Page images

accompaniment which the stream's murmurings yielded to her song. They could not remain silent concerning the charms of the lovely one, and hastened from the spring into the brook and into the large stream, to tell its inhabitants of the lovely female form that often visited the borders of their stream, and one little fish told it to another so that at last the report reached the gates of the Crystal Palace where dwelt the Nymph of the Sea.

As much admired as Asila was amongst men, was the Nymph Guttula considered a wonder of beauty in her element. The news, therefore, of such a charming princess being seen, not only awakened her curiosity, but also her vanity; and she wished to know this strange being that was so praised even by her own cold stupid fishes. She placed herself in a large rosecolored shell, to which six large carps with shining scales were fastened, and swam up the stream and in the clear shallow brook. She sat herself in the sedge at the edge of the spring in order to await the princess. Asila appeared. She first drank from the clear spring, then complacently surveyed her fine form reflected in the little playful ripples, sat down in the cool part of the grotto where the hot rays of the sun could not penetrate, and sang a simple melody to her lute.

She soon ceased; for out of the sedge resounded the echo of her song; and so soft and sweet, that it was impossible to decide which were the most lovely tones—those of the princess, or those resounding from the sedge. Asila thought it must be an echo—resumed her song, and again it was repeated. - Oh! thou lovely invisible friend,” exclaimed she; “soft echo's voice given by nature to lifeless objects, thou bringest me back my own-with my own voice thou speakest to me and that which came out of the depth of my soul hast thou heard and told me again. Why hast thou been silent hitherto ? Oh! let me always find thee again when I shall come to seek thee.”

The same request was re-echoed from the sedge, and Asila in raptures exclaimed, “ Yes, I will surely come again ;" “ I will come again,” replied the sedge.

The next day saw the princess at the spring, and the pretended echo was not silent. It however no longer gave back merely the words and tones of Asila, but added a few of its own songs which now were repeated by Asila, and no one could tell any more which was the singer and which the echo.

The princess was now seized with the strongest feelings; and going towards the sedge, she looked into it. She called, she entreated this invisible being to come to her, but all remained

still ;—not a ripple, not a leaflet stirred, and Asila went longing and sorrowing back to her chamber.

And still more agitated did Guttula sail in the depths of the stream, back to the Crystal Palace. She hastened to her mother Aqualinda, the powerful ruler of waters, and related what had occurred-what she had heard and scen, and acknowledged that she had no greater desire than to leave her cold waves, and mounting up into the light and warm air, to follow the steps of Asila.

Aqualinda listened passively to the request of her accomplished daughter, and gravely shaking her head with flowing locks of sea-green color, “My child,” said she, “ the first law of nature, our common mother, who has brought us all into existence, is that we should remain in our Element. Whoever allows himself to be enticed beyond its bounds, enters into a sphere for which he is not fitted—where all he meets is strange to him, and he himself is unacceptable to all. The charm of novelty can awaken in us many a desire, and also occupy and engage us awhile; but the consciousness that we are not fitted for our new position—that we are in a strange element—will come upon us at last, and come with double force to lead us back with shame to our former home and proper distinction. Spare yourself this bitter feeling, my child, and remain in your Element.

Guttula heard in silence, but remained unconvinced by her mother's wise discourse; her desire to be with Asila increased every hour; her most favorite pursuits and pleasures became tedious, and her thoughts were engrossed by those unknown circumstances which she thought so superior to her own; and she now really wished herself out of her element.

Without saying any more to her mother, Guttula on the following evening sailed towards the grotto (where she hoped to find Asila) determined to approach still nearer to her and to confide entirely in her. Neither did Asila fail her. The intercourse between these lovely beings was resumed, and as the princess approached the sedgy bank from whence issued the sweet voice, and again stretched out her arms to her unknown friend and called to her, a gentle whispering arose from the depth of the spring to the surface, and upon the mirror of the waters the folds of a milk-white veil became visible, upon which a beautiful rose-colored shell ornamented with costly pearls swam on shore to the feet of the princess. Asila received with delight these beautiful presents, and felt a kind of joyful fear when

reached my


looking deeper in the water, she no longer perceived her own image, but a strange and lovely face which met her's with smiles.

“Oh! come up to me thou beautiful unknown form,” so spake Asila ; “ I have long pined for thee, for thy tones have

heart: so come to me, stay with me, share all I have with me; be my sister.”

Now the water swelled and gurgled, and from out of the waves rose the form of the Nymph. Drops of water ran down her silken garments, and the west winds hastened to come and dry her beautiful hair; the two young girls embraced one another, and promised to be friends and love one another for

Guttula forgot her mother's lessons—she followed her friend in a new, and to her unknown world : her appearance at the Prince's Court made a great sensation. She was presented by Asila as the daughter of a foreign king, and she drew all eyes upon her. It was difficult to decide which of the two princesses was most amiable and lovely; for when hand in hand they entered the drawing-rooms where the prince and all his court were assembled, it was as if two splendid suns had risen at the same moment upon the horizon to break through the day.

Asila appeared generally in a snow-white dress, her dark hair relieved by the loveliest natural flowers, a gold band with a diamond clasp round her slender waist, and a single rose in her bosom.

Guttula wore a blue drapery the color of her own streams, and rich pearls ornamented her fair tresses, a band of shining scales fastened by a coral clasp fastened her flowing robes, and a white water lily rested in her bosom; the two friends were the pride and ornament of the court, and every one strove to procure every enjoyment of life to the fair daughter of the stranger monarch; one feast followed the other-sometimes in the superb drawing-rooms of the palace, sometimes in the free air, and Asila and Guttula were the queens of all hearts.

Thus had several months passed away, when one day the friends were sitting hand in hand in an apartment of the palace, and listened to the howling of an autumnal storm which was making rapid advances over the fields. Guttula was silent; she seemed absorbed in thought, and when Asila questioned her and requested to know what was passing in her mind, “ I am comparing at this moment,” said she, “ my present life with my past one, and cannot yet reconcile myself to many things.


your large dark houses I feel afraid. It is not distance that separates you from each other, it is the thick impenetrable walls that keep men asunder. Many live in a house and often know nothing of one another ; they cannot see each other, and have secrets from one another; they shut and lock the doors so that the one shall not see or know what the other does or says. My beautiful crystal house was very differently arranged. With one look I could see over every one of its inhabitants. We were always near, and known to one another, and never had to hide anything. In your streets there is a never-ceasing noise, your steps have an echo, and the hoofs of your horses resound loudly. The tremulous air carries your voice afar from ear to ear; but the inhabitants of my kingdom go their way softly. No hideous din annoys the ear-each understands the friendly sign of the other, and a speech so low and soft that you cannot hear it, is yet well understood by all. You must earn your bread by the sweat of your brow; we find in our element without trouble all we want. You men are covetous and ask not whose peace you disturb; you throw your nets also in my seas and rob me of my pearls, and catch the poor innocent fish to put it to death, yet have they done you no harm. Alas! I am become fearful and anxious since my intercourse wi

Down in my home we all understand each other, but here I often do not understand you, however loud you may speak.”

Asila took her friend in her arms, and endeavoured to change her ideas, but Guttula only said, “ Thou art good and pure, beloved Asila : with thee I would willingly dwell, but not in this thy dark, dingy, noisy world of walls. Come thou with me in my still clear kingdom—there we shall be happy—the walls of my Crystal Palace are not it is true, painted and ornamented with carvings, but the morning and evening sun gilds them daily, and night reflects in it her innumerable stars. We have not it is true any balls, concerts, or plays ; but we rock ourselves in the wings of the storms, and look upon the breakers dashing against the rocks, and smile upon the games which the waves carry on with the angry yet harmless lightning. Oh! do come down with me in my own depths below.”

Asila sought to console her friend and to divert her by means of new entertainments; but Guttula's melancholy increased every day, and settled itself at last into a sad deep longing for home which she could no longer disguise. Ah! said she sometimes with a sigh, “my mother was right-I ought to have remained in my element !"


[merged small][ocr errors]

Now Asila went to the prince, her father, and confided to him the secret of Guttula's birth, begging of him to help her to console her friend whom she should so much regret losing.

The prince smiled, for to him it appeared easy to make the beautiful girl forget her cold and desolate element. He ordered that every thing should be got ready for a journey which he purposed to undertake with his family and the foreign princess through his whole kingdom, and sought to persuade his daughter that when Guttula should have seen his wide dominions with his many towns and villages, woody mountains and fruitful valleys, and his millions of industrious people, his beautiful castles and luxurious gardens, she would then no longer wish herself back. Indeed, he entertained a hope that his only son might perhaps succeed in gaining the affections of Guttula, and by this means obtain dominion over the waters also.

Every thing was now summoned to administer to the pleasure of the daughter of the strange element. A set of costly carriages and swift horses conveyed the prince and his suite from city to city — the train passed through the loveliest country, and each day brought forth new diversions. Guttula was all astonishment; but when Asila thought she saw joy in the expression of her surprise, she still found that her friend in the comparison she drew between this and her former life, gave the preference to the latter—when for instance, the well cushioned carriage flew like an arrow in the even roads, and the horses hoofs caused the bridge to re-echo their sound, Guttula used to say—“In my shell I used to travel still more softly and faster through the waves; in my kingdom we stand in no need of bridges; the dust does not rise up and lay its cloud on the white forehead.”

When standing upon a hill and looking upon the rising and setting sun, Asila enchanted bid her friend mark this great spectacle of nature—Guttula answered, “ the sun is beautiful, and sends his quickening rays to the earth, but the earth drinks them greedily up and returns nothing in their stead. element it is otherwise. There the sun's lovely image is reflected back, and shews it the soft blue sky on which it wanders, and the waves dress themselves in the colors of this king of the firmament.”

In this manner, so soon as the charm of novelty was passed, Guttula found no satisfaction in anything; and all that filled the soul of Asila with delight, and which she wished to share

In my

« PreviousContinue »