Page:Fairy tales and other stories (Andersen, Craigie).djvu/421
THE LAST DREAM OF THE OLD OAK TREE
floated past beneath his crown like dark troops of passage-birds, or like great white swans. And every leaf of the Tree had the gift of sight, as if it had eyes wherewith to see: the stars became visible in broad daylight, great and sparkling; each of them sparkled like a pair of eyes, mild and clear. They recalled to his memory well-known gentle eyes, eyes of children, eyes of lovers, who had met beneath his boughs.
It was a marvellous spectacle, and one full of happiness and joy! And yet amid all this happiness the Tree felt a longing, a yearning desire that all other trees of the wood beneath him, and all the bushes, and herbs, and flowers, might be able to rise with him, that they too might see this splendour and experience this joy. The great majestic Oak was not quite happy in his happiness, while he had not them all, great and little, about him; and this feeling of yearning trembled through his every twig, through his every leaf, warmly and fervently as through a human heart.
The crown of the Tree waved to and fro, as if he sought something in his silent longing, and he looked down. Then he felt the fragrance of woodruff, and soon afterwards the more powerful scent of honeysuckle and violets; and he fancied he heard the cuckoo answering him.
Yes, through the clouds the green summits of the forest came peering up, and under himself the Oak saw the other trees, as they grew and raised themselves aloft. Bushes and herbs shot up high, and some tore themselves up bodily by the roots to rise the quicker. The birch was the quickest of all. Like a white streak of lightning, its slender stem shot upwards in a zigzag line, and the branches spread around it like green gauze and like banners; the whole woodland natives, even to the brown-plumed rushes, grew up with the rest, and the birds came too, and sang; and on the grass-blade that fluttered aloft like a long silken ribbon into the air, sat the grasshopper cleaning his wings with his leg; the May beetles hummed, and the bees murmured, and every bird sang in his appointed manner; all was song and sound of gladness up into the high heaven.