354 THE OLD STREET LAMP
of travels. And the old man read aloud about Africa, about the great woods, with elephants running about wild ; and the old woman listened intently, and looked furtively at the clay elephants which served for flower-pots.
' I can almost imagine it to myself ! ' said she.
And the Lamp wished particularly that a wax candle had been there, and could be lighted up in it; for then the old woman would be able to see everything to the smallest detail, just as the Lamp saw it—the tall trees with great branches all entwined, the naked black men on horseback, and whole droves of elephants crashing through the reeds with their broad clumsy feet.
4 Of what use are all my faculties if I can't obtain a wax light ? ' sighed the Lamp. ' They have only oil and tallow candles, and that's not enough.'
One day a great number of wax candle-ends came down into the cellar: the larger pieces were burned,and the smaller ones the old woman used for waxing her thread. So there were wax candles enough ; but no one thought of putting a little piece into the Lamp.
' Here I stand with my rare faculties !' thought the Lamp. * I carry everj^thing within me, and cannot let them partake of it; they don't know that I am able to cover these white walls with the most gorgeous tapestry, to change them into noble forests, and all that they can possibly wish.'
The Lamp, however, was kept neat and clean, and stood all shining in a corner, where it caught the eyes of all. Strangers considered it a bit of old rubbish ; but the old people did not care for that; they loved the Lamp.
One day—it was the old watchman's birthday—the old woman approached the Lantern, smiling to herself, and said,
* I'll make an illumination to-day, in honour of my old man ! '
And the Lamp rattled its metal cover, for it thought, ' Well, at last there will be a light within me.' But only oil was produced, and no wax light appeared. The Lamp burned throughout the whole evening, but now understood, only too well, that the gift of the stars would be a hidden treasure for all its life. Then it had a dream : for one possessing its rare faculties, to dream was not difficult. It seemed as if the old people were dead, and that itself had