The Garden of Paradise
"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.