"But this is amazing!" cried the flax. "I never should have expected it! How lucky I am! What nonsense the hedge stakes used to talk with their,
Snip, snap, snurre,
"Why, the ballad is by no means over! No, it is just beginning! This is wonderful! I've suffered, yes, but I've been made into something through suffering. I'm happier than anyone could be. How strong and yet soft I am, how white and long! This is much better than just being a plant; even if you bear flowers, nobody attends to you, and you only get watered when it rains. Now I get attention! The maid turns me over every morning, and gives me a shower bath in the washtub every evening. Why, the parson's wife herself came and looked at me, and said I was the finest piece of linen in the whole parish! Who could be any happier than I am now!"
Now the linen was taken into the house and cut up by the scissors. How they clipped and how they cut, and how it was pierced through with needles! Yes, that's what they did, and it was all very unpleasant. But at last it was made up into twelve garments-garments that are unmentionable, but that people cannot do without. Twelve of them.
"Well, look at that! Now I am really useful!" cried the linen. "So this is my destiny! What a blessing! Now I am useful. And nothing brings such happiness as to be useful in the world! Now we're twelve pieces, but we're still one and the same. We are one dozen. What a stroke of luck!"
The years passed, and at last the linen pieces wouldn't hold together any longer.
"Everything must come to an end," said each piece. "I should like to have lasted a little longer, but you shouldn't wish for things like that."
Now the pieces were torn into rags and fragments, and they were sure it was going to be the end of them. They were hacked and mashed and boiled-yes, they didn't know what else was done to them-but finally they became beautiful white paper!
"Well, if this isn't a surprise!" said the paper. "And a wonderful surprise!