1136 A PICTURE-BOOK WITHOUT PICTURES
outspread wings he sank slowly, as a soap-bubble sinks in the still air, till he touched the water. At length his head lay back between his wings, and silently he lay there, like a white lotus flower upon the quiet lake. And a gentle wind arose, and crisped the quiet surface, which gleamed like the clouds that poured along in great broad waves ; and the swan raised his head, and the glowing water splashed like blue fire over his breast and back. The dawn illuminated the red clouds, the swan rose strengthened, and flew towards the rising sun, towards the bluish coast whither the caravan had gone ; but he flew all alone, with a longing in his breast. Lonely he flew over the blue swelling billows.'
' I will give you another picture of Sweden,' said the Moon. 'Among dark pine-woods, near the melancholy banks of the Roxen, lies the old convent church of Wreta. My rays glided through the grating into the roomy vaults, where kings sleep tranquilly in great stone coffins. On the wall, above the grave of each, is placed the emblem of earthly grandeur, a kingly crown ; but it is made only of wood, painted and gilt, and is hung on a wooden peg driven into the wall. The worms have gnawed the gilded wood, the spider has spun her web from the crown down to the coffin, like a mourning banner, frail and transient as the grief of mortals. How quietly they sleep ! I can remember them quite plainly. I still seev the bold smile on their lips, that so strongly and plainly expressed joy or grief. When the steamboat winds along like a magic snail over the lakes, a stranger often comes to the church, and visits the burial vault; he asks the names of the kings, and they have a dead and forgotten sound. He glances with a smile at the worm-eaten crowns, and if he happens to be a pious, thoughtful man, something of melancholy mingles with the smile. Slumber on, ye dead ones ! The Moon thinks of you, the Moon at night sends down his rays into your silent kingdom, over which hangs the crown of pine-wood.'