There was once a king’s son, no one had so many beautiful books as he. In them
he could read of everything that had ever happened in this world, and he could
see it all pictured in fine illustrations. He could find out about every race
of people and every country, but there was not a single word about where to find
the Garden of Paradise, and this, just this, was the very thing that he thought
When he was still very young and was about to start his schooling, his grandmother
had told him that each flower in the Garden of Paradise was made of the sweetest
cake, and that the pistils were bottles full of finest wine. On one sort of
flower, she told, history was written, on another geography, or multiplication
tables, so that one only had to eat cake to know one’s lesson, and the more
one ate, the more history, geography, or arithmetic one would know.
At the time he believed her, but when the boy grew older and more learned and
much wiser, he knew that the glories of the Garden of Paradise must be of a
very different sort.
"Oh, why did Eve have to pick fruit from the tree of knowledge, and why
did Adam eat what was forbidden him? Now if it had only been I, that would never
have happened, and sin would never have come into the world." He said it
then, and when he was seventeen he said it still. The Garden of Paradise was
always in his thoughts.
He went walking in the woods one day. He walked alone, for this was his favorite
amusement. Evening came on, the clouds gathered, and the rain poured down as
if the sky were all one big floodgate from which the water plunged. It was as
dark as it would be at night in the deepest well. He kept slipping on the wet
grass, and tripping over the stones that stuck out of the rocky soil. Everything
was soaking wet, and at length the poor Prince didn’t have a dry stitch to his
back. He had to scramble over great boulders where the water trickled from the
wet moss. He had almost fainted, when he heard a strange puffing and saw a huge
cave ahead of him. It was brightly lit, for inside the cave burned a fire so
large that it could have roasted a stag. And this was actually being done. A
magnificent deer, antlers and all, had been stuck on a spit, and was being slowly
turned between the rough-hewn trunks of two pine trees. An elderly woman, so
burly and strong that she might have been taken for a man in disguise, sat by
the fire and threw log after log upon it.
"You can come nearer," she said. "Sit down by the fire and let
your clothes dry."
"There’s an awful draft here," the Prince remarked, as he seated
himself on the ground.
"It will be still worse when my sons get home," the woman told him.
"You are in the cave of the winds, and my sons are the four winds of the
world. Do I make myself clear?"
"Where are your sons?" the Prince asked.
"Such a stupid question is hard to answer," the woman told him. "My
sons go their own ways, playing ball with the clouds in that great hall. "And
she pointed up toward the sky.
"Really!" said the Prince. "I notice that you have a rather
forceful way of speaking, and are not as gentle as the women I usually see around
"I suppose they have nothing better to do. I have to be harsh to control
those sons of mine. I manage to do it, for all that they are an obstinate lot.
See the four sacks that hang there on the wall! They dread those as much as
you used to dread the switch that was kept behind the mirror for you. I can
fold the boys right up, let me tell you, and pop them straight into the bag.
We don’t mince matters. There they stay. They aren’t allowed to roam around
again until I see fit to let them. But here comes one of them."
It was the North Wind who came hurtling in, with a cold blast of snowflakes
that swirled about him and great hailstones that rattled on the floor. He was
wearing a bear-skin coat and trousers; a seal-skin cap was pulled over his ears;
long icicles hung from his beard; and hailstone after hailstone fell from the
collar of his coat.
"Don’t go right up to the fire so quickly," the Prince warned him.
"Your face and hands might get frostbite."
"Frostbite!" the North Wind laughed his loudest. "Frostbite!
Why, frost is my chief delight. But what sort of ‘longleg’ are you? How do you
come to be in the cave of the winds?"
"He is here as my guest," the old woman intervened. "And if
that explanation doesn’t suit you, into the sack you go. Do I make myself clear?"
She made herself clear enough. The North Wind now talked of whence he had come,
and where he had traveled for almost a month.
"I come from the Arctic Sea," he told them. "I have been on
Bear Island with the Russian walrus hunters. I lay beside the helm, and slept
as they sailed from the North Cape. When I awoke from time to time the storm
bird circled about my knees. There’s an odd bird for you! He gives a quick flap
of his wings, and then holds them perfectly still and rushes along at full speed."
"Don’t be so long-winded," his mother told him. "So you came
to Bear Island?"
"It’s a wonderful place! There’s a dancing floor for you, as flat as a
platter! The surface of the island is all half-melted snow, little patches of
moss, and outcropping rocks. Scattered about are the bones of whales and polar
bears, colored a moldy green, and looking like the arms and legs of some giant.
"You’d have thought that the sun never shone there. I blew the fog away
a bit, so that the house could be seen. It was a hut built of wreckage and covered
with walrus skins, the fleshy side turned outward, and smeared with reds and
greens. A love polar bear sat growling on the roof of it.
"I went to the shore and looked at bird nests, and when I saw the featherless
nestlings shrieking, with their beaks wide open, I blew down into their thousand
throats. That taught them to shut their mouths. Further along, great walruses
were wallowing about like monstrous maggots, with pigs’ heads, and tusks a yard
"How well you do tell a story, my son," the old woman said. "My
mouth waters when I hear you!"
"The hunt began. The harpoon was hurled into the walrus’s breast, and
a streaming blood stream spurted across the ice like a fountain. This reminded
me of my own sport. I blew my sailing ships, those towering icebergs, against
the boats until their timbers cracked. Ho! how the crew whistled and shouted.
But I outwhistled them all. Overboard on the ice they had to throw their dead
walruses, their tackle, and even their sea chests. I shrouded them in snow,
and let them drift south with their broken boats and their booty alongside,
for a taste of the open sea. They won’t ever come back to Bear Island."
"That was a wicked thing to do," said the mother of the winds.
"I’ll let others tell of my good deeds," he said. "But here
comes my brother from the west. I like him best of all. He has a seafaring air
about him, and carries a refreshing touch of coolness wherever he goes."
"Is that little Zephyr?" the Prince asked.
"Of course it’s Zephyr," the old woman replied, "but he’s not
little. He was a nice boy once, but that was years ago."
He looked like a savage, except that he wore a broad-rimmed hat to shield his
face. In his hand he carried a mahogany bludgeon, cut in the mahogany forests
of America. Nothing less would do!
"Where have you come from?" his mother asked.
"I come from the forest wilderness," he said, "where the thorny
vines make a fence between every tree, where the water snake lurks in the wet
grass, and where people seem unnecessary."
"What were you doing there?"
"I gazed into the deepest of rivers, and saw how it rushed through the
rapids and threw up a cloud of spray large enough to hold the rainbow. I saw
a wild buffalo wading in the river, but it swept him away. He swam with a flock
of wild ducks, that flew up when the river went over a waterfall. But the buffalo
had to plunge down it. That amused me so much that I blew up a storm, which
broke age-old trees into splinters."
"Haven’t you done anything else?" the old woman asked him.
"I turned somersaults across the plains, stroked the wild horses, and
shook cocoanuts down from the palm trees. Yes indeed, I have tales worth telling,
but one shouldn’t tell all he knows. Isn’t that right, old lady?" Then
he gave her such a kiss that it nearly knocked her over backward. He was certainly
a wild young fellow.
Then the South Wind arrived, in a turban and a Bedouin’s billowing robe.
"It’s dreadfully cold in here," he cried, and threw more wood on
the fire. "I can tell that the North Wind got here before me."
"It’s hot enough to roast a polar bear here," the North Wind protested.
"You are a polar bear yourself," the South Wind said.
"Do you want to be put into the sack?" the old woman asked. "Sit
down on that stone over there and tell me where you have been."
"In Africa, dear Mother," said he. "I have been hunting the
lion with Hottentots in Kaffirland. What fine grass grows there on the plains.
It is as green as an olive. There danced the gnu, and the ostrich raced with
me, but I am fleeter than he is. I went into the desert where the yellow sand
is like the bottom of the sea. I met with a caravan, where they were killing
their last camel to get drinking water, but it was little enough they got. The
sun blazed overhead and the sand scorched underfoot. The desert was unending.
"I rolled in the fine loose sand and whirled it aloft in great columns.
What a dance that was! You ought to have seen how despondently the dromedaries
hunched up, and how the trader pulled his burnoose over his head. He threw himself
down before me as he would before Allah, his god. Now they are buried, with
a pyramid of sand rising over them all. When some day I blow it away, the sun
will bleach their bones white, and travelers will see that men have been there
before them. Otherwise no one would believe it, there in the desert."
"So you have done nothing but wickedness!" cried his mother. "Into
the sack with you!" And before he was aware of it, she picked the South
Wind up bodily and thrust him into the bag. He thrashed about on the floor until
she sat down on the sack. That kept him quiet.
"Those are boisterous sons you have," said the Prince.
"Indeed they are," she agreed, "but I know how to keep them
in order. Here comes the fourth one."
This was the East Wind. He was dressed as a Chinaman.
"So that’s where you’ve been!" said his mother. "I thought you
had gone to the Garden of Paradise."
"I won’t fly there until tomorrow," the East Wind said. "Tomorrow
it will be exactly a hundred years since I was there. I am just home from China,
where I danced around the porcelain tower until all the bells jangled. Officials
of state were being whipped through the streets. Bamboo sticks were broken across
their shoulders, though they were people of importance, from the first to the
ninth degree. They howled, ‘Thank you so much, my father and protector,’ but
they didn’t mean it. And I went about clanging the bells and sang, ‘Tsing, tsang,
"You are too saucy," the old woman told him. "It’s a lucky thing
that you’ll be off to the Garden of Paradise tomorrow, for it always has a good
influence on you. Remember to drink deep out of the fountain of wisdom and bring
back a little bottleful for me."
"I’ll do that," said the East Wind. "But why have you popped
my brother from the south into the sack? Let’s have him out. He must tell me
about the phoenix bird, because the Princess in the Garden of Paradise always
asks me about that bird when I drop in on her every hundred years. Open up my
sack, like my own sweet mother, and I’ll give you two pockets full of tea as
green and fresh as it was when I picked it off the bush."
"Well-for the sake of the tea, and because you are my pet, I’ll open the
She opened it up, and the South Wind crawled out. But he looked very glum,
because the Prince, who was a stranger, had seen him humbled.
"Here’s a palm-leaf fan for the Princess," the South Wind said. "It
was given to me by the old phoenix, who was the only one of his kind in the
world. On it he scratched with his beak a history of the hundred years that
he lived, so she can read it herself. I watched the phoenix bird set fire to
her nest, and sat there while she burned to death, just like a Hindoo widow.
What a crackling there was of dry twigs, what smoke, and what a smell of smoldering!
Finally it all burst into flames, and the old phoenix was reduced to ashes,
but her egg lay white-hot in the blaze. With a great bang it broke open, and
the young phoenix flew out of it. Now he is the ruler over all the birds, and
he is the only phoenix bird in all the world. As his greetings to the Princess,
he thrust a hole in the palm leaf I am giving you."
"Let’s have a bite to eat," said the mother of the winds.
As they sat down to eat the roast stag, the Prince took a place beside the
East Wind, and they soon became fast friends.
"Tell me," said the Prince, "who is this Princess you’ve been
talking so much about, and just where is the Garden of Eden?"
"Ah, ha!" said the East Wind. "Would you like to go there? Then
fly with me tomorrow. I must warn you, though, no man has been there since Adam
and Eve. You have read about them in the Bible?"
"Surely," the Prince said.
"After they were driven out, the Garden of Paradise sank deep into the
earth, but it kept its warm sunlight, its refreshing air, and all of its glories.
The queen of the fairies lives there on the Island of the Blessed, where death
never comes and where there is everlasting happiness. Sit on my back tomorrow
and I shall take you with me. I think it can be managed. But now let’s stop
talking, for I want to sleep."
And then they all went to sleep. When the Prince awoke the next morning, it
came as no small surprise to find himself high over the clouds. He was seated
on the back of the East Wind, who carefully held him safe. They were so far
up in the sky that all the woods, fields, rivers, and lakes looked as if they
were printed on a map spread beneath them.
"Good morning," said the East Wind. "You might just as well
sleep a little longer. There’s nothing very interesting in this flat land beneath
us, unless you care to count churches. They stand out like chalk marks upon
the green board."
What he called "the green board" was all the fields and pastures.
"It was not very polite of me to leave without bidding your mother and
brothers farewell," the Prince said.
"That’s excusable, when you leave in your sleep," the East Wind told
him, as they flew on faster than ever.
One could hear it in the tree tops. All the leaves and branches rustled as
they swept over the forest, and when they crossed over lakes or over seas the
waves rose high, and tall ships bent low to the water as if they were drifting
As darkness gathered that evening, it was pleasant to see the great cities
with their lights twinkling here and spreading there, just as when you burn
a piece of paper and the sparks fly one after another. At this sight the Prince
clapped his hands in delight, but the East Wind advised him to stop it and hold
on tight, or he might fall and find himself stuck upon a church steeple.
The eagle in the dark forest flew lightly, but the East Wind flew more lightly
still. The Cossack on his pony sped swiftly across the steppes, but the Prince
sped still more swiftly.
"Now," said the East Wind, "you can view the Himalayas, the
highest mountains in Asia. And soon we shall reach the Garden of paradise."
They turned southward, where the air was sweet with flowers and spice. Figs
and pomegranates grew wild, and on untended vines grew red and blue clusters
of grapes. They came down here, and both of them stretched out on the soft grass,
where flowers nodded in the breeze as if to say: "Welcome back."
"Are we now in the Garden of Paradise?" the Prince asked.
"Oh, no!" said the East Wind. "But we shall come to it soon.
Do you see that rocky cliff, and the big cave, where the vines hang in a wide
curtain of greenery? That’s the way we go. Wrap your coat well about you. Here
the sun is scorching hot, but a few steps and it is as cold as ice. The bird
that flies at the mouth of the cave has one wing in summery and the other in
"So this is the way to the Garden of Paradise," said the Prince,
as they entered the cave.
Brer-r-r! how frosty it was there, but not for long. The East Wind spread his
wings, and they shone like the brighest flames. But what a cave that was! Huge
masses of rock, from which water was trickling, hung in fantastic shapes above
them. Sometimes the cave was so narrow that they had to crawl on their hands
and knees, sometimes so vast that it seemed that they were under the open sky.
The cave resembled a series of funeral chapels, with mute organ pipes and banners
turned to stone.
"We are going to the Garden of Paradise through the gates of death, are
we not?" the Prince asked.
The East Wind answered not a word, but pointed to a lovely blue light that
shone ahead of them. The masses of stone over their heads grew more and more
misty, and at last they looked up at a clear white cloud in the moonlight. The
air became delightfully clement, as fresh as it is in the hills, and as sweetly
scented as it is among the roses that bloom in the valley.
The river which flowed there was clear as the air itself, and the fish in it
were like silver and gold. Purple eels, that at every turn threw off blue sparks,
frolicked about in the water, and the large leaves of the aquatic flowers gleamed
in all of the rainbow’s colors. The flowers themselves were like a bright orange
flame, which fed on the water just as a lamplight is fed by oil.
A strong marble bridge, made so delicately and artistically that it looked
as if it consisted of lace and glass pearls, led across the water to the Island
of the Blessed, where the Garden of Paradise bloomed.
The East Wind swept the Prince up in his arms and carried him across to the
island, where the petals and leaves sang all the lovely old songs of his childhood,
but far, far sweeter than any human voice could sing. Were these palm trees
that grew there, or immense water plants? Such vast and verdant trees the Prince
had never seen before. The most marvelous climbing vines hung in garlands such
as are to be seen only in old illuminated church books, painted in gold and
bright colors in the margins or twined about the initial letters. Here was the
oddest assortment of birds, flowers, and twisting vines.
On the grass near-by, with their brilliantly starred tails spread wide, was
a flock of peacocks. Or so they seemed, but when the Prince touched them he
found that these were not birds. They were plants. They were large burdock leaves
that were as resplendent as a peacock’s train. Lions and tigers leaped about,
as lithe as cats, in the green shrubbery which the olive blossoms made so fragrant.
The lions and tigers were quite tame, for the wild wood pigeon, which glistened
like a lovely pearl, brushed the lion’s mane with her wings, and the timid antelopes
stood by and tossed their heads as if they would like to join in their play.
Then the fairy of the garden came to meet them. Her garments were as bright
as the sun, and her face was as cheerful as that of a happy mother who is well
pleased with her child. She was so young and lovely, and the other pretty maidens
who followed her each wore a shining star in their hair. When the East Wind
gave her the palm-leaf message from the phoenix, her eyes sparkled with pleasure.
She took the Prince by his hand and led him into her palace, where the walls
had the color of a perfect tulip petal held up to the sun. The ceiling was made
of one great shining flower, and the longer one looked up the deeper did the
cup of it seem to be. The Prince went to the window. As he glanced out through
one of the panes he saw the Tree of Knowledge, with the serpent, and Adam and
Eve standing under it.
"Weren’t they driven out?" he asked.
The fairy smilingly explained to him that Time had glazed a picture in each
pane, but that these were not the usual sort of pictures. No, they had life
in them. The leaves quivered on the trees, and the people came and went as in
He looked through another pane and there was Jacob’s dream, with the ladder
that went up to Heaven, and the great angels climbing up and down. Yes, all
that ever there was in the world lived on, and moved across these panes of glass.
Only Time could glaze such artistic paintings so well.
The fairy smiled and led him on into a vast and lofty hall, with walls that
seemed transparent. On the walls were portraits, each fairer than the one before.
These were millions of blessed souls, a happy choir which sang in perfect harmony.
The uppermost faces appeared to be smaller than the tiniest rosebud drawn as
a single dot in a picture. In the center of the hall grew a large tree, with
luxuriantly hanging branches. Golden apples large and small hung like oranges
among the leaves. This was the Tree of Knowledge, of which Adam and Eve had
tasted. A sparkling red drop of dew hung from each leaf, as if the Tree were
weeping tears of blood.
"Now let us get into the boat," the fairy proposed. "There we
will have some refreshments on the heaving water. Though the rocking boat stays
in one place, we shall see all the lands in the world glide by."
It was marvelous how the whole shore moved. Now the high snow-capped Alps went
past, with their clouds and dark evergreen trees. The Alpine horn was heard,
deep and melancholy, and the shepherds yodeled gaily in the valley. But soon
the boat was overhung by the long arching branches of banana trees. Jet-black
swans went swimming by, and the queerest animals and plants were to be seen
along the banks. This was new Holland and the fifth quarter of the globe that
glided past, with its blue hills in the distance. They heard the songs of the
priests and saw the savages dance to the sound of drums, and trumpets of bone.
The cloud-tipped pyramids of Egypt, the fallen columns, and sphinxes half buried
in the sands, swept by. The Northern Lights blazed over the glaciers around
the Pole, in a display of fireworks that no one could imitate. The Prince saw
a hundred times more than we can tell, and he was completely happy.
"May I always stay here?" he asked.
"That is up to you," the fairy told him. "Unless, as Adam did,
you let yourself be tempted and do what is forbidden, you may stay here always."
"I won’t touch the fruit on the Tree of Knowledge," the Prince declared.
"Here are thousands of other fruits that are just as attractive."
"Look into your heart, and, if you have not strength enough, go back with
the East Wind who brought you here. He is leaving soon, and will not return
for a hundred years, which you will spend as quickly here as if they were a
"But that is a long time to resist the temptation to sin. When I leave
you every evening, I shall have to call, ‘ Come with me,’ and hold out my hands
to you. But you must stay behind. Do not follow me, or your desire will grow
with every step. You will come into the hall where the Tree of Knowledge grows.
I sleep under the arch of its sweet-smelling branches. If you lean over me I
shall have to smile, but if you kiss me on the mouth this Paradise will vanish
deep into the earth, and you will lose it. The cutting winds of the wasteland
will blow about you, the cold rain will drip from your hair, and sorrow and
toil will be your destiny."
"I shall stay," the Prince said.
The East Wind kissed his forehead. "Be strong," he said, "and
in a hundred years we shall meet here again. Farewell! farewell!" Then
the East Wind spread his tremendous wings that flashed like lightning seen at
harvest time or like the Northern Lights in the winter cold.
"Farewell! farewell!" the leaves and trees echoed the sound, as the
storks and the pelicans flew with him to the end of the garden, in lines that
were like ribbons streaming through the air.
"Now we will start our dances," the fairy said. "When I have
danced the last dance with you at sundown, you will see me hold out my hands
to you, and hear me call. ‘come with me.’ But do not come. Every evening for
a hundred years, I shall have to repeat this. Every time that you resist, your
strength will grow, and at last you will not even think of yielding to temptation.
This evening is the first time, so take warning!"
And the fairy led him into a large hall of white, transparent lilies. The yellow
stamens of each flower formed a small golden harp, which vibrated to the music
of strings and flutes. The loveliest maidens, floating and slender, came dancing
by, clad in such airy gauze that one could see how perfectly shaped they were.
They sang of the happiness of life-they who would never die-and they sang that
the Garden of Paradise would forever bloom.
The sun went down. The sky turned to shining gold, and in its light the lilies
took on the color of the loveliest roses. The Prince drank the sparkling wine
that the maidens offered him, and felt happier than he had ever been. He watched
the background of the hall thrown open, and the Tree of Knowledge standing in
a splendor which blinded his eyes. The song from the tree was as soft and lovely
as his dear mother’s voice, and it was as if she were saying, "My child,
my dearest child."
The fairy then held out her hands to him and called most sweetly:
"Follow me! Oh, follow me!"
Forgetting his promise-forgetting everything, on the very first evening that
she held out her hands and smiled-he ran toward her. The fragrant air around
him became even more sweet, the music of the harps sounded even more lovely,
and it seemed as though the millions of happy faces in the hall where the Tree
grew nodded to him and sang, "One must know all there is to know, for man
is the lord of the earth." And it seemed to him that the drops that fell
from the Tree of Knowledge were no longer tears of blood, but red and shining
"Follow me! Follow me!" the quivering voice still called, and at
every step that the Prince took his cheeks flushed warmer and his pulse beat
"I cannot help it," he said. "This is no sin. It cannot be wicked
to follow beauty and happiness. I must see her sleeping. No harm will be done
if only I keep myself from kissing her. And I will not kiss her, for I am strong.
I have a determined will."
The fairy threw off her bright robe, parted the boughs, and was instantly hidden
"I have not sinned yet," said the Prince, "and I shall not!"
He pushed the branches aside. There she lay, already asleep. Lovely as only
the fairy of the Garden of Paradise can be, she smiled in her sleep, but as
he leaned over her he saw tears trembling between her lashes.
"Do you weep for me?" he whispered. "Do not weep, my splendid
maiden. Not until now have I known the bliss of Paradise. It runs through my
veins and through all my thoughts. I feel the strength of an angel, and the
strength of eternal life in my mortal body. Let eternal night come over me.
One moment such as this is worth it all." He kissed away the tears from
her eyes, and then his lips had touched her mouth.
Thunder roared, louder and more terrible than any thunder ever heard before,
and everything crashed! The lovely fairy and the blossoming Paradise dropped
away, deeper and deeper. The Prince saw it disappear into the dark night. Like
a small shining star it twinkled in the distance. A deathly chill shook his
body. He closed his eyes and for a long time he lay as if he were dead.
The cold rain fell in his face, and the cutting wind blew about his head. Consciousness
returned to him.
"What have I done?" he gasped. "Like Adam, I have sinned-sinned
so unforgivably that Paradise has dropped away, deep in the earth."
He opened his eyes and he still saw the star far away, the star that twinkled
like the Paradise he had lost-it was the morning star in the sky. He rose and
found himself in the forest, not far from the cave of the winds. The mother
of the winds sat beside him. She looked at him angrily and raised her finger.
"The very first evening!" she said. "I thought that was the
way it would be. If you were my son, into the sack you would certainly go."
"Indeed he shall go there!" said Death, a vigorous old man with a
scythe in his hand, and long black wings. "Yes, he shall be put in a coffin,
but not quite yet. Now I shall only mark him. For a while I’ll let him walk
the earth to atone for his sins and grow better. But I’ll be back some day.
Some day, when he least expects me, I shall put him in a black coffin, lift
it on my head, and fly upward to the star. There too blooms the Garden of Paradise,
and if he is a good and pious man he will be allowed to enter it. But if his
thoughts are bad, and his heart is still full of sin, he will sink down deeper
with his coffin than Paradise sank. Only once in a thousand years shall I go
to see whether he must sink still lower, or may reach the star-that bright star
away up there."