The chestnut tree moved forward, and the Dryad went with it. Steam-
engine after steam-engine rushed past, sending up into the air vapoury
clouds, that formed figures which told of Paris, whence they came, and
whither the Dryad was going.
Everything around knew it, and must know whither she was bound.
It seemed to her as if every tree she passed stretched out its leaves
towards her, with the prayer " Take me with you ! take me with you !"
for every tree enclosed a longing Dryad.
What changes during this flight ! Houses seemed to be rising out of
the earth more and more thicker and thicker. The chimneys rose
like flower-pots ranged side by side, or in rows one above the other, on
the roofs. Great inscriptions in letters a yard long, and figures in
various colours, covering the walls from cornice to basement, came
" Where does Paris begin, and when shall I be there ? " asked the
The crowd of people grew; the tumult and the bustle increased;
carriage followed upon carriage ; people on foot and people on horse-
back were mingled together; all around were shops on shops, music
and song, crying and talking.
The Dryad, in her tree, was now in the midst of Paris. The great heavy
waggon all at once stopped on a little square planted with trees. The
hi^h houses around had all of them balconies to the windows, from, which
the inhabitants looked down upon the young fresh chestnut tree, which
was coming to be planted here as a substitute for the dead tree that lay
stretched on the ground.
The passers-by stood still and smiled in admiration of its pure vernal
freshness. The older trees, whose buds were still closed, whispered with
their waving branches, " Welcome ! welcome ! " The fountain, throw-
ing its jet of water high up in the air, to let it fall again in the wide
stone basin, told the wind to sprinkle the new-comer with pearly drops,
as if it wished to give him. a refreshing draught to welcome him.
THE TEEE'S AD3IIEEES.
The Dryad felt how her tree was being lifted from the waggon to be
placed in the spot where it was to stand. The roots were covered with
earth, and fresh turf was laid on the top. Blooming shrubs and flowers
in pots were ranged around ; and thus a little garden arose in the square.
The tree that had been killed by the fumes of gas, the steam of
iutchens, and the bad air of the city, was put upon the waggon and
driven away. The passers-by looked on. Children and old men sat
upon the bench, and looked at the green tree. And we who are telling
this story stood upon a balcony, and looked down upon the green spring
Jight that had been brought in from the fresh country air, and said,
what the old clergyman would have said, " Poor Dryad ! "
" I am happy ! I am happy ! " the Dryad cried, rejoicing ; " and yet I
cannot realize, cannot describe what I feel. Everything is as I fancied
it, and yet as I did not fancy it."
896 Stories for the Household.
The houses stood there, so lofty, so close ! The sunlight shone on
only one of the walls, and that one was stuck over with bills and pla-
cards, before which the people stood still ; and this made a crowd.
Carriages rushed past, carriages rolled past; light ones and heavy
ones mingled together. Omnibuses, those over-crowded moving houses,
came rattling by ; horsemen galloped among them ; even carts and
waggons asserted their rights.
The Dryad asked herself if these high-grown houses, which stood so
close around her, would not remove and take other shapes, like the
clouds in the sky, and draw aside, so that she might cast a glance into
Paris, and over it. Notre Dame must show itself, the Vendome Column,
and the wondrous building which had called and was still calling so
many strangers to the city.
But the houses did not stir from their places. It was yet day when
the lamps were lit. The gas-jets gleamed from the shops, and shone
even into the branches of the trees, so that it was like sunlight in
summer. The stars above made their appearance, the same to which
the Dryad had looked up in her home. She thought she felt a clear pure
stream of air which went forth from them. She felt herself lifted up
and strengthened, and felt an increased power of seeing through every
leaf and through every fibre of the root. Amid all the noise and the
turmoi], the colours and the lights, she knew herself watched by mild
From the side streets sounded the merry notes of fiddles and wind
instruments. Up ! to the dance, to the dance! to jollity and pleasure!
that was their invitation. Such music it was, that horses, carriages,
trees, and houses would have danced, if they had known how. The
charm of intoxicating delight filled the bosom of the Dryad.
" How glorious, how splendid it is ! " she cried, rejoicingly. " Now I
arn in Paris ! "
The next day that dawned, the next night that fell, offered the same
spectacle, similar bustle, similar life; changing, indeed, yet always the
same ; and thus it went on through the sequence of days.
" Now I know every tree, every flower on the square here ! I know
every house, every balcony, every shop in this narrow cut-off corner,
where I am denied the sight of the great mighty city. "Where are the
arches of triumph, the Boulevards, the wondrous building of the world r
I see nothing of all this. As if shut up in a cage, I stand among the
high houses, which I now know by heart, with their inscriptions, signs,
and placards ; all the painted confectionery, that is no longer to my
taste. Where are all the things of which I heard, for which I longed,
and for whose sake I wanted to come hither ? What have I seized,
found, won ? I feel the same longing I felt before ; I feel that there
is a life I should wish to grasp and to experience. I must go out into
the ranks of living men, and mingle among them. I must fly about
like a bird. I must see and feel, and become human altogether. I
must enjoy the one half-day, instead of vegetatiug for years in everyday
sameness and weariness, in which I become ill, and at last sink and dis-
appear like the dew on the meadows. I will gleam like the cloud;
gleam in the sunshine of life, look out over the whole like the cloud,
and pass away like it, no one knoweth whither."
Thus sighed the Dryad ; and she prayed :
" Take from me the years that were destined for me, and give me but
half of the life of the ephemeral fly ! Deliver me from my prison !
Give me human life, human happiness, only a short span, only the one
night, if it cannot be otherwise ; and then punish me for my wish to
live, my longing for life ! Strike me out of thy list : let my shell, the
fresh young tree, wither, or be hewn down, and burnt to ashes, and
scattered to all the winds ! "
THE BEAUTIFUL DRYAD.
A rustling went through the leaves of the tree ; there was a trembling
in each of the leaves ; it seemed as though fire streamed through it. A
gust of wind shook its green crown, and from the midst of that crown
a female figure came forth. In the same moment she was sitting beneath
the brightly-illuminated leafy branches, young and beautiful to behold,
like poor Mary, to whom the clergyman had said, " The great city will
be thy destruction! "
The Dryad sat at the foot of the tree at her house door, which she
had locked, and whose key she had thrown away. So young ! so fair !
The stars saw her, and blinked at her. The gas-lamps saw her, and
gleamed and beckoned to her. How delicate she was, and yet how
blooming ! a child, and yet a grown maiden ! Her dress was fine as
silk, green as the freshly-opened leaves on the crown of the tree; in
her nut-brown hair clung a half-opened chestnut blossom. She looked
like the Goddess of Spring.
For one short minute she sat motionless ; then she sprang up, and,
light as a gazelle, she hurried away. She ran and sprang like the re-
8o8 Stories for the Household.
flection from the mirror that, carried by the sunshine, is cast, now here,
now there. Could any one have followed her with his eyes, he would
have seen how marvellously her dress and her form changed, according
to the nature of the house or the place whose light happened to shine
She reached the Boulevards. Here a sea of light streamed forth from
the gas-flames of the lamps, the shops, and the cafes. Here stood in a
row young and slender trees, each of which concealed its Dryad, and
gave shade from the artificial sunlight. The whole vast pavement was
one great festive hall, where covered tables stood laden with refresh-
ments of all kinds, from champagne and Chartreuse down to coffee and
beer. Here was an exhibition of flowers, statues, books, and coloured
Prom the crowd close by the lofty houses she looked forth over the
terrific stream beyond the rows of trees. Yonder heaved a stream of
rolling carriages, cabriolets, coaches, omnibuses, cabs, and among them
riding gentlemen and marching troops. To cross to the opposite shore
was an undertaking fraught with danger to life and limb. !Xow lanterns
shed their radiance abroad ; now the gas had the upper hand ; and sud-
denly a rocket rises \ Whence ? Whither ?
Here are sounds of soft Italian melodies : yonder, Spanish songs are
sung, accompanied by the rattle of the castanets ; but strongest of all,
and predominating over the rest, the street-organ tunes of the moment,
the exciting " Can-can " music, which Orpheus never knew, and which
was never heard ^>y the " Idle Selene : " even the barrow was tempted
to hop upon one of its wheels.
The Dryad danced, floated, flew, changing her colour every moment,
like a humming-bird in the sunshine ; each house, with the world belong-
ing to it, gave her its own reflections.
As the glowing lotus-flower, torn from its stem, is carried away by the
stream, so the Dryad drifted along. Whenever she paused, she was an-
other being, so that none was able to follow her, to recognize her, or to
look more closely at her.
Like cloud-pictures, all things flew by her : she looked into a thousand
faces, but not one was familiar to her ; she saw not a single form from
home. Two bright eyes had remained in her memory : she thought of
Mary, poor Mary, the ragged merry child, who wore the red flowers in
her black hair. Mary was now here, in the world-city, rich and magni-
ficent as in that day when she drove past the house of the old clergyman
and past the tree of the Dryad, the old oak.
Here she was certainly living, in the deafening tumult. Perhaps
she had just stepped out of one of the gorgeous carriages in waiting.
Handsome equipages, with coachmen in gold braid, and footmen iii
silken hose, drove up. The people who alighted from them were all
richly dressed ladies. They went through the opened gate, and ascended
the broad staircase that led to a building resting on marble pillars. Was
this building, perhaps, the wonder of the world ? There Mary would
certainly be found.
The Dry ad. 899
"Sancta Maria ! " resounded from the interior. Incense floated through
the lofty painted and gilded aisles, where a solemn twilight reigned.
It was the Church of the Madeleine.
Clad in black garments of the most costly stuffs, fashioned according
Y.O the latest mode, the rich feminine world of Paris glided across the
shining pavement. The ci'ests of the proprietors were engraved on silver
shields on the velvet-bound prayer-books, and embroidered in the corners
of perfumed handkerchiefs bordered with Brussels lace. A few of the
ladies were kneeling in silent prayer before the altars ; others resorted
to the confessionals.
Anxiety and fear took possession of the Dryad ; she felt as if she had
entered a place where she had no right to be. Here was the abode of
silence, the hall of secrets : everything was said in whispers, every word
was a mystery.
The Dryad saw herself enveloped in lace and silk, like the women of
wealth and of high birth around her. Had, perhaps, every one of them
a longing in her breast, like the Dryad ?
A deep, painful sigh was heard. Did it escape from some confessional
in a distant corner, or from the bosom of the Dryad ? She drew the
veil closer around her ; she breathed incense, and not the fresh air.
Here was not the abiding-place of her longing.
Away ! away ! a hastening without rest. The ephemeral fly knows
not repose, for her existence is flight.
She was out again among the gas candelabra by a magnificent fountain.
" All its streaming waters are not able to wash out the innocent blood
that Avas spilt here."
Such were the words spoken. Strangers stood arouna, carrying on
a lively conversation, such as no one would have dared to carry on in the
gorgeous hall of secrets whence the Dryad came.
A heavy stone slab was turned and then lifted. She did not under-
stand why. She saw an opening that led into the depths below. The
strangers stepped down, leaving the starlit air and the cheerful life of
the upper world behind them.
'' I am afraid," said one of the women who stood around, to her
husband, " I cannot venture to go down, nor do I care for the wonders
do'.vn yonder. You had better stay here with me."
''Indeed, and travel home," said the man, "and quit Paris without
having seen the most wonderful thing of all the real wonder of the
present period, created by the power and resolution of one man ! "
" I will not go down for all that," was the reply.
" The wonder of the present time," it had been called : the Dryad had
heard and had understood it. The goal of her ardent longing had thus
been reached, and here was the entrance to it. Down into the depths
below Paris ? She had not thought of such a thing ; but now she heard
it said, and saw the strangers descending, and went after them.
The staircase was of cast iron, spiral, broad, and easy. Below there
burned a lamp, and farther down, another. They stood in a labyrinth
500 Stories for the Household.
of endless balls and arched passages, all communicating with each other.
All the streets and lanes of Paris were to be seen here again, as in a dim
reflection. The names were painted up ; and every house above had its
number down here also, and struck its roots under the macadamized
quays of a broad canal, in which the muddy water flowed onward. Over
it the fresh streaming water was carried on arches ; and quite at the
top hung the tangled net of gas-pipes and telegraph-wires.
In the distance lamps gleam.ed, like a reflection from the world-city
above. Every now and then a dull rumbling was heard : this came from
the heavy waggons rolling over the entrance bridges.
"Whither had the Dryad come ?
You have, no doubt, heard of the CATACOMBS ? Now they are vanish-
ing-points in that new underground world that wonder of the present
day the sewers of Paris. The Dryad was there, and not in the world's
Exhibition in the Champ de Mars.
She heard exclamations of wonder and admiration.
" From here go forth health and life for thousands upon thousands up
yonder ! Our time is the time of progress, with its manifold blessings."
Such was the opinion and the speech of men ; but not of those crea-
tures who had been born here, and who built and dwelt here of the
EATS, namely, who were squeaking to one another in the clefts of a
crumbling wall, quite plainly, and in a way the Dryad understood well.
A big old Father-Eat, with his tail bitten off, was relieving his feelings
in loud squeaks ; and his family gave their tribute of concurrence to
every word he said .-
" I am disgusted with this man-mewing," he cried " with these out-
bursts of ignorance. A fine magnificence, truly ! all made up of gas and
petroleum ! I can't eat such stuff" as that. Everything here is so fine
and bright now, that one 's ashamed of oneself, without exactly knowing
why. Ah, if we only lived in the days of tallow candles ! and it does
not lie so very far behind us. That was a romantic time, as one may say."
" AVhat are you talking of there ? " asked the Dryad. "I have never
seen you before. What is it you are talking about 't "
" Of the glorious days that are gone," said the Eat, " of the happy
times of our great-grandfathers and great-grandmothers. Then it was a
great thing to get down here. That was a rat's nest quite different
from Paris. Mother Plague used to live here then ; she killed people,
but never rats. Eobbers and smugglers could breathe freely here. Here
was the meeting-place of the most interesting personages, whom one now
only gets to see in the theatres where they act melodramas, up above.
The time of romance is gone even in our rats' nest ; and here also fresh
air and petroleum have broken in."
Thus squeaked the Eat ; he squeaked in honour of the old time,
when Mother Plague was still alive.
A carriage stopped, a kind of open omnibus, drawn by swift horses.
The company mounted and drove away along the Boulevard de Sebas-
topol, that is to say, the underground boulevard, over which the well-
known crowded street of that name extended.
The Dry ad. 901
The carriage disappeared in the twilight ; the Dryad disappeared,
lifted to the cheerful freshness above. Here, and not below in the
vaulted passages, filled with heavy air, the wonder work must be found
which she was to seek in her short lifetime. It must gleam brighter
than all the gas-flames, stronger than the moon that was just gliding
Tes, certainly, she saw it yonder in the distance: it gleamed before
her, and twinkled and glittered like the evening star in the sky.
She saw a glittering portal open, that led to a little garden, where all
was brightness and dance music. Coloured lamps surrounded little
lakes, in which were water-plants of coloured metal, from whose flowers
jets of water spirted up. Beautiful weeping willows real products of
spring hung their fresh branches over these lakes like a fresh, green,
transparent, and yet screening veil. In the bushes burnt an open fire,
throwing a red twilight over the quiet huts of branches, into which the
sounds of music penetrated an ear-tickling, intoxicating music, that
sent the blood coursing through the veins.
Beautiful girls in festive attire, with pleasant smiles on their lips,
and the light spirit of youth in their hearts " Marys," with roses in
their hair, but without carriage and postillion flitted to and fro in the
Where were the heads, where the feet ? As if stung by tarantulas,
they sprang, laughed, rejoiced, as if in their ecstacies they were going
to embrace all the world.
The Dryad felt herself torn with them into the whirl of the dance.
Round her delicate foot clung the silken boot, chestnut brown in colour,
like the ribbon that fluttered from her hair down upon her bare shoul-
ders. The green silk dress waved in large folds, but did not entirely
hide the pretty foot and ankle.
Had she come to the enchanted Garden of Armida ? "What was the
name of the place ?
The name glittered in gas-jets over the entrance. It was " Mabille."
The soaring upwards of rockets, the splashing of the fountains, and
the popping of champagne corks accompanied the wild bacchantic dance.
Over the whole glided the moon through the air, clear, but with a some-
what crooked face.
A wild joviality seemed to rush through the Dryad, as though she
were intoxicated with opium. Her eyes spoke, her lips spoke, but the
sound of violins and of flutes drowned the sound of her voice. Her
partner whispered words to her which she did not understand, nor do
we understand them. He stretched out his arms to draw her to him,
but he embraced only the empty air.
The Dryad had been carried away, like a rose-leaf on the wind. Be-
fore her she saw a flame in the air, a flashing light high up on a tower.
The beacon light shone from the goal of her longing shone from the
red lighthouse tower of the Fata Morgana of the Champ de Mars.
Thither she was carried by the wind. She circled round the tower ;
QQ2 Stones for the Household.
the workmen thought it was a butterfly that had corne too early, and
that now sank down dying.
The moon shone bright, gas-lamps spread light around, through the
halls, over the all-the-world's buildings scattered about, over the rose-
hills and the rocks produced by human ingenuity, from which waterfalls,
driven by the power of " Master Bloodless," fell down. The caverns of
the sea. the depths of the lakes, the kingdom of the fishes were opened
here. Men walked as in the depths of the deep pond, and held converse
with the sea, in the diving-bell of glass. The water pressed against the
strong glass walls above and on every side. The polypi, eel-like living
creatures, had fastened themselves to the bottom, and stretched out
arms, fathoms long, for prey. A big turbot was making himself broad
in front, quietly enough, but not without casting some suspicious glances
aside. A crab clambered over him, looking like a gigantic spider, while
the shrimps wandered about in restless haste, like the butterflies and
moths of the sea.
In the fresh water grew water-lilies, nymphoea, and reeds ; the gold-
fishes stood up below in rank and file, all turning their heads cue way,
that the streaming water might flow into their mouths. Fat carps
stared at the glass wall with stupid eyes. They knew that they were
here to be exhibited, and that they had made the somewhat toilsome
journey hither in tubs filled with water; and they thought with dismay
of the land-sickness from which they had suffered so cruelly on the rail-
They had come to see the Exhibition, and now contemplated it from
their fresh or salt-water position. They looked attentively at the crowds
of people who passed by them early and late. All the nations in the
world, they thought, had made an exhibition of their inhabitants, for the
edification of the soles and haddocks, pike and carp, that they might
give their opinions upon the different kinds.
li Those are scaly animals ! " said a little slimy Whiting. " They put
on different scales two or three times a day, and they emit sounds which
they call speaking. \Ve don't put on scales, and we make ourselves
understood in an easier way, simply by twitching the corners of our
mouths and staring with our eyes. We have a great many advantages
" But they have learned s\vimtning of us," remarked a well-educa
Codling. " You must know I come from the great sea outside. In the
hot time of the year the people yonder go into the water: first they
take off their scales, and then they swim. They have learnt from the
frogs to kick out with their hind legs, and row with their fore paws.
But they cannot hold out long. They want to be like us, but they
cannot come up to us. Poor people ! "
And the fishes stared : they thought that the whole swarm of people
whom they had seen in the bright daylight were still moving around
them ; they were certain they still saw the same forma that had first
caught their attention.
The Dry act.
A pretty Barbel, with spotted skin and an enviably round back, de-
clared that the " human fry " were still there.
" I can see a well set-up human figure quite well," said the Barbel.
i She was called ' contumacious lady,' or something of that kind. She
had a mouth and staring eyes, like ours, and a great balloon at the back
of her head, and something like a shut-up umbrella in front ; there were
a lot of dangling bits of sea-weed hanging about her. She ought to
take all the rubbish oif, and go as we do ; then she would look some-
thing like a respectable barbel, so far as it is possible for a person to
^ook like one ! "
;: "What 's become of that one whom they drew away with the hook ?
He sat on a wheel-chair, and had paper, and pen, and ink, and wrote
down everything. They called him a 'writer.' '
" They 're going about with him still," said a hoary old maid of a Carp,
who carried" her misfortune about with her, so that she was quite hoarse.
In her youth, namely, she had once swallowed a hook, and still swam
patiently about with it in her gullet. " A writer ? That means, as we
fishes should describe it, a kind of cuttle or ink-fish, among men."
Thus the fishes gossiped in their own way ; but in the artificial
water-grotto the labourers were busy, who were obliged to take advan-
tage of the hours of night to get their work done by daybreak. They
accompanied with blows of their hammers, and with songs, the parting
words of the vanishing Dryad.
" So, at any rate, I have seen you, you pretty gold-fishes," she said.
" Yes, I know you," and she waved her hand to them. "I have known
about you a long time in my home ; the swallow told me about you.