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THERE was once a King's son; no one had so many beautiful books as he: everything that had happened in this world he could read there, and could see represented in lovely pictures. Of every people and of every land he could get intelligence; but there was not a word to tell where the Garden of Paradise could be found, and it was just that of which he thought most.

His grandmother had told him, when he was quite little but was about to begin his schooling, that every flower in this Garden of Paradise was a delicate cake, and the pistils contained the choicest wine; on one of the flowers history was written, and on another geography or tables, so that one had only to eat cake, and one knew a lesson; and the more one ate, the more history, geography, or tables did one learn.

At that time he believed this. But when he became a bigger boy, and learned more and became wiser, he understood well that the splendour in the Garden of Paradise must be of quite a different kind.

“Oh, why did Eve pluck from the Tree of Knowledge? Why did Adam eat the forbidden fruit? If I had been he it would never have happened----then sin would never have come into the world”

That he said then, and he still said it when he was seventeen years old. The Garden of Paradise filled all his thoughts.

One day he walked in the wood. He was walking quite alone, for that was his greatest pleasure. The evening came, and the clouds gathered together; rain streamed down as if the sky were one single sluice from which the water was pouring; it was as dark as it usually is at night in the deepest well.

Often he slipped on the smooth grass, often he fell over the smooth stones which stuck up out of the wet rocky ground. Everything was soaked with water, and there was not a dry thread on the poor Prince. He was obliged to climb over great blocks of stone, where the water oozed from the thick moss. He was nearly fainting. Then he heard a strange rushing, and saw before him a great illuminated cave. In the midst of it burned a tire, so large that a stag might have been roasted at it. And this was in fact being done. A glorious deer had been stuck, horns and all, upon a spit, and was turning slowly between two felled pine trunks. An elderly woman, large and strongly built, looking like a disguised man, sat by the fire, into which she threw one piece of wood after another.

“Come nearer!” said she. “Sit down by the fire and dry your clothes.”

“There's a great draught here!” said the Prince; and he sat down on the ground.

“That will be worse when my sons come home,” replied the woman. “You are here in the Cavern of the Winds, and my sons are the four winds of the world: can you understand that?”

“Where are your sons?” asked the Prince.

“It's difficult to answer when stupid questions are asked,” said the woman. “My sons do business on their own account. They play at shuttlecock with the clouds up yonder in the great hall.”

And she pointed upwards.

“Oh, indeed!” said the Prince. “But you speak rather gruffly, by the way, and are not so mild as the women I generally see about me.”

“Yes, they have most likely nothing else to do! I must be hard, if I want to keep my sons in order; but I can do it, though they are obstinate fellows. Do you see the four sacks hanging there by the wall? They are just as frightened of those as you used to be of the rod stuck behind the mirror. I can bend the lads together, I tell you, and then I pop them into the bag: we don't make any ceremony. There they sit, and may not wander about again until I think fit to allow them. But here comes one of them!”

It was the North Wind, who rushed in with piercing cold; great hailstones skipped about on the floor, and snowflakes fluttered about. He was dressed in a jacket and trousers of bear-skin; a cap of seal-skin was drawn down over his ears; long icicles hung on his beard, and one hailstone after another rolled from the collar of his jacket.

“Do not go so near the fire directly,” said the Prince, “you might get your hands and face frost-bitten.”

“Frost-bitten?” repeated the North Wind, and he laughed aloud. “Cold is exactly what rejoices me most! But what kind of little tailor art thou? How did you find your way into the Cavern of the Winds?”

“He is my guest,” interposed the old woman, “and if you're not satisfied with this explanation you may go into the sack: do you understand me?”

You see, that was the right way; and now the North Wind told whence he came and where he had been for almost a month.

“I come from the Polar Sea,” said he; “I have been in the bear's icy land wit the Russian walrus hunters. I sat and slept on the helm when they sailed out from the North Cape, and when I awoke now and then, the stormbird flew round my legs. That's a comical bird! He gives a sharp clap with his wings, and then holds them quite still and shoots along in full career.”

“Don't be too long-winded,” said the mother of the Winds. “And so you came to the Bear's Island?”

“It is very beautiful there! There's a floor for dancing on, as flat as a plate. Half-thawed snow, with a little moss, sharp stones, and skeletons of walruses and polar bears lay around, they looked like gigantic arms and legs of a rusty green colour. One would have thought the sun had never shone there. I blew a little upon the mist, so that one could see the hut: it was a house built of wreckwood and covered with walrus-skins----the fleshy side turned outwards. It was full of green and red, and on the roof sat a live polar bear who was growling.

I went to the shore to look after birds' nests, and saw the unfledged nestling screaming and opening their beaks; then I blew down into their thousand throats, and taught them to shut their mouths. Farther on the huge walruses were splashing like great maggots with pigs' heads and teeth an ell long!”

“You tell your story well, my son,” said the old lady. “My mouth waters when I hear you!”

“Then the hunting began! The harpoon was hurled into the walrus's breast, so that a smoking stream of blood spurted like a fountain over the ice. When I thought of my sport, I blew, and let my sailing ships, the big icebergs, crush the boats between them. Oh, how the people whistled, and how they cried! But I whistled louder than they. They were obliged to throw the dead walruses and their chests and tackle out upon the ice. I shook the snowflakes over them, and let them drive south in their crushed boats with their booty to taste salt water. They'll never come to Bear's Island again!”

“Then you have done a wicked thing!” said the mother of the Winds.

“What good I have done others may tell,” replied he. “But here comes a brother from the west. I like him best of all: he tastes of the sea and brings a delicious coolness with him.”

“Is that little Zephyr?” asked the Prince.

“Yes, certainly, that is Zephyr,” replied the old woman. “But he is not little. Years ago he was a pretty boy, but that's past now.”

He looked like a wild man, but he had a broadbrimmed hat on, to save his face. In his hand he held a club of mahogany, hewn in the American mahogany forests. It was no trifle.

“Where do you come from?” said his mother.

“Out of the forest wilderness,” said he, “where the thorny creepers make a fence between every tree, where the water-snake lies in the wet grass, and people don't seem to be wanted.”

“What were you doing there?”

“I looked into the deepest river, and watched how it rushed down from the rocks, and turned to spray, and shot up towards the clouds to carry the rainbow. I saw the wild buffalo swimming in the stream, but the stream carried him away. He drifted with the flock of wild ducks that flew up where the water fell down in a cataract. The buffalo had to go down it! That pleased me, and I blew a storm, so that ancient trees were split up into splinters!”

“And have you done nothing else?” asked the old dame.

“I have thrown somersaults in the Savannahs: I have stroked the wild horses and shaken the coconut palms. Yes, yes, I have stories to tell! But one must not tell all one knows. You know that, old lady.”

And he kissed his mother so roughly that she almost tumbled over. He was a terribly wild young fellow!

Now came the South Wind, with a turban on and a flying Bedouin's cloak.

“It's terribly cold in here!” cried he, and threw some more wood on the fire. “One can feel that the North Wind came first.”

“It's so hot that one could roast a Polar bear here,” said the North Wind.

“You're a Polar bear yourself,” retorted the South Wind.

“Do you want to be put in the sack?” asked the old dame. “Sit upon the stone yonder and tell me where you have been.”

“In Africa, mother,” he answered. “I was out hunting the lion with the Hottentots in the land of the Kaffirs. Grass grows there in the plains, green as an olive. There the ostrich ran races with me, but I am swifter than he. I came into the desert where the yellow sand lies: it looks there like the bottom of the sea. I met a caravan. The people were killing their last camel to get water to drink, but it was very little they got. The sun burned above and the sand below. The outspread deserts had no bounds. Then I rolled in the fine loose sand, and whirled it up in great pillars. That was a dance! You should have seen how dejected the dromedary stood there, and the merchant drew the caftan over his head. He threw himself down before me, as before Allah, his God. Now they are buried----a pyramid of sand covers them all. When I some day blow that away, the sun will bleach the white bones; then travelers may see that men have been there before them. Otherwise, one would not believe that, in the desert!”

“So you have done nothing but evil!” exclaimed the mother. “March into the sack!”

And before he was aware, she had seized the South Wind round the body, and popped him into the bag. He rolled about on the floor; but she sat down on the sack, and then he had to keep quiet.

“Those are lively boys of yours,” said the Prince.

“Yes,” she replied, “and I know how to punish them! Here comes the fourth!”

That was the East Wind, who came dressed like a Chinaman.

“Oh! Do you come from that region?” said his mother. “I thought you had been in the Garden of Paradise.”

“I don't fly there till tomorrow,” said the East Wind. “It will be a hundred years tomorrow since I was there. I come from China now, where I danced around the porcelain tower till all the bells jingled again! In the streets the officials were being thrashed: the bamboos were broken upon their shoulders, yet they were high people, from the first to the ninth grade. They cried, ‘Many thanks, my paternal benefactor!’ But it didn't come from their hearts. And I rang the bells and sang, ‘Tsing, tsang, tsu!’”

“You are foolish,” said the old dame. “It is a good thing that you are going into the Garden of Paradise tomorrow: that always helps on your education. Drink bravely out of the spring of Wisdom, and bring home a little bottlefull for me.”

“That I will do,” said the East Wind. “But why have you clapped my brother South in the bag? Out with him! He shall tell me about the Phoenix bird, for about that bird the Princess in the Garden of Paradise always wants to hear, when I pay my visit every hundredth year. Open the sack, then you shall be my sweetest of mothers, and I will give you two pocketfuls of tea, green and fresh as I plucked it at the place where it grew!”

“Well, for the sake of the tea, and because you are my darling boy, I will open the sack.”

She did so, and the South Wind crept out; but he looked quite downcast, because the strange Prince had seen his disgrace.

“There you have a palm leaf for the Princess,” said the South Wind. “This palm leaf was given me by the Phoenix bird, the only one now in the world. With his beak he has scratched upon it a description of all the hundred years he has lived. Now she may read it all herself. I saw how the Phoenix bird set fire to his nest, and sat upon it, and was burned to death like a Hindoo's widow. How the dry branches crackled! What a smoke and a perfume there was! At last everything burst into flame, and the old Phoenix turned to ashes, but his egg lay red-hot in the fire; it burst with a great bang, and the young one flew out. Now this young one is ruler over all the birds, and the only Phoenix in the world. It has bitten a hole in the palm leaf I have given you: that is a greeting to the Princess.”

“Let us have something to eat,” said the mother of the Winds.

And now they all sat down to eat of the roasted deer. The Prince sat beside the East Wind, and they soon became good friends.

“Just tell me,” said the Prince, “what Princess is that about whom there is so much talk here? and where does the Garden of Paradise lie?”

“Ho, ho!” said the East Wind, “do you want to go there? Well, then, fly tomorrow with me! But I must tell you, however, that no man has been there since the time of Adam and Eve. You have read of them in your Bible history?”

“Yes,” said the Prince.

“When they were driven away, the Garden of Paradise sank into the earth; But it kept its warm sunshine, its mild air, and all its splendour. The Queen of the Fairies lives there, and there lies the Island of Happiness, where death never comes, and where it is beautiful. Sit upon my back tomorrow, and I will take you with me: I think it can very well be done. But now leave off talking, for I want to sleep.”

And then they all went to rest.

In the early morning the Rrince awoke, and was not a little astonished to find himself high above the clouds. He was sitting on the back of the East Wind, who was faithfully holding him: they were so high in the air, that the woods and fields, rivers and lakes, looked as if they were painted on a map below them.

“Good morning!” said the East Wind. “You might very well sleep a little longer, for there is not much to be seen on the flat country under us, unless you care to count the churches. They stand like dots of chalk on the green carpet.”

What he called green carpet was field and meadow.

“It was rude of me not to say good-bye to your mother and your brothers.&rdqu............

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