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Fabulous Fairy Tales for children and adults. From our vast collection of old traditional fairy tales and fables.

The Garden Of Paradise - Part 1

THERE was once a king's son who had a larger and more
beautiful collection of books than any one else in the world,
and full of splendid copper-plate engravings. He could read
and obtain information respecting every people of every land;
but not a word could he find to explain the situation of the
garden of paradise, and this was just what he most wished to
know. His grandmother had told him when he was quite a little
boy, just old enough to go to school, that each flower in the
garden of paradise was a sweet cake, that the pistils were
full of rich wine, that on one flower history was written, on
another geography or tables; so those who wished to learn
their lessons had only to eat some of the cakes, and the more
they ate, the more history, geography, or tables they knew. He
believed it all then; but as he grew older, and learnt more
and more, he became wise enough to understand that the
splendor of the garden of paradise must be very different to
all this. 'Oh, why did Eve pluck the fruit from the tree of
knowledge? why did Adam eat the forbidden fruit?' thought the
king's son: 'if I had been there it would never have happened,
and there would have been no sin in the world.' The garden of
paradise occupied all his thoughts till he reached his
seventeenth year.

One day he was walking alone in the wood, which was his
greatest pleasure, when evening came on. The clouds gathered,
and the rain poured down as if the sky had been a waterspout;
and it was as dark as the bottom of a well at midnight;
sometimes he slipped over the smooth grass, or fell over
stones that projected out of the rocky ground. Every thing was
dripping with moisture, and the poor prince had not a dry
thread about him. He was obliged at last to climb over great
blocks of stone, with water spurting from the thick moss. He
began to feel quite faint, when he heard a most singular
rushing noise, and saw before him a large cave, from which
came a blaze of light. In the middle of the cave an immense
fire was burning, and a noble stag, with its branching horns,
was placed on a spit between the trunks of two pine-trees. It
was turning slowly before the fire, and an elderly woman, as
large and strong as if she had been a man in disguise, sat by,
throwing one piece of wood after another into the flames.

'Come in,' she said to the prince; 'sit down by the fire
and dry yourself.'

'There is a great draught here,' said the prince, as he
seated himself on the ground.

'It will be worse when my sons come home,' replied the
woman; 'you are now in the cavern of the Winds, and my sons
are the four Winds of heaven: can you understand that?'

'Where are your sons?' asked the prince.

'It is difficult to answer stupid questions,' said the
woman. 'My sons have plenty of business on hand; they are
playing at shuttlecock with the clouds up yonder in the king's
hall,' and she pointed upwards.

'Oh, indeed,' said the prince; 'but you speak more roughly
and harshly and are not so gentle as the women I am used to.'

'Yes, that is because they have nothing else to do; but I
am obliged to be harsh, to keep my boys in order, and I can do
it, although they are so head-strong. Do you see those four
sacks hanging on the wall? Well, they are just as much afraid
of those sacks, as you used to be of the rat behind the
looking-glass. I can bend the boys together, and put them in
the sacks without any resistance on their parts, I can tell
you. There they stay, and dare not attempt to come out until I
allow them to do so. And here comes one of them.'

It was the North Wind who came in, bringing with him a
cold, piercing blast; large hailstones rattled on the floor,
and snowflakes were scattered around in all directions. He
wore a bearskin dress and cloak. His sealskin cap was drawn
over his ears, long icicles hung from his beard, and one
hailstone after another rolled from the collar of his jacket.

'Don't go too near the fire,' said the prince, 'or your
hands and face will be frost-bitten.'

'Frost-bitten!' said the North Wind, with a loud laugh;
'why frost is my greatest delight. What sort of a little snip
are you, and how did you find your way to the cavern of the
Winds?'

'He is my guest,' said the old woman, 'and if you are not
satisfied with that explanation you can go into the sack. Do
you understand me?'

That settled the matter. So the North Wind began to relate
his adventures, whence he came, and where he had been for a
whole month. 'I come from the polar seas,' he said; 'I have
been on the Bear's Island with the Russian walrus-hunters. I
sat and slept at the helm of their ship, as they sailed away
from North Cape. Sometimes when I woke, the storm-birds would
fly about my legs. They are curious birds; they give one flap
with their wings, and then on their outstretched pinions soar
far away.

'Don't make such a long story of it,' said the mother of
the winds; 'what sort of a place is Bear's Island?'

'A very beautiful place, with a floor for dancing as
smooth and flat as a plate. Half-melted snow, partly covered
with moss, sharp stones, and skeletons of walruses and
polar-bears, lie all about, their gigantic limbs in a state of
green decay. It would seem as if the sun never shone there. I
blew gently, to clear away the mist, and then I saw a little
hut, which had been built from the wood of a wreck, and was
covered with the skins of the walrus, the fleshy side
outwards; it looked green and red, and on the roof sat a
growling bear. Then I went to the sea shore, to look after
birds' nests, and saw the unfledged nestlings opening their
mouths and screaming for food. I blew into the thousand little
throats, and quickly stopped their screaming. Farther on were
the walruses with pig's heads, and teeth a yard long, rolling
about like great worms.

'You relate your adventures very well, my son,' said the
mother, 'it makes my mouth water to hear you.

'After that,' continued the North Wind, 'the hunting
commenced. The harpoon was flung into the breast of the
walrus, so that a smoking stream of blood spurted forth like a
fountain, and besprinkled the ice. Then I thought of my own
game; I began to blow, and set my own ships, the great
icebergs sailing, so that they might crush the boats. Oh, how
the sailors howled and cried out! but I howled louder than
they. They were obliged to unload their cargo, and throw their
chests and the dead walruses on the ice. Then I sprinkled snow
over them, and left them in their crushed boats to drift
southward, and to taste salt water. They will never return to
Bear's Island.'

'So you have done mischief,' said the mother of the Winds.

'I shall leave others to tell the good I have done,' he
replied. 'But here comes my brother from the West; I like him
best of all, for he has the smell of the sea about him, and
brings in a cold, fresh air as he enters.'

'Is that the little Zephyr?' asked the prince.

'Yes, it is the little Zephyr,' said the old woman; 'but
he is not little now. In years gone by he was a beautiful boy;
now that is all past.'

He came in, looking like a wild man, and he wore a
slouched hat to protect his head from injury. In his hand he
carried a club, cut from a mahogany tree in the American
forests, not a trifle to carry.

'Whence do you come?' asked the mother.

'I come from the wilds of the forests, where the thorny
brambles form thick hedges between the trees; where the
water-snake lies in the wet grass, and mankind seem to be
unknown.'

'What were you doing there?'

'I looked into the deep river, and saw it rushing down
from the rocks. The water drops mounted to the clouds and
glittered in the rainbow. I saw the wild buffalo swimming in
the river, but the strong tide carried him away amidst a flock
of wild ducks, which flew into the air as the waters dashed
onwards, leaving the buffalo to be hurled over the waterfall.
This pleased me; so I raised a storm, which rooted up old
trees, and sent them floating down the river.'

'And what else have you done?' asked the old woman.

'I have rushed wildly across the savannahs; I have stroked
the wild horses, and shaken the cocoa-nuts from the trees.
Yes, I have many stories to relate; but I need not tell
everything I know. You know it all very well, don't you, old
lady?' And he kissed his mother so roughly, that she nearly
fell backwards. Oh, he was, indeed, a wild fellow.

Now in came the South Wind, with a turban and a flowing
Bedouin cloak.

'How cold it is here!' said he, throwing more wood on the
fire. 'It is easy to feel that the North Wind has arrived here
before me.'

'Why it is hot enough here to roast a bear,' said the
North Wind.

'You are a bear yourself,' said the other.

'Do you want to be put in the sack, both of you?' said the
old woman. 'Sit down, now, on that stone, yonder, and tell me
where you have been.'

'In Africa, mother. I went out with the Hottentots, who
were lion-hunting in the Kaffir land, where the plains are
covered with grass the color of a green olive; and here I ran
races with the ostrich, but I soon outstripped him in
swiftness. At last I came to the desert, in which lie the
golden sands, looking like the bottom of the sea. Here I met a
caravan, and the travellers had just killed their last camel,
to obtain water; there was very little for them, and they
continued their painful journey beneath the burning sun, and
over the hot sands, which stretched before them a vast,
boundless desert. Then I rolled myself in the loose sand, and
whirled it in burning columns over their heads. The dromedarys
stood still in terror, while the merchants drew their caftans
over their heads, and threw themselves on the ground before
me, as they do before Allah, their god. Then I buried them
beneath a pyramid of sand, which covers them all. When I blow
that away on my next visit, the sun will bleach their bones,
and travellers will see that others have been there before
them; otherwise, in such a wild desert, they might not believe
it possible.'

'So you have done nothing but evil,' said the mother.
'Into the sack with you;' 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, till she sat herself upon
him to keep him still.

'These boys of yours are very lively,' said the prince.

'Yes,' she replied, 'but I know how to correct them, when
necessary; and here comes the fourth.' In came the East Wind,
dressed like a Chinese.

'Oh, you come from that quarter, do you?' said she; 'I
thought you had been to the garden of paradise.'

'I am going there to-morrow,' he replied; 'I have not been
there for a hundred years. I have just come from China, where
I danced round the porcelain tower till all the bells jingled
again. In the streets an official flogging was taking place,
and bamboo canes were being broken on the shoulders of men of
every high position, from the first to the ninth grade. They
cried, 'Many thanks, my fatherly benefactor;' but I am sure
the words did not come from their hearts, so I rang the bells
till they sounded, 'ding, ding-dong.''

'You are a wild boy,' said the old woman; 'it is well for
you that you are going to-morrow to the garden of paradise;
you always get improved in your education there. Drink deeply
from the fountain of wisdom while you are there, and bring
home a bottleful for me.'

'That I will,' said the East Wind; 'but why have you put
my brother South in a bag? Let him out; for I want him to tell
me about the phoenix-bird. The princess always wants to hear
of this bird when I pay her my visit every hundred years. If
you will open the sack, sweetest mother, I will give you two
pocketfuls of tea, green and fresh as when I gathered it from
the spot where it grew.'

'Well, for the sake of the tea, and because you are my own
boy, I will open the bag.'

She did so, and the South Wind crept out, looking quite
cast down, because the prince had seen his disgrace.

'There is a palm-leaf for the princess,' he said. 'The old
phoenix, the only one in the world, gave it to me himself. He
has scratched on it with his beak the whole of his history
during the hundred years he has lived. She can there read how
the old phoenix set fire to his own nest, and sat upon it
while it was burning, like a Hindoo widow. The dry twigs
around the nest crackled and smoked till the flames burst
forth and consumed the phoenix to ashes. Amidst the fire lay
an egg, red hot, which presently burst with a loud report, and
out flew a young bird. He is the only phoenix in the world,
and the king over all the other birds. He has bitten a hole in
the leaf which I give you, and that is his greeting to the
princess.'

'Now let us have something to eat,' said the mother of the
Winds. So they all sat down to feast on the roasted stag; and
as the prince sat by the side of the East Wind, they soon
became good friends.

'Pray tell me,' said the prince, 'who is that princess of
whom you have been talking! and where lies the garden of
paradise?'

'Ho! ho!' said the East Wind, 'would you like to go there?
Well, you can fly off with me to-morrow; but I must tell you
one thing- no human being has been there since the time of
Adam and Eve. I suppose you have read of them in your Bible.'

'Of course I have,' said the prince.

'Well,' continued the East Wind, 'when they were driven
out of the garden of paradise, it sunk into the earth; but it
retained its warm sunshine, its balmy air, and all its
splendor. The fairy queen lives there, in the island of
happiness, where death never comes, and all is beautiful. I
can manage to take you there to-morrow, if you will sit on my
back. But now don't talk any more, for I want to go to sleep;'
and then they all slept.

When the prince awoke in the early morning, he was not a
little surprised at finding himself high up above the clouds.
He was seated on the back of the East Wind, who held him
faithfully; and they were so high in the air that woods and
fields, rivers and lakes, as they lay beneath them, looked
like a painted map.

'Good morning,' said the East Wind. 'You might have slept
on a while; for there is very little to see in the flat
country over which we are passing unless you like to count the
churches; they look like spots of chalk on a green board.' The
green board was the name he gave to the green fields and
meadows.


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