BY FRIEDRICH WILHELM CAROVÉ
(ADAPTED FROM THE TRANSLATION BY SARAH AUSTIN)
THERE was once a child who lived in a little hut, and in the
hut there was nothing but a little bed and a looking-glass;
but as soon as the first sunbeam glided softly through the
casement and kissed his sweet eyelids, and the finch and the
linnet waked him merrily with their morning songs, he arose
and went out into the green meadow.
And he begged flour of the primrose, and sugar of the
violet, and butter of the buttercup. He
 shook dewdrops from the cowslip into the cup of the
harebell, spread out a large lime-leaf, set his breakfast
upon it, and feasted daintily. And he invited a humming-bee
and a gay butterfly to partake of his feast, but his
favorite guest was a blue dragon-fly.
The bee murmured a good deal about his riches, and the
butterfly told his adventures. Such talk delighted the
child, and his breakfast was the sweeter to him, and the
sunshine on leaf and flower seemed more bright and cheering.
But when the bee had flown off to beg from flower to flower,
and the butterfly had fluttered away to his play-fellows,
the dragon-fly still remained, poised on a blade of grass.
Her slender and burnished body, more brightly and deeply
blue than the deep blue sky, glistened in the sunbeam. Her
net-like wings laughed at the flowers because they could not
fly, but must stand still and abide the wind and rain.
The dragon-fly sipped a little of the child's clear dewdrops
and blue violet honey, and then whispered her winged words.
Such stories as the dragon-fly did tell! And as the child
sat motionless with his blue eyes shut, and his head rested
on his hands, she thought he had fallen asleep; so she
poised her double wings and flew into the rustling wood.
But the child had only sunk into a dream of
 delight and was wishing he were a sunbeam or a moonbeam; and
he would have been glad to hear more and more, and forever.
But at last as all was still, he opened his eyes and looked
around for his dear guest, but she was flown far away. He
could not bear to sit there any longer alone, and he rose
and went to the gurgling brook. It gushed and rolled so
merrily, and tumbled so wildly along as it hurried to throw
itself head-over-heels into the river, just as if the great
massy rock out of which it sprang were close behind it, and
could only be escaped by a breakneck leap.
Then the child began to talk to the little waves and asked
them whence they came. They would not stay to give him an
answer, but danced away one over another; till at last, that
the sweet child might not be grieved, a water-drop stopped
behind a piece of rock.
"A long time ago," said the water-drop, "I lived with my
countless sisters in the great Ocean, in peace and unity. We
had all sorts of pastimes. Sometimes we mounted up high into
the air, and peeped at the stars. Then we sank plump down
deep below, and looked how the coral builders work till they
are tired, that they may reach the light of day at last.
"But I was conceited, and thought myself much better than my
sisters. And so, one day,
 when the sun rose out of the sea, I clung fast to one of his
hot beams and thought how I should reach the stars and
become one of them.
"But I had not ascended far when the sunbeam shook me off,
and, in spite of all I could say or do, let me fall into a
dark cloud. And soon a flash of fire darted through the
cloud, and now I thought I must surely die; but the cloud
laid itself down softly upon the top of a mountain, and so I
"Now I thought I should remain hidden, when, all on a
sudden, I slipped over a round pebble, fell from one stone
to another, down into the depths of the mountain. At last it
was pitch dark and I could neither see nor hear anything.
"Then I found, indeed, that 'pride goeth before a fall,'
for, though I had already laid aside all my unhappy pride in
the cloud, my punishment was to remain for some time in the
heart of the mountain. After undergoing many purifications
from the hidden virtues of metals and minerals, I was at
length permitted to come up once more into the free and
cheerful air, and to gush from this rock and journey with
this happy stream. Now will I run back to my sisters in the
Ocean, and there wait patiently till I am called to
So said the water-drop to the child, but scarcely had she
finished her story, when the root of a
 For-Get-Me-Not caught the drop and sucked her in, that she
might become a floweret, and twinkle brightly as a blue star
on the green firmament of earth.
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