The Hurricane Pursues the Princess
MEANTIME the disappearance of the charming Princess from the Brocken had put the dark man into a fury.
He knew quite well that so pure a stream was no fitting prey for him, especially since the Demon of Pride (who of all others gave him the greatest influence over her) had left her.
What measures could he take to recover the graceful child?
It occurred to him that the little Princess was terribly afraid of the Hurricane; therefore he immediately called to the North Wind, and commanded it to blow up the valley, in exactly the contrary direction to the one Ilsee had chosen.
"Ah," said he, "that will oblige her to retrace her steps and bring her back to the Brocken."
The North Wind did his best to carry out this order.
He began to blow and whistle and howl with such violence, that he shook the trees so as almost to uproot them, and the ground was strewed with their broken boughs.
A young pine, which was not very firmly fixed on the slope of a rock, was hurled down, and lay across little Ilsee's path.
The Wind suddenly snatched Ilsee's floating veil, and endeavoured to drag her away with him; but the little Princess, with one desperate effort, disengaged herself, and resumed her rapid course, without waiting to see what became of her veil, which she left in the Wind's grasp.
At this moment self was forgotten, and it is only right to mention that on her own account she had no fear, the danger to her beloved trees was what tormented her; and if she bad possessed the power, she would with all her heart have assisted her unfortunate protectors to struggle against the storm.
She approached the uprooted pine, threw herself upon him weeping bitterly, bedewed him with her tears, and bathed his wounds with tender compassion.
She gently rocked, in her delicate arms, the little green branches of the oak and beech, which the North Wind tossed into her bosom; she refreshed their injured leaves with kisses, and led them tenderly on their way, until at last she placed them softly on some cosy little mossy bed at the side of the ravine.
All this time the dark man was standing on the Brocken, gnashing his teeth with rage.
When he saw the Hurricane exhausting itself in useless efforts to recover the fugitive, he murmured in a sinister tone, "I will send old Winter after her, grey, desolate Winter, accompanied by hunger and cold, with his long dark nights, during which Temptation is on the alert, and Sin glides through his mysterious paths.
He has already brought me more than one poor soul, so doubtless he will manage to add this Princess of the Waters to his list.
he cried out, "continue to rage down below, and do not cease your efforts; strip the trees of theft foliage, and prepare the way for Winter.
He only comes, as you know, when he can pass over the withered leaves with heavy step."
The North Wind, like a faithful servant, blew through the valley with redoubled violence and keenness; the beech-trees quaked and trembled, and in their flight let all their yellow leaves fall to the earth; the frost reddened the tops of the oaks, and they, too, despoiling themselves of theft vesture, and contemplating with sorrow theft naked branches, uneasily awaited the arrival of Winter.
The Pine alone remained calm and motionless, and continued to wear his velvet mantle of beautiful dark green.
Little Ilsee, who flowed at his feet, could not make this out, and in a pettish tone reproached the other trees in the following words :- "Indeed you are very foolish.
What makes you, in that strange and impolite manner, throw all your dried leaves in my face?
Do you no longer love little Ilsee, and do you wish to blind her with your acorns and beech-nuts?"
And the child bounded on in a rage, shaking off the yellow leaves which had settled on her hair, or were encumbering the folds of her brilliant dress.
And now Winter had set in on the Brocken.
His Majesty the Demon, with his own hands, clothed him in the very thickest mantle of fog, and then, after slowly crossing the high mountains, the old man rolled heavily down into the valley.
He did not fully reveal himself at first, but began his work gently, and tried to insinuate himself by flattery.
* He covered the trees and bushes with little white robes of sparkling hoar-frost, so sparkling, that Ilsee, dazzled by the brightness, did not know where to rest her eyes.
Afterwards came the snow-flakes, whirling down from the sky above.
The little Princess thought at first that they must be the clouds themselves, come to visit her in the valley, and renew the acquaintance formed on the summit of the Alps.
But as Winter continued to spread his cold winding-sheet more and more heavily over the mountain gorge, beneath which all lay buried, stones, roots, plants, mosses, even the little pale and frozen blades of grass, Ilsee began to feel alarmed, for she thought that probably her turn might soon come.
She was very lonely at no longer seeing her dear verdure, and she worked eagerly, washing all the stones she met with, removing the snow, and liberating the tender little mosses.
All at once, to her terror, she felt herself pierced with sharp icy pricks, and she observed that Winter had spread hard shining links of chains round the stones and tree-roots, and that these chains, increasing and lengthening more and more, must eventually paralyse her young and delicate limbs.
Furious Winter next seized the fragile breast of the poor child in his cold piercing grasp.
An icy shudder ran through her frame, as she tremblingly entwined herself round the knotted roots of the Pine.
She raised her eyes imploringly towards this giant king of the forest, and observed that he too was clothed in the white robe of Winter, but that he still wore his dark mantle of green, beneath the cold snow.
This pleasant sight recalled the spring-time to her, and cheered her, pouring comfort and hope into her little heart.
New life and strength now began to circulate through her whole being.
"O Pine," cried Ilsee, "how do you manage to hold up your head against cold Winter, and to preserve your life and vigour from his icy embrace?
Cannot I learn to resist him, as you do?"
— " It is because I am planted upon a rock," said the Pine; "and because I live with my head turned towards heaven, the Creator has given me strength to remain ever green.
You also, little Ilsee, derive your source from the rock, and in your limpid wave you reflect the light of heaven, as pure and unchanged as when you receive it.
If you have the true real life within you, you have sufficient strength to overcome the winter.
Therefore, trust in God, little Ilsee; speed on your way, and do not weary."
"Dear Pine," she replied, "I wish to become strong and courageous like you, that I also may resist Winter;" and as she spoke, she freed herself, by a violent shake, from the stiff grasp which held her garments fast amongst the stones, and precipitated herself into the valley, bounding over and crushing all the obstacles and sharp icicles which tried to stop her in her career.
Old Winter, being unable to follow her gambols through the fields, sat grumbling in the snow, obliged to acknowledge his helplessness and inability to overtake the active Princess.
The following day, as little Ilsee, joyous with her victory, was gaily leaping and chasing before her with indefatigable ardour the crystals of ice she had broken off the stones, the Mosses on the bank cried out, "Oh, Ilsee, dear Ilsee, do come to our help! The snow weighs so heavily on our poor little heads, that we can scarcely hold up our feeble stalks; do help us, Winter injures us so sadly."
The kind-hearted little Princess ran towards them, carefully raised a tiny corner of the heavy winding-sheet of snow, and gliding her sweet face in at the opening, repeated to the little Mosses the lessons of wisdom she had learned from the Pine.
"You, too, are planted on the rock," she said, "and the great Creator permits you to retain your green covering under the cold snow.
Do not forget, then, little Mosses, the divine life that is within you; strive to grow strong, brave, and enduring, beneath Winter's white shroud.
The Almighty will assist you, if you seek his help."
This advice roused the Mosses to immediate exertion, work warmed them, and in a few minutes they exclaimed joyfully, "Ilsee! Ilsee! you are right; we can stand upright already, and are really pushing on * our way, for the snow dissolves and disappears wherever we place our little green hands."