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important errand. Do you see these three apples?" He stretched his hand, and showed me three apples which it could hardly grasp, and which were as wonderfully beautiful as they were large, the one of a-red, the other of a yellow, the third of a green colour. One could not but suppose them precious stones, shaped into the likeness of the fruit. I would have taken them; but he drew back, and said, "You must, in the first place, know that they are not for you. You must give them to the three handsomest youths of the city, who then, each according to his lot, will find brides suitable to their utmost wishes. Take them and prosper!" So saying, he departed, and left the apples in my open hands. They appeared to me to have become still larger. I lifted them up instantly against the light, and found them quite transparent. But soon they stretched upwards in length, and became three beautiful-so beautiful little women of the stature of middle-sized dolls, with clothes of the colours of the apples. So they glided smoothly up my fingers, and when I caught at them, to seize at least one, they hovered upwards so far away, that nothing remained to me but the disappointment. I stood there all amazed and petrified, and still held up my hands, and stared at my fingers, as if there had been something on them to see. But suddenly I beheld upon my finger-ends a delightful maiden dancing, smaller than those, but graceful and lively; and, as she did not fly away like the others, but remained, and moved about, dancing now on one finger-point, now on another, I looked at her for a while with admiration. But, as she pleased me so much, I thought that at last I could grasp her, and made the snatch, as I fancied, adroitly enough. At the moment, however, I felt such a blow on my head, that I fell down stunned, and did not awake from this stupefaction till it was time to dress myself and go to the church.
During the service I often recalled those images; and afterwards at my grandfather's table, when I dined. In the afternoon, I wished to call on some friends, both to show myself in my new dress, with my hat under my arm, and my sword by my side, and because I owed them visits. I found no one at home, and, as I heard that they were gone to the gardens, I
resolved to follow them, and pass my evening pleasantly. My way led towards the mound of the fortifications, and I came to the part which is rightly called the Bad Walls; for it is never quite right there. I walked but slowly, and thought of my three goddesses, but especially of the little nymph; and often held up my fingers, in hopes she might be kind enough to poise herself there again. With such thoughts I was proceeding, when I saw on my left hand in the wall a little door, which I did not remember to have ever noticed before. It looked low, but its pointed arch would have let the tallest man pass. Arch and walls were chiselled out in the handsomest way, with carved work and sculpture. But the door itself was that which drew all my attention. Brown, most antique wood, but little decorated, was crossed with broad bands of brass, wrought with both raised and sunken patterns, the foliage of which, with the most natural birds sitting in it, I could not sufficiently admire. But, what I thought strangest, no keyhole could be seen, no latch, no knocker; and I supposed, therefore, that the door could be opened only from within. I was not mistaken; for when I went nearer, in order to touch the ornaments, it opened inwards, and there appeared a man whose dress had something long, wide, and odd about it. A venerable beard, also, clothed his chin; whence I was inclined to consider him a Jew. But he, as if he had guessed my thoughts, made the sign of the Holy Cross, by which he gave me to understand that he was a good Catholic Christian. "Young gentleman, how came you hither, and what are you doing?" he said to me, with friendly voice and demeanour. "I am admiring," I replied, "the workmanship of this door; for I have never seen any thing like it, unless it were on small pieces in the collections of amateurs." "I am glad," he answered, "that you like such works. The door is much more beautiful inside. Come in, if you are so disposed." I was not in very good spirits about the matter. The extraordinary dress of the doorkeeper, the seclusion, and a something else, I know not what, that seemed to be in the air, oppressed I lingered, therefore, under the pretext of examining the outside bet
ter; and at the same time I looked secretly into the garden, for a garden it was which had opened itself to me. Close within the door I saw a space. Old lime-trees, at regular distances from each other, entirely covered it with their thickly interwoven branches, so that the most numerous companies, in the hottest of the day, might have refreshed themselves in the shade. Already I had reached the threshold, and the old man contrived to win me on step by step. Nay, properly speak ing, I did not resist; for I had always heard that a prince or sultan in such a case must never ask whether there be danger before him. At all events, too, I had my sword by my side; and could I not soon have finished with the old man in case of his showing himself hostile? I therefore entered with perfect confidence: the keeper closed the door, and the bolt shot too so smoothly, that I scarcely heard it.
He now showed me the workmanship employed on the inside, which in truth was of much richer art, explained it to me, and at the same time exhibited remarkable good-will. Being thus entirely tranquillized, I let myself be guided into the shaded space by the wall, which ran in a curve, and I found there much to admire. Niches tastefully adorned with shells, corals, and metallic ores, poured abundant waters from triton-mouths into marble ba sins. Between them were aviaries and other lattices, in which squirrels frisked about, guinea-pigs ran hither and thither, and many other pleasant little creatures. The birds called and sung to us as we advanced; the starlings particularly chattered the absurdest stuff. One cried always Paris! Paris! and the other Narcissus! Narcissus! as distinctly as a schoolboy can say it. The old man seemed to continue watching me earnestly while the birds called out thus, but I pretended not to notice it, and had in truth no leisure to attend to it; for I could easily perceive that we were moving in a curve, and that this shaded space was in fact a great circle, which enclosed a much more important one. Indeed we had actually reached again the small door, and it seemed as though the old man would let me out. But my eyes remained directed towards a golden railing, which seemed to surround the centre of this wonderful garden, and which I had found sufficient opportu
nity to observe during our walk, although the old man contrived to keep me always towards the wall, and therefore pretty far from the middle. And now, just as he was going to the door, I said to him, with a bow, "You have been so extremely kind to me, that I would fain venture to make one more request before I part from you. Might I not look more closely at that golden railing, which appears to surround, with a very large circle, the interior of the garden?"-" Very willingly," replied he;" but in that case you must submit to some conditions.". "In what do they consist ?" I asked hastily. "You must leave here your hat and sword, and cannot let go my hand while I accompany you.""Most willingly," I replied; and laid my hat and sword on the nearest stone bench. Immediately he grasped my left hand with his right, held it fast, and led me with some force straight forwards. When we reached the railing, my wonder changed into amazement. I had never seen any thing like it. On a high vase of marble stood innumerable lances and partisans ranged beside each other, connected by their strangely ornamented upper ends, and so forming an entire circle. I looked through the intervals, and saw just behind them a softly flowing water, bounded on both sides by marble, and having in its clear depths a great number of gold and silver fish, which moved hither and thither, now slowly, now swiftly, now singly, now in troops. would also fain have looked beyond the canal, to see what there was in the heart of the garden. But I found, much to my discontent, that the other side of the water was bordered by a similar railing, and that with so much art, that each interval on this side was exactly covered by a lance or partisan on the other; and that, by these and the other ornaments, it became impossible to see through, shifting one's place as one would. Besides, the old man, who still continued to hold me fast, prevented me moving freely. Meanwhile my curiosity, after all that I had seen, still increased more and more; and I took courage to ask the old man whether one could not pass over. "Why not?" answered he: "but on new conditions." When I asked him what these were, he gave me to understand that I must change my dress. I was
And now I
well contented; and he led me back to wards the wall, into a small neat room, having on the walls many kinds of garments, which all approached the Oriental costume. I was soon changed. He crushed my powdered hair under a many-coloured net, after having, to my horror, violently cleared it of the powder. Now, standing before a great mirror, I thought myself quite handsome in my disguise, and pleased my. self better than in my stiff Sunday clothes. I made some postures and leaps, such as I had seen among the dancers at the Fair theatre. At the same time I looked in the glass, and saw, by chance, the image of a niche behind me. On its white ground hung three green cords, each of them twisted up in a way, which, from the distance, I could not clearly distinguish. I therefore turned round rather hastily, and asked the old man about the niche as well as the cords. He very cour teously took one down, and showed it to me. It was a band of green silk, of moderate thickness; and the ends joined by a green leather, with two holes in it, gave it the appearance of an instrument for no very pleasant purpose. The thing struck me as suspicious, and I asked the old man the meaning. He answered me very quietly and kindly-This is for those who abuse the confidence which is here shown them. He hung the cord again in its place, and immediately desired me to follow him; for this time he did not hold me, and so I walked freely beside him.
My chief curiosity now was to know the place of the gate and of the bridge, for passing through the railing and over the canal; for as yet I had not been able to find out any thing of the kind. I therefore watched the golden circuit very accurately as we hastened towards it. But in a moment my eyes seemed to fail me; for suddenly lances, spears, halberts, and partisans began to shake and quake, and this strange movement ended by all the points sinking towards each other, just as if two ancient hosts, armed with pikes, were lowering their weapons for a charge. The confusion for the eyes, the clatter for the ears, were hardly bearable ; but endlessly surprising was the sight, when, having fallen quite level, they covered the circle of the canal, and formed the most beautiful of all
bridges that man can imagine; for now the most varied garden-parterre lay before my sight. It was laid out in curved beds, which, looked at together, formed a labyrinth of ornaments; all with green borders of a low plant of woolly growth, which I had never seen before; all with flowers, each division of different colours, which, being likewise low and on the ground, made it easy to follow the lines of the design. This delicious view, which I enjoyed under the full sunshine, altogether enchained my eyes. But I hardly knew where I was to set my foot; for the serpentine paths were most accurately laid with blue sand, which seemed to form upon the earth a darker sky, or a sky seen in the water. Thus I walked for a while beside my conductor with my eyes fixed upon the ground, until at last I was aware that, in the middle of this round of beds and flowers, there was a great circle of cypresses or poplar-like trees, through which one could not see, because the lowest branches seemed to spring out of the ground. My conductor, without taking me exactly the shortest way, yet led me immediately towards that centre; and how was I astonished when, on entering the grove of high trees, I saw before me the peristyle of a costly garden-house, which seemed to have similar prospects and entrances on the other sides! Still more than this model of architecture did the heavenly music delight me, which streamed from the building. I thought that there was now a lute, now a harp, now a guitar, and then anon something jingling which suited none of these instruments. The door which we approached opened soon after a light touch of the old man. But how was I amazed when the doorkeeper, who came out, was seen to resemble perfectly the delicate maiden who had danced upon my fingers in my dream! She greeted me, moreover, as if we were already acquainted, and invited me in. The old man remained behind, and I went with her through an arched and finely decorated short passage to the middle hall, of which the splendid domed ceiling drew my gaze on my first entrance, and threw me into admiration. Yet my eye could not long linger, on this, for it was allured away by a more attractive spectacle. On a carpet, directly un
der the middle of the cupola, sat three women, forming a triangle, clad in three different colours; the one red, the other yellow, the third green. The seats were gilt, and the carpet a perfect flower-bed. In their arms lay the three instruments which I had been able to distinguish from the outside; for, being disturbed by my arrival, they had stopped in their playing. "Welcome to us!" said the middle one, she who sat with her face to the door, in a red dress, and with the harp. "Sit down by Alert, and listen, if you are a lover of music."
Now first I remarked that below, obliquely before them, was a rather long bench, on which lay a mandoline. The pretty maiden took it up, sat down, and drew me to her side. Now I also looked at the second lady on my right. She had the yellow dress, and the guitar in her hand; and if that harp-player was dignified in form, grand in features, and majestic in demeanour, one might observe in the guitarist a lightly pleasant and cheerful character. She was slender, and with fair hair; while that of the other was dark brown. The variety and concord of their music could not prevent me from now also remarking the third beauty, in the green dress, whose lute-playing had something which at once affected and impressed
She was the one who seemed to notice me the most, and to direct her music to me; only I could not make up my mind about her; for she appeared to me now tender, now whimsical, now candid, now capricious, according as she changed her gestures and playing. Now she seemed to wish to touch, now to teaze me; but do what she would, she made little progress with me; for my little neighbour, by whom I sat elbow to elbow, had won me entirely for herself. And while I clearly recognised in those three ladies, the Sylphids of my dream, and the colours of the apples, I knew well that I had no motive to detain them. I would rather have made prize of the pretty little one, if only I had not too feelingly remembered the blow which she had given me in my dream. Hitherto she had remained quite quiet with her mandoline; but when her mistresses had ceased, they commanded her to perform some pleasant little piece. Scarcely had she jingled off some
lively dancing-tunes, when she sprang on high; I did the same. She played and danced; I was hurried away to accompany her steps, and we executed a kind of little ballet, with which the ladies seemed pleased; for as soon as we had done, they commanded the little one to refresh me with something good in the interval till supper should come in. In truth, I had forgotten that there was any thing else in the world beyond this paradise. Alert led me back immediately into the passage by which I had come in. On one side of it she had two well
arranged chambers. In the one in which she lived she set before me oranges, figs, peaches, and grapes; and I enjoyed, with much appetite, both the fruits of foreign lands and those proper to months not yet come. Of sugared things there was a superabundance. She filled, too, a goblet of polished crystal with foaming wine; but I had no need to drink, for I had restored myself enough with the fruits. "Now we will play," said she, and led me into the other chamber. Here all looked like a Christmas-fair.
But things so precious and exquisite were never seen in a booth at a festival.
There were all kinds of dolls, dolls' clothes, and doll furniture; kitchens, parlours, and shops, and single toys innumerable. She led me round to all the glass-cases, for in such were these ingenious works preserved. But she soon shut up again the first cases, and said," That is not for you; I know it well. But here, she said, we could find building materials; walls and towers, houses, palaces, churches, to put together a great city. That, however, does not amuse me. We will try at something else, which will be equally pleasant to you and me." Then she brought out some boxes, in which I saw a little army piled upon each other, but of which I must needs confess that I had never seen any thing so beautiful. She did not leave me time to examine more in detail, but took the one box under her arm, and I seized the other." We will go," she said, "upon the golden bridge. There one plays best with soldiers. The lances give at once the direction in which one must oppose the armies to each other."-Now we had reached the golden trembling floor. Below me I heard the water gurgle, and the fishes leap, while I knelt down to
range my lines. All, as I now saw, were cavalry. She boasted that she had the Queen of the Amazons for leader of her female host. I, on the contrary, found Achilles and a stately Grecian cavalry. The armies stood facing each other, and one could see nothing more beautiful. They were not at all flat leaden horsemen like ours, but man and horse round and solid, and most finely wrought. Neither could one well conceive how they kept themselves balanced; for they stood up independently, without a base under their feet.
Now when each of us had surveyed our hosts with much self-satisfaction, she announced to me the moment of onset. We had also found missiles in our chests; they were little boxes full of well-polished agate balls. With these we were to fight against each other from a certain distance, while, however, it was an express condition that we were not to throw more violently than was necessary to upset the figures, for none of them were to be injured. Now the mutual cannonade began, and at first it succeeded to the satisfaction of both. But when my opponent observed that I aimed better than she, and at last should win the victory, which depended on the majority of those remaining upright, she came nearer, and her girlish throwing had then the desired result. She laid low a multitude of my best troops, and the more I protested the more eagerly did she shoot. This at last vexed me, and I explained that I would do the same. In fact, I not only came nearer, but in anger threw much more violently, so that it was not long before a pair of her little centauresses flew in pieces. In her eagerness she did not at once notice it; but I stood petrified when the broken figures joined together again of themselves, Amazon and horse again one whole, and at the same time became quite alive, galloped from the golden bridge under the lime-trees, and, careering swiftly hither and thither, disappeared at last against the wall, I know not how. My fair opponent had hardly perceived this, when she broke out into loud weeping and lamentation, and exclaimed that I had caused her an irreparable loss, which was far greater than could be uttered. But I, who was by this time provoked, was glad to annoy her, and blindly flung with
force a couple of agate balls that I had left into the midst of her army. Unhappily I hit the queen, who, in our temperate sport, had hitherto been excepted. She flew in pieces, and her nearest officers were also shivered. But they swiftly set themselves up again, and started off like the others, galloped very merrily about under the lime-trees, and disappeared against the wall.
My opponent scolded and abused me. But I now, once at work, stooped to pick up some agate-balls which rolled about upon the golden lances. It was my ferocious wish to destroy her whole host. She, on the other hand, not idle, sprang at me, and gave me a box on the ear, which made my head dizzy. I, who had always heard, that a downright kiss suits a girl's box of the ear, took her by the ears and kissed her over and over, But she gave such a piercing cry as frightened even me. I let her go, and it was my good-luck that I did so; for, in a moment, I knew not where I was, the ground beneath me began to quake and rattle. I soon remarked that the railings began to move again; but I had no time to consider, nor could I find footing to escape. I feared at every instant to be pierced, for the partisans and lances, which lifted themselves up, were already cutting my clothes. In fine, I know not how it was, my hearing and sight failed, and I recovered from my stupefaction and from my terror at the foot of a lime-tree, against which the pikes in springing up had thrown me. With my awakening my anger awakened also, which violently increased when I caught from the other side the gibes and laughter of my opponent, who had there reached the earth somewhat more nimbly than I. Upon this I sprung up, as I saw the little host, with its leader Achilles, scattered round me, having been driven over with me by the rising of the rails. I seized the hero first and threw him against a tree. His restoration and his flight now pleased me doubly, as the malicious pleasure was united with the enjoyment of the prettiest sight in the world; and I was on the point of sending all the other Greeks after him, when suddenly whizzing waters spurted at me on all sides, from stones and walls, from ground and branches; and wherever I turned, discharged at me with