue-black grapes—the sloe-berries ; the grapes were ripened by the frost, just as we are. And the country was called " wine-land ", " green-land ", " sloe-land " ! '
1 That is quite a romantic story ! ' said the young man.
' Yes. Now come with me ! ' said the wise woman, and led him to the bee-hive. He looked into it. What life and stir ! Bees stood in all the passages and waved their wings, so that there might be fresh draughts of air in the whole factory : that was their business. Now came from outside, bees born with baskets on their legs ; they brought pollen-dust, which was shaken out, sorted and made into honey and wax. They flew in and out. The queen-bee wanted to fly too, but they must all go with her ; it was not yet time for that : but still she wished to fly ; so they bit the wings off her Majesty, and so she had to remain.
' Now get up on the earth-bank ! ' said the woman, ' Come and look out over the highway, where people are to be seen ! '
' What a crowd it is ! ' said the young man. ' Story after story ! it whirls and whirls ! I get quite confused. I shall fall backwards ! '
'No, go forward,' said the woman, ' go right into the crowd, have an eye for it, an ear for it, and a heart as well! then you will soon invent something ; but before you go, I must have my spectacles and my ear-trumpet,' and so saying she took them both.
' Now I can't see the least thing ! ' said the young man, ' now I hear nothing more ! ■